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Review: Memories of Union High – An Oasis in Caroline County, Virginia 1903-1969

Memories of Union High

[Editor’s note: Author Marion Woodfork Simmons will appear on tonight’s episode of GeneaBloggers Radio ( to discuss Memories of Union High.]

So why would someone who has no connections to Caroline County, Virginia or to Union High School have any interest in Memories of Union High – An Oasis in Caroline County, Virginia 1903-1969? I’m a prime example and I have to tell you that hands-down, this is not just a great read for those interested in the local history of Caroline County, but also as an example of what one can do in documenting a school or church history.

Author Marion Woodfork Simmons has triumphed in her attempt to capture the memories of Union High School from its founding to its impact on the community to its end during the desegregation movement. She also succeeds in documenting almost every aspect of “school life” including tributes to teachers and administrators from students, lists of administrators and teachers, not so speak of the abundance of photos listing, where possible, each person in the photo.

Memories of Union High is a must for any genealogist and family historian who had Caroline County, Virginia family or ancestors who attended Union High or worked there. But also, Simmons has the ability to transport you back in time and you feel like you are there in the hallways, at the assemblies, and taking part in community life.

I also want to point out how thoroughly researched Memories of Union High is: notes, bibliography and appendices. Simmons does well to ask the reader in the Author’s Notes section to first read the Historical Background before diving in to a trip down memory lane.

Finally, Memories of Union High should serve as model for what any genealogist or local historian can do in terms of a school history, a church history or other type of history of an institution. Follow Simmons’ model and methodology and not only will you create a fitting tribute to a community and its institutions, but you’ll be able to transform your research into something approachable and accessible by friends, family and the public.

Don’t let the fact that Memories of Union High is very specific in its focus deter you from buying this book. It is much more than local history . . . it is the story of how a community and its leaders through their dedication and perseverance, made an investment in their children and in their future.

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Disclosure:  I received a complimentary copy of Memories of Union High from the author. Please see Disclosure Statements for more information on my material connection with genealogy vendors and organizations.

©2012, copyright Thomas MacEntee