Book Review: WITNESSING AMERICA: THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS BOOK OF FIRSTHAND ACCOUNTS OF LIFE IN AMERICA, 1600-1900 (Noel Rae) : AH


WITNESSING AMERICA: THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS BOOK OFFIRSTHAND ACCOUNTS OF LIFE IN AMERICA, 1600-1900 , compiled and edited by Noel Rae (Penguin Reference, 573 pages, $29.95).

Culledfrom the collections of the Library of Congress, this unique volume contains anextraordinary collection of firsthand accounts that detail the lives of Americansover the course of three centuries. It is, says the editor, “a history of theAmerican people, told by themselves.” Through an eclectic collection of Indianlore, private diaries, letters, travel journals, memoirs, sermons, speeches, andexcerpts from literary classics, Americans from every class, region, occupation,and background, as well as visitors to the United States, describe aspects ofAmerican life from their unique vantage points. The selections are divided into 11categories that treat the arrival of the Europeans in the New World from the pointof view of both the indigenous population and the newcomers; education;courtship and marriage; earning a living; housing; eating habits; leisure timeactivities; religion; crime and punishment; health; and death.


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