Thursday, December 9, 2010

Module 12: Maritcha: A Nineteenth-Century American Girl

SLIS 5420.002
Module 12
November 8 – 14


This book tells the true story of Maritcha, a young African-American girl growing up in post-Civil War New York. The book not only details parts of Maritcha's life (as written in her memoir), but it also contains historical facts and photos of New York during that time period.


Bolden, T. (2005). Maritcha: A nineteenth-century American girl. New York: Harry N. Abrams.

My Impressions:

I really enjoyed the perspective that the visual layout of the book contributed to my reading experience. I found it most enjoyable that the author tried to pull as much information as possible from memoirs actually written by Maritcha herself. And the added historical information lent me more perspective regarding what it was like growing up during that time period.


From School Library Journal:
Gr 4 Up. Readers met Maritcha Rimond Lyons in Bolden's Tell All the Children Our Story (Abrams, 2002), in a one-page entry that included an excerpt from her unpublished memoir. The author has now expanded her use of Lyons's memoir, family archival materials, and other primary sources to tell the story of this free black child before, during, and after the Civil War. Maritcha's achievements were extraordinary for her time, gender, and race. During her youth in lower Manhattan, she was exposed to many strong, well-educated adults. Her parents, their friends (some well known), and her own determination carried her through difficult times, including the Draft Riots of 1863, the destruction of the family home and business, and a fight for public education. Strength of family and education were the driving forces in this girl's life. Bolden emphasizes these themes as she skillfully presents interesting facts and a personal view of an often-overlooked segment of history. While the book focuses on Maritcha's childhood, a concluding note discusses her adulthood. (Lyons spent close to 50 years as an educator, including a term as assistant principal of Brooklyn's Public School No. 83.) A number of family documents and photographs are included; period sketches and paintings complete the picture of 19th-century life in New York City. The high quality of writing and the excellent documentation make this a first choice for all collections.Carolyn Janssen, Children's Learning Center of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, OH. 47pg. CAHNERS PUBLISHING, c2005.

Janssen, C. (2005 February 1). [Review of Maritcha: A Nineteenth-Century American Girl]. School Library Journal, pp 145.

From VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates Magazine):
Grade. M. Popularity. 3P. In 1928, an eighty-year-old retired school official, Maritcha Remond Lyons, left behind an unpublished manuscript, Memories of Yesterdays. Within its neatly typed pages were revelations of a remarkable woman's life and a firsthand account of what it was like to be a free black woman in nineteenth-century America. The author takes this memoir and scraps of research from museums, special collections, and family keepsakes to assemble a fascinating re-creation of Maritcha's life. New York City-born Maritcha and her family ran a boardinghouse, often used as a safe house on the Underground Railroad. Her extended family included a famous actor who used his influence to establish black churches, ignite an early civil rights movement, and bring celebrities like Frederick Douglass into their midst. Although blacks were free, many rights were still restrictive and prejudice was rampant. She recalls having to walk to school because the coaches would not stop for her. When the Civil War draft riots broke out, blacks were sought out, beaten, and their businesses destroyed. Maritcha moved to Providence, Rhode Island, where she became the first black to enter high school after having to address the state legislature for permission. She dedicated the next fifty years to education and women's rights. A gifted writer and orator during her lifetime, Maritcha is a worthy topic for women's studies or for a black history profile. This book, with its excellent illustrations, engaging text, and primary resources, is also a pleasure to read.-Kevin Beach. 48pg. VOICE OF YOUTH ADVOCATES, c2005.

Beach, K. (2005 October 1). [Review of Maritcha: A Nineteenth-Century American Girl]. VOYA, pp 332.

From Booklist:
Gr. 4-7. 'Born free in a nation stained by slavery, where free blacks had few rights and rare respect, here was a girl determined to rise, to amount to something.' In this captivating biography, Bolden introduces Maritcha Reymond Lyon, born in the mid-1800s into a family of free blacks in Manhattan. Lyon found fame as a teenager in Providence, Rhode Island, when she sued the state to gain admission to the all-white high school--the only high school in town. Bolden's succinct text focuses on Lyon's growing-up, and the attractive spreads feature well-chosen archival photographs and engravings that offer a fascinating glimpse of Lyon's world of 'New York City's striving class of blacks.' Lyon had a distinguished family, and Bolden shows how its members inspired her to succeed against formidable odds, even when she felt that 'the iron had entered my soul.' Bolden supplements quotes from Lyon's accounts with extensive research and enthralling detail, and the result is both an inspirational portrait of an individual and a piercing history about blacks in the nineteenth and early- twentieth centuries--subjects rarely covered in books for youth. An author's note describes Lyon's adult achievements and lends insight into Bolden's research. Notes and a selected bibliography conclude this powerful volume. ((Reviewed February 1, 2005)). Gillian Engberg. 48pg. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2005.

Engberg, G. (2005 February 1). [Review of Maritcha: A Nineteenth-Century American Girl]. Booklist, pp 970.

Library Setting Uses:

For any age, have students make a biography scrapbook about their life and what their hometown and the United States are like today. You can provide newspaper clippings, maps, etc. to help the students feel like their pages look similar to those in the book.

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