History & Politics
When she was a teenager, Boston native Vickie Preston and the little boy she babysat were almost killed by an escaped serial killer, who chose them at random. Her escape was aided by none other than a real life ghost—the ghost of the little boy's 17-year-old brother who lost his life in a car crash.
Vickie, now a historian, has returned to her hometown many years after the incident. But she doesn't return alone. The teenage ghost has followed her around most of her life, acting as her spectral protector. Overall, Vickie doesn't mind the company.
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When Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Bill Dedman noticed a property listing for a grand estate that had been unoccupied for nearly sixty years, he stumbled into one of the most surprising American stories of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Empty Mansions is a rich tale of wealth and loss, complete with copper barons, Gilded Age opulence, and backdoor politics. At its heart is a reclusive 104-year-old heiress named Huguette Clark. Dedman has collaborated with Huguette's cousin, Paul Clark Newell, Jr., one of the few relatives to have had frequent conversations with her, to tell a fairy tale in reverse: the bright, talented daughter who is born into an almost royal family of amazing wealth and privilege, yet who secrets herself away from the outside world. Empty Mansions reveals a complete picture of the enigmatic Huguette Clark, heiress to one of the greatest fortunes in American history, a woman who had not been photographed in public since the 1920s. (catalog summary)
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Whether you consider it a melting pot or salad bowl, America’s culinary culture is rich with spices, both savory and sweet. Caraway seeds add piquancy to Jewish rye breads. Paprika, hot or mild, gives Hungarian stews and meats warmth and subtlety. Vanilla, theoretically the blandest of flavors, is intrinsic to many beloved forms of chocolate, cookies, cakes and even tea and coffee.
Indian spice blends, named curries when made up for Europeans, vary from district to district, from mellow to fiery. In Ethiopia, a berbere spice combination may take a dozen different ingredients—typically including chiles, allspice, cardamom, and fenugreek—to create unforgettable flavor.
If you are interested in exploring new types of cuisine or want to learn more about these ingredients’ place in world history, books about spice can brighten your summer.
For the better part of the 20th century, the card catalog stood as a gateway to the wonders of the library. In The Card Catalog: Books, Cards and Literary Treasures, the Library of Congress celebrates the importance of the card catalog throughout library history.
The card catalog is seen as one of the most versatile and durable organizational scheme developed throughout history. It is the map to go to if you want to navigate your way through the vast wilderness of books. Although the beginnings of the card catalog started off slowly, it now covers every subject, from ancient to modern history, in libraries around the world. Peter Devereaux, writer-editor for the Library of Congress, notes that the catalog is a "tangible example of humanity's effort to establish and preserve the possibility of order."
Our expert genealogy librarians are taking their research skills on the road this summer to teach you how to jump-start tracing your family’s roots. Whether you are a complete novice at this family tree thing, or you’ve been at it a while and are stuck, we can help. Join us for a 90-minute training session at your nearest branch.
A longtime area resident, Noel Harrison is Manager of Easements for the Fredericksburg office of the National Park Service.
To the almost-forgotten past belongs the story of Fredericksburg’s “Battlefield granite” quarries, once touted as being among “the most valuable granite properties in the United States.”
The Virginiana Room, also known as VR, is located on the lower level of the Fredericksburg Branch on Caroline Street. It is a bright and comfortable space where researchers, local and regional history buffs, genealogists, and plain old curious browsers can access books, maps, local government documents & publications, family records, and a few hundred years of newspapers on microfilm. The people who use the collection are often compiling a family history, writing a book, or completing an assignment for school. But the VR has proven useful in many other ways for people who find creative uses for the collection.
Author Jennifer Wright studies plagues. Often individuals ask if she studies "modern" plagues, such as using your cell phone too much. But in her new book Get Well Soon: History's Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them, she reveals that her interest lies within the history of plagues where you break out in sores and turn feverish. The kind of plagues that kill you.
William Shakespeare is considered to be one of the most influential playwrights in literature. Over four hundred years ago, he lit up the stage at the famous Globe Theater in 16th- and 17th-century England with his lavish histories, comedies, and tragedies.
The charred remains of Shedrick Thompson had not yet been cut from the tree from which he had been hanged before the controversy over his fate began. Thompson’s 1932 death was ruled a suicide by white authorities in rural Fauquier County, where Thompson lived and died. However, the local Fauquier population, white and black, knew that he had been lynched and his body torched. Thompson was the prime suspect in the severe beating of Henry and Mamie Baxley, a prominent local couple and Thompson’s landlords, who were viciously attacked in their home while their young son slept in the next room. Henry was knocked out cold by his attacker, and Mamie was dragged from the home and marched in the dead of night across several fields and into the woods where the assault continued. After the attack, Thompson vanished, most likely into the nearby foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains where he had grown up. Despite numerous manhunts, his whereabouts would remain a mystery until two months later, when he died at the end of a rope on Rattlesnake Mountain.