Music on the Steps - July 28: Celtic Machinations
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Music on the Steps - July 28: Celtic Machinations
Learn fast with Mango Languages
Sign up NOW for summer reading!
Stafford 350
eBooks - we've got 'em
Digital magazines from Zinio. Back issues available.

LibraryPoint Blog

04/23/2012 - 3:34pm
Humbug: The Art of P.T. Barnum

The University of Mary Washington's 2012 Chappell Great Lives Lecture Series continues on Tuesday, April 24, with a lecture on P.T. Barnum by Neil Harris, author of Humbug: The Art of P.T. Barnum.

Contrary to legend, he never said, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” Phineas Taylor Barnum was a businessman, hoaxer, and impresario who provided entertainment to a nation hungry for it. “I am a showman by profession . . . and all the gilding shall make nothing else of me,” Barnum wrote defiantly in his autobiography. In an authoritative biography of Barnum, author Neil Harris, professor of history at the University of Chicago, describes the culture and climate of America in the nineteenth century that produced such an outsized, and sometimes outrageous, figure.  Harris has written widely on various aspects of the evolution of American cultural life and on the social history of art and design.

All lectures in the university's Great Lives series are free and open to the public.

For more about the life of P.T. Barnum check out these resources from the Central Rappahannock Regional Library.

04/23/2012 - 3:30am
The Seventeenth Child by Dorothy Marie Rice & Lucille Mabel Walthall Payne

The Seventeenth Child, by Dorothy Marie Rice & Lucille Mabel Walthall Payne, sets down the memories of a childhood lived in the countryside of 1930s Virginia by a black woman who grew up before the Civil Rights Movement made so many gains.  These remembrances are plain, soft-spoken and ring true to an age that was certainly different from the one we know.  In some ways, it was a harder time as in her earliest years even basic food was very hard to come by and the sharecropping system made it difficult for all farmers, black and white, to get ahead or even stay afloat during the bad harvest years.

But it was the warmth of family, faith, shared hardship and simple joys that made those days good as well as difficult. The children worked, not only because their help was needed but because it was understood that working was a good thing in and of itself. They helped pull and tend tobacco, can vegetables, sew quilts, raise chickens, and shell corn.  Lucille Payne tells of how hard it was to earn money. How sometimes her mother might not be paid much more than fifty cents for a hard day’s washing of filthy clothes in a dark and cold shed. Well, fifty cents and a hambone that might not be fit to eat without it being scrubbed, too, and sometimes not even then. But her mother said, “Well, you accept what they give you; next time it might be better.”

It wasn’t all about acceptance. Sometimes Lucille would see her mother spit in the water while she washed and she would ask her why she did that. “That helps to get them clean.”  But I know she was just so angry because she had to survive.  When you have so many children you have to survive the best way you can.  Likewise, when white children rode the bus to their segregated school, leaving the black children to walk and even calling them names, the black children got a bit of revenge…and a chance to be better than their so-called betters with an act of charity.

04/20/2012 - 1:20pm
Anne Frank: The Anne Frank House Authorized Graphic Biography

These days it’s not uncommon for history to be brought vividly to life in a novelized comic book format called graphic novels.  Recently Sid Jacobson, the author of one such title with teen appeal, spoke as part of the Chappell Great Lives Lecture Series at the University of Mary Washington

His book, “Anne Frank: The Anne Frank House Authorized Graphic Biography,” co-written with Ernie Colon, provides insight into Anne’s life before and after her famous diary.  When Hitler came to power, her father moved his family from Germany to the Netherlands hoping for safety.  After the Nazi’s invade and begin restricting Jewish activity, Anne and Margot wonder how they will stay cool with the local swimming pool now forbidden.  At the same time, their father desperately attempts to get his family out of the country and when that fails, finds a hiding place in the now famous secret annex.  The most difficult and compelling parts of this tale occur after their betrayal.   We follow the family to the concentration camp, where they are first separated by gender and then the mother from her daughters.  Thanks to information from camp survivors, we learn that Margot perished first, shortly followed by Anne.  Fans of Anne Frank’s diary will enjoy these new details in this heroic young woman’s life.