Sep
24
2:00pm 2:00pm

From the Wilderness of Colonial Virginia to Civil War in the American Heartland: A Series of Frontiers, David Smarr

This work describes how a closely knit group of English pioneers who lived along the Potomac from 1680 to 1740 traveled up Ox Road in the early 1740s to become the first settlers of the Virginia Piedmont’s forested foothills near the junction of Indian paths later known as Colchester and Carolina Roads. There Hall, Owsley, and West began to clear and till land creating homesteads. West established an ordinary, visited in 1748 by Potomac River residents George Washington and George William Fairfax. Robert Carter III leased an 11,375 acre Goose Creek Tract adjoining the Hall, Owsley and West grants to Smarr, Pearl, Stephens, Tyler, Kelley, Taylor, Roberts, Shore, Squires, and others. West aided George Washington’s regiment in the English fight against French and Indians and by the 1760s the settlers were rolling their hogsheads of tobacco down Colchester Road to Colchester on the Occoquan in exchange for Scottish merchant John Glassford’s finished goods. They aided the colonial military in the Revolutionary War, supporting the emergence of the new American nation. Historic homes and businesses recall the rich historical heritage near Gilbert’s Corner - William West’s Ordinary, Jacob Ish’s Tanyard, Joseph Lacey’s Tavern, George Carter’s Oatlands, President James Monroe’s Oak Hill, Charles Fenton Mercer’s Aldie Mill and William Ellzey’s Fleetwood Farm. An in-depth study of the early history, leases, and subsequent ownership of Robert Carter III’s Goose Creek Tract along Little River and Goose Creek are mapped to provide a visualization of the network of settlers who lived in what is today south-central Loudoun County.

David Smarr, MS, CPA worked for 35 years in higher education administration at the University of Missouri and is currently completing the remaining three volumes of this series From the Wilderness of Colonial Virginia to Civil War in the American Heartland: A Series of Frontiers.

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Sep
24
4:00pm 4:00pm

"A LATE AFTERNOON AT THE RIVER"--Annual Fall Event

Please join the Friends of the Thomas Balch Library for " A LATE AFTERNOON AT THE RIVER" at Suzi and Travis Worsham's beautiful home Riverside on the Potomac on Sunday, September 24, 2017 from 4-7 PM.    Our speaker is Eugene Scheel.   He will be speaking on Little Known Facts About Loudoun County.   Come and enjoy the panoramic vistas, great food, fine wine, and engaging conversation.   The price is $95 per person.   To request an invitation call 540-579-2825 or sent us an email.    

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Oct
1
2:00pm 2:00pm

On War and Politics: The Battlefield Inside Washington’s Beltway, Arnold L. Punaro with David Poyer

In his new book On War and Politics: The Battlefield Inside Washington’s Beltway, Arnold Punaro writes about the importance of strong, ethical, moral leadership in all aspects of our lives and how politicians in Washington are failing this critical test. Punaro opens the book in Vietnam—and the ultimate sacrifice made by Marine Cpl. Hammonds, who was killed when he left a safe position to help a wounded Punaro. This example of selflessness has influenced Punaro’s entire career, from causes he championed to leaders he has chosen to work with. After leaving active service, Punaro entered Washington politics. On War and Politics includes stories about political luminaries such as John McCain, the Clintons, the Presidents Bush, Colin Powell, Robert Gates, Sam Nunn (under whom Punaro worked as national security advisor), and Ash Carter.

Maj. Gen. Arnold L. Punaro, USMCR (RET), served thirty-five years in uniform, both active and reserve. He spent twenty-four years in the US Senate, becoming staff director of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Currently CEO of a small business, he was a top industry executive and continues to serve on numerous boards and commissions on national security. He is a sought-after speaker at national security and defense conferences and is frequently quoted in national trade, business publications, and televised media.

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Oct
14
9:00am 9:00am

Leesburg Tour, James P. Roberts

James Roberts, a native of Leesburg, member of Thomas Balch Library Advisory Commission, 2008 recipient of a Loudoun History Award, and recognized in 2011 by Loudoun Laurels, will lead a walking tour of Leesburg. The tour is an insider’s commentary of local people, places, and points of interest both in and around Leesburg. Particular detail is paid to how Leesburg has grown and evolved through the years architecturally, economically, and racially. Factual, historical, and anecdotal information is intertwined and presented in storytelling fashion as only someone who lived through it and thoughtfully observed it, can do. This unique tour will leave from Thomas Balch Library parking lot at 9AM; sturdy walking shoes are recommended.

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Oct
15
2:00pm 2:00pm

The Archive Thief: The Man Who Salvaged French Jewish History in the Wake of the Holocaust, Lisa Moses Leff

 

Lisa Moses Leff joins us to talk about her recent book, The Archive Thief: The Man Who Salvaged French Jewish History in the Wake of the Holocaust.  The book tells the story of Zosa Szajkowski, a Polish-born Jewish historian who took tens of thousands of Jewish documents from Europe in the 1940s and 50s and moved them, illicitly, to New York, and eventually sold them to Jewish research libraries in the United States and Israel. Was this a heroic act of salvage or simply theft? In exploring this question, Leff raises questions about where the material remnants of the Jewish past are best kept.

Lisa Moses Leff, a historian of 19th and 20th century Europe, whose research focuses on Jews in France, is Professor of History at American University, where she is also affiliated with the Jewish Studies program. She is the author of Sacred Bonds of Solidarity: The Rise of Jewish Internationalism in Nineteenth Century France, Colonialism and the Jews, and The Archive Thief which was awarded the 2016 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish literature and was a finalist for a 2015 National Jewish Book Award. Leff received her BA from Oberlin College and her MA and PhD from the University of Chicago.

 

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Oct
16
7:00pm 7:00pm

Clerk’s Office Tour, Loudoun County Courthouse Historic Records, Eric S. Larson

 

Meet in the parking lot of Thomas Balch Library by 6:45PM. Eric S. Larson, Historic Records Manager for Loudoun County, will lead a tour of the Clerk’s Office. He will discuss the extent of Loudoun County’s records holdings, where to look for records of births, deaths, marriages, and deeds, and how to use these records in research. No one is permitted to enter restricted areas of the Clerk’s Office after 7:00PM, so the group will leave the library promptly at 6:45PM.

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Oct
22
2:00pm 2:00pm

In My Father’s Words – The World War II Letters of An Army Doctor, Laura Cantor Zelman

 

This collection of over five hundred letters, covering the years 1941-45, details the daily life of a Jewish American, fluent in German, who served as a doctor in the US Army. The letters shed light on the condition of soldiers' medical care, censorship, Nazis, German POWs, and army life. These letters are a testament to the work of military doctors in war time and the many sacrifices they make for their country.

Laura Cantor Zelman is a graduate of Vassar College where she majored in sociology and minored in English. Following graduation, she moved to the Washington, DC area eventually settling in Virginia. Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, she is the eldest of four Cantor sisters. Having grown up in a vibrant ethnic household, Zelman has never shied away from lively political discussions. She has been a writer for and editor of various volunteer organizations’ publications and enjoys writing songs, poems, and skits for family celebrations. This passion is the basis for Zelman’s organization and excerpting of letters In My Father’s Words.

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Oct
29
2:00pm 2:00pm

The Last Road North: A Guide to the Gettysburg Campaign, 1863, Robert Orrison and Dan Welch

The Last Road North, a tour book in the Emerging Civil War Series, follows routes of the Army of Northern Virginia and Army of the Potomac to Gettysburg and the subsequent Confederate retreat. While the route is connected using Civil War Trails network interpretive signs the book provides additional context for the campaign which represented the last foray of any Confederate army north of the Mason-Dixon line.

Dan Welch, co-author, is currently an educator in a public school district in northeast Ohio. Previously, Welch was education programs coordinator for Gettysburg Foundation, non-profit partner of Gettysburg National Military Park, as well as a seasonal Park Ranger at Gettysburg National Military Park. Welch received his BA in Instrumental Music Education from Youngstown State University and is currently working on an MA in Military History with a concentration on the Civil War Era at American Military University. Rob Orrison, the speaker and co-author, has been working in the history field for more than 20 years. He has a wide range of interests and has worked in museums and historic sites covering eras from Colonial times to the early 20th Century. Born and raised in Loudoun County, Virginia, Orrison received his Bachelor’s Degree in Historic Preservation at Longwood College and received his Master’s Degree in Public History from George Mason University. He has worked at Petersburg National Battlefield, Sully Plantation and, since 2006, with the Prince William County Historic Preservation Division as a historic site manager. His published works include A Want of Vigilance: The Bristoe Station Campaign and War on the Potomac, 1861-1862. He is currently working on a book about the battles of Lexington and Concord with Philip Greenwalt as part of the new series, Emerging Revolutionary War.

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Nov
2
10:00am10:00am

Preservation for Home Archives

Gabrielle Sanchez, Contract Archivist and former Library Reference Associate at Thomas Balch Library, will introduce participants to the basics of preserva- tion and discuss the best ways to house and protect personal archives. Topics will include proper ways to handle letters, books, photographs, and other media; common conservation needs; threats to paper and electronic media; and the dangers of non-archival storage products. 

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Nov
5
2:00pm 2:00pm

Twenty First Century Patton, J. Furman Daniel, III

While General George S. Patton Jr. remains an iconic figure seventy years after his death, few fully appreciate him as a strategic thinker. Indeed, his flamboyant personality often obscures the fact that he was a true visionary. This short volume introduces readers to a more complete and nuanced Patton. Linking Patton’s success as a warfighter to his efforts as a thinker, the editor hopes to kindle debate on managing human capital within the military. This collection demonstrates that the seeds of military success can be planted throughout a lifetime of formal and self-directed study of the military arts.

J. Furman Daniel III is an assistant professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Prescott, Arizona. He holds a BA from the University of Chicago and a PhD from Georgetown University.

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Nov
12
2:00pm 2:00pm

Loudoun History Awards

Thomas Balch Library Advisory Commissioners will present the twenty-fifth annual Loudoun History Awards. This event honors individuals who have made significant contributions to preserving Loudoun’s past through collection of county documents and memorabilia, preservation of historic landmarks, visual arts, writing, and long-time commitment to local history organizations. For a brochure or information on nominating individuals, contact the Library Director at 703/737-7195.

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Dec
3
2:00pm 2:00pm

The Vineyard Victims: A Wine Country Mystery, Ellen Crosby

When Jamison Vaughn, billionaire real estate mogul, Virginia vineyard owner, and unsuccessful US presidential candidate, drives his gold SUV into a stone pillar at the entrance to Montgomery Estate Vineyard, Lucie Montgomery is certain the crash was deliberate. But everyone else in Atoka, Virginia is equally sure that Jamie must have lost control of his car on a rain-slicked country road. In spite of being saddled with massive campaign debts from the recent election, Jamie is seemingly the man with the perfect life. What possible reason could he have for committing suicide…or was it murder? Before long Lucie uncovers a connection between Jamie and some of his old friends, an elite group of academics, and the brutal murder thirty years ago of a brilliant PhD student. Although a handyman is on death row for the crime, Lucie soon suspects someone else is guilty. But the investigation into the two deaths throws Lucie a curve ball when someone from her own past becomes involved, forcing her to confront old demons. Now the race to solve the mystery behind the two deaths becomes intensely personal as Lucie realizes someone wants her silenced for good. The death of a former presidential candidate in a fiery car crash at her Virginia vineyard has ties to a thirty year-old murder as well as to Lucie Montgomery’s own near fatal accident ten years before as she searches for a killer who now may be stalking her.

Ellen Crosby is the author of the Virginia wine country mysteries, including The Vineyard Victims, featuring vineyard owner Lucie Montgomery, as well as Multiple Exposure and Ghost Image, which feature international photojournalist Sophie Medina, and Moscow Nights, a stand-alone mystery. Previously she worked as a freelance reporter for The Washington Post, Moscow correspondent for ABC News Radio, and as an economist at the US Senate.

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Jan
21
2:00pm 2:00pm

Friends of the Thomas Balch Library, Inc., Annual Meeting

Friends of the Thomas Balch Library will hold its 23rd Annual meeting and Election of Directors on Sunday, 21 January 2018, at Thomas Balch Library from 2-4PM. The snow date will be Sunday, 28 January, 2018. This year's main program will be "Oral History Series: Interview with Bill Harrison,” Loudoun County Extension Agent and founders of Loudoun Heritage Farm Museum.

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Feb
1
10:00am10:00am

Identification and Care of Photographs, Laura Christiansen

Laura E. Christiansen, Curator of Manuscripts and Archives will guide participants through a practical approach to the identification and preservation of photographs from the daguerreotype to the inkjet print. The workshop will include an overview of the history and technology of photographic materials, identification and dating techniques, and best practices to care for and preserve your photograph collections.

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Mar
1
10:00am10:00am

Paper Conservation, Rachel-Ray Cleveland

Conservator Rachel-Ray Cleveland’s presentation will feature a step-wise overview of the conservation treatment process carried out on the print, The Last Meeting, a 19th century print owned by the Library and conserved recently at Cleveland Conservation of Art on Paper, Inc. The print, now fully conserved, is archivally reframed and on display in the library. The talk will also include an overview of various types of damage (chemical and physical) that can be incurred by all paper-based items - such as documents, fine art on paper and three dimensional paper objects. In addition, a number of other conservation treatments will be presented and discussed to include “before” and “after images” that show visual improvement when chemical and physical stabilization is achieved. Cleveland is owner and principal conservator at Cleveland Conservation of Art on Paper, Inc. located near Laurel, MD. She holds three degrees including a MA in Art Conservation from the State University of New York at Buffalo, a Graduate Certificate in Collection Management from the Chicago Art Institute, and a BFA in intaglio printmaking from the University of Iowa. She is a member of the American Institute of Conservation, International Institute for Conservation, Institute of Paper Conservation, and Washington Conservation Guild. Over the years she has conducted work for the Smithsonian, the White House, and the Library of Congress.

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Apr
5
10:00am10:00am

Researching Court Records, Jeanette Irby

 

Jeanette Irby, Loudoun County Circuit Court Judge and former Leesburg Town Attorney will discuss how to use court records and other resources for data that are frequently overlooked in genealogical and historical research. Irby will demonstrate how to mine court records for clues that can be used to collect information for genealogical research. Examples of these records include real estate records, chancery suits, estates, and indexes. Jeanette Irby has researched land records dating from the 1700s and participated in genealogical seminars sponsored by the Warrenton Court House Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution of which she is past Regent. Irby currently serves as secretary of District VI of the Virginia DAR Chapters. She holds a BS from Central Michigan University and a JD from Thomas Cooley Law School.

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May
3
10:00am10:00am

Historic Preservation/Architecture, Christy Toms

 

Christy Toms, Library Associate at Thomas Balch Library and Coordinator of Archives and Special Collections at Scarborough Library, Shepherd University, joins Thomas W. Scofield, Preservation Planner, Town of Leesburg, who has worked over 25 years as a local government planner and historic preservation consultant, in presenting an interactive class on historic preservation.

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Jun
7
10:00am10:00am

Digital History, Stephanie Seal and Laura Christiansen

What new digital tools are available to help access and understand historic documents and data? Library Associate Stephanie Seal and Curator of Manuscripts and Archives Laura E. Christiansen introduce the digital side of historical research, including how to create basic visualizations, use GIS based mapping tools, and the benefits of crowdsourcing. Whether you consider yourself a "digital native" or unsure of technology, this workshop will explore different forms of digitization that are friendly to every level user. Come and learn how to get started with digital history.

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Aug
2
10:00am10:00am

Researching African American Genealogy, Lori Kimball

Under the direction of Lori Kimball, learn how to conduct historical or genealogical research using the resources available at Thomas Balch Library. Discussion will also touch on resources available at the Loudoun County Courthouse in Leesburg. Kimball is a member of the Black History Committee of the Friends of the Thomas Balch Library and co-researcher of the Enslaved Community of President James Monroe. Kimball is a recipient of the Thomas Balch Library’s Loudoun History Award.

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Sep
17
2:00pm 2:00pm

Last Curtain Call, Linda Sittig

Annie Charbonneau wants to escape from the small coal mining village in Western Maryland where her family lives. But in 1894 she is thrust into a personal battle fighting the ruthless coal company preying on vulnerable women in her town. Annie is afraid of endangering her own family, but she can no longer sit still and allow the coal company to continue its injustices. Set against the true 1894 Western Maryland Coal Strike, Last Curtain Call will draw the reader into a segment of history not known by many outsiders.

Born in New York City, and raised in northern New Jersey, Linda Sittig’s love of history and a commitment to family and literacy led her to a three decade career in Fairfax County Schools. On the side, she began writing articles, newspaper columns, and books on how to instill the love of reading in children of all ages. Selected as the Greater Washington Reading Council’s Teacher of the Year in 1982, she was then chosen as Teacher of the Year by the Virginia State Reading Association in 1983 and the International Reading Association in 1994. After retiring, she combined her passion for history, stories, and women of extraordinary achievement, by writing full time and blogging at www.strongwomeninhistory.wordpress.com. Twice recognized by the Virginia Press Association, Sittig’s articles have appeared in The Washington Post, the Loudoun Times-Mirror, and the Reston Connection, as well as in numerous professional journals and short story anthologies.

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Aug
3
10:00am10:00am

African American Genealogy Research Seminar, Lori Kimball

Under the direction of Lori Kimball, learn how to conduct historical or genealogical research using the resources available at Thomas Balch Library. Discussion will also touch on resources available at the Loudoun County Courthouse in Leesburg. Lori Kimball is a member of the Black History Committee of the Friends of the Thomas Balch Library and co-researcher of the Enslaved Community of President James Monroe. Kimball is a recipient of the Thomas Balch Library’s Loudoun History Award.

To register, click here.

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Jun
1
10:00am10:00am

Identification and Care of Photographs, Laura E. Christiansen

Laura E. Christiansen, Curator of Manuscripts and Archives will guide participants through a practical approach to the identification and preservation of photographs from the daguerreotype to the inkjet print. The workshop will include an overview of the history and technology of photographic materials, identification and dating techniques, and best practices to care for and preserve your photograph collections.

To register, complete Thomas Balch Library's online form.

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May
20
10:00am10:00am

Opening Doors to Leesburg’s History: The Charles A. Johnston Collection Tour, Ben Tayloe

The Charles A. Johnston Collection contains family papers and artifacts of the Johnston family of Leesburg and many of their closest personal and business acquaintances. It is the most diverse collection held by the Library incorporating archives, manuscript materials, rare books, photographs and film.  This collection, full of everyday items and individual stories, offers a view of life in Leesburg and Loudoun County from the late 1700s through the 20th century.

Ben Tayloe, Project Archivist of The Charles A. Johnston Collection and Library Associate at Thomas Balch Library, has historic preservation experience in both the private and public sectors. He will lead this tour focusing on local homes and businesses in historic Leesburg associated with the Johnston family. This unique tour will leave from the Thomas Balch Library parking lot at 10AM; sturdy walking shoes are recommended. 

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May
15
7:00pm 7:00pm

Clerk’s Office Tour, Loudoun County Courthouse Historic Records, Eric S. Larson

Meet in the parking lot of Thomas Balch Library by 6:45PM.

Eric S. Larson, Historic Records Manager for Loudoun County, will lead a tour of the Clerk’s Office. He will discuss the extent of Loudoun County’s records holdings, where to look for records of births, deaths, marriages, and deeds, and how to use these records in research. No one is permitted to enter restricted areas of the Clerk’s Office after 7:00PM, so the group will leave the library promptly at 6:45PM.

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May
7
2:00pm 2:00pm

Dust of Kandahar: A Diplomat Among Warriors in Afghanistan, Jonathan S. Addleton

The Dust of Kandahar provides a personal account of one diplomat’s year of service in America’s longest war. Ambassador Addleton movingly describes the everyday human drama of the American soldiers, local tribal dignitaries, government officials, and religious leaders he interacted and worked with in southern Afghanistan.

Addleton’s writing is at its most vivid in his firsthand account of the April 2013 suicide bombing outside a Zabul school that killed his translator, a fellow Foreign Service officer, and three American soldiers. The memory of this tragedy lingers over Addleton’s journal entries, his prose offering poignant glimpses into the interior life of a US diplomat stationed in harm’s way.

Jonathan S. Addleton was born and raised in Pakistan. A five-time USAID mission director, he has also served as US ambassador to Mongolia; USAID representative to the European Union; and US Senior Civilian Representative (SCR) to southern Afghanistan. Books available for purchase and signing at the lecture.

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May
6
9:00am 9:00am

Leesburg Tour, James P. Roberts

James Roberts, a native of Leesburg, member of Thomas Balch Library Advisory Commission, 2008 recipient of a Loudoun History Award, and recognized in 2011 by Loudoun Laurels, will lead a walking tour of Leesburg. The tour is an insider’s commentary of local people, places, and points of interest both in and around Leesburg. Particular detail is paid to how Leesburg has grown and evolved through the years architecturally, economically, and racially. Factual, historical, and anecdotal information is intertwined and presented in storytelling fashion as only someone who lived through it and thoughtfully observed it, can do. This unique tour will leave from Thomas Balch Library parking lot at 9AM; sturdy walking shoes are recommended.

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Apr
30
2:00pm 2:00pm

Babe Ruth Deception (A Fraser and Cook Mystery), David O. Stewart

Babe Ruth was indisputably the best left-handed pitcher in the American League. This mystery set in the post-World War One era once again brings together Fraser and Cook investigating the seamier side of baseball in the wake of the 1919 World Series scandal. Gambling, silent film making, boot-legging, tragedy, and bi-racial relationships are featured in this exposé of the dirty underside of baseball. Once again, masterfully blending fact and fiction, David O. Stewart delivers a nail-biting historical mystery that captures an era unlike any America has seen before or since in all its moral complexity and dizzying excitement.

After practicing law for more than 25 years, David O. Stewart turned to writing history (though he still practices law). His first book, The Summer of 1787: The Men Who Invented the Constitution was a Washington Post bestseller and won the Washington Writing Award as Best Book of 2007. Two years later, Impeached: The Trial of President Andrew Johnson and the Fight for Lincoln’s Legacy, was a Davis-Kidd Bestseller and was called “by all means the best account of this troubled episode” by Professor David Donald of Harvard. American Emperor, Aaron Burr’s Challenge to Jefferson’s America, released in 2011, won the Society of the Cincinnati's 2013 History Prize. Stewart also writes fiction, most notably the Fraser Cook mystery series. Stewart is president of the Washington Independent Review of Books, an online book review. Books available for purchase and signing at the lecture.

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Apr
9
2:00pm 2:00pm

Jutland: The Unfinished Battle, Nicholas Jellicoe

One hundred years after Jutland, the first and largest engagement of dreadnoughts in the twentieth century, historians are still fighting this controversial and misunderstood battle. What was in fact a strategic victory stands out starkly against the background of bitter public disappointment in the Royal Navy and decades of divisive acrimony and very public infighting between the camps supporting the two most senior commanders, Jellicoe and Beatty.

Based on the latest research, The Unfinished Battle retells the story of the battle from both a British and German perspective, clarifying the context of Germany’s inevitable naval clash. It also traces the dispute known as the “Jutland Controversy” that ensued until Admiral Jellicoe’s death in 1935.

Author Nick Jellicoe is uniquely placed to tell the story of Jutland. His naval connections are strong: his father, the second Earl Jellicoe, served as First Lord of the Admiralty while his grandfather, Sir John Jellicoe commanded the Grand Fleet for the first two years of the war from 1914 to 1916. Sir John was famously described by Churchill as being “the only man who could have lost the war in an afternoon.” Nick Jellicoe has lived his whole life under the shadow of Jutland. The enduring controversy surrounding his grandfather’s actions on that day inspired him to undertake a major investigation of the battle and an analysis of the arguments that followed. This book is the result. Books available for purchase and signing at the lecture.

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Apr
6
10:00am10:00am

Researching Court Records, Jeanette Irby

Jeanette Irby, Loudoun County Circuit Court Judge, and former Leesburg Town Attorney, will discuss how to use court records and other resources for data that are frequently overlooked in genealogical and historical research. Irby will demonstrate how to mine court records for clues that can be used to collect information for genealogical research. Examples of these records include real estate records, chancery suits, estates, and indexes. Jeanette Irby has researched land records dating from the 1700s and participated in genealogical seminars sponsored by the Warrenton Court House Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution of which she is Regent. She holds a BS from Central Michigan University and a JD from Thomas Cooley Law School.

To register, click here.

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Apr
2
2:00pm 2:00pm

Ballad of the Green Beret: The Life and Times of Staff Sergeant Barry Sadler from the Vietnam War and Pop Stardom to Murder and an Unsolved, Violent Death, Marc Leepson

Ballad of the Green Beret is about the rough-and-tumble life of Special Forces vet and Sixties pop star Barry Sadler. The top Billboard Hot 100 single of 1966 wasn’t The Rolling Stones' “Paint It Black” or the Beatles' “Yellow Submarine”--it was “The Ballad of the Green Berets,” a hyper-patriotic tribute to the men of the Special Forces by Vietnam veteran, U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Barry Sadler. But Sadler’s clean-cut, all-American image hid a darker side, a Hunter Thompson-esque life of booze, girls, and guns. Unable to score another hit song, he wrote a string of popular pulp fiction paperbacks that made “Rambo look like a stroll through Disneyland.” He killed a lover’s ex-boyfriend in Tennessee. Settling in Central America, Sadler ran guns, allegedly trained guerrillas, provided medical care to residents, and caroused at his villa. In 1988 he was shot in the head in Guatemala and died a year later. This life-and-times biography of an American pop culture phenomenon recounts the sensational details of Sadler’s life vividly but soberly, setting his meteoric rise and tragic fall against the big picture of American society and culture during and after the Vietnam War.

Marc Leepson, journalist, historian, and author of eight books, most recently What So Proudly We Hailed, the first biography of the author of “The Star-Spangled Banner” in more than 75 years, has taught US history at Lord Fairfax Community College in Warrenton, Virginia. He holds a BA and an MA in History from George Washington University. A former staff writer for Congressional Quarterly in Washington, DC, his work has appeared in many magazines and newspapers, including Civil War Times, America's Civil War, Vietnam, Smithsonian, The Washington Post, New York Times, New York Times Book Review, Wall Street Journal, Baltimore Sun, Chicago Tribune, and USA Today, among others. He also was a long-time contributor to the Encyclopedia Americana Yearbook and writes for the Encyclopedia Americana. Books will be available for purchase and signing at the lecture.

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Mar
25
12:00pm12:00pm

A Walking Tour of Civil War Leesburg, Richard Treat Gillespie

With its key geographic location just two miles from the Potomac Frontier dividing the Confederate and United States, Leesburg was bound to see a good deal of the Civil War. A Walking Tour of Civil War Leesburg with Rich Gillespie will examine the surviving Civil War townscape and watch the War develop and engulf the county seat of Loudoun. In a circuit of the historic district, the emphasis will be on what the 1,500 residents of the town would have seen at various places, and what they would have experienced during 1861-65. The two-hour chronological tour will provide ample spots to sit for the weary, and will paint some vibrant historic portraits to keep people enthralled. Included in the tour will be three skirmish sites, outside stops at two churches soldiers knew well, the courthouse lawn, “the best street in town,” Harrison Hall where General Lee stayed, and the Episcopal cemetery.

Richard Treat Gillespie is Executive Director for Northern Virginia’s Mosby Heritage Area and a founding member of Loudoun’s Civil War Sesquicentennial Steering Committee. Before joining the Mosby Heritage Area Association in 2004, he taught US History and Economics for 30 years at Loudoun Valley High School in Purcellville, VA. A graduate of the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, he is a strong believer in melding the classroom, the community, and historic sites through heritage education. This tour will leave from Thomas Balch Library parking lot at 10AM. Note: This tour requires good walking shoes.

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Mar
22
9:00am 9:00am

Seminar: Genetic Genealogy: Understanding DNA Results

Do you have DNA results and wonder what to do with them – or perhaps wonder whether it is worth the expense to take the DNA tests and if so which one? This seminar in four parts will provide a general introduction to DNA Genealogy and include sections on understanding mtDNA; Y-DNA and Autosomal DNA results. Whether you are a novice or experienced, this is an opportunity to enhance your understanding of DNA genealogy and new developments in the field. There will be two breaks (morning and afternoon) and a lunch break of 1-1/2 hours on-your own in historic Leesburg.

Shannon Combs-Bennett, owner of T2 Family History, writes and lectures on a variety of topics from genetics to methodology. Based in Northern Virginia, Shannon is a frequent contributor to Family Tree Magazine; Creative Director for The In-Depth Genealogist Website Magazine, and Education Chair for NextGen Genealogy Network. In December of 2016 she completed her Professional Learning Certificate in Genealogical Studies (PLCGS) and Certificate in American Records from the National Institute for Genealogical Studies (NIGS). Combs-Bennett is the author of A Genealogist’s Guide to the Washington DC Area. She holds a BS in Biology and has a Certificate in Genealogical Research from Boston University. Currently she is studying for her MSc in Genealogical, Paleographic, and Heraldic studies from the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow.

Fee: $10 members of Friends of Thomas Balch Library; $15 non-members; $25 at door; lunch is not included. Seating is limited. 

Click here to download the registration form.

 

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Opening Doors to Leesburg's History: Introducing the Johnston Collection, Ben Tayloe
Mar
19
2:00pm 2:00pm

Opening Doors to Leesburg's History: Introducing the Johnston Collection, Ben Tayloe

The Charles A. Johnston Collection contains the family papers and artifacts of the Johnston family of Leesburg and many of their closest personal and business acquaintances. The most diverse and extensive collection held by the library, the collection incorporates archives, manuscript materials, rare books, photographs and film.  This intensely personal collection, full of everyday items and individual stories, offers a view of life in Leesburg and Loudoun County from the late 1700s through the 20th century. 

Ben Tayloe, Project Archivist of The Charles A. Johnston Collection will introduce the public to the collection during the event.

To register, complete our online form.

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Mar
12
2:00pm 2:00pm

Through the Valley: My Captivity in Vietnam, William Reeder, Jr.

Through the Valley is the captivating memoir of the last US Army prisoner captured during the Vietnam War. A narrative of courage, hope, and survival, Through the Valley is more than just a war story. It portrays the thrill and horror of combat, the fear and anxiety of captivity, and the stories of friendships forged and friends lost. During William Reeder’s first tour he had flown secret missions deep into enemy territory in Laos, Cambodia, and North Vietnam. In 1971 Reeder was a senior captain on his second tour in Vietnam. Less than a year later, while providing support to forces at the besieged base of Ben Het, Reeder’s chopper went down. Though Reeder survived the crash, he was captured after evading the enemy for three days. He was held for weeks in jungle cages before enduring a grueling forced march on the Ho Chi Minh Trail, which cost the lives of seven of his group of twenty-six POWs. Imprisoned in the notorious prisons of Hanoi, Reeder’s tenacity in the face of unimaginable hardship is not only a captivating story, but serves as an inspiration to all. He shares the torment and pain of his ordeal, but does so in the light of the hope that he never lost. This memoir reinforces the themes of courage and sacrifice, undying faith, strength of family, loyalty among comrades, and love of country.

William Reeder Jr. is a retired Army colonel and highly decorated combat veteran of the Vietnam War. He received the Silver Star for gallantry, two Distinguished Flying Crosses for heroism, an Air Medal for valor, and three Purple Hearts for wounds received during the events related in this story. Since military retirement, he has continued to be involved in leadership training and education for the US Army and NATO Special Operations Forces. In 2014, he was inducted into the US Army Aviation Hall of Fame. William Reeder lives in Seabeck, Washington. Books available for purchase and signing at the lecture.

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Mar
5
2:00pm 2:00pm

Remembering John Hanson, with Peter H. Michael

Remembering John Hanson illuminates a Revolutionary War figure and Founding Father who served as first president of the original United States government chartered under the Articles of Confederation. The biography is the first in over seventy years and illustrates why some Americans selected Hanson as their choice to be the nation's first president. Remembering John Hanson brings to light the story of the destruction of Hanson's tomb in the 1980s and the author's rediscovery of its site while working on the book. Well-researched and revelatory, the book also addresses current efforts to rekindle the nation's memory of Hanson and to dispel odd Internet myths that have arisen about him in recent years. The book has received two national book awards in biography: the 2013 eLit Silver Prize in Biography and the 2013 USA Book Awards Finalist Prize in Biography.

Peter H. Michael, a descendant of John Hanson, is cofounder and president of the John Hanson Memorial Association, Inc., a national body commemorating President Hanson's life, presidency, and nation-saving accomplishments. The Association sponsors the John Hanson National Memorial and the Jane Hanson National Memorial, both in Frederick, Maryland. He serves as publisher of Underground Railroad Free Press, and as president of Michael Strategic Analysis, a strategic planning, market research, and litigation support firm. Michael has also served with the United Nations and the Population Council in Asia. Other recent books include An American Family of the Underground Railroad; Guide to Freedom: Rediscovering the Underground Railroad; and Palace of Yawns, a 365-day Southeast Asia journal at the end of the Viet Nam War. He was educated at the University of Maryland, Berkeley, and Princeton. Michael and his wife, a painter and civic leader, are the seventh Michael generation at Cooling Springs Farm, founded in 1768, an Underground Railroad historic site near Adamstown, Maryland. Books available for purchase and signing at the lecture.

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Mar
2
10:00am10:00am

Information Seeking Strategies in the Digital Age, Laura E. Christiansen

Under the direction of Laura E. Christiansen, Curator of Manuscripts and Archives, participants will learn techniques for developing and implementing effective search techniques. While the techniques discussed are applicable in a wide variety of environments, specific attention will be paid to digital resources, including Thomas Balch Library’s new sound and moving image kiosk. Participants will leave the workshop with new skills for smarter, faster, and more wide-reaching searches. 

To register, complete Thomas Balch Library's online form.

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Feb
26
2:00pm 2:00pm

Back There Then, A Historical and Genealogical Memoir, Linda Crichlow White

Linda published Back There Then, A Historical and Genealogical Memoir in 2014 after discovering a manuscript her Mother had written about their family and realizing it was too important to stay in an attic or basement. Since then, Linda and her Mother have spoken to groups about the importance of everyone - the ordinary and the not-so-ordinary- documenting their family or individual history.

Linda Crichlow White, MS, MLS, and native Washingtonian, taught home economics in DC Public Schools before becoming a School Library Media Specialist in the Montgomery County Maryland Public Schools.  She has served as the Washington Representative for the educational and cultural exchange program, Operation Crossroads Africa, and spoken to many groups about the importance of sharing family stories. She is active in the DC Library Association, the James Dent Walker Chapter (DC) of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Association, and other community groups, and has been working since 2006 on preserving her family history.  She serves on the board of the Children’s Africana Book Awards and is considered an expert in children’s multicultural literature. Books available for purchase and signing at the lecture.

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Feb
2
10:00am10:00am

Researching African American Genealogy, Cara Griggs

Cara Griggs will discuss methods and resources for African American genealogy prior to the end of the Civil War. Attendees will learn about ways of determining whether an individual was enslaved or free and what types of records will be useful for further research. The lecture will focus on the Library of Virginia's collections including cohabitation registers, free Negro registers and lists, wills, deeds, and tax records as well as selected federal records that can be accessed through its databases. 

Griggs has been a reference archivist at the Library of Virginia since 2006. She earned a BA in history from Westhampton College of the University of Richmond, an MA in social sciences from the University of Chicago, and an MSLIS with an archival studies concentration from Drexel University. She is a member of the Academy of Certified Archivists.

To register, complete Thomas Balch Library's online form.

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