Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Hot Off the Presses!

Sotterley ~ Her People and Their Worlds

When right motives and a deep connection come together, good things happen. There are many who love Sotterley Plantation, and at long last a book has been written about Sotterley, honoring an integral part of her rich history–her people. “This is not a book about a building or a farm – it’s about the people who lived here,” stated Dave Brown, author of Sotterley ~ Her People and Their Worlds.

With retirement from his long-standing career with U.S. State Department at the beginning of the new millennium, Dave and his wife Erna adopted Southern Maryland as their second home and were introduced to Sotterley Plantation. The connection was immediate, and they dove into volunteer work. For the past decade, they have dedicated time, resources and energy to this National Historic Landmark and its mission.

Brown’s impressive work experience, combined with his passion for Sotterley’s history as an Interpreter and member of the Education Committee’s Oral History Project, motivated him to write the stories of some 50 people who lived and worked at Sotterley over 300 years. Not only did he commit himself to countless hours of research, pouring over documentation and conducting interviews, and finally compiling collected data into the final book, but Dave and Erna are donating all of the proceeds to Sotterley Plantation. “I love the place. I want to see Sotterley succeed … to survive for future generations,” said Brown.

The challenges of writing this historical perspective did not deter him from sticking to his intention of completing this project in 2010, the 50th anniversary of Mabel Ingalls’s establishment of the Sotterley Mansion Foundation. Piecing together limited primary sources including letters and obituaries, Brown then focused on relating the lives of Sotterley’s people to what was going on around them. “For instance, if you think about it, it is extraordinary how in two generations, African-American families living at Sotterley went from poverty to becoming educated professionals within our society,” said Brown.

In the 18 months it took for Brown to write the book and collect the photos, he humbly gives much credit to his editor at the Chesapeake Book Company, Robert Cottom, who “took this on as a public service. Half was my effort, the other half, his.” Mr. Cottom will be present for the book launch on April 9th.

Sotterley ~ Her People and Their Worlds is available for purchase: $15 for Sotterley Members, $17 for Non-Members. To order, please contact: or call 301-373-2280. Also available through Amazon.

David Brown is an adjunct professor in Chinese and Asian studies at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University and former Associate Director. He served for over 30 years as a Foreign Service Officer in the U.S. State Department, his diplomatic career focused on Asia. He served as Deputy Consul General in Hong Kong, Economic Counselor in Beijing and Director of the State Department’s offices responsible for Taiwanese, Korean and Southeast Asian affairs. After leaving government, he worked as Senior Associate at the Asia Pacific Policy Center, a non-profit institution in Washington, as a writer, speaker and consultant on a wide variety of Asian issues. He served as the Chair of the East Asian Area Studies course at the State Department’s Foreign Service Institute. He has a degree in East Asian Studies from Princeton University and is proficient in Chinese and Norwegian. He is a member of the Board of the American Institute in Taiwan and has published articles on Asia, China, American Foreign Policy and colonial Maryland history in a variety of publications. He is a trustee of Historic Sotterley, Inc. He is married to Erna Paulsboe Brown. He has three children: David Gordon, Christine and Erik.