When you visit The Wren’s Nest, you’re likely there because of Joel Chandler Harris. And it makes sense. He was a famous journalist and author during his time, rivaling Mark Twain in popularity. His books were basically international best sellers so it’s natural that his fans rallied together after his death to make his home a museum. Without him, who knows what would have become of The Wren’s Nest? For all we know, the house may have disappeared.
Yes, there’s no denying that Joel Chandler Harris is the reason The Wren’s Nest exists as a historic house museum today.
But he was not the only resident in the house. And he is certainly not the only Harris family member to have to have made a mark on the world. We wanted to highlight all of the Harris family members, not just Joel. So, with the help of a generous grant from Georgia Humanities, we are excited to announce the launch of the first phase of a new digital education tool: an interactive version of the Harris family tree!
As you can clearly see, the Harris family is quite extensive, so we’re launching the interactive in phases. In this first phase, you can find out more about Joel Chandler Harris’s immediate family – his wife and his nine children. Discover which children followed in their father’s footsteps and pursued a career in journalism; which child’s birth Harris considered to be a sign of good luck; and which child Harris dedicated a book to.
One thing I love about historic houses is that they are so intimate. They are literally a historical person’s home; where they sought refuge from the world and where they were just a husband or wife or a son or daughter. Creating this tool has brought the intimacy to a new level for me. I read through Harris’s letters to his family – which are incredibly well documented by the way! – seeing his personal communications. I also worked with his living descendants, Linda Harris and Annette Shakespeare, to gather as much information as possible from family stories and scrapbooks. I feel like I’ve gotten another window into the Harris family’s life.
I’m very grateful for Linda and Annette’s help and that they allowed me – and now all of us – into yet another intimate family space.