Thursday, March 07, 2013

Meet the Reference Books: Facts About the Presidents

Meet the Reference Books introduces noteworthy encyclopedias, dictionaries, and other reference materials in Carmichael Library's print and digital collections.  Blog posts are contributed by student library employees as part of our Homegrown Book Reviews initiative.  
This post is written by Sara Frye, an Interdisciplinary Studies major who plans to go to graduate school to become a librarian.  Facts About the Presidents is available in our print reference collection (Call Number: E176.1 .K3).

Something about the US Presidents has always interested me, and flipping through the reference book Facts About the Presidents (published in 1989) was simply a delight. Whether you are a history major or simply enjoy glimpses into our former leaders’ lives, there is a little of everything in this gem of a reference book.

It includes detailed information about each of the first 40 US presidents, from George Washington to George HW Bush. Each entry includes loads of information such as detailed accounts of their families, nominations, elections, and administrations. The encyclopedia also contains important dates in their lives, and random informative and interesting tidbits about each of the presidents. 

The second half of the book shows comparative data and statistics for each of the presidents, their families, and their administrations. This book has everything from the presidents’ astrological signs (Martin Van Buren was a Sagittarius) to their political policies. It includes titles of books written by presidents, the ages of their life accomplishments down to the day, their fathers’ occupations, and even a list of presidents featured on postage stamps.

Some interesting things I learned while browsing this reference guide:

  • George Washington had a black mole under his right ear.
  • Millard Fillmore’s last words were concerning yummy food (“The nourishment is palatable”).
  • Andrew Jackson killed a man in a duel.
  • Grover Cleveland’s wife, Frances, became first lady at the tender age of 21.
  • John Tyler had 15 children, 14 of which survived infancy. Two of his sons were named Tazewell and Lyon.
This guide is obviously great for someone studying United States history, especially since it contains a list of suggested further reading at the end of each president’s entry. It is also a great resource for someone writing a biographical essay, perhaps for an English class. Or of course if, like me, you just like reading about the idiosyncrasies and personal lives of the men who have ran this country throughout its lifetime. 

By Sara Frye

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