115 posts tagged with americanhistory.
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Are these places holy or unholy?

We drive and walk every day over the places where somebody once wept or bled; the earth is a repository of invisible pain. Only in extremely rare instances are these places deemed historically important enough to be commemorated, and only in harmony with contemporary politics that can identify clear moral contours. Think of the secular holy ground of the World Trade Center site, the swan-white memorial over the wreck of the USS Arizona, the marble obelisks looming over any number of Revolutionary War battlefields.
But what of those places that are too ethically ambiguous or nationally embarrassing to remember? Tom Zoellner reviews the book Marked, Unmarked, Remembered: A Geography of American Memory by Alex and Andrew Lichtenstein.
posted by Rumple on Dec 18, 2017 - 11 comments

The fabled San Buenaventura river: it must exist because it had to

In 1776, two Franciscan missionaries Atanasio Domínguez and Silvestre Vélez de Escalante sought to find a land route between Santa Fe in Nuevo México to Monterey in Alta California. They were part of a ten-man expedition including Bernardo de Miera y Pacheco (Meira) acting as the cartographer. On September 13, they encountered a southwest-flowing tributary of the Colorado and named it San Buenaventura after the catholic saint Bonaventure. From there, the initial depiction of the river (large copy) was repeated and warped, extending west to the Pacific Ocean, repeated in various forms up through 1844 (Google books preview). Given the lengthy history of the river's existence on maps, even President Polk was reluctant to let the fabled river disappear. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Dec 18, 2017 - 11 comments

All Japanese persons, both alien and non-alien

Earlier this year a film curator at the Internet Archive digitized a 16mm color film reel shot by an unknown cameraperson which captured 17 minutes of footage from a concentration camp for Japanese-American citizens in Jerome, Arkansas in June 1944, showing the daily lives of detainees and camp personnel and their families. [more inside]
posted by XMLicious on Dec 11, 2017 - 16 comments

Race and the White Elephant War of 1884

Of course we have all learned by this time,” Barnum told his retinue, “that there is no such thing as a really pure white elephant. This is a sacred animal, a technical white elephant, and as white as God makes ’em. A man can paint them white, but this is not one of that kind.” Although readers who had followed the coverage of Toung Taloung’s reception in London would indeed have learned that white elephants are not literally white, Barnum’s matter-of-fact statement belied the controversy that the color of white elephants had already engendered in the popular imagination. In 1884, Toung Taloung was the catalyst for a broader public debate about race and authenticity.
Ross Bullen on how a bizarre episode in circus history became an unlikely forum for discussing 19th-century theories of race.
posted by Rumple on Nov 28, 2017 - 2 comments

When future archeologists excavate future Plymouth, what will they find?

Hard Times At Plimouth Plantation, Michael Hare [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Nov 26, 2017 - 13 comments

Baby disorders and untoward misfortunes

On the eve of the Civil War, a nightmare at sea turned into one of the greatest rescues in maritime history. More than a century later, a rookie treasure hunter went looking for the lost ship—and found a different kind of ruin.
The Wreck of the Connaught, by David Wolman.
posted by Rumple on Nov 23, 2017 - 6 comments

On Moving; or, The Story of a Little Old House

McMansion Hell writes about the history of a small row house in Baltimore, built around 1901, asking how the people living there might have managed the logistics of moving house and what sort of furniture they might have had. [more inside]
posted by paduasoy on Oct 30, 2017 - 24 comments

?? Pumpkins! ?? Pumpkins! ?? Pumpkins! ?? Facts! ?? Recipes! ?? More! ??

All About Pumpkins is just that - a site that is all about pumpkins, from a brief history of the squash and general facts, to brief descriptions of 46 varieties of cucurbits or Cucurbitaceae plus 33 other winter squashand tips on growing and storing winter squash. Then there's cooking, carving, and picking the perfect pumpkin. TMI? Jump to the Q & A. And that's just one website, so let's go on for more pumpkiny goodness! [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Oct 30, 2017 - 16 comments

American History with Folk Music

How an alternative American history is entwined with folk music.
posted by MovableBookLady on Oct 25, 2017 - 9 comments

Somebody gonna win, somebody gonna lose, that's my pay right there.

Somebody gonna win, somebody gonna lose, that's my pay right there. In the historical maritime attraction that is Mystic Seaport, in Mystic CT, a lecture and demonstration and concert is given about what it was like to be a fisherman south of the Mason Dixon in the days before the Power Block. Black Sea Chanties are not only a thing, they are amazing and beautiful.
posted by Slap*Happy on Aug 5, 2017 - 14 comments

I mean every word.

"The bombing of the little girls in Alabama and the murder of Medgar Evers were like the final pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that made no sense until you had fitted the whole thing together. I suddenly realized what it was to be Black in America in 1963, but it wasn’t an intellectual connection…it came as a rush of fury, hatred and determination." Nina Simone's husband and manager, intervened. "You can’t kill anyone. You are a musician. Do what you do." An hour later, Nina Simone had composed a song called Mississippi Goddam.
posted by ChuraChura on Jul 14, 2017 - 6 comments

Mayors can’t start nuclear wars.

Red versus blue. Richard Florida calls for devolving American federal power to the cities, so that progressive and conservative urban areas can do their own thing. [more inside]
posted by doctornemo on Jun 25, 2017 - 69 comments

Well, I was killed in 1963 one Sunday morning in Birmingham

John Fea, Professor of American History and Chair of the History Department at Messiah College in Grantham, Pennsylvania, documents his experience with the Returning to the Roots of the Civil Rights Tour on his blog, The Way of Improvement Leads Home. [more inside]
posted by MonkeyToes on Jun 19, 2017 - 3 comments

Frederick Law Olmsted: from anti-slavery reporter to public place maker

20 years ago, the New York Times published an article titled Carving Green Out of Urban Gray, in which Richard B. Woodward elevates Frederick Law Olmsted's parks as well-aging works of art, with Central Park as "perhaps the finest public art ever created in North America". To expand the scope of what Olmsted accomplished, appeared in The New Yorker, where Adam Gopnik laid out a slightly abbreviated story of how a very vocal and influential anti-slavery news reporter turned into one of the best known designers of public spaces, and tied the creation of Central Park as "a democratic playground, a liberal common, the ideal anti-plantation." [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Jun 7, 2017 - 3 comments

Today's lesson in etymology for the apple-polishers

If you're in the US, today is National Teachers' Day, a day celebrated around the world on different days. If you're wondering about the apples that teachers might get, the Smithsonian Magazine has a brief history of the apple in America, including as a present to teachers. A related musical interlude: "An Apple for the Teacher," by Bing Crosby & Connee Boswell. (And if you're wondering about keeping the doctor away, Phrases has the story of how Wales became the source of this commonplace English phrase.)
posted by filthy light thief on May 9, 2017 - 6 comments

White People are Scared of Us

So it was with anger and sadness (rather than shock or rage) I took in the news about San Bernadino and took in how the news of that loss was being told: as though this were a radical and inexplicable act, a violence that disrupted the calm, rather than a pulse, a beat, in the song of violence that has sung our country into existence. There is a debt of blood that must be paid. And white people aren’t the piper, they are the song.
The Savage Mind: A powerful three part essay on growing up, becoming, and being Native American, from Ojibwe writer and professor David Treuer.
posted by Rumple on Apr 15, 2017 - 4 comments

Mambo Del Pachuco

The history of the zoot suit is different from the history of pachuco culture, so is the history of caló, the tattoo of the cross, jive, swing music, and the other associations with pachuco culture. It just so happens that all these historical trajectories came together in a unique way in Los Angeles during World War II. Because of Sleepy Lagoon and the Zoot Suit Riots, this unique intersection of histories was photographed, written about, and popularized in a way that froze in time a culture that was actually evolving and expanding. Pachucos: Not Just Mexican-American Males or Juvenile Delinquents [more inside]
posted by timshel on Apr 12, 2017 - 2 comments

To Wash Your Soul

In 1963, long after being President of the United States, Herbert Hoover published a short collection of meditations on the act of fishing. Justin Smith traces the growth of Hoover's philosophical leanings. [more inside]
posted by Rumple on Apr 11, 2017 - 4 comments

"Aim high, and you won't shoot your foot off." Phyllis Diller

"Ever since I heard of the inclusion of Archie Bunker's chair in a Smithsonian display I have wondered if the Institute might have interest in something of mine.... I have kept the dress I wore with Bob Hope in his 1966 Viet Nam Expedition. (YT, Bob Hope Special January 18th, 1967) Even if I end up in the zoo or with the mammals, I would be honored. Congratulations on your gigantic projects. Godspeed. Phyllis Diller" That's how the National Museum of American History ended up with Diller’s 48-drawer metal filing cabinet, each drawer filled with neatly organized cards that contain 50,000 jokes—give or take a knee slapper or two. And now you can help transcribe Phyllis Diller's gag file.
posted by filthy light thief on Mar 5, 2017 - 19 comments

W. E. B. Du Bois' Infographics from 1900

Over 50 infographics on African-American life created by a team led by W. E. B. Du Bois to show at the American Negro Exhibit for the 1900 Paris Exposition. Jacob Alonso at Seeing Complexity puts these century old infographics into design-historical context while Ellen Terrell puts them into the context of the Paris Exposition. [via Public Domain Review]
posted by Kattullus on Feb 8, 2017 - 7 comments

There are many Thanksgiving stories to tell

The Pilgrims are often depicted in popular culture as wearing only black and white clothing, with large golden buckles on their shoes and hats and long white collars. This stereotypical Pilgrim, however, is not historically accurate. The Pilgrims, in fact, wore a wide variety of colors. Mayflower History and Plimoth Plantation have more information on and examples of authentic Pilgrim and Wampanoag clothing, to correct just a few of the numerous issues with common depictions of early Thanksgiving celebrations (previously) that can be addressed through updated discussions and depictions of Thanksgiving celebrations. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Nov 23, 2016 - 21 comments

John Locke: Against Freedom

If Locke is viewed ... as an advocate of expropriation and enslavement, what are the implications for classical liberalism and libertarianism? The most important is that there is no justification for treating property rights as fundamental human rights, on par with personal liberty and freedom of speech.
In an essay in Jacobin entitled John Locke Against Freedom, Australian economist John Quiggin argues that Locke's "classical liberalism offers no guarantee of freedom to anyone except owners of capitalist private property." [more inside]
posted by Sonny Jim on Aug 22, 2016 - 9 comments

The First Civil RIght

"We as a polity seem to think policing is the solution to every social problem." Political scientist Naomi Murakawa's book The First Civil Right: How Liberals Built Prison America tackles assumptions about how we got to today and what needs to change. In an interview at the Marshall Project, Murakawa argues "those being sentenced under punitive sentencing guidelines it doesn’t make a difference to them that Sen. Ted Kennedy was liberal and overall had a good voting record." [more inside]
posted by spamandkimchi on Jul 12, 2016 - 46 comments

Displacement for the Many and Homesteading for the Few

"America has always been about displacement for the many and homesteading for the few. Our national optimism allows us to see this as easily as it allows us to deny it. We believe things can change. We believe they already have. We believe it’s up to us, and we believe it’s our fault if we can’t." Carvell Wallace writes about The Negro Motorist Green Book and Black America’s Perpetual Search For A Home for The Toast.
posted by ChuraChura on Jun 29, 2016 - 14 comments

"I stop talking, realizing that everyone at the table is looking at me"

Patrick Blanchfield writes for The Revealer: God And Guns
Setting aside both its lyrical merits and ideological upshot, of all responses to Obama’s remarks, Skynyrd’s song had the distinction of being perhaps the most honest – and, as a matter of simple description, the most analytically accurate. For the bare fact of the matter is that whatever you may think of God, or of guns, American history would be unrecognizable without the influence of both. God and machine, ever-in-tandem, producing a nation “strong” not just in the narrow sense of being powerful, but also in the etymological sense of resolute violence, of an abiding legacy of wreckage unparalleled by any other nation on Earth.
[more inside] posted by the man of twists and turns on Apr 30, 2016 - 6 comments

The Southern Strategy and the devil down south.

An excellent piece on the history of the Republican party’s racial politics since the Civil Rights Movement era, and how the and its dog-whistle appeal to racism paved the way for the current unpleasantness within the Grand Old Party. [more inside]
posted by homunculus on Mar 7, 2016 - 131 comments

The Rosa Parks Papers Collection

The Library of Congress has digitized thousands of items from Rosa Parks's personal papers collection. The collection includes materials ranging from handwritten reflections on her arrest to books she owned to family photographs and even birthday cards.
posted by HonoriaGlossop on Feb 25, 2016 - 8 comments

The Life and Adventures of a Haunted Convict

An expert in prison literature, Smith felt sure that the book was written by someone with firsthand knowledge of 19th-century correctional facilities. And if Haunted Convict was a genuine account, it would be groundbreaking: the earliest-known narrative penned by an African-American prisoner.
posted by a strong female character on Jan 31, 2016 - 7 comments

Research team pinpoints site of Salem witch trial murders.

He has told me that his nurse had often told him, that ... she saw, from the chamber windows, those unhappy people hanging on Gallows’ Hill, who were executed for witches by the delusion of the times. Building on work done a century ago by lawyer and historian Sidney Perley, a team of historians and researchers has definitively identified the exact location where those found "guilty" in the Salem, MA witch trials of the seventeenth century were murdered, or in the words of many, "executed." [more inside]
posted by Sheydem-tants on Jan 13, 2016 - 33 comments

Ashley's Sack

My great grandmother Rose
mother of Ashley gave her this sack when
she was sold at age 9 in South Carolina
it held a tattered dress 3 handfulls of
pecans a braid of Roses hair

posted by Countess Elena on Jan 5, 2016 - 21 comments

Cotton Mather and Mass Panic

Cotton Mather's career is defined by two episodes of mass panic. In 1721 he found himself the target of public anger in Boston when he advocated for small pox inoculation after inoculating his own children on the advice of his West African slave, Onesimus. Three decades earlier, in 1692, he was one of the instigators and defenders of the Salem Witch Trials. For more on the latter, visit the comprehensive Salem Witch Trials Documentary Archive (previously).
posted by Kattullus on Sep 2, 2015 - 19 comments

Don't know much about history: New, New Framework For AP U.S. History

The College Board has just released the latest curriculum framework for its Advanced Placement U.S. history course, in response to some long-brewing controversy around the updates, which were to be the first since 2006. Critics of the prior changes are happy, while those who supported the prior edition are miffed. If you've missed the lead-up to this, here's some more history on the AP U.S. History debate... [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Aug 5, 2015 - 85 comments

finally letting go of the Confederate flag as a symbol of Southern pride

"The Confederate flag didn't get hijacked. It took off from Defending Slavery Airport and landed, right on time, at Defending Segregation Terminal." Jay Smooth: 12 symbols of Southern pride actually worth celebrating. [more inside]
posted by NoraReed on Jul 17, 2015 - 147 comments

The Whole Helen Keller

Helen Keller's lesser known work as a lefty socialist: Helen Keller was famous for flourishing as a deaf and blind woman. She was well known for her work advocating for the physically disabled. As she discovered that those who are poor were more likely to be disabled, she began her journey towards a leftist, socialist ideology. Much of her political and social activism has been erased from history. This article offers a more complete look at her body of work. [more inside]
posted by batbat on Apr 5, 2015 - 31 comments

MCD Centennial

Conservancy district 100 years old The Miami Conservancy District was the first of its kind in the world. It was used as a model for the much more famous Tennessee Valley Authority, as well as other conservancy projects in several states. [more inside]
posted by Michele in California on Mar 7, 2015 - 8 comments

British Actors, American History

“I played a soldier confronting President Lincoln in the film Lincoln, and I say to him, in the winter of 1865, ‘When are we going to get the vote?’ and then there I am, 100 years later, depicting Dr. King, alongside the very same actor, Colman Domingo — we confronted President Lincoln together — we are now in a jail cell, asking for the vote again, in 1965,” Oyelowo said in an interview with BuzzFeed News. “I’ve played a preacher in The Help, I played a fighter pilot in Red Tails, I played someone who was in a sit in, was a Freedom Rider, was a Black Panther, then goes on to be a senator in The Butler. They’re all characters that took me on this journey through what it has been to be a black person for the last 150 years.”

Oyelowo stopped, paused, and corrected himself slightly here. In nearly every role he’s taken on since he arrived in the United States, he’s portrayed the sojourn for what it’s like to be a black American for the last 150 years. [more inside]
posted by Eyebrows McGee on Jan 25, 2015 - 10 comments

we have inherited a ring of wolves around a door covered only by a quilt

(Fear, Racism, and the Historically Troubling Attitude of America's Pioneers)
DISCUSSED: Laura Ingalls Wilder, Kansas, Bonnets, “A Great Many Colored People,” Copper Gutters, Martin Luther King Jr., People Who Know Nothing about Gangs, Scalping, South Africa, Unprovoked Stabbing Sprees, Alarming Mass Pathologies, Chicago, Haunted Hot Dog Factories, Gangrene, Creatures from the Black Lagoon, Tree Saws, Headless Torsos, Quilts, Cheerleaders, Pet Grooming Stores, God
posted by
ChuraChura on Jan 18, 2015 - 10 comments

You asked me to write my life.

My name is Omar ibn Seid (pdf, 163 kb). My birthplace was Fut Tûr, between the two rivers. I sought knowledge under the instruction of a Sheikh called Mohammed Seid, my own brother, and Sheikh Soleiman Kembeh, and Sheikh Gabriel Abdal. I continued my studies twenty-five years. Then there came to our place a large army, who killed many men, and took me, and brought me to the great sea, and sold me into the hands of the Christians, who bound me and sent me on board a great ship and we sailed upon the great sea a month and a half, when we came to a place called Charleston in the Christian language. There they sold me to a small, weak, and wicked man.
[more inside] posted by ChuraChura on Jan 14, 2015 - 6 comments

The Barbarous Years

The Shocking Savagery of America's Early History, a look at historian Bernard Bailyn has not painted a pretty picture. Little wonder he calls it The Barbarous Years and spares us no details of the terror, desperation, degradation and widespread torture—do you really know what being “flayed alive” means? (The skin is torn from the face and head and the prisoner is disemboweled while still alive.) And yet somehow amid the merciless massacres were elements that gave birth to the rudiments of civilization—or in Bailyn’s evocative phrase, the fragile “integument of civility”—that would evolve 100 years later into a virtual Renaissance culture, a bustling string of self-governing, self-sufficient, defiantly expansionist colonies alive with an increasingly sophisticated and literate political and intellectual culture that would coalesce into the rationale for the birth of American independence. All the while shaping, and sometimes misshaping, the American character. It’s a grand drama in which the glimmers of enlightenment barely survive the savagery, what Yeats called “the blood-dimmed tide,” the brutal establishment of slavery, the race wars with the original inhabitants that Bailyn is not afraid to call “genocidal,” the full, horrifying details of which have virtually been erased. [more inside] posted by the man of twists and turns on Dec 20, 2014 - 42 comments

"Be brave but never take chances"

Jackson Lears is interviewd by Public Books on The Confidence Economy
Absolutely, the confidence games take the form of their setting. In capitalist settings, it’s multivalent. Not only does one need confidence to trust the merchant who’s selling you an item, but the merchant needs confidence to start his own business, he needs it to invest, and the market needs it to be propelled forward. Of course we’re sitting here talking about this in the shadow of the banking crisis and recession! The cultural feature we’re talking about may be common to human interaction, no matter the specific setting, but those specific settings—a Mississippi River steamboat in the the mid-nineteenth century, or Catholic Italy a half millennium before—give form to its expression.
[more inside] posted by the man of twists and turns on Dec 13, 2014 - 3 comments

Sand Creek Will Be Forgotten No More

Remember the Sand Creek Massacre. "The 1864 murder of 200 innocent Indians is still largely forgotten. Many people think of the Civil War and America’s Indian wars as distinct subjects, one following the other. But those who study the Sand Creek Massacre know different." The Horrific Sand Creek Massacre Will Be Forgotten No More. "The opening of a national historic site in Colorado helps restore to public memory one of the worst atrocities ever perpetrated on Native Americans." [Previously]
posted by homunculus on Nov 29, 2014 - 16 comments

"Nobody had fooled around with the heart before."

Black laboratory technician Vivien Thomas was paid a janitor's wage, never went to college or medical school, and was one of the pioneers of open heart surgery.
posted by Snarl Furillo on Nov 5, 2014 - 20 comments

The Construction of Whiteness

Gerald Horne is the John J. and Rebecca Moores Chair of History and African American Studies at the University of Houston. He is a prolific author whose most recent book is The Counter-Revolution of 1776: : Slave Resistance & the Origins of the United States of America (published by NYU Press; available on Google Books). From the publisher's description:
The so-called Revolutionary War, Horne writes, was in large part a counter-revolution, a conservative movement that the founding fathers fought in order to preserve their liberty to enslave others—and which today takes the form of a racialized conservatism and a persistent racism targeting the descendants of the enslaved.
Early in the book, Horne writes:
The construction of 'whiteness' or the forging of bonds between and among European settlers across class, gender, ethnic, and religious lines was a concrete response to the real dangers faced by all of these migrants in the face of often violent rebellions from enslaved Africans and their indigenous comrades.
He recently sat down with Paul Jay of the Real News Network for the show Reality Asserts Itself. The result is a far-ranging discussion that covers his youth growing up in Jim Crow era St. Louis, his personal and intellectual development, pre-revolutionary America and the lucrative business of slavery, the Civil War and Reconstruction, and the Civil rights movement. The interview concludes by bringing us back to recent events, including the recent chokehold death of Eric Garner in New York, and the protests in Ferguson, Missouri. [more inside]
posted by mondo dentro on Aug 25, 2014 - 14 comments

Colonial American Digressions

About Colonial Indoor Lighting
Buttons In Colonial America
Colonial Meals Were Fattening
and more
posted by the man of twists and turns on Aug 14, 2014 - 10 comments

The Valley of the Shadow

The Valley of the Shadow is a digital archive of primary sources that document the lives of people in Augusta County, Virginia, and Franklin County, Pennsylvania, during the era of the American Civil War. Here you may explore thousands of original documents that allow you to see what life was like during the Civil War for the men and women of Augusta and Franklin. Presented by the Virginia Center for Digital History at the University of Virginia.
posted by disclaimer on Jul 5, 2014 - 4 comments

a US presidential slave ownership reference table

Which US presidents owned slaves? [more inside]
posted by threeants on Dec 30, 2013 - 82 comments

Edmund S. Morgan

"Curiosity is the principle motivator of all important work." Distinguished historian Edmund S. Morgan died on Monday at the age of 97. [more inside]
posted by colfax on Jul 9, 2013 - 8 comments

Audio recordings of 1964 interviews with Civil Rights activists

Robert Penn Warren's book Who Speaks for the Negro? was a collection of interviews with various men and women involved in the Civil Rights Movement published in 1965. Vanderbilt University has made all the interviews available as audio and transcripts, taken from the original reel-to-reel recordings. Among the interviewees were Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Septima Poinsette Clark, Ralph Ellison, Stokely Carmichael, James Baldwin and Bayard Rustin. On the page for each interview there are links to related documents, such as letters, photos and contemporary news articles.
posted by Kattullus on Jul 5, 2013 - 13 comments

I Am Only Going Into Another Room

"101 ways to say died: in this project, I will be cataloging all the synonyms for "died" that appear in early American epitaphs." Courtesy of Vast Public Indifference: history, grad school, and gravestones. [more inside]
posted by MartinWisse on Apr 22, 2013 - 51 comments

"The American Revolution is not a story just for white people."

"We’ve coined a term," said Katrinah Lewis, the actress who typically interprets Lydia. "Post-traumautic slave syndrome." The Washington Post reports on African American actors who interpret the lives of slaves at Colonial Williamsburg.
posted by Snarl Furillo on Mar 11, 2013 - 38 comments

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