Sometimes old books provide clues about the original owner. For example, I have a 1921 home economics textbook called Elementary Home Economics. It was written by Mary Lockwood Matthews. The book itself is fascinating. It’s fun to see what students learned a hundred years ago – as well as to see how recipes, and cooking techniques and equipment, have changed across the years.
But what I really enjoy about this book are the drawings and pencil marks made by a girl (and back then it would have been a girl) who once used the book. Whenever I open the book I spend many minutes lingering over the drawings. Where did the girl live? What was her family like? Was she a good student? Did she sometimes frustrate her teacher? Was she quiet?. . . or perhaps a very popular student?