What’s Ashley Reading?: Black Tudors

Black Tudors by Miranda Kaufmann

First line: In April 1645 Sir John Wynter burnt his home to the ground rather than see it fall into Parliamentary hands.

Summary: Miranda Kaufmann dives into a little known part of the Tudor world. She explores the lives of Africans in Tudor society. Using primary sources the lives of several black people are brought to readers of the twenty-first century.

My Thoughts: It sounds so stupid of me but this is never something I really considered until hearing a podcast by Historic Royal Palaces featuring Miranda. But I found it absolutely intriguing. There is never a lot of documentation about anyone from 500 years ago but nearly nothing about Africans during this time either. However, Miranda was able to piece together many different sources to discover what the lives were like for these people during this time.

I learned about a man who sailed with Sir Francis Drake as he circumnavigated the globe. And a prostitute who was highly sought after because of her soft skin. A diver who helped excavate and salvage items from the sinking of the Mary Rose, King Henry VIII’s warship. Also I discovered a woman who owned her own cow which she was able to use for feeding herself and earning an income. These people were not slaves but free. They lived alongside the Tudor population and participated in society. As a reader of all things Tudor I found this to be a perfect addition to my knowledge. I am glad I read and was introduced to these people and now I can pass on their stories to others.

It always amazes me when a historian can find these little bits of history and bring them to life for readers. It was eye opening and interesting. I would love to read more about these people and the lives they lived. My one criticism is that the author spends a lot of time laying the foundations for the time or events. But this is because there is so little about the actual individuals that she needed to give context. I wish, and maybe someday we will, we knew more about these Black Tudors.

FYI: Some language from sources can be a little crude.

Snapshot of History in 1950

This article was written by Justin Ball

Whether you realized it or not, the United States Federal Census from 1950 is going to be available to the public today!  April 1st!  This is not an April Fool’s joke, people.

The more genealogy-oriented staff here at the Derby Library have been counting down the days to this event.  But why?  Well let’s talk about the census real quick.

Every ten years the United States conducts a federal census which is designed to count every resident in the United States.  This data is used to determine the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives and is also used to distribute billions of dollars in federal funds to local communities.  The first federal census in the United States was in 1790.  The records themselves are not released to the public until 72 years have passed.  So the 1940 census was released to the public in April of 2012.  The 1950 census will be released in April of 2022.  That is right now!

What does that have to do with you?  Well, the Census gives us a snapshot of history at the moment it is taken.  It shows how Americans were living, where they were living, who they were living with, and so much more.  Have you ever wanted more information about your family history?  The census is exactly what you and genealogists are looking for, I dare say it is the backbone of genealogy research in America.

I’m going to show you an example of a local family in the 1940 census right here in Derby, Kansas so you can get an idea of what kind of information you could find about your family.

Justin J. Butterfield and his son, Philo Butterfield

Justin J. Butterfield was a former mayor of Derby and ran the Farmers and Merchant State Bank in Derby for a number of years.  His son Erland Philo Butterfield (who went by Philo) worked as a teller at the Bank, eventually becoming the president of the bank.

Using Ancestry.com, we will bring up the 1940 Census and navigate to the state of Kansas, county of Sedgwick, Rockford Township, city of Derby.  The Butterfields were visited by an enumerator on April 19, 1940.

Beginning on line 28 we find Erland P. Butterfield as the Head of the Household.  Erland is living with his wife Nellie and his two sons, Darrell and Mandell.  The census shows each of their relation to the head of the household, gender, age.  Were they attending school?  If so what was the highest grade completed.

We learn from this census that Erland was born in Nebraska.  His occupation is listed as a cashier in the banking industry.  His income is listed as $1500.  His wife and children were born in Kansas but not much more information is found about them.  Check out the actual image below.  Where was your family located in 1940?  What information might be listed in the census for them?  Maybe you will find out something that you didn’t know.  Family secrets are more common than you might think.  You can then start going backwards and finding your family in each census and seeing how their lives have changed.  The next chapter is here with the 1950 census and we are all excited about it. 

Darrell Butterfield, son of Philo Butterfield

If you are interested in starting to research your family tree, give us a call and we can help start you on a path that, in my case, may very well consume a lot of your free time.  The Derby Library also has a free subscription to Ancestry that can be used inside the library if you are interested.  Come check us out!

What’s Ashley Reading?: Powers and Thrones

Powers and Thrones by Dan Jones

First line: In the sixteenth century the English historian John Foxe looked over his shoulder at the great sweep of the near, and distant, past.

Summary: Dan Jones’ newest history of the medieval ages covers the period from the end of the Roman empire to the rise of Protestantism. He covers major players, battles and nations giving his readers a look into a world that was constantly changing.

My Thoughts: Dan Jones is a wonderful historian. He covers many of the people and time periods that I am interested in. He makes his topics easy to read and learn from. This one was no different. I know some about the Middle Ages from other readings of authors like Alison Weir and Philippa Gregory but this gave me much more of an insight into other parts of the world than just England.

He brought in major players like Genghis Khan, who I knew very little about. Learning about this warlord’s life before and his rise to power was all new to me. I never really think about how Asia and Europe had lots of interactions during this time due to the crusades and religion.

And during the chapter on the crusades they even mentioned something I had never heard about but was related to my family history. There was a Wendish Crusade where powers in Germany against a Slavic group called the Wends. My Pohlenz family were part of the Wendish community in Germany and lived in heavily populated Wendish towns in Nebraska after emigrating. I had never heard of this crusade against them but I instantly had to read more about this little known piece of history.

Jones does a great job of laying out his storyline. He goes chronologically but breaks each time into important factors like crusaders, knights, Arabs, Mongols, merchants and more. It gave me a feeling that the time was definitely broken into different parts and governed by these persons for their span of time but as the world changed so did the leaders of the time.

FYI: A concise but wide spread look at a time that covers hundreds of years. Great for people looking to learn more about the Middle Ages.

What’s Ashley Reading?: Outlander

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

First line: People disappear all the time.

Summary: Claire Randall is a combat nurse.  The Second World War has just ended.  With her husband, Frank, they travel to Inverness, Scotland for a belated honeymoon.  But while there both of their lives and time will change.  While visiting the standing stones she is transported in time back to the year 1743.  Not knowing how she got there or if she can even get back to her own time, she is taken captive by a group of Highlanders.  As her life gets intertwined with the politics and intrigue of the local laird she finds herself caught between her love for her husband and a young Highland warrior, Jamie Fraser.

My Thoughts: Now I know that this sounds like a typical bodice ripper.  And that is what I thought originally too.  But then I watched the first season of the show and was absolutely hooked on these books.  There is lots of history included in with the romance.  There are some naughty bits but that is to be expected in most books now but that is not the central part of the story.  I love the characters.  It was hard to lose many of them over the course of the book and in the sequels.  But there is action, politics, intrigue and like I said, HISTORY!

I had never heard of the Battle of Culloden before this.  I knew barely nothing about Scottish history outside of Mary, Queen of Scots.  I think Gabaldon has done a great job giving us a thrilling story but also bringing this important piece of history to millions of readers.

As I am writing this I am working on reading book six, A Breath of Snow and Ashes, in anticipation of season six debuting on Starz on March 6.  I always have a little get together with friends where I make drinks and snacks while we watch a new episode every week.  It is always a highlight of my week to spend time in the Outlander world with friends for an hour each week.

FYI: Lots of violence.  Some sexually disturbing scenes.

What’s Ashley Reading?: The Betrayal of Anne Frank

The Betrayal of Anne Frank by Rosemary Sullivan

First line: On August 4, 1944, a thirty-three-year-old German SS officer, Karl Josef Silberbauer, a sergeant in the Sicherheitsdienst (SD) Referat IV B4, known colloquially as the “Jew-hunting unit,” was sitting in his office on Euterpestraat in Amsterdam when the phone rang.

Summary: A former FBI agent, Vincent Pankoke, along with a team of investigators decided to dive into one of the most famous cold cases in recent history. Who betrayed Anne Frank? Using new technology they poured over interviews, documents and photographs, looking for clues that may lead them to betrayer. As the pieces began to fall together they believe they have found who may have been responsible for the raid on the secret annex in 1944.

My Thoughts: I remember reading The Diary of Anne Frank when I was younger. It fascinated me then and lead me to love the history of World War II. I watched the movies and read everything else I could get my hands on about this time period. Over the years though, my fascination waned as I found new topics to explore but after reading this I think I need to read it again.

I found the methodical research of the team intriguing. They looked in places I never even knew existed. I realized as I read that I did not know as much about the time period as I originally thought. There were thousands of Jews in hiding. It was not an uncommon event to have a hiding place raided. But the fact that the Frank family’s life in the annex was so well documented by Anne made the topic available to the world. After reading her diary, the reader feels connected to them and makes it much more real.

Even though I knew how the story ended I kept hoping that it would change. I liked the layout of the narrative. We start with the history and events surrounding the secret annex, the concentration camps and aftermath of the war. Then we dive into the evidence which is spread near and far. Some has disappeared with the witnesses. But the researchers used every avenue they could find. Interviewing family members, historians, archivists and even the Anne Frank Organization. I found myself saying just one more chapter!

I kept hoping for a definitive answer. Even though they think they discovered the betrayer there is still some doubt because there may be more evidence that has not been uncovered yet. They do make a very strong argument which I found believable and likely. Let me know in the comments what you think!

FYI: This can be a difficult topic since it deals with the Holocaust and the death of millions.

What’s Ashley Reading?: Clanlands Almanac

Clanlands Almanac by Sam Heughan and Graham McTavish

First line: I love almanacs.

Summary: Stars of the Outlander TV show, Graham McTavish and Sam Heughan, take the reader on a journey through a year in Scotland. They cover important figures, dates, and events in the Scottish year.

My Thoughts: I really enjoy the bromance between these two men. They pick at each other good-naturedly but genuinely like each other’s company. While entertaining the reader they bring some really fascinating information about Scotland. I enjoyed the personal touches as well including stories about young Graham and Sam in Scotland and how they interacted with important sights in their native homeland. Plus adding some more items to my bucket list I also found a few whisky recommendations. I am not a whisky drinker but when I visit Edinburgh this spring I plan to taste a little to experience the Scottish life.

This is a perfect addition to their previous book, Clanlands, and their show, Men in Kilts. I would highly recommend each of these if you are planning a trip to Scotland or love Outlander.

FYI: Definitely go for the audiobook on CloudLibrary with your Kansas library card.

What’s Ashley Reading?: The Violinist of Venice

The Violinist of Venice by Alyssa Palombo

First line: The gondola sliced silently through the dark water of the canal.

Summary: Adriana d’Amato has spent years of her life sequestered in her family’s palazzo in Venice. Ever since her mother died she has not been allowed to study the violin or music of any kind. But daringly she sneaks out of the palazzo to find the renowned violinist, Antonio Vivaldi, in the hopes of private lessons. When he agrees to her request she thinks that the only rule she is breaking is practicing violin until she starts to fall for her maestro.

My Thoughts: I finally got around to reading Palombo’s first book and the only one I haven’t read yet. It was just as beautiful as the rest of her works. She creates interesting storylines with fantastic historical characters. Venice nearly becomes a character of its own in this story. With its own charming traits such as Carnavale, the gondolas and the romance of an Italian city on the water, it is easy to get swept up in Adriana’s story.

canal in Venice (2006)

I visited Venice in 2006. Many of the places Adriana visits are vivid in my memory. Venice is a beautiful town filled with history and beauty.

Normally I do not read romance novels but this is a perfect mix between historical fiction and romance. I was frustrated with several of the choices made by Adriana but needing to know the outcomes kept me reading. As a reader I felt for her plight. Life for a wealthy merchant’s daughter could be easy but also had its challenges. I think many readers, myself included, believe that to live in these times would be wonderful. The gorgeous dresses, parties and life without much of the drama we have today. But historical fiction can do a great job of dulling these dreams when you see how women were treated or restricted in their lives. Palombo did a great job portraying this through Adriana’s life.

I know very little about Vivaldi, so this was a great introduction to the musical genius. Plus it also fulfilled a requirement for the Dia de los Muertos read-a-thon!

FYI: Some more adult scenes.

The Lineup: Ashley

Ashley’s Lineup

Podcast: Not Just the Tudors with Suzannah Lipscomb

I am a huge history nerd.  I love to read, see, watch and listen to anything historical especially if it pertains to the Tudors.  Recently one of my favorite historians started her own podcast called, Not Just the Tudors, which covers all sorts of history during the sixteenth century.  I have learned a lot while listening, such as about the teenage werewolf, the story of beards, and the witches of Lorraine.  Most episodes are 30-60 minutes which make for a quick little dip into the sixteenth century from the comfort of your home.

Find it here or where you normally download your podcasts.

2. Television show: Expedition Unknown with Josh Gates

As I said above, I love to learn about history.  This adventure show looks into some of the world’s most fascinating and enduring legends and mysteries.  The host, Josh Gates, travels the world meeting with experts and locals to uncover why these legends still fascinate people today.  His corny “dad jokes” and willingness to do just about anything makes for a fun watch.  I recently binge watched it while babysitting my nephew.  And now my parents and I are addicted to the show and watch it together every week.

Find it on Discovery Channel or the Discovery+ app.

3. Magazine: Discover Britain

I have been to England 3 times (in 2006, 2007 and 2011).  Each time has been wonderful!  I love the country, the history and even the food.  Even with all three trips there is still so much I have not seen in this gorgeous country.  My cousin and I have been planning to travel to London and Edinburgh but it had to be pushed back due to COVID.  But we are hopeful that this next spring we will finally be able to travel.  This magazine has been helping feed my wanderlust.  It features different sites to see, events to attend and some of the history around Britain.  If you miss traveling as much as I do then I would recommend you check it out plus many other travel magazines available on Libby.

Find it on Sunflower eLibrary or on the Libby app.

4. Class: Petco dog training with Riley H.

This summer I was able to have my dachshund puppy, Dudley, come live with me.  As with many dachshunds they are stubborn little barkers.  And Dudley is no different.  But in the future I would like to be able to take him on road trips or visit friends without having to deal with too many behavioral problems.  Thus, I signed him up for training classes at Derby Petco with Riley H.  The first class was very scary for him but he has already made tons of progress.  He has learned lot of new tricks like sit, lay down, stay and leave it.  Riley has been very patient with him.  I would highly recommend her and the classes.  There are different levels.  Dudley is nearly done with session one and will start session two this fall!

Find out more about their classes at Petco.com.

5. Planning Tools: Microsoft OneNote

Recently I found a new tool to help organize and plan my trip to the UK.  It is called OneNote.  It is a Microsoft program that allows a person to divide up things into different sections and pages.  I have broken my trip into different categories like location, flights, hotels, and budgets.  But then under each category I can have more pages with more individualized information.  I put links, photos, and charts that give me a more detailed view of my trip.  I like to show people that this is my “beautiful mind”.  I have several itineraries, places we should visit, and restaurants to try.  Plus, it has been a life saver during COVID.  I have felt like I am doing something to plan my trip even though I cannot plan my trip yet.  If you have access to OneNote I would recommend checking it out.  It seems like a very useful tool for many different things. 

Find out more about OneNote by checking out our database, Learning Express, where you can watch tutorials on using the application.

What’s Ashley Reading?: Katharine Parr, the Sixth Wife

Katharine Parr, the Sixth Wife by Alison Weir

First line: Katharine was five when death cast its black shadow over her life.

Summary: Katharine Parr, the sixth and final wife of King Henry VIII of England, grew up as a simple country gentry but she made several advantageous marriages. However, each husband died early leaving her a widow and childless. Then when she meets the handsome brother to the late queen, Jane Seymour, she believes she has found the love of her life.

But fate has different plans. Katharine catches the eye of the King of England. With the hopes of swaying the king towards the new faith, Katharine accepts his proposal. With her marriage comes the enmity of the Catholic faction at court. Bishop Gardiner and his men are determined to bring down Henry’s new queen.

My Thoughts: I liked this book. I liked how we got a look into Katharine’s early life. Many of the books about her center around her time as queen and afterwards but very little on her first two marriages. I enjoyed learning a little more about her time before the throne and how she became a strong proponent of the new religion, Protestantism.

Katharine is one of my least favorite queens. Her story is not very exciting and centers around religion a lot. She did much for the reformists in the court and even became the first woman to publish a book under her own name in English. It is quite an achievement. Alison Weir did a great job giving all the queens in her series a new life and bringing more of their stories to readers. I will be anticipating her next collection of books.

FYI: This is book six in the Six Tudor Queens series.

Dylan’s Book Recommendation: The True Jesus

The True Jesus by David Limbaugh

First line: In my last book, ​The Emmaus Code, ​I detailed how each of the Old Testament books points to Jesus Christ.

Summary: David Limbaugh historically examines Jesus Christ, and the historical authenticity of all of the evidence about the teachings, birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ through anon-biased, purely evidence based assembly of writings.

Thoughts: As a skeptic towards everything, I need to question everything. Through this work of nonfiction, my skepticism of Jesus Christ has been removed. There is too much historical evidence to logically deny that Jesus lived, died, and literally came back from the dead. If you are struggling with your faith, turn faith into a knowing with this collection of evidence, and see for yourself the true Jesus Christ.