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Saturday, February 3, 2018

Blaisdell - The Clothes-Line Telegraph

Black History month tends to bring my programs about the local Lerich family to audiences.  Liberetta Lerich Green and her family were abolitionists and had an Underground Railroad Station in Utica.  Here's the event presented by the  Novi Historical Commission at the Novi Public Library on February 8.  Learn about Michigan's role in abolition, the Underground Railroad, and the Civil War as told by a woman who grew up with it.

There are so many stories, including claims some historians doubt about the use of the laundry line for signals to the Underground Railroad.  This story from Albert F. Blaisdell's Stories of the Civil War takes a different view showing the clothes line's value for military intelligence.

The story follows a picture of a simple craft I made several years ago at Greenfield Village's Civil War Days.  It's the rosette or cockade worn by a Union sympathizer, which the Lerichs certainly were.  I let the safety pin show as it's simply red, white, and blue ribbon pulled into a circle and stitched onto a pin.  Yes, that Wikipedia link says safety pins were patented in 1849.  Campaign buttons are a form of communication, as is storytelling.  If you go to Creative Cockades you will find they are a centuries old way of showing support for a cause, the political lapel pins of yesteryear.  There are pages about cockades for the Union, Confederate, Mourning, Revolutionary War, Suffragette, and Copperhead (opponents of the Civil War and the Union) opinions.  Today's story shows Dabney figured out yet another useful form of communication easily overlooked.
As Albert Blaisdell explained in putting his book together, "These stories are designed to interest as well as to instruct young people, and to excite in their minds a keen desire to know more of the noble deeds of their fathers and grandfathers, who sacrificed so much during this momentous period of our country's history."  Even now that desire and knowledge is needed.
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This is part of a series of postings of stories under the category, "Keeping the Public in Public Domain."  The idea behind Public Domain was to preserve our cultural heritage after the authors and their immediate heirs were compensated.  I feel strongly current copyright law delays this intent on works of the 20th century.  My own library of folklore includes so many books within the Public Domain I decided to share stories from them.  I hope you enjoy discovering new stories.  



At the same time, my own involvement in storytelling regularly creates projects requiring research as part of my sharing stories with an audience.  Whenever that research needs to be shown here, the publishing of Public Domain stories will not occur that week.  This is a return to my regular posting of a research project here.  (Don't worry, this isn't dry research, my research is always geared towards future storytelling to an audience.)  Response has convinced me that "Keeping the Public in Public Domain" should continue along with my other postings as often as I can manage it.
Other Public Domain story resources I recommend-
  • There are many online resources for Public Domain stories, maybe none for folklore is as ambitious as fellow storyteller, Yoel Perez's database, Yashpeh, the International Folktales Collection.  I have long recommended it and continue to do so.  He has loaded Stith Thompson's Motif Index into his server as a database so you can search the whole 6 volumes for whatever word or expression you like by pressing one key. http://folkmasa.org/motiv/motif.htm
  • You may have noticed I'm no longer certain Dr. Perez has the largest database, although his offering the Motif Index certainly qualifies for those of us seeking specific types of stories.  There's another site, FairyTalez claiming to be the largest, with "over 2000 fairy tales, folktales, and fables" and they are "fully optimized for phones, tablets, and PCs", free and presented without ads.

    Between those two sites, there is much for story-lovers, but as they say in infomercials, "Wait, there's more!"
The email list for storytellers, Storytell, discussed Online Story Sources and came up with these additional suggestions:            
         - David K. Brown - http://people.ucalgary.ca/~dkbrown/stories.html
         - Richard Martin - http://www.tellatale.eu/tales_page.html
         - Spirit of Trees - http://spiritoftrees.org/featured-folktales
         - Story-Lovers - http://www.story-lovers.com/ is now only accessible through the Wayback Machine, described below, but Jackie Baldwin's wonderful site lives on there, fully searchable manually (the Google search doesn't work), at https://archive.org/ .  It's not easy, but go to Story-lovers.com snapshot for October 22 2016  and you can click on SOS: Searching Out Stories to scroll down through the many story topics and click on the story topic that interests you.
       - World of Tales - http://www.worldoftales.com/ 
     
You're going to find many of the links on these sites have gone down, BUT go to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine to find some of these old links.  Tim's site, for example, is so huge probably updating it would be a full-time job.  In the case of Story-Lovers, it's great that Jackie Baldwin set it up to stay online as long as it did after she could no longer maintain it.  Possibly searches maintained it.  Unfortunately Storytell list member, Papa Joe is on both Tim Sheppard's site and Story-Lovers, but he no longer maintains his old Papa Joe's Traveling Storytelling Show website and his Library (something you want to see!) is now only on the Wayback Machine.  It took some patience working back through claims of snapshots but finally in December of 2006 it appears!
    Somebody as of this writing whose stories can still be found by his website is the late Chuck Larkin - http://chucklarkin.com/stories.html.  I prefer to list these sites by their complete address so they can be found by the Wayback Machine, a.k.a. Archive.org, when that becomes the only way to find them.
You can see why I recommend these to you. Have fun discovering even more stories!


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