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Book Review: Cloth and Costume, 1750 to 1800: Cumberland County, Pennsylvania

Cloth and Costume, 1750 to 1800: Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. Cumberland County Historical Society, 199 5. $34.95 plus tax. By Tandy and Charles Hersh. Illustrated; cloth. Carlisle: 

With their customary meticulous scholarship Tandy and Charles Hersh have researched textile and costume to present a richly detailed study of the people who settled in Cumberland County. A vivid picture emerges through their analysis of 1 ,220 estate inventories, wills, tax lists, indictments, and an impressive array of other county records and resources. Eighteenth-century Cumberland County, with 33 widespread townships and three towns, offers exceptional opportunity for study of the structure of life on what was then considered a frontier. The authors observe that "people living in a community offering 138 types of cloth were very much a part of the world of fashion. Households and costumes were not limited by a lack of choice of the world's fabrics." 

Book Review: Clyde A. Laughlin: Postcard King of the Cumberland Valley

Walter Lewis Cressler, Jr., Clyde A. Laughlin: "Postcard King of the Cumberland Valley" (self-published, 2000) viii, 45 pp. appendix, illustrated. Paperback $16.95.

This little book is a gem. For historians and the collectors of early twentieth century postcards, it is a valuable resource. Written by Laughlin's grandson, it contains a chronicle of Clyde Laughlin's life and a comprehensive 86-page list of the postcards that he produced over the course of his 44-year career as a photographer in south central Pennsylvania.

Book Review: County Courthouses of Pennsylvania: A Guide

Oliver P. Williams, County Courthouses of Pennsylvania: A Guide. (Mechanicsburg, Pa.: Stackpole Books, 2001) xi, 244 pp, glossary, index, illustrated; paperback, $19.95 (ISBN 0-8117-2738-6)

This guidebook will serve researchers as well as tourists. Oliver Williams, retired professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania, has compiled histories and descriptions of courthouses in all sixty-seven counties in the Commonwealth. He has arranged them admirably in alphabetical order, with photographs of each courthouse, often with additional photographs of architectural details such as cupolas or cornices. A helpful glossary of architectural terms is also illustrated with photographs of parts of Pennsylvania's courthouses.

Book Review: Cumberland County Government

Daniel J. Heisey, ed., Cumberland County Government, (Carlisle: County of Cumberland, 2000). 54 pp. illustrated. Paperback, Free. 

Ever wonder where local tax money goes or what it does? Although many of us certainly complain about taxes, few of us are probably aware of exactly where our percentage goes once the check is mailed. Gas needed in the Sheriff's cruiser? Grass mowing needed on the Courthouse lawn? Electric bill payment needed for the West Shore Public Library? These are Cumberland County taxes at work. Although I may appear to be advocating a county tax increase, I am actually advocating greater resident awareness of tax money through the local publication Cumberland County Government.

Book Review: Cumberland Justice: Legal Practice in Cumberland County 1750-2000 by the Cumberland County Bar Association

Cumberland Justice: Legal Practice in Cumberland County 1750 - 2000 by the Cumberland County Bar Association. Carlisle, PA: Cumberland County Bar Association, 2001. Index, hardback. $39.95.

The great Scottish novelist and poet Sir Walter Scott, one of the most successful converts from law to literature, reflected on his abandoned profession in his novel Guy Mannering, published in 1815. In it, an Edinburgh advocate muses, "In civilized society, law is the chimney through which all the smoke discharges itself that used to circulate through the whole house, and put every one's eyes out - no wonder, therefore, that the vent itself should sometimes get a little sooty." In Cumberland justice, Dickinson Law School archivist Mark Podvia and a committee representing the Cumberland County Bar Association take it upon themselves to perform a thorough inspection of our local societal chimney. They find sootiness, true, but they also find heroism, humor, and much else besides.

Book Review: Damn Dutch: Pennsylvania Germans at Gettysburg

David Valuska and Christian B. Keller, Damn Dutch: Pennsylvania Germans at Gettysburg. Stackpole Books, 2004. photographs, endnotes, index, 236 pages, hardcover $26.95.

"The Damned Dutchmen are running again!!!" That shout went up on the afternoon of the 1st of July 1863 at Gettysburg when units of the Federal XI corps were driven from their positions north of town by elements of the II corps of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. This book examines just who those "Dutchmen" were, their background and their performance at Gettysburg to shed a bit more light on them and their culture.

Book Review: Diners of Pennsylvania

Brian Butka and Kevin Patrick, Diners of Pennsylvania. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1999. 250pp. Paperback, $19.95. ISBN 0-8117-2878-1 

Perhaps the appeal of roadside diners is that they lack pretension. They make no claim to elegance or exotica; they are reliable and durable, nothing more. Moreover, unlike the national purveyors of fast food, diners offer individualism and local color. One may find McDonalds the world over, bur The Sycamore in Bethel, Connecticut, is one of a kind. 

Book Review: Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper

Nicholson Baker, Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper (New York: Random House, 2001) xii, 371, index. Hardback $25 .95 (ISBN 0-375- 50444-3).

We've all been hoodwinked, bamboozled, and flimflammed! Librarians for the past fifty years have waged an unnecessary war against so-called brittle books and newspapers, generating rolls upon rolls of microfilm of dubious quality, all in the name of preservation. As a result, countless original paper copies of microfilmed print materials have been needlessly discarded when they could simply have been warehoused at minimal expense. At least, that's what Nicholson Baker would have us all believe.

Book Review: From Horses to Horsepower: How Goods Got and Get to Market

G. Kenneth Bishop, From Horses to Horsepower: How Goods Got and Get to Market. (Carlisle: 250'" Anniversary Committee, 2000). 16 pp. Paperback $2.00 (This edition limited to 250 copies.)

For the compulsive researcher, this booklet is a catalyst. A survey of industry and transportation in Cumberland County from the 1730s to the present, it is a handy compendium of scattered secondary sources. A bibliography at the end points the way to further reading.