The James Burke TV show Connections arrived at just the right moment in my youth to really fascinate me. The idea that you could weave a story crossing vast reaches of human history with only the thinnest thread – and have the whole thing hold together – still gives me great pleasure. And makes me boring at cocktail parties.

Today, I happened across a copy of Volume I of the Annals of Brattleboro and came home to look it up to see how valuable it is. Since the text has been transcribed and made available for free, perhaps not as valuable as i’d hoped, but still.

Looking for my new treasure online, I discovered something that was phonetically similar enough to rank high in the hits: the Brattleboro Rat, a naturally occurring “knockout mouse” first identified in 1961, by Dr. Henry Schroeder, who surprisingly doesn’t seem to have his own Wikipedia article yet. About 40 years after that, I was deeply enmeshed in knockout mouse-related research helping build a nomenclature for murine bloodborne cancers, part of a career that led me first to Connecticut, and finally to Brattleboro. 

Where I took an interest in local history, and a couple of intriguing gravestones, which led me to consult the Annals of Brattleboro…

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