18th century

Independent Dames: What You Never Knew about the Women and Girls of the American Revolution

By Laurie Halse Anderson

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"The stories of 22 'Revolutionary Grandmothers' take center stage in this well-illustrated volume. A few of the names are familiar—Phillis Wheatley, Martha Washington, Abigail Adams, Deborah Sampson—but as the author establishes, there are many women and girls whose large and small contributions to the cause of independence have been largely ignored. Prudence Wright and Sarah Shattuck guarded their village when the men were fighting at Concord and Lexington, and they captured a British spy. After her husband was killed in battle, Margaret Corbin fired his cannon until she was shot, making her the first American woman to receive a military pension. Whether the women were disguising themselves as men in order to be soldiers, raising money for suffering soldiers, sewing and knitting for the troops, or participating in protests or a boycott of British goods, their actions were significant." -- School Library Journal
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No Place for a Lady: Tales of Adventurous Women Travelers

By Barbara Hodgson

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Hodgson profiles adventurous women who sacrificed personal comfort and respectability to pursue experiences traditionally open only to men. Filled with fascinating portraits, historical maps, and intricate drawings, this is at once a beautifully illustrated exploration of early travel and a spirited celebration of women.
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Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation

By Cokie Roberts

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"...an intimate and illuminating look at the fervently patriotic and passionate women whose tireless pursuits on behalf of their families -- and their country -- proved just as crucial to the forging of a new nation as the rebellion that established it. While much has been written about the men who signed the Declaration of Independence, battled the British, and framed the Constitution, the wives, mothers, sisters, and daughters they left behind have been little noticed by history. Roberts brings us the women who fought the Revolution as valiantly as the men, often defending their very doorsteps. While the men went off to war or to Congress, the women managed their businesses, raised their children, provided them with political advice, and made it possible for the men to do what they did.

"The behind-the-scenes influence of these women -- and their sometimes very public activities -- was intelligent and pervasive.Drawing upon personal correspondence, private journals, and even favored recipes, Roberts reveals the often surprising stories of these fascinating women, bringing to life the everyday trials and extraordinary triumphs of individuals like Abigail Adams, Mercy Otis Warren, Deborah Read Franklin, Eliza Pinckney, Catherine Littlefield Green, Esther DeBerdt Reed, and Martha Washington -- proving that without our exemplary women, the new country might never have survived."

Also available on audio and in large print.

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The Arcanum: The Extraordinary True Story

By Janet Gleeson

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"An extraordinary episode in cultural & scientific history comes to life in the fascinating story of a genius, greed, & exquisite beauty revealed by the obsessive pursuit of the secret formula for one of the most precious commodities of eighteenth century European royalty-fine porcelain."

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Four Seasons

By Antonio Vivaldi

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Vivaldi wrote well over 700 compositions (four hundred concertos, forty some operas, and many compositions for the voice). In the "Four Seasons," it is the first movement, "Spring," that is the most recognizable of the four seasons. It was used for months by the Weather Channel. "Spring" also found its way into movies, i.e. Elvira Madigan and The Banger Sisters to mention a couple. In "Spring", Vivaldi gives us a sense of brightness and lightness, just perfect for the feel of Spring.

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Johann Sebastian Bach, the Learned Musician

By Christoph Wolff

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"A landmark biography of Bach on the 250th anniversary of the composer's death, written by the leading Bach scholar of our age. Although we have heard the music of J. S. Bach in countless performances and recordings, the composer himself still comes across only as an enigmatic figure in a single familiar portrait. Author Christoph Wolff presents a new picture that brings to life this towering figure of the Baroque era.

"This engaging new biography portrays Bach as the living, breathing, and sometimes imperfect human being that he was, while bringing to bear all the advances of the last half-century of Bach scholarship. Wolff demonstrates the intimate connection between the composer's life and his music, showing how Bach's superb inventiveness pervaded his career as musician, composer, performer, scholar, and teacher. And throughout, we see Bach in the broader context of his time: its institutions, traditions, and influences."

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Slaves in the Family

By Edward Ball

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"In 1698, Elias Ball arrived in Charleston, South Carolina, from England to take possession of his inheritance: part of a plantation and twenty-five slaves. Elias and his progeny built a slave dynasty that lasted for 167 years, buying more than a dozen plantations along the Cooper River near Charleston, selling rice known as 'Carolina Gold,' and assembling close to 4,000 African and African American slaves before 1865, when Union troops arrived on the lawns of the Balls' estates to force emancipation.

"In Slaves in the Family, Edward Ball, a descendant of Elias, has written a nonfiction American saga like no other. Part history, part journey of discovery, this is the story of black and white families who lived side by side for five generations -- and a tale of everyday Americans confronting their vexed inheritance together. Using the copious plantation records of his family, supplemented by both black and white oral tradition, Ball uncovers the story of the people who lived on his ancestors' lands -- the violence and opulence, the slave uprisings and escapes, the dynastic struggles, and the mulatto children of Ball slaveholders and 'Ball slaves.' He identifies and travels to a prison in Africa from which his family once bought workers. Most remarkably of all, Ball also locates and visits some of the nearly 12,000 descendants of Ball slaves and reveals how slavery lives on in black and white memory and experience."

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We Were Always Free: The Maddens of Culpeper County, Virginia: A Two-Hundred-Year Family History

By T.O. Madden, Jr., with Ann L. Miller

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Ever since 1758, when Sarah Madden was born to an unmarried Irish woman and an unknown black father, the Maddens have been free, escaping--and sometimes defying--the laws and customs that condemned other African Americans to slavery in their native state of Virginia.

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Cook: The Extraordinary Voyages of Captain James Cook by Nicholas Thomas

Cook: The Extraordinary Voyages of Captain James Cook by Nicholas Thomas

As my cotton-gloved hands examined the woven fabric, I felt the thrill of encountering a link to the age of discovery. Over a hundred years old and probably unseen and untouched for decades, this artifact of the Cook Islands was being carefully prepared by us technicians to be moved to the Smithsonian Institution’s storage facility. Some twenty years later, Professor Nicholas Thomas’ Cook: The Extraordinary Voyages of Captain James A. Cook has given me much better perspective on these pieces of the past.

On the Road to Lake Anna

Lake Anna State Park is a favorite local destination for campers, boaters, and families who just want to spend a summer day at the lakeside beach. For most of us, the way to the lake runs down Lawyers Road. These days, there’s not much to take in with the view from this one-lane road, which passes through as quiet a stretch of Spotsylvania countryside as remains in the 21st century. But in centuries past, the western part of the county was the scene for tribal wars, slave labor, religious awakenings, whiskey barrel politics, gold mining, and Civil War armies on the march.