Consuming the New World

A guest post for the Folger Library’s ‘The Collation’ by Misha Ewen.

 

William Petre (1575-1637) was a typical gentleman of his time. He was 22 years old and newly married when he began keeping an account book of his household expenses. Between 1597 and 1610 Petre recorded the money he spent on maintaining his estate, including servants’ wages, as well as charity to the poor, lodging, and sustenance during his journeys to London. Studying documents that reveal the minutiae of the everyday in early modern England—like receipts, diaries, and financial accounts—is deeply satisfying, as it allows us to peel back time and peek into the worldview and experiences of people in the past. One of my aims during my two-month fellowship at the Folger has been to find out how experiences of travel and colonization in the New World infused English society, politics, and culture, becoming familiar and commonplace…

 

Read the full post here.

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