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Museum resurrects manuscript from 1932

By Josh Davis, Associate Editor

(Jan. 4, 2018) What arrived at the Julia A. Purnell Museum in Snow Hill last year as a stapled stack of yellowed pages is now the published children’s book, “In Make-Believe Land.”

Julia Hartmann-Shockley wrote the text of the book, essentially a long poem, for her daughter, Rebecca Mae, in 1932. Also included in the pages, donated to the museum by an anonymous Snow Hill resident, were several colorful illustrations.

“[The donor] found this original little book. Only one copy of it was every made and it was a mix of typed and handwritten, with all of these beautiful illustrations,” museum executive director Dr. Cindy Byrd said. “I was just thrilled over it.”

Byrd later discovered the author worked at the Purnell Museum as a volunteer registrar during the 1950s.

“She was one of our very first, founding volunteers,” Byrd said. “It’s such a coincidence that this book turned up in this building and it turned out to be written by one of our first volunteers.”

Museum officials were unable to find any Hartmann-Shockley family members. The daughter, Byrd said, would have been “well into her 80s.”

“As I looked at it, I thought the illustrations and the poem were just delightful,” Byrd said. “I thought maybe we could print this and sales could benefit our children’s programs and we could debut it at our holiday exhibit and reception that we have each year.”

Assistant Museum Director Linda Duyer scanned each page to preserve the artwork and then retyped and reinserted the text “in an appropriate font,” Byrd said.

The Berlin-Ocean City Optimist Club provided a grant to help pay for initial printing costs.

“We’re really proud of how it turned out and it did make its debut at our holiday/Christmas open house on Dec. 3. We were really stressing about it arriving on time, but it did make it on time and it all worked out well,” Byrd said. “The project is in its infancy, but the response at the reception was good … I’m pleased at how well it’s begun to sell.”

The 32-page soft-cover book is available at the museum for $15, which includes a complimentary museum membership, or online for $17.95. All of the proceeds benefit children’s education programs at the nonprofit museum.

Regular hours at the museum, on 208 West Market Street, are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday and Sunday from 1-4 p.m.

To purchase the In Make-Believe Land online, visit

For more information on the Julia A Purnell Museum, call 410-632-0515 or visit