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This book is the result of the recent discovery of a collection of previously unpublished Isles of Shoals photographs. Specifically, this album contained views of primarily Star Island in the years when the last of the full-time residents lived there. Here are displayed Shoalers standing by their houses, sitting in boats, or perched on rocks.
Under many of the photographs are notations as valuable as the pictures them-selves. Dr. Joseph W. Warren, the nineteenth-century Star Island physician who made the album, lists the owner of each dwelling, barn, and fish house. This same information also was used to
prepare several Star Island maps reproduced in this book.
Students of the nineteenth-century Isles of Shoals have devoted most attention to the hotel era and the Laighton-Thaxter families. But these old photographs offered the perfect opportunity to discuss the people who lived on the islands, those rugged fishermen and their families who were the last residents of the Isles of Shoals.
In order to give more meaning to the photographs, we have selected a variety of firsthand accounts of nineteenth-century life on the islands. The last Shoalers apparently had little reason to record daily activities. Therefore, we have had to rely primarily on visitors to tell the story. With one exception, all of the written material in this volume has been published elsewhere, although some sources are not readily available. It is remarkable that several of AmericaÕs greatest nineteenth-century authors visited the islands and wrote about their experiences. We have selected excerpts from the writings of Richard Henry Dana Jr. and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Included are works by John Scribner Jenness of New Castle and Samuel Adams Drake, author of many nineteenth century New England travel books.
Celia Thaxter and her brothers, Oscar and Cedric Laighton, all left written accounts of life on the islands. The Laightons lived on Appledore and often viewed their fellow Shoalers with some amusement, although accompanied with respect for their difficult lives. Included with CedricÕs letters (published as Letters to Celia) are notes compiled by Frederick T. McGill.
Relatively unknown are letters by Dr. Henry Ingersoll Bowditch, a pamphlet by Rev. Thomas Gage, and material from the annual reports of the Society for Propagating the Gospel Among the Indians and Others (read Shoalers) in North America.
Here then is the story of a long lost village, brought to life again with rare photographs and words of humor, compassion, and appreciation for the difficult days of the nineteenth-century residents of the Isles of Shoals.
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Peter E. Randall is a lifelong resident of the seacoast and the editor and designer of the Portsmouth Marine Society series. He is the author of 13 books and an award-wining photographer.
Maryellen Burke is the archivist for the Isles of Shoals collection at the Portsmouth Athenaeum. She received her Ph.D. in nineteenth century history from the University of Florida. She is currently the President of the Portsmouth Historic House Association.
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