The Early Days of Television

The cover of When Women Invented Television is set against a yellow background with black and white pictures of Betty White, Hazel Scott, Irna Phillips, and Gertrude Berg.

By Peter N.

Yoo-hoo, Mrs. Goldberg! 

In Jennifer Keishin Armstrong’s When Women Invented Television, she talks about the early days of television and the rise of popular TV programs that defined what America was watching for decades to come. But four women in particular were TV powerhouses who foretold the coming of modern-day television personalities we have come to love, such as Ellen DeGeneres or Oprah, and sitcoms such as The Golden Girls. They were among the first of television’s pioneers during the transition from radio to television as America’s most popular medium of entertainment. 

There once was a woman by the name of Gertrude Berg, and what a woman she was! She was the creator behind the much-lauded radio show The Rise of the Goldbergs, an NBC radio show showcasing the lives of a Jewish family living in the Bronx and cared for by their matriarch Molly Goldberg, as played by Gertrude Berg. After years of high ratings on radio, she worked tirelessly to bring her show to a fledgling new medium called television, and when she succeeded there was no stopping her. At its peak, The Goldbergs was dominating the airwaves, and much if not all the credit goes to the woman behind it all, Molly Goldberg…I mean, Gertrude Berg. She was creator, writer, and star behind her hit show and nothing could stop her. What she accomplished in a time when patriarchal views and traditional family values were taking hold is nothing short of astounding.  

It’s Time to Say Hello Again… 

Ah, Betty White. What can I say about Betty White that hasn’t already been said countless times? Sadly, at the time of this post, she will have gone to that great TV studio in the sky to join her husband, Allen Ludden. Betty White was made for television. From her early days on KLAC hosting with Al Jarvis for 5.5 hours a day, to being the main lead on the sitcom Life with Elizabeth, to hosting her own talk show, The Betty White Show, she was unstoppable. Her infectious smile, dimples, and radiant personality won over countless millions, and at one time she was having to turn jobs away because she was working too much! She loved to work and one could say that show business was the love of her life. She fought against prejudice against her during the early days of television as a single woman not trying to settle down and have a family. Through it all, she would continue to be invited into the living rooms of her legion of fans for years to come.  

The Guiding Light 

Irna Phillips was the guiding (pun intended) force behind The Guiding Light, the longest running soap opera on television. Its earliest incarnation was as a popular radio show, which is why Irna Phillips knew that it would be just what television needed. Working tirelessly for years along with raising two adopted children and doing the best that she could possibly do, she finally was able to bring her show to TV. She was not only a single mother of two children when it was believed families should have a mother and a father, but with the success of The Guiding Light, she became the figurative mother of the soap opera genre in a time when that genre was still very much maligned. Her works have reverberated through daytime television through her own shows as well as mentoring Agnes Dixon, creator of many other long-running soap operas. This was a woman who tried not to let anything stand in the way of bringing her creation to life. 

The Hazel Scott Show 

In a time when racial segregation was still running rampant, Hazel Scott managed to become one of the first African American people to headline their own show on network television. Already an accomplished musician and used to playing to large crowds, she brought her talent to The Hazel Scott Show to great reception and ratings. Her television career was cut short when she was targeted by the infamous publication Red Channels, which listed suspected communists in various areas of entertainment. She bravely defended herself, but she could not recover her TV career. However, she persevered and returned to her roots as a musician and touring. Her TV stint was brief but powerful all the same.  

These four women were astonishing and it was a pleasure to read about their accomplishments, their legacy, and the effects they’ve had on popular culture. One can only imagine what they could have done had they not been impeded by the politics of their era.

When Women Invented Television is available in print and as an eBook and an eAudiobook from Libby.  

Peter is an Instructor and Research Specialist at the Miller Branch and is continually grateful to Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz not only for pioneering methods of television production that enabled generations to experience the brilliance of early television, but also for taking the chance on a small sci-fi show that still endures 50 years later.  

Listening List: Six Nonfiction Titles with Great Audiobooks

by Rebecca W.

A plain blue-green background shows golden cracks, which frame the text "Know My Name: A memoir. Chanel Miller. Read by Author"

Know My Name by Chanel Miller
Read by the author
Available through: Overdrive/Libby

In 2018, a victim impact statement, written by “Emily Doe”, was posted on Buzzfeed where it instantly went viral. Chanel Miller wrote the statement during the sexual assault case against Brock Turner. Turner, found guilty of sexually assaulting Miller on Stanford’s campus, was sentenced to only six-months in county prison. In her book, Know My Name, Miller claims authorship of the impact statement and expands on the experience of sexual assault and navigating our justice system.

Why choose the audiobook?

In a review of the book in The Atlantic, Megan Garber wrote a statement that resonates with my experience reading this book; “Know My Name is difficult to read in part because it is beautiful to read.” Miller uses her talent as a writer to show the reader her feelings, her reactions, and her experiences during the aftermath of the assault. From the title the reader is introduced to a major theme of this book, authorship and identity. For me, listening to Miller read this book added to the meaning of that theme.

A woamn walks past a wall painted with an image of the author against a blue background.

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
Read by the author
Available through: Audiobook on CD

Daily Show host Trevor Noah recounts his childhood growing up in South Africa during apartheid, then post-apartheid. Born in 1984 to a black Xhosa mother and a white Swiss-German father, Noah’s conception was in violation of a number of laws at the time, giving name to his memoir’s title Born a Crime. While this book is wholly focused on Noah’s experience growing up in South Africa, it is also largely about the close relationship between him and his mother, Patricia Nombuyiselo.

Why choose the audiobook?

If you’re like me and have fully embraced the internet age, you may have seen “CD only” and already moved onto the next item on the list. But I’m telling you, it’s worth it. Simply put, Noah made a name for himself as a comedian. He not only brought this background into the writing of this book, but the narration. If you could even call it narration. I would say it’s more of an all-out performance. So, see if you can find that CD player in your car and check this one out, it’s a must-listen.

You see a large sharp wooden paencil, where the colors also create an image of a figure silhouetted in mountains.

Educated by Tara Westover
Read by the author
Available through: Overdrive/Libby, Cloud Library, Audiobook on CD

In her memoir, Tara Westover recounts her journey from childhood, the youngest of seven children raised by survivalist parents, to a Ph.D. candidate at Cambridge University. Growing up in southeastern Idaho, Tara’s world was built around extreme political views, religious ideology, and physical violence. Lacking any formal education, Westover was seventeen the first time she stepped into a classroom. While attending college, Westover studied history where she learned, for the first time, of events such as the Holocaust and the Civil Rights movement. Throughout her book, Westover examines the relationships between her upbringing and family, and her growing perspective achieved through education.

Why choose the audiobook?

I am sure there are a good chunk of you who have already read Educated. But if you are one of the lucky few who haven’t, you should absolutely pick up the audiobook. Simply put, Westover is not only a remarkable writer, but a talented speaker. While the story she tells is full of extremist ideology and paranoia-fueled thought patterns, Westover reads her memoir with a calmness and clarity that highlights the themes of learning and perspective found throughout her book.

A small figure pushes a large peach up a steep black slope. The background is a pale peach and the river and hillsides are in grey

Eat a Peach by David Chang
Read by the author
Available through: OverDrive/Libby

David Chang, professional/celebrity chef and owner of the popular restaurant Momufuku (among many more), set out to write a book about the business of cooking, and maybe throw in a recipe or two. Well, this is not that book. Though he may have fought it, this is a memoir; covering Chang’s rise to fame, his Asian-American identity, and his experience with bi-polar disorder. Chang shares his triumphs as a chef in a way that entangles all three of these areas, telling the good, the not-so-good, and the regrettable. But don’t worry, you still get to hear all about some delicious food.

Why choose the audiobook?

Okay, you’ve probably caught on to my formula by now: memoir + read by the author = going on the list. What can I say. When you have an author that can read their own work (and that is not always the case) it just works so well! Chang’s reading of this book is so conversational, full of honesty, humor, and not-so-occasional swearing.

The silhouette of Buzz Lightyear is rim lighted against a red background. He has a conducting baton in his right hand.

Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces that Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull with Amy Wallace
Read by: Peter Altschuler
Available through: Overdrive/Libby, Audiobook on CD

If you’re thinking the only reason this book made the list is because I am a huge fan of Pixar… well you’re not totally wrong. But the main reason I recommend this book is how well author Ed Catmull, co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios, communicates his core message of how to balance creativity and business. In the book, Catmull chronicles his journey from a computer science student to creating the first computer-animated feature film, and the success that followed. In each stage of Pixar’s journey Catmull explains how he was able to manage a team effectively, and sometimes not effectively, while fueling their creativity. Now I know what you’re thinking, how hard can it be to spark creativity in an animation studio? But when you really look at the process of animation, there is a lot of repetitive, monotonous work… seeing any similarities to other jobs out there? I really enjoyed hearing how Catmull identifies creative drain and the steps he takes to work through it.

Why choose the audiobook?

With this story being largely a Pixar story, I was expecting a tone fitting to the brand. Altschuler delivered. The narration of this book hit the same notes of inspiration and excitement that are characteristic of Pixar’s animations, making Altschuler’s narration one of the most enjoyable aspects of the book.

A beige cover features a smudged fingerprint dotting the "i" in Sapiens.

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
Read by: Derek Perkins
Available through: Overdrive/Libby, Audiobook on CD

Can you fit the entirety of human history into 15 hours? Well, no. But Yuval Noah Harari does a pretty good job at summarizing it in his book, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. Breaking his book into three main revolutions (cognitive, agricultural, and scientific), Harari spans the entirety of homo sapiens’ existence, looking at it through a historical, biological, and, at times, philosophical lens. Harari begins his book about 70,000 years ago and ends in modern day – predicting what will become of the last human species. While I really enjoyed Harari’s take on this subject, I will preface this suggestion with the fact that the author does make some large generalizations in this book. If a particular subject in this book sparks your interest, I highly suggest looking deeper into it. Again, the entirety of human history in one book is a tall order, but Sapiens is a fantastic jumping-off point.

Why choose the audiobook?

If you haven’t already noticed, the majority of this list is made up of biographical works. I tend to lean this way when choosing nonfiction books to listen to because their storytelling structure usually translates to great audio. However, I really wanted to get my hands on this book and the hold list for the audiobook was shorter (who else has been there?). Though it wasn’t my first choice, I really enjoyed the audio version. When I first started it, I found myself missing the ability to re-read that traditional book format allows. However, once I accepted the fact that I wouldn’t be turning back any pages, I found the book really enjoyable. The writing does an excellent job at allowing the reader to absorb a lot of information, while still maintaining an easy-to-follow structure. So, if you are looking for an audiobook, but are more interested in the give-the-facts-and-figures type of book, Sapiens would be a great one to try.

Becky is an Adult Instructor and Research Specialist at the HCLS East Columbia Branch who enjoys art and everything science.

Native American Heritage Month: Beauty and Sadness

The book cover depicts two feathers facing in opposite directions, sketched in brown ink against a bright orange background, with the title in yellow lettering.

By Eric L.

Native American Heritage Month is almost finished for this year, but you are free to let it go a little longer into December and check out some great related works of art from the library, including the distinguished debut novel by Cheyenne and Arapaho writer Tommy Orange and a modern classic from director Terrence Malick.

There There by Tommy Orange (available in a variety of formats) is not a traditional novel, in that many of the characters don’t interact with one another, nor is it a traditional collection of short stories. Each chapter is a deep character profile explicated from the character’s perspective and written in a small amount of space. There There is beautifully crafted, in my humble opinion, with these very short, somewhat disconnected chapters from a variety of characters’ points of view not being an easy way to tell a story. However, it works really well and I recommend reading it. 

The characters are Native American, or part, in ancestry. Although the larger narrative is about the experience of individual characters, the connecting plot device is an upcoming powwow at the Oakland Coliseum. Some plan to attend, some plan to dance in the ceremony, some are organizing it, others are working on grant-funded projects related to Native Americans, and some plan to rob it. 

I could broadly say that the book talks about identity, or the loss of identity and the confusion experienced by some urban Native Americans. I recall a friend telling me that There There is sad, and to be sure, it is; however, the stories are powerful, engaging, and beautifully written. In other words, it’s not a feel-good read, and it’s tough sometimes. 

Most of the younger characters feel confused and/or apathetic about being Native American in modern America. They’ve not lived, or their parents did not live, on the “rez,” as they call it. I think what makes this a great book is that it doesn’t so much concern the facts of the past, but rather their impact on the present. This is a very interesting and apropos topic in America right now, as some say we need to forget the past and move forward. I’d contend this may be easier for some than others. And perhaps a better understanding of how the past effects the present could benefit all of us. Prior to one part of the book Orange uses the profound James Baldwin quote, “People are trapped in history and history is trapped in them.” 

I did learn some things about modern Native American history – for example, the red power movement and the occupation of Alcatraz Island. The occupation is an interesting moment in the recent past, and illustrative of Orange’s larger commentary about people’s place within America. 

One character has an interaction with a woman on public transportation in Oakland while he is in full dancing regalia on his way to the powwow. She asks him some innocuous polite questions, and he responds in part that he is going to a powwow at the Oakland Coliseum and that she should come check it out. He thinks to himself that she can now tell the story later over dinner about how she saw and spoke with a real Indian on the train today, and that that is as close as most Americans would like to get. 

Margaret Atwood called it “an astonishing debut.” And until I read this praise, I was not aware it was a debut, because it’s that good. I concur with Atwood’s opinion, and it makes me excited for his future books. 

This work brought to mind the film The New World on Kanopy, which if There There concerns the now, then the movie depicts colonial America and indigenous people. I’m a fan of the director Terrence Malick’s films. He makes impressionistic films, and although this may sound pretentious, simply put, it contains beautiful cinematography (mostly nature shots) and sparse dialogue. The Thin Red Line and The Tree of Life, Malick’s popular and award-winning films starring Sean Penn and a bevy of other great actors, are also great (you can borrow these in DVD format). 

The New World concerns the arrival of the English and the settlement of the colony in Jamestown, Virginia. The cast features terrific actors (Colin Farrell, Christian Bale, Q’orianka Kilcher, and Christopher Plummer). It was filmed in Virginia, and Malick employed academics to recreate the villages and the extinct Powhatan language and used native actors. The film is partially based on John Smith’s account of Pocahantas, the verity of which is a bit suspect. Nevertheless, it succeeds in depicting very different groups with clashing motivations, and it’s visually stunning. 

In sum, both these works are beautiful AND sad.

Eric is a DIY Instructor and Research Specialist at the Elkridge branch. He enjoys reading, films, music, doing nearly anything outside, and people.

 

Dr. Erika Lee: The Making of Asian America

On the left, the cover of Dr. Lee's book: The color shades from deep blue to bright red with lettering in gold. A paper lantern floats in the top right corner. On the right: A photo of Dr. Lee wearing a denim jacket and large blue necklace, her hair is shoulder length and she wears glasses. A sunny green yard is out of focus behind her.

Monumental. . . . Lee handles her scholarly materials with grace, never overwhelming the reader with too many facts or incidents. She tells an American story familiar to anyone who has read Walt Whitman, seeking to capture America in all its diversity and difference, while at the same time pleading for America to realize its democratic potential. . . . Powerful Asian American stories . . . are inspiring, and Lee herself does them justice in a book that is long overdue.” ― LA Times

On Wednesday, May 26 at 7 pm, Dr. Erika Lee discusses her acclaimed book The Making of Asian-AmericaIn the past fifty years, Asian Americans have helped change the face of America and are now the fastest-growing group in the United States. As award-winning historian Erika Lee also reminds us, Asian Americans also have deep roots in the country. The Making of Asian America tells the little-known history of Asian Americans and their role in American life, from their first arrival to the present-day.

An epic history of global journeys and new beginnings, this book shows how generations of Asian immigrants and their American-born descendants have made and remade Asian American life in the United States: sailors who came on the first trans-Pacific ships in the 1500s; indentured “coolies” who worked alongside African slaves in the Caribbean; and Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Korean, and South Asian immigrants who were recruited to work in the United States only to face massive racial discrimination, Asian exclusion laws, and, for Japanese Americans, incarceration during World War II. During the past fifty years, a new Asian America has emerged out of community activism and the arrival of new immigrants and refugees. No longer a “despised minority,” Asian Americans are now held up as America’s “model minorities” in ways that reveal the complicated role that race still plays in the United States.

Copies of The Making of Asian America are available to borrow (also as an eAudiobook) from HCLS or to purchase from Books with a Past. 

A stunning achievement, The Making of Asian America establishes the centrality of Asians to American history, and poses alternatives to US national and immigration histories. Asians, this remarkable text reveals, transformed the face of America, and they locate the US firmly within a hemispheric and global order.” ― Gary Y. Okihiro, Professor of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University

ABOUT DR. ERIKA LEE One of the nation’s leading immigration and Asian American historians, Erika Lee teaches American history at the University of Minnesota, where she is a Regents Professor, a Distinguished McKnight University Professor, the Rudolph J. Vecoli Chair in Immigration History, and the Director of the Immigration History Research Center. The granddaughter of Chinese immigrants, Lee grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, attended Tufts University, and received her Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. She was recently elected into the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, testified before Congress during its historic hearings on discrimination and violence against Asian Americans, was awarded an Andrew Carnegie Fellowship, and named Vice President of the Organization of American Historians.

Ancient History: The Silk Road

The public domain map in green, blue, and tan shades depicts the Silk Road Route that ran from China through India and Persia and into Europe,, as well as a more southerly route that encompassed modern-day Malaysia and Singapore, the coast along the Indian Ocean, and eastern Africa up to Europe via the Red Sea.
Map of the Silk Road Routes (Public Domain)

Formally established during the Han Dynasty of China, the Silk Road was a vast network of trade routes that was the lifeline of commerce from 130 BCE – 1453 CE. Many different branches comprised this road connecting China, India, and Persia, with Persia being a gateway further into Europe. The main route of the Silk Road was established much before the Han dynasty; known as the Persian Royal Road during the Achaemenid Empire, it connected north Persia (modern-day Iran) to Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey). The Persian Road was maintained with a system of postal stations and gradually expanded into the Indian sub-continent across Mesopotamia and into Egypt.  

Howard County Library System and the Walters Art Museum present a fascinating class that looks at works from the Walters Art Museum that illuminate the expansive story of the Silk Road. 

May 17 from 12 – 1 pm. Register here.  

A manuscript page with Arabic script at the top, featuring a shade tree, bamboo, and a man in a turban studying with writing tools surrounding him. A smaller figure kneels in the bottom right hand cornder.

The term “Silk Road” wasn’t coined until 1877, when German geographer and historian Ferdinand von Richthofen first used it to describe the trade routes. Historians now prefer the term “Silk Routes,” which more accurately reflects the fact that there was more than one thoroughfare. 

Many different goods including gunpowder, precious stones, and ivory were traded along this route; however, it was the exotic silk that gave its name to this road. Many of the goods traded across this route had a great impact on the cultural development of the world. Paper and gunpowder, both developed in China, and the rich spices from India contributed to both European culture and warfare. Similarly, techniques for making glass migrated eastward to China from the Islamic world. However, silk continued to be the most sought-after and expensive commodity, especially in Rome. The Byzantine emperor Justinian (327-565 CE) sent emissaries to steal the closely guarded secret of silk and bring it back to initiate the Byzantine silk industry. In 1453 CE, the Byzantine Empire fell to the Ottoman Empire which closed the Silk Road and cut ties with the west.  

The legacy of the Silk Road is the impact on art, religion, technology, science, and language that fostered a growth and enrichment of world civilization. Unfortunately, disease also traveled along and the bubonic plague of 542 CE was thought to have spread to Constantinople via the Silk Road. Famous Italian explorer Marco Polo traveled overland on the Silk Road to the Mongol Empire ruled by Kublai Khan in 1275 and wrote the epic The Travels of Marco Polo (also available as an eBook from Libby/OverDrive). 

The closing of the Silk Road in 1453 forced traders to explore sea routes and discover new ports. This was the beginning of the Age of Discovery which led to a new era with the rise of seafaring nations. Join us for the class with a docent from The Walters Art Museum to learn more.

Revolution or Counter-Revolution?

Black and white print of slave revolt with a man wielding a sword and disarray around a table.

“Above all, he was flabbergasted by their constant prating about liberty while continuing the enslavement of tens of thousands” 
Gerald Horne (writing about Samuel Johnson’s feelings about the colonists) 

If you’ve ever wanted more information on the events leading up to the American Revolutionary War, Gerald Horne’s got you covered. His 2014 book, The Counter-Revolution of 1776: Slave Resistance and the Origins of the United States of America, will help you fill some of those gaps.  

Horne argues that the strongest driver of the revolutionary war was the African slave trade. He further claims that the American Revolution was not, in fact, a progressive victory for the good guys, but rather a regressive counter-revolution to the constant revolutions of the rapidly growing number of enslaved Africans on the continent and in the Caribbean. Through a mountain of primary source material, Horne documents the macro- and micro-events in the mainland colonies, Jamaica, and Barbados in the years leading up to 1776. 

In my opinion, Horne’s only flaw is his love of outrageously long and convoluted sentences. Horne is clearly of the Miltonian school of prose and sometimes seems to be attempting unmatched feats of sentence length: 

Perhaps, rather than seeing these men as having novel conceptions of allegiance to London or even as ungrateful hypocrites, it might be better to see them as ‘premature’ U.S. patriots; that is, economic logic was impelling them like a swift river current toward secession; while London was seeking to restrain their business dealings driven by the luscious bounty of African enslavement, Paris and Madrid had burst the dam and were more than willing to encourage settlers’ shady bargains, and, thus, these mainland men chose not to fight this trend but embrace it, along with the pretty profits it delivered (160).

Nestled within that labyrinthine sentence is the heart of the book: colonists were driven to war with England by the economic logic of slavery. The book is well-researched, well-argued, and compelling. In many cases, Horne uses the colonists’ own words to illustrate how the immense wealth they could accumulate from the enslavement of Africans drove them to madness. Horne writes, “Africans, in short, were a major antagonist, but mainlanders were reluctant to curb the seemingly ceaseless flow of Africans who were arriving, which was raising searching questions in London about their judgment, if not their sanity” (154). In my opinion, this book provides crucial historical context and should be required reading. 

Ben’s suggested pairings: 

Stony the Road: Reconstruction, White Supremacy, and the Rise of Jim Crow by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Gates deals with the same theme of powerful men doing whatever they can to keep unjust systems in place.  (also available as an ebook and eaudiobook)

We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Coates touches on many of the same themes as Horne. The sections on the “invention of racecraft” will be particularly interesting to readers of Horne’s work.  (also available as ebook and eaudiobook)

How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X Kendi. Kendi’s book provides the reader with suggestions for how to move forward. (also available as ebook and eaudiobook)

Ben Hamilton works at Project Literacy, Howard County Library’s adult basic education initiative, based at HCLS Central Branch. He loves reading, writing, walking, and talking (all the basics).

Everything Hamilton

Antique paper background with black image of heroic figure pointing to the sky from on top of a star.

Review by Cherise T.

Alexander Hamilton.

My name is Alexander Hamilton.

And there’s a million things I haven’t done

But just you wait, just you wait…

If this stanza makes your heart beat faster or maybe even brings tears to your eyes, then Hamilton: The Revolution, by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter, is the book for you. “Splurge” and download the audiobook as well since Mariska Hargitay’s narration is outstanding. Like the musical itself, words come at the reader fast, and it’s an adventure deciding where to plunge in first. The text, the personal side notations, the primary source materials, and the graphics are a treasure and a joy. The libretto alone would fill a Hamilton fan’s heart, but the book also includes an abundance of stories about the creation of all aspects of the musical. We see the development of the show from the perspectives of creatives and cast members. The vintage-style photographs of the cast taken by Josh Lehrer using a camera lens from the mid-1800s are gorgeous. The book is a celebration of the full arc of the production’s evolution, from Lin’s first rap for the Obamas in 2009 at the White House, through the off-Broadway production, and all the way to opening night on Broadway in 2015. There’s nothing like being in the room where it happens.

On July 13 at 7 pm, author Richard Bell is going to discuss some of the history surrounding Alexander Hamilton. Register with an email address to receive an immediate registration confirmation. You will receive the link to the online class in the confirmation email. If you prefer to call in by phone, please register for the class online, then email askhcls@hclibrary.org to request the dial-in information at least 1 business day in advance.

With Disney+ streaming Hamilton this July, University of Maryland Associate Professor of History Dr. Bell explores this musical phenomenon. He discusses what this amazing musical gets right and gets wrong about Hamilton, the American Revolution, the birth of the United Sates, and about why all that matters. It includes an examination of the choices Hamilton’s creators made to simplify, dramatize, and humanize the complicated historical events and stories. We will also talk about Hamilton’s cultural impact: what does its runaway success reveal about the stories we tell each other about who we are and about the nation we made?

Dr. Bell is the author of Stolen: Five Free Boys Kidnapped Into Slavery and their Astonishing Odyssey Home. The book tells the gripping and true story about five boys who were kidnapped in the North and smuggled into slavery in the Deep South – and their daring attempt to escape and bring their captors to justice. The book is available to borrow as a physical book and as an eAudiobook via Overdrive/Libby.

Cherise T. is an Adult Instructor and Research Specialist at the Central Branch. When not immersed in literary fiction, Cherise can be found singing along to musical theater soundtracks.