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Father and Son Notetakers (Richard and Daniel Russell, AAS)
Richard Russell was a first generation Puritan emigrant who took sermon notes in this big, unwieldy book. His son, Daniel Russell, would have seen many different styles of notetaking and formats of notebooks. When he became a minister himself, he chose an oblong format (like a reporter’s notebook) to record his own sermons. Comparing the notebooks of father and son illustrates some of the range of notebook formats people used in seventeenth-century New England.
The Self-Made Notetaker (Michael Metcalfe, Houghton)
This notetaker, or someone in his family, improvised a simple but effective notebook for recording what sermons were delivered over several years. Instead of recording the entire detail, Michael Metcalfe focuses on the minister’s name and date of delivery, only sometimes recording additional information such as the occasion of the sermon or the scripture text upon which it is based.
A Teenage Notetaker (John Pynchon [“Pinch”], AAS)
Only recently could we confirm that this notebook was kept by John Pynchon when he was about 14 years old. The son of William Pynchon and a distant ancestor of Thomas Pynchon, young John Pynchon already incorporates shorthand symbols into his sermon transcriptions in a notebook that also contains miscellany such as vocabulary notes, presumably from his other studies.
Meticulous Indexing (John Chickering, Houghton Library)
John Chickering was probably a student at Harvard College when he kept his very detailed sermon notebook. The small size of his careful handwriting allows him to include plenty of detail on each sermon. In places he switches into shorthand, possibly either to keep up with the pace of the minister’s words (if he is recording in the meetinghouse) or to compress the sermon into a smaller space in the notebook (if he is transcribing at home from other notes or from memory). The elaborate index of sermons at the back of the book suggests the importance Chickering placed on organizing and regulating his sermon experience within the pages of his meticulously kept notebook.