Rabinowitz’s “Borderers, becoming Americans on the southern frontier” published

  • Author Carla Barringer Rabinowitz 

  • 18th-century Southampton County, Virginia, dwelling that may have belonged to one of the author’s ancestors.

Published: 1/9/2019 10:16:29 AM

ATHOL — Haley’s has announced publication of “Borderers, becoming Americans on the southern frontier,” by Carla Barringer Rabinowitz of Royalston.

The author will autograph copies of Borderers beginning at 6 p.m. Monday, February 11, in Royalston Public Library and at 6 p.m. Monday, March 19, in Athol Public Library.

Borderers tells a story of race, religion, class, and community at the dawn of America. The book traces the journeys of two families of southern backwoodsmen, the author’s distant ancestors, from the Atlantic coast to the Pacific coast over the course of four generations. Their migrations form a thread that ties together a larger narrative of America becoming itself. Through their lives, we can watch the evolution of their world.

Mark Mancall, emeritus professor of history at Stanford University, writes of Borderers

Carla Rabinowitz’s remarkably seamless combination of the historian’s craft and imagination deepens our understanding of the extraordinary complexity of what we take for granted as the seemingly obvious in the present. Complexities in the story Rabinowitz brings to light compel the reader to honor our own diversity and our own history in an intensely personal and intimate way.

To produce the Borderers narrative, Rabinowitz exhaustively examined primary 18th- and 19th-century documents including deeds, wills, court records, lawsuits, local histories, and estate inventories in pertinent communities from North Carolina and Virginia west through Tennessee and south along the Mississippi River to Arkansas. There, the 500-page saga pauses to consider the career of the author’s great-great-grandfather Thomas Stevenson Drew, governor of Arkansas from 1844-1849. The saga ends with the lives of some of his mixed-race descendants, cousins that the author never knew about.

The product of 17 years of research and writing, Borderers resulted from what Rabinowitz calls her obsession with unfamiliar corners of American history she kept discovering. As time went on, she decided the discoveries added up to a story worth telling.

Elements she finds fascinating include the role of early Baptists in fighting for passage of the First Amendment to the Constitution; the enormous gulf between the worldview of backwoods settlers and that of European travelers who observed them; largely unknown stories of free people of color who struggled to make a place for themselves in the gap between the races; and diverse societies of various immigrant groups such as Highland Scots and French fur traders.

A longtime member of the Athol-Royalston Regional School Committee and founder of the Athol-Royalston Educational Foundation, Rabinowitz led Worcester’s Citizens Educational Resource Center during the 1990s. With a law degree from Boston College, Rabinowitz also worked as a mediator for several state and local agencies, primarily with families caught up in the child protective system.

She serves on the Royalston Cultural Council and is a former member of the Athol Restorative Probation Board.

A native of Philadelphia, Rabinowitz graduated from Miss Porter’s School in Farmington, Connecticut. She holds a degree in economics from Radcliffe College.

She moved with her husband, Phil, to Royalston in the 1970s. They have two adult sons.

The book is available in paperback and hard cover from Haley’s and at amazon.com.

Visit the author’s blog at http://carlarabinowitz.com for glimpses of discoveries she made while writing the book. 



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