Opening   Why Asaph   Technological Change   The 20th Century


Asaph's story is important as a vehicle for an exploration of the late 19th and early 20th century. This was a time of tremendous change in the United States. Asaph was born just months after the Transcontinental Railroad was completed. In 1890, when Asaph was a 20 year old young man, Alexander Graham Bell's telephone was just 14 years old. Thomas Edison had just recently developed the filament light bulb. Before Asaph turned 40, Orville and Wilbur Wright would make the first powered flight and the first Model T would roll off Henry Ford's assembly line.


NEXT: The 20th century


Extending the Story: Technology and Everyday Life in the Late 19th and Early 20th Centuries




Writing the story


We decided to cast Asaph's story in a series of concentrically smaller contexts. The first context, technology change, is the largest, or most inclusive. We introduced this context early in the story, and directly or indirectly referenced it multiple times.


Our decision to focus on technology came from a deliberative look at Asaph's early life for larger historical themes which coincided with his life. Given the year of his birth, 1870, we thought about casting Asaph's story in the context of the politics of Reconstruction, but this approach felt too remote and cold. We also considered fashioning Asaph as a man of the New South. Although we left a small piece on Asaph as a product of the New South in the lexia titled Antebellum Forsyth, this context did not prove to be an important part of the story. Instead, we settled on technological change as a heartier context.