Historical research

Sharing Some Library Love

McD first library

This was the first library in my home town of McDonough. I don’t know when it was built, but vaguely remember visiting it when I was really small — dim lighting, creaky wide plank floors, the musty smell of books. At that time the librarian was one of my great-great aunts on my mom’s side of the family. Today it’s in Heritage Park on the outskirts of town with several other historic county buildings.

I saw on a list of February holidays and observances that this is Library Lovers Month! Yay, I love libraries because they have all those books! And people who know how to help you find just what you’re looking for instead of wading through a zillion search results on Google.

My mom used to take my sister and me to the local library on a weekly basis, sometimes even more in the summer. I loved walking into that hushed place full of stories just waiting to be discovered.

So, in honor of Library Lovers Month, here are a few important dates that got Georgia’s libraries off the ground and moving toward where they are today.

  • 1809 – Savannah Library Society opens a subscription library where members of the society pay a fee for use of the library. The fees collected go toward the operation and maintenance of the library.
  • 1837 – The General Assembly establishes the Georgia State Library from the Georgia Supreme Court’s collection of books
  • 1874-1882 – Subscription libraries open in Macon, Valdosta, Americus, and Brooks County
  • 1889 – The Mary Willis Free Library – the first free public library in Georgia – opens in Washington. It’s funded by Dr. Francis T. Willis and named for his only daughter.
  • 1893-1917 – Andrew Carnegie, through his library program, donates funds to build free public library buildings across the United States. Carnegie libraries were built in many Georgia cities during this time, including Atlanta, Albany, Columbus, Dublin, Montezuma, Moultrie, Newnan, Pelham, Savannah, Cordele, Americus, Dawson and Fitzgerald.
  • 1897 – The General Assembly establishes the Georgia Library Commission to oversee all libraries in the state. Georgia was the first Southern state to act on their citizens’ need for free public library service.
    1924-1925 – The Georgia Library Commission conducts a Vacation Reading Club for rural children from first grade through high school. Was this the first Summer Reading Program like I loved so much (and had my kids do for years)?
    1938 – The first bookmobile service is introduced in Thomas County as a WPA (Works Projects Administration) demonstration project.
probate court

A new McDonough library opened in 1973, and it’s the one I remember from my growing-up years. Today it houses the county probate court offices.

There are lots of other steps along the way to where our libraries are now, but I won’t get into all of those here. 🙂 The latest statistics I found for Georgia libraries were from 2008, which included:


  • Georgia currently has 59 library systems serving all 159 counties with 385 service outlets and 20 bookmobiles.
  • We have 33 regional library systems providing library service to 133 counties, and 26 single-county library systems.
  • 48 library systems with 275 service outlets are part of the PINES network (which began in 2004), providing a borderless library for Georgians with a free PINES library card.
McD library today

The McDonough library (and county administrative offices) today. Some of the books I loved as a kid are still on the shelves!

So, maybe we can all try to visit a library in the next couple of weeks to celebrate Library Lovers Month. I’m sure they would appreciate it!

Your turn: What do you love most about libraries? What was your favorite thing about visiting the library as a child? Or, what do you enjoy about going there as an adult?






Categories: Historical Monday, Historical research | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

10 snippets of wisdom from MLK, Jr.

MLK speech

Photo credit: Francis Miller/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images

Today is the third Monday of January, which means it’s the federal holiday in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. We all know about Dr. King and his dreams of seeing equality for all people here in America and around the globe. But do you know much about what else he said?

I’m far from being an expert on Dr. King and the things he believed, but it doesn’t take long when looking at quotes from some of his speeches or writings to see that he was a well spoken, thoughtful man with a strong faith. Here are 10 of my favorite quotes that I’ve seen from him, just to give you an idea:

  • The time is always right to do what is right.
  • Love is the only force capable of turning an enemy into a friend.
  • Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase.
  • I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.
  • The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
  • Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
  • We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.
  • Forgiveness is not an occasional act. It is a permanent attitude.
  • Never succumb to the temptation of bitterness.
  • Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, “What are you doing for others?”

I’ve never seen some of these quotes before I did a bit of searching, but think they all carry important messages.

MLK doing for othersOf all these (and others) that I found, I think the last one I’ve listed is my favorite, maybe because it hits home every day. What am I doing for others? In other words … as much as I might tend to get wrapped up in my little corner of the world and forget about thing beyond, it’s really not all about me. Life is about helping others and trying to make the world a better place, whether that means becoming an international leader whose policies affect millions or simply smiling and holding the door for a mom balancing an infant carrier seat while keeping hold of her toddler’s hand. I can donate to a worthy cause, offer to volunteer when they need help at school, or put a note in my child’s lunch that she’ll find just before taking that test she’s worried about.

It can be big, or it can be small. The important thing is that it makes a difference to someone else. I think that’s a good thing to focus on, especially as we see so many things in memory of Dr. King this week.

Your turn: What’s your favorite quote from Dr. King, and why?


Categories: Historical research, Living in Faith, Monday Musings | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

6 things you might not know about the Quakers

I love that reading fiction helps me escape to another time or place, into a world that entertains me and gives me a break from work/house stuff/playing family errand runner and chauffeur. I love it even more when reading a novel teaches me some new things.

Path of FreedomThe book I read this weekend is a perfect example. Path of Freedom by Jennifer Hudson Taylor is part of the “Quilts of Love” series that Abingdon Press began publishing a few years ago. Each book in the series centers somehow on a quilt. In Path of Freedom, the quilt serves as a map to help guide two slaves to freedom on the Underground Railroad (the story takes place before the Civil War).

The main characters, Flora and Bruce, are Quakers. I’ve never known much about Quakers other than they’re pacifists and that many settled in and around Pennsylvania when first coming to the U.S. So, in case you don’t know much more about Quakers than I do, here are a few things I learned (some from Path of Freedom, some thanks to the internet):

  • The full name for the group is the Society of Friends (which I’m guessing is what leads to them addressing each other as “Friend Bruce” or “Friend Flora” on many occasions).
  • The name “Quakers” originates from the fact that early worshipers would “quake with the spirit of God.”
  • Quakers are strong believers in equality among gender, race, and society in general. One verse from the Bible they use to support this view is Galatians 3:28: “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”(NIV)
  • The Quakers became the first organization in history to ban slave holding, and in the 1800s Quakers populated the abolitionist movement in numbers far exceeding their proportion of all Americans.
  • Women Friends had a role and status more equal with men’s than in any other Christian church. They preached and ministered to mixed audiences, traveled extensively unaccompanied by men, and regulated the lives of fellow Quaker women without men’s assistance (such as in church discipline and marriage arrangements).
  • Both Daniel Boone and Abraham Lincoln had ancestors who were Quaker.


See? You never know what a little reading might teach you. 🙂

I have a soft spot in my heart for Jennifer’s books because we were in an online critique group together years ago and I love to see how well she’s done (plus, I’ve enjoyed all of her stories that I’ve read). If you’d like to learn more about Jennifer and her books, visit her website or Facebook page.

Your turn: Did you know any of these things about the Quakers? Or, what’s something interesting you’ve learned by reading a novel lately? Share with us in the comments!


Categories: Christian fiction, Historical research, Monday Musings, Scripture verses | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Time to Drain

Paper towels.

How many times a week — or even each day — do you snag one off the roll? I do it all the time and never gave it a second thought … until I found myself writing about it in my novel.

Here’s the scenario. My character is cooking breakfast and takes bacon out of the skillet. My automatic step is to put the bacon (or sausage) on paper towels to drain. But as soon as I wrote that, I wondered if that’s what my character would have done. After all, my story takes place in 1900 so there are a lot of differences between what people had then and what we have now.

Google to the rescue! Once I started researching I learned that paper towels as we know them weren’t invented and available in households until around 1907. I found the same information in several places, so felt like it must be on the right track.

My guess is that people would use some other type of cloth instead, but I had spent enough time tracking down paper towels and needed to get back to actual writing (that’s one of the hazards of loving to research – it can take you all sorts of places that might be fun but don’t add words to the story). End result: my character simply puts the bacon on a plate to drain.

That’s the beauty of writing a historical novel and delving into research to ensure your story is accurate – you just never know what interesting thing you might learn. Think about that the next time you tear off yet another paper towel to help with quick clean-up or drying.

Categories: Fun Friday, Historical research, Uncategorized | Tags: , | Leave a comment
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