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The True Story of America's First Black Female Slave Novelist

In 2002 Henry Louis Gates jr. published The Bondwoman's Narrative. It was the first publication of a novel written in the 1850s by a former slave who wrote under the name Hannah Crafts. The original manuscript has been digitized by Yale's Beinecke Library. The book caused a splash at the time, sold well and was reviewed widely, including an essay by Hilary Mantel in the London Review of Books. The identity of Hannah Crafts was uncertain, which cast a slight shadow on its provenance, but Prof. Gregg Hecimovich discovered the writer's true identity. Her name was Hannah Bond and after escaping slavery she became a teacher in New Jersey. Journalist Paul Berman further fills in the story of Colonel Wheeler, the slaveowner whose family was depicted in The Bondwoman's Narrative. Wheeler was the US ambassador to Nicaragua in the 1850s and played a major part in the administration of General Walker, the American who became a short-lived dictator of Nicaragua and tried to set it up as a slave state.
posted by Kattullus on Feb 11, 2014 - 2 comments

A spectacular historical atlas refashioned for the 21st century

Here you will find one of the greatest historical atlases: Charles O. Paullin and John K. Wright's Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States, first published in 1932. This digital edition reproduces all of the atlas's nearly 700 maps. Many of these beautiful maps are enhanced here in ways impossible in print, animated to show change over time or made clickable to view the underlying data—remarkable maps produced eight decades ago with the functionality of the twenty-first century.
posted by cthuljew on Dec 28, 2013 - 8 comments

WWI in Color

World War I in Color is a documentary designed to make the Great War come alive for a 21st-century audience. The events of 1914-18 are authoritatively narrated by Kenneth Branagh, who presents the military and political overview, while interviews with historians add different perspectives in six 48 minute installments annotated within. [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Oct 31, 2013 - 60 comments

United States of America

Warning! The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased, entry for the United States of America
posted by Blasdelb on Sep 29, 2013 - 49 comments

Audio recordings of 1964 interviews with Civil Rights activists

Robert Penn Warren's book Who Speaks for the Negro? was a collection of interviews with various men and women involved in the Civil Rights Movement published in 1965. Vanderbilt University has made all the interviews available as audio and transcripts, taken from the original reel-to-reel recordings. Among the interviewees were Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Septima Poinsette Clark, Ralph Ellison, Stokely Carmichael, James Baldwin and Bayard Rustin. On the page for each interview there are links to related documents, such as letters, photos and contemporary news articles.
posted by Kattullus on Jul 5, 2013 - 13 comments

Perry Van Arsdale's maps of US historic events

In 1960 or so, Professor Perry C. Van Arsdale was helping his 7-year-old granddaughter researching the Santa Fe trail. He found his granddaughter's textbook to have some number of errors. He set off to create a map of pioneer history (prior to the 1900's), using his own knowledge and information from judges, sheriffs, and descendants of historical figures. This was his start in creating the Pioneer New Mexico map, which would contain 300 towns that no longer exist, old trails of all sorts (including the three historic Santa Fe trails and various camel routes), locations of minor squabbles and major battles, and because he couldn't fit everything on the maps, he also included extensive notes in the corner of the map. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Apr 27, 2013 - 17 comments

Go to War. Do Art. (II)

The permanent collection of the (US) National Veterans Art Museum in Chicago contains more than 2,500 pieces of art by 250 artists, all of which can be seen at NVAM Collection Online. The site includes biographical material on the artists who created the work. Featured Artwork. A small selection. (Via. Images at links in this post may be nsfw, and/or disturbing to some viewers.)
posted by zarq on Nov 12, 2012 - 1 comment

What was the weather like on a certain day in April, 1891?

USF's collection of maps of America. Includes killing frost dates from 1911, Hog production circa 1860, 1900, Paths of Western Exploration and many more.
posted by Grandysaur on Oct 21, 2012 - 7 comments

A Handsome Atlas: 19th Century Data Visualizations

Rank of states and territories in population at each census: 1790 - 1890
Political History (Supremecy of Parties and Popular Vote)
Insanity (1870)
and more at
A Handsome Atlas: The Amazing and Incredible Statistical Atlases of the United States of America compiled in the final decades of the Nineteenth Century. [via projects]
posted by carsonb on Sep 12, 2012 - 11 comments

The sun continues rising

The ruins of empire: Asia's emergence from western imperialism Moreover, a narcissistic history – one obsessed with western ideals, achievements, failures and challenges – can only retard a useful understanding of the world today. For most people in Europe and America, the history of the present is still largely defined by victories in the second world war and the long standoff with Soviet communism, even though the central event of the modern era, for a majority of the world's population, is the intellectual and political awakening of Asia and its emergence, still incomplete, from the ruins of both Asian and European empires. The much-heralded shift of power from the west to the east may or may not happen. But only neo-imperialist dead-enders will deny that we have edged closer to the cosmopolitan future the first generation of modern Asian thinkers, writers and leaders dreamed of – in which people from different parts of the world meet as equals rather than as masters and slaves, and no one needs to shoot elephants to confirm their supremacy.
posted by infini on Jul 29, 2012 - 19 comments

Where will U go next?

North Americans may have noticed that U-Haul trucks and trailers are emblazoned with colorful SuperGraphics. First created in 1988 (previously), the mobile gallery now comprises 206 images. Most U.S states and Canadian territories and provinces are now honored by multiple designs, as are the U.S. armed forces and 9/11. The classic America and Canada's Moving Adventure series, seen on trucks and trailers, features an iconic image for each state, province and territory. The Venture Across America and Canada series, begun in 1997, presents "carefully researched rare findings, little-known facts and mysteries," exploring science and nature, technology and history. At the U-Haul website, the "Learn More" link on each Venture SuperGraphic page leads to a surprisingly exhaustive discussion of the subject of each graphic. [more inside]
posted by BrashTech on Jul 22, 2012 - 30 comments

The War of 1812

"Canada exists for no natural reason.... [This] is not to say that no significant differences exist between Canadians and Americans — just that our shared national border, unlike those of Europe, was not shaped by linguistic and ethnic variations. The War of 1812 made all the difference here. A complicated and unpleasant struggle, mostly forgotten, sundered our two countries. And that struggle is now 200 years old, which makes this as good a time as any to start remembering."
posted by Johnny Assay on Feb 20, 2012 - 119 comments

U. S. Historic Places Photostream

National Register Photostream — Authorized under the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the U.S. National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect our historic and archeological resources. Properties listed in the Register include districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects that are significant in American history, architecture, archeology, engineering, and culture.
posted by netbros on Dec 23, 2011 - 6 comments

Let Facts be submitted to a candid world

The Declaration of Independence is perhaps the most masterfully written state paper of Western civilization. As Moses Coit Tyler noted almost a century ago, no assessment of it can be complete without taking into account its extraordinary merits as a work of political prose style. Although many scholars have recognized those merits, there are surprisingly few sustained studies of the stylistic artistry of the Declaration. This essay seeks to illuminate that artistry by probing the discourse microscopically -- at the level of the sentence, phrase, word, and syllable. The University of Wisconsin's Dr. Stephen E. Lucas meticulously analyzes the elegant language of the 235-year-old charter in a distillation of this comprehensive study. More on the Declaration: full transcript and ultra-high-resolution scan, a transcript and scan of Jefferson's annotated rough draft, the little-known royal rebuttal, a thorough history of the parchment itself, a peek at the archival process, a reading of the document by the people of NPR and by a group of prominent actors, H. L. Mencken's "American" translation, Slate's Twitter summaries, and a look at the fates of the 56 signers.
posted by Rhaomi on Jul 4, 2011 - 72 comments

On President Kennedy, the Space Race, legacies and politics

50 years ago today, on May 25 1961, US President John F. Kennedy decided "...this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth." Eight years later the Apollo program fulfilled the task, leaving the world with a legacy that includes advances in computers and communciation, lessons in managing complex projects, technological innovations and new views of the Earth. [more inside]
posted by Brandon Blatcher on May 25, 2011 - 79 comments

"Go to War. Do Art."

USMC Warrant Officer (ret.) Michael D. Fay served as a combat artist from 2000 through January 2010 under the History Division of the Marine Corps University. He once described his orders from them as "Go to War. Do Art." Fay was deployed several times to Iraq and Afghanistan, and has been keeping a blog of his sketches since 2005. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Mar 18, 2011 - 22 comments

A G.I.'s WWII Memoir

Robert F. Gallagher served in the United States Army's 815th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion (Third Army) in the European Theater during WWII. He has posted his memoir online: "Scratch One Messerschmitt," told from numerous photos he took during the war and the detailed notes he made shortly afterwards. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Nov 23, 2010 - 7 comments

You know who else liked Halloween?

From National Geographic News, October 29, 2010Halloween Costume Pictures: Spooky Styles a Century Ago. In 1918, American kids, witches, and swastikas were cute.
posted by cenoxo on Oct 31, 2010 - 16 comments

“The purple glow in the sky — that was so eerie”

Lookout Mountain Laboratories (Hollywood, CA) was originally built in 1941 as an air defense station. But after WWII, the US Air Force repurposed it into a secret film studio which operated for 22 years during the Cold War. The studio produced classified movies for all branches of the US Armed Forces, as well as the Atomic Energy Commission, until it was deactivated in 1969. During this time, cameramen, who referred to themselves as "atomic" cinematographers, were hired to shoot footage of atomic bomb tests in Nevada, Utah, New Mexico and the South Pacific. Some of their films have been declassified and can be seen here. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Sep 14, 2010 - 6 comments

History of the first 50 years of the Idaho National Laboratory

It has gone by many names. "National Reactor Testing Station" (1949-1975), "Energy Research and Development Administration" (1975-1977), "Idaho National Engineering Laboratory" (1977-1997), the "Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory" (1997-2005), and now the "Idaho National Laboratory" (2005-present). It has been the site of more than 50 nuclear reactors, which has resulted in a fair bit of environmental impact. In 2000, the US Department of Energy published (and has since made available on the web) a history of the laboratory over its first 50 years: "Proving the Principle."
posted by rmd1023 on Sep 4, 2010 - 11 comments

Do you know the way to Lost Dakota?

NPR looks at American States That Might Have Been You've probably heard of the proposed Mormon state of Deseret, but have you heard of Nickajack? What about Absaroka, the 49th state? I bet you forgot about Forgottonia. The author of Lost States has a blog.
posted by desjardins on Apr 7, 2010 - 33 comments

Americans in the Egyptian Army

In the wake of the Civil War, fifty Americans (audio alert), Union and Confederates both, accepted commissions in the Egyptian army. One of the most notable was William Wing Loring who wrote A Confederate Soldier in Egypt about his experiences.
posted by maurice on Jan 28, 2010 - 5 comments

The Economist: The World in 2010

In 2010, Obama will have a miserable year, NATO may lose in Afghanistan, the UK gets a regime change, China needs to chill, India's factories will overtake its farms, Europe risks becoming an irrelevant museum, the stimulus will need an exit strategy, the G20 will see a challenge from the "G2", African football will unite Korea, conflict over natural resources will grow, Sarkozy will be unloved and unrivalled, the kids will come together to solve the world's problems (because their elders are unable), technology will grow ever more ubiquitous, we'll all charge our phones via USB, MBAs will be uncool, the Space Shuttle will be put to rest, and Somalia will be the worst country in the world. And so the Tens begin.

The Economist: The World in 2010. [more inside]
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane on Nov 14, 2009 - 60 comments

PortlandFilter

PDX History is a veritable treasure trove of information about (and pictures and postcards of) the history of Portland (Oregon). Department stores, streetcars, long-dead amusement parks (yes, Jantzen Beach was once much more than a dying mall surrounded by big-box stores) and more. The web design leaves a bit to be desired, but the site is wonderful nonetheless.
posted by dersins on May 15, 2009 - 15 comments

NIOBY

In Our Own Backyard: Resisting Nazi Propaganda In Southern California 1933 - 1945, a digital exhibition from the Oviatt Library at Cal State Northridge. "The Nazi Propaganda period, 1933 to 1945, chronicles a crucial twelve years in American history. This exhibit's story about the local threat to American ideals demonstrates how European events reached across the ocean and affected people in Southern California -- in our own backyard." Magazines, pamphlets, newspapers, stickers and more. [more inside]
posted by dersins on Apr 10, 2009 - 33 comments

Washington to Obama

America has come a long way. There is the official version of history or the peoples' version. There are artifacts and rankings. They had some quirks and were occasionally men of their time. If you prefer audio or visual references those are available as well. Common knowledge has it that one GW was our first President but the title of first is under dispute. 230 years later another GW is making a run for worst. That is also under dispute by the nations best brains. For better and worse, the story of the Presidency is the story of America.
posted by Glibpaxman on Dec 4, 2008 - 24 comments

Your Tired, Your Poor, Your Huddled Masses

A People's History for the Classroom [pdf] is a high school history lesson plan/workbook based on Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States. The entire 124-page workbook available for free as a downloadable PDF, as part of the Zinn Education Project, supported by Rethinking Schools and Teaching for Change. You must enter an email and agree to take a later survey to download.
posted by Miko on Aug 20, 2008 - 60 comments

Thomas Jefferson's Library On Exhibit

WWJD (Which Words Jefferson Digested) Some Flash
posted by Rykey on Jul 9, 2008 - 4 comments

Slavery in the North

Slavery in the North is a website covering the 200-year history of slavery in the northern colonies in what would become the United States.
posted by Kattullus on Mar 11, 2008 - 49 comments

The Polar Bear Expedition of 1918-1919

"The "American Intervention in Northern Russia, 1918-1919," nicknamed the "Polar Bear Expedition," (wikipedia) was a U.S. military intervention in northern Russia at the end of World War I." The ostensible purpose was to open an Eastern Front following the Russian withdrawal from World War I, but in practice the unit stayed to fight Bolshevism. An archive of the expedition, which gives wonderful insight into early Bolshevik Russia as well as war-weary United States, is online. [more inside]
posted by Rumple on Jan 25, 2008 - 23 comments

Science is a wonderful thing if one does not have to earn one's living at it

The changing role of the U.S. presidential science adviser. (PDF) [more inside]
posted by Terminal Verbosity on Nov 21, 2007 - 4 comments

Deja View: Historic landscape "rephotos" (1800s, 1970s, 1990s)

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...]
posted by taz on Jun 15, 2007 - 13 comments

Jesus Boots perfected!

Jesus Boots perfected! NYT: In the last 150 years, Americans have patented about 100 water-walking inventions. The first, in 1858, was by H. R. Rowlands, who lived in Boston, not far from where Mr. Rosen resides, in Newton, Mass. Most of the subsequent patents, Mr. Rosen said, are iterations of that same idea. "Unfortunately," Mr. Rosen observed, "none of them actually work."
posted by skallas on Aug 3, 2004 - 13 comments

US Sponsored Regime Change in the Middle East: Episode One

On the night of April 27th, 1805, US Marine Lt. Presley O'Bannon led a ragtag army of Greek, Arab and Berber mercenaries in a desperate charge into the teeth of the fortifications of Derna, Tripoli (now Libya). The defenders inexplicably turned and ran, leaving behind loaded cannons which, turned around, secured victory for the US in its first land battle in the old world.

In recognition of his bravery, Lt. O'Bannon was given a sword by Hamet Karamanli. William Eaton (no, the other William Eaton ) had led O'Bannon, six other US Marines, and the five hundred odd mercenaries across six hundred miles of North African desert in order to replace the usurping Pasha of Tripoli, Yusef, with the rightful heir, his pro-American older brother Hamet.

Shortly after the battle, Yusef reached a peace with Col. Tobias Lear, the American Consul to Tripoli, and hostilities between the US and Tripoli ceased. Eaton, O'Bannon, and Hamet Karamanli, along with the Marines and most of the Greeks, departed aboard American warships, leaving the Muslim mercenaries behind in Derna. Unpaid.
posted by hob on Jan 7, 2004 - 11 comments

The Growth of the United States

The Growth of the United States: a ten-minute, animated atlas (via The Noodle Incident).
posted by timeistight on Jan 22, 2003 - 18 comments

First there was the evolution in schools thing. Now, people are complaining about history books (in Texas no less), with such problems as "Margie Raborn said she wants all U.S. government books to describe the United States as a republic based on biblical beliefs."
posted by benjh on Jul 22, 2002 - 26 comments

Le Roi Est Mort, declared the newspapers upon his death. A king without a country, Joshua A. Norton declared himself Emperor Norton I of these United States in 1859. Was he a charlatan? A genius? Royalty? Or maybe all three? We may never know. Visit his archives to find out more.
posted by charlesv on Jun 11, 2002 - 12 comments

The only "war" I can think of in U.S. history anything like the present situation is the U.S. Navy's war on Caribbean piracy (1814-1825). Stateless, decentralized foe, no defined fields of battle, no "high-value targets"...Again, 1814-1825: eleven years. Any U.S. history majors out there?
posted by luser on Sep 19, 2001 - 19 comments

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