The Dance of the Book Collector

A Doctor in Homespun with ephemera
A Doctor in Homespun with ephemera

I may have danced a little jig in the stacks of the Whately Antiquarian Book Center on Saturday when I discovered a copy of A Doctor in Homespun, a privately published autobiography of Dr. Mary Phylinda Dole, the first female doctor in Franklin County.

I found a copy at a tag sale in Northfield almost fifteen years ago, which was destroyed in a housefire. Then I located her niece, who gave me another which I gave to my mother, but which I could not find among her possessions after she passed away two years ago.

Dr. Dole is among a handful of historical figures I’ve been researching for a book, and I was just thinking of trying to track down her niece again with another tale of woe when I came upon my third copy of this remarkable volume.

On top of that, it had something every book collector loves, ephemera — letters and news clippings tucked into the pages. These include a review of the book, privately published in 1927, and an obituary of Dr. Dole. These have lots of information that isn’t included in the book, and a lot of leads for further information.

I have written more about Dr. Dole here and here.