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Books by Van Auken

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“‘Play Ball!’ is a delightful walk down the storied history of Little League Baseball. For those of us who played the dreams of your youth, it brings back mighty memories. For those of us reluctant adults who still dream, it’s a wonderful reminder of what might have been.” —John Grisham

Play Ball! The Story of Little League Baseball
by Lance and Robin Van Auken

This book charts Little League’s history from the earliest days and shows how, in many respects, its history parallels America’s history: isolation in the beginning; rapid expansion; a civil war of sorts, followed by reconstruction; struggles over civil rights and gender equity; and foreign entanglements. A microcosm of American society, Little League reflects, and is affected by, cultural, political and historical trends. Today, Little League is played on 12,000 fields in every U.S. state and in 103 other countries on six continents. Little League also sanctions play in softball, Tee Ball, and baseball for disabled children-called the Challenger Division. The Little League Baseball World Series, played annually in Williamsport, is watched by crowds of 40,000 each year in person.  

 

Muncy: Postcard History Series
by Robin Van Auken

This book examines the small river town of Muncy. Founded shortly after the French and Indian War, Muncy was the earliest European settlement in the West Branch Valley of the Susquehanna River. By 1769, land speculator Samuel Wallis had acquired more than 7,000 acres, so he sold much of this land to pioneers in search of a better way of life. By 1832, the West Branch Canal made Muncy a business thoroughfare and lumber boomtown. Like most Pennsylvania river towns, Muncy suffered great loss in the flood of 1889, which also devastated Johnstown. Another massive flood in 1894 sounded the death knell for the canal system. The railroad, which superseded the canal system throughout the United States, kept the local industry alive, although the port businesses disappeared. Through vintage postcards, Muncy depicts the varied past of this quiet town.

Williamsport: Boomtown on the Susquehanna

Williamsport: Boomtown on the Susquehanna
by Robin Van Auken and Louis E. Hunsinger Jr.

This book views the history of Williamsport, as well as many towns and boroughs of Lycoming County. The book ranges through the fertile valley that grew from a struggling frontier village into a town with a taste for success, eventually molding itself into a magnetic and vibrant city. Thousands were employed as lumberjacks, and others worked in sawmills, planing mills, or furniture factories that processed the lumber. Until 1894, lumber was the county’s main industry. Inevitably, the mountainsides were denuded and floods toppled the remaining lumbering companies. “Williamsport: Boomtown on the Susquehanna” is a 160-page paperback filled with more than 100 historic and nostalgic photographs of people and places in the region.  

Williamsport: Grit Photograph Collection

Williamsport: Grit Photograph Collection
by Robin Van Auken and Louis E. Hunsinger Jr.

This book is a look through 100 years of Grit newspaper history. A Sunday morning staple as America’s favorite family newspaper, Grit was made possible by a Dietrick Lamade, a German immigrant and self-made man who settled in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. The first year of Grit was one of adversity and uncertainty, but Lamade came up with innovative ideas, such as direct mail and newsboys throughout the nation that transformed it into a national institution. Now a bi-monthly, full-color glossy magazine that targets Rural American audiences, Grit remains a national treasure.  

Lycoming County's Industrial Heritage

Lycoming County’s Industrial Heritage
by Robin Van Auken and Louis E. Hunsinger Jr.

This book reviews Northcentral Pennsylvania’s rich industrial history, first in lumber and then in manufacturing. After the Lumber Boom, many company towns collapsed. Boards of trade were created to entice manufacturers to the region. During the first half of the twentieth century, Lycoming once again prospered with hundreds of new entrepreneurs and companies. It documents the people who worked in the factories, mills, and for the manufacturers that no longer exist, victims of recession, urban sprawl, and offshore industries. Each image honors the role of labor and serves as a reminder of the individuals who helped build industrial America.

Little League Baseball World Series

Little League Baseball World Series
by Robin Van Auken

This book is a photographic companion book to “Play Ball! The Story of Little League Baseball” (Penn State University Press). It profiles more than five decades of the World Series. In 1947, when the first Little League Baseball World Series was played, there were seventeen teams in two states. Since then, Little League has achieved global recognition and has touched the lives of children and families in more than one hundred countries. Now, millions more tune in to ABC’s Wide World of Sports and ESPN for live coverage of the final game. Little League Baseball has enriched the lives of more than 30 million boys and girls who have worn a Little League uniform.

 

Sunday Grit: A Newspaper Legacy
by Robin Van Auken

This book is a tribute to a beloved newspaper that many Americans recall with nostalgia. For more than 125 years, this popular Sunday newspaper delivered homespun good news, features, fiction, coupons, and comics to families across the nation. Nearly one million children have sold it, some for a few weeks, and some for several years. They often look back with pride on the experience when, as young entrepreneurs, they knocked on the doors of small-town homes and were welcomed with a smile and a dime for a weekly edition of Grit: America’s Greatest Family Newspaper. This new book features never-before-seen photographs from Grit’s archives as well as stories of local significance and history. A national timeline of stories that Grit reported on also are included.  

 

Williamsport Sun-Gazette: A Pictorial History, Vol. 1
by Robin Van Auken and Louis E. Hunsinger Jr.

This book celebrates the City of Williamsport’s Bicentennial. To honor this event, the Williamsport Sun-Gazette produced a three-volume, pictorial history. Most of the images within this series have never been published in book form. Primary resources for the series are the historic Grit, Williamsport Sun, Gazette and Bulletin and the Williamsport Sun-Gazette archives. This volume is the first of three that traces in narrative and picture form the transformation of Ross’ Town into the City of Williamsport. It explores the development in thirteen categories from 1806 to 1916. The text welcomes outsiders to this rich history even as the pictures evoke memories in those who have walked the streets and lived in this special place.

 

Williamsport Sun-Gazette: A Pictorial History, Vol. 2
by Robin Van Auken and Louis E. Hunsinger Jr.

This book celebrates the City of Williamsport’s Bicentennial. To honor this event, the Williamsport Sun-Gazette produced a three-volume, pictorial history. During the 38-year period covered in this second volume of the Williamsport Sun-Gazette’s Bicentennial Pictorial History 1917-1955, the community and its people lived through two world wars, the Great Depression and two major floods. The city survived and became a better place to live and work. More than a half century has past since the last photo in this volume was taken, probably by a press camera, the long gone famous workhorse of photojournalism. So, it really is not likely a Remember When” for most readers. It is almost “news” or a remembrance of stories told by their elders.

 

Williamsport Sun-Gazette: A Pictorial History, Vol. 3
by Robin Van Auken and Louis E. Hunsinger Jr.

This book celebrates the City of Williamsport’s Bicentennial. To honor this event, the Williamsport Sun-Gazette produced a three-volume, pictorial history. This is the final volume of the Williamsport Sun-Gazette’s Bicentennial Pictorial History 1956-2006. Most of its readers will have lived and worked through the years depicted in it, and, although it relates to the people of this era, it will tell a story for years to come. It is a difficult task to shuffle through thousands of photographs, searching not only for significant historic moments, but also to find images that represent a community’s past. It’s also a joyous task, following a trail left by talented photographers and journalists documenting their hometown.