Truman Home Study Book List

There is just something so intoxicating about seeing a collection of books in someone’s home. You just feel compelled to go over and see what books they have. That’s even more true when you visit a famous person’s house museum. Usually you aren’t allowed to sit down and gordge yourself on seeing what titles they had and what that might tell you about what they knew and what they thought. Normally they are safely kept behind velvet ropes.

Harry S. Truman Rocks!

So in addition to all the other cool things the Harry S. Truman National Historic Site does, (I always point them out as my favorite example on Facebook – always clever, always with an eye on their goal of making you want to visit) it shares out a list of Harry’s books. Not only a complete list, but a list you can get organized either by author or by title.

https://www.nps.gov/hstr/learn/historyculture/truman-home-study-book-list.htm

Just going through the As I see he must have liked Eight Cousins over Little Women (totally agree) and that he must have been an Albert Campion (Margery Allingham’s famed detective) fan. I think I would have enjoyed talking to Harry.

I don’t know why this isn’t done everywhere as a matter of course, but I’m so glad that they know how to do things in Independence!

Sarah S. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many times at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. She is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting to bring the History, Mystery, Magic, and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. How can you help? Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, look at her photos, and find her on Facebook , Twitter , Google+LinkedIn , SlideShare, and Academia.edu . Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and former director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

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In the Kitchen With Laura Kerosene Lamps

Beyond Candles

Although making candles is one of the major pioneer crafts that is demonstrated at museums or pioneer events today, as soon as they could people moved on to lamps that were fueled with whale oil, coal oil, and later with kerosene. People did definitely make candles, but mostly in the earlier years of American history, at lower economic levels, or in very isolated frontier areas without a settlement nearby. Lamps were easier to clean than candles, easier to keep functioning, and allowed a cleaner, sharper light. One of the many products once created by whaling was oil for lamps. The entire country ran on whale, but by the mid-19th century that was quickly shifting as the beginning of petroleum products stepped in to many of these uses – at least those that weren’t directly related to food.

Kerosene is Introduced

Robert Edwin Dietz patented the first practical kerosene lamp in 1859, independent of similar work being done in Poland. According to the Dictionary of Energy, “The Dietz Company went on to manufacture hundreds of lantern models, and became a pioneer in the automotive electric lighting industry.” Kerosene was the first useful product from crude oil and is produced by distilling it. Kerosene was where the money was. Gasoline was known during the same time, but didn’t have an immediately apparent use.

Karl and Jean Carrying Kerosene
Karl and Jean Carrying Kerosene

Laura and Kerosene Lamps

Although there is mention of candles in the “Little House” books, kerosene lamps or lanterns are definitely the rule as the series moves on in time. There is a lot of work to keeping a kerosene lamp operating properly and Laura wrote how glad she was that they could be put away in the cupboard in favor of electric lights.

While I was growing up we used to keep a lamp lit every time there was a storm and while I’m just as glad that our generator means no more blackouts, I still miss having a reason to get out the lamp and light it on a fairly regular basis.

Video

For this month’s In the Kitchen With Laura post we’re learning all about how you work and take care of a kerosene lamp.

Sources

These are resources I used for some of the invention details from our library, ask at your local library to ILL it.

“Cracking.” 50 Chemistry Ideas You Really Need to Know, Hayley Birch, Quercus, 2015. Credo Reference, http://resources.kirkwood.edu/login?url=http://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/quechemistry/cracking/0.  Accessed 03 Mar 2017.

“Dietz, Robert Edwin 1818-1897,” Dictionary of Energy, edited by Cleveland, Cutler and Christopher Morris, Elsevier Science & Technology, 2014. Credo Reference, http://resources.kirkwood.edu/login?url=http://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/este/dietz_robert_edwin_1818_1897/0. Accessed 03 Mar 2017.

Sarah S. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many times at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. She is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting to bring the History, Mystery, Magic, and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. How can you help? Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, look at her photos, and find her on Facebook , Twitter , Google+LinkedIn , SlideShare, and Academia.edu . Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and former director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

In the Kitchen With Laura Losing Words

In the Kitchen With Laura, both the program and the blog post series, continue to be very popular. I really enjoy them too, so watch for more.

A book heart in a foodways reference book
A book heart in a foodways reference book

Words Have Meaning

In today’s post, I want to discuss the importance of words to food. Knowing the proper words for food helps you talk about it, helps you read recipes correctly, and generally makes eating a more pleasant experience.

A lot of the food words Laura Ingalls Wilder would have used or known, for things like a spyder (a type of frying pan) or mangoes (a specially prepared kind of pepper, NOT the tropical fruit) are no longer common place. This can cause a barrier of understanding whether you’re reading a cookbook or a “Little House” book. Keep the question “do you really understand what they’re saying?” in mind while you’re reading and if you don’t know, look it up! Also, talk with people especially older people and children about food. Learn how people used to describe things and pass on that knowledge and what words you use today on to young people.

Check out what Merriam-Webster has to say about the change of iced tea to ice tea:

Chronology of Food History
Chronology of Food History

Sarah S. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many times at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. She is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting to bring the History, Mystery, Magic, and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. How can you help? Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, look at her photos, and find her on Facebook , Twitter , Google+, LinkedIn , SlideShare, and Academia.edu . Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and former director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

Ellis Island Didn’t Change Your Relative’s Name

The huge main hall of the interior of Ellis Island
Ellis Island Linked from Ellis Island National Park

Reasons why things happen either live on in family stories or are ignored as unimportant. If a certain generation didn’t think something was an important enough to tell a story about, the true reason gets lost and people make assumptions and those assumptions are passed on.

It’s a Good Story

One story people have made up to explain why a relative’s name suddenly changed spellings or changed completely and they knew Ellis Island took names so surely that’s where it happened….no. It makes a good story, but it isn’t true. At Ellis Island they weren’t writing down names, they were checking names off a list and comparing answers to questions from what they had said to the shipping company back home.

In addition, the idea of them struggling with all these languages isn’t all that accurate either. A majority of the workers at Ellis Island were immigrants themselves and spoke multiple languages. If there was an unbridgeable language barrier charities located nearby were glad to send an interpreter.

What Probably Really Did Happen

There really wasn’t an equivalent of a modern day passport. What names they verbally told the booking agents were normally good enough. Making a legal name change didn’t require any special permission or paperwork, you just started using another name. Many immigrants changed their names themselves; to simplify spelling, to sound more American, or even to match the majority nationality in their neighborhood.

How Do I Know?

This was brought to my attention by the History Myths Debunked blog. But you can trace the story back with more information through the Smithsonian Magazine and on to the most thorough exploration in the New York Public Library blog.

Sarah S. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many times at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. She is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting to bring the History, Mystery, Magic, and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. How can you help? Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, look at her photos, and find her on Facebook , Twitter , Google+LinkedIn , SlideShare, and Academia.edu . Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and former director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

One-Room School Survey Update Jan 2018

Please pass this on to anyone you know that is interested in one-room schools, went to one or taught in one. I want the widest possible numbers for my survey.

Orange oval lunchbox

The image is a common one, students trudging along a road to a distant one-room school house, clutching their school books and lunchboxes. What do you think is hidden in those lunchboxes? My mission is to find out. My research has covered reports in both teacher magazines and in parent/women’s magazines, teacher instruction manuals, and extension leaflets. In addition, I’ve been distributing a survey. The difference between what was called for in magazines and what people actually took was interesting.

It’s time again to remind you that my one-room school lunch survey is still on-going. I have 458 responses, the schools described range from Canada to Louisiana.

It’s a one-page survey and also makes an excellent story jogger if you fill it out with an older relative or ask them to fill it out. Anyone who attended or taught at a one or two room school is welcome to participate no matter when or where that school was located.

Please help us get enough surveys so we can see more trends. Anyone has complete copyright permission to run off and distribute as many as possible for any location.

Find the survey here:

lunch-survey

I update the handout with current numbers at each presentation. The most recent one was from the Association of Living History Farms and Museums. Find the latest circulated results here:
https://trundlebedtales.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/school-lunch-handout.pdf

For the Future

This summer I’m going to be doing an update on my results at the Country School Association of America.

If you haven’t yet filled out my survey (linked above), please do!

If you can come to the one-room school conference in Beatrice, Nebraska, it will be well worth your trip!

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on Facebook,  Twitter,  Google+,   LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

Sewing With Nancy Zeiman

An image of Nancy Zieman with text
Photo Linked from https://siemachtsewingblog.com/

One of my grandmother’s long time favorite shows was Sewing with Nancy. Whether it was on her long-running TV series or her series of how to sewing books, Zieman taught both beginners and advanced sewers a better way to sew. Originally going on the air as a cable show in 1982 and on Public Television in 1985, it continues to be aired by Public Broadcasting Stations around the country through 2017.

For now you can find episodes, blog posts of trips, and a goodbye message on her website with Wisconsin Public Television.

Nancy gives the highlights of her life story from her autobiography, Seams Unlikely: Her face droop is because she suffered from Bell’s palsy as an infant and 4-H saved her by teaching her sewing and self-confidence to speak in public and share what she knows.

Interview about Seams Unlikely:

Check out the website for the book.

Tribute to Nancy from Wisconsin Public Televsion:

Tribute to Nancy from her family:

Read her obituary.

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

Jingle Bells Wars

The problem with big cultural touchstones is that people usually don’t recognize that they’re a “BIG CULTURAL TOUCHSTONE” until after they’ve had a chance to percolate through popular culture for a couple of decades. By then the origination date and place might be a little hazy.  Authorship might be disputed. It might be that everything was in place to create the thing and several different people created it close together or that there was a disagreement about what constituted the beginnings of something. Finally by then there is fame and maybe fortune from tourism to be made and people may be tempted to make a claim with very little evidence.

Christmas is not without this kind of controversy. A few years ago I shared what I learned when I hunted the meaning for an enigmatic phrase in a copy of The Night Before Christmas. Today “Jingle Bells has fallen into my lap.

Argument

There is certainly no dispute about the importance of “Jingle Bells” in the American culture. It was recorded as early as 1898 and was the first song played in space by astronauts as part of a holiday prank in 1965.

The “Jingle Bell Wars” is more straight forward than some of these disputes. The writer of the song isn’t disputed – James Pierpont – it’s the when and the where. Apparently he spent several years going back and forth between Medford, Massachusetts and Savannah, Georgia. He finally settled in Georgia and despite the fact his father was a strong Abolitionist he fought for the Confederates.

Medford thinks they have it narrowed down to the particular spot – that used to be a tavern where sleigh races were held nearby – and have a historic marker there.

Savannah lays claim to being where it was written and if not where it was copyrighted and he lived there and was buried there, so there! Their historic marker is set on the church where Pierpont served as organist .

Kyna Hamill got tired of having the same answers every year when people started calling the Medford Historical Society for more information for a seasonal story. Hamill, who also teaches at CFA School of Theatre, started digging into the history of the song and trying to find out more about its writing.

What she found was a disagreement over the location of the writing and fact checking a lot of material found in a 1946 Boston Globe article that is the main source for the history of the song, she found things didn’t add up. It definitely couldn’t have been written in Medford in 1850 as the story went because Pierpont was in the California gold rush in 1850. Hamill has discovered a playbill from a minstrel show that may well be “Jingle Bells” first public performance. It was held at John Ordway’s Ordway Hall, on Washington Street in Boston, on September 15, 1857.

https://www.bu.edu/today/2016/jingle-bells-history/

http://www.bu.edu/news/2016/12/12/jingle-bell-wars/ (video)

Minstrel Music

While being part of a minstrel show isn’t the idyllic first performance for the song – which Savannah claims was at an undocumented church service – that people want to associate with a cherished Christmas song. However, a large percent of 19th century popular music does come from that tradition. Although black face is rightly seen as offensive today, ignoring songs from that tradition would mean ignoring some great American songs including most of Stephen Foster’s work. (If you don’t know who Stephen Foster is, look him up, I’ll wait.) So it’s not something that would have even occurred to people being a problem.

Evidence? Why Do You Need Evidence?

Neither side in the “Jingle Bell Wars” are willing to give up despite this contrary evidence. Catch their reactions in the Boston Globe.
https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2016/12/21/jinglebells/ZeH3tB7AZcBJzwmVyUYH7I/story.html

As the Victrola Turns aka the Death of Story Songs

What I think is a little humorous about this is that none of these articles mentioned the important example “Jingle Bells” serves as the capture of American music by technology. A musician I once heard – and I wish I could remember his name so I could give due credit – pointed out that this was one of the most obvious examples of the shortening of American music.

In the 19th century songs were passed around via sheet music. You’d go to the store browse or ask for suggestions to buy sheet music and then go home and play it. Sort of like how you go to iTunes to download a new song today. Songs often told a story (think of the later song “The Ballad of Davy Crockett”) or collected new verses as it got passed around (think “Old Dan Tucker”). However, the new record technology was inflexible in its length – roughly 3 minutes – and that meant that songs were shortened and verses thrown away. The rule of the length of a song – roughly 3 minutes – has passed down to this day despite changes in technology.

The shortened length killed many story songs and shortened even popular and well known songs. “Jingle Bells” is a great example of this. Take a minute and sing it to yourself. How far did you get? Do you think it ends with “then we got opsot” followed by one more chorus? You just skipped two verses that old record technology cut out. See for yourself the sheet music from the Library of Congress. Or see a transcript (I’m not 100% on the correctness of this one, but it definitely gives you the idea).

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+ LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.