Grange Halls are common landmarks in America's rural communities. But what is a "Grange"? The Order of Patrons of Husbandry is a fraternal agricultural organization, but it's not just a social group for farmers; Grange lobbying fought railroad monopolies and led to Rural Free Delivery, the Farm Credit System, and other "progressive legislation that will benefit U.S. agriculture, rural America, and the nation in general". But after 140 years, the Grange is fading away.
Shorpy, the awesome photoblog of old photos has added a comics section and are now running newspaper comics from the first half of the 20th century. Via.
An unexpected treasure trove online... The audioguides for Rome's city museums are available as mp3s! Not only can you find guides to one of the oldest public museums in the world, the Capitoline Museums, but you can also hear several commentaries (including video) on the ancient Roman Altar of Augustan Peace, and download the audioguide of both the Barracco Museum of Ancient Sculpture, and that of the Museum of Rome. Download them before you go and save 5 euros at each museum, but they're *invaluable* even if you listen to them from home! Enjoy!!
Macrohistory. Prehistory to yesterday. This site describes humanity from prehistory to the 21st century - stories about ideas and events. Maps. Timelines index. Country profiles.
In 1840, the Cuerdale Hoard - the greatest Viking silver treasure trove ever found outside Russia - is found in Lancashire. 2007: a father and son find an amazing Viking hoard while metal detecting in in Harrogate. The most important find of its type in Britain for over 150 years, it reveals a remarkable diversity of cultural contacts in the medieval world, with objects coming from as far apart as Afghanistan in the East and Ireland in the West, as well as Russia, Scandinavia and continental Europe.
The Mystery of Ales :: a new take on the Alger Hiss problem
LP Cover Lover The world's greatest LP album covers. Groovy, man. [some nudity, some total insanity]
The Centennial Project. During the 100th Anniversary of Oklahoma's statehood, MeFi'er Brittanie is serializing two personal first-person accounts of her family's journey into the Sooner State, including both her great-great-grandfather's efforts to make the 1891 Land Run and another relative's meticulous biographical history which extends as far back as the Civil War. [via mefi projects]
The art of perfume and snuff bottles: Chinese snuff bottles and more, a variety of types, painted inside and about that technique. About snuff and its use in China. Images on Flickr, at Christie's. Perfume bottles, the history of perfume bottles and perfume. Beautiful glass bottles painted inside by disabled Burmese artist, U Nyo Lay.
Philosophy of History is what the page is called; it's by a philosophy professor, Kelley L. Ross, Ph.D., who's a libertarian and obsessed with Leonard Nelson and the Friesian School, whatever the hell that is. Never mind all that. If you scroll down past the essays and the Military History section and the calendars and the book reviews, you get to the Reference Resources. As he says, "Not all of history may be covered here, but a very extensive fragment of it certainly is." Take, as one tiny example, Margraves & Counts of Flanders. There's a longish introduction and a colored map, then there are lists of rulers and detailed genealogies accompanied by more text, then similarly for the Counts of Artois, the Kings & Dukes of Brittany, the Counts of Anjou, the Dukes of Normandy, the Counts of Blois & Champagne, the Counts of Toulouse, the Dukes of Aquitaine and Dukes of Gascony, the Lords & Counts of Foix, the Kings and Lords of Man, the Dukes of Marlborough and Earls of Spencer (including a detailed list of the Vanderbilts), the Dukes of Buccleuch, Grafton, & St. Albans, and the Dukes of Berwick & Fitzjames. That's one page. There are dozens and dozens of them. The Prime Ministers of the Dominions, the Kings of Bohemia, Hungary, and Poland, the Islâmic Rulers of North Africa, the Emperors of India, China, & Japan, all the way down to the Mangïts of Bukhara, 1747-1920. If you have any interest in history, This Site's For You.
Public Domain Photos [via mefi projects]. An extraordinarily rich resource for free stock photography.
The concept of alphabetization was invented at the Great Library of Alexandria in the third century BC, with words grouped by first letter. It wasn't until 1053, in the Elementarium doctrinae erudimentum that recursive alphabetization (where "Aab" comes before "Aac" and after "Aaa") appeared in rudimentary form. You'd think that by now we'd have the process down, but controversies still rage. Does "sea foam" come before "seaborne"? Does "Michael Jackson" come before "Nick Cave"? Throw in international characters and an occasional foray into ASCIIbetical order and it's no wonder the alphabet can be so frustrating.
The cavity magnetron is the secret weapon that saved Britain in World War II. In 1946, Dr. Percy Spencer stood too close to a magneton and invented the microwave oven.
Born in Bohemia, Wenceslas (Vaclav) Hollar (wikipedia; illustrated chronology of his life; essay on Hollar) was one of the leading etchers and illustrators of the middle 17th Century, working primarily in England and Belgium. The University of Toronto has placed almost his entire works online, including more than 4,000 images and some complete illustrated books. Some favorites: the man himself; simple, powerful Illustrations of Genesis; The Pack of Knaves; Elephants and Flowers; Shells; Fitting out a Hull; and Muffs (sfw). Most images are zoomable, and you can create marked lists and compare images side by side.
The Third View project is a fascinating presentation of "rephotographs" of over 100 historic landscape sites in the American West that presents original 19th-century survey photographs, photographed again in the 1970s, then once again in the '90s - from the original vantage points, under similar lighting conditions, at (roughly) the same time of day and year. [Flash, and you'll probably need to allow pop-ups; a little more info inside...]
No trip to San Diego's Historic Balboa Park would be complete without witnessing some awesome street performers.
The Wang Freestyle (warning: Google Video; part one of video). A curious footnote in the history of computing that took the desktop metaphor to new levels back in 1988. Featured sampled sound, high-res graphics, and the ability to stack documents on top of each other, the last of which is due in a certain big cat operating system later this year. Watch for how slow the system is, and the subsequent magician-like distraction techniques used by the presenter to avoid people noticing.
On this day in 1737, 38 guineas was stolen from under a lump of butter, having been hidden there during a journey from Bedfordshire to London. The Proceedings of the Old Bailey, London 1674 to 1834.
Breathing strange utterances and mouthing a creed which it would seem no sane mortal could understand, the newest religious sect has started in Los Angeles. Meetings are held in a tumble-down shack on Azusa Street, near San Pedro Street, and devotees of the weird doctrine practice the most fanatical rites, preach the wildest theories and work themselves into a state of mad excitement in their peculiar zeal. [mi]
Northwestern University hosts a fine collection of historic East African photographs, viewable as sample sets or in their original photo-albums (requires flash). But the real prize is their wonderful collection of 113 historic maps of Africa, which are zoomable to incredible detail, also 1, 2, 3. via
Silk Road links: Silk Road Seattle, The Silkroad Foundation, The British Library's Silk Road site, The Ancient Way of Trading, Lost Cities of the Silk Road and some pictures
Telephone Central Office Histories - A fascinating collection of personal anecdotes and histories about telephony from the US and around the world, from The Telephone Exchange Name Project. Coral Cache links -1- -2- (via)
17 years since the Tiananmen Square Massacre: The Tank Man [Video Link] Long, but worth it.
The Dance, historic illustrations of dancing from 3300 B.C. to 1911 A.D. A Project Gutenberg ebook. Brief, illustrated history of dance in India. Vintage belly dance YouTube videos.
A nice set of photographic glass-plate transparencies depicting life in Japan ca. 1910. These "Yokohama photographs" were sold to foreign tourists between about 1868 and 1912. I found the Crafts and Trades section most interesting.
The Coins and History of Asia contains information and scans of over 2500 coins from 600 BC to 1600 AD. Also on the same site, an article about Hephthalites, the so-called White Huns of Iran who had an empire in Central Asia before disappearing from historical record after a little bit more than a century.
"It is with extreme modesty that I present the following pages to be read by other eyes than mine..."
Went To Kansas: Being A Thrilling Account Of An Ill-Fated Expedition To That Fairy Land, And Its Sad Results. A personal account by Mrs. Miriam Davis Colt (based on her daily diaries) about her family's move from New York to Kansas in the 1850s, and the tragic story of the Vegetarian Settlement Company, which sold cheap land to settlers (if they signed an oath swearing they would never consume alcohol, tobacco or animal flesh) along with the promise of a prairie utopia.
Japanese Bicycle History Research Club With a nice gallery of photos, illustrations, and ukiyo-e of vintage bicycles in Japan.
How the Other Half Lives :: Studies Among the Tenements of New York (1890)
The Internet Library of Early Journals :: A digital library of 18th and 19th Century journals
The Western Tradition, an outstanding 52-part instructional video series about the history of western civilization, is available as free streaming video.
Trulia Hindsight merges real estate data showing the year properties were built with animated maps (US Only). Search for your town by name; here's mine.
Operation Dynamo, aka The Miracle of Dunkirk, began on this day in 1940. Before it ended, nearly 340,000 British and Allied troops would make it to safety and fight another day. Why would the Germans allow them to escape? Was it fear? Hubris? Or was it, as historian B.H. Liddell Hart wrote after the war, Hitler's appreciation for the British Empire?
An informative, gossipy and surprisingly engaging 6-page exploration of the life of Charles Dickens, including his up-and-down relationship with the U.S. press, his inexcusable behavior during his messy and very public separation from his wife, the "histrionic flair" of his performance career, and, of course, his works, including the one George Bernard Shaw called "a more seditious book than Das Kapital." Lots of interesting images, too.
Public libraries with Online Content: Residents of Missouri can get a free account at the Kansas City Public Library that will let them access digital databases including the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps and downloadable audiobooks. Residents of the Empire State can get a digital library card at the New York Public Library to access a wealth of digital databases. (The rest of us can get a NYPL card for $100.) And the Boston Public Library will give digital access to most of the above, plus JSTOR and (sigh) the Early American Imprints collection of nearly everything printed in North America to 1820. Unfortunately you have to show up at a branch of the BPL and prove Massachusetts residence to get your card. Your turn--what other public libraries offer access to subscription online information databases?
Excerpts from and pictures of Ronald Reagan's diaries while president, with a brief intro from historian Douglas Brinkley.
Summer of Love: 40 Years Later, a series of articles appearing this week in the San Francisco Chronicle, revisits the fabled, far-out, semi-spontaneous happening of 1967 in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco. Videos and oral history interviews help tell the story of a utopian vision which created a pivot point for American social values, before going a bit rancid around the edges. For more consciousness expansion, see PBS' The American Experience episode on the same topic. Check out that summer's San Francisco Oracle. Oh, and the Diggers are still around.
The U.S. Civil War in four minutes. Simple yet enlightening animation showing the shifting battle lines of the war. (This is a one-link YouTube post. Thank you.)
The Evolution of Modern Speech balloons (in painting and caricature). One small part of Andy's Early Comics Archive.
Enertia is producing "innovative new homes of remarkable strength, economy, and beauty, brought to life by an elegant new architecture and the discovery of a new source of pollution-free energy." The design took first prize in the Modern Marvels/Invent Now competition (previously). In an interview, the inventor, Michael Sykes, says "he was inspired by the way the earth’s own atmosphere keeps the planet at a relatively constant comfortable temperature despite the frigidity of space." He also notes that his wife calls herself a "homemaker," natch.
Console Portraits: A 40-Year Pictorial History of Gaming. Inventor Ralph Baer designed the first videogame console for the home. In May 1967 he played the first-ever two-player game. "I lost!" Baer notes. At times offensive and controversial, console videogames have survived hard times to remain at the forefront of videogame history, and at times a reflection of ourselves.
The Chicago Fire and the Web of Memory compiles a fascinating array of primary sources about the 1871 fire that destroyed 4 square miles of the city of Chicago, killing hundreds and leaving nearly one out of five residents homeless. Explore 3D images, music [embedded], children's drawings, and personal recollections. See also a pictorial survey of the damage, including fused marbles and metal hardware, related documents and images at the Library of Congress, and an exoneration of Mrs. O'Leary and her bovine companion, along with a suggestion by John Lienhart that police corruption and class struggle were more to blame than a cow [embedded audio].
Darwin wrote to 2000 people during his life; 14,500 of these letters still survive. The Darwin Correspondence Project is putting annotated transcriptions of these online, and they've covered about 5,000 so far, including a letter written when he was 12 after he had got into trouble with his sister for not washing regularly while at school. There's an intro here. See also Darwin Online, discussed here. And the prolific network theorist Albert-Laszlo Barabasi has co-authored a paper on statistical similarities between Darwin's and Einstein's correspondence (#51 on the list).
12 Byzantine Rulers is a podcast lecture series about The Byzantine Empire by Lars Brownworth, a history teacher at The Stony Brook School on Long Island, New York. 1123 years of awesomeness ready to go onto your iPod! [iTunes link]