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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

William Faulkner's Family

Remember our post back in June of 2012 when we shared some photos of Eudora Welty and her family? Well, we happened across some family photos of another famous Mississippi author that we'd like to share with you--William Faulkner!

"Faulkner's great-grandfather, Colonel William Clark Falkner, the model for the fictional Colonel John Sartoris. (Faulkner added the u to his surname in 1918.)" (128).

"Faulkner's grandfather, John Wesley Thompson Falkner, the model for Bayard Sartoris in the Yoknapatawpha novels" (128).

"Faulkner (back row, center) with his three younger brothers, Murry (left), John, and Dean (in front), ca. 1911-1912" (129).

"Faulkner with his daughter, Jill, born 24 June 1933" (155).

"The Faulkners [William's wife, Estelle, on the right] at Jill's wedding to Paul D. Summers, 21 August 1954" (186).

Looking for a book or two to read during the holidays? Stop by the Mississippi Library Commission and check out some of his books! For more things Faulkner related, check out our special "813.42-Faulkner" Pinterest board.

Antwerp, Margaret A., ed. Dictionary of Literary Biography. Vol 2. Ann Arbor, MI: Gale Research Company, 1982. Print. Documentary Series: An Illustrated Chronicle.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Old Saint Nick

Yesterday our Elf on the Shelf was elf-napped by Krampus. The ransom was paid and Peppermint was returned intact. All's well that ends well, but what in the world is a Krampus?

It turns out that Krampus hangs out in Austria and surrounding countries. Acting as St. Nikolaus's sidekick, he carries around a bag of sticks with which to punish all the naughty children. (This sounds much more painful than a lump of coal!)

St. Nikolaus Day is traditionally celebrated on December 6, the recognized date of St. Nikolaus of Myra's death and his feast day. One of his legends is explained thus:

A poor father had three daughters but not enough money to give each one a dowry. So he sent them out onto the street to earn money as prostitutes. The bishop had pity on them, and on three consecutive nights he threw three pieces of gold into the poor father's small room, helping all three girls to get a good husband. In one version of the legend, he threw the pieces of gold through the chimney. They fell into the socks of the girls, who had hung them there to dry. This version is the basis for the tradition of placing shoes in front of the door or hanging stockings by the fireplace to be filled.
St. Nikolaus has evolved into bringing treats to those who have been good on the eve of his feast day and is the basis for Santa Claus. The night before his feast day, December 5, is sometimes called Krampusnacht (Krampus Night). It seems that our villain is well-versed in holiday lore!

Want to keep tabs on Peppermint this month? Check out her album on our Facebook page.

Leisure. (2006). In Pop culture Germany! media, arts, and lifestyle. Retrieved from

Thursday, December 5, 2013

We're All Mad Here

We have several books compiled of articles from old Mississippi newspapers. The entries range from the mundane to the bizarre. For example, on November 29, 1894, the Southern Sentinel in Tippah County, Mississippi, ran the following blurb:

Henry, the 12 year old son of J. L. Walker was attacked in the street opposite Dr. Alexander's  resident last Friday by a dog supposed to be afflicted with the rabies. The animal reared up and evidently made for the boy's throat but Henry threw out his arm and the dog's teeth were buried into the left forearm. After biting the boy the dog fled in a northern direction and was afterwards slain by some parties near Faulkner.
Mr. Walker carried his son that same afternoon to Mrs. Palmer's and applied the mad stone which is said to have stuck for ten consecutive hours.
Henry does not complain and it is to be hoped that no serious consequence will result.
You'll be relieved to hear that Henry survived his dog bite. Here he is in the 1900 census, with his sister Noverta:

What conclusion must I draw from this? The mad stone cured the rabies! What is a mad stone, you ask? According to Merriam-Webster's Medical Desk Dictionary, it is:
a stony concretion (as a hair ball taken from the stomach of a deer) supposed formerly in folklore and by some physicians to counteract the poisonous effects of the bite of an animal (as one affected with rabies)
Fans of the Harry Potter books will recognize the mad stone by a different name, as in this passage where Snape reprimands Harry:

"A bezoar is a stone taken from the stomach of a goat and it will save you from most poisons."
In 1885, only nine years before Henry Walker's accident, Louis Pasteur successfully treated a boy bitten by a rabid dog with a newly developed rabies vaccine. Mad stones eventually fell by the wayside as the much more effective vaccine became more widely available and well-known.

Lockhart, Tommy. Biographical Notes from the Files of the Southern Sentinel, Ripley, Mississippi, Tippah County. Old Timer Press, 1977.
Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Scholastic, 1999.
Madstone. (2005). In Merriam-Webster's medical desk dictionary, revised edition. Retrieved from
"Louis Pasteur." Scientists: Their Lives and Works. Gale, 2006. Biography in Context. Web. 5 Dec. 2013.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

A Proverb By Any Other Name Would Smell As Sweet

I stumbled across an oddly titled book yesterday and took it back to my office to inspect. The title in question? Racial Proverbs. I wanted to make certain that the contents were indeed racial (relating to race) and not racist (having the belief that one race is superior to another), and I was pleasantly surprised. Not only did I find such gems as this Welsh proverb "A puddle will not grow dirty" (83) and this Wolof (Senegambian) one "Without fingers the hand would be a spoon" (600), I also found several lovely book-related proverbs. Enjoy!

Who can read and write has four eyes (15).

A book is like a garden carried in the pocket (330).

To read a book for the first time is to make the acquaintance of a new friend; to read it a second time is to meet an old one (351).

Wives, horses, and books should never be lent (211).

Life without literature is death (220).

The sight of books removes sorrows from the heart (556).

A book is a good friend which reveals the mistakes of the past (410).

Ignorance is the night of the mind (639).

I'll leave you with this witty Argentine proverb that we should all try to emulate:
Clear accounts and thick chocolate (614).

Champion, Selwyn G. Racial Proverbs: A Selection of the World's Proverbs Arranged Linguistically. New York, NY: Barnes and Noble, 1963. Print.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Seeing Is Reading

Remember learning how to read? Cast your memory back to first grade: sounding out letters and forming them into words--C+A+T = CAT.  It was thrilling when everything slid into place. Reading now, as an adult, turns out to be a completely different experience. We don't read from left to right (or right to left, depending on the language). According to one of our new books, Weird-O-Pedia: The Ultimate Book of Surprising, Strange, and Incredibly Bizarre Facts About (Supposedly) Ordinary Things, we read letters in "short chunks simultaneously." The author states:
In tests where subjects were shown words quickly, then asked what they had seen, they had just as much trouble identifying the first letter of the word as the last. When they were given more time, readers became more accurate on all the letters, leading researchers to conclude that the letters were processed simultaneously" (111). 
Although this makes sense, I'd never thought about it like this before! Weird-O-Pedia, a devotion to nuggets of information, has quirky and fun information on all sorts of ordinary topics like sweat (women sweat less readily than men, 84) to airplanes (boarding planes at random actually goes faster than boarding in groups from back to front, 133) to sneezes...

Which brings me to one of my favorite nuggets in the book: Have you ever had the overwhelming urge to sneeze after you've glanced at the sun? (I have!) Enterprising scientists have studied the phenomenon and given it a name. It's called Autosomal Cholinergic Helio-Opthalmic Outburst. Bless you! 
Palmer, Alex. Weird-O-Pedia: The Ultimate Book of Surprising, Strange, and Incredibly Bizarre Facts About (Supposedly) Ordinary Things. New York, NY: Skyhorse Publishing, 2012. Print.

Monday, September 23, 2013

And The Winner Is...

I've been pawing through a book I found hidden in the stacks a few days ago. The title makes it sound like the most lascivious and licentious book ever written - Simon's Book of World Sexual Records - but it's actually filled with fascinating facts. Here are a few!

Inverbervie Graveyard
Simon bestowed the award of Most Bizarre Love Charm to an old Irish legend. In order to make this fetching amulet, a young girl was to visit a graveyard and find a corpse buried for nine days. Then, this crafty lady needed to "cut from the body a narrow strip of skin extending from the top of the head down to the extremity of one foot." Have you ever seen someone peel a peach or an apple in one continuous strip? It's kind of hard to do! "They then tried to knot the length of dead skin round the arm or leg of a sleeping lover and to remove it before he awoke" (86). So in ancient Ireland, your choices were a dead skin strip or flirting. You know, whichever you found to be an easier, more appealing task.

Symbol for The New York Society
for the Suppression of Vice
The Most Vigorous Prude Award went to Anthony Comstock.
His group, the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice, helped usher in (between 1873 and 1882) "700 arrests, 333 sentences of imprisonment totalling 155 years and 13 days, fines totalling $65,256, and the seizure of 27,856 lb. of obscene books and 64,836 articles for immoral use, of rubber, etc" (180). I just wonder how many books would equal the weight of 27,856 pounds.

Fanny Hill
by John Cleland
Simon judged that The Most Famous Erotic Novel (before Shades of Grey, of course) was
Fanny Hill or Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure. The author, Henry Cleland sold it for 20 guineas in 1749. The bookseller who bought it is said to have made £ 10,000 for the story of a young, innocent girl who falls into a life of prostitution. The book has been censored and banned worldwide (357).

Last, but certainly not least, is The Society in Which the Human Kiss is Least Practiced. The Thonga people (aka Tsonga) in extreme southeast Africa do not practice mouth-to-mouth kissing. Apparently, upon seeing this type of kiss for the first time, someone remarked, "Look at them-they eat each other's saliva and dirt" (107).

A book can hold so much more than its title or subject matter promises to its reader. Take a chance--open a book!

Simons, G. L. Simon's Book of World Sexual Records. New York: Bell Publishing Company, 1975. Print.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Greenville, MS - On The Cutting Edge

Back in the late 1880s, Greenville, MS had quite the impressive school system. Mr. Eli E. Bass, the School Superintendent for Greenville City Schools, was fond of anything new and innovative. Due to his influence, Greenville Schools can claim:

  • the 1st science laboratories in Mississippi schools (1888)
  • the 1st high school library in Mississippi schools (1889/1890)
  • the 1st class to graduate from a Mississippi high school (1890)
  • the 1st health and physical education department in Mississippi schools (1899)
  • the 1st public school system in the Mississippi accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (1902)
  • the 1st public kindergarten in Mississippi schools (1905)
  • the 1st public school music department in Mississippi schools (1905)
  • the 1st art department in Mississippi schools (1905)
Here's a fun side nugget: between 1925 and 1955, a Mrs. Carolyn Metcalfe Badow modernized the card catalog system by typing the information from over 3,500 handwritten cards onto new cards. That's a lot of typing, but I'm sure everything was much more orderly and legible after that!

Gaston, Mable. "GHS: Mississippi's Oldest School Library." Mississippi Library News 37.1 March, 1973: 29-30. Print.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Weather Whether It's Blue Skies Or Grey

Last week while I was helping a patron with some genealogy research, I ran across a woman named Tornado. Was it a fluke? Ah, no. It turns out that many people's parents thought to name their children after weather phenomena. Check out these names I found in the US Federal Census:
Rain and lightning in Mississippi
  • Rain Jett, F
    Kentucky, 1910
  • Rainey Bacon, F
    Maryland, 1940
  • Flood Edmonds, Sr. and Jr., M
    West Virginia, 1940
  • Storm Moore, F
    Texas, 1900
  • Tornado Harrison, F
    Pennsylvania, 1940
  • Tornado in Missouri
  • Hurricane Smith, M
    West Virginia, 1930
  • Cyclone Fox, M
    Michigan, 1940
  • Blizzard Schneider, F
    New York, 1930
  • Monsoon Peckham, M
    North Carolina, 1820
  • Thunder Hatcher, M
    North Carolina, 1930
  • Lightning Hightower, M
    Illinois, 1930
  • Blizzard in Minnesota
  • Snow Baker, F
    Georgia, 1940
  • Freeze Quick, M
    Pennsylvania, 1940
  • Ice Lane, M
    Tennessee, 1940
  • Frost White, M
    Maryland, 1910
  • Milford Hail Acres, M
    Tennessee, 1940
  • Sunshine Anderson, F
    Mississippi, 1940
  • Breeze Huffman, F
    California, 1940
  • Flooding in Indiana
  • Cloud Bagwell, M
    South Carolina, 1940
  • Donna Fog Commett, F
    Kentucky, 1940
  • Hot Brandon, M
    Mississippi, 1930
  • Drought Davis, M
    New York, 1940
  • Stark Weather Stevenson, M
    Arizona, 1940
  • Climate Gaines, M
    Texas, 1940
When I have kids, I'm naming them Sleet and Mist. What do you think?,_IN.jpg

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Best Overdue Books Ever

I stumbled across a story last week which I've been waiting to share with you. An unlikely librarian in Lithuania is a new heroine of mine; that is, this unlikely librarian and her concocted story of some very important overdue books.
Ona Simaite
Ona Simaite was born January 6, 1894 (some sources say 1899) in Akmenė, Lithuania. She worked at Vilnius University as a librarian and literary critic. The Nazi occupation of Lithuania began in 1940 and she saw the horrors of the Nazis up close. Simaite decided to act. She convinced the Nazis that Jewish students living in the ghettos had overdue library books that needed to be returned to the library. (Never underestimate the fear and awe that an overdue library book strikes in the hearts of men.) Once she had gained access to the Jewish ghetto, she brought in much needed supplies for the people trapped inside and brought out historical documents and texts for preservation purposes. She was finally found out in 1944 and captured by the Nazis. They tortured her and sentenced her to death. She escaped this fate when colleagues and others at her university spoke in her behalf. She was sent instead to the concentration camp in Dachau, and then later, to one in France. Simaite survived the war and died in Israel in 1970. She was designated Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem in 1966.

This story just goes to show what a librarian with a strong purpose, a determined spirit, and a threat of some overdue books can do. If you'd like to learn more about this incredible woman, check out the book Epistolophilia by Julija Šukys. It's at the top of my to-read list.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Happy Friday!

Here's a fun comic we found in The Clarion-Ledger on microfilm from June 7th, 1954!
"You'll have to check that slab out -- we can't have all that noise in here!"
Indeed, time has changed! We don't recommend taking a hammer and chisel to library books. Instead, we hope you'll visit your local library this weekend and check some out (and treat them gently). Have a wonderful Friday!

Microfilm: The Clarion-Ledger. June 7th, 1954. pg 11

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Cassagne To Head Mississippi Library Commission

The Mississippi Library Commission Board of Commissioners (MLC) is pleased to announce the appointment of Susan Young Swindell Cassagne, of Natchez, Mississippi, as the new Executive Director of the Mississippi Library Commission. She will assume her duties October 1, 2013.

“Those of us on the Board look forward to working with Susan Cassagne. She brings a wealth of experience and knowledge of all types of libraries, as well as many years of experience working with the Mississippi Legislature and with our National Congressional Leaders. We know that library supporters across the state will welcome her as she begins a new, exciting phase of her library career,” said MLC Board Chair Dr. Glenda Segars.

Cassagne currently serves as Director of the Judge George W. Armstrong Library System formerly the Natchez-Adams-Wilkinson Library Service/Homochitto Valley Library Service in Natchez, Mississippi. Prior to accepting the director’s position, she was the Assistant Director/Technology Coordinator of the Pearl River County Library System in Picayune, Mississippi. She graduated from Louisiana State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in General Studies and a Master of Library and Information Science degree from the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg.

A seasoned leader and well respected among her peers, Cassagne is an active member of the Mississippi Library Association (MLA) where she served as President in 2005 and 2006, chaired the Legislative Committee from 2010-2013,and the local arrangements committee for three MLA conferences held in Natchez.

In addition to an MLA membership, she is a member of the American Library Association and the Public Library Association. Cassagne, an active member of the Mississippi State Society Daughters of the American Revolution, served on the State Board of Management as a State Officer and as a National Vice Chairman. She also served the State Society on several National and State Committees. On the local level, she is a member of the Friends of the Armstrong Library, Rotary Club of Natchez, Natchez Historical Society, Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration Advisory Board, Natchez Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution, Pilgrimage Garden Club, Natchez Food & Wine Festival, Natchez Downtown Development Association, Krewe of Phoenix, and Krewe of Killarney.

“I look forward to leading the Mississippi Library Commission and working with Mississippi’s public libraries through a commitment to leadership, advocacy and public service,” Cassagne says of her new position. She lives in Natchez with her husband, Gabriel (Gabe); they have four children, Juliette, Andre, Richard and wife Sarah, and Elizabeth.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Board of Commissioners Announces New Executive Director

At the end of June, our beloved director Sharman Smith stepped down from her job as the voice of libraries in Mississippi. Although we still miss her presence here, we know that the memory of her person and the words of advice and wisdom she left with us will remain for a very long time. That is why we are thrilled to look toward the future of Mississippi libraries with this exciting message that we received today:
The Board of Commissioners of the Mississippi Library Commission is happy to announce that Mrs. Susan Cassagne has accepted the position as Executive Director.  Mrs. Cassagne currently serves as the Director of the Judge George W. Armstrong Library in Natchez, Mississippi.  She brings a wealth of experience and knowledge of all types of Mississippi libraries, as well as many years of experience working with the Mississippi Legislature and with our National Senators and Congressmen.
We are truly thrilled to welcome Director Cassagne to her new position.

They opened the door and stepped in.
They stopped.
The library deeps lay waiting for them.
-Ray Bradbury, Something Wicked This Way Comes
Open the door. Step in. And welcome!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Easter Flood

We recently received a request for images of the 1979 flood in Mississippi, known as the Easter flood. The Pearl River crested on April 17, 1979 after days of heavy rain, and soon flooded into Jackson and surrounding creeks. Several homes, schools, businesses, and other pieces of property were heavily damaged in the process. "It was the worst Pearl River flood in recorded history, topping the old flood record, set in 1902, by more than 5 feet" (6).

We thought we'd share this image we found in the book The Great Flood by the Clarion-Ledger and Jackson Daily News.  This picture caught our attention because of the large pile of library books damaged as a result of the flood hitting the library of Jackson Preparatory School!

"About half of the 12,000 ruined books in the library of Jackson Preparatory School on Lakeland Drive were destroyed by the flood. The books were piled in the middle of a classroom" (107).

For more pictures on the Easter flood, check out the aerial views on The Clarion-Ledger's website.
Check out this pin, and other pins on our "Mississippi History" board!

Hederman, T.M., Jr., ed. The Great Flood. Jackson: Clarion-Ledger/Jackson Daily News, 1979. Print
Mississippi History Timeline:

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Remembering William Hollingsworth, Jr.

Today marks the anniversary of Mississippi artist, William Hollingsworth's, death in 1944. Here is a book plate created by the famed artist as found in the book To Paint and Pray: the Art and Life of William R. Hollingsworth, Jr. by Robin Dietrick:

Are you interested in finding out more about him? Revisit our past blog posts about him here and here!

by Shivon
Dietrick, Robin. To Paint and Pray: the Art and Life of William R. Hollingsworth, Jr. Mississippi Museum of Art: Jackson, MS, 2012. Print

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Governor Appoints Ann Marsh to Mississippi Library Commission Board

Governor Phil Bryant has appointed Ann Marsh to the Mississippi Library Commission Board of Commissioners. Marsh fills the vacancy left when Russell Burns of Brookhaven resigned and will serve the remainder of the term which expires June 30, 2015. She represents one of two “at large” positions.

A native of Missouri, Marsh received a Bachelor’s Degree in Education from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. She is an avid library supporter and lover of books. When asked about her appointment to the Library Commission Board Marsh remarked, “With my years of experience in the public library, I hope to give insight to Board decisions and have a positive impact on library services. It is an honor to serve on the Mississippi Library Commission Board of Commissioners.”

She is the branch manager at the Northwest Point Reservoir Library, a branch of the Central Mississippi Regional Library System, where she has been employed for twenty-six years.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

This Book is Grrreat!!

We have recently acquired The Great American Cereal Book: How Breakfast Got Its Crunch by Marty Gitlin and Topher Ellis and have since been delighting in cereal nostalgia! Cereal was originally made with laxative properties, but turned towards marketing to children following WWII. Presweetened cereals made their appearance on television, with the help of cartoon characters and popular sitcoms, during the late 1940s through the 1960s. Health-conscious cereals made a return during the 1970s, and both types of cereals now live harmoniously on our grocery store shelves today.

We thought we would delight you with some fun cereal facts! While some of these had very interesting flavors, they unfortunately did not have a very long shelf life…

  • Surprize – Created by Kellogg’s, this cereal hit the shelves in 1957, but the date in which it was taken off the shelves is unknown. It was known as the “first brown-rice flaked cereal” (168).
  • Caramel Puffs – This cereal, created by General Mills, was supposed to be a variation of Cocoa Puffs with “caramel-flavored corn nuggets” (108). It was not well-received and lasted a year on the shelves from 1959-1960.

  • Wackies – Created by General Mills, this cereal stayed on the shelves from 1965 to 1966. It was composed of “frosted oats and banana-flavored marbits [marshmallow bits] in various shapes” (175).
  • Cornados – Created by General Mills, this cereal stayed on the shelves from 1966-1967. It was composed of “cone-shaped corn and rice” (110).
  • Ooobopperoos – Created by Nabisco, this cereal stayed on the shelves from 1972-1973. It was composed of “blueberry-flavored cereal” (212).

  • Sir Grapefellow – Created by General Mills, this cereal stayed on the shelves from 1972-1975. It was composed of “grape-flavored oat rings with sweet-grape starbits [star-shaped marshmallow bits]” (220).
  • Crunchy Loggs – Created by Kellogg’s, this wood-themed cereal stayed on the shelves from 1978-1979. It was composed of “sweetened corn and oat logs” (195).

We saved the best for last!

Ad found in The Times-Dispatch on March 13, 1903

Ad found in The Scranton Tribune on September 8, 1902

Tryabita – Created by Tryabita Cereal Mills, this cereal hit the shelves in 1903, but the date in which it was taken off the shelves is unknown. It was the first (and possibly only) celery-flavored cereal.

Do you have a favorite cereal from your childhood? Or perhaps you have had the opportunity to try one of these unusually-flavored cereals? We'd love to know!

Gitlin, Marty and Topher Ellis. The Great American Cereal Book: How Breakfast Got Its Crunch. Abrams Image: New York, 2011. Print
The Times-Dispatch:
The Scranton Tribune:
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