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New England's Prospect


This exhibit looks at the book New England's Prospect by William Wood.  The book itself was written as a travel guide in 1635 for anyone that might be interested in traveling the northeastern United States.  It gives some information on weather, animals, fruits, herbs, and Native Americans.  The focus of the first half of the book centers on the wildlife and environment of the northeastern United States.  Wood describes what herbs are good to eat, as well as when it is the best time to hunt dear.  He then goes into detail on each individual town, and even gives some insight into a number of Native American communities.  In the second part, Wood gives some insight into Native American language and tradition.  Wood takes the time to look at each individual tribe, as well as their traditions, political structures, and religious practices.  In the last few pages, Wood offers a number of translations so as to improve the travelers’ ability to interact with the indigenous peoples. It gives the reader a large amount of information and assumes that they have no background in the region before opening the book.  However, New England’s Prospect differs from a normal piece of travel writing in a number of ways.  Firstly, it assumes that the reader has the intention of going to New England and actually utilizing the text as a guide.  Secondly, it gives almost no personal background and insight throughout the text.  While Wood does mention a select number of anecdotes, he does not couch the text in story. In many ways, it is written like a contemporary travel guide, such as Lonely Planet.

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