Have you ever gotten the sense that something is following you around? Maybe there is a phrase, word, song, or something else that just keeps popping up in unexpected places, and you’re not sure why? That happened to me recently, and the product is this blog post!
It started with a research project. You see, I was recently reading through the final draft of a book that I edited with Dr. Jonathan White, entitled My Work Among the Freedmen: The Civil War and Reconstruction Letters of Harriet M. Buss. For this book, I transcribed the correspondence of Harriet Buss, a teacher from Massachusetts who moved to South Carolina during the Civil War to teach freedpeople. Buss wrote to her parents regularly, and was detailed in her description of her travels. In traveling back and forth from New England to the coast of South Carolina throughout 1863, Buss frequently boarded the Steamer Arago, and several of her letters bear this heading! When I first transcribed these letters, I honestly didn’t think much about the fact that she was on the Steamer Arago, beyond the contextual research on the vessel. I found her descriptions interesting, and her tales of travel occasionally amusing. I also gagged a little when she described the “quart tin vomiting cup” that accompanied every berth on the ship.