Jean M. O’Brien

in Firsting and Lasting

Published by University of Minnesota Press

Published in print May 2010 | ISBN: 9780816665778
Published online August 2015 | e-ISBN: 9781452946672 | DOI:

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This chapter looks at how the naming of local historical texts is crucial in claiming places, as the titles already give imperative clues about when the places “first” came to be. For instance, local texts loaded with terms such as “history” and “settlement” imply an already existing social structure, which then spawned serious consequences for Indian peoples who claimed such places as their own. Local writers passionately advocated the New English social order through the structuring of historical accounts as part of declaring their modernity. The chapter details this concept of “firsting” by citing local texts, such as the 1882 history of Northampton, Massachusetts, as well as Plymouth’s abundance of local “first” accounts, specifically James Thacher’s History of the Town of Plymouth from Its First Settlement in 1620 to the Present Time: With a Concise History of the Aborigines of New England, and Their Wars with the English, &c.

Keywords: local history; Indian peoples; New English social order; modernity; Northampton; Plymouth; James Thacher

Chapter.  21258 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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