I am often asked what the oldest thing is in the Indiana History Room. I’ve worked in this room for several years and I still can’t say with any certainty. However, as I have been relabeling books, I did come across one that is the oldest I’ve seen so far. Carver’s Travels Through the Interior Parts of North America was published in 1778. At first, I thought this was a reproduction, but it does still have the hand-painted maps in it. There are a few plates in the book to illustrate what Carver is describing.
Carver traveled from Boston westward through what is now Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and several other states and described land features, animals, plants, and native tribes that he came across. It’s an interesting read, but it is difficult because the long s was used at this point in time. It looked similar to an f and was used in place of a lower case s at the beginning or middle of a word, or if the word had a double s, it would replace the first one. It was not used at the end of the word or in place of a capital S.
It really is remarkable what treasures can be found in the Indiana History Room! And, if you’re anything like me, these treasures will lead you to do further research.