A couple of new book offerings as well as upcoming events will please history lovers.
Norfolk's Navy base
"Naval Station Norfolk" is the newest in the pictorial history series by Arcadia Publishing, and it has plenty to offer for the aficionado of naval history, including about 200 photos of the base, beginning even before the naval base was formed.
Among the highlights: a chapter on World War II at the Navy base and the need to expand facilities, including 11 new barracks, a new auditorium and more. "With so many recruits, there was a housing shortage," the book states. So more housing was built. "Rents were based on rank: a petty officer third class could rent a three-bedroom apartment for $15 a month."
The book also includes a photograph of the USS Newport News, a nuclear-powered submarine built at the Newport News shipyard: "She was the third ship to be named for the famous maritime city on the James River."
Naval Station Norfolk is the world's largest Navy base and supports ships, submarines and aircraft of the U.S. Fleet Forces Command. "This shore establishment located on the historic harbor of Hampton Roads, has remained vital to the Navy since its foundation in 1917," says the book's back cover.
If you have served on the base, know someone who has or simply lives nearby, this is the kind of book that makes for great gifts for birthdays and holidays. "Naval Station Norfolk" is available at local bookstores and retailers, but if you can't find a copy, go to arcadiapublishing.com. The book costs $21.99.
Civil War Hampton
In "A Chronicle of Civil War, Hampton Virginia: Struggle and rebirth on the homefront," author Alice Matthews Erickson uses the Hickman family of Hampton to trace the community's history through the war and Reconstruction. It's a special pleasure for Erickson, a ninth-generation Virginian, whose grandfathers told her stories about her family, the Hickmans, as a child.
"They spoke of slower-moving time when the Peninsula was small town and agrarian, when many people made their livings from seafood harvesting," according to the foreword, "when Hampton, Phoebus, Fox Hill, Newport News, Hilton Village, Aberdeen, Warwick, Poquoson, Grafton and Yorktown (to say nothing of Fort Monroe, Langley Field and Fort Eustis) seemed to be distant from and almost alien to one another in terms of miles and in terms of habits, suspicions and allegiances."
The book begins with a chapter about the city's inception and the origins of its name (the Hampton River and Hampton Roads), then moves through the community's history with farming and into the succession during the Civil War. From there it chronicles topics that range from the fire that destroyed Hampton to the story of the area's African-Americans.
Reconstruction after the war is a particular focus, painting a stark picture of a struggling recovery. According to one passage, "The changes in the conditions of the poorer citizens of Hampton after the Civil War can be noted immediately by reading the Census of 1870. The poorhouse included black occupants as well as white ones, and the number of those receiving relief had greatly increased."
The book offers a wealth of photographs that chronicle every aspect of that story. In one image, "the ruins of Hampton, Virginia" are shown after the fire of August 1861. "Weeds have started to grow among the ruins, and there is an air of desolation about the place," the caption states.
Another photograph shows "a class in dressmaking" at Hampton University, then known as Hampton Institute. The photograph was taken in 1899. According to that caption, "The girls are receiving lessons in sewing and tailoring. They will use these skills to teach the women at Little England Chapel. They also make the male students' uniforms."
Throughout the book Williamsburg resident Erickson, a 1957-58 Exeter Scholar from the College of William and Mary, weaves in notes about her family's personal history. The high school and college English teacher "was inspired by the desire to write down the family stories before they are lost to memory," according to a news release. The book, which is being sold for $19.99, can be purchased at http://www.historypress.net.
Hampton history hunt
If you're interested in meeting Erickson, plan to stop by the "Hunt for Hampton History" event at the Hampton History Museum on Saturday, March 29. Erickson is scheduled to be there at 11 a.m. to sign books and chat.
Also stopping by during the day: museum curator Mike Cobb and historian Dr. Wythe Holt, two of the three co-authors of "Battle of Big Bethel," and Connie Smalls, author of "Legend of Monroe the Moat Monster."
The event, which is free and open to the public, runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For details, go to hamptonhistorymuseum.org or call 757-727-1610. The museum is at 120 Old Hampton Land, and free parking is available in the lot across the street.
The royal Stuarts
The history of England's royal Stuart family is explored in a new book by former Newport News resident Marci Jefferson. "Girl on the Golden Coin" chronicles the intrigue and turbulence of Frances Stuart's life after her family is restored to the English monarchy in the late 1600s. According to a news release, Jefferson hopes to do for the Stuarts what Philippa Gregory did for the Tudors.
Jefferson, who formerly worked as a nurse at the Riverside Regional Medical Center and the Chesapeake Retirement Center, credits her time in our area for her love of writing. Want to meet her? She has two book signings scheduled for the coming week.
•Tuesday, April 1, 7 p.m. Books-A-Million, 1252 Richmond Road, Williamsburg. 757- 259-9193
•Wednesday, April 2, 5:30 p.m. The Inn at Warner Hall, 4750 Warner Hall Road, Gloucester Courthouse. Jefferson will kick off the hall's 2014 Dinner & Discussion series. Get more information at warnerhall.com.
Vice President of Content Marisa Porto contributed to this report.
Price can be reached at 757-247-4745.
Leah Price blogs about local authors and reading events at dailypress.com/books.
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