History really comes alive when you’re able to see pictures and read firsthand accounts from people who witnessed the event you’re studying. Looking at diaries, letters and newspaper articles will lead to deeper understanding and identification with the people of the past.
We have many items in our collection that are able to help you take this journey, but here are a few of my favorites:
In 1939, Harvard organized a call for submissions with the title “My Life in Germany Before & After 30 Jan 1933.” Hundreds of accounts were received, but the chosen entries were never published until this book, The Night of Broken Glass: Eyewitness Accounts of Kristallnacht, was published in 2012.
Reporting The Revolutionary War is an amazing book of the unfolding of the Revolutionary War through the real newspaper accounts of the events. You can read what Bostonians read in their newspaper on December 6, 1773 or read a letter from a soldier published in the November 8, 1777 London Chronicle for example. The book even gives you “Revolutionary Newspaper Reading Tips!”
The Great Chicago Fire In Eyewitness Accounts and 70 Contemporary Photographs and Illustrations was originally published in 1915! It includes letters describing personal encounters with the fire from prominent Chicagoans and lots of illustrations, maps and photos. It’s fascinating reading for any local history buff.
It may be much smaller than the other books I’ve covered so far, and it’s actually a travel guide, not a history book, but it’s too delightful not to mention: Picasso’s Paris: Walking Tours of the Artist’s Life in the City gives an extremely detailed and mapped out look into the great artist’s life in the City of Lights. There are maps, photographs, and even menus from cafes he frequented. All of the information is supplemented with plenty of pictures of famous paintings and excerpts from letters and diaries.
Our collection contains plenty more where this came from, and all the librarians are happy to help you find something that matches your area of interest.