The Old Booksmith

History is a vast early warning system.
—Norman Cousins

History does not unfold: It piles up.
—Robert M. Adams, Bad Mouth


As both a librarian and a working historian, it was inevitable that I become a bibliographer — one who compiles lists of resources for the use of other people in carrying out research. I've developed and compiled dozens of topical bibliographies, reading lists, and chronologies of various sorts over the years, some of which have been published, at least locally or in highly specialized publications. Because of my own reading and research interests, I have continued to maintain some of these for personal use, and I'm reproducing those here. These versions also are updated over whatever you may run across in a print source. Note the date at the bottom of each page for the most recent update.

Several of these bibliographies have been adopted by individual professors for distribution in undergraduate history courses, which I take as a serious compliment. If you're interested in such a use for a class you teach, please contact me for permission. You'll probably get it — but ask!

Historical American Migration & Settlement Patterns:
A Selected Bibliography

My interest in internal migration in the U.S. is an outgrowth of my lifelong interest in genealogy and family history. Several of the lineages in my own family epitomize the gradual drift westward, from the Atlantic coast to points in the Plains and Mountain States.

North American Separatism:
A Bibliography of Secession, Sectionalism, and Regional Dissent

This one is probably a result of being a Southerner with an historical bent. I don't take sides on secession as an issue; it happened (unsuccessfully) in the U.S. once, and nearly happened a couple other times. My interest in the subject should not be taken as an indication of my opinions concerning the issue in the 21st century.

Basic Published Resources for the American Civil War

In the 1970s & '80s, with a strong influx of federal development money, via the Library Services & Construction Act, I was able to develop the Civil War collection of the Dallas Public Library (my employer for three decades) into one of the largest and best balanced in the region, and certainly the best of any public library in Texas. It got a lot of use by students at all levels (and still does) and I developed the original version of this bibliography as a tool for our patrons.

The Urban Frontier:
A Bibliography of Urbanization & Town-Building in the Westward Movement

In graduate school (the second time), I took a colloquium on the impetus of town-building in the development of American society, and the frontier aspect of the subject fascinated me. I've continued to read about it ever since.

Bibliography of 19th Century U.S. Army Frontier Posts & Forts

I have a strong interest in both military history and U.S. Western history, and this is where the two intersect.

Life in the Frontier Army, from the Appalachians to the Pacific

I'm generally more interested in social than political history, especially material culture — the artifacts we produce and leave behind, from small personal possessions to architecture. I've always tried to visit the site of any significant military post near which my travels took me, especially those associated with an archaeological museum.

Anglo-American Material Culture

19th Censury Social & Domestic History

As noted, I have a strong, long-time interest in social and material history. This is particularly true as regards the 19th century in Britain and the U.S., if only because it's closer to the present and there are more surviving artifacts. Also, all four of my grandparents were born in the late 19th century, and I remember the stories they told of their own childhoods and of their own parents and grandparents, so it's not an "ancient" period to me. Within the topic of social history, I've long been interested in the related subjects of English country houses and domestic service. I can't explain this one, since all my forebears were farmers of moderate means, blacksmiths, railroad men, professional soldiers, and (later) urban white-collar types. But I find the subject fascinating.

These two bibliographies were not originally compiled for anyone else. They have simply grown out of my own reading, since I always puruse the bibliography in any work that interests me, in search of further reading. These should therefore be regarded as highly selective and they do not include any titles that I would regard as especially "academic." I'm also continually adding to them.

NOTE: Detailed reviews of many of the titles on these two lists may be found at another site called Booksmith, which is my book review blog.

Chronology of European Barbarian Migrations, c.164–843 AD

Early Medieval Recommended Reading List

My undergrad work was largely in Roman and medieval history and I developed a fascination with the period in which the Classical (Latin) European world evolved into the Modern (Germanic) one. In grad school, I shifted my concentration to U.S. history for mostly practical reasons, but I retained my strong interest in the late classical and early medieval era.

Glossary of Naval & Maritime Terms & Phrases of the Late 18th & Early 19th Centuries

This one is here because of my addiction to the tales of Jack Aubrey, Horatio Hornblower, Tom Kydd, Richard Bolitho, Nicholas Ramage, and others of their ilk. Simple as that.

Miscellaneous Stuff

History with Warts,
a more or less true story.