How I brought vivid images from the riches of Catholic culture to Arcadia Publishing

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Clicking on this image of the IHM book cover takes you to the Arcadia Publishing website, where you can see how they display and sell Patricia Montemurri’s books. If you want to maximize your support of the IHM sisters, there’s a direct-purchase link at the end of this week’s ReadTheSpirit Cover Story that takes you directly to the sisters’ own online fundraising effort.

EDITOR’s NOTE—Our Front Edge Publishing team is proud of the collegial way we work with many other publishing houses nationwide. We often feature weekly Cover Stories in our magazine that highlight author interviews and new books from other publishers. Why? Because those books mirror our own core mission: “Good media builds healthy community.” We take that vocation so seriously that we welcome good-hearted colleagues across the media industry.

Over the years, we have recommended our friends at Arcadia Publishing to many prospective authors who have approached us with proposals that really are best served by image-rich books with a very specific regional or historical focus. The Arcadia team is close to cornering that niche in American publishing. They’re famous coast to coast for making it easy for talented local journalists and history buffs to produce books. How do I know they’re so widely known? I’ve rarely spoken to an author—or a class or conference—and not sparked a familiar smile and nod when holding up one of Arcadia’s classic photographic covers. We recognize them instantly.

That’s why we asked Patricia Montemurri—who wrote our ReadTheSpirit cover story this week about her new photo-filled book about the amazing IHM Sisters—to also write this Front Edge Publishing column about what it’s like to work with Arcadia. Thanks Patty!

—David Crumm, March 8, 2020

Bringing Vivid Catholic Images to Life with Arcadia Publishing

Contributing Writer

As an author, you can tell a lot of stories without a lot of words in a book that features some 200 photos in 128 pages.

That’s what I’ve done with my first three books focusing on elements of Detroit’s Catholic history, all published through Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America book series.

Arcadia Publishing and The History Press are based in Charleston S.C., and their publications vividly chronicle the stories of small-town America and slice-of-life institutions in its big cities.

Since Arcadia was founded in 1993, its catalogue includes 8,000 books in the Images of America series. The series captures community history in all 50 states across every topic imaginable. There are dozens of photo-rich books memorializing America’s faith communities. Regional examples include North Carolina Quakers, Chicago’s Forgotten Synagogues, Latter-Day Saints of Tucson and Lutherans of Western New York.

Arcadia and The History Press also publish books under other topics and series, such as Images of Rail and Images of Aviation.

The Immaculate Heart of Mary Sisters of Michigan is my third book for Arcadia Publishing.

Click on this cover to visit the book’s Amazon page.

My first, Detroit Gesu Catholic Church and School, chronicled one of the Motor City’s largest and most influential Catholic parishes. Published in October 2017, it has raised more than $11,000 for the parish school, one of only four Catholic elementary schools still open in Detroit compared to more than 100 in the mid-1960s.

In November 2018, I also authored Blessed Solanus Casey, about the Detroit Capuchin friar known as a wonder worker, who is one miracle away from being declared a saint by the Catholic Church.

In September 2020, I’ll have another book published by Arcadia which, once again, focuses on Detroit Catholic history. Mercy High School of Michigan will mark the 75th anniversary of the all-girls Catholic high school, the largest in Michigan.

Click the cover to visit the book’s Amazon page.

These books often are labors of love for history buffs.

In my career as a Detroit Free Press journalist, I often covered the Catholic Church, ranging from Catholic school closings to the funeral of Pope John Paul II at the Vatican in 2005. In my husband’s family, his father and grandfather comprised Diehl & Diehl Architects, who designed many Detroit-area churches, including Gesu. My mother-in-law’s family were stewards of Detroit Stained Glass Works, which from 1861 to 1970, designed and manufactured stained glass windows for churches around the country.

It’s a treat for me to sift through historic photos of Detroit-area institutions. At its peak population in the 1950s, when Detroit was the 4th largest city in the US with a 1.8 million population, its residents were about 65% Catholic. The city supported nearly 130 Catholic parishes, and nearly every one of them had an elementary school attached. Now the number of parishes in the city is less than 50.

With these books, I hope to do a little bit to preserve that legacy.

About Patricia Montemurri