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The hand of Man (and Woman)


central city

During the first Agincourt seminar in 2006, I challenged us to imagine what artifacts from the community had appeared on eBay. Think of all the detritus of popular culture that we leave behind—common penny postcards not the least of them.

  • high school yearbooks, pennants, letterman’s jackets, sweaters, and other paraphernalia from our formative years
  • church cookbooks
  • unidentified photographs, images that should be treasured family mementos but often find their way into garage and estate sales
  • programs from fairs and festivals, community theatre productions, recitals, weddings and funerals
  • diaries and letters
  • newspaper clippings of births, marriages, deaths, and other rites of passage
  • court records and police blotters

I wonder often what I will have left behind as evidence that I was here.

One of those many objects that could have told Agincourt’s story was the common Sanborn Fire Insurance Co. map, one of the most basic tools for interpreting the patterns of land ownership, the marks we make on the land as characteristic as fingerprints. Just look, for example, at the conflicting geometries of Central City, Nebraska.

I want to make one of these.

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