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Historian’s Report (Spring 1999)

by Don Muno 

“Hear ye, hear ye, hear ye, the Nathaniel Volume is nearing completion!” Did you hear the town crier? The long tedious hours upon hours of data verification Patricia has been doing on her Nathaniel notes and text is coming to a close. Along the way, as a dutiful husband, I have had to pull her off of the project from time to time as her blurred eye sight and headaches were giving her a wake up call that she is really mortal and subject to physical limitations, like the rest of us. Last week I took her in to an eye doctor who changed her eyeglass prescriptions for new glasses. It seemed to have done the trick and she’s back on to the last stages of graphic and photographic placement. 

One of the interesting touches she has included in the previous volume of the Thayer English ancestors in Thornbury, England was her tastefully placed “related” graphics which added visual breaks and interest to otherwise information-rich, but visually barren pages of copy. The few graphic examples to visually portray historical points of interest where pictures were not available have taken many hours of research and expense. Twenty or thirty CD discs of some of the finest graphic programs on the market were purchased over the past year in preparation for this final stage. 

In addition, technology continues to advance and change and with it Patricia must also take time to change and adapt. New program upgrades have been purchased, and before long a new printer will need to replace her tired Epson. Significant printer changes have been made over the past few months now providing higher resolution and improved photo handling. I have also been researching 19-inch monitors to enlarge visual copy size for Patricia’s present and future editing needs. With the thousands of pages yet to peruse, eye fatigue-- especially when you have only one eye as Patricia has, must receive serious attention soon. 

It was not uncommon in years past, especially before Gutenburg and his marvelous press, that monks painfully transcribing text would go blind before they completed their life long task. In original manuscripts a significant change of the scribes hand first identified in the formation of letters and text often alerted the reader that the scribe had passed the pen on to a colleague to finish what he no longer could see to do. I hope you are still with me and that I have not lost your attention, but I feel I must bring you closer to the process and dedication of Patricia and the personal price she is paying to bring to pass this monumental Thayer work. Unlike the monk who simply transcribed letter upon letter from another text, when Patricia gets weary and wishes at times to pass the burden on, I remind her that her knowledge and nearly photographic memory cannot be passed along. If she were to stop, her work would stop with her. Don’t worry, we form a formidable team. I serve as her cheering section, computer expert or facilitator and maintain operations as best I can. 

Mother’s day is approaching and while Patricia would like to remain home (she shows signs of homophobia much like Emily Dickenson), I will pull her away for a brief trip to Victoria Canada. You can be sure she will take her work with her. Upon returning to Portland we will have windows within the pages set for the photos and captions to be placed and then take her book to Gordon David Thayer, in Salem, Oregon, for his expertise in copy- reading and final formatting adjustments. As this is David’s profession, you can be sure his added attention will further polish the final work. 

Two remaining questions, which you may be wanting to ask: When will this Nathaniel Volume be available and how much will it cost? To answer the first part: Patricia plans to have it available before Christmas. (It is likely to be ready much sooner.) And to answer the second part of this question: The book’s pricing has yet to be determined, but it will need to reflect the book’s size which will be nearly twice the number of pages as the first Thornbury publication, making it somewhere around 300 pages after adding a complete index and introduction. I am estimating within the 100-dollar range. One must always remember that the Thayer Comprehensive is a limited edition and that thousands of dollars of research to be found nowhere else is included. As you may imagine, for those wishing to collect the entire Thayer set, additional considerations will need to be determined. 

On the artistic side of publishing news, our son Brent, an honors art graduate from Weber State University, has shown an interest to work with us on a unique cover design to be carried throughout the next volumes of the Comprehensive. His graphic design capabilities are extensive, but I’ll leave this topic for a future report in the next Thayer Quarterly Newsletter.