What Do Drawings and Pencil Marks Tell Us About a Book’s Original Owner?

drawing in old textbookSometimes 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. Drawing in old textbook

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?

pencil marks in old textbook

10 thoughts on “What Do Drawings and Pencil Marks Tell Us About a Book’s Original Owner?

  1. I’d love to see a photo of Quanda’s husband, just for purposes of comparison! Not only that, it looks like a child’s drawing, but adult handwriting. Interesting.

  2. How fun to find these drawings in the book, Sheryl, thanks for sharing them with us. Seems like the girl drew them and her mother added the words. And Quanda seemed to think her husband-to-be would have his mouth open a lot, perhaps eating. Very interesting.

  3. I never thought about doodles in a HE book, but how fascinating and cute! I buy used books often and am delighted by the little clues about the original owners that let our imaginations take off!

  4. I just finished a book I think you might enjoy “The Secret History of Home Economics.” Really well researched and well written to boot.

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