Oh, how happy Oxford has made me. Delving into these old documents and now, planning databases with all the obsessive joy that entails has been thrilling. I'm a sick woman.
But there are so many little gems that historians come across every day. Notes made in census logs that are completely random and extraneous, thereby fascinating insights into bias, social structure, and even just plain old gossip. The amazing transformations of surnames from simple occupation identifiers of the masses to new gentry. And oh! All those misspellings that lead you astray with their verisimilitude.
I had to share this one: Reasons of the sunne. In a probate record, all the possessions of a household are listed - valuables, mundane items, even household necessities and sometimes down to minutiae. It's actually: Raisins of the sun. How yummy; the description and the item itself!
But reasons of the sun instantly made me smile. To imagine the sun as an entity (much like the Doctor Who episode) with motivations unbeknownst to us is delicious. In the lower latitudes, the sun is warrior, dominator, cruel master. Farmland and median climates can portray the sun as a benefactor, grandfather, or earth's consort. Cold climes and nature worshiping areas of the world have thought the sun to be goodness, an enveloper, etc. Plenty of cultures of the world worship the sun and some think that all religions derive from sun worship. So to know the reasons of the sun within those connotations puts you in the mind of a diety.
But I really had a little grin for it because I imagined areas that don't get much sunshine supplicating a drowsy sun for explanations. The imaginary look of surprise on that personification of our system's star before stammering out a list of 'reasons' for the lack of sunlight is guffaw-inducing.
Man, I'm a Seattleite through and through!
- ► 2008 (20)