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What’s Doris Weatherford reading?

By Piper Castillo
Photo by Benita DRew Author Doris Weatherford

Nightstand

Doris Weatherford

Weatherford, 74, first realized her interest in women’s studies about 50 years ago as a student enrolled in a summer program at Harvard University. She had begun digging for statistics and other information surrounding female immigrants in America. "I quickly realized there really wasn’t anything done on women immigrants yet,’’ she said in a recent phone interview. Although it would be another two decades before Weatherford published the results of that research in Foreign and Female: Immigrant Writers in America, the experience helped her recognize her passion for the subject. Other books soon followed, including A History of the American Suffragist Movement, Women and American Politics: History and Milestones and her newest release, They Dared to Dream: Florida Women Who Shaped History.

Weatherford is also a well-known political activist who writes a column for La Gaceta and historian who was appointed by Lawton Chiles to serve as a trustee at Hillsborough Community College. She is also a past chairwoman of the Florida Women’s Hall of Fame.

On Nov. 11, Weatherford, a Seffner resident, will be a featured author at the Tampa Bay Times Festival of Reading.

What’s on your nightstand?

I always keep light stuff on my nightstand, so I can get to sleep. I have Cocktail Time by P.G. Wodehouse. I’ve read and reread him all my life. My favorite characters are his Emsworth and the domineering sister (Lady Constance Keeble). I love his loony British gentry and servants who are always smarter than the upper class. He makes fun of the upper class in a gentle, loving way. I enjoy his use of words. He helps you go to sleep with a smile. I also have reread the Calvin and Hobbes comic books. I think they are so funny.

When you are not going to sleep, what do you like to read to get your blood pumping?

I read a lot of nonfiction. I just finished two books by friends: Susan MacManus’ Florida’s Minority Trailblazers, in which she describes the various ethnicities and races who have been elected to office in Florida. I also just finished a book called Long Past Slavery: Representing Race in the Federal Writers’ Project by Catherine Stewart. It’s an examination of the Federal Writers project, the slave narratives in particular. We were one of the few states who had a woman who headed it. That was Carita Doggett Corse. She did a good job. She had good qualifications. She had a degree from Columbia University. She was married and it was unusual to give a married woman a job at that time. I think someone in Washington, D.C., probably said she should do it. I also would like to mention that I am a "classic over cool’’ kind of person. I read the old stuff. I don’t read bestsellers unless they were bestsellers a long time ago, and I like to assign myself a group of things. Recently I read a group of Pulitzer plays written by women. I’m also interested in doing the same type of things with Newbery winners. I do think children’s lit is informative in changing times. While my daughter was home, I could see through her eyes more easily with Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary.

Contact Piper Castillo at [email protected] Follow @Florida_PBJC.