Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Guide to MRL's Genealogy and Local History Resources


            In the Main Branch of the Massanutten Regional Library a special room is set aside for genealogy and local history research. The Room holds primary and secondary resources related to the Rockingham County area since settlement in the 1730’s. Some of the holdings contain information on where settlers migrated from (often Pennsylvania) and where they migrated to (often Ohio and Kentucky). The items in this Room must be used in house. Copies of some of the books are on the circulation shelves and can be checked-out.

The following outlines the topical arrangement of the resources in the book sections for genealogical research. The information below is indicative of the materials found in each section. As you enter the room, to the far left and far right, are enclosed bookcases, some of which are locked. The Research Librarian can help you if a resource from these cases is needed. Each bookcase section is lettered starting with “A” being on the left-hand side.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Local Black History

            Carter G. Woodson (1875-1950) has been cited as the father of black history.  This Virginia born Harvard Ph.D. (1912) founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (1915) and its Journal of Negro History and established Negro History Week (1926).  In a debate that is still heard today, some of Woodson’s contemporaries criticized his efforts to teach or understand African-American history apart from general American history.  Current wisdom suggests that designating a black history month is not wrong as long as black history is connected to the timeline of history studied throughout the year.  The following is to focus your attention on some of the black history resources in our area and the people and institutions that are collectors and repositories of this information.

            Americans’ consideration of the African-American experience is only about fifty years old.  The experience of and the lessons learned by many Americans during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and the advent of expanded mass communication as in the presentation of the television series “Roots” resulted in widespread interest in black history among all races.  Today we find increased interest and research in the experience of this population at the local level.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Terror Finance in Demons of Gadara

Terror Finance

Demons of Gadara[i]

A Fictional Thriller

By John A. Cassara

             At the Main Library at 1:00pm, on Monday, February 10th, John A. Cassara will talk about his novel Demons of Gadara.  The intent of this article is to preview the geography of and terror-finance terminology in this novel.  Most of us are aware of some of the tactics used in the United States’ “War on Terror,” but few of us probably understand how the “enemy” finances its side of the war.  Previously, Cassara published two technical books on the subject intended for law enforcement and intelligence entities and policy makers.  In Demons of Gadara the author puts the conflict in human terms in an effort to reach and inform a larger public audience on terror financing.  To trace terrorist activity, as in most criminal activity, the mantra is “follow the money or value trail.”  Succinctly, without money (and per terrorist episode, the amount may not be that great), there would be few terrorist acts. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

A Book for the 'Burg

Massanutten Regional Library in partnership with James Madison University, Eastern Mennonite University, and the City of Harrisonburg will be participating in the inaugural year of a community reading program called “A Book for the ‘Burg”.   The first community reading program took place in Seattle Washington in 1998. The goal of this program is to encourage an entire community to read the same literary work and come together to discuss, as well as support programs based on themes found in the book.[1]

Monday, December 2, 2013

December Celebrations

                The musing for December is inspired by Holiday Insights’ “Bizarre, Wacky and Unique Holidays.”  We offer some light-hearted relief for this busy month based on the “2013 Daily Holidays, Special, and Wacky Days.” Some of the holidays listed here are official and have historical context; many are food-related; some make no sense; and, of course, some observances in December are activities to prepare for Christmas.

Pilgrims landing at Plymouth Rock
                Among the serious observances is World Aids Day on December 1, which was first observed in 1988. On December 5, you can drink to Repeal Day and commemorate the end of Prohibition, when Mormon Utah ratified the Twenty-first Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and gave the U.S. government the three-quarters majority of state support it needed to overturn Prohibition. The seventh of December is day that will “live in infamy”—the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941. Human Rights Day is recognized on December 10; it was on this day in 1948 that the U.N. General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. December 21 is especially remembered in Massachusetts; on this day in 1620 the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock. Other
December dates marking historical events or social concerns include National Roof over Your Head on December 3, to bring awareness to homelessness; International Civil Aviation Day (December 7) to promote civil aviation around the world; International Children’s Day (December 8) sponsored by UNICEF; and December 15 to mark the day in 1791 when the first ten amendments (The Bill of Rights) were added to the Constitution.

                 Food is ever-present this month: there are sixteen days involving food. One may wonder why some of these days are celebrated in December; a little research found that some food items—for example, ice cream—have special days or even months throughout the year. Those food items most associated with Christmas are listed with the Christmas-related activities; below are non-Christmas kitchen activities. Bon Appetite!
                Dec. 1: Eat a Red Apple Day
                Dec. 2: National Fritters Day
                Dec. 7: National Cotton Candy Day
                Dec. 8: National Pastry Day
                Dec. 11: National Noodle Ring Day
                Dec. 12: National Ding-a-Ling Day
                Dec. 13: Ice Cream Day
                Dec. 14: National Bouillabaisse Day
                Dec. 15: National Lemon Cupcake Day
                Dec. 16: Chocolate-covered Anything Day
                Dec. 17: National Maple Syrup Day
                Dec. 18: Oatmeal Muffin Day
                Dec. 22: National Date Nut Bread Day
                Dec. 24: National Chocolate Day
                Dec. 25: National Pumpkin Pie Day
                Dec. 29: Pepper Pot Day

Fortunately, there is no “get on the scale” day! 

                The special days associated with the Christmas Holiday can serve as a “to do” list for the holiday preparations. Santa’s List Day is on December 4—but you could preempt it with Black Friday (November 29) and Cyber Monday (December2)!  For those who venerate the real St.   Despite its name, Christmas Card Day is not to do this chore, but rather to recognize Sir Henry Cole of England, who created the first Christmas card in 1843. Poinsettia Day, on December 12, honors J.P. Poinsett, who was the first U.S. ambassador to Mexico; his perhaps most-noted contribution to foreign relations was to introduce the United States to a plant now called the poinsettia. 
St. Nicholas
Nichols, a patron saint of the Orthodox Church, the observance is on December 6. A good day to work on your Christmas letter is the seventh, Letter Writing Day, which is followed two days later by Christmas Card Day.
                If you follow the “to do” list, you will be very busy on December 18. On this day are two chores: baking cookies and roasting a suckling pig. We hope the next day you will have energy to “Look for an Evergreen.” And the activity the day after is to “Go Caroling.” Perhaps December 21, “Humbug Day,” will get an “amen” from you. December 24 may offer a little pick-up—you can lift a wassail cup to toast National Eggnog Day and ready yourself for Christmas Day. You are still not finished with holiday events, though! December 26 is Boxing Day and the day after is National Fruitcake Day. (Is that a re-gifting day?!)  With all your eating and celebrating during the past few weeks, welcome relief comes on December 30,
National Bicarbonate of Soda Day.
                Around the world in December are many different religious observances. Usually all of the eight days of Jewish holiday Hanukkah are observed in December; this year celebrations begin in   Another religious observance is on December 8, known as Bodhi Day, when the historical Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, experienced enlightenment. From December 21-15 is Pancha Ganapati, a five-day Hindu festival in honor of Lord Ganesha.
November. Kwanzaa, which honors African heritage, family, community and culture, is a week-long celebration at the end of the month.
A common theme and symbol of many December religious celebrations is lights. This includes the many different celebrations of the winter solstice on December 21: the Zuni and Hopi Soyal ceremony; the Iranian festival of Yalda; and Saturnalis, the Roman solstice festival.  Even our list of “bazaar and unique” holidays appropriately lists on December 21 “National Flashlight Day” and “Look on the Bright Side Day.”  If none of the above observances is appropriate to your belief system, there is always Festivus on December 23. Festivus became popular after 1997 episode of “Seinfeld” which described it as an alternative to the consumerism and frenzy of the holidays. The day is marked with a “Festivus pole,” which is a plain aluminum pole. When celebrants gather, they air grievances, have feats of strength, and feast on meatloaf. “A Festivus for the rest of us,” as they say on the show.
Whatever your affiliation or lack thereof, by the time National Bicarbonate Day rolls around on December 30, and maybe a New Year’s resolution to go on a diet, too—you have made it through the month.  Do not to worry if your resolve weakens; January 17 is set aside as the day to “Ditch your New Year’s Resolution!”

                Here are a few holidays that did not fit in the above categories and might leave you scratching your head: Wear Brown Shoes Day on December 4, Take in the Ear Day on December 8, and Violin Day on December 13. A few celebrations seem to have been created by teachers and parents to keep children amused and calm: Mitten Tree Day (December 6); Make Cut-Out Snowflakes Day (December 27); and Card Playing Day (December 28). 
We may have overlooked a few unique holidays, but what is certain that with all this activity and celebrating during the month, Bathtub Party Day should be observed much later in the month than on December 5. There should be at least two such party days.

Happy December!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

One Hundred and Fifty Years Ago...

Lincoln Address Memorial at Gettysburg
            During 1863 the residents of Harrisonburg thrilled to the guerilla exploits of Captain John H. McNeill and his Rangers – a Confederate partisan unit that harassed Federal units.  Also, in July, the citizens of Harrisonburg were well aware of the great battle in Pennsylvania.  The Register on July tenth reported a “great, glorious, and overwhelming victory over Union forces” at Gettysburg.  Over the next week the truth became apparent as large numbers of wounded Confederates passed up the Valley, many breathing their last breathe in Harrisonburg.  On November 16, Court Day, a rumor late in the afternoon spread that the Yankees would be coming in about five hours.[i]  The rumor was false.  Uncertainty charge the atmosphere.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Dean King to Speak at MRL

Tales from History of Adventure and Survival

Dean King, the well-regarded author of narrative historical non-fiction, is speaking at the Main Branch of the Massanutten Regional Library on Thursday, November 7th at 7:00pm.  A Richmond native, he was born in 1962 and graduated from the University of North Carolina and New York University.  As a post graduate, King spent ten years in New York City mostly writing for up-scale magazines and other periodicals.