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Karen Foresti Hempson                 
Author, Historian, Educator          
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Retired educator of history and social studies education.
  • Author of Bean Pickers, American Immigrant Portraits.
  • Received numerous awards for creative nonfiction and historical fiction.
  • Available for book talks and speaking engagements. (click on "speaking services" above and fill out PDF form)
  • Member of National League of American Pen Women
Bean Pickers, American Immigrant Portraits
2019, Jacob's Press, Inc.,
   ISBN 13:978-1-7336088-0-0
Description - Focusing on first and second-generation Italian American immigrants in upstate New York, Hempson recreates their journeys from hamlets in Italy to the hard times of the Great Depression and World War II. Each character begins American life in oppressive bean fields, eventually finding his/her way out of poverty. 

The lives of eight family members are portrayed using Hempson's research and travel. Through oral history and primary sources, Hempson puts a personal face on our nation's historic events by creating true-to-life stories. Authentic photos and documents are dispersed throughout the chapters. Actual words and descriptions were captured by recorded audio tapes and transcribed interviews.

Review of Bean Pickers by Utica Observer-Dispatch's Sunday Magazine,  Accent

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                      Review by New York Almanack

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Testimonials on Bean Pickers:

Karen Hempson has written a charming and insightful book about her family’s journey from Italy to upstate New York. Bean Pickers, tells the story of a family who struggled through poverty and deprivation to work long, hard days picking beans so that their children would have a better chance at life. Enduring hardships in substandard shacks in upstate, New York, immigrants and children of immigrants seek ways of escaping their destitute lives during the Great Depression. The book is especially appealing because of family photographs and documents reflecting life in the early to mid-twentieth century. Bean Pickers has the depth and clarity that transcends one family’s narrative into what is America’s story.”

   Dr. Erik J. Bitterbaum, President, State University of New York, College at Cortland

Bean Pickers is an intimate window on an Italian family who immigrated to Utica, New York in the early twentieth century. Vivid portrayals of childhood summers lost to labor in sweltering bean fields, ethnic discrimination on athletic fields and teeming factory floors, reveal real people in their struggles and triumphs striving for their version of the American dream. The rich yet often harsh lives of the author’s ancestors serve as a reminder to us, as Americans, to greet a new generation of immigrants with compassion and assistance.”

                                                                        Judith McGinn, Free-lance writer

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