Lapham’s Quarterly recently published my essay on the history of fish farming, “The Mastery of Fish,” on its website.
The essay involved a lot of research, including reading several 18th and 19th century treatises on fish farming. I was amazed at the selection of such manuscripts available on Google Books, from a 1745 English translation of L. Junius Moderatus Columella’s De Re Rustica to issues of Harper’s from the 1860s.
It is hard to say how one would be able to do the necessary research for such an essay before there was an Internet without expending enormous amounts of time tracking these books to several disparate academic libraries.
If you’re not aware of Lapham’s Quarterly, do yourself a favor and check out the website. If you’re a lover of history, it is a quarterly journal you can’t do without. It’s simple mission is to present history in such a way to give context to current events. Each issue is dedicated to a topic, such as this summer’s focus on Food, and is populated with book excerpts, speeches, notes, ephemera, trivia about that topic from throughout history. For example, the Food issue includes an excerpt about 17th century cannibalism at Jamestown, from John Smith’s The Generall Historie of Virginia, New-England, and the Summer Isles; an excerpt about the value of bread in a concentration camp from Holocaust survivor Hanna Levy-Hass’ diary; and an excerpt about the iconic Berkeley eatery Chez Panisse written by Greil Marcus in the 1970s. Each issue also includes essays on the topic in question by contemporary historians, journalists, professors and other equally impressive academic types.