4222 posts tagged with History.
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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

Fool the Axis—use Prophylaxis!

How the Military Waged a Graphic-Design War on Venereal Disease In many ways, such a coordinated public effort to alter sexual behavior was unprecedented. At a time when discussion of sexual activity was anything but frank, the VD posters of World War II addressed the topic directly using clinical language, ominous symbolic imagery, and jingoistic slogans to help enlisted men steer clear of sexually transmitted infections. While American sex-ed programs have taken many forms over the last hundred years, the military’s VD campaign left a unique trail of ephemera in its wake, featuring imagery that’s both gorgeous and deeply unsettling.
posted by Michele in California on Feb 13, 2015 - 30 comments

The Paradise on Earth

The Virtual Traveller to Sri Lanka. [via]
posted by Think_Long on Feb 12, 2015 - 8 comments

Today's interesting footnote to history

Via the Morning News, today I ran across (ahem) this brief but enlightening history of the Brannock device, the two-pound steel instrument invented to provide a universal and precise way of measuring shoe size (previously on MeFi). [more inside]
posted by Smells of Detroit on Feb 12, 2015 - 20 comments

Time Lines (Don't Don't Chart It)

Vistorica: dynamic timelines of European history, 1500-2000. [more inside]
posted by Iridic on Feb 11, 2015 - 1 comment

The Color Line Murders

The Equal Justice Initiative has released a report (pdf) on the history of lynchings in the United States, the result of five years of research. The authors compiled an inventory of 3,959 victims of “racial terror lynchings” in 12 Southern states from 1877 to 1950 -- documenting more than 700 additional victims, which places the number of murders more than 20 percent higher than previously reported. "The process is intended... to force people to reckon with the narrative through-line of the country’s vicious racial history, rather than thinking of that history in a short-range, piecemeal way." Map. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Feb 11, 2015 - 58 comments

Heroic Devices

The University of Glasgow's French Emblems project hosts thousands of 16th century woodcuts and etchings. The archive boasts an unusually thorough metadata scheme, allowing you to browse cryptic images of beards, birds in cages, pointed fingers, triumphal conquerors, and fabulous animals, among many other categories. [more inside]
posted by Iridic on Feb 9, 2015 - 6 comments

1916.tiff: Recovering the Doves Type

“I went on to the foreshore when the tide was out, looked around the riverbed and found three pieces within 20 minutes.”
(The Doves Type, previously.)
posted by scruss on Feb 7, 2015 - 22 comments

"Ida": Film nominated for two Oscars draws praise & controversy

"Ida" (trailer: YouTube & Apple) is a black & white (and a Polish language) film from Poland by director Pavel Pawlikowski (this link contains spoilers). Hailed a film "masterpiece" by more than one critic, the film has now been recognized in America by not just one Oscar nomination (Foreign Language Film) but a 2nd in the broader category of Cinematography. For those interested in filmmaking, cinematography, and lighting, here is a look at three scenes from Ida. More? Here are another four scenes. The film is not without controversy, including Poles who are upset at the portrayal of their countrymen (and women) during the Nazi occupation and the Stalinism that followed WWII. Does 'Ida' misrepresent Poland's treatment of Jews?
posted by spock on Feb 6, 2015 - 51 comments

Globule c doth hitt away the particle b

According to the laws of Newtonian physics, capillary action occurring in Earth's atmosphere should be able to lift water 10 meters high at most. For centuries scientists struggled to ascertain how, then, trees were able to lift water considerably higher. Finally, in 1894, Irish plant physiologists H. H. Dixon and J. Joly proposed the cohesion-tension theory which remains the leading theory today, though it is still not fully understood (PDF).

On the topic of Newton and his physics, a recently unearthed note from Isaac Newton's college days shows that he had it figured out 200 years before anybody else.

(Previously).
posted by Hot Pastrami! on Feb 5, 2015 - 15 comments

“German Concentration Camps Factual Survey”

In 1945, as Allied troops liberated concentration camps across what had been German-occupied Europe, the British Ministry of Information commissioned a documentary that would provide incontrovertible evidence of the Nazis’ crimes. Producer Sidney Bernstein's cameramen accompanied US, UK and Soviet troops into Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen, Dachau and other camps. Six reels of film, known as the German Concentration Camps Factual Survey, were assembled and edited in part by Alfred Hitchcock (supervising director) and Billy Wilder.

The final product "was meant to be a historical document and a teaching tool; among the stated goals of the filmmakers was that it be shown to Germans to prove to them that the horrors of the camps were real." But the project was deemed too politically sensitive and abandoned before it was completed. The finished reels, storyboards and scripts sat in British archives for years. In 1985, PBS Frontline took some of the footage and created a documentary special: "Memory of the Camps." On January 27, 2015, the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, HBO aired "Night Will Fall,” (trailer) directed by André Singer, which tells the story of the making of Factual Survey "...through the eyes of people who either filmed it, or through the eyes of the soldiers who first went in, to see what happened in the camps - or through the eyes of surviving victims who were in the camps." Film footage at links is disturbing and possibly NSFW [more inside]
posted by zarq on Feb 5, 2015 - 28 comments

Sadly no Thomas-Alexandre Dumas

My favorite parts of history (as might be obvious from my choice of subject matter when making books) are the ones that fall into easily-categorized genres, genres with associated visual iconographies. This is the sort of stuff I loved as a kid: pirates, knights, cowboys, explorers, romans and Egyptians and flying aces. Stuff you could find featured in a bag of toys or a generic costume.
Chris Schweizer draws epic badasses from history, featuring Matthew Henson, the first man to reach the North Pole, Queen Nanny of the Windward Maroons, Joseph Bologne, Le Chevalier de Saint George, Josephine Baker and ten more. Also available as a high resolution poster download for non-commercial purposes.
posted by MartinWisse on Feb 4, 2015 - 6 comments

Memory and Identity

Some are kept in shoe boxes in a forgotten closet corner. Others are glued carefully into albums and kept on the family bookshelf. Many have been lost forever, destroyed out of panic or indifference. In Ukraine, whose tumultuous 20th-century history has spilled over into a bloody battle for its 21st-century identity, every picture tells a story. RFE/RL's Daisy Sindelar traveled to six Ukrainian cities to talk to people about what their old family photographs say to them about who they, and their country, are today. [more inside]
posted by Kabanos on Feb 3, 2015 - 1 comment

Historic POC

How to Make History by Tweeting an Old Photo. Spurred by discussions online about the whitewashing of history in TV shows, Mikki Kendall (@karnythia) started the hastag #HistoricPOC on both Twitter and Tumblr. Quantz and Mic have articles with some curated highlights. See also the Black History Album, Vintage Black Beauty, and Of Another Fashion Tumblrs.
posted by kmz on Feb 3, 2015 - 22 comments

Islamic Astropolitik

Despite Western anxieties over Muslim conquest, traditions of Islamic astronomy and the portability of ritual space in Islam find Muslims at home among the stars. [more inside]
posted by standardasparagus on Feb 1, 2015 - 1 comment

Early culinary self-sufficiency

The History Kitchen takes a quick look at the food of the California Gold Rush, and has a recipe for Hangtown Fry.
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Jan 27, 2015 - 16 comments

10th Century Travels among the Norse, Bulgars, Khazars and Others

The Risala of Ahmad ibn Fadlan is a tenth century travel narrative of an emissary of the Caliph to the Iltäbär of the Volga Bulgars. He described his encounters with many peoples on his journey, but the Risala is most famous for his account of the Rus and their funeral rites, who probably were Norse people who had settled along the Volga. If these were indeed the Norse, ibn Fadlan gives one of the most detailed contemporary descriptions of the Norse before they started writing down their own stories some centuries later. He was not the only Muslim to have encounters with the Norse, as Judith Gabriel explains in Among the Norse Tribes. Another 10th Century description of the Norse was by the Jewish al-Tartushi from Al-Andalus. Michael Crichton used the Risala as the basis for his novel Eaters of the Dead, which later was made into the movie The 13th Warrior. Both book and film left something to be desired in terms of historical accuracy.
posted by Kattullus on Jan 25, 2015 - 17 comments

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