It's All In The Postcards - Women Compile Hampton history

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By Patrick Cronin

Hampton Union, Tuesday, August 2, 2005

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online]

HAMPTON -- Two local residents have come out with a book detailing Hampton's history through the use of postcards.

Elizabeth Aykroyd and Betty Moore are the authors of "Hampton and Hampton Beach," which is part of Arcadia Publishing Postcard History Series.

The book hit stores last week.

Although the book took them and numerous volunteers seven weeks to put together, Aykroyd and Moore said it was more like 10 years in the making.

"Ten years of learning about Hampton," said Aykroyd.

The authors will be hosting a book signing in celebration of the book's release at the Tuck Museum on Aug. 21.

"We conceived this book as a history of Hampton told through postcards," said Aykroyd. "If the book is read from cover to cover, the reader will experience a short history of the town."

The book gives a snapshot into the history of Hampton from when it was founded in 1638 by a small group of Puritan farmers and fishermen to the early beginnings of the beach tourist industry.

"Those who love postcards in general should enjoy reading the book," said Moore. "Others who want to take a nostalgic look at the past and see what has changed will also find it interesting."

Among the vintage postcards and photographs featured in the book, readers will find scenes of local interest that have changed over time, extensive scenes of the beach as well as souvenir and trick postcards of Hampton.

Most of the postcards in the book can be seen at the Tuck Museum.

Aykroyd said a lot of the cards used were donated to the museum over the years, including a collection of more than 2,000 postcards of Hampton Beach from the Fitzgerald family.

An entire chapter in the postcard book is dedicated to the Main Beach and the Casino, which shows how the Casino has evolved over the years.

There is also a chapter dedicated to the beach experience, which shows a postcard that depicts women in skirt-like bathing suits with the caption "the idea of appointing someone to monitor the suits being worn on the beach was raised several times, but, other than stern warnings in the newspapers, nothing was ever done."

Other chapters include "the changing landscape," "Plaice Cove to Great Boar's Head," "Hampton Harbor and the River," and "Hampton Beach Hotels, Guest-houses and Cottages."

Moore said the duo got the idea to create the book from the Rye Historical Society, which created a similar postcard book about Rye Beach.

"Betty called Arcadia Publishing," said Aykroyd. "They said they were about to call her and think it's a great idea and the perfect time to do the book."

All proceeds will benefit the Tuck Museum and the Hampton Historical Society.

Although the duo did a lot of research in Hampton's history as members of the Hampton Historical Society, there were a few things that even surprised them while creating the postcard book.

"In studying the history of the beach, we were both impressed with how much the forces of nature have altered the appearance of the area," said Moore. "Changing currents have completely altered the shoreline, and massive fires early in the 20th century wiped out whole neighborhoods."

Aykroyd said she didn't realize how old some of the buildings at the beach are. Although they have been modernized, a lot of the buildings have been there since the 1920s.

The duo also talked to a lot of residents at the beach to help fill some of their gaps in the history.

"It was great to talk to different people and learn more about the beach," said Moore. "People who have already picked up a copy of the book have been very receptive to it. We just hope everyone enjoys it."

"Hampton and Hampton Beach," $19.99, Arcadia Publishing. Available at area bookstores, independent retailers, online bookstores, or through Arcadia Publishing at or (888) 313-2665.

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