Inspired by this blog post from Jesus College, Oxford, a couple of years ago I started a project on Distributed Proofreaders for A History of Lapland, by John Scheffer, published in 1674. Now it’s finally made its way to Project Gutenberg.
The books starts off in very dry fashion, attempting to disentangle the names of various tribes and regions in different sources, but gets much more interesting once it moves on to the lifestyle of the Laplanders.
During a celebration, for example:
Now they who by reason of the scantiness of room in the hut, cannot be admitted to the feast, such are boies and girles, climb up to the roof of the hut, and from thence let down threds with hooks tied to them, to which they fasten pieces of meat, and the like, so that they also enjoy their share of the banquet.
There’s much space given to the use of drums in divination, and eccentricities such as the use of skis for locomotion:
Another point of emphasis is the importance of the reindeer both for transport and for food, here carrying a swaddled child:
Wedding ceremonies were also remarkable:
the Bride like one strugling against it, and endeavoring the contrary, is dragged along by the man and woman that are to wait upon her, and would seem to admit of her marriage with great unwillingness and reluctancy, and therefore in her countenance makes shew of extraordinary sadness and dejection
Thanks to all those proofreaders who helped with this one, especially for their work in figuring out the long ſ letters!