Monday, July 15, 2013

I Need Something to Read--part two

Carmen, who works in our gift shop, has compiled a list of many, if not most, of the books in our gift shop AND written a brief synopsis of each. If you're downtown during the 3RF...or anytime...we encourage you stop in and browse (as well as buy).  

by Carmen Doyle

Fiction (Michael Martone)

Double-Wide-This is actually a reprint of a few of his other volumes that went out of print.

Michael Martone- A collection of author’s notes and bios that Martone wrote about himself. Each one is different and some contradict themselves. It reads like Martone got bored of the standard author bio, and decided to start making stuff up to see if anyone noticed. It has made me read the author biography of other books a little closer.

Racing in Place- A group of essays on various topics.  The essays sort of ramble onto various topics, and can be a little hard to follow.


Remembering Grabill, Indiana- It is obvious that the author loves Grabill. This book serves as sort of a historical tour of Grabill, and includes many pictures of interest, such as an old newspaper or photos of families.

American Folk Art: Expressions of a New Spirit- Pictures of art work from the 1800s. A brief description of each piece is included. However, without reading the descriptions, I would have found it hard to distinguish between the sculpture and the paintings.

Done and Been: Steel Rail Chronicles of American Hobos- This was a really interesting book. The author first clarifies the differences between a hobo, a bum, and a tramp, and then has some of the hobos she has met tell their story. The most interesting parts are when the author tells her adventures riding the rails. However, because the book is written, not told around a campfire, sometimes the author’s prose gets irritating. A great book to just pick up and start reading anyplace.

Quest Club: the first 100 years and The Quest for Fort Wayne- These are a series of papers on a variety of topics, including politics, stem cell research, Stradivarius violins and prominent Fort Wayne people like Harry Baals and Hugh McCulloch.


A Trip on the Wabash and Erie Canal- This book is designed for grade school readers, but there is so much information that older readers can find it helpful as well. The story is about Daniel and his family leaving Toledo on their way to settle in Fort Wayne. They use the canal to travel, and Daniel learns about the mechanics of the canal- how long the trip takes, how locks works, and other activities.

Before the Dinosaurs- A good start to learning about fossils in Indiana.

Essential Atlas of Astronomy- Gorgeous photos and a ton of information. This book could be used by anyone interested in astronomy basics- there is more information in here than I remember learning in school. 

Eyes on the Skies: 400 years of Telescopic Discovery – Beautiful photos of not just stars, but of telescopes and planetariums. Also comes with a DVD.

*By Freedom’s Light- fictional story about a 13 year old girl who has to decide how she feels about slavery when she meets a slave girl her own age,

*The Civil War Book of Games, Puzzles, And Things To Do- These games range from “secret messages” (cryptograms) to mazes, matching, and coloring. Most of the activities would work in a car, so if you have a long trip in front of you, this might be a way to keep the kids entertained.

Birds of Indiana: A field guide- Organized by bird color, this book is great for a budding ornithologist.

Trees of Indiana: A field guide- Organized by leaf shape, the small size makes it easy to carry. Great for use outdoors!


Baseball in Fort Wayne- Images with detailed information attached. While this book was written before the TinCaps, it still has a lot to offer. I liked the section “Major Connections” which featured contemporary baseball players who had played for the Wizards before making it to the Major League.

Fort Wayne Sport History- This book is organized like a calendar, with every day of the year (including February 29) having some Fort Wayne sports record. If you don’t know when something happened, this book isn’t very helpful. It does work well if you use it as a sports devotional- every day read a new fact.

Dottie Wiltse Collins: Strikeout Queen of the All-American Professional Baseball League- This book is excellent for anyone wanting to learn more about women playing baseball during WWII. Dottie was an excellent pitcher. The book also tells of her experience advising for the movie A League of Their Own, (including the fact that Madonna’s character catching a ball in her cap would never have actually happened. A lot of the other baseball scenes were accurate.) A question I did have trouble finding the answer to in this book was how women’s baseball differed from men’s.

Opening Pitch: Professional Baseball’s Inaugural Season, 1871- How baseball started to evolve into the game as we know it today. Chapter 3 talks about the short lived Fort Wayne Kekiongas, and why they were short lived. Unfortunately, the writing style made it hard for me to follow the details. It is clear money was an important factor, but that wasn’t the only reason. I did enjoy learning about how the dimensions of the stadiums have changed. There are also lots of stats for the avid fan.

Indiana Sporting Life: Selections from Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History- This book is a collection of articles that originally appeared in Traces magazine.  The History Center has a small exhibit devoted to a baseball player form Fort Wayne, Chick Stahl. One of the stories in this book goes into greater detail of the tragedy of Chick. Baseball is not the only sport covered- basketball, fishing, horse racing and boxing are among the other sports covered. However, my favorite story was “A Major League Friendship: Carl Erskine remembers Jackie Robinson and the Brooklyn Dodgers”. Erskine talks about not only Jackie Robinson, but also how he got involved in Wildcat baseball- Erskine and Jackie Robinson were both named “the Godfathers of Wildcat Baseball”.  There are even photos of Jackie, Erskine, Bob Feller and Ted Williams with Dale McMillen, founder of Wildcat baseball. The recent movie 42, about Jackie Robinson, makes this article a great read.

Hoosier Leisure

50 Years Together: The Red Birds Remember- Joe Taylor and the Red Birds were a popular country music band from Fort Wayne for many years. This book traces how the band got started, including how Taylor came to record his signature song “Cowboy Auctioneer”. While the book includes a discography, there is no music attached to it. Difficult to have a book about a band without being able to listen to the music!

A History of Lake James-Lake James is the third largest natural lake in Indiana. The authors’ love for the lake clearly shows in this book. What makes the book really interesting are the illustrations- many are old postcards sent from the lake.

Spinning through Clouds- This book is the memories of Max Knight, who began flying at age nine in the mid 1930s. His adventures in flying are interspersed with stories of famous pilots, and their contributions to aviation.

Life in a 3-Ring Circus- The pictures in this book are gorgeous- very colorful. The description of circus posters isn’t very interesting- discussions of sizes are hard to tell in a book. The interviews with the circus performers is very good; however, the reader is assumed to know so much about renowned circus performers it was hard to follow. Get the book for the artwork, and the interviews. If you have background knowledge of circuses, this book is great. If you have only vague knowledge of prominent circus performers, then this book isn’t very helpful.

Wolf & Dessauer: Where Fort Wayne Shopped- On the off chance you have no idea what Wolf & Dessauer was, this book starts with a brief background, and then has interviews with various people who worked for W&D’s. There is also (of course) a huge chapter on Christmas at the store. The History Center has several of the animated figures from the store on display during the Festival of Gingerbread.

Indiana Living

A Swiss Community in Adams County- Photos of Berne, Indiana. Part of the Images of America series, so the photos are good quality.

Haunted Hoosier Trails- and More Haunted Hoosier Trails- scary tales from around Indiana. The story of the Embassy ghost even has an interview from Steve Toor, the History Center’s event coordinator! (I’m not a fan of scary stories, so I’m happy to know that the History Center isn’t among the haunted places in Fort Wayne)

Indiana: A new Historical Guide- A series of tours over several portions of Indiana. If you have a car, and are looking for a tour that lasts an entire day, this book is helpful. While some of the information is outdated, (sadly, the Lincoln Museum is no more) there are some interesting things. I enjoyed learning that Concordia Seminary, located not far from my house, was designed to look like a North European village.

The Irish in Indiana- The most famous Irish place in Indiana, Notre Dame, is only mentioned briefly, within the context of a deeper subject. And the football team gets only ONE mention! There is interesting information on social and economic interests of Irish from the 18th century to the present.

Peopling Indiana: The Ethnic Experience Every ethnic group is covered in this book, not just the groups from Europe. The difficulty faced by Chinese immigrants coming to Indiana isn’t a topic I had thought of before. There are many diagrams for the serious scholar, but the book is well written and clear enough that someone with a casual interest can read it as well. However, there is no mention of Notre Dame!

Play the Yellow Tape- If you like Unsolved Mysteries, this book is full of descriptions of crimes from 1854-1932 for which no explanation has been found.


 “There I grew up”: Remembering Abraham Lincoln’s Indiana Youth- Lincoln spent 14 years in Indiana, and this book starts with Lincoln’s memories of IN, and then goes into memories from the people who surrounded him while he was there, including his stepmother, as well as his law partner (and later biographer) William Henry Herndon. If you’re a Lincoln scholar, this book is wonderful.

*Abraham Lincoln: Portrayed in the collections of the Indiana Historical Society- This book has wonderful images of Lincoln; not just portraits, but also political cartoons and paintings. Not only are there pictures, there are explanations of the role the pictures played in the memory of Lincoln.  A wonderful book for those who haven’t been able to make it to the Indiana State Museum to see their Lincoln collection, or for those who don’t want to look at the online Lincoln collection from the library

The Faces of Lincoln (postcards) - These postcards feature a wide variety of Lincoln images. My favorite was the reward poster for “THE MURDERER of our late, beloved President” These postcards would also make great thank you notes!

Abraham Lincoln stickers- Fun stickers are a great way to introduce Lincoln to younger kids. Plus, they make an excellent decoration for any patriotic occasion!

Young Lincoln: the early life of Abraham Lincoln, 1816-1830 (DVD) - This video has interviews with historians as well as excerpts from Lincoln’s writings.

The Life of Lincoln: Video & Interactive group learning tool (DVD)- a 3 disc set designed for classrooms, both school age and adult.


A Friendly Mission: John Candler’s Letters from America 1853-1854- Candler was an English Quaker who came to America on an anti-slavery mission. The letters are written to his wife, and tell of the people he met on his travels and how people in different areas felt about slavery. Really interesting view of the culture of the time period                                                                                                                                                                                                              

Indiana’s African-American Heritage: Essays from Black History News & Notes- The essays divided into five general topics, and each author goes into depth about their subject. Each essay is written by a different author, and well researched. The essays cover a variety of areas.

Negro Theatre in America Prior to the Civil War- Although there isn’t much directly written about African-American theater in this time period, the author uses mentions of theater in newspapers and other sources to try and figure out what theater there was and where it happened. Because the author has to rely so much on mentions of theater, not on actual sources, his enthusiasm is sometimes annoying. Lots of information for people who want to do further research.

A Communion of the Spirits- This book was very neat. It’s organized by people- the author interviewed multiple people about their memories of quilting, and what it meant to them. However, I would have appreciated more photos of the quilts, along with descriptions of the designs and how quilts are made- I have very little idea what a quilting frame is, for example.

Desperate Deliverance: The Story of African-Americans in the Civil War-Lots of information, and well told. I really liked some of the stories of bravery performed by the African-Americans, like the man who managed to steal a ship and successfully pilot it to Union territory.

The Black Women of the Middle West project- the oral histories are very interesting, but most of the book seems to be lists for additional research. Good for scholars seeking more information.

An Oral History of African Americans in Grant County- various people tell about an area of their life in Grant County. Everyone interviewed was born in the early 1900’s and when interviewed were in their 80s or 90s. The interviewees talk about their life when they were in their 20s and 30s, and some of the experiences they had.

 African-Americans in Fort Wayne: The First 200 Years – this book has interviews with several elderly African-Americans about their early memories of Fort Wayne. There are a lot of photos of African-Americans from the 1930s through the 1960s. The book also contains information about African-American churches and the first in Fort Wayne. The interviews are great, but it’s the photos that make this book really worthwhile.

Native Americans

Contested Territories: Native Americans and non-natives in the lower Great Lakes, 1700-1850- Seven in-depth essays on various topics related to Native Americans in the area. Great for scholars, but it can be hard for the average person to follow. The essays that discuss Chief Richardville is very informative, however, that essay didn’t discuss Richardville and M├ętis as much as I would have liked.

Long Journey Home- Oral histories of Native Americans from Oklahoma (The tribe was originally located in Indiana.) Really interesting but I would have liked the fry bread recipe (not just a song and a photo.) 

A Sorrowful Journey- The journals of John Shelby and Daniel Workman are presented side by side. Both men accompanied the Shawnee on their journey out of Ohio. The journals presented side by side can be confusing, as some of the line spacing is off. This is a minor problem, and the side by side presentation makes for an engrossing read.

The Lost Years: Miami Indians in Kansas- Very informative book about the problems encountered by the Miami Indians on the journey to Kansas. Despite the author’s writing (It reads like a book report from a junior high student, with sentence fragments and time confusion) there is a lot of good information in this book. Great for kids and those wanting just a little bit of information. Sources are given at the end of each chapter for further investigation.

Blacksnake’s Path- This book, while fiction, goes into depth about the life of William Wells, a white boy captured and raised by Miami. Wells was both a Miami warrior and later a scout for Anthony Wayne. This book goes into detail about Wells’ life among the Miami and then among white settlers.

Heart of a Warrior –This book reads like a Hollywood movie. It focuses on the relationship between William Wells and Sweet Breeze, Little Turtle’s daughter. Although their relationship was only a section of William Wells’ life, it’s still worth reading. Because the book is written like a movie, it’s easy and fun to read. One thing that would make this book better is pictures. Guess I’ll have to wait for the movie! (Assuming a movie is ever made.)

Land of the Indians: Indiana- a good beginner book. There is a ton of information in here, but a few spelling errors, bad pictures (the pictures all look like someone just printed them off from their computer) and lack of citations mean that this book is for starting scholars only. A good book to start research, but better information can be found elsewhere.

Miami Indians of Indiana: A Persistent People 1654-1994- This book has a ton of information, and is well written. The history of the Miami and the government continuing to take advantage of them is told. Also told is the process used to try and get the Miami federal status. This book was published in 1996, so an update or a place to get more information would be nice. 

Murder in their hearts: The Fall Creek Massacre--This book starts with a description of the 1824 murder of a small group of Indians, including children, who were killed by drunken white settlers. What’s unusual about the murder is that the murderers were tried and convicted. The book uses newspaper and court accounts to help tell the story.                                                                            
The Native Americans- History of the Native Americans  in Indiana from BC to the present, and how the view of the Native Americans have changed throughout the decades.

Northwest Territory

Bayonets in the Wilderness: Anthony Wayne’s Legion in the Old Northwest- This book tells about Anthony Wayne and his campaign in what would later be Fort Wayne. Heavily researched, and has information about William Wells and Simon Girty. (For more on Simon Girty, check out our blog )

Frontiersmen- Very entertaining book about Simon Kenton, who traveled around the Northwest Territory (which would later become Ohio, Indiana and Illinois.) The only problem with this book is that the hefty size (600 pages) makes it a little difficult to fit in your beach bag or on your nightstand. Engrossing read.

President Washington’s Indian War: The Struggle for the Old Northwest 1790-1795- The clashes between the Indians and the settlers, and Anthony Wayne’s campaigns. Includes maps of locations mentioned, to help better of the areas involved. The descriptions of some of the torture committed by both sides is enough to make those with weak stomachs (and I’m one of them) a little queasy. Don’t read while eating or before bed!

Mr. Jefferson’s Hammer: William Henry Harrison and the origins of American Indian Policy- William Henry Harrison is probably remembered best as “the President who made a really long inaugural speech, got pneumonia, and died a month later.” This book tells the story of Harrison before he became President, including his time as governor of Indiana. What I found interesting was the reasoning behind Harrison’s stance on slavery, even after the issue was hurting his political career.


Fighting For Equality: a life of May Wright Sewall- This biography is of an Indiana suffragist, who with her husband started a girls’ school in Indianapolis. The aim of the school was that the girls’ studies would be equal to the men’s. She also served as a delegate for Henry Ford’s 1915 Peace Trip, and worked with Susan B. Anthony.   

Maggie Ray: World War II Air Force Pilot-Margaret Ray was from Fort Wayne and wanted to fly since she was ten. This book tells the story of her learning to fly, then becoming a WASP in WWII. Her adventures learning to fly are awesome to read about- like the time after an appendectomy when a friend checked out a plane, not telling the people in charge at the airport that Maggie would be coming along as a passenger. Then he let Maggie fly the plane. The plane had troubles, but since he hadn’t told anyone he was taking a passenger, Maggie had to wait for him to go back to the airport, report the accident, and come back. The book was written by Maggie’s daughter, Marsha Wright. Margaret was also featured in Tom Brokaw’s Greatest Generation because of her work in WWII. The book also has photos throughout of Maggie. After you read this book, pick up a copy of the DVD Wings for Maggie Ray, a documentary film based on the life of this trailblazing woman.  

Nature’s Storyteller: The Life of Gene Stratton Porter- Porter was one of Indiana’s most well known people. She was a well-known author (the History Center has two books written by her, the Harvester and Mickey O’Halloran.) She was also a conservationist, using her popularity from her writings to encourage public interest in wildlife causes. This book focuses on her life and her lasting influence. A fun, easy read.

Hold Fast to Dreams: The Sixty-Year Career of an Indiana Teacher- An autobiography of Audra Snyder Bailey, who worked as a teacher in various capacities, from a boarding school to abroad to Milwaukee and then to Indiana. An interesting career.

*Carole Lombard: The Hoosier Tornado- Carole Lombard was a well-known actress in the 1930s and early 40s. Originally from Fort Wayne, (her house is on the Bicentennial heritage Trail) she became known as a screwball actress. This book details her life from Fort Wayne to her tragic death during a tour to sell war bonds. Easy read, if not as fun as watching her movies.

Pictorial Histories

Historic Photos of Fort Wayne- Beautiful black and white photos of Fort Wayne from 1860-1979. It’s neat to see how some places seem little changed, and how some beautiful buildings are no longer here.

“One Shot”: World War II Photography of John A. Bushemi- Not just photography, this book serves as a biography of a Bushemi, photographer during WWII, who became well-known for his photos capturing soldiers in the Pacific. The book also tells about some the difficulties photographers faced during the War, from being shelled to dealing with the elements. A great book for those interested in the Pacific Theater.  

Images of America: Fort Wayne, Indiana- photos of memorable Fort Wayne scenes and events. The picture of St. Mary’s Catholic Church after the fire is memorable, but I preferred the photos of kids at the zoo.

Images of America: New Haven- beautiful photos of New Haven. I liked the photos of the canals and the railroads, especially reading about railroad disasters and near disasters.

Images of Aviation: Fort Wayne Aviation: Baer Field and Beyond- Photos related to Fort Wayne aviation. While there are of course, many photos of planes, some of my favorite images weren’t directly associated with flying, like veterans housing at Baer Field or the photo of Hank Aaron’s bat, which was in Fort Wayne as part of a publicity tour. (The picture was taken when the bat arrived in Fort Wayne- by plane)

Headwaters Park: Fort Wayne’s Lasting Legacy- TRF is here, so what better time to look at Headwaters Park? The park has served many purposes, and there  are photos of many major events, including the many floodings, and baseball photos from when League Park, home of the Fort Wayne Kekiongas, was located in what became the park. (There’s even a photo of Babe Ruth when he played at League Park!)

Exploring Old and New

The Calumet Region: Indiana’s Last Frontier- exhaustive early history of Indiana, great for in-depth scholarship. For the casual reader, it can be difficult to follow.

*Wabash and Erie Canal Notebook I: Allen County and Huntington County, Indiana- History and importance of the canal to Allen and Huntington County.

Wabash and Erie Canal Notebook II: Cass, Carroll and Tippecanoe counties- Importance and influence of the canal in three counties. Exhaustively informative on each county and wonderful for the canal scholar.

Wabash and Erie Canal Notebook III: Wabash and Miami Counties- uses official reports and stories of two important canal counties. The book also has photographs and maps of the canals sprinkled throughout the text.

On the Heritage Trail- Chock-full of information on sites of local historic interest in Fort Wayne. This is designed to be an accompaniment to the Heritage Trail Guide Map, which is set up as a series of walking tours around Fort Wayne. The History Center is no. 7 on the Central Downtown Trail, and the Carole Lombard house is no. 32 on the West Central Trail. ARCH is in the process of digitizing parts of the trail with QR codes, but for those without smart phones, or who just prefer the sensory experience, the book is awesome. (And since TRF is in full swing, this is a great time to see how Fort Wayne started!)

Early Indiana Trails and Surveys- reprint of a 1919 book. In-depth information on early Indiana trails. The index is helpful in finding data on various aspects of early Indiana paths, focusing on the physical trails, and not as much on the people as I would have liked. (For example, I found that Aaron Burr may have stayed one night in Vallonia “during his famous conspiracy days of 1806” but does not explain who Aaron Burr was or what his conspiracy was)

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