Encyclopedia of American Folk Art

By Gerard C.Wertkin; Lee Kogan | Go to book overview

F

FACE JUGS:

SEE JUGS, FACE.


FAMILY RECORDS OR REGISTERS

were an important means of visually keeping a record of the family's genealogy, to be passed from generation to generation. The family unit was of major importance in early America, and its genealogical makeup was clearly delineated in these registers. In their earliest form they are no more than just an inscription in ink, made in the family bible or on a piece of paper, of the names of family members and the dates of their births, marriages, and deaths. In the latter part of the eighteenth century, decorative features were added to the basic genealogical data, and these newer records began to appear in watercolor and ink on paper, on printed forms, and in needlework. The importance to the family of these registers is evident from several paintings, including the 1837 family portrait by Caroline Hill in which a register is pictured prominently hanging on the parlor wall.

The watercolor and ink renderings were most frequently done by schoolchildren, teachers, and clergy, and by professional painters. Although some are the birth or death records of a single individual, they generally relate to the entire family. Their decorative features, along with the genealogical data, make them far more exciting than just static listings of names. Portraits of family members, landscape backgrounds, depictions of homes and home furnishings, and symbols of various types make these prime examples of folk art as well as genealogical records. Frequently seen symbols include hearts, birds, flowers, vines, trees, coffins, Masonic emblems, and angels. All of these emblems are presented in a variety of ways, though most commonly as circles or chains, perhaps symbolizing family unity; hearts and angels, symbolizing love; and as the tree design, with the names of the parents usually at the roots, and the names of the children in hanging, fruitlike circles on the branches above.

Printed family records or registers appear in three forms: as engravings, lithographs, or broadsides. The engravings were made by a small number of professionals, including Richard Brunton, Jervis Cutler, and Benjamin Blythe. They incorporate peripheral symbolic forms, such as birds, as well as the figures of Hope, Faith, Charity, and Peace, with a central area in which the data concerning the family members could be written in the appropriate spaces. Lithographed records were produced by such firms as Currier and Ives, and Kellogg and Kellogg. As a rule there were four columns, marked "Family," "Born," "Married," and "Died," under which the names of the family members could be written by the purchaser. Above each of the columns was a scene relating to that particular category. The broadside version, made with letterpress type, in most cases was just a printed record, usually on paper but occasionally on fabric, of the names, births, marriages, and deaths in the family. In some cases the names were accompanied by the common decorative elements, and in a small series, by silhouettes of husband and wife. Needlework family registers, usually produced by schoolgirls with the help of their teachers, took the same basic forms as those on paper did. Basic sewing was part of the household duties of most girls, but finer sewing was taught at school. The samplers, family registers, and other types of needlework were evidence of a girl's refinement and education.

Records of birth and death, like family records, were also painted, embroidered, and, occasionally, printed works, and they are a combination of genealogical data and decorative representations. In contrast to the family registers, which deal with most, if not all, family members, these records primarily present genealogical data for only one person. New England birth records are far less common than family

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Encyclopedia of American Folk Art
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • List of Entries vii
  • Introduction xxvii
  • A 1
  • B 35
  • Bibliography 75
  • C 79
  • Bibliography 107
  • Bibliography 111
  • D 113
  • Bibliography 144
  • E 145
  • Bibliography 153
  • F 161
  • Bibliography 166
  • Bibliography 171
  • G 189
  • Bibliography 203
  • Bibliography 210
  • H 217
  • Bibliography 225
  • Bibliography 235
  • I 247
  • Bibliography 249
  • J 251
  • K 269
  • Bibliography 273
  • L 279
  • M 293
  • Bibliography 309
  • Bibliography 311
  • N 337
  • O 349
  • P 355
  • Bibliography 388
  • Q 411
  • R 421
  • Bibliography 433
  • S 447
  • Bibliography 450
  • Bibliography 472
  • Bibliography 484
  • Bibliography 490
  • Bibliography 494
  • Bibliography 496
  • T 509
  • U 527
  • V 529
  • W 539
  • Bibliography 540
  • Bibliography 546
  • Bibliography 556
  • Y 561
  • Index 569
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