May 2010 Book Remarks

By Sharon DeBartolo Carmack Premium

Undertaking an oral history project? Catching Stories: A Practical Guide to Oral History by Donna M. DeBlasio and others (Swallow Press Books) is the perfect planning guide for recording memories of a community or family. The book walks you through the interviewing process, recording techniques, transcription tips, funding, legal issues and more.

Award-winning author Cornelia Nixon crafted Jarrettsville (Counterpoint Press) based on a murder in her family history. In 1869, Martha Jane Cairnes shot her fiancé, Nicholas McComas, in front of 50 witnesses. Set in northern Maryland, Jarrettsville tells of a secret affair that ended tragically amid the high tensions of post-Civil War America.

Sarah Vowell’s enjoyable armchair study of Puritan life in The Wordy Shipmates (Riverhead Books) reveals people who were literate, principled and surprisingly feisty. Relying mostly on the published firsthand accounts of famous Puritans such as Roger Williams and John Winthrop, Vowell augments historical fact with her humorous insight and social commentary.

A photo of an Irish family home triggered Patrick MacCulloch’s genealogical search and resulted in The Campbell Quest: A Saga of Family and Fortune (Missouri History Museum). MacCulloch unearthed all the drama that intrigues genealogists: family squabbles, children born out of wedlock, alcoholism, violence and a legal dispute over the family fortune.
From the May 2010 Family Tree Magazine