(It took me four days to write this entry, sheesh.)
On the weekly book market last Friday, I found an old verse album (poesie/poëziealbum, see also this entry
mentioning my aunt's verse album).
Although it contained only eleven contributions and even fewer pictures, I bought the album anyway, because of the cover, the age (most of the contributions date from 1884), the beautiful, almost calligraphic writing, the poems, which seemed to be original rather than copied, and the surprising discovery that it had belonged to a man. (That also explained the lack of pictures — only the female contributors had used them. The men probably didn't go for that sort of thing.)
In earlier centuries, its predecessor, the album amicorum
, was usually kept by (male) students, but by the mid-nineteenth century, the verse album had predominantly become the domain of women and girls.
The first verse was signed by "your sister, A.C. Moerman", so she was probably the one who presented him with the album.
There was no salutation on the majority of the contributions (other than "dear friend" or something similar), but this married couple helpfully supplied me with his name:
Their own seemed quite distinctive in combination with the place name (Zierikzee being a small town), so I googled them and immediately found a registration of birth, dated 1888, of a daughter of Pieter Oudenbroek and Bastiana Johanna van Dijk. Bingo!
Gerrit Moerman himself proved to be more elusive. On a genealogy site I found a Moerman family tree, but all the Gerrit Moermans in there were in the wrong timeframe. When I looked through the album again, I found one of the last poems, signed with the unusual name "Hugonda", rather too tender to be from a mere acquaintance. Googling 'Gerrit Moerman Hugonda' finally led me to Gerrit Pieter Moerman (1861-1938), who married Hugonda Annette Landheer in 1888, and who had an older sister by the name of Annetta Cornelia.
After this success, I tried to find the remaining contributors to the album and I'm almost certain I've managed to identify them, too. Somehow, knowing the names and dates of these people, and in some cases biographical details (Gerrit, f.e., became a headmaster), makes me value the album even more.
I'm still in two minds about whether I should contact the compiler of the Moerman family tree.( more family tree talk )( in other news )( in yet other news )