Books for Sale: Bargains & Treasures Part 3 (9/30/2021) by Chris Pattillo
Marcus Foster and the Oakland School District

Marcus Foster and the Oakland Public Schools

In Part 2 of this series, I featured some of our books for sale that are about women and I noted that information about our female ancestors is much harder to come by than that for white men. This next group, in some ways, is even more difficult – researching persons of color. In this post I want to highlight three books about African American subjects and one that is a unique story of a person of Chinese heritage.

The first of these that piqued my interest is Marcus Foster and The Oakland Public Schools: Leadership in the Urban Bureaucracy by Jesse J. McCorry. I was in high school when Marcus Foster was murdered and vividly recall my choir teacher telling us about the event. Foster is buried at Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland where I have been a volunteer docent for over twenty years. The book has chapters that describe Foster’s impact on the Oakland school district and the aftermath of his killing.

Sugar in the Blood

Sugar in the Blood: A family’s story of slavery and empire is by Andrea Stuart. A description of the book by Jane Shilling says, “An extraordinary story … diligently researched and elegantly written, this is a family history with an ambitious range. In tracing her origins down the centuries, Andrea gives a clear, imaginative and often deeply shocking account of the dark history of the sugar trade and her ancestors’ part in it.”

Our copy of Bury the Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empire’s Slaves by Adam Hochschild is signed by the author. This 2005 book has multiple chapters that expand on the sugar industry and the role African Americans played in it. Merle Rubin wrote, “An enthralling story, full of fascinating characters, intense drama, high adventure, deceitful manipulations, courageous truth-telling, and splendid moral fervor … A work of history that reads like a novel.”

Bury the Chains

We also have a copy of Chinese Yankee by Ruthanne Lum McCunn. This award-winning book is based on the true story of Thomas Sylvanus (Ah Yee Way). It tells a unique Civil War story of a young Chinese boy who was enslaved after coming to America to attend school and ended up running off to war to escape. This is a harrowing tale of a tenacious young man determined to survive.

These and many other books are on our For Sale shelf in the library and can be yours for a donation to the society. Contact [email protected] if you are interested. You can come into the library to pick up books or a library committee volunteer will mail them to you. Due to Covid protocols, we are not accepting cash so please make a donation via the Donation page on the CGS website. Thank you.

Chinese Yankee

“Black, Indigenous, and People of Color” genealogy series starts Oct. 5 (9/28/2021) by California Genealogical Society
head shot

Jonathan Burgess

On Tuesday, October 5, Jonathan Burgess presents the first of three FREE classes examining the role of Black, Indigenous, and people of color in California’s history, particularly during the Gold Rush era. Burgess is a native of Sacramento. He and his twin brother, Matthew Burgess, had their interest in genealogy sparked by the story of their great-great-grandfather, who came to California in 1850. Having done intensive research, they uncovered a history that has led to their activism on the subject of reparations. They hope to establish a history museum showcasing the nearly lost and forgotten stories of African Americans during California’s early history. The twins are both first responders – Jonathan is a Battalion Chief for the Sacramento fire department, and Matthew is a sergeant with the California Highway Patrol. They are also entrepreneurs and founders of Burgess Brothers BBQ.

The three classes in the series are described below.

October 5: Class One: “Importance of Family Oral Narrative in BIPOC Genealogy.” Burgess discusses the often-forgotten history of people of color during the California Gold Rush, and why oral tradition is key to tracing their genealogy.

October 12: Class Two: “California African American Gold Rush Association’s Mission.” Burgess discusses the mission of the California African American Gold Rush Association, which collects the stories of people of color during the Gold Rush with the aim of opening a history museum in Sacramento.

November 9: Class Three: “Hidden Figures During the California Gold Rush.” Burgess tells the story of his great-great-grandfather Rufus Burgess, born in Virginia around 1790, who was brought enslaved to California in 1850, gained his freedom, and left an autobiography written in code. His story offers important insights into California before, during, and after the Gold Rush.

To register for any or all of the classes, go to our listing at EventBrite.


Books for Sale: Bargains & Treasures, Part 2 (9/28/2021) by Chris Pattillo

Virginia Women, 1600-1045

The next selection of books I want to feature from our “For Sale” shelf in the CGS library are about women. As you undoubtedly know it is typically much harder to uncover information about our female ancestors. Most history and genealogy books are disproportionately focused on the lives of men, so it is always nice to find books that celebrate women. These three are currently on our “For Sale” shelf and can be yours for whatever price you feel is fair.

First, we have Suzanne Lebsock’s Virginia Women, 1600-1945 “A Share of Honour” from the Virginia State Library. This book describes the lives of women in Virginia and how their roles and experiences evolved during the time period covered. One reviewer, Jan C. Dawson wrote, “Masterful commentary on the past experiences of Virginia. A landmark in women’s history.” Though the book features women in Virginia it no doubt is exemplary of much of the south.

Women’s Diaries of the Westward Journey

Women’s Diaries of the Westward Journey by Lillian Schlissel tells a very different story. She describes the great 1840-1870 westward migration from the female perspective. The Wall Street Journal wrote, “These chronicles of women show an aspect of the westward saga seldom seen before and never in such depth … Absorbing, informative, sobering reading.” Published in 1992, the original price was $14.

Finally, we have The Log of The Skipper’s Wife by James W. Balano. The back cover offers a good glimpse of what the book is about, “Little did Dorothea Moulton know, when she agreed to chaperone her schoolteacher friend and her friend’s husband-to-be on a sailing trip from Puerto Rico to Boston, that she would wind up as the ‘skipper’s wife’ herself. She did, and for the next two decades, Dorothea spent a large part of her married life aboard her husband’s various ships, sailing around the world, visiting mysterious and glamorous ports, and raising a family. At times earthy, always interesting, this is Dorothea Moulton Balano’s eyewitness account of life aboard some of the last of the vaunted Maine windjammers.”

Log of the Skipper’s Wife by James W. Balano

Sounds like a good read even if you don’t have sailing ancestors. All of these books are in good condition. For a reasonable offer, our Library Committee volunteers will ship the book to you, or, since the library is now open by appointment, you can come into the library to pick it up and do some research while you’re there. Email Chris Pattillo with any questions: [email protected]. Due to covid protocols, we are not accepting cash so please make a donation through the donation page on our website.