Wayne State Libraries chose “pirates” for their monthly theme during September to celebrate International Talk like a Pirate Day.
Each month the Library picks a topic of interest featuring displays located on the first floor of the Prudy-Kresge Library and resources posted on their website. Past topics include: Exploring Detroit's Urban Development, Shakespeare and Women, Conspiracy Theories, and Zoos and Aquariums.
“When picking a topic, we try to pick something that is interesting and visually interesting,” said WSU Librarian Karen Liston.
Karen Liston first became interested in pirates when she did research at the University of Michigan on women pirates and port cities like Port Royal in Jamaica.
“We did a lot of work on British Foreign Office papers, looking for documentation of women pirates,” she said.
Freshman Urban Studies major Charlie Collins said he doesn’t usually hear about pirates, but he considers the unique topic interesting. He said pirates have played a large role in history.
“We have a few ways when it comes to selecting topics. I coordinate the initiative and we look at different months and themes. For example; Talk Like a Pirate Day,” said Rachael Clark, collection strategy and assessment librarian.
Rachael Clark also said that she learned there was a woman pirate from China named Cheng I Sao.
Cheng I Sao controlled a fleet known as the Red Flag Fleet. She raided and plundered ships and villages along the China Sea. Being feared by the Chinese navy, they let her go after she told them that I won’t destroy you if you stay out of my way.
“I was really curious about women pirates in general. Anything who knows anything about pirates knows about Anne Bonny,” Clark said.
Anne Bonny was disowned by her father at the age of sixteen when she married a small-time pirate named James Bonny. She later left James as he became a pirate informant for the governor of the Bahamas. Anne joined the pirate crew named “Revenge” and was eventually captured.
She was almost hanged for piracy but escaped claiming she was pregnant. More information about Cheng I Sao, Anne Bonny, and other pirates can be found on the Wayne State University Library website.
“I think pirates are a significant part of history but are not usually talked about. Pirates played a major role in many events around the world. I also think pirates are just a unique topic,” said Charlie Collins, a freshman urban studies major.
Next month's library topic will be on cyber security.