Genealogy is the gateway to an understanding of many other subjects: geography, sociology, anthropology, political history, even law, and more. Thus, it opens these topics for further exploration. Likewise, an independent study of other disciplines sheds light on one's genealogical quests. That's one reason I'm constantly reading. (The other is that I just like to read!). Here I share some of the things I've read recently or am currently reading.
My Google Books Library: Google Books has a convenient way to save titles you're interested in. Below is a list of some of the titles in my "Library." These particular titles focus on the nineteenth century and the Civil War in particular and are mainly by people who were there!
A Diary from Dixie: Mary Boykin Chestnut (Isabella D. Martin & Mary Avary Lockett, eds.) (1905)--Mary Boykin Chestnut was the wife of James Chestnut, Jr., who served as a United States Senator from South Carolina from 1859 until secession. James Chestnut later was an aide to Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Mary Chestnut was related by marriage to the Witherspoon family that held in bondage part of my Brayboy family.
A History of the Struggle for Slavery Extension or Restriction in the United States, by Horace Greeley (1856). The famed journalist, an avowed abolitionist, compiled historical and legal documents on the issue of slavery's spread or abolition.
A Sailor's Log: Reflections on Forty Years of Naval Service, by Robley D. Evans, Rear Admiral, USN (1901). Admiral Evans' memoirs begin in his antebellum Virginia boyhood and take the reader through his Annapolis days just before the Civil War and eventually on to the conclusion of his career after the Spanish-American War. Along the way, he describes the division wrought upon his family by the war, his service around the world, his detail back to the Naval Academy as an instructor at the time of the first "coloured cadet."
The Afro-American Press and Its Editors, by I. Garland Penn (1891). At age 19, and right out of high school, Penn became editor of the Laborer, a black newspaper in Lynchburg, Virginia. Later, he was one of the most influential lay persons in the Methodist Episcopal Church. In this work, Penn tells about an important group of black opinion leaders in the nineteenth century.
The Rising Son, by William Wells Brown, M.D. (1874). The author escaped from slavery and became one of the leading black intellectuals of the nineteenth century. In this book, he traces the "antecedents and achievements of the colored race" from the ancient Ethiopians through the Emancipation of slaves in the United States. He covers the history of Africans throughout the western hemisphere and sketches "representative men and women."
Sobriquets and Nicknames, by Albert Romer Frey (1887). This 482 page onomastical work is, by the author's reckoning, the first book, "devoted to the explanations and derivations of these witty, and in some instances, abusive, appellations." Frey was also a numismatist and wrote a "Dictionary of Numismatic Names" in several languages as well as "A Bibliography of Playing Cards."
The Photographic History of the Civil War, Volume One (of ten), Francis Trevelyan Miller, editor-in-chief. Miller was a photographer, historian, writer, and early film director.
On my bedside shelf:
Plum Lucky, by Janet Evanovich (2007): For fans of the Stephanie Plum novels, this is a slim, but hilarious, "Between-the-Numbers" volume. Grandma Mazur goes missing with a million dollars in a duffel bag, pursued by a leprechaun who gets naked; there's a horse in Stephanie's apartment; Lula exposes herself in an Atlantic City casino, a Mob boss is out to whack Grandma, Stephanie and the horse; and naturally, there are fires and explosions--hey, just another day in the 'Burg!
History As They Lived It--A Social History of Prairie du Rocher, Illinois, by Margaret Kimball Brown (2005). We serendipitously met Dr. Brown in Prairie du Rocher last summer. This is an important work on life in one of the French North American areas.
Bertha Venation, by Larry Ashmead (2007)--Ashmead, a publisher and editor, collects hundreds of funny, sometimes profane, names of real people.
One Drop, by Bliss Broyard (2007)--- After New York Times book critic Anatole Broyard died in 1990, his wife told their children a family secret he had kept from them. The revelation stunned daughter Bliss and set her off on a nationwide genealogical quest to find her father's hidden life and her own identity. Soon to be the subject of a GeneaBlogie book review!
Born Standing Up, by Steve Martin (2007)--Think comedy is funny? Well, excuuuuuuse me! Steve Martin's poignant memoir will make you think again.
The Only Land I Know--A History of the Lumbee Indians, by Adolph L. Dial and David K. Eliades (1996)--Dial and Eliades, both professors at Pembroke (N.C.) State University [now the University of Norfth Carolina at Pembroke], trace the history of America's least known and most misunderstood ethnic group. My Brayboy line may be connected to the Lumbee Indians.
Some Family--The Mormons and How Humanity Keeps Tracks of Itself, by Donald Harman Akenson (2007)--While praising the LDS Church for its great genealogical and historical efforts, Professor Akenson takes head-on the relationship between Mormon history and beliefs and what he seems to view as a flawed template for genealogical narratives. Akenson, a professor at Queens University, Montreal, and the author of major works on Christianity and Judaism, has plenty to say about the effects of other religions on that flawed template as well. Soon to be the subject of a GeneaBlogie Book Review!