Category: Nonfiction

Book review: The Printed Square: Vintage Handkerchief Patterns for Fashion and Design

By , September 11, 2014

The Printed Square: Vintage Handkerchief Patterns for Fashion and Design

By Nicky Albrechtsen

If you love vintage clothing, then you won’t want to miss Nicky Albrechtsen’s new book The Printed Square: Vintage Handkerchief Patterns for Fashion and Design.

The Printed Square takes you on a fun romp through the history of the handkerchief focusing on the thirty year period from 1920 to 1950. You’ll learn about what colors, motifs and cultural events influenced handkerchief design. The book features over 200 full page color photos, allowing you to easily see the handkerchief itself, how its edges were finished and the texture of the fabric.  The handkerchiefs are grouped by color for easy browsing. Clever quotes by artists and designers introduce each new chapter. The Printed Square also features tips on where to find vintage handkerchiefs, handkerchief conservation and storage ideas.


Handkerchiefs ……created to catch your sneeze….evolved to catch you eye…..






Book review: Weathering the Storm

By , September 9, 2014

Weathering the Storm: Tornadoes, Television, and Turmoil
By Gary England

I am a weather groupie. I get excited when Jim Cantore comes to Nashville and I’m Facebook friends with Dr. Greg Forbes. (I feel like this would be great fodder for a Weird Al song…) I am also a fan of Gary England.

Who the heck is Gary England, you say?

Gary England is the chief meteorologist for KWTV in Oklahoma City, OK. If you’ve seen the movie Twister, England stars as TV Meteorologist #1 where, in one of the very first scenes, he gives the weather report that Jo’s (Helen Hunt) dad sees right before the tornado comes. He is also the first public weather guy to make use of Doppler Radar outside of the NWS or NOAA. I came across him after the May 3, 1999 outbreak that came through Oklahoma City and included several large tornadoes – one EF5 hit Oklahoma City proper, with England broadcasting live through the whole event.

So I was pretty excited to find out that A) Gary England wrote a book! and even better B) NPL has this delightful treasure! In this book, England tells the story of how he became Oklahoma’s favorite meteorologist. Unfortunately, it was published in 1996, which precludes the inclusion of the ’99 tornadoes, but Oklahoma has never been short on severe weather, so there was still plenty to discuss. England talks about how he was first hired in radio and how a giant, imaginary thunder lizard brought him fame. He also details the struggles he faced at KWTV, convincing them to install a Doppler Radar at great expense, but with great reward and life-saving opportunities.

I knew Gary England was a popular meteorologist, but I had no idea he was the first guy to install his own Doppler Radar. There were also some great storm chasing stories as well, because KWTV has several storm chase teams. England is not a chaser himself, but he definitely quarterbacks his team of weather guys and cameramen in order to increase warning times for the public and save as many lives as possible.

Being the weather nerd that I am, I’ve read my share of boring weather books, and I’m happy to say this was not one of them. I couldn’t put it down. If you need your next weather fix, you can’t go wrong with Mr. England and his Thunder Lizard.

Happy reading…

:) Amanda


Pioneer in Flight: Cornelia Fort and the WAFS

By , September 8, 2014

Photo of Cornelia FortCornelia Clark Fort was the first female pilot to die on active military duty. In honor of the start of school and her new place on the Tennessee school curriculum, today we are going to highlight the Cornelia Fort Papers. This is one of the many one-of-a-kind collections in the Special Collection that tell personal stories about remarkable Tennesseans.

Cornelia was the eldest daughter of Rufus and Louise Clark and grew up on a farm in East Nashville with her brothers and sisters. Rufus made all the boys swear to never become pilots because he felt it was too dangerous but it never occurred to him to make his daughters swear. Cornelia fell in love with flying and became a flight instructor in Hawaii. In 1942, Cornelia joined the Women’s Auxiliary Ferry Squadron (WAFS) and transported planes for military use. The WAFS were a predecessor to the WASP (Women’s Airforce Service Pilots), a group that has been the subject of many books and films. Cornelia’s plane crashed when she was hit by a fellow pilot during a ferrying trip in 1943.

Cornelia Fort License with picture

Cornelia Fort’s license from the War Department issued in 1942

The Cornelia Fort Papers include her personal papers as well as information about her immediate family. Some of my favorite items include her various pilot licenses like the one shown here. This is her official license from the military proving her employment with the Ferrying Division. As you can see on the license, Cornelia and her co-pilots were civilians employed by the army, not enlisted members of the military. It was not until 1976 that the Air Force officially let women enlist in their ranks.

Letter from Cornelia Fort to her mother

Letter from Cornelia Fort to her mother, October 1942

Cornelia’s papers also include several handwritten letters like the one to the right. In them she describes her social life and her flights to her family. In this letter, she talks about her graduation and the first orders she received. As one of the senior members of the group, Cornelia was one of the first six given official orders after they completed their training.

There is so much more to see! The Special Collection is open during regular library hours on the second floor of the Main Library. If you are interested in looking at the Cornelia Fort Papers, feel free to call 615-862-5782 to set up an appointment or stop by our service desk.

Look at these books and films for more information on Cornelia Fort and Female Pilots:

United States Women in Aviation, 1940-1985 cover, by Deborah G Douglas


United States Women in Aviation 1940-1985

by Deborah G Douglas




Ladybirds: The Untold Stories of Women Pilots in America cover, by Holden and Griffith


Ladybirds: The Untold Story of Women Pilots in America

by Henry M Holden and Captain Lori Griffith





Zoot-Suits and Parachutes and Wings of Silver, too! cover, by Doris Brinker Tanner


Zoot-Suits and Parachutes and Wings of Silver, too!: The World War II Air Force Training of Women Pilots 1942-1944

by Doris Brinker Tanner




WASPs: Women Airforce Service Pilots of World War II cover, by Vera Williams


WASPs: Women Airforce Service Pilots of World War II

by Vera S Williams




Clipped Wings: The Rise and Fall of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) of World War cover, by Molly Merryman


Clipped Wings: The Rise and Fall of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) of World War II

by Molly Merryman





Fly Girls DVD cover


Fly Girls





- Amber

Book list: The Best…

By , September 4, 2014

I’m a sucker for “Best of” lists, so happily there are compilations like these that gather everything together for you—no effort required!  These are the two that I’ve liked best in the past several years:

Best American Essays 2013Best American Essays 2013
Edited by Cheryl Strayed

I hadn’t ever read this annual collection before, but I will from now on. There were several standouts:



  • Highway of Lost Girls
  • The Exhibit Will Be So Marked (a meandering piece on the art of the mix tape that was more John Jeremiah Sullivan than the actual JJS essay)
  • When They Let Them Bleed (who knew I could be entranced by an essay about boxing?)
  • A Little Bit of Fun Before He Died, because of the unexpected surprise

However, my absolute favorite was the 3-page His Last Game.


Pushcart Prize 2013Pushcart Prize XXXVII: Best of the Small Presses (2013)


Top 5 (in order of appearance):



  1. American Juggalo, an exposé of a little-known music festival
  2. Civil Twilight, about the life of a city bus driver
  3. Juniper Beach, an ode to the Trip-Tik
  4. A Zen Zealot Comes Home, about a moment of insight after an exasperating family visit
  5. Helen Keller Answers the Iron, a ridiculously good essay on joke-telling
    Honorable Mention: the Harry Crews excerpt

I also anxiously await the Best American Short Stories each fall—the 2014 edition is coming out soon. Go ahead and put it on hold!

Best American Short Stories 2014Best American Short Stories 2014

Edited by Jennifer Egan




- Beth

Book review: True Crime

By , September 1, 2014

Killer of Little ShepherdsThe Killer of Little Shepherds
by Douglas Starr

I don’t remember there being any fanfare when this book came out, which is surprising because it is tailor-made for Devil in the White City fans. It’s even set up the same way: a chapter about the serial killer, and then a chapter about the other topic of the book—in this case, the development of early crime detection techniques. The issue of how (or even whether) you can determine if a criminal is insane is also a major theme. The author obviously did an enormous amount of research, and is also a good, lucid nonfiction writer. This deserves a wider readership.


Midnight in PekingMidnight in Peking
by Paul French

This is like Twin Peaks, 1930′s China-style. The unravelling of the crime is beautifully paced, with just the right amount of historical context.





Ebola: a primer

By , August 15, 2014

Ebola: the plague fighters

Ebola Hemorragic Fever. If those three words did not send blood curding chills down your spine before the most recent West African outbreak, I bet they do now.

First identified in 1976, Ebola Hemorragic Fever appeared in the Democratic Republic of the Congo near the Ebola River. The latest outbreak is centered in Guéckédou, Guinea. The virus is believed to be zoonotic (animal-borne) spreading to humans once in contact with a diseased animal. Ebola Hemorragic Fever is severe and often fatal to humans and nonhuman primates. The symptoms are frightening so to spare the reader graphic details, focus on the word, “hemorragic.”

If you care to further investigate this virus from the safety of your Ebola secretion free home, we offer these horrifying reads and films beginning with the 1987  Robin Cook medical thriller, Outbreak.  A film by the same name followed in 1995 featuring “a take charge army virologist” played by Dustin Hoffman.  Rene Russo and Morgan Freeman also star. Cook followed up with the 1995 book Contagion (film by the same name in 2011).

In 1994 Richard Preston gave non-fiction audiences The Hot Zone. This book looks at the disease and the research behind the testing and the lab work involved in finding a treatment. If you wonder why no cure or treatment exists, it is because outbreaks are sporadic and occur mainly in Africa.

Finally for your viewing pleasure, the 2007 no-nonsense Nova production Ebola: plague fighters. The Nova film team was permitted into the 1995 Zaire Ebola “hot zone”. They spent four weeks in the quarantined city of Kikwit following medical specialists who traced and tracked the Ebola virus that dissolves internal organs and connective tissue. You can watch this one while donning a surgical mask. No one will blame you.

By visiting patients in their home, by helping them come to terms with their illness, I could heal when I could not cure.      Abraham Verghese





Book review: My Heart Is an Idiot

By , August 10, 2014

My Heart Is an Idiot

My Heart Is an Idiot
by Davy Rothbart

I love anyone who can make everyday life seem like an exciting joyride. Davy Rothbart is a master of this, and his essay Human Snowball from this collection is the best thing I’ve read all year.  Here’s a quote, to give you an idea of his style:

“A plume of merriment rose in my chest that was six parts the gentle glow of heading into any bar on a cold, snowy night and four parts the wonderful, unpredictable madness of having a hundred-and-ten-year-old man I’d just met on the Greyhound bus as my wingman.”

In addition to these autobiographical essays (which reminded me of the movie Beautiful Girls), Rothbart is the creator of Found magazine and the author of the story collection The Lone Surfer of Montana, Kansas.

Human Snowball was featured in both The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2013 and the 2014 Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses.


Book review: Art of the Japanese Postcard: Masterpieces from the Leonard A. Lauder Collection

By , August 8, 2014

Art of the Japanese Postcard: Masterpieces from the Leonard A. Lauder Collection

By Anne Nishimura Morse


If you enjoyed the Looking East: Western Artists and the Allure of Japan exhibit at the Frist Center this past spring then you are going to love Art of the Japanese Postcard.

Leonard A. Lauder’s passion for postcard collecting began as a child. In the 1960s while on a business trip to London, he discovered a collection of Japanese Art Nouveau postcards and the rest as they say is history. In 2002, Leonard donated his collection of twenty thousand Japanese postcards to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

The Art of the Japanese Postcard features 300 postcards from Lauder’s vast collection divided into seven categories: The Russo-Japanese War, Artists Cards, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, The World of Humor, Advertising and New Year’s Greetings.

When the Japanese government introduced the postcard to its people in 1873, many of the top artists of the day embraced this new idea and began making art specifically for postcards. Many of those artists are featured in this book.

Named one of the 10 Best Art Books of 2004 by The New York Times, Art of the Japanese Postcard is filled with small artwork that packs a big punch!


- Karen



Book review: In the Kingdom of Ice

By , August 4, 2014

In the Kingdom of IceIn the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette
By Hampton Sides

Perfect for the dog days of summer: an account of a polar expedition gone wrong in the late 1800’s.

In 1879, the USS Jeannette set sail from San Francisco in search of the North Pole.  At the time, scientists thought that the Arctic was ringed by ice, with a warm polar sea within.  This expedition proved conclusively that this was not the case, after the ship was trapped in ice for over a year and then sank, leaving the crew to try to trek to Siberia—a thousand miles away—over shifting icebergs.  The author describes the crew personalities, medical disasters, icebound Christmas celebrations (both of them), rescue attempts, and general trauma of the expedition with a knack for the perfect detail.

Hampton Sides will be discussing the book at our next Salon @ 615 on Tuesday, August 12 at Montgomery Bell Academy.  More details at  Fans of survival stories, do not miss this one!


50th Anniversary of Freedom Summer

By , July 27, 2014

In the summer of 1964, around one thousand young people, mostly college students, mostly white, headed to Mississippi. Their goals seemed simple. Help black people to register to vote. Start community schools, libraries, and centers. They knew it would be tough. Mississippi law was not on their side.

Check out the full movie: Freedom Summer from Nashville Public Library


Freedom Summer by Susan Goldman Rubin

Freedom Summer: The 1964 Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi 
by Susan Goldman Rubin

The disappearance of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner forms the backbone of this thoroughly researched book. Rubin conducted interviews with many of the students and leaders present in Mississippi during that summer, interweaving their stories with news accounts and other primary source documentation. The real treasures of the book, however, are the photographs. From frightening scenes of violence to the peaceful setting of children reading in a library, readers are able to viscerally connect with that long-ago summer.

Freedom Summer Murders by Don Mitchell

The Freedom Summer Murders  
by Don Mitchell

Who were those three young men who were shot in a dark, secluded Mississippi woods? Their names and faces mobilized the first real government interference in Mississippi’s racist political system, but they did not set out to be heroes. Mitchell traces the early years of Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner, as well as the reactions of their families to their disappearance at the onset of Freedom Summer.


Freedom Summer by Deborah Wiles

Freedom Summer  
by Deborah Wiles
illustrated by John Lagarrigue

John Henry swims better than anyone I know. He crawls like a catfish, blows bubbles like a swamp monster, but he doesn’t swim in the town pool with me. He’s not allowed. Joe and John Henry are a lot alike. They both like shooting marbles, they both want to be firemen, and they both love to swim. But there’s one important way they’re different: Joe is white and John Henry is black and in the South in 1964, that means John Henry isn’t allowed to do everything his best friend is. Then a law is passed that forbids segregation and opens the town pool to everyone. Joe and John Henry are so excited they race each other there…only to discover that it takes more than a new law to change people’s hearts.

Glory Be by Augusta Scattergood

Glory Be  
by Augusta Scattergood

A Mississippi town in 1964 gets riled when tempers flare at the segregated public pool. As much as Gloriana June Hemphill, or Glory as everyone knows her, wants to turn twelve, there are times when Glory wishes she could turn back the clock a year. Jesslyn, her sister and former confidante, no longer has the time of day for her now that she’ll be entering high school. Then there’s her best friend, Frankie. Things have always been so easy with Frankie, and now suddenly they aren’t. Maybe it’s the new girl from the North that’s got everyone out of sorts. Or maybe it’s the debate about whether or not the town should keep the segregated public pool open.

Revolution by Deborah Wiles

by Deborah Wiles

Sunny is twelve-years-old as the summer of 1964 begins to bake her home in Greenwood, Mississippi. She’s already feeling overwhelmed by her new stepmother and her two kids, and now there’s talk of white people coming to stir up trouble for everyone. And sure enough, right away three Freedom Summer workers disappear. Violence hangs like a thundercloud over Greenwood, while Sunny frantically tries to understand who is right.


Freedom Summer by Bruce Watson

Like a Holy Crusade by Nicolaus Mills

Like a Holy Crusade: Mississippi 1964 – The Turning of the Civil Rights Movement in America  
by Nicolaus Mills

We remember the Kennedy men of the 1960s as “the best and the brightest”; we celebrate the Mercury astronauts for having “the right stuff.” But, Mills writes, if anyone in the 1960s earned the right to be called heroes it was the men and women who risked their lives to carry out the Mississippi Summer Project. That summer took a terrible toll on staff, volunteers, and, above all, those black families who opened their homes to the movement. In the face of danger, courage was everywhere.


Freshwater Road by Denise Nichols

Freshwater Road  
by Denise Nichols

Nineteen-year-old Celeste Tyree leaves Ann Arbor to go to Pineyville, Mississippi, in the summer of 1964 to help found a voter registration project as part of Freedom Summer. As the summer unfolds, she confronts not only the political realities of race and poverty in this tiny town, but also deep truths about her family and herself.



Mississippi Burning (movie) Mississippi Burning (DVD)

Two FBI agents investigate the deaths of civil rights workers in a Mississippi town. Tension is caused by the discovery of a local coverup.

Directed by Alan Parker. With Gene Hackman, Willem Dafoe, Frances McDormand, and Brad Dourif.


Neshoba (movie)

 Neshoba: The Price of Freedom (DVD)

The story of a Mississippi town forty years after the murders of civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, an event dramatized in the Oscar-winning film Mississippi Burning. No one was held accountable until 2005, when the State indicted preacher Edgar Ray Killen, an 80-year-old notorious racist and mastermind of the murders.

Directed by Micki Dickoff and Tony Pagano


The Nashville Room at the Nashville Public Library’s Main Branch has many resources on the Civil Rights Movement. Many of these books are unique and hard to find. Below is a list of books available in the Nashville Room. These books cannot be checked out.

Letters from Mississippi

Letters from Mississippi: Reports from the Civil Rights Volunteers and Freedom School Poetry of the 1964 Freedom Summer  
ed. by Elizabeth Martinez

800 students gathered for a week-long orientation session at Western College for Women in Oxford, Ohio, in June, 1964, before leaving for Mississippi. They were mostly white and young, with an average age of 21. Letters from Mississippi is a collection of moving, personal letters written by volunteers of the summer.

And Gently He Shall Lead Them

And Gently He Shall Lead Them: Robert Parris Moses and Civil Rights in Mississippi  
by Eric Burner

Moses spent almost three years in Mississippi trying to awaken the state”s black citizens to their moral and legal rights before the fateful summer of 1964 would thrust him and the Freedom Summer movement into the national spotlight. This first biography, a primer in the life of a unique American, sheds significant light on the intellectual and philosophical worldview of a man who is rarely seen but whose work is always in evidence.

Freedom Summer - Belfrage

Freedom Summer 
by Sally Belfrage

Published in 1965, Belfrage recounts her time participating in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee’s summer project in Mississippi in 1964. The text covers one intense summer from the basic training session in June to the Democratic Convention in August.
Faces of Freedom SummerFaces of Freedom Summer
text by Bobs M. Tusa
photographs by Herbert Randall

These rare photographs re-create the exhilaration and danger of Freedom Summer in 1964 Mississippi.

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