Personal posts by public historian, Rose O'Keefe


On Juneteenth

Jun 20, 2022 by Rose O'Keefe

Yes, it is momentous that Juneteenth has become a national holiday. But. Having Father’s Day and Juneteenth on the same day yesterday felt confusing. The topic of fatherhood can be complicated. Emancipation can be one heck of a touchy subject. I believe a focus on healing and celebration is the way to go. Hmph.


Jun 17, 2022 by Rose O'Keefe
Trumpet sound: I am pleased to announce that Special Delivery: From One Stop to Another on the Underground Railroad, second edition, is online as a eBook, and a paperback. I self-published this book through Pyramid Press in 2014, and have redone it through IngramSpark. Years ago, when I started to learn about Frederick and Anna Douglass, I wanted to share what it would be like to live in their house.

History Repeats Itself

Jun 13, 2022 by Rose O'Keefe

The opening paragraph of The Trumpeter of Krakow (1929) blew me away: “It was in the spring of the year 1241 that rumors began to travel along the highroad from Kiev in the land of Rus that the Tartars of the East were again upon the march. As the weeks went on, the rumors grew thicker and there began to come through to Poland, our land of the fields, the news that the country lands of the Ukraine were ablaze.” What chilling words!

What a Gift!

Jun 10, 2022 by Rose O'Keefe
Rachel Field’s Hitty: Her First Hundred Years, (1999) was such a pleasure. Author Rosemary Wells and illustrator Susan Jeffries did a magnificent job of updating the 1930 Newbery Award winner. The story of a hand-carved doll’s adventures with many owners over  a century was so captivating I read it twice. There is so much to notice in the images, it’s one of those picture books that takes more than one look.

Pick and Choose

Jun 06, 2022 by Rose O'Keefe
Depending on the topics, I have to pick and choose my way through The Christian Science Monitor Weekly. I’m so not in the mood for anything heavy. The article in People Making a Difference (June 6) on Dakarai Singletary of Buffalo, New York, was good.

Loss and Betrayal

May 31, 2022 by Rose O'Keefe
How to cope with loss and betrayal is a timely topic. How our hearts and minds process painful news, can be unpredictable and slow. The opinion page article on Southern Baptists’ Moment of Reckoning by Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, in the WSJ (May 27) caught my eye.

A Future President?

May 27, 2022 by Rose O'Keefe

What a touching photo in today’s Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, (8A) of Gianna Floyd, George Floyd’s daughter. She was shown sitting at President Biden’s desk after he signed an executive order about police reform. The adults surrounding her seemed aware of the momentous occasion–a sad little Black girl, sitting in the president’s chair!

Serving God and Country

May 23, 2022 by Rose O'Keefe
How I enjoyed reading the Wall Street Journal Review (May 21/22) about Khallid Shabazz, a Muslim military chaplain. After 20 years in the military, Col. Shabazz became head chaplain at an Air Force base in Florida.


May 16, 2022 by Rose O'Keefe

The weeks between Mother’s Day and Memorial Day have such beautiful spring days when Heaven seems to touch the earth. The morning air can be so lovely, the lilacs and flowering trees so magnificent, and early birdsong gets louder and louder. But.


May 09, 2022 by Rose O'Keefe

Getting used to an uneven energy level is part of reconciling with covid’s aftermath. When I’m good, I feel on top of the world, and I when I feel low it’s as if I’d never had a happy thought in my life. As part of getting back on a hahppy track, I reviewed the Newbery award winners.

On the Rebound

May 02, 2022 by Rose O'Keefe

The part of me that was ready to dive into spring cleaning and start my garden got derailed. Three out of three people in my house got sick with the latest variant, spaced five days apart. What a kill joy. It’s been easy to be down on myself for not rebounding as effortlessly as I would like. In the meantime, it’s been a pleasure watching the fascinating and uplifting National Parks series narrated by former President Barrack Obama, on Netflix.

Popcorn Shish Kebob

Apr 29, 2022 by Rose O'Keefe

Were he still walking on this side of life, yesterday would have been my father’s 107th birthday. (HBD, Dad.) It was a sunny and crisp day in WNY, and I was wondering how our cherry tree, which looks like popcorn shish kebabs of blossoms, would handle the lastest frost warning. Last year, when the tree was similarly marvelous and the weather also crisp, I wondered the same thing – and we didn’t get one cherry last spring.  

The Lucky Ones

Apr 25, 2022 by Rose O'Keefe

The notes at the back of Laurie Halse Anderson’s Fever 1793 (2000) caught my interest. In the story set in Philadelphia over the scorching summer of 1793, city residents scrambled for medical care and argued about best treatments. Those who succumbed quickly to yellow fever were the lucky ones.

Some doctors used a risky practice called blood-letting to drain fevered blood. Others preferred rest, fresh air and plenty of fluids (now recognized as the better choice.) The 14-year-old heroine lost neighbors, became separated from her mother, struggled with illness in the countryside and later, starvation in the city.

Cyrillic Writing

Apr 22, 2022 by Rose O'Keefe

Thank you for another thoughtful picture spread, On Foot, of women farmers in Limpopo province, South Africa, with a photo credit to Siphiwe Sibeko of Reuters, in the Christian Science Monitor (April 25 & May 2). Thanks also to Melissa Mohr for the timely information on Cyrillic writing in her In A Word column. Mohr shared a concise history dating the script’s origins to the late 800s, and its getting named in honor of Cyril, one of two Christian missionaries. I learned that speakers in Eastern Orthodox Christian cultures like Bulgaria, Serbia, Russia and Ukraine kept the Cyrillic way of writing. Polish, Czech and Slovenian speakers who were mainly Roman Catholic changed to Latin script.

Catch Up

Apr 18, 2022 by Rose O'Keefe

We may enjoy our set routines or loathe the daily grind. Either way, travel shakes up routines and I’m playing catch up. Why do I feel compelled to stay on top of all this reading? Because, when I find something fun or fabulous, it’s worth it.


Apr 11, 2022 by Rose O'Keefe

This from an email:

“Dear Contributors, 

We are happy to announce that Volney Road Review, Issue 4.2, is now live. Being that this is the final issue the founding editors and I will be working on, we'd like to sincerely thank you for joining us on this journey. The literary scene is made of people like you, who take the risk to put their work out there. We would be nothing without your contribution.

You can find issue 4.2 on our site at We would greatly appreciate it if you'd also share it out to your friends and family--they would love to see your accomplishment. 


Apr 08, 2022 by Rose O'Keefe
Yesterday I had childhood beliefs about wealth upended while walking around the mansion and grounds at George Washington's estate in Mount Vernon, Virginia. How dismaying to see that this wealth and grandeur were founded on the forced labor of 600 enslaved workers. How I envied his gardens and constant plans to grow new plants of many varieties and yet how disturbing to get a glimpse into the tremendous amount of tedious work it took to make it all happen. 
George became an owner/master through his wife, Martha, who ran the massive estate during his many absences. So how come it isn't called somewhere the George and Martha Washington estate? 


Apr 05, 2022 by Rose O'Keefe
Thank you to Publishers Weekly (3.28) for an uplfitng article in the News section about people coming together at the Bologna Children's Book Fair March 21-24. Ukrainian book distributors with support from the Federation of European Pubishers and Book Fair organizers raised money to distribute Ukrainian language books to the millions of refugees. Hewlett Packard is working with Old Lion Publishing in Ukraine and Enchanted Lion in the U.S. to print 10,000 copies of How the War Changed Rondo, in a dual language Ukrainian-English edition to put in backpacks for refugee chidlren. It was written and illustrated by husband and wife team Romana Romanyshyn and Andriy Lesiv.

Mixed Feelings

Apr 01, 2022 by Rose O'Keefe

It was with mixed feelings that I finally finished The Story of Mankind (1921) by Hendrick Willem van Loon. He summed up all of history when he wrote, “… for us, who are alive today, the one and only serious problem is a world-wide reorganization along economic rather than political lines. … [In] the meantime we are learning one very important lesson – that the future belongs to the living and that the dead ought to mind their own business.”

Fitting Tributes

Mar 28, 2022 by Rose O'Keefe

What a fitting tribute to Women’s History Month: The Sunday paper’s Special Edition of We Built This: How Women Innovators Shaped The World, was terrific! Thank you to USA Today Network, the Smithsonian and Funnel, for putting together this colorful collection of briefs about women leaders, scientists, artists and advocates. That’s what I like to read in the paper.