Illustrating Two Histories of Summer Camps

I am often asked, "Why don't you try self-publishing a book?"--because this is now popular.  I have done this before, actually, in a series of books about the world's first summer camps in New England.  The first I wrote in 1994.  I mention it here because it was my first experiment in page design, long before I had heard of a computer program that would do this for you.

At the time I was excited by what one could do with a Xerox machine, mixing historical maps and photographs with my text.  Years later I discovered the "Shell Guides" by John Betjeman, John Piper, and others in Britain and realized that they were doing the same thing--even with the coil binding I used for some copies--a kind of rough-and-ready art publishing.

In 1997 I self-published another book, "The Natural History of the Newfound Region, New Hampshire" which contained early records that the summer camps had compiled.  It seemed to me that these were valuable in understanding how the environment has changed in the century since 1895, and I spent a lot of time getting all the animals' names right bringing the records up-to-date.  Here, too, I combined text with my own drawings and historical documents:

My drawing showed the first nature center at any summer camp, built about 1899 if I recall correctly:


The advantages of self publishing:  I could pick the topic myself and design the book any way I wanted, so that it becomes a kind of artistic self-expression, albeit with the extreme limitations of the Xerox machine.  The disadvantages:  these books are now extremely rare, to the point that I donated just about the last copy I could find of "Nineteenth-Century Pasquaney" to the library at Dartmouth.  I would have donated the book on natural history, too, but only a single copy remains!  And naturally the computer disks of 22 years ago are now unreadable.