Reading List: Children’s Books About Women In History

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Did you know that March is Women’s History Month? The library has many excellent books on this subject; in particular, we’d like to highlight some of our children’s books about women in history. Adults and kids alike will enjoy these beautifully illustrated and thoughtfully written stories about women who changed the world.

 

Reading List:

Girls Think Of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions By Women by Catherine Thimmesh

Expanded and revised, this new edition of the best-selling book celebrates the ingenious inventions of women throughout time. As inspiring as they are fascinating, these stories empower readers to imagine, to question, to experiment, and then to go forth and invent!

 

Who Was Sacagawea? by Judith Bloom Fradin

Learn all about the life and times of Sacagawea, the Shoshoni woman who helped explorers Lewis and Clark find their way. This book begins with the story of how Sacagawea came to be depicted on the dollar coin and continues with Sacagawea’s life story.

 

Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People To Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford

Follow both the physical and spiritual journey of Harriet Tubman as she escapes slavery and then helps others to find freedom, too. Moses is a great book for learning about antebellum life in the U.S and African American history.

 

I Could Do That! Esther Morris Gets Women The Vote by Linda White

In 1869, a woman whose “can-do” attitude had shaped her life was instrumental in making Wyoming the first state to allow women to vote, then became the first woman to hold public office in the United States. The story of Esther Morris is inspiring and told in a fun way by I Could Do That!

 

Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor’s Story by Caren Stelson

Sachiko is the story of a young girl who lived through the bombing of Nagasaki in World War II. While this book is geared more toward middle grade and early high school kids, it’s an emotional, moving look at a tragic event in history.

 

Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly

This version of the bestselling Hidden Figures is perfect for children to understand. You’ll learn all about NASA, space, science, and the African American women mathematicians who greatly contributed to NASA’s programs in spite of Jim Crow laws.

 

Rosa by Nikki Giovanni

This striking picture book depicts Rosa Parks’ famous stand for Civil Rights, as well as the events that followed. Illustrator Bryan Collier’s cut-paper images make the story leap off the page for young readers.

 

Amelia And Eleanor Go For A Ride by Pam Munoz Ryan

Two famous women in history in one book? Sign us up! This fictionalized account of the night that Amelia Earhart flew Eleanor Roosevelt over Washington, D.C. is charming and fun.

 

The Girl Who Drew Butterflies: How Maria Meran’s Art Changed Science by Joyce Sidman

Beautifully illustrated, The Girl Who Drew Butterflies tells the story of Maria Meran and how she figured out the process of metamorphosis. Some of Meran’s own artwork is featured in this book!

 

These books are available for check out in the library’s Family Room!

Reading List: Black History

black history month

February is Black History Month, and the library has many books by and about influential African Americans. Whether you want to learn more about Marcus Garvey or black women in the suffrage movement, there’s probably a book about it! Skim the list below and get started learning! Most of the books listed can be found in the “E” section of our shelves.

*Book descriptions were provided by the publishers via the library catalog.

 

The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Dubois

A singular combination of essays, memoir, and fiction, this book is a searing account of the situation of African Americans in the United States.

 

The Memphis Diary of Ida B. Wells by Ida B. Wells

The diaries of Wells, a noted journalist and activist, reveal nineteenth- and twentieth-century black life in a major southern city.

 

Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance by Barack Obama

In this lyrical, unsentimental, and compelling memoir, the son of a black African father and a white American mother searches for a workable meaning to his life as a black American. Read Olivia Chin’s review here.

 

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

A phenomenal #1 bestseller that has appeared on the New York Times bestseller list for nearly three years, this memoir traces Maya Angelou’s childhood in a small, rural community during the 1930s.

 

Race Matters by Cornel West (available in both print and eBook formats)

Race Matters addresses some of today’s most urgent issues for black Americans – from discrimination to despair, from leadership to the legacy of Malcolm X. West has the courage to break taboos of silence in the black community, while always acknowledging the realities of race in America.

 

Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde

Sister Outsider presents essential writings of black poet and feminist writer Audre Lorde, an influential voice in 20th-century literature.

 

Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly

Before John Glenn orbited the earth or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians known as ‘human computers’ used pencils, slide rules and adding machines to calculate the numbers that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space. Among these problem-solvers were a group of exceptionally talented African American women, some of the brightest minds of their generation.

 

The Autobiography of Malcom X by Malcolm X & Alex Haley

The former leader of the Black Muslims tells the story of his life and his part in the civil rights movement.

 

Harlem’s Glory: Black Women Writing by Various Authors

In poems, stories, memoirs, and essays about color and culture, prejudice and love, and feminine trials, dozens of African-American women writers – some famous, many just discovered – give us a sense of a distinct inner voice and an engagement with their larger double culture.

 

Vintage Baldwin by James Baldwin

In his novels, short stories, plays, and essays, James Baldwin broached issues such as race, sex, politics, and art.

 

Fight On! Mary Church Terrell’s Battle For Integration by Dennis B. Fradin and Judith Bloom Fradin

Profiles the first black Washington, D.C. Board of Education member, who helped to found the NAACP and organized of pickets and boycotts that led to the 1953 Supreme Court decision to integrate D.C. area restaurants.

 

The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. by Martin Luther King, Jr.

He was a husband, a father, a preacher- and the preeminent leader of a movement that continues to transform America and the world.

 

Moments In History: January 17th, 1920

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Matthew Beyer has begun a “Moments In History” series to raise awareness of important historical events. Each post will also have book recommendations about the moment in history, using our extensive history collection in the library.

January 17, 1920

The Volstead Act

Also known as the National Prohibition Act, the Volstead Act went into effect to enforce the Nineteenth Amendment, which banned the sale of alcohol in the United States.  This act came into being through the acts of the Temperance Movement, a largely female-led political and religious movement that sought to rid America of the temptations and suffering of alcohol dependency. While the good intentions of the Temperance Movement may have been noble in responding to debilitating effects of alcoholism on many Americans, it was none the less naïve to think that the federal government could successfully regulate and enforce such a law.

While there was general decline in alcohol use during the Prohibition era, it was also a time marked by widespread crime, corruption, and violence. This was highlighted by the creation of organized crime syndicates that soon began dotting the major American big cities. The creation of the Italian Mafia and other crime families quickly capitalized on the control and distribution of the illicit selling of alcohol. Illegal bars known as speakeasies began to pop up in many American cities and towns. Alcohol was smuggled in from other nations like Canada, Ireland, Cuba, and Mexico. The illegal production within the United States was often done locally in southern states in the form of whiskey and moonshine.

The attempts to enforce Prohibition led to the creation of the Bureau of Prohibition, a federalized agency that could act where local ineffective and often corrupt police agencies couldn’t or wouldn’t. The use of federal agencies to combat organized and inter-state crime would eventually evolve into the Federal Bureau of Investigations or F.B.I.

Eventually, popular opinion, as well as the states’ need for tax revenue, led to the repeal of Prohibition by the Twenty-First Amendment in 1935.

If you would like to learn more about this topic, the Union University Library has various books and media that cover this tumultuous time period:

 

 

 

 

Moments In History: November 22nd, 1963

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Matthew Beyer has begun a “Moments In History” series to raise awareness of important historical events. Each post will also have book recommendations about the moment in history, using our extensive history collection in the library.

 

November 22nd, 1963

The Assassination of John F. Kennedy

On a bright and sunny day at 12:30PM in Dallas, Texas, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was making his way through the city as a campaign stop and to solve minor disputes within the Democratic party. Along with him was his wife, Jacqueline, and Texas governor John Connally.  As his presidential limo and motorcade passed through Dealey Plaza, the unthinkable happened: a series of shots rang out in rapid succession. The crowds panicked and screamed. Onlookers cried out to their horror that the president had been shot. In truth, three separate shots had been fired, two of them striking President Kennedy and one striking and wounding Governor Connally.

Dallas police and Secret Service agents tried to make sense of the situation, rushing up a grassy knoll hill where the shots had possibly come from. The scene was utter chaos, made more difficult by the crowds giving contradictory statements. The nature of the city made it to where the echo of the shots could have originated from several places. One witness stated that he had seen a man leaning out of the sixth-floor window of the Texas schoolbook depository. Upon later investigation, a rifle was found hidden away with three spent shell casings nearby. Nearly all the employees were accounted for except for one: Lee Harvey Oswald. Less than an hour and a half later, Oswald was arrested for the murder of Dallas Police Officer J.D Tibbits, who was shot and killed by Oswald after confronting him in the street three miles away from Dealey Plaza.

The country was in a state of shock. Many sat glued to their televisions and radios, listening to the tragic details as they learned that President Kennedy had succumbed to his wounds. Many feared this was a targeted assassination by the Soviets and that even nuclear war could be imminent. By 2:38PM, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson was quickly sworn into office on Air Force One; the moment was captured in an iconic photo with Johnson next to Jacqueline Kennedy still wearing her blood-stained clothes. What no one knew at the time is that the assassination was caught on film by a local, Abraham Zapruder, on a small 8mm film.

This incident shook the United States to its core; many feared conspiracy and the aftermath led many to believe this could be the case. Two days after the assassination, Lee Harvey Oswald was being transferred to a different jail when he in turn was shot and killed by a local bar owner, Jack Ruby. This development would eventually have to be settled by a federal commission called the warren commission, who looked into the motives and attempted to piece together these chaotic events to determine blame and how this could have transpired.

Today, most historians agree that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in taking the life of President John F. Kennedy. In all American history, this singular event continues to be studied and debated to this day.

If you would like to know more the about this topic, the Union University Library has a vast number of resources from books to documentaries on this subject. Here are some links below:

 

 

 

 

Book Review: “Empires Of The Word: A Language History Of The World” by Nicholas Ostler

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Empires Of The Word: A Language History Of The World is a fascinating book about the historical evolution of the world’s major languages. This book describes how and why certain languages persisted and became dominantly used in the world and why others fell out of use. This is as much a cultural anthropological history book as it is a dynamic linguistics book.

Empires Of The Word spans the historical antiquity of the first dominant languages, including Greek, Latin, and Ancient Chinese. As time goes on and empires collapse and expand, the book shows how different cultures begin to adopt or dominate different linguistic groups.

Author Nicholas Ostler describes what he calls the “Death of Latin” and the eventual emergence of the Romance languages from Germanic invaders. I found the development and spreading of Spanish and English to be particularly interesting. The section of the book dedicated to the evolution of the Semitic language groups of Hebrew, Arabic, and Aramaic are equally insightful.

Lastly, the book deals with the current top 20 languages of the earth and what the future may hold for them. Ostler then gives his hypothesis of which will become dominant and which will recede from use based on population trends and common usage.

Empires Of The Word is such a joy to read because it offers great insight into history from both social and cultural sources. It is remarkably in-depth and dense, but I found it to be an easy read for a layman with passing curiosity on the subject.  I can wholeheartedly recommend this book for anyone who has ever wondered how and why we came to speak the wide variety of languages that we do. It’s a fun travel through time and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

 

*written by Matthew Beyer

Moments In History: September 5th-6th, 1972

German Olympics

Matthew Beyer has begun a “Moments In History” series to raise awareness of important historical events. Each post will also have book recommendations about the moment in history, using our extensive history collection in the library.

 

September 5th-6th, 1972

Black September & The Munich Massacre

 

In 1972, during the Summer Olympics Games in Munich Germany, an event would take place that would shock the world and create a flash bulb moment in history. These moments are a type of collective memory that large portions of the population share, as each individual can remember exactly where they were and what they were doing when they learned about the given event. Examples of this include The Moon Landing, JFK’s assassination, and (in my own life time) 9/11. These events are becoming much more common as information is being spread at a faster rate through the use of the Internet and 24/7 news coverage.

On September 5th, 1972, eight members of a terrorist group infiltrated the Olympic housing compounds of the Israeli Olympic Team.  They were members of Black September, a group affiliated and connected to the Palestinian Liberation Organization or PLO. The terrorists were armed with AK-47’s, pistols, and grenades, and in the ensuing chaos of entering the dormitories, several athletes were injured and two killed while they bravely attempted to fight off and barricade themselves from their attackers. Eventually, the remaining 9 athletes were subdued.

By morning, nearly a billion people around the world were watching the tense standoff unfold on television. The terrorists demanded the release of some 234 Palestinians prisoners as well as a few other secular non-Islamic groups. The official Israeli position at the time was no negotiation with terrorists at any cost, due to the fear that such concessions would only lead to more hostages and threats against Jews.

The German government dragged out negotiations as long as they could. They quickly devised a plan to raid the building and attempt to rescue the hostages. As they were moments away from making entry, the terrorists appeared on the patio, threatening to kill two Israeli hostages.  Their entire plan was ruined because there were dozens of news agencies on site reporting on what the police were doing, and the terrorists were inside watching it all unfold live on television.

The government finally agreed to charter a plan and have the entire group flown to Cairo, Egypt, where negotiations could continue. This was a ploy to plan an ambush at the airport. The terrorists were driven to waiting helicopters and then to an airport where a jet was waiting. The jet was supposed to have police on board dressed as flight crew, but through a series of poor communication and lack of centralized command, the German police abandoned this plan and all that were there to rescue the hostages were five police acting as snipers hundreds of meters away. They had no radios nor did they have night vision or scopes on their rifles.

What happened next was a disaster. The terrorists soon discovered that the jet was empty of pilots and crew, and the police sharpshooters soon began to open fire. In the resulting two-hour gun battle, 5 of the 8 hostage takers were killed along with 1 German police officer. However, the worst was still to come.

The situation was so chaotic that a German government spokesman issued a statement that the operation had been a success and all hostages were saved. Only a few hours later did the truth come out when Jim McKay, a sports journalist covering the Olympic events, received the fateful news:

We just got the final word . . . you know, when I was a kid, my father used to say “Our greatest hopes and our worst fears are seldom realized.” Our worst fears have been realized tonight. They’ve now said that there were 11 hostages. 2 were killed in their rooms yesterday morning, 9 were killed at the airport tonight. They’re all gone.

It turned out that, during the ensuing gun battle, the Israeli athletes were killed. The aftermath of this horrific event caused ripples across the world for the German government; it showed they were woefully unprepared for violent hostage style crises that were becoming increasingly prevalent all over the world. Each major nation took note of this event and began to develop units of highly trained police and counter-terrorist specialist to deal with such events.

Back in Israel, the nation was in mourning and many of its people furious as the Olympics continued after only of 34 hours of postponement. Israel would go on to bomb numerous training camps belonging to the PLO in Lebanon and Syria. What they are most famous for was Operation Wrath of God, in which they would send out covert agents of Mossad and attempt to assassinate the masterminds and financiers of Black September and high ranking members of the PLO. For over a decade, they would track down targets all over the world and assassinate them.

This moment in history is often considered the starting point of when the world was first introduced to terror threats, hostage taking, and mass killing that has now become all too familiar.

Here are some great resources at the library if you wish to learn more about this topic:

 

 

Moments In History: August 13th, 1961

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Matthew Beyer has begun a “Moments In History” series to raise awareness of important historical events. Each post will also have book recommendations about the moment in history, using our extensive history collection in the library.

 

 August 13th, 1961

Construction of the Berlin Wall

In the early morning hours of August 13th, 1961, East and West Berliners were awoken to the sounds of shovels digging into the streets, as well as the unwrapping of barbed wire strands and the pouring of concrete. All along the demarcation line running through the middle of Berlin, work was being undertaken in an attempt to permanently seal off the communist east from the capitalistic west.

Eastern Germany had been experiencing a “Brain Drain” since the 50’s. This was due to the flight of disillusioned young and intelligent East Germans who were emigrating to the West in hopes of political asylum, better jobs, and freedom from the communist regime.  The communist government, fearing a total collapse of their economic output, finally received the go-ahead from their Soviet counterparts. Construction began at once around the demarcation line, a fortified area running through the middle of Berlin, in order to stop the flow of people trying to escape from the communist regime.

The Eastern German government dubbed the project the Anti-Fascist Protection Rampart, whereas the West Germans referred to it as The Wall of Shame.  The Berlin Wall would come to represent the starkest difference between a free and open society vs. a society bent not on keeping others out but keeping its own people locked in. The Berlin Wall would remain a barrier that hundreds of thousands of people would attempt to cross, with only a few thousand being successful enough to make it to the other side and as many as two hundred deaths in the process. It would remain until November 9th, 1989, when after twenty-eight years of separation between East and West Berlin, the Wall’s gates were flung opened. Many people became so emboldened by this that they finally began to mount the wall, and a short time later the crowds began to tear it down.

The Berlin Wall’s destruction was in part to the Soviet Union quickly losing control over the countries of Poland, Czechoslovakia, Austria, and Hungary, who each began the deconstruction of their separating border fences. Today marks the 58th anniversary of the Berlin Wall’s construction, and later this year will mark the 30th anniversary of its fall.

If you found this post interesting and would like to learn more on this topic, the Union University Library offers numerous books and films related to this subject:

 

 

Moments In History: July 30th, 1945

The World War II cruiser USS Indianapolis at Pearl Harbor Hawaii

Matthew Beyer has begun a “Moments In History” series to raise awareness of important historical events. Each post will also have book recommendations about the moment in history, using our extensive history collection in the library.

 

July 30th, 1945

 Sinking of the USS Indianapolis

Today marks the 74th anniversary of the sinking of the USS Indianapolis in 1945. The ship was on a top secret mission to deliver parts that would be used to construct an armed and operational atomic bomb codenamed “Little Boy,” which was scheduled to be used on the city of Hiroshima and intended to force the Empire of Japan to surrender.  The Indianapolis completed its mission to deliver the bomb’s components; however, on her return voyage, disaster struck as she was hit by two torpedoes from a Japanese submarine. The vessel sank in a mere 12 minutes, with their frantic distress calls going unanswered.

Out of a crew of 1195 men, 300 went down immediately with the ship. The surviving crew were left stranded in the middle of the South Pacific for the next three and a half days. With many wounded, few life jackets, and fewer life boats, the surviving seamen endured unimaginable suffering. There was stifling heat during the day and hypothermic conditions at night. The crew also experienced unquenchable thirst that could lead to the congestion of delirium-inducing saltwater. The worst and most feared fate still awaited these desperate sailors: hundreds of sharks! After the third day the survivors were spotted by a friendly aircraft on patrol, and a rescue craft was sent to aid them, but the total number of those that survived out of the 900 men that went into the water was only 317.

This event would mark the single greatest loss of life by any U.S ship in the navy’s entire history. As of July 2019, there are only 12 remaining living survivors to this tragedy. So if this article finds you today, take a moment and say a prayer for those still living and for those who were lost in the horrors of World War II.

The Union University Library offers several books on this subject for those who would like to learn more:

 

 

 

 

Featured Book: “Washington’s Farewell: The Founding Father’s Warning To Future Generations”

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In honor of George Washington’s birthday, February 22nd, 1732, we are featuring a new book about the first president!

Washington’s Farewell: The Founding Father’s Warning To Future Generations by John Avlon, is an extremely readable and interesting look at George Washington’s farewell address.  The book looks at Washington’s life and the events that shaped his character and beliefs, culminating in his farewell address.  I had never heard of Washington’s Farewell Address, and it was very interesting to see how the issues that Washington addresses are still relevant today.

After two terms in office, Washington wanted to leave some words of wisdom for the country, so he worked with Alexander Hamilton to write an address which was published in a newspaper, rather than given as a speech.

First, he encouraged national unity and warned against factions caused by political parties or geographic location.  Throughout his presidency, he had seen how politicians could be more loyal to their party than to their country, and he wanted them to put the interests of their country first.

Next, he encouraged fiscal discipline.  Although he was not opposed to some national debt, he felt that there should be limits on it.  Washington himself had been bankrupt, but he also saw the need for revenue.  He stated that public credit should be used as “sparingly as possible” but “toward the payment of debts there must be revenue; that to have revenue there must be taxes; that no taxes can be devised which are not more or less inconvenient and unpleasant.”

He believed that virtue was necessary for a successful country, and that religion was the best way to inculcate virtue. He stated, “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports….reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.” Washington attended Anglican Church regularly, but believed in religious tolerance and that virtue could be cultivated through various denominations.

Washington never had the opportunity to go to college because he had to drop out of school and work after his father’s death. However, he saw the benefits of education, pursued lifelong learning through reading classics, and made sure both his step-children had the opportunity for higher education.  In the farewell address he promoted public education, especially the creation of a national university for deserving and exceptional young men (which never came to pass).  However, he called for a military academy, and West Point was established after his death.

Finally, he stated that the United States should avoid entanglement in foreign affairs, and that the best way to prepare for peace is to prepare for war. Unlike Thomas Jefferson who believed that “a little rebellion can be good,” and wanted to support the French revolution, Washington had been involved in war, and knew the costs and realities of war.

The speech has been regularly read in Congress each year, and various presidents have cited it to support their policies.  Through the 1950’s, the speech was taught in schools and students were expected to memorize it.  The last paragraph is used word for word in the musical Hamilton in the song “One Last Time.”  Especially today, Washington’s words about the dangers of factions, debt, and involvement in foreign wars, as well as the importance of education and the promotion of virtue are incredibly relevant.

Washington’s Farewell is currently available on the New Book Shelf! Click this link for more books about our first president.

*Post written by Anna Poore