To the Latest Posterity: Pennsylvania-German Family Registers in the Fraktur Tradition

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The family register holds a distinctive place in American visual culture. Used to record marriages and offspring within a family through several generations, the family register also incorporates hand-illuminated decorative art. To the Latest Posterity is the first major study to explore the colorful world of Pennsylvania German family registers and their place in American social, religious, and cultural traditions. Renowned authorities on fraktur, Russell and Corinne Earnest trace the evolution of decorative family registers from their roots in medieval European illuminated manuscripts to their distinctly American forms that spread through Pennsylvania German culture. The form had a special association with persecuted Mennonites, who used the decorative documents to claim roots in their new home. The documents came to represent the separation from the Old World and the creation of family roots in the New. To the Latest Posterity is filled with examples of family registers from museums and private collections, including early handmade work as well as printed registers that were hand-filled in the nineteenth century. Bringing the art to the twentieth century, the Earnests discuss the adoption of the art by Amish, who continue the practice of illuminated family record-keeping today. Pennsylvania German History and Culture Series