Monday, February 8, 2010

When Interests Collide...One Heck of an Interesting Find

Genealogists are often found discussing their other interests and hobbies on the various boards and blogs. One that often shared, no matter what the genealogical specialization or subject matter, is a love of books and of reading. I guess it's just one of the perks of this job. We better love reading because we find ourselves doing a lot of it. I'm the same, except I guess a more appropriate description of my other love is antiquarian book collecting. I love reading books that were around when my ancestors were alive, maybe they would even have seen a new copy in a shop, but I love everything about old books. I love that musty smell, the binding, the yellowing of the pages, plus all of the history behind their publishing houses. Everything about antiquarian books excites me...or almost everything. The prices are pretty often less than thrilling to my one-income military family budget. But for my own current collection, I don't have to worry about coming up with that $20,000 for a 1st edition Bleak House so it's no more of an issue than coming up with the money for The Source or Eastman's Map Guide to the U.S. Federal Censuses...

In any case, because I do try to keep up with what's going on in the world of books in general, I regularly read a magazine called Fine Books & Collections along with their blog. One of the contributors, both in print and online is a well-known bibliophile named Nicholas Basbanes. In the winter, generally around Christmastime or soon after, he submits "Nick's Picks" for the best books to give as gifts. It's basically a great guide to the best books he's found recently and it's also a wonderful guide for books to read for yourself. Recently I was playing catch up and wanted to see some of his past picks and found a few general history books that would be interesting for genealogists, but one in particular really stood out for me. It's called Carolina Clay: The Legend of the Slave Potter Dave and the book's author is Leonard Todd. It is a non-fiction account of a slave in South Carolina who created some beautiful works of pottery, some carrying works of poetry written by Dave. The author discovers a connection between his own ancestors and Dave and the book is the account of his subsequent research regarding Dave and the author's ancestors.

I know there are quite a few South Carolina researchers that may be interested in this, but I think it would also be a great read for all of us, besides being just a fascinating read in general. If you'd like the full review from Nicholas Basbanes, visit the blog at and scroll down the page about 3/4 of the way down.


  1. Thanks for the tip! (And I'm always interested in anything with a South Carolina connection.)

  2. I'm heading over to check it out, too!