Author Archives: ramerson

Water for Elephants

Have you read Water for Elephants?  Have you seen Water for Elephants at the movies? 

The year is 1931. When the circus came to town, it was a one-day departure from the hard times of Depression-era America.  The circus train, the circus parade, and the big tent were a part of the greatest entertainment at that time. The animals and the performers were the celebrities! 

AwesomeStories has a wonderful feature based on Water for Elephants.  Take a look and follow the hyperlinks to learn more about the circus during the 1930s. In chapter 5, follow the two links in the first paragraph to get more information on the movie version currently in theaters.

The Library of Congress has great images of the circus, including promotional posters: 

Historic Newspapers

I recently read this posting on a North Carolina genealogy archives and had to share! 

Fayetteville Gazette, January 2, 1793

The subscriber, though derogatory to his feelings, finds himself necessitated, from some unfortunate domestic circumstances, to forewarn the public from trusting Eliza Graham once the partner in his cares, on his account; she having, without any just provocation, absented herself from the embraces, bed and board of an ever fond and indulgent husband.  He with reluctance assures the public, that those who may give her credit from this date, must not refer to him for payment.

Alexr. Graham
Burke County

Historic newspapers can be wonderful primary sources filled with news of the day, delightful prose of the times, and fascinating advertisements.  The Digital Library of Georgia has digitized several local newspapers, including this one from the Atlanta area. 

The masthead tells us that the Sunny South was devoted to literature, romance, the news, and southern developments.  A single copy cost 5 cents or $2.50 for one year.   You will need to install the free DjVu plugin by following the links provided.

The Cherokee Phoenix was printed by Isaac H. Harris for the Cherokee Nation, using text in both English and Cherokee. 

 The yearly subscription was $2.50 if paid in advance.  For subscribers who could only read the Cherokee language, the price was $2. 

The masthead of The Colored Tribune included  words from Lincoln’s second inaugural address from 1865:  WITH MALACE TOWARD NONE; WITH CHARITY FOR ALL.

Don’t forget about studying the decades using advertisements like this one from the Macon Telegraph, August 19, 1902!

Celebrate Women’s History Month!

Meet Clara Adams, a pioneer in early commercial aviation.  Known as the maiden of maiden flights,  she was always a paying customer.  She flew aboard the maiden flights of the Graf Zeppelin and Hindenburg airships, Pan Am Clipper flying boats, and other early means of air travel.  She made her first flight in 1914 in Florida.

This photo shows Clara Adams in a celebration of the maiden flight of the Hawaii Clipper, 1936. To put this in perspective, she was crossing the Pacific as a passenger only nine years after Lindbergh flew the Atlantic. [Image courtesy of the archives of the government of Hawaii].

She became acquainted with many of the famous aviators of the day including Amelia Earhart.  Clara Adams is shown here with Earhart in 1929.

Follow this link to see Clara and some of her amazing first flights!

Thank you, Sarah

Sarah Hale, whose relentless letters and 38 years of petitioning presidents, secured Thanksgiving’s status as a national holiday.

Writer Sarah Josepha Hale, was born in Newport, New Hampshire in 1788. She had no formal education, but her family encouraged her to read. Her husband died when she was 34 years old, leaving her with 5 children.  (image from )

In Northwood (1827), a novel about slavery and its harm to every part of society, she described the abundance of a Thanksgiving dinner:

“The roasted turkey took precedence on this occasion, being placed at the head of the table; and well did it become its lordly station, sending forth the rich odor of its savory stuffing, and finely covered with the froth of the basting. At the foot of the board, a sirloin of beef, flanked on either side by a leg of pork and loin of mutton, seemed placed as a bastion to defend innumerable bowls of gravy and plates of vegetables disposed in that quarter.

“A goose and pair of ducklings occupied side stations on the table; the middle being graced, as it always is on such occasions, by that rich burgomaster of the provisions, called a chicken pie. This pie, which is wholly formed of the choicest parts of fowls, enriched and seasoned with a profusion of butter and pepper, and covered with an excellent puff paste, is, like the celebrated pumpkin pie, an indispensable part of a good and true Yankee Thanksgiving; the size of the pie usually denoting the gratitude of the party who prepares the feast. The one now displayed could never have had many peers. […]

“Plates of pickles, preserves and butter, and all the necessaries for increasing the seasoning of the viands to the demand of each palate, filled the interstices on the table, leaving hardly sufficient room for the plates of the company, a wine glass and two tumblers for each, with a slice of wheat bread lying on one of the inverted tumblers. A side table was literally loaded with the preparations for the second course, placed there to obviate the necessity of leaving the apartment during the repast. […]

“There was a huge plum pudding, custards and pies of every name and description ever known in Yankee land; yet the pumpkin pie occupied the most distinguished niche. There were also several kinds of rich cake, and a variety of sweetmeats and fruits.”
Sarah Josepha Hale was a vocal supporter of the cause to make Thanksgiving a national holiday. She wrote letters to one president after another — Zachary Taylor, Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, and finally Abraham Lincoln, who did, in fact, listen to her. You can read Sarah’s letter to Lincoln from the Library of Congress at .

On October 3, 1863, he issued a proclamation, saying, “The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible.” He proclaimed Thanksgiving a national holiday, celebrated that year on the last Thursday of November.

We have Sarah Josepha Hale to thank for Thanksgiving, as well as for writing the nursery rhyme “Mary Had A Little Lamb.”  You can read her story in the picture book Thank you, Sarah: The Woman who Saved Thanksgiving by Laurie Halse Anderson.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

In Honor of Veteran’s on Armistice Day

Please take the time to look at these amazing photographs that were shared last week at GaETC.  They are worth your time…but especially today, Veteran’s Day.  This young man has used a new technology to create a mashup using black and white images from World War II on top of present day color photographs from the same locations. 

Don’t worry about the foreign language, just take in the pictures.  Give them a minute to load.  We owe much to our veterans.  Tell them so today.