I have chosen these 12 sources in an effort to create a true picture of my grandmother and what our family has dealt with since coming over to America. In order to do that, I will need to take information that Nana has gathered over the years and combine that with the information from these sources to weave together a picture of my family’s past. I also wish to determine exactly what impact the past has had on my Nana’s life and how she has done things. These sources should help to create a road map of my grandmother’s life beginning in Natchez, Mississippi and taking her all the way through her genealogical studies and present-day life.
A theme that seems to run through my grandmother’s life is a passion for learning about family history and the importance of that history to our lives today. I have yet to meet anyone who has this passion in the same way that my Nana does. She believes that knowing more about our family’s past will help connect us with the driving forces that were present in the past that will lead us to greater things. These sources deal with various things from the Mayflower all the way to Lady Gaga in the New York Times. However different these sources are, I believe that they all help tell the story of Nana’s life and the driving forces behind many of the decisions and moves she has made.
Philbrick, Nathaniel. Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War. New York: Viking, 2006. Print.
This book covers about fifty five years of history that begins with the Mayflower’s voyage to the New World and ending with King Philip’s War. This book mainly discusses the history concerning a part of the New World called Plymouth Colony. Plymouth Colony was founded by people called Pilgrims who fled England. Many of these Pilgrims were Separatists from the Church of England who had chosen to flee England in pursuit of religious freedom in the New World. This book tells the story from the very beginning, when many of the Pilgrims tried to flee on a ship called the Speedwell alongside the Mayflower. This first trip failed because the Speedwell was not sea-worthy and they were forced to return to Holland, from where they left. The Mayflower then left on its own two months later for the New World carrying 102 very cramped passengers.
This book is important to me because my earliest ancestor in America, Peter Brown is mentioned in this book and has a short anecdote written about him. Peter Brown is not one of the more well-known members of Plymouth Colony, but he is the only one of importance in my lineage. This book tells of a story that William Bradford recorded about my ancestor Peter and another colonist who became lost on a hunting trip. Their dogs chased a false trail and ended up leading them on a path away from Plymouth. They spent a night becoming frostbitten and surrounded by mountain lions and Indians before finally finding their way back to Plymouth the following afternoon. This story may not be in any history books or have any historical significance to the majority of people, but this story has great amounts of significance to me and my family. This is the only true, firsthand account of Peter Brown’s life that I have ever read and this is why this book is important to my family’s history.
This book was published by Viking and follows the story of the Pilgrims in a chronological order starting from the reasoning behind them leaving England and ending with the end of King Philip’s War. The author, Nathaniel Philbrick, focuses mainly on the Pilgrim leader William Bradford and the Pilgrim military leader Benjamin Church. I chose this book for my project because it seemed like the most well-researched and cited book on the history of the Pilgrims. Philbrick uses a very realistic style of story-telling in order to describe the Pilgrims as they really were, not the fairy-tale version that everyone heard when they were growing up. These were very hard times and there was always a fight for survival. I, for one, am very glad that Peter Brown was a strong, resilient settler, because if he had succumbed to disease or famine in those early years, I would not be here today.
Lewis, L. Earl, and Joseph C. Bush. “Employment And Wage Trends In Bell System Companies.” Monthly Labor Review 90.3 (1967): 38. Business Source Complete. Web. 5 Oct. 2015.
This article from The Monthly Labor Review of March 1967 contains statistics and commentary about the wages of different types of employees at the Bell Telephone Company between 1945 and 1965. My grandfather, Roy Byars Sr.,worked as a telephone line repairman and also as an installation repairman when he returned from Vietnam. Granddaddy worked for Bell back when it was the largest of all the telephone companies and essentially had a monopoly through its regional affiliates. My grandfather worked for both South Central Bell in Mississippi and also Southwestern Bell in Texas. This company is important to my family’s history and to this project because Granddaddy’s job was the main reason behind the moves that my family made. This article helps tell the story of my family and their contribution to American history through the largest telephone company in world history.
My grandfather began working for the Bell Telephone Company on September 14, 1964 in construction, setting poles and hanging telephone line. He then moved on to work in installation, and by the time he retired, worked as a service repair technician. My Nana still tells stories to this day of how big and strong Granddaddy was when he was setting poles and hanging telephone lines in the early days. He eventually retired on December 31, 1997. This article will help my research by providing a look into how my Granddaddy was paid and also how the company went through ups and downs and why that might have impacted the frequency and location of moves that my family made.
Mitchell, Dennis J. A New History of Mississippi. Oxford: U of Mississippi, 2014. Print.
This book is written by a historian from the University of Mississippi who has a deep understanding and love for the state of Mississippi. Mississippi has been the home of my family since before the Civil War and continues to be our home to this day. I was born Mississippi as well every member of my family except for my littlest brother Wil, who was born in Kentucky.
This book details the history of the state of Mississippi from when it was Indian territory all the way until modern-day Mississippi. This book was written in 2014, so I believe that it contains the most accurate and up-to-date information about the great state. This book chronicles every event of the state that my family has lived in for so long.
I have yet to see if this book contains any of my ancestors by name, but I am quite certain that if it does, my grandmother and I will find them. This book begins in 1539 with the exploration of Hernando de Soto into the lands of the American south. It continues to the American Revolution, Civil War, the Great Depression, civil rights, and into 2014 Mississippi.
This book is important to my project and to my family’s history because my family is so entrenched in Mississippi state history. This state defines my family in every way and my family defines this state. Dennis Mitchell has compiled all of the most important history into this book and I believe that anything I wanted to find out about this state could be learned through this book. i am particularly interested in finding out more information about Civil War Mississippi as I had more than ten ancestors who were involved in the War with the Confederacy. I am also very interested in learning more about the Mississippi Delta during the Great Depression. My grandmother’s parents lived through those tough years as farmers and laborers, and this is one part of her story that I really wish to learn about. This book will provide great insight into learning more about this particular time in history.
This book has an extended section of history on Quitman county, which is where my mother was born and where my grandparents lived for several years. This section will add a great deal to my project and will provide me with key information to be able to educate my readers intelligently.
Smith, Timothy B. Mississippi in the Civil War the Home Front. Jackson: U of Mississippi for the Mississippi Historical Society and the Mississippi Dept. of Archives and History, 2010. Print.
The Civil War is potentially the most influential event in the history of Mississippi. There are traces of the Civil War all over the state, from memorials at Shiloh and Vicksburg to even the Confederate corner on the state flag. Many of my ancestors from this time period fought in this war. My Nana has found four men from Mississippi and one from Louisiana who fought for the Confederacy and from whom I am directly descended. One of these men is named Merritt Morgan Mullen from Tallahatchie County, Mississippi. Nana searched everywhere and found copies of his original pay cards from the Confederate Army and also a picture of him alongside all of the surviving veterans of the county in 1900.
The author of this book, Timothy B. Smith, is deeply rooted in his passion and love for the state of Mississippi. In the preface, he shows the reader his roots by mentioning that he is a seventh-generation Mississippian and adds specificity to this fact by saying that he lives in Carrollton and mentioning that he was born in Meridian, a far more well-known place than Carrollton. This makes him a great author for a source because one of my ancestors who fought in the Civil War, Winfield William Jones, is also from Carroll County.
Hess, Gary R. Vietnam: Explaining America’s Lost War. Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub., 2009. Print.
My Granddaddy, Roy Byars Sr., served in the Vietnam War from 1967–1969. He was overseas, away from his family, serving his homeland. This book gives a great account of what life was like overseas during this conflict, and also gives reasoning and insight into the tactics of the war itself. The author of this book, Dr. Gary Hess of Bowling Green State University in Ohio, writes this book from a very scholarly and informed point of view and really presents the facts and the consequences of the war and allows the reader to come to their own conclusions about it.
This book is relevant and useful to me as a source because it gives us a glimpse of what life really was like during the war and how the war affected that part of the world. Mistakes, such as Agent Orange, that damaged soldiers, civilians, and ecosystems are mentioned in this book as serious repercussions and will be touched on in another bibliography separately as my grandfather was exposed to Agent Orange during his tour of duty in Vietnam.
The most interesting part of the book to me was the after-the-fact analysis of US policy and protocol after this war. Hess presents the information in a cause-and-effect style that allows even the simplest readers to glean the main points of his research. Granddaddy doesn’t talk much about Vietnam, so this book will allow me to take a small peak inside what his life might have been like during and after the War in Vietnam and how it affected decisions he made concerning our family.
Martini, Edwin A. Agent Orange: History, Science, and the Politics of Uncertainty. Amherst: U of Massachusetts, 2012. Print.
Agent Orange is an herbicide that the United States used to defoliate much of Vietnam in an effort to destroy places for the Vietcong to hide. The name is derived from the orange stripe that was painted onto each barrel of the chemical herbicide. Operation Ranch Hand was the code name for the plan that the United States and South Vietnam put into effect to eliminate trees, shrubs, and other parts of the forest that the Vietcong used for cover. This tactic was inspired from the British use of herbicides during the Malayan Emergency. Operation Ranch Hand started in 1962 and continued until 1971 and resulted in the spraying of roughly 20 million gallons of chemicals into the Vietnam countryside.
This book is written by Edwin Martini, a professor at the University of Massachusetts, who has spent countless hours looking through records, research reports, and interviews to discover the truth about Agent Orange and the knowledge of the ones utilizing it. There are many claims that the government knew more than they let on about the potential hazards of using an herbicide like Agent Orange. Martini shows the global impact that Agent Orange has had in places such as Australia and New Zealand, as well as Vietnam and the United States. Martini’s book is applicable and relevant to my project because my Granddaddy was exposed to Agent Orange during his deployment in Vietnam and has had health issues due to this exposure. This source will be able to help answer many of the questions that I have about this herbicide and its effect on people who were around it.
I can still remember exactly how excited my grandmother was when she found this source. Nana called every one of her children to let them know the good news. She had been involved in genealogy for some time and knew who our ancestors were, but Nana was still in the process of finding documented proof of our ancestors’ lives. She had been looking for documentation of our Civil War heritage for years and had finally found it! The reaction that Nana had to finding these documents prove her dedication and commitment to our family’s story.
Merritt Morgan Mullen was my great great great grandfather and was a soldier for the Confederacy in the Civil War. He was from Carrollton, Mississippi, and was a private in Company K of the 30th Regiment of the Mississippi Infantry. He enlisted on September 1, 1863, and was captured on November 30, 1864 at the Battle of Franklin in Tennessee outside of Nashville. He was placed in a prison camp in Louisville Mississippi until he was transferred to Camp Douglas in Chicago, Illinois where he sat out the rest of the war. I know all of this information because of my Nana’s passion and dedication to gaining knowledge about our family’s past. We have copies of Merritt Mullen’s pay stubs, prisoner of war paperwork, and enlistment papers. We also have a photo of him alongside all of the war survivors in front of the Carroll County courthouse in 1900. This kind of history can’t be found just anywhere. It requires a person who is dedicated to learning about their family and the roles they played in the story of America.
This source is helpful to me for this project because they are possibly the best documented proof and trace of my ancestors in one of America’s defining eras. These pictures and documents are a part of history that need people like my grandmother to preserve.
Brooks, David. “Lady Gaga and the Life of Passion.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 22 Oct. 2015. Web. 3 Nov. 2015.
Just as the music artist profiled in this article by David Brooks, Nana lives a life of passion. In her book, Upheavals of Thought, Martha Nussbaum says that two traits of passionate people is that they have high levels of vulnerability and high levels of courage. This describes my Nana perfectly through her search for my family’s history. This article suggests that passionate people being with an intense desire to complete something such as a dream or a lifelong goal. Some people are definitely more passionate than others and have a thirst for making their mark on the world or in Nana’s case: discovering facts and information about our ancestors and then sharing that knowledge with her family. Nana definitely fits into Nussbaum’s traits for passionate people. She is not afraid to say anything that she feels strongly about, which can sometimes cause embarrassing or uncomfortable situations. However, as family, we just know that’s just who Nana is and we wouldn’t want her to be any way other than passionate.
I am using this article as a source because I believe that it presents a complex thinking process in simple terms and adds value to my description of my grandmother. David Brooks suggests that passionate people learn about themselves through play and that is more true of my grandmother than anyone I have ever met. Nana loves trying new hobbies, activities, and foods in an attempt to learn more about herself and what she is passionate about. Nana is the kind of person who isn’t afraid to make herself a passionate work of art.
The Art of the Interview.” Marc Pachter:. Web. 3 Nov. 2015.
Marc Pachter, a renowned museum curator and interviewer, gave a TED talk entitled “The Art of the Interview” where he gives you firsthand accounts of how to conduct good interviews, how to salvage bad interviews, and most importantly how to make everyone feel like their story is important and worth sharing. The first thing that Pachter mentions is being able to have empathy toward the interviewee when he or she is struggling and being able to identify with where they are coming from personally as well as professionally. He specifically mentions an interview that he had with Senator William Fulbright just six months after a stroke had disrupted his speech patterns. Pachter empathized with Fulbright so effectively that by the end of the interview, the Senator was speaking in full, coherent sentences for the first time since the stroke. He also mentions an interview with 97 year old playwright George Abbott, who was known for being difficult to interview because of his silence, that turned into a great conversation simply because Pachtner was able to empathize with him.
I think this is a great source for my project in two ways. First, I can use this article as a template for conducting my own interviews. Pachter has interviewed some of the most famous people in the world and it would be foolish of me to not take advantage of his knowledge. Secondly, the way that Pachtner likes to interview is the way that my grandmother talks to normal people in everyday life. She has an uncanny ability to know exactly where the other person stands and is able to see things from their point of view. Every person who talks to Nana feels as if their story is important and worth sharing. I believe this is a key cause of her knowledge and success as the family genealogy expert. No one wants to withhold information from someone who truly cares about learning it.
McLintock!, Film, 1963; Batjac Productions
McLintock! is a western film starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara released in 1963 and focuses on George Washington McLintock (Wayne) and the many people who want part of his land and estate. The part of the movie that I am using as my source is a very memorable scene where John Wayne’s character spanks his wife (Maureen O’Hara) in a disciplining way because of her feeling of entitlement and her conniving ways of trying to gain custody over their daughter. This scene is always funny to watch, but it also applies to my family.
My Nana was born in Natchez to fairly well-off parents who tended to spoil their daughter. My Granddaddy was almost the polar opposite of this lifestyle. He was born into a family that did not have extra money lying around and in turn was very frugal with his money. This caused some problems when the two got married as Nana was still accustomed to a certain lifestyle that their newlywed financial status did not allow. These problems came to a head when Granddaddy found out that Nana still had charge accounts that were paid for by her parents, even after the two were married. My Granddaddy is not the kind of person to have others providing for his family, so he and Nana had a fight about this issue. This fight ended with my Granddaddy dragging a crying Nana to her parents’ house to explain how this charge account business was going to be ending and how he was going to take care of their daughter, despite the fact he couldn’t afford to buy her new and fancy things all the time like they could.
This says a lot about how great my grandparents’ relationship is with each other, because now they tell that story with a laugh and a smile. If you met Nana today, you would never guess that she used to be spoiled as she is a tremendously hard worker and an unselfish giver. And all it took was a little tough love from Granddaddy like John Wayne’s character in McLintock!.
Williams, Don; “You’re My Best Friend”, 1975, Song
“You’re My Best Friend” is a country song that was released by singer Don Williams in 1975. This song was one of my grandparents’ all time favorites and they used to play it and dance to it all the time. My mom and her siblings can’t talk about their childhood without remembering their parents dancing, and this song was typically on the playlist. This song is a love song from a husband to a wife about how much she means to him and how being his best friend is more than anything else she could be to him. We recently played this song for them at their 50th wedding anniversary and it was a wonderful sight seeing my grandparents dancing again to one of their favorite songs.
This song is a useful source for my project because it symbolizes my grandparents’ marriage and their feelings for each other. If these feelings were not been the way that they are, I would more than likely not be in existence. I also love how much the message of the song applies to my grandparents’ lives. They have stuck together strongly through many rough years and experiences, which has served to make the good years even better. My grandparents have set a great example of how to be faithful and consistent in their marriage to each other. I believe that little things like dancing to this song are reminders of how important it is for husbands and wives to honor the commitments that are made for the benefit not only of the spouse, but also for the benefit of the entire family. I am certain that our family would be much further apart if my grandparents had not held their marriage together so strongly for so many years.