A 600-Year-Old Oak Tree Finally Succumbs [The New York Times] “The locals say that George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette — the Frenchman who bankrolled the American patriots with cold, hard cash — picnicked in the shade it provided. Rank-and-file soldiers are said to have rested under it, gathering strength before going on to beat the redcoats. It is a huge oak tree, now estimated to be 600 years old. Arborists such as Rob Gillies consider it one of the oldest in North America. It is a local landmark, right there in the cemetery of the Basking Ridge Presbyterian Church. On Thursday, Mr. Gillies sliced into it with a chain saw.”
Racist Objects The New York Times and the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia are partnering to collect stories of personal encounters with racist objects, like producer Logan Jaffe's grandmother's salt and pepper shakers. [more inside]
The New York Times has been around long enough to report on more or less everything, and its First Glimpses feature occasionally dives into the archives to see when some notable thing was mentioned for the very first time. This week, it's cheeseburgers. [more inside]
"Despite its youth, the section has a much longer history, one that encompasses the long effort of women in journalism to be taken seriously as reporters and as readers, the development of New Journalism, large-scale social changes that have brought gay culture into the mainstream, shifts in the way news is delivered and consumed, and economic consolidations and disruptions that the section has, sometimes in spite of itself, thoroughly documented and cataloged. The Styles section may well be pretty stupid sometimes. It’s also a richer and more complex entity than any of us would like to believe." - Bonfire Of The Inanities - Jacqui Shine writes a long, detailed history of the New York Times Style Section.
The Ballad of Geeshie and Elvie. No grave site, no photograph. Forget that — no anecdotes. This is what set Geeshie and Elvie apart even from the rest of an innermost group of phantom geniuses of the ’20s and ’30s. Their myth was they didn’t have anything you could so much as hang a myth on.
Beate Sirota Gordon, Long-Unsung Heroine of Japanese Women’s Rights, Dies at 89: a NYT obituary relates the fascinating story of a young woman who was just the right person in just the right place at just the right time and managed to strike a blow for gender equality. [more inside]
Harvard's 1869 Entrance Exam (PDF - NYT)
Mapping the Republic of Letters is a cartographic tool designed by students and professors at Stanford that seeks to represent the Enlightenment era Republic of Letters, the network of correspondence between the finest thinkers of the day, such as Voltaire, Leibniz, Rousseau, Newton, Diderot, Linnaeus, Franklin and countless others. Patricia Cohen wrote an article about Mapping the Republic of Letters as well as other datamining digital humanities projects in The New York Times. The mapping tool is fun to play with but I recommend you read the blogpost where Cohen explains how to use Mapping the Republic of Letters.
The Sunday Magazine - Every Friday, David Friedman (of Ironic Sans) posts the most interesting articles from the New York Times Sunday Magazine from 100 years ago that weekend. [more inside]
Valentines from E.B. White, Mark Twain, Katharine Hepburn, E. E. Cummings, Alexander Hamilton, and Zero Mostel. From libraries and archives around NYC, via the NYT (more info here).
Channel 4's 100 Greatest War Films as voted for by their (generally more clued-up than average) viewership has plenty for you to disagree with, but much to recommend. Filmsite.org has a history of war films (as does Berkeley) for the completists among you. There are more war films from and about Vietnam and Indochina than you can shake a bayonet at (see also the 1999 NYT article, Apocalypse Then: Vietnam Marketing War Films to learn a little about the Vietnamese government's 1960s and 70s archive of war film). The [British] national archives have archived film from pre-WWI to the Cold War.
This is the history of the WTC I've been waiting to read. The Height of Ambition, from tomorrows NYT Magazine, collects all the strings that I haven't been able to tie together myself.