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Friday, February 28, 2014

Pratt-Smoot Act Day

Every March 3rd here at the Department of the Blind and Physically Handicapped Library Service,we celebrate the Pratt-Smoot Act. The Pratt-Smoot Act essentially gave talking books their start for the blind.
Ray Foushee, speaker at Pratt-Smoot Day, 2013
Narrator from American Printing House
On March 3, 1931, President Hoover signed it into law “An Act to provide books for the adult blind,” also known as the “Pratt-Smoot Act” after its sponsors Representative Ruth Pratt and Senator Reed Smoot. This Act authorized an annual appropriation of $100,000 under the direction of the Librarian of Congress, for a national library service to provide books for use by adult blind residents of the United States. The Pratt-Smoot Act also permitted the Librarian of Congress to “arrange with such libraries as he may judge appropriate to serve as local or regional centers for the circulation of such books, under such conditions and regulations as he may prescribe” and to give preference at all times “to the needs of blind persons who have been honorably discharged from the United States military or naval service.” Following the passage of the Pratt-Smoot Act, the Library of Congress established the “Books for the Adult Blind” project, which began operating on July 1, 1931. Now the National Library Services for the Blind and Physically Handicapped serves anyone with a visual impairment, physical impairment, or an organic reading disability. For more information:
Pratt-Smoot Act Celebration
at the Mississippi Library Commission, 2013

Friday, February 21, 2014

What's On Your Bookshelf, Roosevelt?

We recently came across a charming, small book in our collection titled Dr. Johnson's Doorknob and Other Significant Parts of Great Men's Houses by Liz Workman. We were certainly not disappointed when we saw that the table of contents included "Great Men's Books"! Readers get a peek at the bookshelves of greats such as Thomas Cole, Washington Irving, Sir Winston Churchill, and Thomas Jefferson. The close-up of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's books, in particular, caught our eye. We could literally browse a snippet of his reading selections. Of course we had to share!

  • The Key by Patricia Wentworth 
  • There Shall Be No Night by Robert E. Sherwood 
  • The Workers at War by Frank Julian Warne
  • American Planning and Civic Annual 
  • New Frontiers of the Mind: The Story of the Duke Experiments by J.B. Rhine
  • The Bundle of Life by Jane Revere Burke
  • New Year's Day by Edith Wharton
  • The Old Maid by Edith Wharton
  • The Spark by Edith Wharton
  • Response by Mary Pownall Bromet

So, what's on your bookshelf? Need suggestions? Contact us or stop by our building to browse our shelves!

Workman, Liz. Dr. Johnson's Doorknob and Other Significant Parts of Great Men's Houses. Rizzoli International Publications, Inc. NY 2007. Print

Friday, February 14, 2014

Love, Mississippi Style

Love is a strange beast. Our human hearts are both fickle and steadfast at the same time, draped in a gauze of romance. Mississippi authors are no exception to the highs and lows of love--why would they be? When two hearts begin to talk to one another, the idea that they'll ever stop is absurd. Here are two of those beginnings.

Richard Wright and Ellen Poplar (Poplowitz)

Richard Wright met Ellen Poplar (Poplowitz) about 1939. Of their first outing together, Ellen later said:

We talked for hours. We had a wonderful time. We sat on a bench and talked. There was an instant understanding between us.
Richard proposed to Ellen almost immediately, within a few weeks of their meeting. She, though, was a practical woman and wanted to be certain that they truly loved one another. After much soul-searching, Ellen decided that their love was pure and tried to meet Richard. Surprisingly, he had already proposed to another woman, a former fling, and he married her instead. Ellen was heartbroken. (Some say that Richard claimed he married Dhimah Meadman to spite Ellen. Ah, the things we do for love.) The marriage lasted less than a year. Upon Richard and Ellen's reunion:

He heard her voice and came onto the landing at the top of the stairs and called her name. "It was a really eerie thing," she says. "I knew immediately that my family counted for nothing... I was very excited and we fell into each other's arms and there was no talking after that. The whole thing was settled... I just moved in with Dick right in that house."
Medgar Evers and Myrlie Beasley

Medgar Evers met Myrlie Beasley on her first day of classes in 1950 at Alcorn in Lorman, Mississippi. They fell in love. Myrlie remembers his proposal of a little over a year later,

I couldn't speak. Medgar took the ring from the box and put it on my finger. I watched as though I were watching someone else. "I'm sorry I can't afford a more expensive ring, Myrlie," he said softly. "This is the best I can do. But along with it goes all the love I have."
I have never felt quite like I did at that moment.
Although these two marriages traveled very separate paths, the meeting of souls, the mysterious bonding of two hearts, is the same. Love is a hard road to travel, but it does, indeed, seem to make the world go round.

Want to explore the (love) lives of Mississippi authors? Our biography section is sure to warm the heart of any book lover. Come on in!

Evers, Myrlie. For Us, The Living. Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Company, Inc., 1967. Print.
Rowley, Hazel. Richard Wright: The Life and Times. New York: Henry Holt and Co, 2001. Print.
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