Passing the book: Cultures of reading in the winthrop family, 1580-1730

Richard Calis, Frederic Clark, Christian Flow, Anthony Grafton, Madeline McMahon, Jennifer M. Rampling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Large numbers of annotated books that belonged to members of the Winthrop family - which included the founding governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and other individuals prominent in the early modern British Atlantic world - survive in libraries across the Northeastern United States. The notes in their margins reveal how the Winthrops responded to a vast array of material, from alchemical recipes to political tracts. Once deciphered and compared with other documents, such as letters and diaries, they show not only the ways in which the members of the family read these varied books, but also how they learned to do so and how they passed their skills on to new generations. Most important, they reveal that reading played a central role in the family's life and in its members' responses to political and religious crises.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)69-141
Number of pages73
JournalPast and Present
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • History


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