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World War I

John Pecoraro, Assistant Director, Manhattan Public Library
One hundred years ago on July 28, 1914, the Great War, the War to End All Wars, started in Europe. By the time of the armistice ending the war on November 11, 1918, the conflict was worldwide, and over 9 million soldiers, sailors, and Marines had been killed. This is the war we now refer to as World War I.

By now the participants in the conflict are history. The last remaining United States veteran of the war, Frank Buckles, died in 1911, at the ripe, old age of 110. In a strange footnote to history, Buckles was captured by Japanese forces during World War II while working in Manila, and was imprisoned for over 3 years.

gunsSelected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best nonfiction books of all time, “The Guns of August,” by Barbara Tuchman is a classic history of the early days of World War I. Tuchman traces each step during those 30 days in August 1914 that inevitably lead to all-out war. Why inevitable? Because all sides involved had been plotting their war for a generation.

In “Harlem’s Hell Fighters: The African-American 369th Infantry in World War I,v” Stephen Harris tells the story of one of the few American Army units to serve under French command. The volunteers of the 369th, mostly from New York, faced racial harassment from civilians and white soldiers alike while training in the South. First sent to France as laborers, they later proved themselves fighting valiantly beside French Moroccan troops. The French government awarded the Hell Fighters the Croix de Guerre, their highest military honor. German soldiers gave them the nickname “Hell Fighters” because of their toughness, and the fact that they never lost ground to the enemy.

Imagine a battle raging over nearly a year, devouring hundreds of thousands of men. This is battle Paul Jankowski recounts in “Verdun: the Longest Battle of the Great War.”  Beginning on February 21, 1916, Verdun ended on December 18. Casualty estimates range between 714,000 and 976,000. It was the longest and one of the costliest battles in terms of human lives lost. The battle accomplished little; the town and its fortifications had limited strategic value to either France or Germany. So, “Why Verdun?,” Jankowski asks. As in so many things about war, there is no definite answer. (more…)

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Hurricane Katrina Anniversary

On this day in 2005, Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast. With almost $200 Billion in damage resulting from the storm, it was the most expensive disaster in US history. The human toll was unfathomable and the effects continue to be felt in that region today.

Manhattan Public Library has several titles about Hurricane Katrina and it’s effects:

  • Not just the levees broke : my story during and after Hurricane Katrina /Phyllis Montana-Leblanc. 976.044 Phyllis Montana-Leblanc gives an astounding and poignant account of how she and her husband lived through one of our nation’s worst disasters, and continue to put their lives back together. New Orleans Hurricane Katrina survivor Phyllis Leblanc reveals moment by moment the impending doom she and her family experienced during one of the greatest disasters in contemporary American history. The initial weather forecast, the public warnings from officials, and then the increasingly devastating developments — the winds and rain, the rising waters — Not Just the Levees Broke begs the question, What would you do in a life-and-death situation with your family and neighbors facing the ultimate test of character? Not Just the Levees Broke is a portrayal of the human spirit at its best — the generosity of family, neighbors, and strangers; the depth of love that one can hold for another; the power to help and heal others.
  • The great deluge : Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast / Douglas Brinkley.  976.044  An account of Hurricane Katrina and the devastation it left in New Orleans and across the Gulf Coast documents the events and repercussions of the tragedy and its aftermath and the ongoing crisis confronting the region.
  • Breach of faith : Hurricane Katrina and the near death of a great American city / Jed Horne.  976.044  “Hurricane Katrina shredded one of the great cities of the South, and as levees failed and the federal relief effort proved lethally incompetent, a natural disaster became a man-made catastrophe. As an editor of New Orleans’ daily newspaper, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Times-Picayune, Jed Horne has had a front-row seat to the unfolding drama of the city’s collapse into chaos and its continuing struggle to survive.” “Horne takes readers into the private worlds and inner thoughts of storm victims from all walks of life to weaver a tapestry as intricate and vivid as the city itself. Politicians, thieves, nurses, urban visionaries, grieving mothers, entrepreneurs with an eye for quick profit at public expense – all of these lives collide in a chronicle that in harrowing, angry, and often slyly ironic.”
  • Five days at Memorial : life and death in a storm-ravaged hospital / Sheri Fink.  362.11  Fink provides a landmark investigation of patient deaths at a New Orleans hospital ravaged by Hurricane Katrina– and a suspenseful portrayal of the quest for truth and justice. After Katrina struck and the floodwaters rose, the power failed, and the heat climbed, exhausted caregivers chose to designate certain patients last for rescue. Months later, several health professionals faced criminal allegations that they deliberately injected numerous patients with drugs to hasten their deaths. Fink unspools the mystery of what happened in those days, bringing the reader into a hospital fighting for its life and into a conversation about the most terrifying form of health care rationing.

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Interested in Aggieville History?

Linda Henderson, Adult Services Librarian

Picture1 Aggieville Archives online at www.aggievillearchines.com

“Aggieville Archives was created to help you remember, discover, or research the history of the Aggieville Shopping District in Manhattan, Kansas.

I decided to launch a Facebook page in November of 2011 called Aggieville Archives. The feedback I’ve received from posting over 2,000 pictures has shown me clearly that many people have a strong interest (and enjoyment) in looking back at the history of Aggieville. Some people connect with personal experiences in a certain location, some have relatives that worked or owned businesses in the area, and some have just enjoyed knowing that there is a lot more to Aggieville than they ever realized.”

Dan Walter, served as Secretary, Treasurer, and then two years as President of the Aggieville Business Association. After publishing his second book on Aggieville history in 1998, the ABA Board of Directors voted Dan as the official Aggieville Historian.

Manhattan Public Library has a number of Dan’s books for you to enjoy.  Aggieville Through the Years, 1880’s to the Year 2000!;  The American College Town;   The Drug Stores of Aggieville:..and a Few Other Tangents Along the Way;   Manhattan Mysteries: Stories of the ‘Little Apple';      Aggieville, 1889-1989: 100 Years of the Aggieville Tradition  ands The Harrison Building Scrapbook, 1915-l998.  MPL also has a Manhattan  history file that you may find interesting.

 

 

 

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Extraordinary Lives of Ordinary Women

Susan Withee, Adult Services Manager

Learning about other people’s lives can be endlessly fascinating, particularly if they are people who inhabit another place or time very different from your own. In my case, I love to read about the domestic and personal lives of ordinary women in American history as told through their journals or letters, the artifacts of their lives, or the evidence of historical sources and documents. Here are some outstanding books from Manhattan Public Library about the lives of American women.

A Midwife’s Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812, by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich. Martha Ballard, the subject of this Pulitzer Prize-winning book, was a housewife, midwife, and healer in Maine in the 18th century. Her diary is compelling reading, an intimate, personal view of the daily concerns and events in Ballard’s own life and the lives of the women she served, as well as happenings and social dynamics in the communities she traveled.

perfectionPerfection Salad: Women and Cooking at the Turn of the Century, by Laura Shapiro, recounts the development of the Domestic Science reform movement in the Progressive-era U.S. between 1880 and 1930. The movement was an ambitious plan to improve the lives of American women and their families by applying “modern” scientific knowledge to common domestic activities, thereby boosting efficiency, promoting better health and sanitation, and improving food and nutrition. The impact of this movement on American homemakers and its legacy up to the present time include both positives and negatives. This is an enlightening and entertaining book.

Never Done: A History of American Housework, by Susan Strasser. Using plentiful illustrations and primary sources, this book offers a comprehensive overview of housekeeping and women’s work in U.S. history, from colonial and pioneer households through the industrialization of America to the consumer culture and time-stressed lifestyles of the 20th century.

No Idle Hands: The Social History of American Knitting, by Anne L. Macdonald. Great fun for knitters as well as armchair historians, this book chronicles the role of “the womanly art of knitting” through our national history. “From the Colonial woman for whom idleness was a sin to her Victorian counterpart who enjoyed knitting while visiting with friends, from the war wife eager to provide her man with warmth and comfort to the modern woman who knits as a creative and artistic outlet, this book offers a unique perspective on American women’s changing historical roles.

The Age of Homespun: Objects and Stories in the Creation of an American Myth, by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, follows 14 handmade artifacts of American domestic life through their history and the lives of the people who made and used them. An engaging combination of women’s studies, history, and the study of museum artifacts, this book guides the reader through American material culture of colonial times, Revolution, frontier life, the growth of commerce, and the Industrial Age in America.

Our Own Snug Fireside: Images of the New England Home, 1760-1860, by
Jane C. Nylander. The image of the early American home has been idealized over time and infused with great nostalgia. In “Our Own Snug Fireside”, author Jane Nylander draws from the journals of four women to discover the truth about the customs, traditions, friends, families, and work of the historical New England household, and creates a “fine social history of forgotten routines.”

Linoleum, Better Babies, and the Modern Farm Woman, 1890-1930, by Marilyn Irvin Holt. Studying the Domestic Science movement and the resources and programs it offered to the lives of rural women in America (home economics education, Extension Home Demonstration Units, etc.), this is a very readable, well-illustrated history of changing roles for women in agriculture that is significant in its inclusion of African-American and Hispanic American farm women.

somethingSomething from the Oven: Reinventing Dinner in 1950s America, by Laura Shapiro. The story of how post-war overcapacity in the food manufacturing industry intersected (collided?) with the needs of 1950s housewives to produce dramatic changes in American kitchens, women’s lives, and family life. Characters in this entertaining history include modern marketing and food science, the advent of television advertising, advances in the American kitchen and diet, changing race relations in America, and the appearance of homemaking and cooking icons, both fictitious and real, from Betty Crocker to Julia Child to Freda De Knight. Close enough to present day to strike the chords of memory for many of us, this is fun and fascinating social history.

 

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World War I Begins

franz-ferdinandandsophie2The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sofia von Hochenberg by Serbian nationalist Gavrilo Princip was the event that ignited World War I on this day in 1914. This marks the 100th anniversary of the “Great War”. Manhattan Public Library has many resources to help you learn about this time in history–check our catalog to find out more!

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What happened today in history?

lunar-landing-9Who knows the significance of July 20, 1969? If you said “the anniversary of man’s first landing on the moon”, you would be correct! Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, Jr. landed lunar module Eagle at 4:17 pm, EDT, and remained on the lunar surface for 21 hours, 36 minutes and 16 seconds.  Learn more about the history of space flight to the moon with these titles.

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Wonder Workshop Underground Railroad Tours

wonder WorkshopWonder Workshop Children’s Museum is led by director Richard Pitts in their new location oat 506  S. 4th   Street  (776-1234).            

 One of the opportunities available through this gem of a museum is a tour of the Undergound Railroad locations in Wabaunsee County just east of Manhattan. We have Mr. Pitt’s book, A Self-Guided Tour of the Underground Railroad in Kansas.  In it you will find a number of locations that were part of this history that can still be visited by taking an afternoon tour beginning on K-18 or Zeandale road. Chris Barr’s cabin is very close to the popular swimming spot, Pillsbury Crossing.  It was built during this time period and was then enclosed within the walls of a larger home which preserved it.  The Zeandale community has dismantled the house and left this little cabin with newspaper glued in the cracks verifying the date of when it was first built in the 1850’s.  A trap door by the fireplace could have led to a hiding place for fugitive slaves and a crawl space could have also.  We have quite a number of books chronicling this period of our countries history including slave narratives such as Remembering Slavery : African Americans Talk About Their Personal Experiences of Slavery which includes two sound cassettes of actual interviews of former slaves from the Archive of Folk Culture/Library of Congress.

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Celebrating Harriet Beecher Stowe: June 14, 1811—July 1, 1896

stowe  Stowe was an abolitionist and the author of the novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Upon meeting her, Abraham Lincoln allegedly remarked, “So you’re the little woman who wrote the book that made this big war.”

The story that rocked the country was of Eliza Harris, a slave whose child is to be sold, escapes her beloved home on the Shelby plantation in Kentucky and heads North, eluding the hired slave catchers. Aided by the underground railroad, Quakers, and others opposed to the Fugitive Slave Act,  Eliza, her son, and her husband George run toward Canada. As the Harrises flee to freedom, another slave, Uncle Tom, is sent “down the river” for sale. Too loyal to abuse his master’s trust, too Christian to rebel, Tom is separated from his family and sold down river. As the novel progresses, the juxtaposed narratives highlights the harsh reality of slavery.

The Beecher, Bible and Rifle Church, founded in June of 1857, is just east of Zeandale on K-18.  Its history is intertwined with Harriet Beecher Stowe.  The Reverend Henry Ward Beecher was one of her twelve siblings.  Her seven brothers all became ministers. In the years leading up to the Civil War, Henry Ward Beecher raised money to purchase slaves from captivity and to send rifles—nicknamed “Beecher’s Bibles”—to abolitionists fighting in Kansas and Nebraska.

With the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska bill in May of 1854, Kansans were allowed to have a say about whether they would be a free or slave state. As a result many settlers journeyed to the state in order to influence that decision. One such group was known as the Connecticut-Kansas Colony . They arrived with Sharps rifles and 25 Bibles that Henry Ward Beecher provided.  The rifles were smuggled through pro-slavery areas in crates marked “Beecher’s Bibles,” and consequently the rifles themselves became known as Beecher’s Bibles. Wabaunsee was staunchly anti-slavery and became part of the Underground Railroad in late 1856 and helped Lawrence after Quantrill’s Raid.

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Tomorrow–Long’s Park Dedication to Celebrate History, Revitalization

The City of Manhattan plans a dedication ceremony at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, May 22 at the Longs Park. Community Development Block Grants funded the installation of restrooms, the creation of an accessible walking trail, renovation of the picnic shelter and installation of new playground surfacing material.   The dedication ceremony will recognize the history of Long’s Park — named for Archie W. Long who owned Long Oil Company and operated a filling station in the park — as well as the recently completed improvements. To coincide with the dedication, the Manhattan/Riley County Preservation Alliance, Riley County Historical Society and Museum, and the Historic Resources Board will host a Historic Summit to follow at 6:30 p.m. May 22 in the Commission Room at City Hall, 1101 Poyntz Ave. Author David Dary will be the keynote speaker, and there will also be a panel discussion about downtown, a presentation on parks and a tour of City Auditorium. For more information, please go to the City of Manhattan web site.  Dary is Long’s grandson who now resides in Oklahoma. A well-known and respected journalist, historian and author, he is a Manhattan native and a Kansas State University graduate. He has authored more than 20 books, most about the history of the West, and has been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.  Check out one of his books from MPL!

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Jane Franklin’s “Book of Ages”

By Marcia Allen, Technical Services and Collections Manager

She was not a recognized personality nor was she a Revolutionary War figure. She was not wealthy, nor was she well educated.  There are no surviving paintings of her, and many details of her life are relatively sketchy. In fact, hers was an ordinary life except for one factor: she was the younger sister of Benjamin Franklin.

To be honest, many of the details we do know about her have been made available only220px-BenFranklinDuplessis because of her brother’s celebrity. We are well aware of his adventures because of his prolific writing, his interactions with other famous personalities, and his incredible role in American history. Fortunately for us, he was an avid writer of letters, and many of his surviving letters were sent directly to his younger sister.  Many of her letters to him have also survived, and it is because of those that we have clues to Jane’s personality and day-to-day life.

In a family of seventeen children, of which twelve survived to adulthood, Benjamin was the youngest son while Jane was the youngest daughter. The two enjoyed a closeness that endured despite their very different lives. Benjamin, it seems, left home at an early age and became a self-educated man, traveling to Europe and acting as an American ambassador.  Jane remained home and married at the age of fifteen.  As was often true at the time, she bore children, many of whom died tragically. And her husband, who was prone to incur debts he could not repay, probably spent some time in a debtors’ prison.

“Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin” by renowned history professor Jill Lepore is a rare treasure. It is that wonderful tale that manages to piece together the details of one life through a careful scrutiny of old letters and other documentation. (more…)

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