Pesky research questions

March 12, 2014 · Collections ·

Don’t get me wrong, I love trying to help researchers find the “right” answer. But why do I always find the answer days or even weeks after the question was asked? Several weeks ago now, I had a woman here doing background research for a novel she is writing. Among other things, she asked me what men would have worn in the army during the Revolution. Fortunately I was able to find breeches of the period in our collection using E-Museum to provide part of the answer (without just blurting out what I surmised based on years of soaking up history and costumes. I am an archivist, remember, not a curator?). Then yesterday, I was catching up on backlogged cataloging (yes, there is still some) and found a “Record of clothing delivered to the Infantry, 1781”. Why did this turn up now and not weeks ago?

List of clothing delivered to the Infantry. Ms 83895

List of clothing delivered to the Infantry. Ms 83895

Most of the book, which is very loosely bound and is in fact falling apart, consists of ledger-type entries. Each man’s name is recorded, usually two to a page, and below is the date of issue and the type of clothing he received. So the well dressed infantryman, according to this manuscript, wore a coat, vest, linen and/or woolen overalls, shirts, shoes with buckles, stockings, a frock coat, hat, hose, and mitts. He was also issued at least one blanket. Much more fun finding out this way than in a plain old book! I just love manuscripts.

A ledger-type entry for two men who received clothing. ms 83895

A ledger-type entry for two men who received clothing. ms 83895

You can see this interesting book by requesting Ms 83895 in the Dangremond Research Center Thursday 12:00 to 5:00 pm and Friday and Saturday 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.

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