Book Review by Karen Lange

The Writer’s Guide to Everyday Life in America From 1607-1783

By Dale Taylor

Review by Karen Lange

Every writer needs to do research, whether for an interview, blog post, article, novel, or other project. The keen writer’s eye is always on the lookout for good sources. One such example I found is The Writer’s Guide to Everyday Life in America. Part of the Writer’s Guide to Everyday Life series by Writer’s Digest Books, this handy reference is a treasure chest of information. The introduction offers an extensive timeline and tips on how to use the book. An overview of the period is found here as well, providing key information that complements the rest of the book.

The author covers the “everyday life” concept thoroughly. Need to know, for example, what a settler might eat for dinner in 1650? Turn to Chapter 5, where you’ll find what foods are available, a typical diet, cooking techniques, and more. Not sure what the aristocratic ladies and gentlemen wore? Chapter 7 answers that one, and also tells us what the working class and servants wore. Hair, cosmetics, and accessory information are included too, to provide the complete picture of what early settlers looked like. Other chapter topics include marriage and family, education, architecture, government, laws and politics, transportation, warfare and the military, and pretty much everything else you can think of.

Included are regional overviews for the Chesapeake, New England, Middle Colonies, and Deep South areas, listing facts about governors, population, and other pertinent items. Interesting pictures and charts are sprinkled throughout the book. A complete bibliography is available if further research is necessary. The Appendix includes recommended film references that accurately highlight Colonial life.

This book is a great resource for an historical project that I’m working on, and has additional value in generating ideas, such as for stories or articles for any age group. There is great potential here for those unique angles that writers look for. If you’re in need of an historical boost, this just might be the right fit!

FYI: Other titles in the Writer’s Digest Everyday Life series include Life in Civil War America, Everyday Life in the Middle Ages, Everyday Life in the Wild West, and other titles, US and world history included.

Karen Lange is a writer and editor, blogger, and online writing instructor at the
Coffeehouse for Writers. Her articles have appeared in parenting, educational, and writing publications. Visit her blog at karenelange.blogspot.com.

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