Curated by acclaimed scholar Nicholas Terpstra, Lives Uncovered is a captivating collection of early modern primary sources organized around the human life cycle. The collection begins with a short essay titled "How to Read a Primary Source," which helps readers recognize different kinds of primary sources and introduces the idea of critical reading. A second brief essay, "Life Cycles in the Early Modern Period," details the organization of the volume and explains each stage in the life cycle within its historical context.
Over 150 readings examine men and women from different social classes and different religious and racial groups, addressing topics that include sex and sexuality, food and drink, poverty, crime and punishment, religious tension and coexistence, and migration and emigration. Using a creative range of sources such as letters, wills, laws, diaries, fiction, and poems, Terpstra gives readers a comprehensive picture of everyday life in early modern Europe and in other parts of the globe that Europeans were beginning to settle and colonize.
Each of the life-cycle chapters includes a combination of longer readings, shorter readings, and images. Every reading begins with a short introduction that sets the context of the primary source, while review questions complement the main themes of the readings. Over 30 illustrations serve as non-textual primary sources. An index is also provided.