Scholars of library science and East Tennessee history enthusiasts have been waiting 108 years for the release of Mary Utopia Rothrock’s freshman year English homework from Vanderbilt in 1907.

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My great-aunt, Topie as she was called (her given name was Mary Utopia Rothrock), was a library science rock star. In 1938, she won the Lippincott Award, which is the highest citation for a librarian. And she got her first managerial job in Knoxville, Tennessee at the age of 26. In 1916, this was no small feat.

There are thirty-nine essays, from charming to tart, that vividly reflect life at the turn of the last century. Then again, many of her insights remind us that human nature does not change, no matter what lens of time we use for the viewing.