My response for not posting in over a month is a late summer recap of small, book-related things:
I was in Boston again this summer visiting my older daughter Cynthia, which always includes an hour at the MIT Press Bookstore. Coincidentally, while on my trip I was still reading another MIT book Raw Data is an Oxymoron (2013), a series of thought pieces on data, edited by Lisa Gitelman. (Earlier this year I posted a piece on Gitelman's Paper Knowledge: A Media History of Documents 2014 by Gitelman.) Since it can be a little geeky, Raw Data is not for the feint of heart. However, there is one piece that really separated itself from the others -- the story of how data was used to fight a horrible social injustice. Ellen Gruber Garvey's "facts and FACTS": Abolitionists' Database Innovation" is the tale of two sisters, Angelina and Sarah Grimke, who left antebellum South Carolina and moved to New Jersey with Angelina's husband Theodore Weld. Based on their knowledge of slavery (which is why they left their home state), they clipped newspaper advertisements and articles about runaway slaves and built a database -- compiled of thousands of facts --which began to illuminate the atrocities that were going on in the South. This database was the basis of the book American Slavery As It Is: Testimony of a Thousand Witnesses (1839) which was later used by abolitionists such as Frederick Douglas and Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom's Cabin (1851), to support their efforts. American Slavery As It Is, writes Garvey, ""was an important gesture in the move away from theology or exhortation, and toward reliance on documented, factual information to change the minds of white Northerners about slavery."
On an overcast Sunday, Cynthia drove me a few miles out of Boston to Walden Pond (shown above), the place where Henry David Thoreau spent two years (1845-1847) building a small cabin on land owned by his friend and mentor Ralph Waldo Emerson. Using his journal notes from the experience, Walden was later published in 1854. Thoreau's motivation behind the experiment was that living simply would give him more time to think and write. Who doesn't need more time to think and write?
It was our good fortune to go on the dismal, gray day because it kept the attendance down (apparently since they restrict the number of visitors to the state park). The park is currently being renovated, which is a good idea because it was a little worn around the edges. We hiked and I took in the healing waters of the pond, only to learn that the waters of Walden do not have any medicinal properties -- except to relieve writer's block.
The Battle of Allatoona Pass
After returning from Boston, I made a quick trip up from Atlanta to Knoxville to see some old friends. Since I was traveling alone, I took the opportunity to visit another one of the small Georgia battlefields on my ever-so-modest bucket list -- The Battle of Allatoona Pass. Using my trusty guidebook, Barry L. Brown and Gorden R. Elwell's Crossroads of Conflict: A Guide to Civil War Sites in Georgia (2010), I had no trouble finding the site off I-75/ Exit 283, which is quiet and decently well-preserved. Fought on October 5, 1864, this small, but fierce and bloody battle preserved General Sherman's supply line after he captured the city of Atlanta.