Posted on Monday, April 5, 2010
Uniting Work & Spirit (Elizabethtown College Press, 2001)
This is the first and only college history I have ever written or will ever write. I was commissioned to write the centennial history of Elizabethtown College, a small liberal arts college founded by the Church of the Brethren in my town. I’d never written a non-fiction book before, but someone at the college thought that a writer like me would produce a much more readable and engaging book than most dry-as-dust historians would turn out. I like to think they were right.
I wrote the history about the people who built and nurtured the college, and not the college itself, and it was a much more fascinating journey than I had thought. Though I was offered research assistants, I chose to do all the research myself, and went through every issue of the college newspaper, every yearbook, endless piles of college catalogues and more. I dug into the archives, uncovering some scandalous stories about the college founders, and showing that J. G. Francis, considered the George Washington of the school, was in fact a petty, vindictive man who ultimately tried to destroy the school because he felt as though he had been under-appreciated by those who took control.
Unfortunately, I spent an entire year researching and writing the history, a year that, as it turned out, could have been more wisely spent, at least in financial terms. If you’re interested in having me write a history of your college, my price will start in the mid-six figures.
Only real completists would want this book, available in hardcover and paperback. But if you do, the E-town College Bookstore has it…