Page:American History Told by Contemporaries, v2.djvu/33

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No. 3]
5
Classification

parts of the country, as in the National Museum at Washington, the Field Museum at Chicago, and the Peabody Museum at Cambridge, there are collections of the implements and arts of the aborigines of North and South America.

Manuscript records ordinarily appeal only to the investigator, for whose benefit are the suggestions in Winsor's Narrative and Critical History, VIII, 413 et seq., and in Channing and Hart, Guide to American History, §35. Two classes of written records may, however, sometimes be used by beginners, — family papers and local records. From the unpublished town records of Brookline, Massachusetts, for example, pupils in the high schools have drawn some interesting material. It is worth while to make pupils acquainted with the handwriting of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, many facsimiles of which are found in Winsor's Narrative and Critical History, and in many other places. The letter of Alexander Scammell (No. 162) is a striking example of valuable unpublished materials which are still to be found among family papers. The Historical Manuscripts Commission, created in 1895 by the American Historical Association, is bringing to light unsuspected treasures of this kind, which will be found in the Reports of that Commission, beginning with that for 1897.

In this volume much use has been made of the official public records of various kinds, because they contain the most apt illustrations of the workings of colonial government, and because in the time of the Revolution public bodies became the spokesmen of the communities in their new relations. The votes and proceedings of the revolutionary period are livelier and more characteristic than is usually the case in such material, as may be seen in the town-meeting vote of 1765 (No. 140).

Public records have been printed in elaborate collections for all the thirteen colonies. Sets of the charters are printed in Ben. Perley Poore, Federal and State Constitutions ; in H. W. Preston, Documents illustrative of American History ; in many numbers of the American History Leaflets and Old South Leaflets ; and in other collections. Lists of these collections and of the printed colonial laws, with exact titles, may be found below (No. 6) and in Channing and Hart, Guide to American History, §29.

Hardly any state has made up a full set of its own statutes ; the best collections are Hening's Statutes for Virginia and various editions of Massachusetts laws. In many of the histories of separate colonies or states are appendices of select statutes.