Rare Book Monthly

Articles - April - 2007 Issue

Memory: the next frontier


The crowd at Gettysburg: their thoughts?

Consider issues you have faced and are facing in your life and whether a clearer family history might help shape your responses. If your family had left a detailed record how might it shape your decisions? Whether the issue is learning disabilities, cancer or alcoholism, if you knew such issues occasionally appeared it might help shape your decisions. If breast cancer runs down both sides of the family tree it would encourage earlier testing. If Aunt Millie had a fondness for gambling this information might prove useful in the treatment of this problem should it reappear a generation or two later. Knowing family history helps us. In a similar way, knowing the family history of the family of man can help us avoid all kinds of social problems, conflicts and mistakes before they arise. Creating a record that future generations access will significantly improve their lives. This helps us. This helps them.

However, to remember and be remembered, we need to leave a record. For others to learn from us we need to tell them about us. In the past we left a stone marker, our name and dates. We lacked the capacity to leave more. In the future we'll leave our stories online, be visited from anywhere and found at any time. A hundred years from now others will have your story and those of others upon which to better understand themselves even as they remember us.

How might this work? It works by creating records that become searchable as part of an immense database, potentially inclusive enough to embrace all mankind. Search engines will uncover patterns within problems that in time help many avoid and others effectively deal with them. Individual experiences will help others facing similar challenges. The wealth of knowledge and experience we gain over the course of our lives will be passed on from generation to generation, rather than being lost forever when we die.

What will your role be? Simply put, it is to preserve as much of your knowledge and experiences as you wish. It may be personal or family history, your relationship to community, work, hobbies, or institutions. You may have witnessed events, historic or otherwise, on which you can provide a unique perspective. You may have conducted research in some field, written a musical score or poem, or even witnessed some dark event you might wish to forget, but humanity must remember. Almost certainly, you have a collection of photographs, themselves a witness to history that will be lost if you do not identify and preserve them. The most important thing you can do for future generations is to see to it that all of this knowledge you alone possess is not lost. You may not realize it now, but your knowledge is vitally important, though it may take future generations to fully appreciate the value of all you have learned.

What remains to be done? First there is the database, a place to save your memories, and then the software so others can retrieve them. It will need to be searchable in many ways, by names, dates, events, maps, and so on. We are working on this, but suspect others will soon want to join in this next great project that preserves memory. Then your part will come as you fill in the blanks, tell your story, write your poems and share your photographs. Here we add a personal note. This project will be most appreciated by future generations, but for ourselves, it offers something those stone markers we now leave behind never have. It preserves who we are as human beings. It enables us to live on in the thoughts of others long after our lives on earth are over. It makes us immortal. It will happen.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Francis Scott Key, <i>Star Spangled Banner,</i> first printing, c. 1814-16. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> William Sydney Porter, a.k.a. “O. Henry,” archive of drawings made to illustrate a lost mining memoir, c. 1883-84. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> [Bay Psalm Book], printed for Hezekiah Usher of Boston, Cambridge, c. 1648-65. $50,000 to $75,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Book of Mormon, first edition, Palmyra, 1830. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> <i>Noticia estraordinario,</i> probable first announcement in Mexico City of the fall of the Alamo, 1836. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Patrick Gass, first edition of earliest first-hand account of the Lewis and Clarke expedition, Pittsburgh, 1807. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Diploma from the Princeton Class of 1783, commencement attended by Washington & Continental Congress. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> <i>Sprague Light Cavalry!</i> color-printed broadside, NY, 1863. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> <i>The Lincoln & Johnson Union Campaign Songster,</i> Philadelphia, 1864. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Lucy Parsons, labor organizer, albumen cabinet card, New York, 1886. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Daniel L.F. Swift, journal as third mate on a Pacific Whaling voyage, 1848-1850. $3,000 to $4,0000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Two photos of Thomas Moran, Grand Canyon, silver prints, 1901. $1,500 to $2,500.
  • <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Helvelius. Two Autograph Letters Signed to Francis Aston, Royal Society Secretary, noting his feud with Robert Hooke, 5 pp total, 1685. $70,000 to $100,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Newton, Isaac. Autograph manuscript on God, 4 pp, c.1710, "In the beginning was the Word...."?$100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. First edition, first issue. Untrimmed copy in contemporary boards. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Lincoln, Abraham. Signed photograph, beardless portrait with Civil War provenance. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> IMPEACHMENT. Original engrossed copy of the first Andrew Johnson impeachment resolution vote. $120,000 to $180,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Mucha, Alphonse. 11 original pencil drawings for?<i>Andelicek z Baroku,</i> "Litte Baroque Angel," Prague, 1929. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Einstein, Albert. Annotated Galley Proofs for <i>The Meaning of Relativity.</i> 1921. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Silverstein, Shel. Original maquette for <i>The Giving Tree,</i> 34 original drawings. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Roth, Philip. Typed Manuscript with substantial autograph corrections for an unpublished sequel to <i>The Breast.</i> $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Taupin, Bernie. Autograph Manuscript, the original draft of lyrics for Elton John's "Candle in the Wind," 2 pp, 1973. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> HARVEY, WILLIAM. <i>De Motu Cordis et Sanguinis in Animalibus Anatomica Exercitatio.</i> Padua: 1643. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> CESALPINO, ANDREA. <i>Peripateticarum Quaestionum Libri Quinque.</i> Venice: 1571. $30,000 to $40,000.

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