life between the pages

“I spent my life folded between the pages of books.
In the absence of human relationships I formed bonds with paper characters. I lived love and loss through stories threaded in history; I experienced adolescence by association. My world is one interwoven web of words, stringing limb to limb, bone to sinew, thoughts and images all together. I am a being comprised of letters, a character created by sentences, a figment of imagination formed through fiction.”
Tahereh Mafi, Shatter Me

Thursday, September 08, 2005

past precedents


Today through Saturday I have the unique opportunity to assist as a docent and guide at the re-enactment of the raids of Gen. Edward Potter at Spring Hill, near Stateburg (Sumter), South Carolina. Dr. David Decker, professor of history at USC-Sumter (SC), has over the past two years done a remarkable amount of work in preparation for the first re-enactment of the late April 1865 skirmishes between confederate and yankee around the Stateburg area.
Overview of Events this week for schools and the public:
Official Potter's Raid Site:
In my own preparation for this event I have been brushing up my rusty knowledge of the roles that southern women played both before and during the War. Some recommended resources:
Books containing a significant amount of primary resources reprinted from journals, diaries, letters and period articles:
The War the Women Lived: Female Voices from the Confederate South, by Walter Sullivan
Motherhood in the Old South, by Sally G. McMillen
Within the Plantation Household, by Elizabeth Fox-Genovese
The Plantation Mistress, by Catherine Clinton
Mary's World, (studies of the journals and letters of Mary Motte Alston Pringle), by Richard N. Cote
Your Affectionate Daughter, Isabella (studies of the journals and letters of Isabella Torrance Reid), by Ann Williams
Journal of a Residence on a Southern Plantation (journal & letters with post-war commentary and memoirs), Fanny Kemble Butler
When I can Read my Title Clear, by Janet Duitsman Cornelius
Reprinted period journals, diaries, letters, with or without editor commentary:
Growing up in the 1850s: the Journal of Agnes Lee, Mary Custis Lee deButts, ed.
Diary from Dixie, by Mary Chesnut
A Blockaded Family, by Parthenia Hague
The Diary of Clarissa Adger Bowen
Sarah Morgan: the Civil War Diary of a Southern Woman, Charles East, ed.
Journal of a Secesh Lady: the Diary of Catherine Devereux Edmondston 1860-1866
Before Freedom, When I Can Just Remember: 27 Oral Histories of former South Carolina Slaves, Belinda Hurmence, ed.
Long Ago at Liberty Hill, by Mary Ellen Cunningham
Studying the ruminations and outpourings of heart in these pages paints an overwhelming picture of a society's reluctance to say goodbye, of holding on to the past, of carrying bits of remembered happiness forward into the future, and a reticence toward accepting blatantly necessary change, whether out of respect and love for what was good, or out of a lack of understanding of how to separate and preserve the good from the bad. Something we've been hearing alot of in the past week. Mayhap there is something to be learned here.... I'll be listening for it, this weekend.

4 comments:

Favorite Apron said...

You look great - have fun!

I have been reading about happenings in New. O. and thinking about the South and Reconstruction, and also of OK in the '30s and the dustbowl, adn what all these things have in common. Galveston TX in about 1911 experienced a hurricane that destroyed the town and 6000 residents. Somehow those people pulled themselves up by their bootstraps.
This recent situation differs in that people nowadays expect the gov't to take care of them. Nobody wants to take responsibility for themselves, or lift a finger in return. It's everywhere - in education, health care, retirement. I could write a book - but I'll spare you! : )

Rachael said...

I hope you and Jason have a ton of fun this weekend! I'm really excited for you both. Wish I was there!

Bill said...

Polly: I beg to differ. Individuals could not possibly have rebuilt the levee system in New Orleans just by lifting their individual fingers. It's a massive project requiring the kind of resources that only government can bring to bear. Too much government was not the problem here; rather the trouble was misdirected government, one so focused on perceived enemies on the other side of the world that it neglects the immediate needs of it's citizens. By the way, it was government that came to the rescue in the 30s when hope and personal initiative were in short supply. I could also write a book, my dear. But I suspect it would be in stark contrast to yours. If the events of this last decade have taught us anything, it is that we are not, ultimately, independent creatures.

Jim said...

Susannah, I am sort of a Civil War nut. I wanted to suggest "The War-Torn Diary of Georgia Girl" for your readings of Southern women.
My current readings are "Hunter's Fiery Raid through Virginia Valleys" by Gary C. Walker -fascinating if you are a Virginian. Also, "Company Aytch" by Sam Watkins - holy smoke this is a good one. I also have "The Civil War: A Narrative" by Shelby Foote, which is considered the Bible of info. Keep us updated on your re-enacting.