Public Program Titles

All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley's Sack, a Black Family Keepsake

All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley's Sack, a Black Family Keepsake

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NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER - A renowned historian traces the life of a single object handed down through three generations of Black women to craft an extraordinary testament to people who are left out of the archives.

KIRKUS PRIZE FINALIST - LONGLISTED FOR THE PEN/JOHN KENNETH GALBRAITH AWARD - ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: The Washington Post, Slate, Vulture, Publishers Weekly - ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: The New York Times, NPR, Time, The Boston Globe, Smithsonian Magazine, Book Riot, Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews

"Deeply layered and insightful . . . [a] bold reflection on American history, African American resilience, and the human capacity for love and perseverance in the face of soul-crushing madness."--The Washington Post

"A history told with brilliance and tenderness and fearlessness."--Jill Lepore, author of These Truths: A History of the United States

In 1850s South Carolina, an enslaved woman named Rose faced a crisis, the imminent sale of her daughter Ashley. Thinking quickly, she packed a cotton bag with a few precious items as a token of love and to try to ensure Ashley's survival. Soon after, the nine-year-old girl was separated from her mother and sold.

Decades later, Ashley's granddaughter Ruth embroidered this family history on the bag in spare yet haunting language--including Rose's wish that "It be filled with my Love always." Ruth's sewn words, the reason we remember Ashley's sack today, evoke a sweeping family story of loss and of love passed down through generations. Now, in this illuminating, deeply moving book inspired by Rose's gift to Ashley, historian Tiya Miles carefully unearths these women's faint presence in archival records to follow the paths of their lives--and the lives of so many women like them--to write a singular and revelatory history of the experience of slavery, and the uncertain freedom afterward, in the United States.

The search to uncover this history is part of the story itself. For where the historical record falls short of capturing Rose's, Ashley's, and Ruth's full lives, Miles turns to objects and to art as equally important sources, assembling a chorus of women's and families' stories and critiquing the scant archives that for decades have overlooked so many. The contents of Ashley's sack--a tattered dress, handfuls of pecans, a braid of hair, "my Love always"--are eloquent evidence of the lives these women lived. As she follows Ashley's journey, Miles metaphorically unpacks the bag, deepening its emotional resonance and exploring the meanings and significance of everything it contained.

All That She Carried
is a poignant story of resilience and of love passed down through generations of women against steep odds. It honors the creativity and fierce resourcefulness of people who preserved family ties even when official systems refused to do so, and it serves as a visionary illustration of how to reconstruct and recount their stories today.

The 2021 National Book Award winner for nonfiction and Kirkus Prize Finalist - Renowned historian, Tiya Miles, traces the life of a single object handed down through three generations of Black women to craft a testament to extraordinary people whose stories were previously left untold.  

I've Been Here All the While: Black Freedom on Native Land

I've Been Here All the While: Black Freedom on Native Land

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Perhaps no other symbol has more resonance in African American history than that of 40 acres and a mule--the lost promise of Black reparations for slavery after the Civil War. In I've Been Here All the While, we meet the Black people who actually received this mythic 40 acres, the American settlers who coveted this land, and the Native Americans whose holdings it originated from.

In nineteenth-century Indian Territory (modern-day Oklahoma), a story unfolds that ties African American and Native American history tightly together, revealing a western theatre of Civil War and Reconstruction, in which Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, and Seminole Indians, their Black slaves, and African Americans and whites from the eastern United States fought military and rhetorical battles to lay claim to land that had been taken from others.

Through chapters that chart cycles of dispossession, land seizure, and settlement in Indian Territory, Alaina E. Roberts draws on archival research and family history to upend the traditional story of Reconstruction. She connects debates about Black freedom and Native American citizenship to westward expansion onto Native land. As Black, white, and Native people constructed ideas of race, belonging, and national identity, this part of the West became, for a short time, the last place where Black people could escape Jim Crow, finding land and exercising political rights, until Oklahoma statehood in 1907.

Last Call at the Hotel Imperial

Last Call at the Hotel Imperial

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A prize-winning historian's revelatory account of a close-knit band of wildly famous American reporters who, in the run-up to World War II, took on dictators and rewrote the rules of modern journalism

"As intimate and gripping as a novel, this brilliant book vividly conveys what it felt like to live through the shocking crises of the thirties and forties."--Larissa MacFarquhar, author of Strangers Drowning

They were an astonishing group: glamorous, gutsy, and irreverent to the bone. As cub reporters in the 1920s, they roamed across a war-ravaged world, sometimes perched atop mules on wooden saddles, sometimes gliding through countries in the splendor of a first-class sleeper car. While empires collapsed and fledgling democracies faltered, they chased deposed empresses, international financiers, and Balkan gun-runners, and then knocked back doubles late into the night.

Last Call at the Hotel Imperial is the extraordinary story of John Gunther, H. R. Knickerbocker, Vincent Sheean, and Dorothy Thompson. In those tumultuous years, they landed exclusive interviews with Hitler and Mussolini, Nehru and Gandhi, and helped shape what Americans knew about the world. Alongside these backstage glimpses into the halls of power, they left another equally incredible set of records. Living in the heady afterglow of Freud, they subjected themselves to frank, critical scrutiny and argued about love, war, sex, death, and everything in between.

Plunged into successive global crises, Gunther, Knickerbocker, Sheean, and Thompson could no longer separate themselves from the turmoil that surrounded them. To tell that story, they broke long-standing taboos. From their circle came not just the first modern account of illness in Gunther's Death Be Not Proud--a memoir about his son's death from cancer--but the first no-holds-barred chronicle of a marriage: Sheean's Dorothy and Red, about Thompson's fractious relationship with Sinclair Lewis.

Told with the immediacy of a conversation overheard, this revelatory book captures how the global upheavals of the twentieth century felt up close.


Middle Kingdom Under the Big Sky: A History of the Chinese Experience in Montana

Middle Kingdom Under the Big Sky: A History of the Chinese Experience in Montana

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From the earliest days of non-Native settlement of Montana, when Chinese immigrants made up more than 10 percent of the territory's population, Chinese pioneers played a key role in the region's development. But this population, so crucial to Montana's history, remains underrepresented in historical accounts, and popular attention to the Chinese in Montana tends to focus on sensational elements--exoticizing Chinese Montanans and distancing their lived experiences from our modern understanding. The Middle Kingdom under the Big Sky seeks to recover the stories of Montana's Chinese population in their own words and deepen understanding of Chinese experiences in Montana by using a global lens.

Mark T. Johnson has mined several large collections of primary documents left by Chinese pioneers, translated into English here for the first time. These collections, spanning the 1880s through the 1950s, provide insight into the pressures the Chinese community faced--from family members back in China and from non-Chinese Montanans--as economic and cultural disturbances complicated acceptance of Chinese residents in the state. Through their own voices Johnson reveals the agency of Chinese Montanans in the history of the American West and China.

NATION OF DESCENDANTS: POLITIC

NATION OF DESCENDANTS: POLITIC

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From family trees written in early American bibles to birther conspiracy theories, genealogy has always mattered in the United States, whether for taking stock of kin when organizing a family reunion or drawing on membership--by blood or other means--to claim rights to land, inheritances, and more. And since the advent of DNA kits that purportedly trace genealogical relations through genetics, millions of people have used them to learn about their medical histories, biological parentage, and ethnic background.

A Nation of Descendants traces Americans' fascination with tracking family lineage through three centuries. Francesca Morgan examines how specific groups throughout history grappled with finding and recording their forebears, focusing on Anglo-American white, Mormon, African American, Jewish, and Native American people. Morgan also describes how individuals and researchers use genealogy for personal and scholarly purposes, and she explores how local businesspeople, companies like Ancestry.com, and Henry Louis Gates Jr.'s Finding Your Roots series powered the commercialization and commodification of genealogy.



Only the Clothes on Her Back: Clothing and the Hidden History of Power in the Nineteenth-Century United States

Only the Clothes on Her Back: Clothing and the Hidden History of Power in the Nineteenth-Century United States

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An innovative recasting of US legal and economic history through the power of clothing for those who lacked power and status in American society.

What can dresses, bedlinens, waistcoats, pantaloons, shoes, and kerchiefs tell us about the legal status of the least powerful members of American society? In the hands of eminent historian Laura F. Edwards, these textiles tell a revealing story of ordinary people and how they made use of their
material goods' economic and legal value in the period between the Revolution and the Civil War.

Only the Clothes on Her Back uncovers practices, commonly known then, but now long forgotten, which made textiles--clothing, cloth, bedding, and accessories, such as shoes and hats--a unique form of property that people without rights could own and exchange. The value of textiles depended on law,
and it was law that turned these goods into a secure form of property for marginalized people, who not only used these textiles as currency, credit, and capital, but also as entree into the new republic's economy and governing institutions. Edwards grounds the laws relating to textiles in engaging
stories from the lives of everyday Americans. Wives wove linen and kept the proceeds, enslaved people traded coats and shoes, and poor people invested in fabrics, which they carefully preserved in trunks. Edwards shows that these stories are about far more than cloth and clothing; they reshape our
understanding of law and the economy in America.

Based on painstaking archival research from fifteen states, Only the Clothes on Her Back reconstructs this hidden history of power, tracing it from the governing order of the early republic in which textiles' legal principles flourished to the textiles' legal downfall in the mid-nineteenth century
when they were crowded out by the rising power of rights.

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Postcards: The Rise and Fall of the World's First Social Network

Postcards: The Rise and Fall of the World's First Social Network

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Postcards are usually associated with banal holiday pleasantries, but they are made possible by sophisticated industries and institutions, from printers to postal services. When they were invented, postcards established what is now taken for granted in modern times: the ability to send and receive messages around the world easily and inexpensively. Fundamentally they are about creating personal connections—links between people, places, and beliefs. Lydia Pyne examines postcards on a global scale, to understand them as artifacts that are at the intersection of history, science, technology, art, and culture. In doing so, she shows how postcards were the first global social network and also, here in the twenty-first century, how postcards are not yet extinct.

Staging Indigeneity

Staging Indigeneity

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As tourists increasingly moved across the United States in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, a surprising number of communities looked to capitalize on the histories of Native American people to create tourist attractions. From the Happy Canyon Indian Pageant and Wild West Show in Pendleton, Oregon, to outdoor dramas like Tecumseh! in Chillicothe, Ohio, and Unto These Hills in Cherokee, North Carolina, locals staged performances that claimed to honor an Indigenous past while depicting that past on white settlers' terms. Linking the origins of these performances to their present-day incarnations, this incisive book reveals how they constituted what Katrina Phillips calls "salvage tourism"--a set of practices paralleling so-called salvage ethnography, which documented the histories, languages, and cultures of Indigenous people while reinforcing a belief that Native American societies were inevitably disappearing.

Across time, Phillips argues, tourism, nostalgia, and authenticity converge in the creation of salvage tourism, which blends tourism and history, contestations over citizenship, identity, belonging, and the continued use of Indians and Indianness as a means of escape, entertainment, and economic development.



Teaching Black History to White People

Teaching Black History to White People

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Leonard Moore has been teaching Black history for twenty-five years, mostly to white people. Drawing on decades of experience in the classroom and on college campuses throughout the South, as well as on his own personal history, Moore illustrates how an understanding of Black history is necessary for everyone.

With Teaching Black History to White People, which is "part memoir, part Black history, part pedagogy, and part how-to guide," Moore delivers an accessible and engaging primer on the Black experience in America. He poses provocative questions, such as "Why is the teaching of Black history so controversial?" and "What came first: slavery or racism?" These questions don't have easy answers, and Moore insists that embracing discomfort is necessary for engaging in open and honest conversations about race. Moore includes a syllabus and other tools for actionable steps that white people can take to move beyond performative justice and toward racial reparations, healing, and reconciliation.

Three Girls from Bronzeville: A Uniquely American Memoir of Race, Fate, and Sisterhood

Three Girls from Bronzeville: A Uniquely American Memoir of Race, Fate, and Sisterhood

$26.99
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A New York Times and Washington Post Notable Book
A Best Book of 2021 by BuzzFeed and Real Simple

A "beautiful, tragic, and inspiring" (Publishers Weekly, starred review) memoir about three Black girls from the storied Bronzeville section of Chicago that offers a penetrating exploration of race, opportunity, friendship, sisterhood, and the powerful forces at work that allow some to flourish...and others to falter.

They were three Black girls. Dawn, tall and studious; her sister, Kim, younger by three years and headstrong as they come; and her best friend, Debra, already prom-queen pretty by third grade. They bonded--fervently and intensely in that unique way of little girls--as they roamed the concrete landscape of Bronzeville, a historic neighborhood on Chicago's South Side, the destination of hundreds of thousands of Black folks who fled the ravages of the Jim Crow South.

These third-generation daughters of the Great Migration come of age in the 1970s, in the warm glow of the recent civil rights movement. It has offered them a promise, albeit nascent and fragile, that they will have more opportunities, rights, and freedoms than any generation of Black Americans in history. Their working-class, striving parents are eager for them to realize this hard-fought potential. But the girls have much more immediate concerns: hiding under the dining room table and eavesdropping on grown folks' business; collecting secret treasures; and daydreaming about their futures--Dawn and Debra, doctors, Kim a teacher. For a brief, wondrous moment the girls are all giggles and dreams and promises of "friends forever." And then fate intervenes, first slowly and then dramatically, sending them careening in wildly different directions. There's heartbreak, loss, displacement, and even murder. Dawn struggles to make sense of the shocking turns that consume her sister and her best friend, all the while asking herself a simple but profound question: Why?

In the vein of The Other Wes Moore and The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace, Three Girls from Bronzeville is a piercing memoir that chronicles Dawn's attempt to find answers. It's at once a celebration of sisterhood and friendship, a testimony to the unique struggles of Black women, and a tour-de-force about the complex interplay of race, class, and opportunity, and how those forces shape our lives and our capacity for resilience and redemption.