Monday, May 6, 2013

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Official court reporting in American courtrooms was brought about by the skill, dedication, and determination of a remarkable group of pioneer shorthand writers. Many of them were reformers, some were entrepreneurs, and others were inventors, writers, artists, and scientists. All of them were gifted shorthand professionals whose work made legal proceedings more reliable, more efficient, and fairer. Using a variety of sources including 19th century newspapers, shorthand periodicals, records of shorthand associations, county histories and government reports and records, Herbert C. Hallas explains how official court reporting got its start in the United States and tells the stories of eleven pioneer court reporters whose work ensured that official court reporting would become a key component in the American pursuit of due process of law.   

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This collection of stories from New York State’s North Country in the 19th century features: the outdoors loving Vice President William Almon Wheeler, the popular First Lady Lucy Hayes, the radical women’s rights advocate and preacher Olympia Brown, Mohawk Indian lacrosse players, the philosopher and essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson, the anti-Civil War activists and Copperhead Party stalwarts Francis D. Flanders and Joseph R. Flanders, the nationally prominent U.S. Senator and New York Governor Silas Wright, and the possibly autistic ex-slave and brilliant piano virtuoso Blind Tom, as well as commentary about problems involving the overemphasis of sports and how to live a happy life. The articles, which were previously published in New York historical journals and in the author’s blog at, are set in Malone, Franklin County, New York, and several other towns and counties near the Adirondacks.

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Windsor, Connecticut’s oldest English settlement, underwent many political, economic, and social changes between the end of World War II and the dawn of the 1960’s. In the first book of its kind, Herbert C. Hallas uses The News-Weekly, a weekly newspaper founded by his parents, as his primary source and recounts the significant changes in the town’s politics, schools, housing, businesses, and culture that occurred between 1944 and 1962. He also unveils 47 pages of chronologies of selected athletic, business, governmental, and community events, as well as 105 photographs and headlines that were published in the newspaper, and an index with 722 names.

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Herbert Hallas by clicking here.

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