Four siblings wrote hundreds of letters to each other during World War II. The story they tell of service, sacrifice and trauma was hidden away in an abandoned storage unit — until now.
The Halifax Explosion. Previously. The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic has some good links. Another previously.
The Secret Feminist History of Brown Paper Bags [Eater] “Few things are as useful as the paper bag. In the United States, people use (and reuse) 10 billion of them every year. Who among us has gotten through life, likely as a child, without opening up a brown paper bag filled with a sandwich, juice box, and a piece of fruit? Or, later in life, enjoyed an alcoholic beverage in a public place with the illegal item safely ensconced inside a bag? But paper bags have been around for so long, and in so many forms, that few have ever stopped to wonder where they came from in the first place. Even fewer know that paper bags were involved in not one but two feminist crusades.” [more inside]
Recent controversies in New Zealand have brought the threatened state of the Māori language back into the spotlight - New Zealand broadcasters refuse to stop using Māori words (Eleanor Ainge Roy, The Guardian) [more inside]
In the 20th century, Japanese anthropologists and officials tried to hide the existence of the Indigenous Ainu. Then the Ainu fought back like their cousins, the bears.
In a now-viral tweet, @xnulz asked twitter to: “Name a badder bitch than Taylor Swift.” Here are just a few of those badder bitches: [more inside]
Two Spirit [yt] - "Two Spirit: A Native American possessing both a male and female spirit. An umbrella term used to describe the fluidity of Native American gender identity and sexuality with respect to traditional tribal roles." [more inside]
Defunctland is a notional amusement park comprised of defunct rides and attractions from actual parks, but more interestingly it's a series of entertaining short videos about the stories of vanished rides- why they were built, what they were like, and why- be it changing tastes, entertainment conglomerate politics, poor quality, or terrible engineering- they became defunct. Episode list inside. [more inside]
On the day Emperor Haile Selassie visited Jamaica, a powerful storm broke out. The country, prior to the Emperor’s arrival, had been ravaged by famine and starvation. There had been no rain to water the crops for decades. The first time, in a long time, that it rained was when the Emperor set foot out of his aeroplane in that country. Jamaicans, from that time on, started to see the Emperor in a new light, they started to assume that maybe he was not just a person, but a messiah of some kind. Maybe even the messiah himself.[more inside]
Historian Dr Bob Nicholson complained on twitter about the incorrect use of massive headlines in newspapers in historic dramas such as the recent film The Man Who Invented Christmas, about Dickens writing A Christmas Carol. The tweet went viral and was, ironically featured in a couple of newspaper stories (The Times - firewalled and The Mail) as well as elsewhere. Dr Bob himself recommends this article on Dickens.
After 30+ years fighting the US military and American settlers, Chiricahua Apache medicine man Geronimo surrendered to the US government in 1886. Geronimo and 341 other Chiricahua then became permanent prisoners of war at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, where their children were sent to schools designed to strip them of their language and cultural identity. Journalist Anna Badkhen recently traveled to a small town in the Sierra Madre Occidental of northern Mexico, where Geronimo's descendants performed the Ceremonia del Perdón — a Ceremony of Forgiveness, celebrated their lineage and honored their roots in the very mountains where their ancestors denounced and hid theirs to survive. As the Apache try to forgive, Badkhen tries, in her words, “to learn what forgiveness is and whether it is possible.” (Via: 1 and 2)
Tom Scott explains the strange case of Yale having a 367 year old bond originally issued by a Dutch waterschap in its archives, . (slyt)
Patterns in Flax (10’55, Black & White) (1947) This Weekly Review pays respect to the traditional Māori art of raranga (or weaving), and looks at the industrialisation of New Zealand flax (harakeke) processing. The episode features a factory in Foxton where Māori designs are incorporated into modern floor coverings. Patterns in Flax features some great footage of the harvesting and drying of flax plants, and shots of immense (now obsolete) flax farms. [more inside]
Talking Simpsons, the in-depth Episode-by-episode Simpson’s podcast, takes a break to explore the history and backstory of the USA Network’s attempt to create a raunchy and extremely 90s competitor to The Simpsons, Duckman (92 min). They discuss the episode ‘About Face’, available online here.
Equal Justice [content warning: rape] - "More than a decade before Parks became a civil rights hero for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man, Parks led a national campaign against sexual assaults on black women." (previously)
In British Baby Names, Eleanor Nickerson posts about name history and contemporary naming: Tudor names, Victorian Gothic names, excellent names from 1876, Victorian Romany names, alliterative Edwardian siblings. There are rare names, phrase names and families with interesting name choices: the Farmans, the Stuarts and the Stockers. Name poems show that interest in names is not new. In more recent data, Nickerson looks at regional names (girls, boys), names by letter (girls, boys) and fast-rising names. She gives name help and links to other name blogs.
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.
The Royal Botanical Gardens, Burlington, Ontario, has a collection of 30,000 historical seed catalogs. Once produced as ephemera, they are now of interest to historians, biologists, and others. [more inside]
The Martians Claim Canada - a short satire of settler-colonialism written and illustrated by Margaret Atwood.
The History of the Sims [YouTube] [33:12] “Very few games can say they presented something truly original to medium like The Sims did, and even fewer can boast the kind of cultural significance it has. Released in 2000, The Sims allowed players to puppeteer the lives of virtual people, micromanaging every aspect of their existence with no real goal other than whatever they set for themselves. For some, The Sims provided unparalleled escapism, letting them live out a fantasy life through in-game characters. For others it was an invitation to indulge their creative whims by crafting ideal homes and, of course, there's also those that indulged their sadistic side by toying with the lives of Sims in cruel but often amusing ways.” [via: Gamespot] [more inside]
The Exciting History of Carbon Paper dates back to the beginning of the 19th century. Today, we still refer to the technology, even though we have not used it in a long time. [more inside]
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.
"Did you spot a ragtag procession of musicians, people in costume, children and dogs marching from Aldgate through Whitechapel to Mile End Waste last Sunday? Behind this light-hearted frolic was a serious intent, for this was the Great Yiddish Parade, commemorating the procession of Jewish unemployed and garment workers which took place here in 1889." So writes the Gentle Author of Spitalfields Life in a photo-filled post about the event. [more inside]
As holiday festivities ramp up, you might be wondering "how should I decorate this table? Why should I decorate this table?" To answer both questions, Curbed continues its Period Dramas series with How Christmas decorations evolved through the 1800s in New England. For another look at (New England) Christmas Past, here's Christmas: Williamsburg Style. But wait, you say, let's tackle one holiday at a time. OK, here's the origin of the Thanksgiving cornucopia, and more on the cornucopia in general. If you want a more beachy theme, here's Secret Life of Antiques: Victorian Shell Work. And if you combine all that, you can get a festive garbage clam, just like Ivanka Trump. Holiday centerpiece problem solved!
Prehi(p)storic An early history of the ostentatious moustache, a storymap from the Early Celtic Art in Context project.
During WWII, the United States and New Zealand conducted secret tests of a "tsunami bomb" designed to destroy coastal cities by using underwater blasts to trigger massive tidal waves. [more inside]
The Avocado, originally formed as a diaspora from the Onion AV Club comment section, has now become an excellent website in its own right. Recently they have been running retrospectives of old magazine issues and it is a fascinating and funny look into recent US history. [more inside]
Black Girl in a Big Dress is an online comedy series "about an African American Anglophile cosplayer in love with the Victorian Era who's trying to bring a fantasy courtship from her re-enactment events into the real world."
Timbuktu has long been Africa's El Dorado. Located on the southern edge of the Sahara and north of the Niger river (Google maps), what was initially a small river-side settlement bloomed as a trading hub for salt, gold, slaves, ivory and later, books. While its academic prominence has never returned to its peak of centuries past, it is still a treasure trove of ancient manuscripts from western Africa, maintained and protected through the years by families who have kept these works safe from numerous regime changes. These are the lost (and found) libraries of Timbuktu (hour long documentary on Vimeo from documentary producer; more info from BBC Four and stream if you're in the UK). [more inside]
A three-metre-tall polar bear stood in the doorway. It walked up to her, put its snowshoe-sized paw on her pregnant belly, and began to speak: ‘If it’s a boy, you name it after me.’ . . . When Alice gave birth to a son two weeks later, she gave him two names. The first was Mangilaluk. The second was Bernard.A new all-season highway opens tomorrow, which will be the first road to connect Tuktoyaktuk to Inuvik, in Canada's far North. It is already informally being called "Bernard's Highway". Nadim Roberts tells the harrowing life story of Mangilaluk / Bernard.
How Doctor Who’s New Costume Cleverly Leans on History [Vanity Fair] “Cosplayers and fan artists alike, rejoice! Doctor Who, the iconic, lead-swapping franchise, has just revealed the costume for the 13th actor taking on the moniker of “The Doctor”: Jodie Whittaker. The reveal of a new Who costume—soon to be replicated and worn by convention-goers around the world—is always a cause for celebration. But anyone following the cloud of controversy swirling around Whittaker’s casting will know that, this time, the costumers on the long-running show faced a new challenge when selecting just the right coat and trousers for the time-traveling adventurer.” [.jpg] [more inside]
Finance isn't just an industry. It's a system of social control - "A system for constraining the choices of other social actors." [more inside]
Call of Duty: WWII – War Is Still Kind of The Same [Gaming Bolt] “Since 2003, Activision has released sixteen full-length Call of Duty games, if you count standalone spin-offs like Call of Duty: Finest Hour and Call of Duty 2: Big Red One. Games in the series have been created by original developer Infinity Ward, Treyarch (who has made the franchise’s most commercially successful games with the Black Ops sub-series), and newcomers Sledgehammer Games. The series has traveled from the beaches of Normandy to the rivers of Vietnam and even into space. [...] The goal is here is twofold: to return the series to its boots-on-the-ground roots, which were lacking in the last two titles, and to the conflict that defined the series before its excursion to a technology-focused future for a change of pace.” [YouTube][Trailer] [more inside]
Princeton University, founded as the College of New Jersey in 1746, exemplifies the central paradox of American history. From the start, liberty and slavery were intertwined. The Princeton and Slavery Project investigates the University’s involvement with the institution of slavery, through a range of primary sources and stories exploring its slaveholding presidents and professors, its African American communities on campus and in town, its first African American students, and the legacy of slavery in its archives and public memorials.
Boston University recently hosted culinary historian Michael Twitty as part of its Pépin Lecture Series. about his memoir, The Cooking Gene, and the "search for my food roots and family routes during the first 250 odd years of American history." [more inside]
Alongside a few tubes of Mummy Brown are other pigments whose origin stories are practically legend. Tyrian purple, an ancient Phoenician dye that requires 10,000 mollusks to produce a single gram of pigment, is said to have been discovered by Hercules’s dog as he snuffled along the beach. Indian yellow, purportedly made from the urine of cows fed only on mango leaves, was banned by the British government in the early 20th century on the grounds that its production constituted animal cruelty. Ultramarine, a vivid blue made from lapis lazuli mined in Afghanistan, was once more precious than gold.[more inside]
Lindsay Ellis once again gives a deep dive into movie history and film theory with Disney’s The Hunchback Of Norte Dame (38:00), touching on Victor Hugo’s original work, authorial intent, the history and problems of adaptation, visual mass media, internal Disney power struggles and ...Nazis.
The Great Diary Project: "Diary rescuer" (and also British Museum curator) Irving Finkel, founded the Great Diary Project, a repository for any all diaries in non-digital formats by private individuals. Finkel believes that every diary is a valuable resource full of remarkable details. "All human life is there, and every entry is helpfully dated for future historians." For the sake of posterity, you can donate your own. via ALDaily.
Revisiting the Greenbelt Towns, a Forgotten 1930s Attempt at American Utopia - “They didn’t want these towns built because they would be put into direct competition with the private housing market.“ (NYT blog) - StoryCorp interviews with long time Greenbelt residents
How Is Digital Mapping Changing The Way We Visualize Racism and Segregation? A new project from the University of Iowa uses interactive maps to show segregation patterns in Washington, D.C., Omaha, and Nashville in the late 19th century. [more inside]
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]
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]
There was a time when Catherine wanted only to have a plaque erected in memory of these forgotten children. But now she felt that she owed them much more. “No one cared,” she said. “And that’s my driving force all the time: No one cared.”The New York Times tells the story of Catherine Corless and the lost children of Tuam. (Note: this is a distressing story of child abuse, neglect and death, and mothers forcibly separated from their children, among other elements.) [more inside]
"This is our history, culture, heritage. We are using our voices to change our future." The Reno, a legendary club in Moss Side, has been excavated by former regulars working with Salford University's Applied Archaeology Department. Opened on the corner of Moss Lane East and Princess Road in 1962, its heyday was from 1971 to 1981 when it became a haven for Manchester's mixed-race community who often weren't welcome elsewhere. [more inside]
Hacking the Holocaust: Remembering the data pirates, forgers, and social engineers who saved thousands.
...Adolfo recalls when he stayed awake for two nights straight to fill an enormous rush order. “It’s a simple calculation: In one hour I can make 30 blank documents; if I sleep for an hour, 30 people will die.”
Reports of its death were greatly exaggerated, and the end-of-the-nation-state theory itself died at the turn of the millennium. But now it’s back, and this time it might be right.
Philosopher Stephen Asma asks, "Why are so many monsters hybrids?"