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Stuff You Missed In History Class [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Mar 26, 2015 - 39 comments

The Rise and Fall of the Borscht Belt

As the term borscht implies, the people who worked and stayed in the hotels and bungalow colonies were almost all Jews. The “fall” in the title of Davis’s film refers to the tourist industry collapsing after Jews became wealthier and more assimilated. After moving from the garment industry cutting rooms to accounting firms, they could now afford vacations in Puerto Rico and no longer felt the need to be in a hotel that served kosher food.
The Rise and Fall of the Borscht Belt, a 1986 documentary by Peter Davis on the famous Jewish-American holiday resorts of the Catskills, has been put online by Louis Proyect.
posted by MartinWisse on Mar 26, 2015 - 11 comments

But where were the "fallen women"?

The researchers focused their attention on allegations of wrongdoing at the prison, looking at previously discredited testimonies of prisoners who claimed to have been physically abused and at the activities of a prison doctor who had some very Victorian ideas about women and sex. They began to unravel a long-standing mystery: Why didn’t the prison incarcerate any prostitutes in its early years? They presented their findings at academic conferences and published papers in journals. And they did all of it without access to the Internet.
They had to do it without access to the internet, as the researchers investigating the hidden history of the Indiana Reformatory Institute for Women and Girls, America's oldest women only prison are themselves prisoners at the same prison and what they found shines a new light on its origins.
posted by MartinWisse on Mar 24, 2015 - 12 comments

What to do with a cart and no horse?

Hitch the cart to a dog, of course. Dogs (and sometimes goats) were used to pull small carts in much of Europe, usually by people who could not afford to keep horses. The heyday of these small dog-drawn carts was in the 19th century, when dog carts were commonly used in places like England, the Netherlands, and Belgium to deliver milk and sometimes other groceries. In fact, the Belgian Army even experimented with dog-drawn carts toting machine guns during WWI. Previously. [more inside]
posted by sciatrix on Mar 23, 2015 - 30 comments

"She often condescends to drive by in her little phaeton and ponies."

A handy single-page explanation of horse-drawn carriage varieties, with pithy descriptions and occasional photographs of the barouche, the brougham, the cabriolet, the calash, the char-a-banc, the char-de-cote, the curricle, the dog-cart, the gig, the governess cart, the jaunting car, the landau, the Ralli car, the sociable, the sulky, the waggonette, and others. [more inside]
posted by Iridic on Mar 23, 2015 - 34 comments

From Middle Class Anxiety To Factory Fueling Station

"Parlors, “dining chambers,” and other spaces amenable to dining began appearing in architecture plans. Each nation seemed to have its own idea as to what constituted a proper dining room. The great Renaissance architect Leon Battista Alberti wrote that it “should be entered off the bosom of the house,” advising further that, “[a]s use demands, there should be [a dining room] for summer, one for winter, and one for middling seasons.” Some two centuries later Englishman William Sanderson would recommend that a “Dyning-Roome” be hung with pictures of kings and queens." The Austerity Kitchen presents A Short History Of The Dining Room Part 1 / Part 2.
posted by The Whelk on Mar 23, 2015 - 22 comments

Plugging a 1986 Mac Plus into the modern Web

Kernelmag's Jeff Keacher documents connecting his old Macintosh Plus to the World Wibe Web, courtesy of a Raspberry Pi and a bunch of software to remove all those pesky <div>s and such. [more inside]
posted by thegears on Mar 23, 2015 - 23 comments

An American's part in the farewell to an English King

Richard III of England was interred today at Leicester Cathedral (official site for the burial). A New York woman was responsible for creating the traditional altar linens used in today's service. Richard III previously.
posted by immlass on Mar 22, 2015 - 40 comments

"It was produced in a hurry."

The CIA Just Declassified the Document That Supposedly Justified the Iraq Invasion [more inside]
posted by Rustic Etruscan on Mar 19, 2015 - 85 comments

Rogue wounds

In the asylums, the garrison hospitals, the rogues’ hovels, and so on back through time, it is possible to see medicine moving toward this moment, when the malingerer ceases to be a monster and becomes a mirror to ourselves.
posted by zeptoweasel on Mar 18, 2015 - 3 comments

How was Roman column formed?

This short, stop-motion film shows how Trajan's Column might have been constructed. The behind-the-scenes of the stop motion is also pretty neat. [more inside]
posted by rtha on Mar 18, 2015 - 35 comments

If you've played Larry, you know me

I'm Al Lowe and I created a series of games called Leisure Suit Larry for Sierra back in the '80s and '90s along with another 20 games and titles back in that period. I was with Sierra from 1982 until 1998 when it -- well, it was the poor victim of a hostile takeover by criminals. How about that for an opening?
The creator of Leisure Suit Larry interviewed.
posted by MartinWisse on Mar 18, 2015 - 45 comments

100 Years of Beauty

In Cut.com's new video series, a model runs through iconic makeup and hairstyle looks of her country for each decade from 1910 to 2010. This is an ongoing series, but there are now four videos up: one each for Anglo-American and African-American women, one for Iranian women, and one for Korean women. [more inside]
posted by sciatrix on Mar 17, 2015 - 24 comments

"I asked him a very old Jewish question: Do you have a bag packed?"

Is It Time for the Jews to Leave Europe? [more inside]
posted by zarq on Mar 17, 2015 - 132 comments

"...hollow out a heel of french bread and stick a whole onion into it"

Irish-American Dining. A history of and guide to food that is expressly Irish-American, by Mefi's own Max Sparber. Irish Egg Rolls! Early onion-based pub food! The hidden history of the Shamrock Shake! [via mefi projects]
posted by The Whelk on Mar 17, 2015 - 57 comments

If you can read this sentence, you can talk with a scientist.

Science once communicated in a polyglot of tongues, but now English rules alone. How did this happen – and at what cost?
posted by standardasparagus on Mar 15, 2015 - 45 comments

The Case Against Credentialism

The connection between education and occupation is now so firmly ingrained as to seem almost a fact of nature. To get a good job, you get a diploma: at once time a high school diploma stuffed, and then a B.A., but now you're better off with a J.D. or an M.B.A...Yet this familiar system, far from evolving “naturally” or “unconsciously,” is the product of distinct cultural changes in American history. The process that left it in our landscape is less like the slow raising of a mountain range or the growth of oxbows on the Mississippi, and more like the construction of a dam. Three changes, which took place in the past hundred years, produced the system that is now producing M.B.A.s. They were the conversion of jobs into “professions,” the scientific measurement of intelligence, and the use of government power to “channel” people toward certain occupations. James Fallows explains in a 1985 article in The Atlantic. (See also William James 80 years prior on The Ph.D. Octopus).
posted by shivohum on Mar 15, 2015 - 19 comments

How 'Mad Men' Came To Be

"Don Draper lived on hard drives for half a decade before anybody paid him any notice. In 1999, Matthew Weiner, then an unfulfilled writer on CBS' Ted Danson sitcom Becker, spent his every off-hour doing research on the 1960s: what people wore, how they decorated their offices, what they ate and drank -" The story of how Mad Men went from a risky pitch to an unknown network to one of the most popular and celebrated dramas of the decade. (Hollywood Reporter) Bonus: Ten Mad Men Characters we need to see again. (Vulture)
posted by The Whelk on Mar 14, 2015 - 39 comments

The extraordinary life of Janet Vaughan

Douglas Starr, in Blood, quotes the British Secretary of War, asked in 1937 what the nation proposed to do about a mass blood supply. The secretary was dismissive. Blood could not be stored for long or in great quantities, he said. On the hoof was better. “It was more satisfactory to store our blood in our people.” Janet Vaughan did not agree, and Janet Vaughan did something about it. Her medical director gave her £100, and she sent off her assistants in taxis to find all the tubing that London shops could provide.
Longreads profiles Janet Vaughan, a British scientist who found better treatments for anemia than arsenic using herself as a test subject, was a major force in creating London's first blood banks using cheap tubing and ice cream trucks, studied emergency nutrition in a post-liberation concentration Nazi death camp, and continued active research into blood and radiation into her eighties, while occasionally serving as a model for Virginia Woolf characters.
posted by Stacey on Mar 12, 2015 - 6 comments

What labor songs might Captain America have known?

Then I thought, hrm, a lot of what I know out of the Little Red Songbook is quite possibly more recent: what portion of it would Steve know? Long story short (you should all know how I roll by now), this has led to a week of researching the shit out of things to date particular songs, then listening carefully to as many versions of them as I could find to find the version that would be closest to the version Steve would've known it as. And the next thing I knew, I had a mix.
posted by sciatrix on Mar 12, 2015 - 19 comments

The Indo-European Wars

Over the past few years, some researchers have been arguing using mathematical tree-building and dating techniques, that the Indo-Europeans originated in Anatolia. In an article [.pdf] in the latest issue of Language, a group of historical and computational linguists using similar techniques say otherwise . [more inside]
posted by damayanti on Mar 10, 2015 - 17 comments

Videos of Pre-Industrial Crafts

In case you haven't had your fill of pre-industrial craftsmanship in a while, watch some videos of folks at Colonial Williamsburg & Jamestown doing their things: A gunsmith, a silversmith, a cabinet maker, and a glass blower. [more inside]
posted by cmchap on Mar 9, 2015 - 8 comments

Queen Nzinga: Angola's answer to Queen Elizabeth I

Nzinga Mbande (1581-1663) was a powerful queen and guerrilla commander in what is now modern day Angola. She is best remembered for a story about her first meeting with Portuguese leaders, who slighted her by providing her no chair upon which to sit. Famously, she ordered one of her maids to kneel on all fours and sat upon the maid's back while she conducted negotiations. However, the focus on this story belies Nzinga's accomplishments as a canny politician who successfully consolidated an effective power base despite starting from a very unstable position. [more inside]
posted by sciatrix on Mar 7, 2015 - 7 comments

Why Don’t Americans Know What Really Happened in Vietnam?

For a little perspective on the 50th anniversary, consider this: we’re now as distant from the 1960s as the young Bob Dylan was from Teddy Roosevelt. For today’s typical college students, the Age of Aquarius is ancient history. Most of their parents weren’t even alive in 1965 when President Lyndon Johnson launched a massive escalation of the Vietnam War, initiating the daily bombing of the entire country, North and South, and an enormous buildup of more than half a million troops.
posted by josher71 on Mar 6, 2015 - 106 comments

How should we describe the sexuality of historical figures?

It's a discussion that flared up recently at the house of Jane Addams. "Let’s start with an art history mystery. In 2006, a lifetime after Jane Addams passed away, Lisa Yun Lee took up the position of Director of the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum. One day she came across a fetching painting of a brunette in the museum's back offices. But, Lee says, “As soon as I started asking ‘Who is that person in the painting,’ there were hushed tones and confusion. And people said, ‘Well, some people say that it’s Jane Addams’ partner.’ Other people say it’s her biggest business supporter. Other people said, ‘Well, of course. It’s her lesbian lover.’” "
posted by sciatrix on Mar 6, 2015 - 73 comments

"Being a grown-up is highly overrated"

Never Give Up, Never Surrender: Cosplay After 40
My name is Phaedra Cook, I am 46 years old and I’m a cosplayer. That sounds like some kind of intro to a confession at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, doesn’t it? There are certain types of people who would like me to have a sense of shame about my hobby, but that’s not going to happen.
[more inside]
posted by Lexica on Mar 5, 2015 - 43 comments

The Unknown War

The Unknown War: WWII And The Epic Battles Of The Russian Front, the 20-episode documentary of the Nazi-Germany/Soviet Union conflict, first aired in the United States in 1978 but was subsequently pulled after the Soviet Union invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. "The footage was edited from over 3.5 million feet of film taken by Soviet camera crews from the first day of the war, 22 June 1941, to the Soviet entry into Berlin in May 1945. Most of these films have never been seen outside this documentary series." It is available in full (1040 minutes). [more inside]
posted by cwest on Mar 5, 2015 - 24 comments

My dear sons, learn eloquence.

Beginning in 1808, a young man begins keeping a secret, ciphered journal of his life with terse detail of his days. Astronomical observations, interpersonal relationships (to put it mildly), weather notes, and the minutiae of a planter's life in 19th Century North Carolina were collected into these volumes that were nearly lost, decoded in 1979 and mostly forgotten again. The Coded Life of William Thomas Prestwood.
posted by 1f2frfbf on Mar 4, 2015 - 19 comments

Those Who Wrote in Small Letters

For much of the tenth century, the Qarmatians enjoyed supreme power in northeastern Arabia, exacting tribute even from the caliphs in Baghdad and Cairo. They were an esoteric Isma'ili Shi'ite sect from the oases of the desert fringe and the islands of the Persian Gulf, where they built themselves an egalitarian utopia—"probably the only communist society to control a large territory, and to endure for more than a generation, before the twentieth century." Utopia, however, depended on the agricultural labor of thirty thousand Ethiopian slaves and the proceeds from constant raiding and pillaging. In 930, the Qarmatians stormed Mecca, killed thousands of pilgrims at the foot of the Kaaba, and removed the Black Stone to Bahrayn. A year later, they identified the Mahdi, their prophesied redeemer, in the form of a young Persian prisoner. They believed that once he assumed control of the Qarmatian state, he would lead them to even greater triumphs... [more inside]
posted by Iridic on Mar 2, 2015 - 9 comments

Wonders of Destruction in Arabic Fiction

Historians of war and society would like to believe that military conflicts have fixed beginnings and ends. Conventional depictions of the Lebanese civil war are no exception and typically confine that conflict within the notional temporal parameters of 1975–90. But the key aggravating features generally identified with the events of the Lebanese civil war—class resentments, echoes of the Arab-Israeli conflict on a regional scale, domestic geographical inequalities, sectarian rancor, and political infighting across the Lebanese scene—had been accumulating since 1948, and even earlier. [more inside]
posted by standardasparagus on Mar 1, 2015 - 6 comments

March First, Then Win

119 years ago, today, the unthinkable happened, as far as the Europeans were concerned. The Ethiopian army trounced the Italians in the Battle of Adwa. Headlines such as ‘Abyssinia (Ethiopia) Defeats Invading Italians’; ’80,000 Ethiopians Destroy 20,000 Italians at the Battle of Adwa’; ‘Italian Premier Crispi Resigns’; and ‘Abyssinia and Italy Sign Peace Treaty.’ peppered the European press. Adwa was placed on the world map and remained a historic story because of Ethiopia’s decisive victory against the Italian army on March 1st 1896 (Yekatit 23, 1888 according to the Ethiopian calendar).
'I am a woman. I do not like war. But I would rather die than accepting your deal."
attributed to Empress Taitu Bitul*, Wife of Menelik II [more inside]
posted by infini on Mar 1, 2015 - 27 comments

The $3,500 Shirt

"I somehow or somewhere got the idea," wrote Lucy Larcom in the 18th century, "when I was a small child, that the chief end of woman was to make clothing for mankind."
posted by Blue Jello Elf on Mar 1, 2015 - 54 comments

LA's cultural and historical legacy: more than being able to turn right at a red light

HistoricPlacesLA is the first online information and management system specifically created to inventory, map, and help protect the City of Los Angeles' significant historic resources. It showcases the city's diversity of historic resources, including architecturally significant buildings and places of social importance as well as historic districts, bridges, parks, and streetscapes. You can search for specifics or try some popular seaches, and the map view let's you combine different overlays and base maps.
posted by Room 641-A on Feb 28, 2015 - 6 comments

History Respawned

History Respawned is a show where historians consider historical video games - like Papers Please, Diablo III, Assassin's Creed Unity and Wolfenstein: The New Order - with host Bob Whitaker, a history PhD and professor from Dallas, Texas.
posted by Foci for Analysis on Feb 28, 2015 - 11 comments

Iconic Images and their Photographers

Iconic Photographers Pose With Their Most Famous Photographs. [more inside]
posted by Deoridhe on Feb 27, 2015 - 14 comments

Is it an art gallery? A plantation tour? A museum?

Building the First Slavery Museum in America - David Amsden, The New York Times
"From their weathered cypress frames, a dusty path, lined with hulking iron kettles that were used by slaves to boil sugar cane, leads to a grassy clearing dominated by a slave jail — an approach designed so that a visitor’s most memorable glimpse of the white shutters and stately columns of the property’s 220-year-old 'Big House' will come through the rusted bars of the squat, rectangular cell. A number of memorials also dot the grounds, including a series of angled granite walls engraved with the names of the 107,000 slaves who spent their lives in Louisiana before 1820. Inspired by Maya Lin’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, the memorial lists the names nonalphabetically to mirror the confusion and chaos that defined a slave’s life."
[more inside]
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Feb 27, 2015 - 21 comments

From Grad School to The Atlantic: Public Discourse & Comment Sections

Anyone who writes articles on the web knows the maxim: "Don’t read the comments." Fortunately for Yoni Appelbaum, a recent Ph.D. in history from Brandeis University, the well-known writer Ta-Nehisi Coates routinely ignores that rule.
How a history Ph.D. who was on the tenure-track market ended up in with a pretty good gig in journalism, primarily because of the quality of his comments.
posted by Toekneesan on Feb 27, 2015 - 8 comments

Sacred Trash

The Holy Junk Heap: In 1896, a cache of manuscripts -- mostly fragments -- was discovered in the storeroom ("genizah") at the Ben Ezra Synagogue in Old Cairo. The collection outlines a 1,000-year continuum (870 CE to the 19th century) of Jewish Middle-Eastern and North African history and comprises the largest and most diverse collection of medieval manuscripts in the world, including Jewish religious texts such as Biblical, Talmudic and later Rabbinic works (some in the original hands of the authors), "letters, wills, bills of lading, prayers, marriage contracts and writs of divorce, Bibles, money orders, court depositions, business inventories, leases, magic charms and receipts" which give a detailed picture of the economic and cultural life of the North African and Eastern Mediterranean regions, especially during the 10th to 13th centuries. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Feb 26, 2015 - 16 comments

Gerbils may be the real rats of The Black Death

Gerbils, not rats, 'gave Europe the Black Death' BLACK rats might not be responsible for the plagues that killed millions of people across medieval Europe, research suggests. Instead scientists believe that repeated outbreaks of the Black Death may in fact be traced to gerbils arriving from Asia. [more inside]
posted by Michele in California on Feb 25, 2015 - 21 comments

Radios in museums

Do you like radios? And museums? Then you need the radiomuseum.org gazatteer of museums and historical places around the world where you can look at radios and associated technologies!
posted by carter on Feb 25, 2015 - 8 comments

Gresham College lectures

Gresham College has provided free public talks within the City of London for over 400 years.’ ‘Since 2001, the college has been recording its lectures and releasing them online in what is now an archive of over 1,000’ of them. Some examples: Snails in Art and the Art of Snails; The History of the Bowler Hat; “Speaking Scars” - The Tattoo; Mother Green Tree Frog and her Children: How Folktales Contributed to the Confucianisation of Korea; The Psychology of Doing Nothing; Möbius and his Band; Harmony in the Lowest Home: The Guitar and the Labouring Poor. [more inside]
posted by misteraitch on Feb 25, 2015 - 3 comments

cybermapping

40 maps that explain the internet
posted by infini on Feb 23, 2015 - 10 comments

Shoes were worse, table manners were better, and they had dragons

The 10 worst misconceptions about medieval life that you would get from fantasy books debunks a number of fantasy-novel myths, inspired by this terrific Reddit thread where historians discuss high fantasy novel tropes [prev]. Some of the greatest misconceptions were around combat in the Middle Ages, which apparently included exotic weapons - like the scorpion bombs used in ancient warfare. [pdf] Also see the Medieval People of Color site to see some other dimensions of Middle Ages diversity that are often missing from fantasy novels. And, of course, a tip of the hat to the venerable and hilarious Tough Guide to Fantasyland.
posted by blahblahblah on Feb 19, 2015 - 97 comments

Mladjov's Historical Maps

Bronze Age maps. Maps of Ancient Greece and Rome, India and China. Maps of the Viking era, the Crusades, and the High Middle Ages. Maps of Asia after the Mongol conquest, of Mexico before the Spanish conquest—dozens upon dozens of intricate historical maps.
posted by Iridic on Feb 17, 2015 - 19 comments

The Measure of a Person is What They Do With What They Have

Beginning in 1920, Robert J. Flaherty spent a year in the Canadian Arctic (Port Harrison in Northern Quebec) documenting the daily struggles of an Inuk man named Nanook. The resulting feature-length film, an American silent documentary with elements of docudrama, was the first of its kind, in a style that would eventually become known as "salvage ethnography." Nanook of the North: A Story Of Life and Love In the Actual Arctic (1922) [more inside]
posted by zarq on Feb 17, 2015 - 10 comments

"I was attending a funeral about every 12-16 days"

I kept a memory book/photo album of everyone I knew that died of AIDS. It's quite large to say the least. Who were these guys? These were the people I had planned to grow old with. They were the family I had created and wanted to spend the rest of my life with as long as humanly possible but by the time I was in my late 40's, every one of them was gone except for two dear friends of mine.
Redditors share memories of having lived through the HIV/AIDS epidemic of the early eighties. [more inside]
posted by MartinWisse on Feb 16, 2015 - 87 comments

The Medieval Citole

Studying and making an early instrument called a citole. Until recently, this style of instrument was not recognized as separate from a gittern.
posted by Peregrine Pickle on Feb 15, 2015 - 26 comments

Love Tokens from the Thames

Love Tokens from the Thames, dug up by the Mud God (aka Steve Brooker of Thames and Field).
posted by gamera on Feb 14, 2015 - 17 comments

Beyond Gandhi and King

The Secret History of South Asian & African American Solidarity. South Asians and African Americans have been standing up for each other for over a century -- and continue to do so. Race politics, shared heritage, and issues of caste and class are among the few examples of interconnected history that largely go untaught in the U.S. [via mefi projects]
posted by automatic cabinet on Feb 14, 2015 - 16 comments

A Time Traveler's Guide to Beer

In the May 1975 issue of Oui magazine, Robert Christgau and Carola Dibbell reviewed four dozen American beers, plus eleven imports.
posted by Iridic on Feb 13, 2015 - 92 comments

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