Reading through Guide One to the Gloucester City archives, I am struck by how pervasive the records of war are in the archives. I suppose this sounds naïve, but the listing and relisting of both the soldiers who fought and of the relief efforts on the “home front” from the Revolution through the “German War” really struck me. Of particular interest is the “handwritten listing of Gloucester men who served in French and Indian Wars and earlier Indian wars (e.g. King Phillip’s War).” I also found mention of 1699 “deeds for land from Indians,” though I had always learned that the Native Americans had left (or been ravaged by plague) by the time the English arrived on Cape Ann.
Going through this hundred or so page list of items in the city archives makes me further consider how we will organize an exhibition. Our working themes, in no particular order, include: education, African American experience, religious growth, literary imagination, Native American experience, the Lyceum, the Library, and mapping Cape Ann. I am already seeing great potential in these areas, though the extensive documentation of military engagements has me wondering if perhaps there should be more focus there. Part of what I like about exhibition planning is negotiating that tension between what topics that seem interesting and the content of the archive.