Women’s History Month

March 8 was International Women’s Day. RCLS has so many great resources to remind us of the contribution women have made to our society. Check some out!

boldbrave

Bold & brave : ten heroes who won women the right to vote Gillibrand, Kirsten

From United States Senator Kirsten Gillibrand comes an inspiring picture book about ten suffragists who fought for women’s right to vote. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand was inspired by her own great-grandmother, grandmother, and mother to be bold and brave–to stand up and fight for what she believes in. But who inspired them? The long chain of women before them who spoke out for what’s right–women who taught each generation that followed how to be bold and brave. Here are the stories of ten leaders who strove to win the right to vote for American women–a journey that took more than seventy years of passionate commitment. From well-known figures, such as Susan B. Anthony and Sojourner Truth to lesser known women such as Alice Paul and Mary Church Terrell, these are heroes who dreamed big and never gave up.

100years100 years of the Nineteenth Amendment : an appraisal of women’s political activism McCammon, Holly J.

The year 2020 will mark the 100th anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment giving many women in the United States the right to vote. The struggle for suffrage lasted over six decades and involved more than a million women; yet, even at the moment of the amendment’s enactment, women’s activistsdisagreed heartily over how much had been achieved, whether it was necessary for women to continue organizing for political rights, and what those political rights would bring. Looking forward to the 100-year anniversary of the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, this collection of original essays takes a long view of the past century of women’s political engagement to gauge how much women have achieved in the political arena.

51Fbi0LNpEL._SL200_

For colored girls who have considered politics Brazile, Donna

The four most powerful African American women in politics share the story of their friendship and how it has changed politics in America. The lives of black women in American politics are remarkably absent from the shelves of bookstores and libraries. For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Politics is a sweeping view of American history from the vantage points of four women who have lived and worked behind the scenes in politics for over thirty years–Donna Brazile, Yolanda Caraway, Leah Daughtry, and Minyon Moore–a group of women who call themselves The Colored Girls. Like many people who have spent their careers in public service, they view their lives in four-year waves where presidential campaigns and elections have been common threads.

 

51-FnGvyEsL._SL200_

Women of the blue & gray : true Civil War stories of mothers, medics, soldiers, and spies Monson, Marianne

Hidden amongst the photographs, uniforms, revolvers, and war medals of the Civil War are the remarkable stories of some of the most unlikely heroes–women. North, South, black, white, Native American, immigrant–the women in these micro-drama biographies are wives, mothers, sisters, and friends whose purposes ranged from supporting husbands and sons during wartime to counseling President Lincoln on strategy, from tending to the wounded on the battlefield to spiriting away slaves through the Underground Railroad, from donning a uniform and fighting unrecognized alongside the men to working as spies for either side.

51i-JSAWX4L._SL200_

Fly girls : how five daring women defied all odds and made aviation history O’Brien, Keith

The untold story of five women who fought to compete against men in the high-stakes national air races of the 1920s and 1930s — and won Between the world wars, no sport was more popular, or more dangerous, than airplane racing. Thousands of fans flocked to multi‑day events, and cities vied with one another to host them. The pilots themselves were hailed as dashing heroes who cheerfully stared death in the face. Well, the men were hailed. Female pilots were more often ridiculed than praised for what the press portrayed as silly efforts to horn in on a manly, and deadly, pursuit. Fly Girls recounts how a cadre of women banded together to break the original glass ceiling: the entrenched prejudice that conspired to keep them out of the sky. O’Brien weaves together the stories of five remarkable women: Florence Klingensmith, a high‑school dropout who worked for a dry cleaner in Fargo, North Dakota; Ruth Elder, an Alabama divorcee; Amelia Earhart, the most famous, but not necessarily the most skilled; Ruth Nichols, who chafed at the constraints of her blue‑blood family’s expectations; and Louise Thaden, the mother of two young kids who got her start selling coal in Wichita. Together, they fought for the chance to race against the men — and in 1936 one of them would triumph in the toughest race of all. Like Hidden Figures and Girls of Atomic City , Fly Girls celebrates a little-known slice of history in which tenacious, trail-blazing women braved all obstacles to achieve greatness.

51xxr7sLZkL._SL200_

Little leaders : bold women in black history Harrison, Vashti

This beautifully illustrated New York Times bestseller introduces readers of all ages to 40 women who changed the world. An important book for all ages, Little Leaders educates and inspires as it relates true stories of forty trailblazing black women in American history. Illuminating text paired with irresistible illustrations bring to life both iconic and lesser-known female figures of Black history such as abolitionist Sojourner Truth, pilot Bessie Coleman, chemist Alice Ball, politician Shirley Chisholm, mathematician Katherine Johnson, poet Maya Angelou, and filmmaker Julie Dash. Among these biographies, readers will find heroes, role models, and everyday women who did extraordinary things – bold women whose actions and beliefs contributed to making the world better for generations of girls and women to come. Whether they were putting pen to paper, soaring through the air or speaking up for the rights of others, the women profiled in these pages were all taking a stand against a world that didn’t always accept them. The leaders in this book may be little, but they all did something big and amazing, inspiring generations to come.

51hhoYoyngL._SL200_

She caused a riot : 100 unknown women who built cities, sparked revolutions, & massively crushed it Jewell, Hannah

Meet the bold women history has tried to forget…until now! Women’s stories are often written as if they spent their entire time on Earth casting woeful but beautiful glances towards the horizon and sighing into the bitter wind at the thought of any conflict. Well, that’s not how it f**king happened.When you hear about a woman who was 100% pure and good, you’re probably missing the best chapters in her life’s story. Maybe she slept around. Maybe she stole. Maybe she crashed planes. Maybe she got shot, or maybe she shot a bad guy (who probably had it coming). Maybe she caused a scandal. Maybe she caused a riot . . . From badass writer Hannah Jewell, She Caused a Riotis an empowering, no-holds-barred look into the epic adventures and dangerous exploits of 100 inspiring women who were too brave, too brilliant, too unconventional, too political, too poor, not ladylike enough and not white enough to be recognized by their shitty contemporaries. Daring and gift-worthy, this is a bold tribute to the powerful women who came before us.

51l6lhxMGiL._SL200_

The woman’s hour : the great fight to win the vote Weiss, Elaine F.

Thirty-five states have ratified the Nineteenth Amendment, twelve have rejected or refused to vote, and one last state is needed. It all comes down to Tennessee, the moment of truth for the suffragists, after a seven-decade crusade. The opposing forces include politicians with careers at stake, liquor companies, railroad magnates, and a lot of racists who don’t want black women voting. And then there are the “Antis”–women who oppose their own enfranchisement, fearing suffrage will bring about the moral collapse of the nation. They all converge in a boiling hot summer for a vicious face-off replete with dirty tricks, betrayals and bribes, bigotry, Jack Daniel’s, and the Bible. Following a handful of remarkable women who led their respective forces into battle, along with appearances by Woodrow Wilson, Warren Harding, Frederick Douglass, and Eleanor Roosevelt, The Woman’s Hour is an inspiring story of activists winning their own freedom in one of the last campaigns forged in the shadow of the Civil War, and the beginning of the great twentieth-century battles for civil rights.

51UStt7-imL._SL200_

Wonder women : 25 innovators, inventors, and trailblazers who changed history Maggs, Sam

Ever heard of Allied spy Noor Inayat Khan, a Muslim woman whom the Nazis considered “highly dangerous”? Or German painter and entomologist Maria Sibylla Merian, who planned and embarked on the world’s first scientific expedition? How about Huang Daopo, the inven-tor who fled an abusive child marriage only to revolutionize textile production in China? Women have always been able to change the world, even when they didn’t get the credit. In Wonder Women, author Sam Maggs introduces you to pioneering female scientists, engineers, mathematicians, adventurers, and inventors-each profile a study in passion, smarts, and stick-to-itiveness, complete with portraits by Google doodler Sophia Foster-Dimino, an extensive bibliography, and a guide to present-day women-centric STEM organizations.

Coming soon to a theater near you – Pt 2

Check out these titles that will be hitting the big screen beginning in April 2019!

APRIL 5, 2019

Pet Sematary by Stephen King

petDon’t miss the classic tale from King of Horror and #1 New York Times bestselling author Stephen King, described by Publishers Weekly as “the most frightening novel Stephen King has ever written.” When the Creeds move into a beautiful old house in rural Maine, it all seems too good to be true: physician father, beautiful wife, charming little daughter, adorable infant son–and now an idyllic home. As a family, they’ve got it all…right down to the friendly car. But the nearby woods hide a blood-chilling truth–more terrifying than death itself–and hideously more powerful. The Creeds are going to learn that sometimes dead is better.

APRIL 29, 2019

The Aftermath by Rhidian Brook

aftermath1946, post-World War II Hamburg. While thousands wander the rubble, lost and homeless, Colonel Lewis Morgan, charged with overseeing the rebuilding of this devastated city and the denazification of its defeated people, is stationed in a grand house on the River Elbe. He is awaiting the arrival of his wife, Rachael–still grieving for their eldest son–and their only surviving son, Edmund. But rather than force the owners of the house, a German widower and his rebellious daughter, out onto the streets, Lewis insists that the two families live together. In this charged atmosphere, both parents and children will be forced to confront their true selves as enmity and grief give way to passion and betrayal, to their deepest desires, their fiercest loyalties, and the transforming power of forgiveness. This courageous new novel from award-winning author Rhidian Brook tells an emotionally riveting story of two families, one house, and love grown from hate.

MAY 17, 2019

The Sun is also a Star by Nicola Yoon

sunThe dazzling new novel from Nicola Yoon, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Everything, Everything, will have you falling in love with Natasha and Daniel as they fall in love with each other! Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story. Daniel:  I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store–for both of us. The Universe:  Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

AUGUST 9, 2019

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

artemis

Twelve-year-old Artemis Fowl is a millionaire, a genius-and, above all, a criminal mastermind. But even Artemis doesn’t know what he’s taken on when he kidnaps a fairy, Captain Holly Short of the LEPrecon Unit. These aren’t the fairies of bedtime stories; these fairies are armed and dangerous. Artemis thinks he has them right where he wants them, but then they stop playing by the rules.

 

OCTOBER 4, 2019

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

windowA twisty, powerful Hitchcockian thriller about an agoraphobic woman who believes she witnessed a crime in a neighboring house. It isn’t paranoia if it’s really happening . . . Anna Fox lives alone–a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times . . . and spying on her neighbors. Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, a mother, their teenage son. The perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble–and its shocking secrets are laid bare. What is real? What is imagined? Who is in danger? Who is in control? In this diabolically gripping thriller, no one–and nothing–is what it seems. Twisty and powerful, ingenious and moving, The Woman in the Window is a smart, sophisticated novel of psychological suspense that recalls the best of Hitchcock.

OCTOBER 11, 2019

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

goldfinchWINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE ” The Goldfinch is a rarity that comes along perhaps half a dozen times per decade, a smartly written literary novel that connects with the heart as well as the mind. Theo Decker, a 13-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don’t know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his longing for his mother, he clings to the one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art. As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love–and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle. The Goldfinch is a mesmerizing, stay-up-all-night and tell-all-your-friends triumph, an old-fashioned story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the ruthless machinations of fate.

Read More in 2019

PART 2 – Keeping a Book Journal

Tracking is a great idea if for no other reason to remember what you thought of a particular author’s writing or where you left off in a book series.

blog2Modern Mrs. Darcy blog actually has a class on book journaling.  From what I can tell, she recommends keeping it simple with Who, what & why, along with the date read.

She also has a free downloadable journal for those who follow her blog.

blog1Book Riot’s Read Harder Book Riot’s READ HARDER journal is a smartly designed reading log consists of entry pages to record stats, impressions, and reviews of each book you read. Evenly interspersed among these entry pages are 12 challenges inspired by Book Riot’s annual Read Harder initiative – so book challenges within your journal!

Scattered Squirrel blog has free printable pages for readers of all ages, from adults to elementary school readers.  So just print them out, use a 3-hole punch and a binder and you have a low-cost book journal. Check Pinterest.com, you will get oodles of choices and can find one that works for you.

Want to go even more low-cost?  

My dad has used a spiral notebook for the past 10 years! There’s no way to search except by paging through, but he likes it.

And I keep my list on GoodReads.com, which is free.  

IF you DO use a physical book and carry it with you – please put your name in it!  How many have we found in the stacks at RCLS? Lots. Some found their way home, but others did not.  How sad to lose that history!

READ MORE in 2019

Part 1 – CREATING YOUR GOALS

I imagine that most people’s bookish New Year’s resolutions revolve around an amount of reading such as “read x number of books” or, more broadly, “read more.” Here are some creative ideas on that theme:

When you set your goal, make the number attainable. Reading should be enjoyable and you don’t want to end your year feeling bad about not making your goal. You can even break it up into something more manageable, such as “Read two books per month.”

Concentrate on forming a habit of reading, such as “Read a little bit each evening” or “Only listen to audiobooks when driving or while at the gym.”

Focus on reading more diversely, like taking part in Book Riot’s annual Read Harder Challenge, There are lists for your favorite author and even your favorite band!  There are challenges like this one from Bookish that let you pick and choose.  So if you’re a speedy reader you might hit all 52 suggestions; but if you struggle to find time to read, you could pick out 10 of them for all of 2019.  And you can simply make your own reading challenges, such as, “Read a book from every section of the library,” “Read 3 books received as gifts that I’ve not yet read,” or “Reread a book from my childhood.”

Don’t forget to mix in shorter books, graphic novels, picture books (if you have little ones or have little ones to whom you gift books), and audiobooks.

This reading is for YOU, so remember to have fun.  Keep track of your titles, use a notebook, app or journal to list the books you’ve read and rate them, maybe even write reviews.  Don’t be afraid to quit books you don’t like. I know that, for me, if I’m reading a book I’m not enjoying, I read much more slowly or find excuses to do other things. You’re not some kind of hero for reading a book you don’t like. You’re not going to get any award at the end of it!  Read because you love to read.

Top Mystery Reads

Check out what mystery titles our patrons at the Smyrna Public Library are reading!

poisonA Crime of Poison by Nancy Haddock 

It’s early October, time for the Fall Folk Art Festival and Bake Sale in Lilyvale, Arkansas. Every business along the town square will benefit from the event, including the craft store run by Leslee Stanton Nix-aka Nixy-and the Silver Six, a group of retirees. In charge of making the festival go smoothly, Nixy is confident that it will be a success. But things become knotty when local troublemaker Cornell Lewis is found dead with a plate of Snickerdoodles from the bake sale. Two members of the Silver Six are accused of cooking up a murder plot, but Nixy knows that the cookies weren’t literally to die for. With time running out, Nixy and company must catch the actual killer . . . before the Silver Six find their number permanently reduced to four.

conspiracyA Conspiracy in Belgravia by Sherry Thomas

Being shunned by society gives Charlotte Holmes the freedom to put her powers of deduction to good use. As Sherlock Holmes, aided by the capable Mrs. Watson, she’s had great success helping with all manner of inquiries, but she’s not prepared for this new client. Lady Ingram wants Sherlock to find her first love, who failed to show up at their annual rendezvous. Matters of loyalty and discretion aside, the case becomes even more personal for Charlotte as the missing man is none other than Myron Finch, her illegitimate half-brother…

flippedFlipped for murder by Maddie Day

“Nursing a broken heart, Robbie Jordan is trading in her life on the West Coast for the rolling hills of southern Indiana. After paying a visit to her Aunt Adele, she fell in love with the tiny town of South Lick. And when she spots a For Sale sign on a rundown country store, she decides to snap it up and put her skills as a cook and a carpenter to use. Everyone in town shows up for the grand re-opening of Pans ‘n Pancakes, but when the mayor’s disagreeable assistant is found dead, Robbie realizes that not all press is good press. With all eyes on her, she’ll have to summon her puzzle-solving skills to clear her name, unscramble the town’s darkest secrets, and track down a cold-blooded killer–before she’s the next to die…”

bigToo Big to Miss by Sue Ann Jaffarian

Too big to miss–that’s Odelia Grey. A never-married, middle-aged, plus-sized woman who makes no excuses for her weight, she’s not super woman just a mere mortal standing on the precipice of menopause, trying to cruise in an ill-fitting bra. She struggles with her relationships, her crazy family, and her crazier boss. And then there’s her knack for being in close proximity to dead people… When her close friend Sophie London commits suicide in front of an online web-cam by putting a gun in her mouth and pulling the trigger, Odelia’s life is changed forever. Sophie, a plus-sized activist and inspiration to imperfect women, is the last person anyone would ever have expected to end her own life. Suspecting foul play, Odelia is determined to get to the bottom of her friend’s death. Odelia’s search for the truth takes her from southern California strip malls to the world of live web-cam porn to the ritzy enclave of Corona del Mar. Praise: “I’d like to spend more time with Sue Ann Jaffarian’s Odelia, a plus-size fat-liberationist with a handsome wheelchair-bound lover. Odelia…does not hesitate to give justice a small, well-plotted forward shove at every opportunity.”–The New York Times

studyA study in scarlet women by Sherry Thomas

An NPR Best Book of 2016 USA Today bestselling author Sherry Thomas turns the story of the renowned Sherlock Holmes upside down… With her inquisitive mind, Charlotte Holmes has never felt comfortable with the demureness expected of the fairer sex in upper class society. But even she never thought that she would become a social pariah, an outcast fending for herself on the mean streets of London. When the city is struck by a trio of unexpected deaths and suspicion falls on her sister and her father, Charlotte is desperate to find the true culprits and clear the family name. She’ll have help from friends new and old–a kind-hearted widow, a police inspector, and a man who has long loved her. But in the end, it will be up to Charlotte, under the assumed name Sherlock Holmes, to challenge society’s expectations and match wits against an unseen mastermind.
cheddarFor cheddar or worse by Avery Aames
“In the new Cheese Shop Mystery from the Agatha Award-winning author of As Gouda as Dead , an extra-sharp tongued cheese critic is cut down during a summer cheese festival. It’s time for the annual Cheese Festival in Providence, Ohio, and Charlotte Bessette’s cheese shop is packed with homemade specialties. Meanwhile, her friend Erin is prepping her dairy farm and inn for cheese makers, marketers, journalists, and one surprise guest-Lara Berry, pretentious cheese whiz, pompous bestselling author, and pungent critic whose extra sharp tongue can crumble a reputation. Even though any love for Lara by her friends curdled long ago, Charlotte is surprised when the foodie is smothered to death in her room at Erin’s inn. Accusations start flying, but the one laying blame on Erin strikes Charlotte as a crock. Now, to clear her friend’s name, Charlotte has to sift through Lara’s ex-lovers, former business partners, and unforgiving enemies to find a killer before Lara’s past casts a tainted pall on the festival’s future. Recipes included.
forgottenThe Forgotten Girls by Sara Blaedel
#1 International Bestseller THE FORGOTTEN GIRLS The body of an unidentified woman has been discovered in a remote forest. A large, unique scar on one side of her face should make the identification easy, but nobody has reported her missing. Louise Rick, the new commander of the Missing Persons Department, waits four long days before pulling off a risky move: releasing a photo of the victim to the media, jeopardizing the integrity of the investigation in hopes of finding anyone who knew her. The gamble pays off when a woman recognizes the victim as Lisemette, a child she cared for in the state mental institution many years ago. Lisemette was a “forgotten girl”, abandoned by her family and left behind in the institution. But Louise soon discovers something even more disturbing: Lisemette had a twin, and both girls were issued death certificates more than thirty years ago. Louise’s investigation takes a surprising when it brings her closer to her childhood home. And as she uncovers more crimes that were committed–and hidden–in the forest, she is forced to confront a terrible link to her own past that has been carefully concealed. Set against a moody and atmospheric landscape, THE FORGOTTEN GIRLS is twisty, suspenseful, emotionally intense novel that secures Sara Blaedel’s place in the pantheon of great thriller writers.
killWinterkill by C. J. Box
Joe Pickett’s pursuit of a killer through the rugged mountains of Wyoming takes a horrifying turn when his beloved foster daughter is kidnapped in this thriller in the #1 New York Times bestselling series. It’s an hour away from darkness, a bitter winter storm is raging, and Joe Pickett is deep in the forest edging Battle Mountain, shotgun in his left hand, his truck’s detached steering wheel handcuffed to his right–and Lamar Gardiner’s arrow-riddled corpse splayed against the tree in front of him. Lamar’s murder and the sudden onslaught of the snowstorm warn: Get off the mountain. But Joe knows this episode is far from over. And when his own daughter gets caught up in his hunt for the killer, Joe will stop at nothing to get her back…
justiceJustice delayed by Patricia Bradley
It’s been eighteen years since TV crime reporter Andi Hollister’s sister was murdered. The confessed killer is behind bars, and the execution date is looming. But when a letter surfaces stating that the condemned killer didn’t actually do it, Detective Will Kincaide of the Memphis Cold Case Unit will stop at nothing to help Andi get to the bottom of it. After all, this case is personal: the person who confessed to the crime is Will’s cousin. They have less than a week to find the real killer before the wrong person is executed. But much can be accomplished in that week–including uncovering police corruption, running for your life, and falling in love. With the perfect mixture of intrigue and nail-biting suspense, award-winning author Patricia Bradley invites her readers to crack the case–if they can–alongside the best Memphis has to offer.
bookedDouble booked for death by Ali Brandon
Darla Pettistone left Texas for New York after unexpectedly inheriting her Great-Aunt Dee’s Brooklyn bookstore. She didn’t know that the store’s mascot–Hamlet, an oversize black cat with a personality to match–was also part of the deal. And he may be more trouble than Darla bargained for… As the new owner of Pettistone’s Fine Books, Darla Pettistone is determined to prove herself a worthy successor to her late great-aunt Dee…and equally determined to outwit Hamlet, the smarter-than-thou cat she inherited along with the shop. Darla’s first store event is a real coup–the hottest bestselling author of the moment is holding a signing there, which brings hordes of fans and some protestors. But when the author meets an untimely end during the event, it’s hardly good for business, even though it’s ruled an accident…until Hamlet digs up a clue that seems to indicate otherwise. Now Darla fears a killer might be lurking about… Can the interfering Hamlet point the paw at the culprit without losing one of his own nine lives?
CHECK OUT ALL THESE AND MORE GREAT MYSTERIES AT ANY BRANCH OF THE RUTHERFORD COUNTY LIBRARY SYSTEM!
EXPLORE. IMAGINE. ENGAGE @ RCLS
rclstn.org

Coming soon to a theatre near you!

Check out these books that are scheduled to hit the big screen between January and March in 2019:

nativesonNative Son (January 24, 2019)
Based on: Richard Wright, Native Son
Directed by: Rashid Johnson

Starring: Ashton Sanders, Nick Robinson, Margaret Qualley, Bill Camp, KiKi Layne

Right from the start, Bigger Thomas had been headed for jail. It could have been for assault or petty larceny; by chance, it was for murder and rape. Native Son tells the story of this young black man caught in a downward spiral after he kills a young white woman in a brief moment of panic. Set in Chicago in the 1930s, Wright’s powerful novel is an unsparing reflection on the poverty and feelings of hopelessness experienced by people in inner cities across the country and of what it means to be black in America.

nightingaleThe Nightingale (January 25, 2019)
Based on: Kristin Hannah, The Nightingale
Directed by: Michelle MacLaren

With courage, grace and powerful insight, bestselling author Kristin Hannah captures the epic panorama of WWII and illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the women’s war.; The Nightingale tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France–a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women.; It is a novel for everyone, a novel for a lifetime.

screwThe Turning (March 14, 2019)
Based on: Henry James, The Turn of the Screw
Directed by: Floria Sigismondi
Starring: Mackenzie Davis, Finn Wolfhard, Brooklynn Prince

The Turn of the Screw is an 1898 horror novella by Henry James that first appeared in serial format in Collier’s Weekly magazine. In October 1898 it appeared in The Two Magics, a book published by Macmillan in New York City and Heinemann in London.

knifeChaos Walking (March 1, 2019)
Based on: Patrick Ness, The Knife of Never Letting Go
Directed by: Doug Liman

Starring: Tom Holland, Daisy Ridley, Mads Mikkelsen

Todd Hewitt is the only boy in a town of men. Ever since the settlers were infected with the Noise germ, Todd can hear everything the men think, and they hear everything he thinks. Todd is just a month away from becoming a man, but in the midst of the cacophony, he knows that the town is hiding something from him — something so awful Todd is forced to flee with only his dog, whose simple, loyal voice he hears too. With hostile men from the town in pursuit, the two stumble upon a strange and eerily silent creature: a girl. Who is she? Why wasn’t she killed by the germ like all the females on New World? Propelled by Todd’s gritty narration, readers are in for a white-knuckle journey in which a boy on the cusp of manhood must unlearn everything he knows in order to figure out who he truly is.

bernadetteWhere’d You Go, Bernadette (March 22, 2019)
Based on: Maria Semple, Where’d You Go, Bernadette
Directed by: Richard Linklater
Starring: Cate Blanchett, Billy Crudup, Kristen Wiig, Judy Greer, Laurence Fishburne

Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she’s a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she’s a disgrace; to design mavens, she’s a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom. Then Bernadette disappears.

shepherd

Greyhound (March 22, 2019)
Based on: C. S. Forester, The Good Shepherd
Directed by:

 Aaron Schneider
Starring: Tom Hanks (who also wrote the screenplay), Stephen Graham, Elisabeth Shue

The Good Shepherd is a nautical and war novel by C.S. Forester, best known as the creator of fictional Royal Navy officer Horatio Hornblower.

secondsThe Informer (March 22, 2019)
Based on: Roslund/Hellström, Three Seconds
Directed by: Andrea Di Stefano

Starring: Joel Kinnaman, Rosamund Pike, Clive Owen, Common, Ana de Armas

Dark, suspenseful, and more riveting than any thriller at the local cineplex, THREE SECONDS is the latest novel from best-selling Swedish duo Anders Roslund and Barge Hellstrom-heirs apparent to Stieg Larsson and Henning Mankell as the masters of Scandinavian crime. Piet Hoffman, a top secret operative for the Swedish police, is about to embark on his most dangerous assignment yet: after years spent infiltrating the Polish mafia, he’s become a key player in their attempt to take over amphetamine distribution inside Sweden’s prisons. To stop them from succeeding, he will have to go deep cover, posing as a prisoner inside the country’s most notorious jail. But when a botched drug deal involving Hoffman results in a murder, the investigation is assigned to the brilliant but haunted Detective Inspector Ewert Grens–a man who never gives up until he’s cracked the case. Grens’s determination to find the killer not only threatens to expose Hoffman’s true identity-it may reveal even bigger crimes involving the highest levels of power. And there are people who will do anything to stop him from discovering the truth. Winner of the Swedish Academy of Crime Writers’ 2009 award for Best Swedish Crime Novel of the Year, and a #1 bestseller there, THREE SECONDS captures a nefarious world of betrayal and violence, where a wise man trusts no one and even the most valuable agent can be “burned.”

Top RCLS Reads

Check out these top titles in Fiction and Non-Fiction that our RCLS patrons are reading:

letgo

 

Don’t let go by Harlan Coben

FIC COBEN

With unmatched suspense and emotional insight, Harlan Coben explores the big secrets and little lies that can destroy a relationship, a family, and even a town in this powerful new thriller.

Suburban New Jersey Detective Napoleon “Nap” Dumas hasn’t been the same since senior year of high school, when his twin brother Leo and Leo’s girlfriend Diana were found dead on the railroad tracks–and Maura, the girl Nap considered the love of his life, broke up with him and disappeared without explanation. For fifteen years, Nap has been searching, both for Maura and for the real reason behind his brother’s death. And now, it looks as though he may finally find what he’s been looking for.

When Maura’s fingerprints turn up in the rental car of a suspected murderer, Nap embarks on a quest for answers that only leads to more questions–about the woman he loved, about the childhood friends he thought he knew, about the abandoned military base near where he grew up, and mostly about Leo and Diana–whose deaths are darker and far more sinister than Nap ever dared imagine.


fallen

The fallen by David Baldacci

FIC BALDACC

The closer Amos Decker comes to the truth, the deadlier it gets in #1 New York Times bestselling author David Baldacci’s latest Memory Man thriller.

Something sinister is going on in Baronville. The rust belt town has seen four bizarre murders in the space of two weeks. Cryptic clues left at the scenes–obscure bible verses, odd symbols–have the police stumped.

Amos Decker and his FBI colleague Alex Jamison are in Baronville visiting Alex’s sister and her family. It’s a bleak place: a former mill and mining town with a crumbling economy and rampant opioid addiction. Decker has only been there a few hours when he stumbles on a horrific double murder scene.

Then the next killing hits sickeningly close to home. And with the lives of people he cares about suddenly hanging in the balance, Decker begins to realize that the recent string of deaths may be only one small piece of a much larger scheme–with consequences that will reach far beyond Baronville.

Decker, with his singular talents, may be the only one who can crack this bizarre case. Only this time–when one mistake could cost him everything–Decker finds that his previously infallible memory may not be so trustworthy after all…


eyes

I’ve got my eyes on you : a novel by Mary Higgins Clark

FIC CLARK

When a terrible crime shocks a New Jersey community, all signs point to one suspect. But if he’s innocent as he claims, it means the murderer is still out there…

After throwing a party when her parents were away, 18-year-old Kerry Dowling is discovered lifeless at the bottom of the family pool. The police immediately question Kerry’s boyfriend, who–despite proclaiming his love for her–was seen arguing with Kerry that night. As neighbors and classmates grieve the loss of their friend, Kerry’s 28-year-old sister Aline, a guidance counselor, searches for answers. She’ll do anything to help the Detective Mike Wilson learn what really happened the night Kerry was killed.

Was someone watching Kerry the night of the murder? For Aline, the truth could be deadly.

From #1 New York Times bestselling author and “Queen of Suspense” comes a thrilling investigation asking what we truly know about the those we trust, and the secrets lying in even the most idyllic of neighborhoods.


window

The woman in the window by A. J. Finn

FIC FINN

Anna Fox lives alone–a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times . . . and spying on her neighbors.

Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, a mother, their teenage son. The perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble–and its shocking secrets are laid bare.

What is real? What is imagined? Who is in danger? Who is in control? In this diabolically gripping thriller, no one–and nothing–is what it seems.

Twisty and powerful, ingenious and moving, The Woman in the Window is a smart, sophisticated novel of psychological suspense that recalls the best of Hitchcock.


camino

Camino Island by John Grisham

FIC GRISHAM

A gang of thieves stage a daring heist from a secure vault deep below Princeton University’s Firestone Library. Their loot is priceless, but Princeton has insured it for twenty-five million dollars.

Bruce Cable owns a popular bookstore in the sleepy resort town of Santa Rosa on Camino Island in Florida. He makes his real money, though, as a prominent dealer in rare books. Very few people know that he occasionally dabbles in the black market of stolen books and manuscripts.

Mercer Mann is a young novelist with a severe case of writer’s block who has recently been laid off from her teaching position. She is approached by an elegant, mysterious woman working for an even more mysterious company. A generous offer of money convinces Mercer to go undercover and infiltrate Bruce Cable’s circle of literary friends, ideally getting close enough to him to learn his secrets.

But eventually Mercer learns far too much, and there’s trouble in paradise as only John Grisham can deliver it.


seize Seize the Day by Joyce Meyer

248.4 MEYER

Today is no ordinary day. You may perform simple routines, feel uninspired, or lack the excitement of hope. But today could be the most important one of your life–depending on how you choose to spend it. Joyce Meyer, #1 New York Times bestselling author, encourages you not to waste another minute. There is something special, valuable waiting for you to discover in each day. And when you spend time with God daily, asking Him to help you find it, you’ll unlock the wonderful purpose He has in store for you. When you commit to letting God direct you, instead of resting passively in your own disappointments, you’ll be open to receive greater happiness and blessings than you ever thought possible.


myths

Myths and Legends of the World by John M. Wickersham.

398.2 M V.1

As students study history, literature, drama, poetry and art, they encounter numerous references to mythical figures and legends from different cultures. Existing encyclopedias focus on specific cultures, such as the classical Greeks, or on themes, such as angels or nature myths. Myths and Legends of the World is an authoritative and comprehensive source of myths and legends from around the world, encompassing North and South America, Africa and Asia, and the Pacific islands. Whether researching a specific mythical figure, a particular motif, an ethnic group, or looking up a term, this resource is designed for easy access. Illustrated throughout with more than 200 drawings and photos, the set also includes helpful sidebars and extensive backmatter, including genealogy trees that show the relationships between deities, and a subject index — helpful in tracing similar themes across cultures.


millionaire

The Automatic Millionaire by David Bach

332.024 BACH

What’s the secret to becoming a millionaire?

For years people have asked David Bach, the national bestselling author of Smart Women Finish RichSmart Couples Finish Rich, and The Finish Rich Workbook, what’s the real secret to getting rich? What’s the one thing I need to do?

Now, in The Automatic Millionaire, David Bach is sharing that secret.
The Automatic Millionaire starts with the powerful story of an average American
couple–he’s a low-level manager, she’s a beautician–whose joint income never exceeds $55,000 a year, yet who somehow manage to own two homes debt-free, put two kids through college, and retire at 55 with more than $1 million in savings. Through their story you’ll learn the surprising fact that you cannot get rich with a budget! You have to have a plan to pay yourself first that is totally automatic, a plan that will automatically secure your future and pay for your present.


face

Girl, wash your face : stop believing the lies about who you are so you can become who you were meant to be by Rachel Hollis

158.1082 HOLLIS

Do you ever suspect that everyone else has life figured out and you don’t have a clue? If so, Rachel Hollis has something to tell you: that’s a lie.

As the founder of the lifestyle website TheChicSite.com and CEO of her own media company, Rachel Hollis developed an immense online community by sharing tips for better living while fearlessly revealing the messiness of her own life. Now, in this challenging and inspiring new book, Rachel exposes the twenty lies and misconceptions that too often hold us back from living joyfully and productively, lies we’ve told ourselves so often we don’t even hear them anymore.

With painful honesty and fearless humor, Rachel unpacks and examines the falsehoods that once left her feeling overwhelmed and unworthy, and reveals the specific practical strategies that helped her move past them. In the process, she encourages, entertains, and even kicks a little butt, all to convince you to do whatever it takes to get real and become the joyous, confident woman you were meant to be.

With unflinching faith and rock-hard tenacity, Girl, Wash Your Face shows you how to live with passion and hustle–and how to give yourself grace without giving up.


crochet

The complete photo guide to crochet by Margaret Hubert

746.43 HUBERT

This is a comprehensive reference book on all aspects of crochet. This book provides a reference for all methods, including Tunisian, filet, intermeshing, broomstick lace, bruges lace, and freeform crochet. Includes step-by-step instructions for all the basic stitches and swatches of 100s of stitch patterns with complete instructions. Also provides instructions and patterns for 50 projects for garments, accessories, and decor items.

To Kill a Habsburg: An Explanation of Historiography

by James Rucker

Editor’s Note: Have you ever wondered why people continue to write new history books about very old topics, and why libraries need to buy them? Once something happens, it doesn’t change, right? So why can’t we just read old books about it and be done with it? In today’s post, James explains how historiography–or the study of historical writing–has changed over time, and how various approaches to history differ. –Brittney Reed-Saltz

Like any trained professionals, historians have a history, and there are two watershed moments where we could start telling it. The first is in ancient Greece, with Herodotus. Renouncing the authority of myth and legend, he embarked on a self-critical pursuit of knowledge. When interviewing witnesses to the events, he did what any good attorney does to a witness in a court of law: He cross-examined them. He called his book Inquiries. (The ancient Greek word was ‘istoriai, the root of our modern word “history.” Modern translations just call the book Histories.) For our purposes, it doesn’t matter whether Inquiries is entirely free of errors or assumptions; it quite obviously isn’t. What matters is it represents an undeniable and fundamental shift in the concept of historical truth: It is not something to be related, it is something to be discovered. This attitude has generally characterized historians ever since.

The history of history-writing (historiography) since the Inquiries has taken many forms.

Read More »

Fall into Gothic Literature

by Brittney Reed

Crimson Peak, one of my favorite movies, is widely regarded as a failure. I think that this is largely due to mismanaged expectations on the part of audiences. They bought tickets expecting a $50 million horror movie, but what Guillermo del Toro had made was something far different: a Gothic romance.

giphy
Mia Wasikowska as Edith Cushing is the ultimate Gothic heroine.

Gothic and horror are related, but they’re not the same thing. I think of it as a matter of adrenaline. You’re not going to feel that kidney-spike survival instinct kick in when you’re reading or watching a Gothic. Rather, you’re in for creeping dread and  lingering wistfulness.

Both are things that Crimson Peak has to spare, along with all of the tropes that make a Gothic so darkly delicious: a determined heroine, a dark and brooding hero (who inhabits that role with ambiguity), a crumbling old mansion, plots leading to doom, disturbing family secrets, and, of course, ghosts (and, for my money, the most stylishly-designed ghosts in the history of cinema, but I adore del Toro and might be a smidge biased).

crimson peak 2
“Beware… of Crimson… Peeeaaak!”

I bring up Crimson Peak because I think it’s a perfect example of Gothic fiction in film, and because we’re heading into the perfect time to read Gothic literature. As the days shorten and the weather takes a turn for the dreary, some people seek escape in lighter reads or the warm bustle of Christmas books. I much prefer to lean into the current season and embrace the somber atmosphere of November.

Here are some Gothic novels, from classic fare to more recent explorations of the genre, available through RCLS.

Foundational Texts:
If you want to get down to the origins of Gothic literature, you’ll need to go all the way back to 1764, to Horace Walpole’s Castle of Otranto. It is considered to be the first Gothic novel.

From there, you can also explore The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe and The Monk by Matthew Lewis.

Two out of three Brontë sisters published Gothic classics during the Nineteenth Century: Charlotte wrote Jane Eyre, and Emily, Wuthering Heights. (Anne Brontë wrote less… intense love interests in her novels.)

If you want to read a send-up of the Gothic and the way it inflames readers’ imaginations, you’ll want to check out Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey.

Romantic Suspense:
Crimson Peak gets its inspiration from classic Gothic literature, but also from Gothic romances, which are distinct from other Gothic novels in their focus on a romantic plot. Often a plucky heroine finds herself in a spooky house with a creepy kid and a brooding guy who might or might not have committed a crime. She might be depicted on the paperback cover wandering through a corridor with a candlabrum, or else fleeing from the house wearing a gauzy nightgown, looking back over her shoulder in abject terror. (Neil Gaiman’s 2006 poem “The Hidden Chamber” incorporates this trope.)

Gothic romance following this formula, also called “romantic suspense,” had its heyday in the 1960s and ’70s, and it’s still what a lot of people think about when you talk about Gothic novels. When you look at books from this era, three authors come up again and again: Mary Stewart, Phyllis A. Whitney, and Victoria Holt.

Mary Stewart also wrote Arthurian fantasy novels, but she is perhaps best known for her romantic suspense, including Nine Coaches Waiting  and The Ivy Tree.

Phyllis A. Whitney published dozens of Gothics, among them The Winter People and Thunder Heights.

Victoria Holt is known for The Mistress of MellynBride of Pendorric, and On the Night of the Seventh Moon, among others.

Gothic in the 20th Century:
Romance isn’t the only game in Gothic fiction, and the 20th Century also featured less pulpy examples of the genre.

Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca is an essential Gothic novel, exploring the classic “I wonder how my new husband’s ex-wife really died?” plot. She also wrote Jamaica Inn and My Cousin Rachel, which was adapted for film in 2017.

Shirley Jackson’s work is getting increased attention for the Netflix adaptation of The Haunting of Hill House, but the original is far, far different… and regarded by many, including Stephen King, as the best horror novel of all time. You should also read We Have Always Lived in the Castle or, to explore her short fiction, the collection Dark Tales.

Susan Hill’s 1983 slim novel The Woman in Black reads like a much older book, and is a good example of slow-burn terror. If it sounds familiar and you don’t know why, it might be from the 2012 adaptation starring Daniel Radcliffe.

If you would like to get lost in a lush trilogy, try the Gormenghast series by Mervyn Peake, starting with 1949’s Titus Groan.

Of course, a supremely fun and easy way to get a dose of Gothic goodness or to acquaint yourself with the hallmarks of the genre is Edward Gorey. His signature pen-and-ink illustrations accompany odd and macabre tales that are immersed in Gothic aesthetics. Beyond his own writing, he also had a prolific career as an illustrator of other people’s books. He had a penchant for lending his pen to creepy stories, so you can often take his byline as illustrator as an endorsement. (An example being the Louis Barnavelt series, starting with The House with a Clock in Its Walls.)

Contemporary Gothic:
Luckily, since the turn of the 21st Century, the Gothic lives on as contemporary authors find new ways to work within this old genre.

Sarah Waters writes historical fiction featuring lesbian characters and richly detailed settings. To read her work is to be immersed in the time period in a sort of Dickensian fashion. Fingersmith is set in Waters’s signature Victorian London, while The Little Stranger takes place postwar in a Georgian mansion.

Sarah Perry knows the Gothic genre well; she a PhD in Creative Writing and the Gothic from the University of London. She brings this knowledge to bear in Melmoth, in which a strange letter found in a library leads to encounters between a translator and a shadowy figure who moves throughout history.

If you’re only familiar with Audrey Niffenegger through The Time Traveler’s Wife, you should know that her other writing tends to be just as good but much darker and weirder. Her Fearful Symmetry, a ghost story set near London’s famous Highgate Cemetery, is a perfect example.

Though the popularity of Gothic romantic suspense has waned, the genre still attracts authors who no longer feel the need to adhere quite as strictly to the original plot conventions. One such author is Simone St. James, whose novels (among them The Haunting of Maddy Clare, An Inquiry Into Love and Death, and Silence for the Dead), feature historical settings, creepy hospitals, psychics, and ghost hunting.

Kate Morton’s The Distant Hours plays with the time-honored trope of a mysterious letter summoning the heroine to an old castle, where eccentric sisters share history related to her mother. The Forgotten Garden, meanwhile, is set in Cornwall and Australia and preoccupies itself with family secrets and the search for one’s true identity.

Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s Cemetery of Forgotten Books trilogy (The Shadow of the Wind, The Angel’s Game, and The Prisoner of Heaven) begins with one reader’s quest to discover why books by an author he loves are being systematically destroyed. Perhaps the blurb describes it best: “an epic story of murder, magic, madness and doomed love.”

Although contemporary Gothics often aren’t labeled explicitly as such, once you know the conventions, you find that they’re lurking on almost every bookshelf. As you can see, there’s plenty to choose from, and even more when you open up the criteria to include Gothics that blend more strongly with other genres, such as fantasy, or if you decide to explore Southern Gothic. But that’s a subject for another day…

In the meantime, steep a cup of your favorite tea and settle in for a dreary autumn of suitably atmospheric reading.

crimson peak 4
Until next time…

 

 

Roots, Heritage, and the Antiquarian Way

by James Rucker 

Just a few minutes before I began writing,  I reshelved a total of sixty-eight books in a locked room on the second floor at Linebaugh. Genealogy enthusiasts among you might already know the room in question, though it goes by multiple names. Some call it the Tennessee Room. Others call it the Historical Research room (or HR Room for short). Our more functionalist patrons call it the “Genealogy Room.” I’ve even heard some older patrons refer to it as “the Vault,” which was its nickname, according to one of them, at our former location at 110 W College Street. Way back when, Murfreesboro’s post office had a room with a locked, metal gateway where they stored valuables. When Linebaugh Library moved into the building, they repurposed this “Vault” into an archive of various official records and historical publications. We eventually moved to our current location and now the former post office houses the Murfreesboro Center for the Arts.

When our current building was under construction, the head librarian at the time, Briley Adcock, gave a tour to some reporters from the Daily News Journal. The interview ran on May 3rd, 1992.

archive blog 1

Adcock was particularly enthusiastic about the new accommodations to local historians, both professional and casual. As the reporter wrote, “Also on the second floor is Adcock’s favorite room, a new improved version of the Tennessee Room./ ‘It’s about three times larger than what we have now,’ she said. / Stored in the Tennessee Room will be all the library’s geneological [sic] resources, she said, as well a copy machine, microfilm readers and a vault for storing rare volumes. / ‘The people who use this part of the building regularly will be really pleased,’ she said.”

Archival documents say both too much and too little at the same time. It can be overwhelming to think of the volume of material to comb through. Of course, the modern world is riddled with unchecked bureaucracies and their meticulous record-keeping, but we mustn’t mistake the chatter in the archives for a clear voice. In a way, these many words say nothing at all. Documents aren’t self-conscious and can’t interpret themselves. Therefore, the archive cannot speak for itself; the historian must speak for it. If I may repurpose an ironic quip from a 19th-century, German journalist, “They cannot represent themselves, they must be represented.”

For those who don’t know where to begin, I will recommend a book: The Allure of the Archives by Arlette Farge. Don’t judge the book by its call number (it is miscategorized); it may be shelved with books on the French Revolution (944.04), but it is actually about historical research methods and what to expect when you visit an archive. I found her prose not only instructive but also a pleasure to read. As Natalie Zemon Davis wrote in her introduction, “Arlette Farge takes us into archives and pulls us into the experience of research” (xi-xii). It isn’t a dry instructional manual, but a visceral and tactile read that aquaints you with the textures, discomforts, and pleasures one should expect.

However, more than anything, Farge wants us to prepare to be surprised. For example, when looking into the history of my mother’s family, I consulted census data from Dickson county in the 1800s. Strangely enough, during one decade’s census, the number of people in my family’s household spiked. There were unfamiliar people several different surnames between them. Clearly my family had taken in several, seemingly random, people, only for them to disappear a decade later. Perhaps they were refugees? Or maybe my family had hired some people to help out on the family farm? Had I investigated further, I might have found out more, but  for the time being it is a mystery. To quote Davis again, “Arlette Farge is our guide — for the unexpected, the surprise. We rejoice when we make a find, even though the story or event itself may be sad, troubling, ghastly, baffling; even though it may oblige us to rethink our earlier understanding of our topic and restructure it” (xii).

We must be careful, however. Archives are, of course, products of institutions or governments which have objectives and desires. Therefore, archives, like all institutions, have biases. A census, like the one I consulted above, views its subjects as quantifiable entities, to be counted and categorized so officials can draw districts and collect taxes. The state collects this data in order to govern more easily and effectively. This state-bias is perhaps most clear in Farge’s own case, since she works with the records of arrests and interrogations kept by French police. As she puts it, “most of the dossiers ultimately put forward only one version of the events, that of public order and police authority. The questions that were asked have a policeman’s directness. Above all, the police were looking to identify the culprits” (87). The perspective of the judicial archives has an accusing eye, one that sees the population as a problem to be solved; “in a sense, they catch the city red-handed: craftily maneuvering around the rules, refusing outright to accept the policemen’s vision of order, choosing to acclaim or snub its kings, and rising up whenever it feels threatened. When reading the police records, you can see to what extent resistance, defiance, and even open revolt are social facts to which the city is accustomed. […] Deviance and marginality are powerfully indicative of political authority and of norms, and each type of crime reflects an aspect of the society in which it occurred” (25 & 27). Farge stresses how important it is to overcome this bias of an archive and capture the voices of those common people under their regime. “As historians, we must take into account the reflexes, habits, and weaknesses of the police” (88). As I mentioned above, a census doesn’t see people as concrete individuals but as abstract quantities without any qualities it considers irrelevant. To the eyes of the census, people only exist to be counted. And in the antebellum South, the census counted certain “properties” as only three-fifths of a whole person. I am, of course, referring to slaves.

In many cases, these biases are  most visible where the archive falls silent. The census has nothing to say when it comes to the parts of life we care about most. For those moments, most people have birth and death certificates or records of marriage and divorce, but not everyone has those resources. African American genealogy illustrates this problem quite clearly. Precise records of the births, deaths, marriages, and divorces of slaves were rarely kept in much of the antebellum South. Alex Haley’s Roots and the miniseries of the same name might be the most famous genealogical work to date, but it was a remarkable achievement precisely because of the hurdles my people sometimes have to go through when finding out about our heritage. My father once told me about how hard it was to find information when trying to map out his paternal bloodline.

Daniel, my great-great-grandfather, was the last man in that part of my family to be born a slave; therefore, he had no birth certificate. The earliest record of him was when he was mentioned in a court case. When a plantation owner with our last name died, there was a lawsuit to determine who would inherit the estate. In court, they had to list every piece of property, slaves included. Among them, there was a single child of the correct age named Daniel who we assume must be our ancestor. But there is no way to be sure. This court case is as far back as our paternal bloodline goes. My paternal grandmother’s line, by contrast, can be traced all the way back to the auction block, where my ancestor and her mother were sold separately, cutting that tie forever. But it isn’t state documents that let us trace our family that far, but an oral tradition that was passed down every generation to us (similar to the one in Alex Haley’s family).  Examples like those above show how creative a researcher has to be with archival evidence, since it is not always obvious where to find the needed information. They also show the importance of oral tradition for filling in gaps in the documentary record.

For those interested in researching their own families, now is the perfect time. October is Family History Month in the United States, and upstairs at Linebaugh is a book display by our own Lisa Ramsay, showing some of our available materials on genealogical research.

arhive blog graphic

After that you can take a look at the HR room to your left, or walk down the non-fiction stacks to “929” where you can check out a book on genealogy to take home. If Linebaugh doesn’t have what you need, we also have an HR room at our Smyrna branch, and the Rutherford County Archives are at 423 Rice Street, northwest of the Murfreesboro town square. Perhaps you’ll find some answers, or even better, some questions. And next month, at the Thanksgiving table, you might be able to ask them of your grandparents (or whoever your oldest living relatives are). If all else fails, you can ask them to tell you about their own grandparents.

And when you get the chance, check out Allure of the Archives for yourself. I’ll close with another quote from Davis’s introduction: “Newcomers to historical studies will welcome Arlette Farge’s introduction to archival research. Amateur history enthusiasts will be fascinated by her insider’s account of how historians practice their craft. But old-timer’s like me will have their memories enriched and their understanding deepened by this book” (xiii).