front cover of Let Us Now Praise Famous Women
Let Us Now Praise Famous Women
A Memoir
Frank Sikora
University of Alabama Press, 2005

An affectionate, humorous account of small town Alabama during the civil rights era.

When Frank Sikora's six-year-old daughter contracted pneumonia in 1962, his wife Millie vowed that would be the last winter she would spend in Ohio. Despite their misgivings about the racial tensions erupting there, they moved their family of six south, where Frank hoped to fulfill his dream of becoming a newspaper reporter. But when those dreams didn't materialize immediately, mounting bills, repossession, and eviction forced them to move in with Millie's parents, Dan and Minnie Belle Helms, in rural Wellington, Alabama.

With even slimmer prospects for employment in impoverished Calhoun County, the Sikoras came to depend heavily upon the Helmses and extended family members and all their lives became closely intertwined. The Helmses were uneducated, unpolished people, but Sikora's narration of his life with them—often humorous but never condescending—provides a compelling portrait of the attitudes and lifestyle of poor whites in Alabama during the second half of the 20th century, just as James Agee's monumental work, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, illuminated the Depression years in Hale County, Alabama. Sikora illustrates how resourceful, southern women, in particular, held their families together through trying times.

Interwoven with this commentary on rural white culture in the Deep South is the story of Sikora's developing career as a newsman. Determined to succeed, he finally lands a job with the Gadsden Times reporting the news of black citizens. From that introduction to journalism, Sikora becomes one of Alabama's most acclaimed chroniclers of the civil rights movement, eventually writing some of the acknowledged masterpieces about the subject. Like his landmark book, Selma, Lord, Selma, Sikora's newest work tells the stories of ordinary Alabamians and their perspectives on extraordinary times.


front cover of The Snyders Mounds and Five Other Mound Groups in Calhoun County, Illinois
The Snyders Mounds and Five Other Mound Groups in Calhoun County, Illinois
David P. Braun, James B. Griffin and Paul F. Titterington
University of Michigan Press, 1982
In the 1940s, Paul F. Titterington, a doctor and avocational archaeologist, excavated several prehistoric burial mounds in Calhoun County, Illinois. He did not publish the results of his research, but he did donate his notebooks, photographs, and artifact collection to the University of Michigan in 1955. In this report, David Braun and James Griffin present Titterington’s research.

front cover of When This Evil War is Over
When This Evil War is Over
The Correspondence of the Francis Family
James P. Pate
University of Alabama Press, 2006
A collection of Civil War correspondence exchanged between members of the James Carrington Francis family of Jacksonville, Calhoun County, Alabama

Six of the seven Francis brothers served in the Confederate army, as did their uncle, four servants, and other kinsmen, and all twelve members of the immediate family of Dr. James Carrington Francis and Amy Ingram Francis—as well as several members of their extended family—are represented in this volume. While the letters refer to the war and the brothers’ military service, they also shed light on this family’s struggle to survive the profound cultural, economic, and political upheaval that ensued.
In addition to the correspondence itself, the editor includes a thoroughly researched  introduction that provides an overview of the Francis family history before, during, and after the war, which sheds light on the historical context in which the letters were written. Also included are endnotes that document and elucidate figures and events that receive passing reference in the letters, a genealogical chart of the Francis family, and photographs of each family member.  The editor includes maps of the Virginia, Georgia, and Carolinas settings, which allow the reader to follow the progress of Francis family members during the Civil War campaigns in which they participated.

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