Few images evoke the spirit of the holidays for me as much as an 1861 Fanny Palmer print by Currier & Ives, "Winter Morning." This print, a visual recollection of a quaint and bygone era, hangs in a hallway of the New England Historic Genealogical Society near our R. Stanton Avery Special Collections, the great treasure trove of American family history containing millions of original records. Beneath gray skies and shrouded in a blanket of snow, Fanny Palmer presented scenery that is in no way bleak. Rather, it is animated, even festive: a horse drawn sleigh carries a man through the snow towards a welcoming house, barnyard animals amble behind a stockade fence, and, in the distance, skaters whirl across a frozen pond below rolling hills. This image fuels romantic visions of a holiday our ancestors might have known and enjoyed. It also touches upon two of our key concerns at NEHGS: the family and the community.
Every year, we enjoy selecting an image from our collections to be used in conjunction with the Society's holiday greetings. This season we chose an antique photograph of two children being pulled on a sled through the snow by a car, another lovely image that evokes memories of happy holidays long gone. (Antique automobile experts, please identify the make and model of this car!) This undated photograph, from our Martha Clapp Wyman Palin collection, has touched a nerve among several members of the NEHGS family who have seen it on AmericanAncestors.org: the joy of youthful winter fun and frolic in decades past!
This year, in addition to celebrating the holidays with your family or friends, spend a few moments thinking about special times in years past and give some thought to our ancestors and their lives, many of which were difficult and without the comforts or liberties we enjoy today. At the New England Historic Genealogical Society we work hard to keep the memory alive of those long gone. Thank you for all your support in 2010 in fulfillment of our great mission and to all, happy holidays and all best wishes in 2011! Warmly, Brenton