Preface

Sarah Jane (Cotton) Dunham at her door

 

 

I do not know who these two well-dressed individuals were who came to speak with my great grandmother.  Nor can I tell you why they were there. 

Sarah Jane (Cotton) Dunham, my great grandmother, was in her eighties.  This was probably during World War II.  And this was Nantucket Island, thirty miles off the coast of Massachusetts. It is likely that most of the materials archived on this site were inside her home at the time that the photograph was taken.

Before the act of saving everything was understood as a medical condition, Jennie was regarded as odd.  Her hoarding may be the salient feature of this photograph.  While Jennie – that was what everyone called her – is distracted by the woman visiting, the young man seems to be peering inside with astonishment.  Inside, my mother had told me, everything was piled high.  A little pathway from the front door permitted access to the kitchen in the rear.  And on either side were banks of magazines, furniture, clothing and a multitude of other things that had been stored for safekeeping.   

If ordinary captioning for this image (a naming of persons, for example) is not possible there are still profound things to see and weigh.  Who has taken the photograph?  Why?  How did it wind up here all these many years later?