- Book Notes
The American Civil War dramatically changed American art. In this beautifully illustrated work, Eleanor Harvey surveys American art immediately before, during, and after the war to trace and highlight these evolutions. The introduction of photography and the grim toll of the battlefield led American artists to shift their emphasis away from grandiose exultations of heroes to focus on the daily lives of the people—soldiers, slaves, families—most affected by this devastating conflict. Harvey’s text is enriched by the voices of the era as she demonstrates how the premier American artists of the period struggled to make sense and portray the effects of war.
The author of thirteen books, John H. White Jr. was a curator of transportation at the National Museum of American History of the Smithsonian Institution for over thirty years. Needless to say, he is in his element in this history of travel in the United States during the latter half of the nineteenth century. White seems determined to address the entirety of mobile experience in Victorian America, and his approach is sweeping rather than precise. There are chapters dedicated to the omnibus, streetcars, ferryboats, and canals; the various types of steamships—river, lake, and coastal—are divided into three separate chapters along with differentiations for first-class and coach-class train travel. In acknowledging these differences in class or [End Page 285] the tribulations of immigrant travel as compared to domestic, White audaciously attempts to provide at least a snapshot of the complete experience of the road or rail or water for Victorian-era travelers.
Researchers and scholars of the southern highlands region of Appalachia are probably familiar with John and Olive Campbell for founding the John C. Campbell Folk School in North Carolina, and their significant contributions to the study of the region, English Folk Songs from the Southern Appalachians (1917) and The Southern Highlander and His Homeland (1921). Olive Campbell’s diary from their 1908–9 journey through Kentucky, Tennessee, and North Carolina, currently housed at the University of North Carolina, is in a fragile condition and only accessible to researchers through a microfilmed transcription by an unknown author. Utilizing digital copies of the original diary, Elizabeth Williams has improved upon this translation and annotated Campbell’s diary along with an introduction that further explains the couple’s pioneering work. Written by a folklorist with a keen eye and ear, Campbell’s diary is filled with observations, interviews, and insights into Appalachian life at the dawn of the twentieth century. This is a critical source for anyone interested in Appalachian history and society.
Over a quarter of a million women volunteered for military service during World War II. Oral historian Jeffrey Suchanek has compiled interviews from twenty of these women—many of whom [End Page 286] were Kentuckians who served in the Army Nurse Corps, Women’s Army Corps, WAVES, Marine Corps Women’s Reserve, and the Coast Guard SPARs—into narrative-style memoirs. The result is a fascinating account that balances comical adjustments to military life with social issues like sexual harassment and homosexuality that will resonate in modern ears.
Joining the iconic Bluegrass band Flat and Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys in 1955, Josh Graves pioneered the introduction of the resonator guitar (the “Dobro”) into Bluegrass music. Compiled from a series of interviews Graves provided in 1994, Bluegrass Bluesman details Graves’s childhood, life on the...