Spotlight On “The Biblical Archaeology Society Library”

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The Biblical Archaeology Society Library (BAS) is a database that our library subscribes to. Union students and employees can access this database by using the library website (click on the Databases quick link on the home page, and then scroll down the database list to find the BAS Library).

Through the BAS Library, students can explore special collections on King Herod the Great, Biblical Interpretation, Where Jesus Walked, The Birth of Jesus, Dead Sea Scrolls, and more. These special collections include videos, articles, and summaries of each topic. Three different publications are also available through the BAS Library: Biblical Archaeology Review, Bible Review, and Archaeology Odyssey. Readers will find helpful and accessible articles in each of these journals.

If you want to learn more about the Bible, Israeli history, and archaeology, visit the BAS Library.

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!

Moments In History: The Great Canadian Maple Syrup Heist

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The vast, snow-capped country of Canada brings many iconic cultural images to mind: the giant bull moose, the rough and rowdy sport of ice hockey.  However, there is no image as iconic as the maple leaf that is represented on the nation’s flag.  The maple tree and its chief produce, maple syrup, is how this strange true story begins.

The origins of this incident lay with the creation of the FPAQ, also known as the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers. The FPAQ began to corner the market on maple syrup production in the 1960’s.  Using strict price control and quotas systems, they quickly became Canada’s largest maple syrup producer, generating 94% of Canada’s maple syrup and 77% of the world’s supply. Many have called it a government controlled “Cartel” akin to OPEC or Narco trafficking organizations. The corporation even set up a strategic maple syrup reserve in case of national crisis or shortage. Maple syrup exceeds the price of crude oil per barrel by about 10 times the value. Realizing the value of such a commodity, it was only a matter of time before some greedy thieves would get their hands sticky.

Over the course of several months between 2011 and 2012, Richard Vallieres along with several others broke into to the FPAQ storage facility and stole more the 122,000 barrels of maple syrup (roughly 3,000 tons worth nearly $C19 million dollars).  The gang would siphon out the syrup before refilling the barrel with water. Then they would truck the product to illegal syrup dispensers in the U.S. The gang was caught when they got so lazy as to not fill up the looted barrels with water and an on-site inspection crew started finding the barrels empty. In all, seventeen men were connected with stealing, transporting, and distributing the stolen syrup.  As the accused ringleader, Richard Vallieres was sentenced to nine years in prison and was ordered to pay back millions from his illicit gains. Adjusted for inflation, this heist still remains the largest in Canadian history.  So the next time you’ve got a plate full of flap jacks or a nice Belgian style waffle in front of you, think back to this strange and sweet historical event.
For more information about Canadian history, check out:

Canada: A Modern History

 

 

The Secret History Of Presidential Pets

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When one thinks of pets, the mental image is often that of a dog or cat, or even something like a gerbil. However, what most people don’t know is how many interesting and strange animals have wandered the halls of the White House throughout the years. From exotic animals to bizarre pet names, here are the most showstopping presidential pets.

We know and love George Washington as the first American president, but his affection for animals has largely flown under the radar. He had as many as 17 pets over his terms in office: 8 dogs, 7 horses, a donkey, and a parrot. The most interesting of these are his foxhounds: Sweetlips, Scentwell, and Vulcan; Snipe the parrot, who was owned by Martha Washington; and Royal Gift, the Andalusian donkey who was given as a gift from King Charles III of Spain.

John Adams did not have quite as many pets, but he did have a knack for names. He had three dogs named Satan, Mark, and Juno, as well as two horses named Cleopatra and Caesar.

Unlike many other presidents, John Quincy Adams had no normal pets. He instead kept silkworms, and first lady Louisa Adams spun their silk. There are also stories of an alligator owned by Marquis de Lafayette residing in the White House for two months, but many think that just to be a legend as there are no records to back it up.

While he had other pets, the most notable one of Andrew Jackson’s is his parrot named Polly. This is probably due to the fact that she had an affinity for swearing and had to be removed from his funeral due to this very habit.

Abraham Lincoln also amassed quite a number of pets including a turkey and a pair of goats. His most unfortunate pet, however, was his dog Fido who was “assassinated” by a knife wielding drunk a few months after Lincoln’s own death. This is why Fido is such a quintessential dog name.

The president with the most recorded pets was Theodore Roosevelt. He is known to have had 10 dogs, 2 cats, 5 guinea pigs, 2 ponies, 4 birds, a lizard, a bear, a rat, a badger, a pig, a rabbit, a snake, and a hyena.

In addition to more traditional pets, Woodrow Wilson kept a flock of sheep at the White House. Their job was to trim the lawn “in the most economical way” and their wool was to go to the Red Cross. At its largest, the flock had 48 sheep.

Calvin Coolidge had an affinity for very strange and exotic pets, many of whom had to be sent to zoos at some point. While he had many normal types of pets, he also had ducks, a goose, a bobcat, two raccoons (one was saved from becoming a Thanksgiving dish and the other escaped never to be seen again), 2 lions, a pygmy hippo, a wallaby, an antelope, and a black bear.

Here are the contenders for best/worst pet names, along with the type of animal it belonged to and the president who owned the pet:
  • Sweetlips- American Foxhound- Washington
  • Scentwell- American Foxhound- Washington
  • Vulcan- American Foxhound- Washington
  • Drunkard- coonhound- Washington
  • Royal Gift- donkey- Washington
  • Satan- dog- Adams
  • Grizzle- shepherd dog- Jefferson
  • Billy Button- pony-  Grant
  • Veto- dog- Garfield
  • Mr. Reciprocity- opossum- Harrison
  • Mr. Protection- opossum- Harrison
  • Washington Post- parrot- McKinley
  • Admiral Dewey- guinea pig- T. Roosevelt
  • Fighting Bob Evans- guinea pig- T. Roosevelt
  • Bill the Lizard- lizard- T. Roosevelt
  • Emily Spinach- garter snake- T. Roosevelt
  • Mooly Wooly- cow- Taft
  • Calamity Jane- Shetland sheepdog- Coolidge
  • Boston Beans- Boston bulldog- Coolidge
  • Nip and Tuck- canaries- Coolidge
  • Do-Funny- songbird- Coolidge
  • Tax Reduction- tiger- Coolidge
  • Budget Bureau- tiger- Coolidge
  • Eaglehurst Gillette- setter- Hoover
  • Billy Possum- opossum- Hoover
  • President- Great Dane- F. Roosevelt
  • Him and Her- beagles- Johnson
  • King Timahoe- Irish setter- Nixon
  • Grits- border collie- Carter
  • Misty Malarky Ying Yang- Siamese cat- Carter
  • Little Man- horse- Reagan

Top 5 Books About Running

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This past December, I ran my very first marathon. It was so fun and yet so painful at the same time! What I most liked about the race was the support and energy I felt from the other runners and spectators. It really felt like I was doing something meaningful, even though I’m sure a lot of people thought I was crazy for running 26.2 miles in the cold.

There’s definitely a sense of community among runners, and there are several books about running that accurately capture this feeling. Read the list below and click the links to find these books in the library!

 

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami

My favorite book about running, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, is short and to the point. Murakami, a marathon runner and a famous novelist, writes with wisdom about his experiences. He compares running to writing and examines the discipline behind long distance running.

 

Running: A Global History by Thor Gotaas

How did we as humans become so fascinated with running? This book explains it all, tracing runners throughout world history.

 

Run: The Mind-Body Method of Running by Feel by Matt Fitzgerald

The best elite runners have learned that the key to faster running is to hear what your body is telling you. But are you listening?

 

A Heart In A Body In The World by Deb Caletti

This young adult fiction novel is about a girl on a cross-country run, trying to deal with a traumatic event from her past. Along the way, she becomes a reluctant activist and symbol.

 

The Perfect Mile by Neal Bascomb

Read all about the true story of how three elite athletes trained to run a mile in under four minutes.

 

All of these books are available at the library- just click the links to find their locations!

Book Review: “Home” by Toni Morrison

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Last year, I read my first Toni Morrison book: Beloved. It was extremely well-written but deeply heavy in subject matter, so I had to take some time before I was ready to dive into another Morrison novel. Home is the story of Korean War veteran Frank and his quest to save his sister, Cee, and somehow find his place in a world that he doesn’t recognize. Coming in at less than 150 pages, it’s a short and fast read.

Mild spoilers ahead.

What Home gets right: Cee’s struggles as a black woman trying to support herself were portrayed with compassion and understanding. Sure, Cee makes some honest mistakes, but by the end of the novel she has grown up and will hopefully be able to heal from her trauma.

Frank’s and Cee’s stories are sad ones, but Home ends on a hopeful note. Their sibling bond is powerful in a world where relationships between many men and women are difficult and even abusive.

What Home does wrong: This is a Toni Morrison novel, so if you thought you were going to get out of this reading unscathed and completely emotionally sound, you’re wrong. Morrison really surprised me with one of the plot points, and this unfortunate surprise made the rest of the book hard to read. However, having read Beloved, I knew that Morrison often tackles uncomfortable and disturbing issues in her books. Should have seen it coming!

Who should read Home: Readers who are interested in history, veterans, African American experiences in the U.S., and superb literary writing.

Who shouldn’t read Home: Readers who are looking for lighter subjects and writing styles.

 

Home is currently available at the library.

Content note: flashbacks include a disturbing scene, and Cee is horribly mistreated at the hands of a corrupt doctor. Reader discretion is advised.

Book Review: “Dreams From My Father” by Barack Obama

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Right now, I want you to set aside what you know about politics and Republicans and Democrats. Barack Obama’s memoir Dreams From My Father is not really about any of these things. It’s about racism and identity: a black man with a white family trying to find his place, and who he is, in an unfair, confusing world. Dreams From My Father follows Obama’s life through his childhood in Hawaii and Indonesia to his acceptance to Harvard and his journey to Kenya.

Mild spoilers ahead.

What Dreams From My Father gets right: Whether or not you voted for Obama or enjoyed his presidency, you can learn so much from this book. Obama speaks with the voice of someone who has thought a long, long time about what he’s going to say and how to say it in the best way possible. He’s not afraid to use harsh language or metaphors, but he tempers this anger with understanding. Even as a fiery college student, he recognizes that others haven’t read what he has, or don’t struggle with their identity in the same way he does, and he’s willing to look past the differences and reach across the boundaries.

I’m white, so I will never have the racist experiences and burdens that Obama has faced. Racism shaped and scarred his entire journey of self-discovery. Despite my own ignorance and disconnection to Obama’s struggles as a black man, I appreciated his willingness to open up; and what I can relate to and aspire to in his narrative is Obama’s drive for truth and justice. Like Obama (although for different reasons) I also went through several months of reading every black thinker I could find in the library: W.E.B. DuBois, Martin Luther King, Jr., Marcus Garvey. And like Obama, I found that the man who made the most sense and greatest impact on my way of thinking, even though I definitely didn’t agree with his religion or his views on women, was Malcolm X.

Obama read these books as a young man for his survival; he did not have the luxury of reading a persecuted peoples’ history from a place removed as I did. I read these books to try and see the world through an opposite perspective of my own: a black male experience. Whatever your reason for reading these timeless classics, though, you will emerge with an enlightened view of how the world works and what we can do about it- the same tried and true lessons that you can learn from Dreams From My Father.

What Dreams From My Father does wrong: I loved this book because of how it fed me intellectually, so it’s hard for me to find much fault with it. I will note that there’s some uncomfortable language in it, but I think it’s warranted by the subject matter. It was also hard to read how women were treated in Obama’s Kenyan family (who were in a patriarchal culture where men could beat their wives and take multiple wives, whether the women consented or not).

Who should read Dreams From My Father: People who want to learn more about racism in the United States, and what it was like to grow up as a biracial man in the sixties and seventies. Readers who are interested in Obama’s life story and how he became the man he is today.

Who shouldn’t read Dreams From My Father: If you’re looking for something light to read or for a fiction book, then just add this one to your “TBR” list for now.

 

Dreams From My Father is available in print book and audiobook formats at the library.

Content note: language.

 

Book Review: “Bad Days In History” by Michael Farquhar

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To kick off the start of a new semester and to put a little bit of a spin on my Moments in History blog series, I have found an interesting book that chronicles random events that occurred on each day of the year: Bad Days in History: A Gleefully Grim Chronicle of Misfortune, Mayhem, and Misery for Every Day of the Year by Michael Farquhar. The events include various political disasters, military blunders, international scandals, and general accounts of bad luck.

One example is on November 2nd, 1932: The Great Emu War in Australia began, which pitted a company of soldiers against 20,000 emus that were destroying hundreds of thousands of acres of crops. Another grisly incident is how on January 15th, 1919, two million gallons of molasses exploded in a storage tank in Boston, Massachusetts, sending a 15 foot wall of hot molasses rushing through the streets at 35 mph (killing 21 people and injuring another 150). The book brings up other malicious events, like how on January 27th, 1595, the Ottoman Emperor Mehmed III had his 19 brothers put to death on the day of his coronation. This practice was instituted to prevent rivalry and potential civil war in the empire.

Those are just 3 of the 365 moments in history this book has to offer. I encourage you, if are a fan of random history moments like myself, to give this book a read. I found it thoroughly entertaining, and I hope you will as well.

This book is available at the Union University Library.

 

*written by Matthew Beyer

 

 

 

 

 

Reading List: Black History

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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: