Line of DescentBy
We all inhabit two communities, the one around us and the one behind us.
For those of us who don’t live in such thoroughly, obsessively documented places as Cape May or Essex County, Massachusetts, it used to be all but impossible to reconstruct our birderly pasts: we knew our mentors, and perhaps the names of their mentors, but beyond that?
Ironically, and happily, the absolutely indiscriminate wealth of historical material available on the internet today makes it possible to go far beyond the vague oral memories most of us have had to be satisfied with. Visit SORA and type in the name of your state or town or local bird club, and you may find that you are tilling long-fertile soil each time you step outside.
When we moved to Bloomfield, New Jersey, last April, I knew that we had ornithological predecessors, and I knew that among them was one Alexander Wilson. What I didn’t know until I started e-sniffing around was that Bloomfield, our undistinguished “starter suburb” between the First Watchung Mountain and the ancient marshes of the Passaic and the Hackensack, had also been a hotbed of birding activity in the 1870s and again, thanks largely to one person, in the first two decades of the last century.
Some bits and pieces of what I’ve found out are “up” today at the BHL Blog. Have a look, and see if there aren’t stories to tell and personalities to get to know from your own historical community.