BARBER, John Warner (1798 – 1885). Connecticut Historical Collections, containing a General Collection of Interesting Facts, Traditions, Biographical Sketches, Anecdotes, &c. Relating to the History and Antiquities of Every Town in Connecticut, with Geographical Descriptions. New Haven: Durrie & Peck and J.W. Barber, 1836.
8vo., (9 x 5 4/8 inches). Fine folding engraved frontispiece with original hand-colour in full. Aquatint frontispiece and 6 further plates, illustrated throughout with wood-engravings. Contemporary calf (rebacked, worn).
Provenance: with the engraved armorial bookplate of Harmon Pumpelly Esquire on the front paste-down; with the near contemporary ownership inscription of Maria Brinkerhoff at the head of the title-page.
First edition. “Barber's most productive work was in history. In 1827 he traveled around the country in a horse and wagon, interviewing witnesses to local historical events and collecting data from books, newspapers, gravestones, and other sources that he thought would yield useful information on the nation's past. He published his findings in Historical Scenes in the United States and illustrated his text with his own engravings of scenes of America's early settlement. Although the book was not well received, Barber's use of local data became the methodology of his future historical work. He was more successful in 1831 with History and Antiquities of New Haven, which was followed in 1836 by a history of Connecticut [as here]. In 1839 he published Massachusetts Historical Collections, then in 1840 entered into a partnership with Henry Howe to write a history of New York State, which was followed by Historical Collections of the State of New Jersey in 1844. The team of Barber and Howe followed the same formula that was initially successful for Barber: they traveled around gathering material and conducting interviews, primarily of old people. They then compiled their data and divided states into geographic or political sections, described each with statistics, anecdotes, or long quotations from printed sources, and illustrated the material with engravings. The results were collections of history and folklore. Their goal was "to give faithful representations, rather than picturesque scenery, or beautiful specimens of art” (Michael T. Johnson for ANB).