Category: History

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NoteStreams (Most Recent First)

The Strange Story of Inventing the ‘Bastard’ in Medieval Europe

Today, ‘bastard’ is used as an insult, or to describe children born to non-marital unions. Yet prior to the 13th century, legitimate marriage or its absence was not the key factor in determining quality of birth. What changed?
Sara McDougall is associate professor of history at John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York (CUNY) and a member of the doctoral faculty at the CUNY Graduate Center. Her research focuses primarily on marriage and law in medieval Europe. Her latest book is Royal Bastards: The Birth of Illegitimacy, 800-1230 (2017).
aeon
CC BY-ND 4.0

Category: History

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Women in World War I: Women's Uniforms

This is the 2nd post in the Women in World War 1 series. To begin with the Introduction, please click here.
The Great War saw tens of thousands of women, American and otherwise, don uniforms to take on their war work. What is so striking about the uniforming of American women during World War I is that it occurred in all parts of women's war efforts. Whether attached to the military or to voluntary organizations, working in factories, on farms, or filling in other occupations as men left for overseas service, women wore uniforms.
The National Museum of American History

Category: History

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Darkness Over All: The Birth of the Illuminati Conspiracy

Conspiracy theories of a secretive power elite seeking global domination have long held a place in the modern imagination. Mike Jay explores the idea’s beginnings in the writings of John Robison, a Scottish scientist who maintained that the French revolution was the work of a covert Masonic cell known as the Illuminati.
Mike Jay has written extensively on scientific and medical history and is a specialist in the study of drugs. His books include A Visionary Madness: The Case of James Tilly Matthews and the Influencing Machine and High Society: Mind-Altering Drugs in History and Culture.
Public Domain Review
CC BY-SA 3.0

Category: History

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Setting the Record Straight on Pirates and Their Wives

Pirate lore has long captivated us and, through the centuries, worked its way into our literature, movies and popular culture. But many depictions of pirates are wrong, distorting our understanding of them. So writes Daphne Palmer Geanacopoulos in her new book, “The Pirate Next Door: The Untold Story of Eighteenth Century Pirates’ Wives, Families and Communities.”
Library Of Congress Blogs

Category: History

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The Military Power, Economics and Strategy that led to D-Day

On June 6 1944, more than 150,000 Allied troops landed in Normandy. Their number rose to 1.5m over the next six weeks. With them came millions of tons of equipment, ranging from munitions, vehicles, food, and fuel to prefabricated floating harbours.Post by Mark Harrison, Professor of Economics, University of Warwick
The Conversation
CC BY-ND 4.0

Category: Military History

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Women in World War I: Introduction

World War I was without a doubt a watershed event for women’s military service in the United States and elsewhere. However, we do not want to restrict our definition of women in the military to only women who served in the military.
Instead, we want to broaden our understanding to include the women whose lives were affected by the military and the war: women who were left on the home front, women who saw their husbands and sons go off to fight, women in Europe who experienced the war firsthand as it ravaged their hometowns, and even the women in media and art who symbolically represented freedom, virtue, and victory and spurred their countrymen and women to arms.
The National Museum of American History

Category: Military History

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Susan Fenimore Cooper: The First American Woman to Publish Nature Writing

If her name sounds familiar, it is because her father was James Fenimore Cooper, author of The Last of the Mohicans. Susan Cooper’s book sprang from journals of her observations on weather, fauna and flora, and the general rural life around her hometown of Cooperstown, New York, founded by her grandfather William Cooper in 1786. She sought to educate her readers about the natural world and hoped this would encourage them to value and protect it.
This post was authored by Stephanie Marcus, Science Reference & Research Specialist, in the Science, Technology, and Business Division of the Library of Congress. She is also author of the blog posts “Kebabs, Kabobs, Shish Kebabs, Shashlyk, and: Chislic” and “The Potato Transformed.”
Library of Congress Blogs: Inside Adams

Category: History

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World War I: Footlocker’s Contents Reveal Soldier’s Story

When I saw a World War I-era footlocker and its contents for sale on eBay, I scooped it up. It arrived full of items I had hoped for—a helmet, a haversack—but also of surprises, from a pouch filled with 100-year-old tobacco to the biggest surprise of them all: many of the items were marked with a name, C.F. Stensen.
Library of Congress Blogs

Category: Military History

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A Brief History of Cryptography

Cryptology is a young science. Though it has been used for thousands of years to hide secret messages, systematic study of cryptology as a science (and perhaps an art) just started around one hundred years ago.
The first known evidence of the use of cryptography (in some form) was found in an inscription carved around 1900 BC, in the main chamber of the tomb of the nobleman Khnumhotep II, in Egypt.
RedHat
CC BY-SA 3.0

Category: History

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5 Historical Figures Whose Heads Have Been Stolen

The graves of famous people have been plundered for hundreds of years. Bodies and body parts have been stolen by guards trusted to keep corpses safe, scientists determined to study them, and even admirers with good intentions (i.e. Thomas Paine).
Skulls are usually the part of the body that is the most sought after because of its scientific value or appeal as a trophy. Recently grave robbers looted the burial plot of the man who directed Nosferatu in 1922.
Strange Remains
CC BY-NC 4.0

Category: History

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Kites Rise on the Wind: The Origin of Kites

In trying to learn about the story of kites I find it is often told back to front. But to begin close to the beginning I think we should start with a story that is very old. It appears in myths and legends in Asia and Polynesia.
Library of Congress Blogs: Folklife Today

Category: History

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Why Easter is Called Easter, & Other Little-Known Facts About the Holiday

Easter is quite similar to other major holidays like Christmas and Halloween, which have evolved over the last 200 years or so. In all of these holidays, Christian and non-Christian (pagan) elements have continued to blend together.
Post by Brent Landau, Lecturer in Religious Studies, University of Texas at Austin
The Conversation
CC BY-ND 4.0

Category: History

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Why the Battle of the Somme Marks a Turning Point of World War I

The British offensive on the Somme began on July 1, 1916. Bloodier battles would come in 1918, but on the first day of the Somme the British Army suffered its greatest daily loss: 19,000 killed.
Coming at the mid-point of World War I, the Battle of the Somme is often taken to exemplify the stupidity of the war on the western front. But this terrible experience took place at a unique moment, defined by two facts.
Post by Mark Harrison, Professor of Economics, University of Warwick
The Conversation
CC BY-ND 4.0

Category: Military History

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On the Bunny Trail: In Search of the Easter Bunny

The Easter Bunny, like Santa Claus, is the bringer of gifts on a popular American holiday. Throughout the country, the swift little creature is said to deliver decorated eggs to children on Easter. In some variants of this story, the bunny is even said to lay eggs, presenting a challenge to biology teachers everywhere!
So what’s the story on this odd tradition? Let’s take a look.
Note: Some of this research, and an interview with the author, was included in a report on CBS Sunday Morning, which aired Easter Sunday, March 27, 2016.
Library of Congress Blogs

Category: History

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April Fools: The Roots of an International Tradition

Keep a sharp eye on the newspapers and news websites this April 1 and you’ll probably some headlines that look.... suspicious. Read further, and there's a good chance you'll find that some of those stories are simply complete hoaxes. After all, it’s April Fools’ Day.
But where did we get this curious custom of playing pranks on April 1?

Library of Congress Blogs

Category: History

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Imaginary Maps in Literature and Beyond: Map Monsters

This is the seventh article in a series of eight on imaginary maps, written by Hannah Stahl, a Library Technician in the Geography & Map Division. To begin with the first NoteStream in the series, please click here.
As users of Twitterand Instagram have discovered, there is a lot of whimsy to be found on 16th and 17th century maps in the form of sea creatures.
Commonly referred to as “map monsters,” these creatures adorn maps on spaces that are usually left blank or in spots where the geography of the world was still unknown. What was their purpose when they were created, and why are they so popular today?
Library of Congress Blogs

Category: History

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World War I: Understanding the War at Sea Through Maps

Soldiers leaping from trenches and charging into an apocalyptic no man’s land dominate the imagination when it comes to World War I. However, an equally dangerous and strategically critical war at sea was waged between the Central Powers and the Allies, with Germany and Great Britain as the primary belligerents.
World War I Centennial, 2017-2018: With the most comprehensive collection of multi-format World War I holdings in the nation, the Library of Congress is a unique resource for public programs and on-site visitor experiences about The Great War including exhibits, symposia and book talks.
The following guest post is by Ryan Moore, a cartographic specialist in the Geography and Map Division. This blog post originally appeared in the Library of Congress Blog.

Category: Military History

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Imaginary Maps: Half-Real, Half-Imaginary

This is the sixth article in a series of eight on imaginary maps, written by Hannah Stahl, a Library Technician in the Geography & Map Division. To begin with the first NoteStream in the series, please click here.
Today, we examine maps of fictional stories that take place in the world around us instead of the worlds in the pages of books. Like the fans of Dante’s Inferno who felt compelled to map his world, fans of other books had the same impulse to map real world settings in relation to the stories they read. Lovers of Jane Austen, Shakespeare and George R. R. Martin have a lot in common.
Library Of Congress Blogs

Category: History

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The Art of Reading Runes

Many students in today’s globalized world learn more than one script in order to prepare for the future. However, not too many immerse themselves in writing systems of the past. Things were different for 19th-century school children in Sweden.
Library of Congress Blog: 4 Corners of the World International Collection
(The following is a post by Taru Spiegel, Reference Specialist, European Division.)

Category: History

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Day of Remembrance: Photos of Japanese American Internment WWII

On February 19, 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which led to the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. The Executive Order applied to all people of Japanese ancestry, two-thirds of whom were American citizens, forcing nearly 120,000 people to leave their homes on the Pacific coast.

Library of Congress Blogs

Category: History

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Terrible Echoes Of The Past...

"I was just a child of 5 when soldiers marched up our driveway in a Los Angeles residential neighborhood, bayonets in hand, and pounded on our front door, ordering us out. We were permitted only what we could carry, no bedding, no pets."
George Takei is an actor and activist. His Broadway show "Allegiance" screens across cinemas in the United States on the Day of Remembrance, February 19. Follow him on Twitter @GeorgeTakei. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.
CNN

Category: Military History

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My Beloved Eliza: The Final Letters from Alexander Hamilton to his Wife

These two letters from Alexander Hamilton to his wife, Elizabeth, were written during the week preceding the duel, with instructions that they should only be delivered if “I shall first have terminated my earthly career.” The letters explain Hamilton’s reason for participating in the duel and his determination to maintain his religious convictions by sparing the life of Aaron Burr.

Library of Congress Blogs

Category: History

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“My Name is Alexander Hamilton. And There’s a Million Things I Haven’t Done”

The musical Hamilton is based on Ron Chernow's book Alexander Hamilton. While the why behind it may go unanswered, it remains true that Alexander himself was a most compelling character.
Library of Congress Blogs

Category: History

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The Story Behind the Sachertorte

The Sachertorte is a Viennese specialty: a chocolate cake with a layer - or two - of apricot jam, covered with a smooth glaze of rich dark chocolate. Seems hard to believe it was the root of the Seven Year Cake War...
Images by
Baking With Marianne
CC BY-SA 4.0

Category: History

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Beauty to Die For: How Vanity Killed an 18th Century Celebutante

The beautiful Countess of Coventry died at the young age of 27. Could her cosmetics have contributed to her untimely death?
Source and References: Strange Remains
CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Category: History

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Before Nobels: Gifts Were Early Science’s Currency

Gifts from patrons offered a crucial means of support, yet they came with many strings attached.
The Conversation
CC BY-ND 4.0

Category: History

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The Many Lives of the Medieval Wound Man

Sliced, stabbed, punctured, bleeding, harassed on all sides by various weaponry, the curious image of Wound Man is a rare yet intriguing presence in the world of medieval and early modern medical manuscripts. Jack Hartnell explores this enigmatic figure’s journey through the centuries.
Dr Jack Hartnell is Andrew W. Mellon Lecturer and Postdoctoral Fellow at Columbia University, New York, where his research focuses on the visual culture of medieval medicine, cartography, and mathematics. He is preparing a book on the Wound Man, as well as an introduction to medieval medical visual culture soon to be published by the Wellcome Trust and Profile Books, entitled Medieval Bodies (2017).
Public Domain Review, CC BY-SA 3.0
An earlier version of this essay, from which this text has been adapted, appears on the wonderful Wellcome Blog (Part 1, Part 2), published under a CC BY 4.0 license.

Category: History

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George Orwell, 1948, and Nineteen Eighty-Four

In an odd coincidence, George Orwell and Nineteen Eighty-Four are back in the news - right around the anniversary of his death. This post takes a look at his illness and treatment and a major historical change in clinical research.
* The thoughts Hilda Bastian expresses here at Absolutely Maybe are personal, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Institutes of Health or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
PLoS Blogs, CC BY 4.0

Category: History

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Challenged to a Duel? What are the Rules?

So, you’ve been challenged to a duel. What are the rules?
Duels always make for fascinating reading. Did you know they came with their own rulebook?!
Illustration: "Duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. After the painting by J. Mund." The duel took place in Weehawken, New Jersey on July 11, 1804. Note: possibly due to artistic license and the problems of perspective and canvas size etc, the duellists are standing at an unusually short distance from each other. However, it is known that some duels did indeed take place at very short distances such as this, though most were fought where the opponents were standing approximately 50 feet apart.
The protagonists are dressed in anachronistic 18th century dress, not the common fashion of the early 19th century.
Illustrator not identified. From a painting by J. Mund. July 11, 1804
Library of Congres Blogs

Category: History

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Stirring Up History: Bartender/Historian Christine Sismondo

Join us for a chat with historian, author and ex-bartender Christine Sismondo and discover how she came to fall in love with both history and cocktails!

The Alcohol Professor

Category: History

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Gin and Tonic: A Short History of a Stiff Drink

By the early nineteenth century, chemists had isolated quinine from cinchona bark. It formed an essential ingredient in tonic water.
ActiveHistory.ca
CC BY-NC-SA 2.5 CA

Category: History

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Natural History of the Kitchen: The Microwave

Welcome to a new column from EMD's Stephanie Butler: The Natural History of the Kitchen. Each week, Stephanie will explore the background of an appliance or gadget that helps make cooking what it is today. First up: The Microwave

Eat Me Daily
(CC BY-NC-SA US 3.0)

Category: History

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An Ordinary Cup o’ Joe

Coffee has been a part of our culture for a long time. Take a look back at some fantastic images through the ages!

Category: History

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Cat Pianos & Other Imaginary Musical Instruments

Come join Deirdre Loughridge and Thomas Patteson, (talented curators of the Museum of Imaginary Musical Instruments), and explore the wonderful history of creative musical contraptions, including a piano (of yelping cats) and Francis Bacon’s 17th-century vision of experimental sound manipulation. What lessons could such figments of imagination offer?
{http://publicdomainreview.org/2015/07/15/cat-pianos-sound-houses-and-other-imaginary-musical-instruments//">Public Domain Review
(CC BY-SA 3.0)

Category: History

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Ancient Greece: The Olympic Games

This is the final installment in a series of articles on Ancient Greece. To begin at the beginning, please click here.
US History
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Category: History

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What Time Is It?

Daylight saving time takes a bit of adjustment every year. How did it get started?
Library Of Congress Blog

Category: History

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Inside the Empty House: Sherlock Holmes, For King and Country

As a new series of BBC’s Sherlock revives the great detective after his apparent death, Andrew Glazzard investigates the domestic and imperial subterfuge beneath the surface of Sherlock Holmes’s 1903 return to Baker Street in Conan Doyle’s ‘The Empty House’.
Public Domain Review

Category: History

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Teaching Intoxication

This post is part of The Recipe Project’s annual Teaching Series. In this post, Dr. Gabe Klehr asks us to think carefully about the ways that we talk and teach about the historical experience of “drunkenness.”
The Recipes Project

Category: History

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Weddings and the Dead

Weddings are a contract we enter ‘until death’, and in some cultures there are more literal translations of the ‘death’ part.
Bones Don't Lie
CC BY-NC SA 4.0

Category: History

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Job Adverts in the 1920s: Twitter meets LinkedIn

Dipping into just a few editions of the Chemist and Druggist in the 1920s reveals intriguing insights into pharmacy employment of the time, an era before equal opportunities legislation.
Wellcome Library
CC BY 4.0

Category: History

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Ancient Greece: Alexander The Great

Alexander the Great amassed the largest empire in the ancient world, and smashed the Persian Empire. But historians often see him in a darker light. Was Alexander the Great really great?
This is the 8th in a series of nine articles on Ancient Greece. To begin at the beginning, please click here.
US History
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Category: History

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Imaginary Maps: Children's Stories

This is the fifth article in a series on imaginary maps, written by Hannah Stahl, a Library Technician in the Geography & Map Division. To begin with the first NoteStream in the series, please click here.
From Winnie the Pooh to Harry Potter - maps aren't always reliable!
Library of Congress Blogs

Category: History

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Jack the Ripper

The unidentified killer known as Jack the Ripper murdered a series of women in the Whitechapel area of London during 1888. Judith Flanders explores how the excitement and fear surrounding the mysterious murderer made its way into late-Victorian literature.
British Library
CC BY 4.0

Category: History

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How Politics Played a Major Role in the Signing of Jackie Robinson

On October 23, 1945, the Brooklyn Dodgers signed Jackie Robinson to their top minor league team, the Montreal Royals, ending the color line in professional baseball.
The Conversation
(CC BY-ND 4.0)

Category: History

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Happy Anniversary Yosemite!

President Abraham Lincoln signed the Yosemite Valley Grant Act in 1864, giving California the Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Big Tree Grove “upon the express conditions that the premises shall be held for public use, resort, and recreation.”.
Yet California proved unable to adequately care for these extraordinary lands, and by 1890, public sentiment had begun to demand the return of the park to the federal government.
Library of Congress

Category: History

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Holywell Street: Victorian London’s Dirty Book Trade

(Tentative warning: the essay includes some mildly explicit content, both text and image, which may not be suitable for all ages and dispositions!)
Victorian sexuality is often considered synonymous with prudishness, conjuring images of covered up piano legs and dark ankle-length skirts. Historian Matthew Green uncovers a quite different scene in the sordid story of Holywell St, 19th-century London’s epicentre of erotica and smut.
The Public Domain Review
(CC BY-SA 3.0)

Category: History

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Rare Book Of The Month: “The Jungle Book”

Did you know The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling was actually written during a snowy winter in Vermont?
(The following is a guest blog post written by Elizabeth Gettins, Library of Congress digital library specialist.)
Library Of Congress Blog

Category: History

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The Adventures of Sir Kenelm Digby: Pirate, Philosopher & Foodie

Aged 24, Sir Kenelm Digby raised a fleet to sail against the enemy French in the Mediterranean, as his family name lay covered in shadow. Joe Moshenska (Faculty of English) looks at the intellectual, political and culinary life of a man driven by a thirst for knowledge.
Forced to put in at Algiers, his filthy ships were scoured and replacement crew recruited. Digby hobnobbed with local dignitaries, and feasted on partridges and “Melons of marveilous goodnesse”.
University of Cambridge
(CC BY 4.0)

Category: History

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Imaginary Maps: “Different Roads Sometimes Lead to the Same Castle”

This is the fourth article in a series of eight on imaginary maps, written by Hannah Stahl, a Library Technician in the Geography & Map Division. To begin with the first NoteStream in the series, please click here.

Sometimes the maps in fiction are only the beginning. In this installment, we'll take a different look at The Lord of the Rings series and The Land of Ice and Fire series.
Library Of Congress

Category: History

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Carnivore Remains Found in Mexican Ruins

From Roman gladiatorial combat to Egyptian animal mummies, capturing and manipulating wild carnivores has long been a way for humans to demonstrate state or individual power.
PLOS
(CC BY 4.0)

Category: History

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Ancient Greece: Thinkers

Socrates, Plato and Aristotle were some of the greatest thinkers of ancient Greece, yet Socrates was sentenced to death, Plato really wasn't very democratic, and Aristotle thought the sun revolved around the Earth.
But they did change the way people thought - and usually for the better.
This is the 7th in a series of nine articles on Ancient Greece. To begin at the beginning, please click here.
ushistory.org
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Category: History

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Harriet Tubman, the “Grand Watermelon” Debate, & Redemption

Since the Treasury’s announcement in April that Harriet Tubman would be featured on the front of the new $20 bill, the design change has become a popular topic of conversation. So what's this about a "Grand Watermelon"? You'll be surprised!
Library of Congress

Category: History

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Tales from Tahiti

In 1890 Henry Adams – the historian, academic, journalist, and descendent of two US presidents – set out on a tour of the South Pacific. After befriending the family of “the last Queen of Tahiti,” he became inspired to write what is considered to be the first history of the island. Through Adams’ letters, Ray Davis explores the story of the book’s creation.
Public Domain Review

Category: History

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Imaginary Maps: “Not all those who wander are lost”

This is the third article in a series of eight on imaginary maps, written by Hannah Stahl, a Library Technician in the Geography & Map Division. To begin with the first NoteStream in the series, please click here.
Funny thing: J.R.R. Tolkein and George R.R. Martin both were heavily influenced by history when creating their Imaginary Maps.
Library Of Congress

Category: History

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Changes in Society and Diet From the Merovingian to Viking Age

By Katy Meyers Emery / Bones Don't Lie
TV Show like ‘Vikings’ on the History channel shed light on ancient maritime cultures, but there's more to this story than midst the eye.
Bones Don't Lie
CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Category: History

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Scholarly Explorations of War

For years scholars at the Kluge Center have reflected on and studied the effects of war on those who fight, the nations who engage in them, and on society as a whole, in an effort to provide meaning to these human catastrophes big and small.
Library of Congress

Category: History

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The Army’s Silent Warriors: Intel Soldiers’ Impact

While Hollywood portrayals of military intelligence focuses on the likes of “Mission Impossible” and “James Bond,” the real-world application of intelligence revolves around deliberate collection and analysis.

Category: Military History

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Imaginary Maps in Literature & Beyond: Middle Ages & the Renaissance

Did you know some of the earliest imaginary maps date to the Middle Ages?
This is Part 2 of an eight part series on Imaginary Maps in Literature and Beyond by Hannah Stahl, a Library Technician in the Geography & Map Division. Read the first post in the series here.

Category: History

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Friday Essay: Jane Austen’s Emma at 200

What the many Emmas of the last 200 years reveal is that Austen’s idea for a novel based on “three or four families in a country village” is shaping up to be immortal.

Category: History

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Ancient Greece: Art and Architecture

This it the sixth in a series of nine articles on Ancient Greece. To start at the beginning, please click here.
This installment dips into Art and Architecture.

Category: History

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Founding Mother and Conscience of the Revolution

Mercy Otis Warren was a political writer and propagandist of the American Revolution. This was highly unusual in the eighteenth century, as topics such as politics and war were thought to be the province of men.

Category: History

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70s Crimewave

From flower power to mass murder: the seventies opened in an orgy of killings and mayhem that left ordinary Americans living in fear.

Category: History

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Evolution of the Aircraft Carrier

Aircraft carriers are often revered as the “powerhouse of the fleet” because of their size, strength, capabilities and importance to our national security.

Category: Military History

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Watergate

The early 1970s were dominated by Richard Nixon’s doomed and increasingly desperate attempts to wriggle out of his own sinister skullduggery: Watergate.

Category: History

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The Man Who Changed Reading Forever

The Venetian roots of revolutionary modern book printer Aldus Manutius shaped books as we know them today.

Category: History

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Imaginary Maps in Literature and Beyond: Introduction

An English major obsessed with maps?! Naturally! How else to follow the travels of the pilgrims in The Canterbury Tales, or find out where Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy fell in love!
This is the first article in a series of eight.

Category: History

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A Dance for the Birthday of the Buddha

The birth of the Buddha is thought to have occurred in the sixth century BCE (about 563) at the full moon on the eighth day of the fourth month. The date for modern celebrations is usually determined by Asian solar-lunar calendars, which vary among different ethnic groups.

Category: History

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The Beauty of Post-Mortem Photography

So things have been a little quiet here at Bones Don’t Lie, but exciting things have been happening! I’m now officially a Dr., I’ve moved to New York, and I’ve started a fantastic new job at the George Eastman Museum in Rochester, NY.

Category: History

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War Board Used Comics to Spread Message in WWII

Historian Paul Hirsch was a Caroline and Erwin Swann Foundation Fellow for Caricature and Cartoon at The John W. Kluge Center in summer 2015. His research explored the intersection of visual culture, race, policymaking, and diplomacy from World War II through the post-Cold War period.

Category: History

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The Ottoman Armenian Merchant from Arapkir

(The following is a guest post by Levon Avdoyan, Armenian and Georgian area specialist in the African and Middle Eastern Division.)

Category: History

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Page from the Past: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland has been beloved for nearly 150 years - indeed, it's never been out of print since it's original publication. It did not, however, get off to a good start.
(The following is a story featured in the May/June 2016 issue of the Library of Congress Magazine, LCM. You can read the issue in its entirety here. The story was written by August and Clare Imholtz, who have been collecting“Alice” books for more than 30 years. Clare is also a volunteer in the Library’s Rare Book and Collections Division.)

Category: History

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What Killed The Aztecs?

A researcher probes the role of a 16th century megadrought.

Category: History

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Why The History of News Explains Its Future

The current freewheeling world of news seems like journalistic hell to many in a business where American newsrooms shrank by 40 percent between 2007 and 2015.

Category: History

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The Long Prehistory of Artificial Intelligence

Defecating ducks, talking busts, and mechanised Christs — Jessica Riskin on the wonderful history of automata, machines built to mimic the processes of intelligent life.

Category: History

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Einstein at 100: Mapping the Universe

November 25th, 2015, marks one hundred years since Albert Einstein delivered his now infamous address to the Prussian Academy of Sciences, during which he laid out the series of equations which lie at the heart of his General Theory of Relativity.

Category: History

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Ancient Greece: Greek Literature

This it the fifth in a series of nine articles on Ancient Greece. To start at the beginning, please click here.
This installment covers the importance of Theater and Literature. Brief excerpts from "The Illiad" by Homer, "To Aphrodite" by Sappho, "Medea" by Euripedes, and "The Frogs" by Aristophanes are included.

Category: History

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The Changing Field of Folklife

Changes in technology have facilitated global access to the Library’s folklife collections.
(The following is an article by Stephen Winick from the March/April 2016 issue of the Library of Congress Magazine, LCM. You can read the issue in its entirety here.)

Category: History

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Reasessing Markers Of Stress In Medieval London

Linear enamel hypoplasia manifests as furrows or indentations of decreased enamel on teeth due to interruption during development. They are attributed to times of high metabolic stress, such as periods of malnutrition, but can also be due to trauma or chronic illness. It has been argued to be useful in determining whether individuals were stressed during their childhood, and at what age this stress started and stopped.

Category: History

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Death Comes to Stonehenge: The Buried Remains

There have been some fascinating new discoveries at Stonehenge over the last decade- new burials, new locations of stones, new technological advances revealing more of the landscape.

Category: History

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The Spice That Built Venice

The story of an import so prized, royals were literally rolling in it.

Category: History

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Cults and Secret Societies: Opus Dei

To its members, it is quite literally “Work of God” – the Latin translation of the organization’s title – and a means of incorporating a deeper, practical faith into everyday life. But to its critics, Opus Dei is a dangerously manipulative, ultra-conservative secret society.

Category: History

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Nineteenth-Century Whaler Takes Twenty-First Century Voyage

The Charles W. Morgan sails to New England after more than 100 years of adventure out at sea.

Category: History

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Love in War, Part 3

This is the final installment in a three-part series about a wounded veteran and his wife. To start with Part 1, click here.
Story by Sgt. Heather GoldenSmall

Category: Military History

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Jackie Robinson's First Spring Training Game

Much has been written about Robinson’s first game in the major leagues for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947. Far less is known about the spring of 1946, when the ballplayer was competing for a spot on the Dodgers' top farm club. Rarely has an athlete found himself under more pressure in such hostile conditions as Robinson did in Florida.

Category: History

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The Titanic: Bon Voyage

All morning on Wednesday, April 10, 1912 an endless stream of passengers and crew walked up the gangways of RMS Titanic and disappeared into the bowels of the biggest ocean-going liner the world had ever seen.
The hustle and bustle of the final preparations were interrupted every so often by an ear-splitting blast from the ship’s enormous stern whistles reminding all and sundry that it was departure day.

Category: History

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Ancient Civilizations: Egypt - The Old Kingdom #8 of 18

To begin with section 1, please click here.
The Old Kingdom of Egypt, spanning the Third to Eighth Dynasties, saw prolific construction of pyramids, but also declined due to civil instability, resource shortages, and a disastrous drop in rainfall.
Includes two Quiz questions to lock in your new-found smarts!

Category: History

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A Tale of Two Hebrew Patronesses

Every age has its own image of the “woman of valor,” and in the crumbling Jewish world of post-exilic Spain, that image was embodied in the persons of two unique women: Doña Gracia Nasi and Signora Benvenida Abravanel.

Category: History

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I Like My Corpses Like I Like My Pretzels: Salted

I’ve been reading a lot of interesting food non-fiction books in my sparse free time as a way to relax after long days of dissertation preparation and article writing. I’ve recently finished reading The Third Plate by Dan Barber and The Big Oyster by Mark Kurlansky. I like these types of books because they are so completely different from what I spend my days reading and writing—they offer a nice break. Last night, however, I had my first overlap between these food books and my passion for mortuary archaeology. I’m reading another Kurlansky book called Salt, which shares the story and importance of salt use throughout human history.

Category: History

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Final Days of USS Houston

One of the most valiant ships in 240 years of naval history, USS Houston was lost in a battle against overwhelming odds 74 years ago. Commissioned at the beginning of the Great Depression, Houston was a design compromise due to treaty limitations. However her captain and crew never compromised their sense of duty.

Category: Military History

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General George Washington: The Hairdresser

General George Washington, stationed with the Continental Army in Newburgh, New York, was concerned about his troops. More specifically, he was bothered by their looks. It was August of 1782, and the men had recently followed his orders to spruce up their clothing and hats. But Washington still felt there was still something lacking in their appearance.

Category: History

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The Ottoman Armenian Merchant from Arapkir

Poghos Garabedian started his personal memoirs with a flourish. Within the next 41 pages, this merchant in the Ottoman Empire – originally from Arapkir in the region of Malatya, Turkey – would detail his extensive mercantile travels to Constantinople, the Crimea, Arapkir and Eastern Europe.

Category: History

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Garrett Morgan: An American Inventor

February is the month that we dedicate to recognize African-Americans and their major contributions throughout American history. Today we’ll be recognizing a very important American and his extremely significant invention that paved the way for a lifesaving tool still used today.

Category: History

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The Making of the Medal of Honor

Like a ship’s crest, the symbolism behind a physical medal associated with an award in America’s Navy isn’t represented by a single element, but is instead the combination of many extraordinary components.
Together with the multiple actions that combine to make the recipient worthy of recognition, the symbolism of the physical award becomes an integral part the compelling story every medal awarded by the Navy.

Category: Military History

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The Medicinal Recipes Of Scribonius Largus

Written in the mid-first century CE, the Compositiones medicamentorum (The Composition of Remedies, sometimes simply translated as Recipes) of Scribonius Largus falls into the same historical context as the more famous works of Celsus, Pliny the Elder, and Dioscorides, but have – undeservedly – received much less attention. Scribonius provided an account of his practical medical knowledge, obtained during the reigns of Roman emperors Tiberius and Claudius, in form of a pharmacological recipe book written at the behest of his patron Callistus.

Category: History

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The Nobility Of Fish

Epicurean Epistles is a blog about food writing past as well as present, so it’s more than time I turned my attention to some food history. It may never have occurred to you, but back in the 19th century a restaurant critic by the name of Grimod de la Reynière was so struck by the noble characteristics of fish, that in passing through the fish market, he was moved to pen some lyrical prose about them. His words are so eloquent it puts the inhabitants of our oceans in a whole new light. Even someone as indisposed towards fish as I am could almost be moved to a new level of piscatorial admiration.

Category: Food

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“We Are All Americans.”

Perhaps my favorite story of the Civil War comes from Lee’s surrender to Grant at Appomattox, which took place April 8, 1865, over 150 years ago. Here’s an excerpt, from a piece I wrote in 2014 about that episode.

Category: Military History

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The Humble (ad-free!) Origins of the 1st World Series Broadcasts

Hard to believe it right now, but the first 13 World Series broadcasts were free to the radio networks that covered them. Ad-free, they were started as a promotion for station WJZ, in Newark, New Jersey to announce its arrival in the New York metro area. So - how did we get to where we are today?!

Category: Sports

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Millie the Mapper

We’ve all heard the story of Rosie the Riveter: women, from a wide variety of backgrounds, who entered the workforce during World War II to aid the American war effort. Some of these women also became involved in drafting, photogrammetry, computing, and mapping. Called “Millie the Mappers” or “Military Mapping Maidens” these women played an integral role in producing accurate and up-to-date maps used by various branches of the military and government during World War II.

Category: History

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A Voice from Hoops History

Basketball, unique among major sports, has a clear creation story: We know when, where, why and how the game was invented, and by whom.
Now, some 125 years after the first game was played in a Massachusetts school gymnasium, we know something new: the sound of the creator’s voice.
(March Madness is here, and the Library of Congress has an interesting connection to basketball’s invention. The following is a story written by Mark Hartsell for the Gazette, the Library’s staff newsletter.)

Category: Sports

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Early Medieval Muslim Graves in France

A new article by Gleize et al. (2016) is doing just that- it is restoring the story of a people whose early history in Europe is not as well documented. The expansion of the Arab Empire during the early Middle Ages represents one of the largest political and religious changes in history, and led to the formation of one of the most important empire.

Category: History

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Ancient Greece: Gods, Goddesses, and Heroes

This it the fourth in a series of nine articles on Ancient Greece. To start at the beginning, please click here.
In ancient Greece, myths were often used to help explain the mysterious and often to teach a lesson. The Greek gods were emotional, fought amongst themselves and with humans, cheated lied, and altogether behaved in a very human way.

Category: History

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Love in War: Part 2

This is the second installment in a three-part series about a wounded veteran and his wife. Check back each week in the Observation Post for the next installment of Anthony and Jessica’s story. To start with Part 1, click here.
Story by Sgt. Heather GoldenSmall

Category: Military History

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Upright Burial: A Mesolithic and Modern Phenomenon?

Recently, the popular news has been fascinated with the discovery of an upright burial from a Mesolithic cemetery site in Germany. Rightly so! Upright burials are an extremely rare phenomenon, and incredibly interesting.

Category: History

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Honoring the Women Who Serve in the U.S. Navy

In March, we join the nation in celebration of Women’s History Month to commemorating the proud and dedicated service in the U.S. Navy. In 1908, women officially began serving as nurses in the Navy. Yeomanettes or yeomen were added during WWI. During WWII, Congress established the Navy’s Women’s Reserve Program, or WAVES. Today, women serve in every rank from seaman to admiral and in every job from naval aviator to deep-sea diver.
Take a look at some of the outstanding, trailblazing women to wear the Navy uniform. In the reviews, tell us about the women in the Navy who inspire you!

Category: History

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The Legacy of a Lost WWII Bomber Crew

A photograph of the ten airmen aboard the WWII bomber “Jerk’s Natural,” which disappeared over Austria on October 1, 1943. The photo led journalist Gregg Jones on a lifetime investigation to reconstruct how the men lived and how they died. Photo courtesy Gregg Jones.

Category: Military History

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Ancient Greece: Democracy Is Born

This it the third in a series of nine articles on Ancient Greece. To start at the beginning, please click here.
In Athenian democracy, every citizen was required to participate or suffer punishment. This practice stands in stark contrast to modern democratic governments in which citizens can choose whether or not they wish to participate. In Athenian democracy, all citizens pulled their weight.

Category: History

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Ancient Civilizations: Babylonian Culture (#7 of 18)

To begin with section 1, please click here.
Hallmarks of Babylonian culture include mudbrick architecture, extensive astronomical records and logs, diagnostic medical handbooks, and translations of Sumerian literature.

Category: History

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Primary Sources: Concussions, a Century of Controversy, and Football

This post was written by Trey Smith, the Library of Congress 2015-16 Science Teacher in Residence.
In 1905, nineteen high school and college students died after sustaining football-related injuries. An article in the Salt Lake Tribune outlines efforts to address deaths and injuries associated with football. A century later, controversy persists concerning concussions.

Category: History

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Access to Knowledge

In the beginning—that is, in 1800—the Library of Congress consisted of 740 books and three maps, all tucked into a room in the U. S. Capitol. Finding the right book, or map didn’t take long.
(The following story by Jennifer Gavin is featured in the January/February 2016 issue of the Library of Congress Magazine, LCM. You can read the issue in its entirety here.)

Category: For Teachers

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Old Drawings By Kids & Our View Of History

“When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”
This line, from 1 Corinthians, still sums up how we tend to think about childhood – that it’s something to outgrow.
According to this view, the way children speak, think and observe is not as relevant as adult perceptions of the world. According to this view, each life is a progress narrative, and as we mature, it’s best to put away “childish things.”

Category: History

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Ancient Greece: Rise of City-States: Athens and Sparta

This it the second in a series of nine articles on Ancient Greece. To start at the beginning, please click here.
The Greek peninsula has two distinctive geographic features that influenced the development of Greek society. First, Greece has easy access to water. The land contains countless scattered islands, deep harbors, and a network of small rivers. This easy access to water meant that the Greek people might naturally become explorers and traders.

Category: History

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Shots of History: What the Presidents Drank

Alcohol, in all of its varieties, has been a part of American history from the time that the Pilgrims stopped in Massachusetts because they ran out of beer. The holder of the highest office in the land is not immune to the allure of a cocktail or four a day. Some of them, like George W. Bush and Ruthford B. Hayes (his wife was known as “Lemonade Lucy” for her ban on drinking in the White House), abstained completely from drinking. Other presidents drank a little more than was healthy. A few even used the White House and its gardens to make their own drinks; Barack Obama’s staff uses honey harvested on site to brew several varieties of beer, and Teddy Roosevelt used mint grown on the property to make Mint Juleps for his guests.

Category: History

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Presidential Wheels: A History

Knowing my interest in all things presidential, a colleague recently left a copy of Herbert Ridgeway Collins’s Presidents on Wheels (1971) at my desk. The book, which covers the vehicles used by the presidents through Richard M Nixon, contains many historical tidbits of information. Did you know that that first President-elect to ride to his inauguration in an automobile was Warren G. Harding in 1921? The Packard Twin Six, in which President Harding and President Woodrow Wilson rode, was supplied by the Republican National Committee.

Category: History

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Ancient Greece

Many of the fundamental elements of Western culture first arose more than 2000 years ago in ancient Greece.
This is the first article in a series of 9.

Category: History

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Cults and Secret Societies: Knights Templar

The Knights Templars supposedly came to a sudden and violent end on a bleak March day in 1314 when the ancient order’s Grand Master Jacques de Molay was burned at the stake in the shadow of Notre Dame Cathedral.
King Philip the Fair of France had orchestrated the annihilation of the once powerful organization to seize its considerable wealth and pressured the then Pope Clement V to outlaw the Christian soldiers.

Category: History

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World War II Navy Ace Recalls Harrowing Mission

When the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor occurred, America sought retribution and finally took up arms. It wasn't until almost three years later that the country would receive its final closure.

Category: Military History

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Funerary Rituals in an African Cemetery

By investigating the burials of these enslaved individuals, we can learn more about who they were, what they suffered through, and how they negotiated their new status.

Category: History

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The Polyglot of Bologna

Michael Erard takes a look at The Life of Cardinal Mezzofanti, a book exploring the extraordinary talent of the 19th century Italian cardinal who was reported to be able to speak over seventy languages.

Category: History

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Love in War: Part I

This is the first in a three-part series about a wounded veteran and his wife. Check back each week in the Observation Post for the next installment of Anthony and Jessica’s story.
Story by Sgt. Heather GoldenSmall

Category: Military History

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Three Great Names That Go Great With Navy Ships

When many Americans think of the 4th of July, a few words come to mind: Freedom, Independence, America. These words carry a certain weight; they represent power, strength and fortitude. So it’s no wonder why some of the greatest U.S. Navy ships have born these names.

Category: Military History

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Mapping Alpinist Elephants

As one of the curators of the largest map library on the planet, there are times when one comes across a map that just strikes you as unique, not only as piece of cartography, but also as a monument to the obsessions of antiquarians of the past, the present, and the future. Several days ago while searching through one of the three footballs fields of storage cabinets that make up the stacks of the Geography and Map Division here at the Library of Congress, I came across a map from 1911, made by the English antiquarian Spenser Wilkinson (1853-1937).

Category: History

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The Birth Of The Titanic

It took just a minute for the giant hull to slide gracefully down the slipways and into the River Lagan in Belfast on May 31, 1911.
At the time, the Royal Mail Steamer Titanic was the largest manmade moveable object in the world.
The floating behemoth was also the trump hand in an intense rivalry among rival shipping lines in the early years of the 20th century.

Category: History

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Anything to Get the Shot: Photos by “Flash-Light”

Nowadays, we take for granted the ability to photograph under almost any light conditions, but photographers of the nineteenth and early twentieth century went to great lengths to capture images by “flash-light” (not to be confused with our modern battery-operated flashlights).

Category: Arts

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5 Historical Myths About Central Asia

From graveyard empires to the Kazakh famine, we break down five historical myths.

Category: History

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Bones Abroad: Rochester, New York

I am originally from Rochester, NY, and I head back here for the holiday season to spend time with family and friends. It was within this city that I became inspired to pursue archaeology and cemetery studies, so I thought it was about time I share some of the wonderfully morbid and archaeology related sites that you can visit if you happen to pass through Rochester.

Category: History

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Investigation: Serial Killers

Sometimes they ARE the next-door-neighbor.

Category: History

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Intel Soldiers’ Impact On Military Might

According to the Creed of the Military Intelligence Corps, the core task of a military intelligence Soldier is finding, knowing, and never losing the enemy. The phrase is hardly clichéd, and for the Soldiers of the 504th Military Intelligence Brigade, exemplifying that creed takes on a sense of urgency and duty, especially in light of emerging global threats.
By Sgt. Dominique M. Clarke, 504th Military Intelligence Brigade Public Affairs

Category: Military History

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Nikola Tesla’s 5 Lost Inventions That Threatened The Global Elite

Nikola Tesla’s 5 Lost Inventions That Threatened The Global Elite
Most great inventions fundamentally change the society in which they exist. Since the people at the top of the social structure have more to gain by reinforcing the status quo, they suppress revolutionary technologies favorable to the world but dangerous to their existence. Engineering genius Nikola Tesla was no exception.

Category: History

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The Origins of Modern Christmas

The holiday season seems a good moment to explore the contradictory nature of Christmas as a holiday that has become nearly globally observed while at the same time still being considered deeply nationally entrenched in many countries.
Take Germany, for example: Considered as the homeland of Weihnachtsstimmung (Christmas mood), Christmas trees and Christmas markets, few would doubt that there is something a like a really true deutsche Weihnacht. Across the Atlantic, Americans equally claim to have their American Christmas, which, by the way, is the only federal holiday in the United States with a religious connection.

Category: History

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The History of Christmas Lights

In the spirit of the holiday season, we are highlighting another Everyday Mystery relevant to this time of the year: Who invented electric Christmas lights? !

Category: History

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The Christmas Truce of 1914

Peace in the trenches during the Great War
Christmas Eve 1914 found the German, French and English armies in the beginning of trench warfare. The colossal Battle of the Marne had led to the geography of the Western Front that would continue to hold with slight changes through the next years of the war. Soldiers who had thought they would be home for Christmas realized that the war was going to be a long bloody haul.

Category: Military History

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Ancient Civilizations: 2nd Dynasty Of Isin (#6 of 18)

The Kassite Dynasty ruled Babylonia following the fall of Hammurabi and was succeeded by the Second Dynasty of Isin, where the Babylonians experienced military success and cultural upheavals under Nebuchadnezzar I.
One quiz question to show off what you learned!

Category: History

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Buried With A Sickle: Death’s Scythe Or...?

Buried With A Sickle: Death’s Scythe Or Anti-Demon Protection?
Scythes and sickles have a very clear symbolic association for modern populations. The personification of death is traditionally pictured with a scythe (full size version pictured to the right) or sickle (the handheld version), a metaphorical link between the reaping of the crops and the taking of lives. Death also goes by the name of the Grim Reaper, shower an even closer connection to his role in harvesting lives for the afterlife.

Category: History

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Putting Boston on the Map

Putting Boston on The Map: Land Reclamation and the Growth of a City
Today’s guest post is from Tim St. Onge, a cartographer in the Geography and Map Division. Tim holds an undergraduate degree in Geography from the University of Mary Washington and a Master’s degree in Geographic Information Science from Clark University.
The Back Bay neighborhood of Boston is home to some of the city’s most famous landmarks, including Prudential Tower, the Boston Central Library, Trinity Church, and the posh shopping district of Newbury Street. It’s hard to imagine that about 150 years ago, this area was almost completely covered in water. Back Bay was, in fact, a bay.

Category: History

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Heroic Foes of Prohibitions

Barely a century ago, the hatchet-wielding “temperance” fanatic Carrie Nation smashed bars and saloons in Kansas and Texas. Some of the targets of her rage posted signs in their establishments that read, “All Nations Welcome Except Carrie.”

Category: History

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Pearl Harbor MOH: “I Could See Their Faces” Pt 1

Dec. 7, 1941 started like any other Sunday morning for John Finn and his wife. They were at their apartment about a mile from the hangar where Finn, then 32, worked as the chief aviation ordnanceman with a PBY Catalina flying boat squadron on the island of Oahu in Hawaii.
Then suddenly they heard gunfire.
(Editors Note: This is Part I of a three part series featuring John Finn and brief information of other Medal of Honor recipients following the Dec. 7, 1941 attacks on Pearl Harbor.)

Category: Military History

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Pearl Harbor MOH: “I Could See Their Faces” Pt 2

On Sept. 15, 1942, Finn received the first Medal of Honor for World War II, the only combat Medal of Honor out of the 15 Medal recipients from the Pearl Harbor attack. The rest were for rescue attempts.
Of the 15, 10 received their Medals posthumously.
Editors Note: This is Part II of a three part series blog featuring John Finn and brief information of other Medal of Honor recipients following the Dec. 7, 1941 attacks on Pearl Harbor.

Category: Military History

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Pearl Harbor MOH Recipients: Part 3

On Sept. 15, 1942, Chief Aviation Ordnanceman John Finn received the first Medal of Honor for World War II, the only combat Medal of Honor out of the 15 Medal recipients from the Pearl Harbor attack. The rest were for rescue attempts. Of the 15, 10 received their Medals posthumously.
Listed below are images and the 15 citation for the Sailors who earned the Medal of Honor for actions taken during the Japanese attack of Pearl Harbor.
Editors Note: This is the final part of a three part series blog featuring John Finn and other Medal of Honor recipients following the Dec. 7, 1941 attacks on Pearl Harbor.

Category: Military History

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About the Firm of Scrooge & Marley

In 1843 Charles Dickens published his classic A Christmas Carol about the transformation of Ebenezer Scrooge. Like many who have read the book, I have also seen various stage and television productions over the years and most of the attention was on the overall theme. When one of the details – the name of Scrooge’s firm – caught my attention, I decided to apply some business research skills in order to “learn” more about the fictional firm.
Library Of Congress

Category: History

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Mr. Dürer Comes to Washington

In the cool summer of 1901, a Jesuit priest named Joseph Fischer was searching through the small libraries found in the country houses and ancient castles of the old noble families that dot the German hinterlands. One day, in the tower of one of those castles, tucked deep into the forest outside the tiny village of Wolfegg, he happened upon a book that would change the history of cartography forever.

Category: History

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Emily Hobhouse: Courageous Attempt to End WWI

Agent of Peace is the second of three books about UK pacifist and social reformer Emily Hobhouse written by her grandniece Jennifer Hobhouse Balme. The starting point for Balme’s research was a trunk of papers inherited from her father, Emily’s nephew. These personal accounts along with official records help create the story. Hobhouse is probably best known for her activism around the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902). She traveled to South Africa and documented the appalling conditions for women and children in internment camps set up by the British Army.

Category: History

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The Medieval Origins of Thanksgiving Foods

How and why did the dishes served at Thanksgiving dinner come to be so fixed?

Category: Food

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The Future of the Humanities: Reading

As technology advances, doomsaying remains constant.
Reading always seems to be in crisis. Two and half millennia ago, Socrates inveighed against the written word because it undermined memory and confused data with wisdom. When the codex—the bound book—appeared, some conservative Romans almost certainly went around complaining, ‘What was wrong with scrolls? They were good enough for Horace and Cicero.’ Gutenberg’s press gradually undercut the market for illuminated manuscripts. Aldus Manutius, inventor of the pocket-sized book, rendered huge folios a specialty item.

Category: History

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Landscapes of Death and Mass Graves From the Roman Empire

There is an amazing relationship between human behavior and space. Our landscape and environment shapes what we can do on it, how we move through it, and where we can be; but it is also shaped by us- we can alter the landscape through construction and building, we designate certain spaces to have specific functions, and we ascribe meaning to places.

Category: History

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The Fall of the Roman Empire

The invading army reached the outskirts of Rome, which had been left totally undefended. In 410 C.E., the Visigoths, led by Alaric, breached the walls of Rome and sacked the capital of the Roman Empire.
The Visigoths looted, burned, and pillaged their way through the city, leaving a wake of destruction wherever they went. The plundering continued for three days. For the first time in nearly a millennium, the city of Rome was in the hands of someone other than the Romans. This was the first time that the city of Rome was sacked, but by no means the last.

Category: History

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Preserving Audio Cylinders: Edison to the Archeophone

The following is a guest post by Audio Preservation Specialist Brad McCoy.
Collections tend to take pride of place in any discussion of moving images and sound recordings at the Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation. It’s understandable — we like talking about the more than 5 million items in our collective care. But we’re also responsible for preserving these sound recordings, films, and videos in order to ensure their survival and make them available for researcher access, and for that we need 1) playback equipment; 2) parts to maintain the equipment; 3) the knowledge to sustain the equipment; and finally 4) the expertise to make the best possible transfer.

Category: History

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Gladiators, Chariots, and the Roman Games

Two men ready their weapons. An excited crowd of Romans cheer loudly in anticipation. Both combatants realize full well that this day might be their last. They are gladiators, men who fight to the death for the enjoyment of others.
As the two gladiators circle each other, each knows that his objective is to maim or trap his opponent rather than to kill him quickly. What's more, the fight must last long enough to please the crowd.

Category: History

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Rhetoric and the Lomax Archive

The following post was written by Jonathan Stone, Assistant Professor of Writing and Rhetoric at the University of Utah.
I write on occasion of a recent publication that may be of interest to readers of Folklife Today. We are still in the middle of the Lomax Centennial year and the article “Listening to the Sonic Archive: Rhetoric, Representation, and Race in the Lomax Prison Recordings” appeared in Enculturation: A Journal of Rhetoric, Writing, and Culture a few weeks ago. The article offers a fresh historical accounting of John A. and Alan Lomax’s journeys through Southern prisons in the early 1930s as well as in-depth rhetorical analysis of eight songs, seven of which were field recordings made during that trip.

Category: History

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President John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s Gravesite

John F. Kennedy made his first formal visit to Arlington National Cemetery on Armistice Day, Nov. 11, 1961, to place a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. At the conclusion of the ceremony President Kennedy spoke to more than 5,000 people gathered in the Memorial Amphitheater.

Category: History

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Ancient Civilizations: Babylonia (#5 of 18)

Following the collapse of the Akkadians, the Babyloninan Empire flourished under Hammurabi who conquered many surrounding peoples and empires, in addition to developing an extensive code of law and establishing Babylon as a "holy city" of southern Mesopotamia.
One quiz question, so you can show off what you learned!

Category: History

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Life of the People in the Roman Empire

The quality of life in the Roman Empire depended upon where one fell within society.
During the Pax Romana, the wealthy built huge, lavishly decorated houses and usually had servants or slaves to tend to their every need. The average citizen worked hard and lived reasonably comfortably in modest housing. Despite the riches of the Roman Empire, the largest class lived in what can only be described as poverty.
This is the fourth in a series. For part one, please start with here for The Roman Republic.

Category: History

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The Pax Romana

The term "Pax Romana," which literally means "Roman peace," refers to the time period from 27 B.C.E. to 180 C.E. in the Roman Empire.
This 200-year period saw unprecedented peace and economic prosperity throughout the Empire, which spanned from England in the north to Morocco in the south and Iraq in the east. During the Pax Romana, the Roman Empire reached its peak in terms of land area, and its population swelled to an estimated 70 million people.
This is the third in a series. For part one, please start with here for The Roman Republic.

Category: History

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Beyond ‘I Regret to Inform You’

During World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, the military employed Western Union to communicate official notifications to the families of servicemembers. This included letting loved ones know that their relative was missing in action, or had been taken prisoner, wounded, or killed in action.

Category: Military History

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‘Wish I Was Back Painting–Was Never As Bad As This’

Like the soldiers discussed in the 1980s song about the Vietnam War, “19,” Corporal Robert Geisler was just 19 years old when he was flown to Vietnam in 1966. Over the span of 90 letters written in 1966 and ’67, he wrote of hardships and horrors that would later be reflected in other songs and films about the war. These letters are remarkable for their honesty and emotional resonance.
The following is a guest post by VHP Digital Conversion Specialist Matt McCrady, and is the fourth in a five-part series of blog posts related to correspondence in Veterans History Project collections.
VHP is the Veterans History Project, A project of the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress.

Category: Military History

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Please Write Often: Wartime Correspondence

In the diary that he kept while serving in France during World War I, Private First Class James Rudolph Sorenson made short entries describing each day’s most notable events. On August 11, 1918, he wrote, “Fired [gun barrages]. Valley was shelled heavily twice by the enemy. Our battery lost some horses and had one man wounded.” The entry for the following day, August 12, 1918, was just four words: “Fired. Mail from home.”

Category: Military History

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Two Veterans, Two Wars, Two Remarkable Women

I recently perused the VHP online database–now comprised of more than 96,000 collections–and came across multiple records of women who played pivotal roles in every war for which the Project accepts collections. While clicking through the list, two in particular seemed to leap off of my screen and straight into my heart.
VHP is the Veterans History Project, A project of the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress.

Category: Military History

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“Moments with You”: Correspondence in VHP Collections

For servicemembers coping with loneliness, harsh conditions, and the stark realities of combat, letters provided critical sustenance. Receiving news from home–or the lack of it–could drastically affect morale.
VHP is the Veterans History Project, A project of the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress.

Category: Military History

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Jeanne d’Albret

Jeanne d’Albret (1528-72) Jeanne d’Albret, later Queen Jeanne of Navarre, was born on November 16, 1528, at St Germain-en-Laye, in France. She was the daughter of Henri d’Albret, King of Navarre, and of Marguerite de Valois, Queen of Navarre, and niece to King Francis I of France. Little is known about Jeanne’s early years because female children, even those of royals and nobles, were not considered noteworthy until they became of an age to marry and bear children.

Category: Biography

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What Is the Illuminati?

The Illuminati was an 18th-century secret society made up of numerous influential intellectuals and freethinkers of the time.

Category: History

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What is the Real Number of the Beast?

MTV is reporting that legions of metalheads might have to switch up their number of the beast – from 666 to 616 – according to a recently found manuscript of Revelation.

Category: History

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Ancient Rome: Julius Caesar

On the steps of the Senate, the most powerful man in the ancient world died in a pool of his own blood.
This is the second in a series. For part one, please start with here for The Roman Republic.

Category: History

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Old Glory Continues to Inspire Drama and Intrigue

While many have called the American flag “Old Glory,” few know how that nickname began. Fewer still know about the fight that continues today – 184 years later – over a the original flag that was first called “Old Glory.”

Category: History

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Today Was Tough – But I Took It

Many of the young men drafted into service in World War II arrived at boot camp at the height of physical fitness, fresh from a school sports career, or from years of labor on a farm. One such Army Airman was even a former Olympic athlete.
The following is a guest post by Digital Conversion Specialist Matt McCrady.

Category: Military History

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School for Scoundrels

Cocktails and cardsharps in Atlas Obscurea’s one night only China Town casino.

Category: History

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Infamous Words from Failed Battle Inspire Victory

When it comes to memorable flags, they’re not always the Stars and Stripes of the American flag.
Sometimes it can be just a simple piece of cloth with a meaningful message that will be the driving force to victory.

Category: Military History

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Using Burnt Bone to Interpret Neolithic Burials in France

The big news today was that a man in California set fire to an aisle of Halloween costumes in a Walmart. Honestly, this shouldn’t be the biggest news story of the morning, but there it is. The man was seen walking around the Walmart for hours with lighter fluid, and then at some point doused an aisle of Halloween costumes in it, set them on fire, and ran. Regardless of the stupidity of this act (I mean, we’re all agreed Halloween is the best holiday ever, right?), it does illustrate something what I want to talk about today—fire is destructive.

Category: History

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Ancient Rome: The Roman Republic

It all began when the Romans overthrew their Etruscan conquerors in 509 B.C.E. Centered north of Rome, the Etruscans had ruled over the Romans for hundreds of years. Once free, the Romans established a republic, a government in which citizens elected representatives to rule on their behalf. A republic is quite different from a democracy, in which every citizen is expected to play an active role in governing the state.
This is the first in a series of six articles.

Category: History

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Happy Birthday, Navy!

The United States Navy turns a whopping 240 years old on October 13th. On this day in 1775, the Continental Congress created the Continental Navy, thus establishing what would eventually become the United States Navy.

Category: Military History

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Navy Veterans of the Pacific Theater, Part II

The following is the second of a two-part guest post by Joseph Patton, a Library of Congress Junior Fellow working with the Veterans History Project this summer.

Category: Military History

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The Mystery of Lewis Carroll

When Charles L. Dodgson was born in January 1832, his paternal aunt wrote a letter to his parents, welcoming the “dear little stranger” and begging them to kiss him on her behalf. His clergyman father, already “overdone with delight” whenever he looked at his family, put a notice in The Times to announce the arrival of his much-wanted first son. The baby would grow up to become Lewis Carroll, author of two of the most famous children’s books in the world.

Category: History

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When Chocolate was Medicine

Chocolate has not always been the common confectionary we experience today. When it first arrived from the Americas into Europe in the 17th century it was a rare and mysterious substance, thought more of as a drug than as a food. Christine Jones traces the history and literature of its reception.

Category: History

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Comparing Uber to a 19th-Century French Economist

A few days after taxi drivers staged violent protests in Paris, Uber suspends its lower-cost UberPop until the French Constitutional Court determines whether the service is legal under French law. The Uber situation reminds us of French economist Frédéric Bastiat, who, while famous in his day, is relatively unknown now.

Category: History

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Music by Henry Purcell in the NLS Collection

On September 10th we celebrated Henry Purcell’s 356th birthday [Note: this date is actually disputed as no official baptismal record has been found. However, we will use this commonly accepted date, as it gives us a chance to talk about his music!].

Category: History

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Who Died in the Leprosarium of St Thomas d’Aizier?

Leprosy is a fascinating disease—not just for its effects, but for the social implications of having the disease. Leprosy was an epidemic disease that not only infected millions of people over a span of thousands of years, but it still remains a threat in third world countries. Due to its destructive effects on those infected, leprosy created a history of fear and segregation caused by misconceptions and rumor. In the United Kingdom, during the Middles Ages circa 1050 to 1550 CE, leprosy reached its highest prevalence. In the mid-twelfth century alone it is estimated that there were 1.5 million cases of leprosy in England and Scotland.

Category: History

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Inspired by a Soldier’s Story

The following was written by Matthew Camarda, one of 26 college students participating in the Knowledge Navigators program at the Library of Congress.

Category: Military History

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A History of Self-Help, Motivation & Success

You may think that motivational speakers, self-help guides, and career counseling are products of the late 20th century, but their history actually goes back further.

Category: History

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Folklore and Folksong of Trains in America: Part I

The advent of railroads in the United States is part of the country’s coming-of-age story as an industrial power during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Because of this, trains and people associated with the developing railways became part of the legend, folklore, and mythology of the nation.

Category: History

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Machiavelli, Comedian

“Comedian”, admittedly, isn’t the first word you associate with Machiavelli. And “funny” is not a word normally applied to Lucretius. And yet, through some strange alchemy of time, circumstance, and the rhythms of Renaissance life, those seemingly discordant elements came together in a remarkable way.

Category: History

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Hypothesis of a Culture

April Rodriguez, one of 36 Library of Congress Junior Fellow Summer Interns, wrote the following post while working in the Library’s American Folklife Center.
What is culture? What elements of expression make each culture unique?

Category: History

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Victor Gruen’s Shopping Towns U.S.A.

Victor Gruen was a designer, architect, and urban planner. But for many, he is best known for creating the modern mall.

Category: History

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Bioarcheaology of Medieval Iceland

A lot of what we know about Iceland and how it was settled comes from Norse sagas and folklore. However, in 2002, a previously unknown Christian cemetery was located during construction work in Skagafjörður, North Iceland.

Category: History

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The U.S. Navy’s ‘Last’ Ships

We talk a lot about Navy’s firsts (humble brag – we’ve had a LOT) but with the premiere of The Last Ship coming up, we thought we take a different approach. Today, we’re paying homage to Navy’s “lasts!”

Category: Military History

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Jefferson’s Quest for an Odometer

Thomas Jefferson, who liked to count and measure everything, coveted an odometer. While in Paris as the United States minister to France, he learned that he could buy one in London, and asked American artist John Trumbull, who was there, to investigate for him.
Today’s post is guest authored by Julie Miller, historian of early America in the Library’s Manuscript Division.

Category: History

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Heritage of the Military Burial at Sea

Honoring the deceased is a centuries-old practice that includes many traditions across cultures. The customs and traditions behind military funerals and burial at sea date as far back as ancient Greece and Rome. In the Navy’s culture, as we give the final honor to our shipmates, we employ traditions that not only signify the service of the deceased, but also display our commitment to their legacy.

Category: History

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Slow Motion Financial Suicide: Roman Empire

More than 2,000 years before America’s bailouts and entitlement programs, the ancient Romans experimented with similar schemes. The Roman government rescued failing institutions, canceled personal debts, and spent huge sums on welfare programs. The result wasn’t pretty.

Category: History

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300 Years of Imaginary Space Ships: 1630-1920

While humans didn’t build apparatus capable of traveling to the moon and other planets until the 1950s and 60s, there is a long history of thinking about the technology that could get us to other worlds. In this post, I share some illustrations of visions of space vehicles over time. The context for each imaginary contraption becomes fodder for understanding ideas about space and flight.

Category: History

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Why Fart Jokes Never Get Old

Farting is a universal human experience, as routine as eating, breathing and sleeping. And it seems to be a cross-cultural and trans-historical fact that passing gas, at least in most social contexts, is rude and offensive. There’s also the fundamental truth pertaining to the topic: farts are funny. But why is this the case? They’re often a source of discomfort and embarrassment, so why do they double as an inspiration for humor, even literary beauty?

Category: History

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The Path a Book Takes

Follow the journey taken by each of the 300,000 books added to the Library’s collections annually.
Between the time a book is published and a library user reads it, as many as a dozen Library staff members will have handled the volume. They will have made a series of crucial decisions about its acquisition for the collection, analyzed and described it in the Library of Congress Online Catalog and preserved and shelved it so it can be made accessible to readers.

Category: History

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Diving Into History: The Archaeological Team

For the average Sailor, a day on a rigid-hull inflatable boat consists of a ride with shipmates, skipping across the water of one of the world's oceans.
The shore remains far from sight, with nothing but the open water and the destination in view. This is not the scene playing out in the Savannah River this summer, however; the RHIB is filled with Navy divers, explosive ordnance disposal technicians, and veterans of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' underwater archeological and conservation team. This is just an average morning on the way to the dive site of the CSS Georgia salvage in Savannah.

Category: Military History

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Fight to the Death! Trauma & Violence in 16th C Romania

Right now I’m working on the historical background to my dissertation, which means reading a lot of historical texts and history books on early medieval England. As an archaeologist, I’ve been trained to find direct evidence of events and not to rely on text—so I’ve been struggling a little with accepting the interpretations I’m reading. I keep thinking—where is the evidence of that? If indeed the Angles, Saxons and Jutes invaded Britain in the mid-5th century, wouldn’t there be evidence of the mass killings reported by historical texts?

Category: History

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Last Surviving Hiroshima Crewman: 70th Anniv.

In a small one-bedroom apartment in Clearwater, Florida, 91-year-old Russell Gackenbach sits on his floral patterned sofa thumbing through a photo album containing originals of some of the most iconic people and events in United States military history.
"This is me and Tibbets (Col. Paul Tibbets, pilot of the Enola Gay)," Gachenback says, as he points to two Army Air Corps officers standing next to one another. "This was me and Necessary Evil, the plane I flew on as we dropped the bomb on Hiroshima."

Category: Military History

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The Art of Acquisition

The Library of Congress works daily to build a universal collection.
Blame Thomas Jefferson.
He’s the founding father (and ravenous reader) who convinced the U.S. Congress it needed not just his books on law and history to replace its more than 3,000-volume library–torched with the U.S. Capitol by the Redcoats in 1814–but all 6,487 of his volumes, in many languages and on many topics.
(This is a feature story in the July/August 2015 issue of the Library of Congress Magazine, LCM. The story was written by Jennifer Gavin, a senior public affairs specialist in the Office of Communications. Joseph Puccio, the Library’s collection development officer, contributed to this story. You can read the issue in its entirety here.)

Category: History

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Grave Guns, Coffin Torpedoes and Other Methods of Protecting Your Bones from Thieves

Grave robbing isn’t always about stealing artifacts or grave goods, nor is it just a thing of the past. A couple weeks ago, police discovered that the crypt of F.W. Murnau was being used for occult ceremonies. Wax drippings confirmed that the crypt was being used by the living, and the cemetery caretaker confirmed that it had been broken into a number of times over the past few decades. Breaking and entering wasn’t the only crime—police soon discovered that the skull of F.W. Murnau, as well as a number of other skeletal elements, had been taken.

Category: History

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War in Paradise: Navy Veterans of the Pacific Theater, Part I

The following is the first of a two-part guest post by Joseph Patton, a Library of Congress Junior Fellow working with the Veterans History Project this summer.
Last month, I found myself walking the National Mall in Washington, DC, after the sun had set and the lights blazed on the monuments. The way they are lit and the warm night air create something very sacred for me, especially around the National World War II Memorial, where I often end up. As I admired how peaceful it was, I overheard a tour guide behind me commenting on the importance of the memorial’s position between “Washington, the father of the country, and Lincoln, the great savior of the nation.” That deification bothered me, but it wasn’t until I read the inscription on the monument by Admiral Chester W. Nimitz that I understood why.
“They fought together as brothers-in-arms. They died together and now they sleep side by side. To them we have a solemn obligation.”

Category: Military History

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More Than Just A Dot

I feel it would be fair to say that the average person outside of the Pacific Region wouldn’t know much about the island nations that exist here. On many world maps the nations get left off all together. The maps that do contain the nations are set on a scale that results in the nations being nothing more than a dot and a name. On our mission we have found that among these ‘dots’ is a diversity that is complex, extensive, and unique. Each place is rich in culture, traditions, and beliefs.

Category: History

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American Enterprise at the Smithsonian

A new exhibit at the Smithsonian – American Enterprise located in the Innovation wing of the National Museum of American History – is telling the history of American business and innovation. According to the Smithsonian, this exhibit “chronicles the tumultuous interaction of capitalism and democracy that resulted in the continual remaking of American business—and American life.” It is organized into four chronological eras: the Merchant Era (1770s -1850s), the Corporate Era (1860s -1930s), the Consumer Era (1940s – 1970s) and the Global Era (1980s – 2010s) and will, according to the press release, “convey the drama, breadth and diversity of America’s business heritage along with its benefits, failures and unanticipated consequences…”

Category: History

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Restoring Grant’s Glory

The Grant Memorial sits in silent, yet powerful repose beneath the shadow of the U.S. Capitol Dome, serving as a timeless sentinel to the heroism, valor, strength and also the anguish our nation endured when it was torn apart by the Civil War. During the war, the Capitol was briefly used by Union troops as soldiers' quarters, a hospital and even a bakery. Today, millions of visitors approach the large bronze and marble memorial that honors the Civil War general, Ulysses S. Grant, whose victories as a military strategist are credited with saving the Union and who later became our nation's 18th president.

Category: History

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Ancient Civilizations: Akkadian Life (#4 of 18)

The Akkadian empire had a monarchical form of government which relied on important alliances and an economy that supported high amounts of agricultural surplus, which led to many cultural achievements in language, literature, and bureaucracy. It formed a formed a "classical standard" with which all future Mesopotamian states compared themselves.
During the 3rd millennium BCE, a very intimate cultural symbiosis developed between the Sumerians and the Akkadians, which included widespread bilingualism. Sumerian literature continued in rich development during the Akkadian period.
And we've got two quiz questions to secure your new-found smarts!

Category: History

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F7F-3N Tigercat Pilot & Hero (DFC)

Korea, April 1953. The Panmunjon peace talks that began in October 1951 continue but remain conflicted by the Communists’ demand that each prisoner of war be returned to his military regardless the desires of the prisoner. Absent any agreement, the war continues as each antagonist attempts to gain negotiation leverage by using its respective power advantage to wreak greater punishment on the enemy than received.
Leverage for the UN forces is largely dependent upon air power. With the Communists it is their massive Chinese army.
Lt Col Charles (Chuck) L. Schroeder, USMC, enters the HQ staff room to find it filled. General Taylor exclaims, “Gentlemen, I want you to meet the Marine pilot who stopped the war last night at the Marine outposts.”
This is his story.

Category: Military History

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It’s All About the Hamiltons, Baby!

The US Treasury Department has decided to remove Alexander Hamilton from the $10 bill by 2020. But it’s a poor choice. While it’s decidedly not a bad idea to place a woman on a bill, we Americans need to have Hamilton (and his story) before us – perhaps now more than ever before.

Category: History

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Inquiring Minds: Anna Coleman Ladd & WWI Vets

Last month, eighth-graders Benjamin King, Maria Ellsworth and Cristina Escajadillo – all students at the Singapore American School – performed an original 10-minute play at the Library of Congress inspired by the institution’s collections and connections.
Contemplating a distinctly somber topic — the mental and physical wounds wrought by World War I — the students highlighted the life and accomplishments of Anna Coleman Ladd, an artist and sculptor who created facial masks to help wounded soldiers cope with their injuries and reintegrate into civilian life after World War I.

Category: Military History

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Code Talker’s Grandson Shares Navajo Roots

More than 60 years ago, a group of Native-American Marines, known as the Navajo Code Talkers, used the Navajo language to transmit secret tactical information using radios during World War II, leaving the enemy unable to decipher their messages.
That’s what Lance Cpl. Tyler Slim’s grandfather, or Cheii, Navajo for grandfather, did during his time in the Marine Corps. Hearing Cheii’s account of the Corps from an early age of five years old, made Slim want to follow in his footsteps.

Category: Military History

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Extraordinary Life of Whistler’s Mother

Many are familiar with James McNeill Whistler’s portrait of his mother – officially titled Arrangement in Grey and Black, No. 1 – which is being exhibited this summer, starting July 4, at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Given the picture’s iconic status as a symbol of motherhood, many also believe that they can guess the character, personality and life experiences of the quiet, seemingly frail, little woman sitting in that chair. You might opine that she led an isolated or sheltered life, or spent her days baking cookies. But you’d be wrong.

Category: Arts

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How the Benandanti Fought Witches During the Sabbath

We have learned to dismiss the Inquisition, to view its cases, its hundreds of years of history as a self-fulfilling prophesy gone terribly wrong. People driven by faith or greed or a bit of both, sought witches and found them. Scores and scores of women and men were imprisoned, tortured and in some cases killed, apparently for their own good. History has rejected the Inquisition’s legacy, it values and self-validations.

Category: History

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Women in History: Elected Representatives

In this NoteStream we highlight women who have been elected to national legislatures and as the leaders of different countries. We answer these questions for each region: When was the first woman elected to parliament? What is the current percentage of women in parliament? Has a woman ever been elected to lead the country?

Category: History

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Historical Perspective On Cuba-U.S. Relationship

Historian Renata Keller recently spent nine months at the Kluge Center researching Cuba’s relationship with Mexico and the United States during the Cold War. She spoke with Program Specialist Jason Steinhauer about the announcement that the U.S. and Cuba will begin to normalize relations between the two countries.
Renata Keller is an Assistant Professor of International Relations at Boston University and former Kluge Fellow at the Kluge Center. More about her work can be found on our website.

Category: History

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Importance Of Field Work: Careful Excavation

Field work is an important part of being an archaeologist, regardless of if you study human remains or any other type of artifacts. Excavation is a detailed and careful process, and knowing how it is completed at a site can have implications for the research and interpretations. When anyone asks me about how to be a bioarchaeologist or mortuary archaeologist, I always stress the importance of taking a related field school as soon as they can. Here, I want to talk a little bit about why field work is so important!

Category: Science

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100 Years Ago, Baseball Almost Banned Broadcasts

In December 2011, when the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Texas Rangers signed away their local television rights for about $3 billion apiece, the sport media heralded a new record for local television rights fees. Accounting for roughly 43% of MLB’s $8 billion haul in 2014, media revenues have made the players rich and the owners even richer. Today, the idea that a team would ban its games from being broadcast is unthinkable, so ingrained are TV and radio contracts in the marketing and business practices of the sport. But in 1921, when radios first began making their way into American homes, a number of baseball team owners weren’t quite sure what to make of the emerging technology. In fact, the owners were sharply divided over whether or not broadcasting games on the radio would benefit or deeply damage revenues. A 20-year battle among owners would ensue.

Category: Sports

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July 4th & The American Dream In Uncertain Times

There’s not much history in our holidays these days. For most Americans, they’re vehicles of leisure more than remembrance. Labor Day means barbecues; Washington’s Birthday (lumped together with Lincoln’s) is observed as a presidential Day of Shopping. Independence Day fares a little better. Most Americans understand it marks the birth of their national identity, and it’s significant enough not to be moved around to the first weekend of July.
Dreams have never been the exclusive property of any individual or group of people. But never had a place been explicitly constituted to legitimate human aspiration in a new and living way.

Category: History

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The History Of Fireworks

Fireworks, as everyone knows, were invented in ancient China.
The details of their actual origin are lost to history, but they were probably developed as a way to keep mountain men and spirits at bay using loud bangs. Dried bamboo stalks would emit a noisy crack when thrown on a fire, and gunpowder, another Chinese invention, rammed into bamboo may have first been used to magnify this startling effect.

Category: History

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The President And The Parsnip

During most of his two terms as president of the United States, (1801-1809) Thomas Jefferson carefully compiled a chart recording the seasonal appearances of fruits and vegetables in Washington’s market.
This seems like a funny way for a president to spend his time. In fact, the chart is an expression of Jefferson’s enduring interests in science and agriculture, which he continued to pursue even during his two terms as president.

Category: History

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The Hero of Two Worlds

In 1780, the ship the Hermione (pronounced Hair-me-OWN) brought Lafayette to America with news that the French would be supporting the revolutionary cause with money and troops. This trip was actually Lafayette’s second voyage to America. He first arrived on these shores in 1777, at only 19, to join the Continental Army. He purchased his own ship to make the trip because King Louis XVI forbade him to come.

Category: History

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A Presidential Fourth

Recently my dad gave me an interesting little tidbit concerning further research he has done on our family tree that is particularly auspicious for the occasion of the Fourth of July celebrations. As it turns out, his research has led him to believe I’m related to George Washington – specifically as a cousin on Dad’s side of the family.
This revelation started me wondering how Washington commemorated our country’s independence, considering he was a distinguished general and commander in chief of the colonial armies during the American Revolution and later the nation’s first president.

Category: History

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Ancient Civilizations: Akkadian Dynasties (03 of 18)

The Akkadian Empire was an ancient Semitic empire centered in the city of Akkad and its surrounding region in ancient Mesopotamia, which united all the indigenous Akkadian speaking Semites and the Sumerian speakers under one rule within a multilingual empire. The Akkadian Empire controlled Mesopotamia, the Levant, and parts of Iran.
The Akkadian Empire flourished in the 24th and 22nd centuries BCE ruled by Sargon and Naram-Sin, but eventually collapsed in 2154 BCE due to the invasion of barbarian peoples and large-scale climatic changes.
Includes one quiz question to secure your new found smarts!

Category: History

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Navajo Code Talkers: Uncrackable Language

Navajo Code Talker Chester Nez was born “among the oak trees” in Chichiltah, N.M. He spent his childhood herding sheep for his grandmother before leaving the close-knit community to attend a boarding high school in Tuba City, Ariz. It was there that Nez learned about a secret Marine Corps mission that would take him far away from his people and into the battlefields of World War II.
In the early months of World War II, Japanese intelligence personnel broke every code the U.S. military produced. They were able to anticipate U.S. attacks, which cost countless American lives. The U.S. forces needed a better way to communicate — and fast.

Category: Military History

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Man’s Best Friend: Pet Cemeteries and Animal Burial

The first official pet cemetery, Hartsdale Cemetery, was established in 1896 in New York. Veterinarian Dr. Samuel Johnson, founded it as a way to help grieving owners provide a proper burial for their lost pets. Almost a century after opening, Hartsdale Pet Cemetery currently has over 80,000 dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, reptiles, monkeys, horses, a lion, and even some humans buried on its land. Pets are important—often they become part of our family. We mourn their loss, erect monuments to them, and give them proper burials.

Category: History

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Robert F. Kennedy Gravesite

Robert F. Kennedy, brother of President John F. Kennedy, former attorney general, senator and presidential candidate, was shot on June 5, 1968, and died the next morning. The remains were then transported upon a slow-moving train to Washington, D.C., via Newark and Trenton, N.J.; Philadelphia, Pa.; and Baltimore, Md.
The long transport delayed the arrival at Union Station until 9:10 p.m., and cemetery officials quickly changed the funeral plans to accommodate an evening interment.
Senator Robert Kennedy's funeral is the only one to ever take place at night at Arlington National Cemetery.

Category: History

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Duel 'twixt Andrew Jackson & Dickenson

One of the things I enjoy about working at the Library of Congress is visiting our Manuscripts Division to read first-hand accounts of historic events. After reading a biography of Andrew Jackson, I looked through the finding aid for his papers and came upon a letter from a Tennessee lawyer named Charles Dickinson. The estimated number of duels fought by Andrew Jackson varies widely, but one of the most memorable was fought against Dickinson.

Category: History

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The Language of Birds

John James Audubon was born on April 26, 1785 in what is now Haiti. His passion for North American wild birds fostered an ongoing interest in birds and bird conservation in the United States. But, of course, interest in birds and birdsong is as old as humankind. This essay will look at some of the ways that birdsong is reflected in the many folk traditions of North America with examples from the Library’s collections.

Category: History

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Francis Scott Key: The Lawyer-Poet

Both law and poetry require a fluid grasp of language and a critical need for precision and economy with words; possessing these skills can be the key to making one person successful in both endeavors. There are a few times in history when well-known poets started their professional lives in the law (John Donne, Archibald MacLeish), and there are a few instances when good lawyers have been poets on the side, such as Wallace Stevens and Francis Scott Key.

Category: History

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Ancient Civilizations: River Valleys (02 of 18)

Rivers were attractive locations for the first civilizations because they provided a steady supply of drinking water and made the land fertile for growing crops. Moreover, goods and people could be transported easily, and the people in these civilizations could fish and hunt the animals that came to drink water.
Include one quiz question so you can show-off your new smarts!

Category: History

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Giuseppi Verdi And Italian Opera

The central figure in Italian opera for much of the nineteenth century, Giuseppe Verdi (1813–1901) wrote twenty-eight operas, nearly half of which have been staples of the international operatic repertoire since their first productions. When he died after a nearly sixty-year career, he was mourned in Italy as a national hero.
By the end of the 1840s, Verdi had fundamentally altered the established form and structure of the bel canto style, revolutionizing Italian opera in the process. Hailed as Verdi’s successor in the 1890s, Giacomo Puccini (1858–1924), brought Italian opera into the twentieth century with his thirteen operas incorporating new elements of the style known as verismo (realism), as well as the exoticism of long-ago-and-far-away settings.

Category: History

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1Lt Eldred “Jack” Whipple: Montello, NV Hero

In June 2003 there was a Montello, Elko County, Nevada town reunion. Those forty plus natives who returned for the reunion shared in the rich small town Americana experience that is emblematic of America’s World War II evolution from isolationism to international superpower. One of the most poignant memories for some was a July 4, 1944 picnic at Bowers Mansion, the historic Comstock era site between Reno and Carson City. Several families that had relocated from Montello to Reno and Sparks, were gathered there to celebrate Independence Day.
That day word arrived that Montello native, Lieutenant Eldred “Jack” Whipple, was killed in action. Word that his status had been changed from MIA to KIA spread fast across Nevada within the closely associated diminutive number of Montello natives.

Category: Military History

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Collecting Comedy at the Library of Congress

Laughter, with its links to the development of the human brain, no doubt dates back to mankind’s earliest ancestors. But it was not until the 4th century B.C. that ancient Greece first formalized comedy in dramatic-arts competitions. From Aristophanes–the chief comedic playwright of ancient Greece–to 21st-century “rom-com” films, plays and musical comedies, the Library of Congress maintains an impressive archive of published and unpublished materials, much of which is downright rib-tickling. From their writings, we know that the founding fathers managed to find humor during the tumultuous process of creating a new nation. No less a force in the shaping of our country than Benjamin Franklin described the importance of comedy in our lives. “Trouble knocked at the door, but, hearing laughter, hurried away,” he said. The personal papers of many founding fathers, housed in the Library, contain their wit as well as their wisdom.

Category: History

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A Rainy Day In June: My 1st Mission Was D-Day

Every day for nearly five weeks, Toombs and his crew had been flying around England in a B-24 Liberator, getting the lay of the land and learning to maintain aerial formations. On that particular morning, he had just finished eating when everyone was called for a mission briefing. Sitting in the cramped room, Toombs said he was prepared for an ordinary training mission. He wasn’t ready for what the executive officer said when he began the briefing.
"{#uGentlemen," the executive officer began, pulling back a curtain to reveal a map of Normandy, France. "This morning we’re going to invade the continent."
As the briefing ended, the 19-year-old from Little Rock, Arkansas, sat in complete shock as the minutes before the invasion ticked away, June 6, 1944.
"My first mission was D-Day,” Toombs said.

Category: Military History

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How Do You HaHa? LOL Through the Ages

Laughter is uniquely human. Sometimes deliberate, sometimes uncontrollable, we laugh out loud to signal our reaction to a range of occurrences, whether it’s a response to a joke we hear, an awkward encounter or an anxious situation. The way we laugh is, according to anthropologist Munro S Edmonson, a “signal of individuality.” And an outburst of laughter is an important enough part of communication that we represent it in text. In a recent The New Yorker article, Sarah Larson wrote about laughter in internet-based communication – the use of hahaha and hehehe, even the jovial hohoho.

Category: History

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Women, Fashion, and the Transatlantic Avant-Garde

Here at the Kluge Center, British Research Council Fellow Sophie Oliver has been using the Library’s collections to shed light on the relationship between fashion and cultural output in the 1920s, a period during which women’s roles were undergoing dramatic change. Oliver, a Ph.D. candidate from the University of London, is one of the dozens of fellows from British universities who conduct research at the Kluge Center each year through the AHRC/ESRC International Placement Scheme.
Among Oliver’s interesting discoveries is the degree to which fashion advertising and more scholarly forms of cultural production were intertwined in the period’s popular publications.

Category: History

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Forensics Shed Light on Killing Richard III

The discovery of Richard III’s skeletal remains under a car park in Leicester revealed the final resting place of the last English monarch to die in battle. We know that he was killed at the Battle of Bosworth Field on August 22, 1485. Using modern forensic examination, we have now discovered that Richard’s skeleton sustained 11 wounds at or near the time of his death – nine of them to the skull, which were clearly inflicted in battle.

Category: History

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Col. ‘Goose’ Guss: 1st Marine Shoot Down MiG

Last January, the Flying Leatherneck Historical Foundation received a request for the purchase of a Memorial Brick for the museum’s Walk of Memories from the family of Colonel William Franklin Guss, USMC. Subject to space restrictions each Memorial Brick for the walkway may be personalized. The family ended their brick inscription with; “1st Marine shoot down MiG.”
That inscription begged further exploration, which proved far from disappointing.

Category: Military History

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The Tomb Of The Unknown Soldier

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery stands atop a hill overlooking Washington, D.C.
On March 4, 1921, Congress approved the burial of an unidentified American soldier from World War I in the plaza of the new Memorial Amphitheater.
West of the World War I Unknown are the crypts of unknowns from World War II, Korea and Vietnam. How were these Unknowns chosen? Have any ever been identified?

Category: Military History

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Tomb Of The Unknown: Changing Of The Guard

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is guarded 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and in any weather by Tomb Guard sentinels. Sentinels, all volunteers, are considered to be the best of the elite 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), headquartered at Fort Myer, Va.
The Tomb Guard Identification Badge is the second least awarded badge in the military after the Astronaut Badge.
The Guards of Honor at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier are highly motivated and are proud to honor all American service members who are "Known But to God."
Video of the Ceremony included.

Category: Military History

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Aleutian Islands: WWII's Forgotten Campaign

As I write this blog post on March 13, it is 29 degrees here in Washington, DC, and it seems impossible to believe that spring will arrive in just over a week. Emerging from one of the snowiest and coldest winters that many regions of the country have seen in decades, in which the phrase “polar vortex” became a routine part of our vocabulary, it feels like an appropriate time to recognize those who faced Arctic temperatures on the battlefield.
While some of the war’s most gripping stories came out of this campaign, it has not received the same popular historical attention as other theaters and battles, leading to its nickname as the “lost campaign” of the war.

Category: Military History

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“…Faithful And True Even To Death.”

The following is a guest post by Matt McCrady, VHP Digital Conversion Specialist.
Of the thousands of veterans’ stories archived with the Veterans History Project, the story of a Marine PFC known simply as Lucky stands out as truly unique. Lucky didn’t tell his own story for the project. Lucky left no letters or diaries, and no photo exists of him. In fact, the only remaining physical reminder of his service is an Honorable Discharge certificate. Yet after hearing Lucky’s story, it’s difficult to forget this quiet soldier who did his duty and was rewarded with nothing more than three pounds of food a day.
The thing about Lucky was that he wasn’t even human. Lucky was one of the many dogs that have served in the military alongside human handlers.

Category: Military History

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Inside The Guadalcanal Story

NOTE: Supporting notations for this NoteStream are found separately in Guadalcanal Supporting Notations. If you switch between the two articles, the app will remember your place in both.

The Battle of the Coral Sea occurred during the first week of May 1942. It was the most decisive event of World War II for the Marine Corps although no Marine Corps combat unit was involved. That battle led to significant actions that would not only have a permanent affect on United States Marine Corps aviation, it very likely saved the F4U Corsair program.

It is also the first battle where aircraft carriers engaged each other, and the first time in history that the combatant’s ships never sighted or even fired a shot at each other; it was fought entirely by airplanes.

Category: Military History

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Guadalcanal: Supporting Notations

NOTE: This is a companion piece to Inside The Guadalcanal Story and contains supplemental material. Please make sure you download Guadalcanal for context. The app will remember your place in both NoteStreams at all times.

Category: Military History

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Paratroopers & Pests: Animals In World War II

For the 70th anniversary of D-Day, veterans and world leaders were meeting on the beaches of Normandy to commemorate the biggest seaborne invasion in military history. Memorial services were set to recognize the estimated 4,500 soldiers who died that day.
There were also some lesser known troops involved in the Normandy landings: animals played a key part in the operation. The British army parachuted dogs on to French soil prior to the invasion to locate mines and booby traps during the D-day landings.
Learn about the critical roles played by animals - from horses to pigeons - and the battles fought against mosquitoes, rodents and more.

Category: Military History

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Legalese

Looking For A Good Legal Dictionary?
Well the Law Library has over 4200 of them, covering countries and languages from Chinese to Estonian to Cameroon. Many of these titles contain more than one language. So you could even draft your motion, translate it to French, and then from French to Portuguese, if you were so inclined.
But rather than engaging in a dry discussion on dictionaries or randomly choosing phrases from various titles to examine, we thought it would be more interesting to survey people in the Law Library of Congress and find out what their favorite legal terms or phrases are and why. The answers were as engaging and varied as our staff.

Category: History

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The True Costs of 100 Years of War

Kissinger Chair Bradford Lee arrived at the Kluge Center this fall with an ambitious research question: were the results of one hundred years of American military interventions in foreign conflicts worth the costs of achieving them? He sat down with Jason Steinhauer to discuss his research, in particular his analysis of World War I, a focus of his tenure at the Library.

Category: History

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The Sinking of the Lusitania

On the afternoon of May 7, 1915, the German submarine U-20 torpedoed and sank the British cruise liner Lusitania traveling from New York to Liverpool, England. In a scant 18 minutes, the luxury liner with nearly 2,000 passengers sunk to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Ireland. Nearly 1,200 passengers perished; more than 100 were Americans, including millionaire Alfred Vanderbilt, writer Elbert Hubbard and theater producer Charles Frohman.

Category: Military History

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St. Basil's Cathedral, Moscow

One of the visually most surprising buildings in the world is Saint Basil’s Cathedralin Moscow, Russia. This amazing church was built 450 years ago next to the Moscow Kremlin.
The history of this church dates back to Ivan the Terrible - the tsar of Russia who reigned from 1533 to 1584.

Category: Travel

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Reuse of Cemeteries in Prehistoric Ireland

With the cold weather and ice descending upon the Midwest, I’ve found myself spending more time watching HGTV than I normally do. My favorite shows are the fixer upper ones, like Property Brothers and Flea Market Flip. I really like the concept of upcycling and reusing older materials to create new uses, rather than buying something brand new. I like the idea that historic objects are given a new life and are saved from being recycled or destroyed. In a way, they have life histories much like we humans do—they were designed to serve a specific purpose and are being reused in a creative way that maintains that historic integrity. But what does this have to do with mortuary archaeology? Can we reuse cemeteries to give them new life?

Category: History

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Chance Vought ‘Corsair’ – Marine Corps Icon

Hailed in World War II as the “Bentwinged Bird” by Marine ground forces and feared as “Whistling Death” by the Japanese; the Corsair is uncontested as the finest World War II shipboard fighter. It is also acclaimed by many as the war’s best single seat piston engine fighter of any nation.
In his book, ‘Whistling Death,’ Boone Guyton, famed chief Corsair test pilot who crashed with the first test airplane spoke of, “…the struggle to prove this bent winged bird-its power and speed, its structural integrity…even from its first few minutes of flight tried to tell us: It won’t be easy.”
For the Marines who ‘proved’ the Corsair in Pacific Ocean combat, there were no easy days.

Category: Military History

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Piano Tuning & A Piano Tuner

Someone once said that you can tune a piano, but you can’t tuna fish. While we do not dispute the wisdom of that remark, we also have a further interest in and resources for piano tuning. The topic, the practice, the history, etc., of piano tuning has a solid place in circles like ours.
There is a Frenchman that we need to know: Claude Montal (1800-1865). 2015 is the 150th anniversary of his death, which is being celebrated both here and abroad. Why? In short, because Montal wrote the first comprehensive text on tuning and repairing the piano.

Category: Music

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A City Corpse Meets a Country Corpse

I’ve been indulging in a little HGTV this week as a way to recover from post-conference exhaustion. I know that shows like House Hunters aren’t real- they already have bought the house so it’s just a sham discussion of other houses. And yet, I can’t help myself. Sometimes this mundane drama is just what one needs. In the most recent episode, there was a classic division between the couple: a city girl and a country boy. She wanted to be downtown with a big house and lots of neighbors to entertain. He wanted a small farmhouse on a large plot of land without a neighbor in sight. In the end, they got the farmhouse. But it left me thinking about the divisions between them, the difference between city and country living. Is it really that divisive? Well, if I’m going to address that question, I’ll need some dead bodies to do it.

Category: Science

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Over 100 Years of Harley Davidson

In 1903, the same year Henry Ford incorporated the Ford Motor Company and the Wright brothers first flew, William Harley and his friends Arthur and Walter Davidson launched the Harley-Davidson Motor Company. They gave their bike a quality engine, so it could prove itself in races, but planned to manufacture it as a transport vehicle.
So what's happened since then?

Category: History

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The End Of Two Wars

May 8, 1945: The Allies accept Germany’s unconditional surrender, thus marking the end of the war in Europe. Despite the fact that the war is not yet over, the world celebrates; there is dancing in the streets of cities from London to Los Angeles. The date becomes known as V-E Day, or “Victory in Europe Day.”
Fast forward almost exactly thirty years, to April 30, 1975: North Vietnamese forces capture Saigon, the capitol of South Vietnam.
Unlike V-E Day, there are no newspaper headlines declaring victory, let alone global jubilation.

Category: Military History

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Thou Are Translated: Shakespeare Goes Viral

Appropriately enough, translation has come to define Shakespeare’s legacy. Since the 16th century, his plays and sonnets have been translated and performed all over the world in an ever-growing number of languages, dialects and styles. One of the most translated secular authors in the world, more than four billion copies of his works have been sold.
Why did Shakespeare – and not his contemporaries like Christopher Marlowe or Thomas Kyd – “go viral?”

Category: History

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US Army Air Force Pilot Shoots Down Wife

Boy meets girl is a classic story - except when it's not.
Louis Curdes, an engineering graduate of Purdue University, joined the Army Reserves on March 12, 1942. On December 3, 1942, he graduated from flight school at Luke Field, Arizona and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant. He went on to .... well, you'll just have to read it to believe it.

Category: Military History

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Misunderstood History & Heritage of Cinco de Mayo

It was a beautiful, balmy 70 degrees as I ordered a Manhattan at my favorite watering hole when a half intoxicated German college student asked me “whaaa in the hell are you drinking? It’s Mexican independence, gringo!” Of course he was referring to Cinco de Mayo or what I like to call… May 5th. And of course the gringo referenced my Mexican mother and Mexican-American father as well as my Manhattan. I really didn’t feel the need to let him know that Mexican Independence was on September 16th (I was lucky enough to celebrate it as a child in Hermosillo MX, the home of my mother). And as much as I wanted to correct him, I figured if he is happy and feels connected with my past, at least until his hang over tomorrow, who am I to judge? But now that he has long forgotten me and probably the bar he was at that night I do not mind some correction.

Category: History

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Interpreting Smoking Habits in Skeletal Remains?

In class yesterday, I taught the students what can be interpreted from human remains including age, sex, ancestry, disease and health, and trauma. One of the important things I make sure to stress when we’re doing this discussion (beyond the fact that we are looking at the biological and not cultural side of human remains) is that we are missing a large piece of evidence when we study bones- the soft tissue. We can learn a lot about disease, health and trauma, but only if it occurred in a manner that caused changes in the bone. So many things that cause death don’t leave marks on the bone. I would have thought that smoking habits would have fallen under this category of something that we wouldn’t be able to see in human remains. A recent study by Walker and Henderson (2010) argues otherwise.

Category: History

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Saigon Embassy Evacuation

This is an excerpt from the ninth volume (US Marines in Vietnam: The Bitter End, 1973-1975) in a nine-volume operational and chronological historical series covering the Marine Corps' participation in the Vietnam War.
This is a story about commitment, sacrifice, and the price America and its ally, South Vietnam, paid. It answers no questions, places no blame, and offers no prophetic judgement, but provides an historical account of the end of a state and the beginning of new lives for those fortunate enough to escape that upheaval.
The authors, Major George Ross Dunham and Colonel David A. Quinlan, individually worked on this volume while assigned to the History and Museums Division, Headquarters Marine Corps.
Colonel Quinlan, who is now retired and resides in Hartford, Connecticut, began the book in 1976. Major Dunham, who recently retired and resides in Dunkirk, Maryland, inherited his co-author's work and completed the majority of the volume during his tour from 1985 to 1990. Both authors are graduates of the U.S. Naval Academy and have advanced degrees. Colonel Quinlan, who was an infantry officer, has a juris doctor degree from George Washington University (1979) and Major Dunham, who was an aviator, has a master of arts degree in history from Pepperdine University (1976).

Category: Military History

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Computers Reveal Gauguin’s Techniques

Paul Gauguin’s art has always held special meaning for me. When I was six years old I spent a year on the small island of American Samoa. Faint memories of eating fresh guava plucked from trees, sliding down waterfalls and joining in Fia Fia – feasts where we would eat taro-root and chicken cooked in a pit – are triggered whenever I see Gauguin’s Tahitian imagery. So when I had a chance to lead a project on the technical analysis of the Gauguin’s prints, drawings and watercolors, I jumped at the opportunity.

Category: Science

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Du Bois in Paris – Exposition Universelle, 1900

The Paris Exposition held in 1900 was a lavish affair featuring contributions from all over the world showcased in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. I was really inspired when I saw an image titled “Negro business men in the United States” and was intrigued by information in the note indicating that it had been created by Atlanta University students for the “Negro Exhibit” at the Paris Exposition Universelle. I did some reading and I was even more excited when I saw that Daniel A.P. Murray, an African American researcher and historian at the Library of Congress was involved. He worked with W. E. B. Du Bois, Booker T. Washington, Thomas J. Calloway, and others to create the exhibit.

Category: History

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The Songs of America: ‘The Teddy Bear’s Picnic’

It is a long cultural journey from President Teddy Roosevelt to pop singer Anne Murray to art house film director Peter Greenaway. But this is just one of the paths you can take using the new web presentation, The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America, as a starting point.

Category: History

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Masterful Research at the Library of Congress

To celebrate my newly-minted and publicly searchable catalog records in the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog at the Library of Congress, I was invited to share one of my research adventures. Here is one I found particularly satisfying!

Category: History

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The History of Mexican Immigration to the U.S. in the Early 20th Century

As a Kluge Fellow at the Library of Congress, historian Julia Young is currently researching a new book on Mexican immigration to the U.S. during the 1920s. She sat down with Jason Steinhauer to discuss the history of this migration and the similarities and differences to immigration today.

Category: History

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From Living to Dead in Neolithic Italy

I am a huge fan of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. They are a perfect blend of intellectual references, irreverent creativity and humor that is perfect for breaking down the stress of graduate school and life. My favorite character is Death, partially because I’m a fan of his work and partially because I love the way that he attempts to understand the lives of humans. We might all die, but how we perceive this, how the living determine the moment of actual loss of the individual and spirit, and how we ensure how loved ones are taken care of after their biological selves are dead varies widely by culture, region and period.

Category: History

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Using the Dead to Interpret Daily Life in Bronze Age Spain

I am fascinated by the diversity of ways that humans have approached death and dying throughout our history as a species. Since you’re reading this, I’ll assume you are interested in this as well. However, when people ask me why I study death, I often reply “because we can learn so much about life”. Growing up, my favorite parts of history books was learning how normal people lived and behaved. History tends to be a grand story of how big men accomplish big deeds and who won what battle in this or that year. But the best bits of history are the little stories- how the average person went about their life, what chores and jobs they had, how they struggled through famine and disease, and eventually how they were buried and mourned by their community. Mortuary and bioarchaeology help us better understand daily life in the past.

Category: History

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The Founding Fathers vs Climate Change Skeptics

When claims from Europe accused British America of being inferior on account of its colder weather, Thomas Jefferson and his fellow Founding Fathers responded with patriotic zeal that their settlement was actually causing the climate to warm. Raphael Calel explores how, in contrast to today’s common association of the U.S. with climate change skepticism, it was a very different story in the 18th century.

Category: History

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Baseball, the Color Line, and Jackie Robinson

By the 1940s, organized baseball had been racially segregated for many years. The black press and some of their white colleagues had long campaigned for the integration of baseball. World War II experiences prompted more people to question segregation practices.
Although several people in major league baseball tried to end segregation in the sport, no one succeeded until Brooklyn Dodger's general manager Branch Rickey set his "great experiment" into motion. In 1945, the Jim Crow policies of baseball changed forever when Branch Rickey and Jackie Robinson of the Negro League's Kansas City Monarchs agreed to a contract that would bring Robinson into the major leagues in 1947.

Category: Sports

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Winston Churchill And Science

Yet another anniversary for Winston Churchill has just past, with the 50th anniversary of his death falling on January 24th.
One of my aims over the coming months must be to get more familiar with the life of Winston Churchill, since I will now be so closely associated with his name and his legacy.
Like so much about Churchill, his views towards science and scientists seem to have been very complex.

Category: History

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New Evidence Lost Civilizations Really Existed

What if everything you’ve been taught about the origins of civilization is wrong? Be it that certain pieces of our history have been intentionally hidden, or that we have yet to discover and realize the true story of our past, new archaeological and geological discoveries are revealing that sophisticated civilizations have likely existed in prehistoric times.

Category: History

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The Fenian and Wild Irish Foes

Today we’re going to add a new term to your broad vocabulary: Fenian. It’s a noun that describes a member of an Irish or Irish-American brotherhood dedicated to freeing Ireland from British dominion. The name was taken from the “Fianna,” a group of kings’ guards led by the legendary Irish leader of yore, Finn MacCool.

Category: History

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The Great Sphinx Of Giza, Egypt

No one knows for sure why or when the Great Sphinx of Giza -the largest monolithic statue in the world -was built. But it is likely this is the oldest monumental sculpture in the world. As happens in many cultures, the men of weight in Egypt wanted to preserve their status after death. One way to achieve this was to be buried in a sacred place, thus raising the deceased to the status of gods. The sacred Giza Plateau was used as the necropolis of pharaohs and other important people since the 27th century BC. Here were the most amazing structures of the antique world – the Great Pyramids and the Sphinx.

Category: History

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HMM-165 The Aerial Hero Of Saigon

A CH-46E "Sea Knight" helicopter sits in a lot among many other historical aircraft; reserve squadron markings tell of its last home, but no physical markings represent its true history. Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 165 changed that.
The Sea Knight, currently housed at the Flying Leathernecks Aviation Museum, is "Lady Ace 09," BuNo 154803) a Vietnam-era chopper that has a history as rich as the squadron itself.
In the early hours of April 30, 1975, Lady Ace 09, piloted by HMM-I65 Marine Capt. Gerry Berry, descended onto the landing pad of the embassy to extract one of the last remaining evacuees. At 4:58 a.m., the U.S. Ambassador to South Vietnam, Graham A. Martin boarded this helicopter with the U.S. flag.
Article by Cpl Aubry L. Buzek

Category: Military History

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What Historic Megadroughts Tell Us

Recent droughts throughout the American West have been stark reminders of our current and growing drought vulnerabilities. Depleted water resources have continued to impact our economy, food supply, ecosystem services and recreation, to name only a few.
The most recent western droughts are nevertheless not the full story.

Category: Science

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Climate Change & The Chinchorro Mummies

The Chinchorro mummies are quite different from the traditional linen-wrapped mummies of Egypt that we often equate this the term ‘mummy’. These mummies that have been preserved and protected for 1,000s of years are beginning to decay due to the increased moisture in the atmosphere.
What makes this mummification process so unique, is that everyone who died within this culture during this period was mummified, unlike Egypt where mummification was used only for the highest status individuals.

Category: Science

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They Were All Stars

At 18th and Vine history comes alive at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City. Johnny - a docent - was seated in the lobby, a felt fedora atop his head, wearing a fine vest, a large turquoise ring on his right hand, and high gloss shoes, Johnny took the time that day to share the following tale he heard Buck O’Neil spin many times.

Category: Sports

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Before Computers, There Was the Typewriter

Modern computers allow a single individual to do amazing things. But before the computer, there was the typewriter. There are a lot of people around now who may have never seen or used a typewriter. They don’t know what it was like to fix typographical errors or remember to leave space for footnotes and page numbers. They haven’t experienced the agony of having to retype an entire document or page just to insert a single word, sentence, or paragraph. They may not understand that designing, much less creating booklets and brochures, meant time spent with a printer – the business, not the machine! There were no fancy spreadsheet functions that tallied up numbers, much less turning those numbers into pie charts or graphs with a few clicks – there was just the tab key to keep the numbers in line and a calculator to add them all up.

Category: History

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Women in History: Voting Rights

In celebration of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day (March 8) we thought we’d try something a bit different for the blog. We asked the foreign law specialists, analysts, and interns at the Law Library of Congress to provide responses to a series of questions related to the history of women’s rights in various countries. This post highlight some of the important milestones around the world in women’s suffrage. When did women around the world get the right to vote?

Category: History

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15 Years on the Erie Canal

The Erie Canal played a major part in commerce in the history of the United States. Its creation helped to make New York City the chief port in the United States and opened the western part of the state and other western territories to increased settlement and trade. It connected the Hudson River to Lake Erie and many of New York state’s biggest cities – Albany, Utica, Syracuse, Buffalo – lie along its banks.

Category: History

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The Faking & Making of Precious Stones

Today the making and illegal selling of factitious stones has reached an unseen level of sophistication. Advanced technologies allow man to produce synthetic versions of the most precious of stones – diamonds, emeralds, sapphires and rubies. So convincing are these synthetic gems they can only be distinguished from natural precious stones in laboratories with advanced spectroscopic devices.
The making of imitations of precious stones is not just typical of our modern age. Find out more about its history and methods.

Category: History

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Celebrating Women's History On Pinterest

Images capture moments in time and connect us to history; they awaken our senses, revive memories and inspire us. With the Library’s extensive collections related to women’s history, there is an array of material to showcase. We have pinned images from a broad range of women’s achievements, including politics, civil rights, sports, medicine, science, industry, arts, literature, education and religion.
Author Jennifer Harbster also helped create the Library of Congress Women’s History Month board on Pinterest.

Category: History

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A Factory, a Fire, and Worker Safety

The Triangle Waist Company was owned by Max Blanck and Isaac Harris and manufactured shirtwaists. Most of the company’s employees were young, immigrant women; and like many manufacturing concerns of the day, working conditions were not ideal and the space was cramped.
When the Shirtwaist fire broke out on the 8th floor, many workers found exiting their floor, as well as the building itself, almost impossible.

Category: History

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Bells, Buzzers, Clicks and Clocks

In a world where everyone carries a cell phone and some carry more than one, it is surprising that people still check the historic clocks on the Capitol campus for the time of day. The Architect of the Capitol is responsible for the maintenance of most of the clocks on Capitol Hill. It’s a big job.

Category: History

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An Architectural Marvel 40 Years in the Making

The Washington Monument is probably one of the most recognizable structures in all of D.C. At 555 feet, the Egyptian obelisk can be seen from miles away. A particularly picturesque vantage point is looking at the monument through the cherry blossom trees along the tidal basin. Built to honor President George Washington, the Washington National Monument Society laid the monument’s cornerstone on Independence Day, 1848. However, it would take almost 40 years before the structure would be completed. The monument underwent two phases of construction, one private (1848-1854) and one public (1876-1884).

Category: History

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Irish Whiskey: The Flavors of the Republic

As we draw closer to the wearing of the green and the drinking of the brown, could there be better time to taste our way through history? We all know that green beer and shots of Irish whiskey are the staple for Saint Patrick’s Day; but why? Why is there an obligation to obliteration?

Category: Cocktails

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A Brief History of Amendments 18 and 21

A reoccurring theme working as a Business reference librarian at the Library is helping researchers who are doing historical research on various industries. One that comes up every once in a while is the alcoholic beverage industry. Every time I do research in this area, I am reminded that Prohibition profoundly divided this industry into a “before” and “after.” There were several anniversaries earlier this year–Prohibition began in a January and ended in a December, so I felt this was an appropriate time to write a post that has long been in the back of my mind.

Category: History

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Inquiring Minds: The Document Man

Armed guards? Check. Secret rendezvous points? Check. Mysterious steel briefcase? Check. Sounds like a James Bond movie. But it’s just a day in the life of Christopher Woods, director of the National Conservation Service in Britain. By day, he’s a leading conservator in the field with more than 29 years experience working in the heritage sector, including serving as head of Conservation and Collection Care at the Bodleian Library at Oxford University and director of Collection and Programme Services at the Tate Gallery in London. By night – well, more like special assignment – he is the man tasked with transporting Lincoln Cathedral’s original copy of Magna Carta when it’s on travel.

Category: History

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Mining Conquistadors & Air Pollution

When the Spanish conquered South America in the 16th century they took over the Incas' mines and soon began to pump clouds of lead dust over the Andes. The silver the conquistadors sent back home made them wealthy. It also made them the world’s first industrial-scale toxic metal air polluters – perhaps causing us to rethink the timing of the moment when humans truly began to change the environment.

Category: Science

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Two Centuries of Map-Making: William Smith

This year marks the 200th anniversary since William Smith published his life’s work, a geological map of England and Wales, in 1815. While “Strata Smith” and his map are well known among geologists, this humble man and his amazing map do not receive the attention or wider recognition they deserve. Smith’s achievement was arguably as significant as Darwin’s, yet he resides in relative obscurity.

Category: History

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All that Jazz

Jazz’s greatest drummer once earned D’s in music in school, once wrote an essay entitled “I Hate Jazz” and once even launched a venture to break into the soft-drink market. The Library of Congress announced the acquisition of the papers of Max Roach, the groundbreaking drummer who helped birth bebop, the adventurous musician who never stopped innovating, the educator who inspired new generations and the civil-rights activist who insisted on freedom now.

Category: Music

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From Dollars to Distinction

I’m a big fan of “Downton Abbey,” so naturally I have been anticipating this season’s series premiere for several months. Following the episode, there was a special on how the show accurately represents the customs and manners of 1900s Britain. If you’re not familiar with “Downton,” the show centers around the wealthy Crawley family, headed by the Earl of Grantham and his multi-millionaire American heiress wife Cora. As it turns out, the idea of an American woman becoming a titled aristocrat isn’t as sensationalized for television as you might think.

Category: History

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The Enemy Within: Battle Over Alcohol In WWI

Worries over binge drinking, women adopting masculine drinking patterns, and debates over legislation to restrict alcohol consumption: World War I has strange similarities to our own time. Since the 1830s, alcohol consumption was increasingly being linked to many social problems and by 1900 an estimated 10% of the population were total abstainers and consumption had begun to fall.

Category: History

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How Beer Created the State of Belgium

Around the world, Belgium is famous for its beers and its brewing tradition. However, there is another link between beer and Belgium: historically, the country owes its very existence to beer.

Category: History

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The Bar That Birthed America

Despite our disastrous flirtation with Prohibition, much of the character of the United States, in the early days of its life as first a colony of Great Britain and later as a newly minted independent nation, was hammered out by men raising tankards of booze in taverns and public houses.
Fraunces Tavern, being one of the most significant, is still standing, a modest yet instantly noticeable tan brick Federal style building surrounded by the towering steel and glass that defines modern lower Manhattan.

Category: History

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Cockles, Motto Lozenges, and Sweethearts

I was recently at a dinner party where the gracious hostess embellished the dining room table with Sweethearts, also known as Conversation Hearts and Sweet Talks.
As you can imagine, the guests questioned the history of these sweethearts and turned to me for an answer. I promised that when I returned to the Library that I would investigate the history of these infamous Valentine Day candies.

Category: History

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In Celebration of the Father of our Country

Americans have been celebrating George Washington’s birthday since he became president. We have continued this tradition for over two hundred years with the help of Congress who, in 1879, officially designated Washington’s Birthday (February 22) as a Federal Holiday.

Category: History

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Edgar Allen Poe and “The Raven”

Edgar Allen Poe, born January 19 1809, was an American writer, poet, and critic during the romantic era and is perhaps best known for his stories of mystery and horror. He published many short stories during his career and is said to have invented the genre of detective fiction. One of his most famous works, the poem “The Raven,” was first published 170 years ago in January 1845 of which the beginnings are almost as enigmatic as the man.

Category: History

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College Athletics: Who Funds Them?

Currently, public universities in America are funded in a number of ways: government subsidies, research grants, donations, sponsorships, and, of course, tuition and fee payments. When debating cost-cutting measures, many propose lowering tuition. Typically, ancillary costs – such as the amount of fees students must pay on top of tuition – are ignored.

Category: Sports

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Cocktail History: The Bloody Mary

Sunday morning. Your stomach is a little delicate, your head is pounding, and every noise sounds like a thunderclap. You get out of bed, shower, and head out for brunch with friends, rocking the darkest glasses you have. It is not clear when the sun became so bright, but it certainly feels like someone turned up the intensity. Perusing the menu of your chosen brunch spot, you are looking for something that will sit well in your stomach. It all sounds a little dicey, until you get to the cocktail menu and see it: the Bloody Mary. No matter how rough the night was before, a Bloody Mary sounds great the next day. It is a cocktail that has risen from a curiosity in a Paris cocktail bar to a staple of brunch around the world. You would be hard pressed to find this cocktail excluded from any book of classic cocktails. You would also be hard pressed to find any two bartenders that use the same recipe. This is where the Bloody Mary gets interesting.

Category: Cocktails

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History of the South African Wine Industry

When fine wine is mentioned the countries of France and Italy usually come to mind, but South Africa has a history of winemaking that goes back nearly 4 centuries.
South Africa consistently ranks in the top ten wine producing countries and while it may not produce the most wine, South Africa produces some of the finest wines in the world.

Category: Wine

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The Christmas Star

During a recent staff meeting, I asked my colleagues for holiday blog post ideas. Section head Constance Carter suggested that I write about her mentor Ruth Freitag’s 1979 annotated bibliography the Star of Bethlehem: a list of references.
This bibliography, published by the Library of Congress, lists 240 popular and scholarly publications about the phenomenon known as the Star of Bethlehem or Christmas Star, which was seen by the Magi (Wise Men) at Jesus Christ’s birth.

Category: History

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The Attack on Pearl Harbor

The 7 December 1941 Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor was one of the great defining moments in history. A single carefully-planned and well-executed stroke removed the United States Navy's battleship force as a possible threat to the Japanese Empire's southward expansion. America, unprepared and now considerably weakened, was abruptly brought into the Second World War as a full combatant.
The U.S. Fleet's Pearl Harbor base was reachable by an aircraft carrier force, and the Japanese Navy secretly sent one across the Pacific with greater aerial striking power than had ever been seen on the World's oceans. Its planes hit just before 8AM on 7 December.

Category: Military History

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The Capitol Christmas Tree

The Capitol Christmas Tree tradition has been an AOC responsibility for nearly 50 years. In 1964, House Speaker John W. McCormack suggested to Architect of the Capitol George Stewart that a Christmas tree be placed on the U.S. Capitol Grounds. That year, a live 24-foot Douglas fir was purchased for $700 from Buddies Nurseries of Birdsboro, Pennsylvania, and was planted on the West Front lawn. Learn more about this long-standing tradition! Includes video of the 2014 Lighting.

Category: History

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Back To The Real St. Nicholas

Our annual Holiday Best Books list named Dr. Adam English’s The Saint Who Would Be Santa Claus No. 2 out of the 12 books on the “best” list.
The record on Nicholas is thin because he left no volumes of his own theology or poetry or sermons. We have nothing written in his own hand. We have nothing written by his immediate contemporaries, either.
The earliest historical records that mention his name come from a couple of hundred years after his death. That’s always troubling to a historian who, of course, would rather have first-hand accounts.

Category: History

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Happy Hanukkah: Remembering Tradition

Hanukkah is not “the Jewish Christmas.” It doesn’t have the religious significance Christmas does. Hanukkah commemorates a long and furious battle fought by a small band of Jewish brothers who triumphed over their Greek oppressors and those Jews who had already capitulated their heritage. Judah Maccabee and his minions fought to maintain Jewish tradition, study and religious practice. In fact the word Hanukkah means dedication, in recognition of the purification and re-dedication of the Holy Temple in the wake of the Maccabee’s triumph.

Category: History

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Hanukkah Lights Celebrate Religious Freedom

Fry up latkes and try your luck with a few games with a dreidel—it’s Hanukkah! Jews far and wide light menorahs in their windows and proclaim the “miracle of the oil,” in memory of the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem by the Maccabees more than two millennia ago. Hanukkah (also spelled “Chanukah”) lasts eight nights and days, during which additional branches of the menorah are lit. In most Jewish homes, candles traditionally burn for at least 30 minutes after dark. While the candles burn, family members exchange stories, sing songs and discuss Jewish history.

Category: History

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Confucius Doesn’t Live Here Anymore

Sinologists and journalists alike have expertly described The Confucian revival that started in the mid-1980s. But for all the fervor of his contemporary defenders, it is unlikely that Confucianism, as a serious moral theory, will significantly shape the character of modern Chinese society. There are a variety of social forces that see in Confucianism a potential source of stable cultural identity and soothing historical continuity in a turbulent modern world.

Category: History

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Hispanic Folklore Goes Mainstream

For more than 500 years, she has wandered, weeping and searching without rest. A ghostly woman in white who is said to have murdered her children, she is doomed to roam the earth, searching for their lost bodies. Though the ghost woman may never recover her own dead children, she will snatch other living ones to take their place, or so the story goes of La Llorona. Each year around Halloween and Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), our thoughts turn to the undead and spirits walking among us. One day focuses on costumes and candy. The other is a Mexican tradition rooted in Indigenous practices that involve formally remembering the dead through offerings of food, drink, and celebration.

Category: History

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Ancient Egyptian Texts vs Truth

Text is an interesting type of artifact.
Early historic and archaeological studies often took text as the truth about the past. It was accepted that we could read a passage from a historic document and that the archaeological record would simply support these ‘known facts’.
However, text isn’t always accurate.

Category: History

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The Greatest Zombie Lie Ever Told

Eight hundred years ago, a monk wrote a bogus account of the life of St. William, a boy supposedly abducted by Jews. This story is just one of many persistent and pernicious anti-Semitic fictions. To a skeptic, this looks like clear evidence of fabrication. To a believer, medieval or modern, this looks like evidence for an ancient, systematically orchestrated program of murder. This myth has now found a home online and perpetuates a familiar prejudice.

Category: History

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No Opera, No X-Rays!

This is about two once-deadly arts. One seems dangerous even today. When a dentist covers you with lead protection before taking an X-ray of your teeth, you know something requiring precautions is being done. Unfortunately, that knowledge was not available to early radiologists.
Opera houses were among the first to adopt electric lighting, starting in 1881, before power companies. Find out why "No Opera, No X-rays!" isn't hyperbole.

Category: History

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Dr. Salk and the Eradication of Polio

In 1953, approximately 35,000 new cases were reported. This was up from an annual average of 20,000 cases. The 1952 infections left 3,145 people dead and 21,269 with mild to disabling paralysis. However, even before the 1952 and 1953 outbreaks, labs had been worked diligently to find a cure for Polio. Relief finally came when Jonas Salk developed a vaccine.
But first, Salk had to show that the vaccine worked.

Category: Health

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World War I Remembered

In a letter sent to his parents on November 10th, 1918, Navy Lieutenant Junior Grade Lucius B. Nash wrote, “I expect as I set here writing tonight history is being made as it never was before, and people all over the whole world are thinking of just one thing–”Will Germany accept the Armistice?”
As Nash correctly predicted, history was indeed made that night.
Americans commemorate the World War I Armistice, and the sacrifice of all American veterans, by recognizing Veteran’s Day every November 11th.

Category: Military History

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Armistice Day / Veterans Day

As a student of history, I often wonder how many people understand the significance of the date of Veterans Day and why it is always celebrated on the day of the holiday and not, like Labor Day or Memorial Day, observed on a Monday. The holiday began originally as a commemoration associated with World War I and then expanded to honor veterans of all modern conflicts.
Although the war to end all wars has faded in public memory, the service of our veterans should not.

Category: Military History

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The Life and Death of Ancient Egyptians

This is a review of Ancient Lives, New Discoveries: Eight Mummies, Eight Stories. By John H. Taylor and Daniel Antoine. Published by the British Museum as part of their currently ongoing museum exhibit with the same title.
Taylor and Antoine (2014) have done a fantastic job with presenting us the personal side of mummification by unwrapping and unraveling the identities of eight individuals, as well as introducing us to the history of the study of mummies.
While I would love to share each and every individual’s story, I’ll just give you a sneak peek into one- you’ll need to get the book for yourself or visit the exhibit.

Category: History

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The Black Death and A Healthier Population

To uncover differences in the health of medieval Londoners, Dr. Sharon DeWitte of the University of South Carolina examinedpre-Black Death individuals and post-Black Death individuals.
To make long and complicated methodology short, these analyses indicate that post-Black Death Londoners appear to have lived longer than pre-Black Death Londoners. The virulent killer, the Black Death, may have helped select for a healthier London by influencing genetic variation, at least in the short term.

Category: History

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Early Balloonists

Civil War aeronautics was the use of balloons for military aerial reconnaissance, mostly by the Union (Federal Army) from 1861-1863. The men who ‘flew’ the balloons were called aeronauts and a crew or squad of military men under the command of a commissioned officer assisted them. Most historians agree that the history of the military balloon in the U.S. began in the spring of 1861 when President Lincoln learned about the skills and expertise of Professor Thaddeus Lowe, a scientist and expert balloon maker.

Category: History

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Civil War Thanksgiving Foods

Since the holidays are upon us, and we are also still in the midst of commemorating the Sesquicentennial of the U.S. Civil War, we thought it might be interesting to explore what the soldiers ate during that war and how they celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday.
At the time of the Civil War, some states did celebrate Thanksgiving on a day decided by the governor—usually in October or November after the crops had been harvested and the bounty preserved. But what was actually on the menu?

Category: History

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The History of the Ordinary

When most people think of the collections in museums, archives, and research libraries, they think of the grand collections — the papers of famous people, the documents of important events, the artifacts of significant artistic movements or time periods. However, much of history happens between big events, to ordinary people. Alongside the books and artifacts made remarkable by the famous names connected with them, however, we also have a good collection of items that document the more prosaic lives of everyday people. Because these items were viewed as mundane or commonplace, they were often discarded, making them all the more rare, so it is often a remarkable feat for these items just to survive.

Written by:
Laura Bang is the Digital and Special Collections Curatorial Assistant at Villanova University’s Falvey Memorial Library. She designs exhibits (both on site and online), oversees the Digital Library scanning operations, and enjoys reading dime novels from the popular literature collection.
Ruth Martin joined Falvey’s Digital Library Team as an intern in the summer of 2012, where she is learning about the many aspects of running a digital library. One of her projects was to scan the Fire Department scrapbook described above as well as add the metadata to the digital resource.

Category: History

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History of Oxford Mathematics

The study of mathematics in Oxford has a long and colorful history. This NoteStream covers the story from its earliest days forward.

Category: History

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Cocktail History: American Hotel Bars

Take a leisurely stroll through time and learn about the creative evolution of the American Hotel Bar. From its early representations in the late 18th century, all the way through to the modern day you'll meet the influencers that guided and shaped the cocktail to its current form. Cheers!

Category: Cocktails

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Quest for the Holy Grail

Numerous bowls and chalices over the centuries have been reported to be the Holy Grail. Legends have talked about the Holy Grail, supposedly the cup Jesus and disciples drank from at the Last Supper and alleges to give eternal life, since the Middle Ages. Regardless, by the Middle Ages, this cup, whether symbolic or actual, became quite popular.

Category: History

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Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History

Bardstown, Kentucky’s Spalding Hall has been many things since its construction in 1826. Originally St. Joseph College and Seminary, it later became a hospital treating both Union and Confederate troops during the Civil War, an orphanage, and a prep school. It is, however, its current incarnation that most interests me: the home of the Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History.

Category: History

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Cinco de Mayo: Celebrate History

Please don’t treat Cinco de Mayo like Mexican St. Patrick’s Day.
Sure, it’s a good excuse to celebrate all things Mexican and gorge on its cuisine and drinks, but the true significance is often misunderstood. May the 5th is not Mexican Independence Day as many would believe. The history of this important date rich and colorful. Recipe included!

Category: History

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Prohibition: Early Alcohol Consumption

Early European colonizers in North America were used to drinking beer as a result of unsafe water in their native countries and they continued this practice in the new land. This NoteStream explores Early alcohol consumption, distilleries, the rise of saloons and early "medicinal uses" of alcohol.
CC BY 3.0 License.

Category: History

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Prohibition: Brewing of a Temperance Movement

The seeds of the temperance movement were sown by one of the Founding Fathers when he published an essay detailing his belief that heavy alcohol consumption could damage physical and psychological health. This NoteStream explores the motivations leading to the temperance movement, the formation of the temperance societies, and the crossover with other reform movements.

Category: History

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Prohibition: America Dries Out

By early 1917, temperance supporters held a majority of seats in Congress, drawing members from the Democratic and Republican parties alike. This NoteStream explores the dry out of the nation, the 18th amendment to the Constitution, early enforcement efforts, and finally the 21st amendment, returning control of alcohol regulation to the individual states.

Category: History

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Prohibition: Quenching the National Thirst

While the 18th Amendment prohibited the manufacture, transport, and sale of alcohol it did not outlaw the drinking of alcohol. Because the taste of the available liquor was rough, bartenders used sweeteners and other additives resulting in a number of cocktail recipes that are still popular today. Welcome to the world of circumventing the law, bootleggers, rum-runners, moonshine and stills!

Category: History

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Prohibition: Unintended Consequences

When the 18th Amendment passed it was expected that the social ills of the country would dry up and that the laws would be relatively easy to enforce. Nothing could have been further from the truth. Organized crime as we know it today is tied to the development of crime families during Prohibition. Explore the unintended consequences, corruption, and the critical role played by women.

Category: History

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Prohibition: Legacy

Prohibition grew from Victorian-era temperance movements but was enacted in the Jazz Age. Passage of the 18th Amendment contributed to changes in the culture. Here, we'll explore it's legacy, from the "Blue Laws" to the creation of AA to the current rise of home brews and microbrews.

Category: History

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US Navy SEALs: A History

Every ounce of their being has been forged by war. Not a single tactic, technique or procedure hasn't been bought and paid for by their own blood. Every laser, parachute, weapon, suppressor, trigger, button and stitch on their uniform has a purpose.
They've been called ghosts, guerrillas, assassins and heroes. To know them one must start at the beginning and then go further back in time from there.

Category: Military History

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A Brief History of Halloween in America

Of all the holidays, Halloween stands out as the best example of the quintessential American “melting pot,” that is, a melange of beliefs, rituals, or traditions, both religious or pagan, that stem from all cultures living in America. From Halloween's early Celtic Roots to modern day practice, we'll explore the evolution of this favorite holiday. Some have argued that Halloween has lost its spiritual meaning due to all the corporate and media influences. In this technology driven world, it’s important to remember that along with society, even holidays are subject to evolution.
But it’s always nice to take a look back at history and learn how it all began.
http://www.deliriumsrealm.com/history-halloween-america/ (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Category: History

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The History of Tattoos

Tattooing is the art of adorning or decorating the body by cutting or piercing and inserting ink into the wounds to leave permanent marks. Although many may think it is a modern phenomenon because of the upsurge of tattooing in recent times, it has in reality been around since the beginning of mankind. Tattooing is an ancient art that has been practiced by a wide variety of cultures and at various times during the history of mankind. It has gone in and out of style over and over again. The reasons for tattooing are not always just for self-decoration, but may serve others purposes depending upon the culture and era in which it is used.
This NoteStream covers some of the reasons for and the symbolism behind tattoos, as well as the history, from ancient times, through the Pacific Cultures and into today's world.

Category: History

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Examining Columbus' Crew

The story of Christopher Columbus sailing across the ocean to discover America is something that all children from the United States learn and memorize. Of course, most of it is a myth, and much of what we learned as children is actually part of a larger misconception about this whole period. A new study examines the human remains from Columbus’ second trip to the Americas. What did their bones show?
Reposted from Bones Don't Lie, CC BY-SA 3.0

Category: History

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Ancient Civilizations: The Rise Of Civilization (01 of 18)

The first humans evolved in Africa during the Paleolithic Era, or Stone Age, which spans the period of history from 2.5 million to 20,000 years ago. By the end of the Lower Paleolithic, members of the hominid family were living in what is now China, western Indonesia, and, in Europe, around the Mediterranean and as far north as England, southern Germany, and Bulgaria. Their further northward expansion may have been limited by the lack of control of fire: studies of cave settlements in Europe indicate no regular use of fire prior to 300,000-400,000 years ago.
When did humans first produce the earliest works of art and engage in religious and spiritual behavior such as burial and ritual? What other factors drove the early evolution of these ancient peoples?
Includes a quick 3 question quiz to make sure you've got your 'lithics straight!

Category: History

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