What They’re Reading: “Harrisburg in World War II” author Rodney Ross thanks the Library
“Harrisburg in World War II” is now in print, and the first organization listed in the acknowledgments is Dauphin County Library System.
“I couldn’t have done it without The Library,” says author Rodney Ross.
Ross researched his book, published by Arcadia Publishing, using his Library membership to access newspapers.com for free from his home computer. He scoured every edition of the Harrisburg Sunday Courier, Harrisburg Evening News, and Harrisburg Telegraph from December 6, 1941, to September 2, 1945.
“Without those newspapers, I would have had to run into the State Library,” he says. “It’s so convenient to sit here at home and scan all those newspapers.”
Plus, a file drawer at East Shore Area Library yielded old Harrisburg Patriot clippings and the unpublished memoir of a woman who worked at Pomeroy’s, downtown Harrisburg’s premier department store, during the war years.
Ross, of Lower Paxton Township, is a retired teacher of American and world history and cultures.
What are you reading?
I’m researching my next book, about Harrisburg in World War I and the flu pandemic that was part of it, so the last books I read gave me background on World War I. A book by David M. Kennedy called “Over Here” focused on the home front. Another was by G.J. Meyer, “The World Remade: America in World War I.” One by A. Scott Berg was “World War I and America.” There were also many titles I turned to about the flu pandemic that hit the world in 1917, 1918, and 1919.
Did you find any parallels between the flu pandemic and the COVID-19 pandemic?
Thirty thousand Pennsylvanians died in one month, in October 1918, from what they called the Spanish Flu. You had people placed in quarantine and isolated. It finally hit Pennsylvania and Harrisburg hard, and there was a lot of concern, similar to what we hear today. There was some resistance to the restrictions placed on people. There was even resistance to regulations and restrictions in World War II. We would think that everyone supported the so-called “Good War,” but some people pushed back. That’s human nature.
What does The Library mean to you in your work?
I just don’t know how to appreciate the services in The Library any more than I do. If The Library wants to do a book signing, I can bring in my books, and any proceeds can go toward the renovation of the McCormick Riverfront Library.