Friday, June 6, 2014

Remembering Our Past, Building the Future: Judith's Dictionary

Among the few objects in the Sargent House Museum's collections that belonged to Judith herself is her English Dictionary, published in London in 1715.

This is John Kersey's "Dictionarium Anglo-Britannicum; or, A general English dictionary."

Here are two close-ups of the scanned version of the book via Google books: 

The black and white page scans make it clear that the word "incomparable"--which Judith has appended to the lower lefthand page--does not appear in the book. Its omission prompted her, apparently, to add words to the volume beyond those compiled by Mr. Kersey.  Indeed, a woman with a vocabulary larger than a dictionary's was nigh "incomparable" in eighteenth-century America. Kudos to Judith! Though she often lamented her education, and was forever concerned that her writing would be critiqued for falling short of perfection, clearly Judith was a diligent scholar and scriver. 

A note in the back of the volume reveals that Judith passed the book on to her youngest brother, Fitz William, who in turned passed it along to other members of the family. It was donated to the museum in 1994.

How very special to have this evocative object, one which must have been so very precious to Judith in her life. It rests just steps away from her writing closet, and we can imagine her leafing through those well-loved pages time after time, bringing us just a little bit closer to her.

By Kimberlee Cloutier-Blazzard, Development Associate

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