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Showing posts from March, 2012

Annual Easter Egg Hunt at Powderly Library

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It’s that time again for our annual Easter Egg Hunt at the Powderly Branch Library and Wiggins Recreation Center. The hunt will be held on Saturday, April 7, 2012, from noon– 2:00 p.m. The park will be divided into three areas to accommodate different age groups: wee ones, children, and tweens. The park will be filled with music, fun, and games. Oh, and don’t forget the Easter baskets filled with eggs and goodies for all of the little ones.

Submitted by Loretta Bitten
Powderly Branch Library

At Long Last

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3rd Avenue North, Birmingham, Alabama, c1940
Courtesy of the Archives Department, Central Library
Genealogists the world over have been waiting patiently for April 2, 2012. On this date, the 1940 Federal Census will be released to the public. But wait, didn’t we just take a census and aren’t we seeing articles and news reports about those statistics? Don’t we already have access to the 1940 Census? The answer is yes and no. Yes, we do have access to all of the statistical data and have had for decades. No, we do not have access to the personal information that is so prized by family historians. That type of information (name, age, income, occupation, etc.) is kept confidential for 72 years by federal law. Well, at long last the 72 year waiting period is over and genealogists will have another census to study and mine for information about their ancestors.

The 1940 census is unique is several respects. It is the first census to be released electronically. The census will be avai…

BPL Family Joins Celebration for Women of Influence

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Saundra Ross (center) is surrounded by BPL supporters. Photo courtesy of Bill Henry.

Saundra Ross-Forrest, Branch Manager of the Birmingham Public Library’s North Avondale Branch Library, was recognized by the SouthEast Small Business Magazine as one of Birmingham’s 40 Top Women of Influence during its Inaugural Women of Influence Breakfast. The breakfast was held Thursday, March 22, at Birmingham’s Doubletree Hotel and was attended by representatives from BPL’s staff, board, and patrons. “Birmingham’s Top 40 Women of Influence have demonstrated their commitment to the citizens of the Birmingham community by their significant involvement and participation in community and civic activities,” stated magazine publisher Jennifer R. Anthony.

Ross-Forrest is known for working tirelessly to make the North Avondale Branch Library an integral component of the community by going beyond the call of duty to develop outreach programs and to foster a friendly and nurturing atmosphere as she respon…

Today's Brown Bag Lunch Program: In the Garden of Beasts

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Dr. Natalie Davis, Professor of Political Science and Pre-Law Advisor at Birmingham- Southern College, will discuss Erik Larson’s acclaimed best-selling book In the Garden of Beasts. Larson explores the early years of the Nazi regime through the experiences of United States Ambassador to Germany William E. Dodd and his family. Wednesday, March 28, noon.

Remembering the Holocaust is produced in cooperation with the Birmingham Holocaust Education Center.

Feed your body and mind at BPL's Brown Bag Lunch programs. You bring the lunch and we'll bring the drinks. Wednesdays at noon in Central Library’s Arrington Auditorium.

West End Library Welcomes New Intern

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The West End Branch Library welcomes its first AIDB (Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind) intern, Derek Smith. Derek, who is deaf, is a longtime patron of the West End Library. When Derek got laid off from his job, he needed a way to acquire new work skills and experience, so he applied to be a part of a federally funded program called “Exciting Business Two,” which is a collaboration between AIDB and Alabama Vocational Rehabilitation Service. The AIDB internship will pay Derek’s salary for ninety days for forty hours bi-weekly. Derek will concentrate on shelving books and other Library Assistant I duties. Please feel free to come by West End Branch Library and say “hello” to Derek.

Submitted by Maya Jones
West End Branch Library

National Inventors Hall of Fame Names Class of 2012

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The National Inventors Hall of Fame announced its list of new inductees on March 1, 2012. The most recognizable name in this year’s group is Steve Jobs, the late co-founder and CEO of Apple Inc. Although he is known mainly for his enormously successful business acumen, Job’s credentials as an inventor are equally impressive. A search on the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s database reveals that Jobs was named on 263 patents issued since 1976.

In addition to Jobs, nine other inventors were included in the list of new inductees. Perhaps not surprisingly, four of these inductees made their mark, like Jobs, in the fertile field of computer and information technology. Barbara Liskov, currently a professor at MIT, was recognized for her innovative research in the design of computer programming languages. Lubomyr Romankiw and David Thompson, both of IBM, invented the first practical magnetic thin-film storage heads, which has had a profound effect on magnetic disk storage …

Movie Review: A Face in the Crowd

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I recently sat down and watched a film with a particular relevance to the current news cycle. The film is A Face in the Crowd (1957) and its examination of the intersection where Celebrity, Madison Avenue, Big Business, and Politicians come to together in order to shape and hone the opinions of the American public is as relevant today as it was fifty years ago

In fact, A Face in the Crowd depicts this world better than any other picture that I have ever seen—no other films readily come to mind that deliver the brutally honest portrayal of the subject matter on display here. Pictures such as Sweet Smell of Success, Ace in the Hole, and Network are fine films that cover similar territory, but they pale in comparison to the gleeful cynicism brought to the screen by Andy Griffith, Budd Schulberg, and Elia Kazan.

A Face in the Crowd follows the meteoric rise of a bucolic troubadour named Larry "Lonesome" Rhodes (Griffith in his film debut) from Arkansas jailbird to a national tele…

Next Bards & Brews Scheduled for Friday, April 13

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The Birmingham Public Library’s (BPL) popular Bards & Brews poetry performance and beer tasting series is scheduled for Friday, April 13. Usually held the first Friday of each month, the April edition of Bards & Brews will be held on the second Friday since BPL will be closed for Good Friday on April 6. The April 13 event will return to the slam format and will be held at the Central Library located at 2100 Park Place.

The slams are emceed by poetry slam events director Brian “Voice Porter” Hawkins. Hawkins has hosted On Stage at the Carver at the Carver Theater, the longest running poetry open mic in Birmingham (7 years running). He has hosted numerous additional events of this nature and has also performed his own works many times across the country.

Each contestant contributes $5 to the pot, and winner takes all. Southern Fried Slam rules will be observed. Craft beer will be available for sampling, along with light refreshments. You must be 18 years or older to be admitted…

WORD UP! 2012: A Poetry Slam for Jefferson County High School Students

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Erika Wade won first prize in the Birmingham Public Library’s WORD UP! poetry slam for two consecutive years. In celebration of the event’s fifth year, she returns to WORD UP! 2012 as a judge for the competition.

WORD UP!, a poetry slam for high school students who are enrolled in schools—or homeschooled—throughout Jefferson County, celebrates its fifth anniversary this year. The event will be held on Sunday, April 1, at 3:00 p.m. in the Richard Arrington, Jr. Auditorium at the Central Library located at 2100 Park Place. The slam is sponsored by the Birmingham Public Library (BPL). Students in grades 9 through 12 write and perform an original work of poetry inspired by a theme selected by the WORD UP! planning committee. In keeping with the spirit of this year’s anniversary, the theme for WORD UP! 2012 is “milestones.” Each participating high school holds a preliminary contest, and the winners from each school compete in the WORD UP! competition. The contestants are judged on content a…

Brown Bag Lunch Program: In the Garden of Beasts

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Dr. Natalie Davis, Professor of Political Science and Pre-Law Advisor at Birmingham- Southern College, will discuss Erik Larson’s acclaimed best-selling book In the Garden of Beasts. Larson explores the early years of the Nazi regime through the experiences of United States Ambassador to Germany William E. Dodd and his family. Wednesday, March 28, noon.

Remembering the Holocaust is produced in cooperation with the Birmingham Holocaust Education Center.

Feed your body and mind at BPL's Brown Bag Lunch programs. You bring the lunch and we'll bring the drinks. Wednesdays at noon in Central Library’s Arrington Auditorium.

Who Do You Think You Are, BPL?

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Hollywood has tapped into the popular trend of genealogy, banking on people’s desire to explore their past to enlighten their present.

NBC's hit show "Who Do You Think You Are?" allows us to journey with celebrities on their climb up their family trees, often stopping at branches of self-discovery. A labor of love from executive producer Lisa Kudrow, best known as Phoebe from “Friends,” the show is an adaptation of a British documentary series. Each episode takes us along as one of the celebrities navigates through records, personal accounts, historical events, and familial traditions to uncover ancestral pasts and identities. Most episodes are emotional, but all are revelatory.

Birmingham Public Library patrons can also jump on board to uncover their family history with the Ancestry Library Edition (ALE), a free in-library service. Through ALE, people can search through various resources: census and voter lists; birth, marriage, and death records; military records; immi…

Book Review: She: The Old Woman Who Took Over My Life

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This charming book by beloved author Kathryn Tucker Windham is her last. Published after her death at the age of 93, She: The Old Woman Who Took Over My Life is her account of reaching old age. She attributes the changes in her lifestyle to She, the “old woman who took over my life. “

Windham’s physical limitations affected and disturbed her most, and the blame is placed squarely on She. Windham had to stop driving (when she was 91), stop going to church, begin using a cane, and begin using magnifying eyeglasses. She also began taking more medicine, and she used the green prescription bottles to make a Christmas garland. When she discovered her height had been reduced by two inches, Windham stored non-perishable food in her oven so she could reach it better.

She and Windham’s reminiscences are wonderful memories of Windham’s childhood in the town of Thomasville, Alabama, and her later years in Selma. The two argue about unfinished projects, memory, and cooking. They do agree on …

Book Review: Power Down

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Have you ever finished a novel and thought, “That would make a great movie”? I’m sure all of us have read a book like that at one time or another. When I finished Power Down by Ben Coes, the first thing I did was let my heart rate return to normal. This novel about terrorism is so plausible that it terrified me. It is the first novel by Coes who spent part of his career as a speechwriter in the administrations of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Even at 449 pages, the novel moves quickly and I couldn’t wait to discover what happened next.

The novel is so disturbing because the terrorist is a hedge fund manager living in the United States. Although not born in the States, he grew up, received his education, and made his fortune here. He lives in New York City, is very popular with his friends and acquaintances, and has a very comfortable life. Despite all this, he sees the United States as his enemy and develops a VERY elaborate plot to bring the country down.

Part of his p…

Let's Talk About It: Making Sense of the Civil War: Part Two: Choosing Sides

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The Birmingham Public Library will host a free five-part reading and discussion series called Let's Talk About It: Making Sense of the American Civil War. In commemoration of the Civil War sesquicentennial, the series encourages participants to consider the legacy of the Civil War and emancipation. The series is open to all adults in the community (registration is required) and is led by Dr. Victoria E. Ott, Associate Professor of History at Birmingham-Southern College and author of Confederate Daughters: Coming of Age during the Civil War.

Part Two: Choosing Sides
Thursday, March 29, 2012
5:30 p.m.-7:00 p.m.
Central Library, Arrington Auditorium
Program consists of readings from America's War (2012):
Frederick Douglass, "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?" [1852] *online*Henry David Thoreau, "A Plea for Captain John Brown" [1859] *online*Abraham Lincoln, First Inaugural Address [March 4, 1861] *online*Alexander H. Stephens, "Cornerst…

Children's Book Review with a Shout Out to Women's History Month: Queen of the Falls

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Women’s History Month is usually filled with famous women political leaders, artists, social movers, and other women who dared to make a difference. Queen of the Falls, written and illustrated by famed children’s author Chris Van Allsburg of Jumanji fame, is about Annie Edson Taylor, who dared to do something no one had ever done before (and lived): go over Niagara Falls, at the age of 62!

Annie, a retired school teacher, was searching for a way to make money to support herself. She came up with the idea of going over Niagara Falls in a barrel and living off the publicity, if she survived the plunge. The main part of Niagara Falls is almost seventeen stories high and was already a tourist destination in the nineteenth century, and no one had ever gone over the falls in a barrel.

During the summer of 1901, Annie Edson Taylor worked with a barrel maker to design and a create a barrel for her stunt. At first he refused to go along with the stunt but he eventually relented. Besides being st…

Friends Donation to Center Point Elementary School

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(Top photo from left:Pastor Allen Davis & Katie Williams)
(Bottom photo from left:Vincent Solfronk & Pastor Allen Davis)

Today's Brown Bag Lunch Program: Riva Hirsch: A Holocaust Survivor Speaks

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Riva Hirsch was seven years old in 1941 when the Germans occupied her village in Bessarbia. She was arrested and sent to several work camps, including Luchinetz and Tolchin in the Ukraine. From Tolchin she was rescued by partisan troops and cared for by nuns in a convent, hidden in bunkers from 1943-1945 and finally liberated by Russian troops. Join us to hear her amazing story. Wednesday, March 21, noon.

Remembering the Holocaust is produced in cooperation with the Birmingham Holocaust Education Center.

Feed your body and mind at BPL's Brown Bag Lunch programs. You bring the lunch and we'll bring the drinks. Wednesdays at noon in Central Library’s Arrington Auditorium.

Final Program in Art of the Word Series Features Author Elizabeth Hughey

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Elizabeth Hughey
The final program in the Art of the Word series takes place on Tuesday, March 27, and features Birmingham resident Elizabeth Hughey. Elizabeth Hughey is the winner of the prestigious Iowa Poetry Prize for her poetry collection Sunday Houses: the Sunday House. Her “poems are made of the daily objects of our lives, but thrown into a kaleidoscope so what we are left with is a vital vision of the world.” (James Tate). She is a lecturer in the University Honors Program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The program is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. in the Arrington Auditorium at the Central Library.

The Art of the Word is part of the fifth anniversary celebration for the WORD UP! Student Poetry Slam. For more information on Art of the Word, call 226-3670 or email hm@bham.lib.al.us.

Sharing Resources

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I recently helped a woman who teaches elementary education at UAB. She also works with seven different schools in the area as some sort of advisor. I was sharing the Homework Alabama site to her (of which she was unaware!) and she shared one with me:
Go to http://bcs.schoolwires.net/Domain/42Click on Student Resources under For Students tabClick on Glen IrisClick on Glen Iris Library CatalogClick on ebooks
This takes you to Glen Iris School website, but she said most of the schools have similar sites; she just knew Glen Iris had a whole bunch of books listed. You click on ebooks and it takes you to a menu of actual children's ebooks that kids can click on to read online, or to have read to them. The ones I looked at were available for both reading and listening to in English and Spanish. There's another link that gives more information on the title, including reading level, word count, Lexile score, Accelerated Reader, and reading counts. There's another link that takes you…

Woodlawn Library To Re-Open March 20

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New AC units have been installed at the Woodlawn Branch Library and will re-open Tuesday, March 20, at 9:00 a.m.

Book Review: We the Animals

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Few gifts are more welcome to the avid fiction reader than the discovery of a fresh, brilliantly written debut novel. Such is the case with We the Animals by Justin Torres, a coming-of-age story that unfolds in a series of linked short stories with settings in Brooklyn and upstate New York.

From the very first page the reader is captivated by poetic prose and engaging characters. The narrator is a nameless 7-year-old boy who opens up the world of his dynamic family: two older brothers (8 and 9) and two very young parents, a white and frail mother and a restless and sometimes violent Puerto Rican father. Money and regularly available food are scarce, yet there is no shortage of energy, angst and joy. Often using the first person plural, the young narrator explains that he and his siblings “. . . wanted more. We knocked the butt ends of our forks against the table, tapped our spoons against our empty bowls; we were hungry.” “We were six snatching hands, six stomping feet; we were brother…

Woodlawn Library Closed

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The Woodlawn Branch Library is still closed for AC installation. Updates will be posted as information becomes available.

Let ReferenceUSA Simplify Your Business Inquiries

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ReferenceUSA is a powerful business tool which contains information for about 20 million businesses in the United States. What makes this database unique is its versatility—you can enter criteria of your choice to create customized lists of businesses. This database is helpful for those interested in marketing to certain types of businesses, locating business competitors, finding out-of-town businesses, or for many other uses. ReferenceUSA is free and available to registered Jefferson County Library users. You can use this database at your local public library or access remotely from any computer.

Birmingham Public Library provides step-by-step tutorials that highlight resources and services at the library. To view the ReferenceUSA tutorial, please click here . This tutorial demonstrates how to access and use ReferenceUSA; it will take 7 minutes to review. The tutorial is narrated so you will need headphones or speakers. However, if you don’t have access to those items you can follow …

Art of the Word Poetry Series Features My Favorite Poem with Irene Latham

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Irene Latham
On Tuesday, March 20, members of the community are invited to share famous favorite poems during My Favorite Poem. Modeled after former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky’s Favorite Poem Project, the program will be moderated by Irene Latham, poetry editor for the Birmingham Arts Journal and author of the award-winning poetry collections The Color of Lost Rooms (Blue Rooster Press, 2011) and What Came Before (Negative Capability Press 2007), and the novel Leaving Gee's Bend. The program is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. in the Arrington Auditorium at the Central Library. Email Irene@irenelatham.com to reserve your spot to read, or sign up at the door. First come, first served.

And join us for the other programs in the March poetry series, The Art of the Word, part of the fifth anniversary celebration for the WORD UP! Student Poetry Slam. For more information on Art of the Word, call 226-3670 or email hm@bham.lib.al.us.

Brown Bag Lunch Program: Riva Hirsch: A Holocaust Survivor Speaks

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Riva Hirsch was seven years old in 1941 when the Germans occupied her village in Bessarbia. She was arrested and sent to several work camps, including Luchinetz and Tolchin in the Ukraine. From Tolchin she was rescued by partisan troops and cared for by nuns in a convent, hidden in bunkers from 1943-1945 and finally liberated by Russian troops. Join us to hear her amazing story. Wednesday, March 21, noon.

Remembering the Holocaust is produced in cooperation with the Birmingham Holocaust Education Center.

Feed your body and mind at BPL's Brown Bag Lunch programs. You bring the lunch and we'll bring the drinks. Wednesdays at noon in Central Library’s Arrington Auditorium.

Wylam Library’s Monthly Spelling Bee

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For the past two months, the Wylam Branch Library has hosted a monthly spelling bee that caters to children in grades 3-7. There are cash prizes awarded to the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners. Cash prizes are in the amount of $20, $15, and $10, respectively. Every child who participates in the spelling bee receives a certificate of participation and some type of prize. Each month the spelling bee word list and flyer are posted to the Birmingham Public Library's Facebook page along with the date, time, and contact information.

Although the Wylam staff could agree that each spelling bee has been a success thus far, during the month of February the participation numbers tripled from the January spelling bee, and the kids had fun. After being exposed to the bee only in the last two months, I can say that the kids are studying more and are very motivated. It is our goal to teach our kids discipline, and encourage them to be better spellers and great readers. We are gearing up for the M…

Library Team Takes Top Prize for Trivia Knowledge

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From left: Jim Pate, Danny Dorroh, Mary Beth Newbill, Jaclyn Hogan, Jared Millet, Tobin Cataldo

In the battle of wit and wisdom during Birmingham’s Brightest Company Charitable Trivia Competition, hosted by Impact Alabama, the Birmingham Public Library (BPL) team won the top prize of $10,000. The BPL team was competing for Friends of the Birmingham Public Library, the nonprofit association whose efforts make it possible for the Birmingham Public Library to strengthen the quality and scope of its services. As winner of the Birmingham City contest, the team will go on to compete against the winners from Huntsville, Mobile, and Montgomery. The BPL team competed with 67 Birmingham-area businesses and organizations to raise money for Impact Alabama and each team’s designated charity.

The Friends of the Birmingham Public Library are tremendously excited about the award. “We are delighted to support the library in this competition. It was a win-win all around—helping to support the great work …

Meet the Women Movers and Shakers of Birmingham’s History

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Birmingham suffrage headquarters in 1913. From BPL Digital Collections.

Virginia Woolf famously said, "For most of history, Anonymous was a woman." The Birmingham Public Library has put a face and name to some of the women behind the rise of Birmingham, Alabama's largest city. The Archives Department’s Women’s History resource pages contain information on Birmingham’s suffrage movement; women’s business, political, artistic, and social clubs; and in-depth background on some of the prominent individuals and families of early Birmingham. BPL Digital Collections contain photographs and newspaper clippings about the women artists, inventors, homemakers, business leaders, and humanitarians who made the news.

Women's History Month is celebrated each year in March. Visit BPL's women's history collections to learn about the contributions these women made to Birmingham's history.

Archives Department Collections
http://www.birminghamarchives.org/Women%27sHistoryOrgs1.…

Book Review: Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World

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It’s a commonplace that our view of history is shaped by where and when we’re born. If you’ve been born since, say, the Renaissance and in the West (and that’ll be true of almost anyone who reads this blog) you’ll probably have a negative view of the Mongols. Anthropologist Jack Weatherford knows this and asks us to reconsider, even radically revise, our view of Genghis Khan and his Mongol descendants. It didn’t seem likely that such a book would become a bestseller a few years back, but it did.

Tartars, Tatars, Mughals, Moghuls, Moal, The Golden Horde: the names are diverse because their influence was so widespread. A mere listing of the names starts a mild reevaluation in the mind. Starting with these names, and a small array of facts, Weatherford builds an elaborate structure whereby we can begin to see the Mongols as not categorically something unpleasant. Gradually, we realize that they influenced the West mostly for the good (although, admittedly, that’s partly because they could…

Learning About Our Civil War

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John L. Burns, the "old hero of Gettysburg," with gun and crutches. Gettysburg, PA, 1863. Timothy H. O'Sullivan, photographer. Library of Congress

Isn’t it fascinating how the presentation of the Civil War has changed so radically in our lifetime? I imagine that after the war veterans, and later matriarchs, handed down family tales at the kitchen table. But in my youth magazines and books were the only options. Now, we have award winning documentaries on DVD and the internet.

My first exposure to the American Civil War was through conversations with my grandmother, and the books of Bruce Catton. My grandmother was a voracious reader and raconteur of family history. I sat down with her at the kitchen table clutching a notebook expecting to discover exciting, or at least scandalous, stories of our family’s part in the Civil War. At first she only responded with a terse explanation: “all those people are dead and buried. Just leave ‘em in the ground.” When I pushed, she expl…