Reading, Lately

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!


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5 Responses to “Reading, Lately”

  • GreenmanTim says:

    Plumb fans in my house, too.

  • Thomas MacEntee says:

    Craig – I had a good laugh over Bertha Venation as well. But for me, it reminded me of many “drag queen” names I’ve encountered through the years – and I’ve actually met some of these gals! I sometimes wonder if the “made up” names were based on actual names!

    Alberta Clipper
    Amanda Huginkiss
    Amber Waves
    Andrea Dorea
    Angie O’Plasty
    Anita Bath
    Anita Cocktail
    Anita Mann
    Anna Waywego
    Annette Curtain
    Annie Bellum
    Augusta Wind
    Barb Dwyer
    Barbra Seville
    Bea Reasonable
    Bertha D. Blues
    Bertha Venation
    Bessie Mae Mucho
    Blanche Dividian
    Bridgette of Madison County
    Brooke Trout
    Candy Wrapper
    Carlotta Stolengoods
    Carmen Dioxide
    Carrie Oakey
    Charity Case
    Connie Sewer
    Crystal DeCanter
    Della Ware
    Delois Price
    Devoida Class
    Dinah Thirst
    Donna Frock
    Donna Matrix
    Dora Jarr
    Dot Com
    Eileen Dover
    Emma Grate
    Eva Destruction
    Faye King
    Frieda Fondle
    Frieda Love
    Gail Force
    Gina Te
    Ginger Snapp
    Ginny Tonic
    Hedda Lettuce
    Helen Bach
    Helen Bedd
    Helen Heels
    Holly Mackerel
    Honey Dijon
    Hurricane Summers
    Ida Claire
    Ida Slapter
    Iona Trailer
    Ivana B. Queen
    Ivana Mann
    Jean Pool
    Jill E. Bean
    Juan Condition
    Juan Nightstand
    June Bugg
    Katy Didd
    Kaye Sedia
    Layona Davenport
    Lisa Carr
    Leigh Way
    Libby T. Belle
    Lilly Pond
    Lilly White
    Lois Carmen Denominator
    Mae Zola
    Marianne Unfaithful
    Marsha Dimes
    Marsha Mellow
    Mary K. Mart
    May Aculpa
    Ming Vase
    Minnie Pause
    Miranda Rites
    Miss Taken
    Mona Lott
    Nan Tucket
    Natalie Attired
    Orna Mint
    Paige Turner
    Patty O. Furniture
    Pearl E. Gates
    Peg Legg
    Penny R. Cade
    Polly Esther
    Polly Gripp
    Rachel Tension
    Rhea Listik
    Rhoda Lott
    Rita Book
    Robyn Banks
    Rosie Cheeks
    Rusty Hinges
    Sadie Word
    Sally Mander
    Shanda Lear
    Sharon Husbands
    Shirley U. Wood
    Stella Artois
    Strawberry Fields
    Summer Clearance
    Tanya Hyde
    Tequila Mockingbird
    Tulita Pepsi
    Virginia Hamm
    Winnie Baygo

  • Jasia says:

    I haven’t read Plum Lucky yet but it sure sounds good to me. I’m reading the latest Stuart Woods novel and then it’s on to Janet E. for me!

  • Craig Manson says:

    Yes! I know Jasia is a fan, too.

  • Apple says:

    Another Stephanie Plum fan! We’ll have to start our own fan club.

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