Archival Word of the Week: Common-place book

'Twas fate,' they'll say, 'a wayward fate/Your web of discord wove;/And while your tyrants join'd in hate,/You never join'd in loveBit of a misnomer this one: common-place books are not printed books, they’re manuscript, and they are not commonplace – each one is unique.That’s why so many appear in archival collections described on the Archives Hub.

From the 16th century and on into the 19th, many people preserved snippets of conversation and interesting excerpts from books, by writing them down in a notebook, collected in a ‘common place’ for future reference.

Perhaps this blog sometimes resembles a digital common-place book, especially in the way the ‘labels’ organise our posts by theme, much as commonplace books were often organised.

Illustration: excerpt from "Weep On, Weep On" by Irish poet Thomas Moore (1779-1852).
See also: Collections of the Month: Love letters.