YC Professors Publish Colonial Book Series
History professors Tim McNeese and Shane Mountjoy have published a new series of books focusing on the founding of early American colonial settlements. The eight book series was published by the New York publisher, Chelsea House, which produces books largely for middle and high school readers.
The series, “Colonial Settlements in America,” includes eight books presenting the events leading up the founding and early settlement years of important colonial outposts, all of which became important towns, cities, or capitals. The eight titles include five written by Professor McNeese (Jamestown, Plymouth, Santa Fe, New Amsterdam, and Williamsburg) and two titles by Professor Mountjoy (St. Augustine and Philadelphia). The eighth book, Yerba Buena (modern-day San Francisco), was written by former YC English professor, Dr. Larry Van Meter.
“This whole project came about because of the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown,” explains McNeese, who also served as the series editor. “It provided us with a good tie-in.”
Jamestown, originally founded as Fort James in May, 1607, would become the first permanent English colony established in North America.
“Once we had Jamestown as a springboard, it became obvious that we should write a series of books on other, similar colonial outposts, not just those established as English settlements, but by the Dutch and Spanish, as well,” says McNeese.
The result is a series of books generally intended for high school students that features six colonial settlements established on the Atlantic Coast and two in the Far West, in California and New Mexico.
“It is easy to overlook the importance of early colonial settlements,” says Mountjoy, “because we are so far removed from the kinds of lives those people led.”
Perhaps the most unique aspect of the newly-published series is its connection to York College.
“One of the excitements of doing the series was that we were able to write all eight titles using York College professors,” notes McNeese.
All eight of the colonies covered in this series experienced their own unique histories, says McNeese. Those colonists who established some of the earlier ones, such as Plymouth and Jamestown, experienced very difficult years that included starvation and even cannibalism.
Although the residents of some early colonies faced constant hardships, each of those included in the series not only survived, but became key founding mile markers on the path of American history. Mountjoy notes the importance of these early American settlements and the impact they would have on the development, not only of the colonies, but of the future United States.
As he explains: “Many of these and other early settlements set the stage for the future American republic. In many cases, founding settlers established norms, traditions, and institutions that protected individual rights and freedoms that were later preserved in the U.S. Constitution.”
The two YC professors are not new to working together on book projects. They first published a pair of readers for their U.S. history students with American Heritage back in 1994. McNeese and Mountjoy have collaborated on several book series with Chelsea House Publishers over the past four years. Their previous collaboration was on a series featuring important U.S. Supreme Court cases, which was published in late 2006 and in the spring of this year. Their series on important social and political movements in American history is slated for publication this fall.
Mountjoy and McNeese are not resting after the publication of their latest series. Both instructors will be writing this academic year on two series, one on important milestones in American history and the other on the Civil War.