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The Valley of the Shadow

The Valley of the Shadow is a digital archive of primary sources that document the lives of people in Augusta County, Virginia, and Franklin County, Pennsylvania, during the era of the American Civil War. Here you may explore thousands of original documents that allow you to see what life was like during the Civil War for the men and women of Augusta and Franklin. Presented by the Virginia Center for Digital History at the University of Virginia.
posted by disclaimer on Jul 5, 2014 - 4 comments

a US presidential slave ownership reference table

Which US presidents owned slaves? [more inside]
posted by threeants on Dec 30, 2013 - 82 comments

Edmund S. Morgan

"Curiosity is the principle motivator of all important work." Distinguished historian Edmund S. Morgan died on Monday at the age of 97. [more inside]
posted by colfax on Jul 9, 2013 - 8 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

I Am Only Going Into Another Room

"101 ways to say died: in this project, I will be cataloging all the synonyms for "died" that appear in early American epitaphs." Courtesy of Vast Public Indifference: history, grad school, and gravestones. [more inside]
posted by MartinWisse on Apr 22, 2013 - 51 comments

"The American Revolution is not a story just for white people."

"We’ve coined a term," said Katrinah Lewis, the actress who typically interprets Lydia. "Post-traumautic slave syndrome." The Washington Post reports on African American actors who interpret the lives of slaves at Colonial Williamsburg.
posted by Snarl Furillo on Mar 11, 2013 - 38 comments

Civil War hero Robert Smalls seized the opportunity to be free

Robert Smalls sat at the conference table next to Frederick Douglass as they tried to convince President Abraham Lincoln that African Americans should be allowed to fight for their own freedom. He served five terms in Congress. He ran a newspaper and helped found a state Republican Party.
But first, he had to win his freedom.

posted by Blasdelb on Feb 15, 2013 - 14 comments

Samuel Morey: an American inventor

If you've been along the Connecticut river in eastern Vermont, you may have crossed the Samuel Morey Memorial Bridge, relaxed at Lake Morey, or seen some road markers mentioning Samuel Morey. Besides being the second person in the world to be in a car accident, who was Samuel Morey? [more inside]
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike on Nov 30, 2012 - 8 comments

Backstory with the American History Guys

Hosted by three professors of US history (one a specialist in the 18th Century, one in the 19th, and one in the 20th), each episode of the radio show and podcast Backstory takes a subject from the news and looks at the American history behind it. [more inside]
posted by ocherdraco on Nov 17, 2012 - 34 comments

Pantyhose during WWII

The unexpectedly fascinating story of pantyhose in wartime, via Smithsonian Magazine (part 1, part 2).
posted by mudpuppie on Sep 19, 2012 - 4 comments

Early abolitionist David Ruggles

In Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Douglass wrote of his early days in New York City after his escape from slavery:
Thank Heaven, I remained but a short time in this distressed situation. I was relieved from it by the humane hand of Mr. DAVID RUGGLES. [...] Mr. Ruggles was then very deeply engaged in the memorable Darg case, as well as attending to a number of other fugitive slaves, devising ways and means for their successful escape; and, though watched and hemmed in on almost every side, he seemed to be more than a match for his enemies.
[more inside]
posted by Zed on Aug 9, 2012 - 9 comments

Beautiful Civilization

Sid Meier's Civilization IV: Colonization, the 2008 remake of 1994's Sid Meier's Colonization was met with some hostility over the concept at the outset. Trevor Owens and Rebbeca Mir, contributors to Play the Past, have been making a series of blog posts about the inherently problematic nature of the game. It started with "Sid Meier's Colonization: Is it offensive enough?", next was "if (!isNative()[returnfalse;]: De-People-ing Native Peopls in Sid Meier's Colonization?", then "Guns, Germs and Horses: Cultural Exchange in Sid Meier's Colonization" and, the latest, "Playing at Slavery: Modding Colonization for Authenticity" [more inside]
posted by griphus on May 25, 2012 - 88 comments

A bit of American History through the life of Aunt Ida

Bodie Bailey Flickr A rare and fascinating bit of family and national history captured in B&W photographs. Bodie Bailey's Flickr shares family photos collected by his Aunt Ida- an actress during the turn-of-the-century and active in the founding of California. Through the photos of this young actress, we are able to get a glimpse of early Hollywood, Mission Plays and intimate family moments.
posted by muchalucha on Feb 10, 2012 - 1 comment

King Center Archive

The King Center archive launched a new web interface this year, featuring online access to thousands of historical documents relating to Dr. Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement.
posted by latkes on Jan 23, 2012 - 9 comments

Vintage Ebony

Vintage Ebony Magazine tumblr [more inside]
posted by latkes on Jan 10, 2012 - 10 comments

Straw Hat Riots

While courts say you can wear them in a snowstorm if you want to, yesterday was the last acceptable day to wear straw hats unless you're willing to offend someone and risk your life. Top hats and Sheath Skirts might be risky too.
posted by drezdn on Sep 16, 2011 - 61 comments

No more "Shikata ga nai."

Nearly seventy years ago, 10,000 Japanse Americans were forcibly relocated to Heart Mountain, just outside Cody, Wyoming; they were part of a larger group of more than 120,000 men, women, and children incarcerated in War Relocation Authority (WRA) camps due solely to their ancestry. This past weekend, about 100 survivors of the camp -- led by the delightfully named Bacon Sakatini -- returned to this remote corner of Wyoming to celebrate the grand opening of the Heart Mountain Interpretive Learning Center. Of the ten WRA camps, Heart Mountain had the only organized resisters movement, which was started in 1944 by seven men who formed the Fair Play Committee to protest the drafting of Japanse American men while their families remained imprisoned -- leading to the largest draft resistance trial in U.S. history.
posted by scody on Aug 25, 2011 - 43 comments

C. P. Stacey on relations between US and Canada

The Undefended Border: the myth and the reality (PDF). In 1812, the US invaded Canada. Today, the US and Canada share the world's longest undefended border. What happened in between? Canadian historian C. P. Stacey discusses the history of relations between the US and Canada from the War of 1812 to the Treaty of Washington in 1871. [more inside]
posted by russilwvong on Jun 7, 2011 - 39 comments

There's a black man standing in your Oxfords with you

Bill Cosby: "A lot of people think we oughta wash white, but we aint gonna, you see." "People think that we Afro-Americans started with nothing but little grass skirts like the kids in the Tarzan movies....but uh, we had something before we left Africa." "Now if you want to look history right straight in the eye... you're going to get a black eye. Because it isn't important whether a few black heroes got lost or stolen or strayed in American history textbooks. What's important is why they got left out." Black History: Lost, Stolen, or Strayed. (Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) [more inside]
posted by cashman on Feb 21, 2011 - 16 comments

Farmers of the Poor

For all the faults of the poorhouse, the system it replaced was perceived to be even worse. In post-Revolution America, if you were poor, you could be "farmed out" at public auction to the lowest bidder. [more inside]
posted by Knappster on Dec 30, 2010 - 8 comments

"They're selling postcards of the hanging."

On June 15th, 1920 in Duluth, Minnesota, three young, black circus workers, Elias Clayton, Elmer Jackson and Issac McGhie, were lynched. The Minnesota Historical Society has a great site devoted to the terrible event, Duluth Lynchings Online Resource. I'd especially like to point out the Oral Histories section, which has short interviews with African-Americans who lived through the event. In 2001 Minnesota Public Radio covered the story, inspired by a campaign to build a memorial to the three men, which was dedicated in October of 2003. The Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial has a fine website which is well worth visiting.
posted by Kattullus on Sep 10, 2010 - 10 comments

Freed by the Civil War

In 1865, after the end of the Civil War, Col. P. H. Anderson of Big Spring, Tennessee, wrote to his former slave, Jourdon Anderson, asking him to return to work for him. In reply, Jourdon Anderson told Colonel Anderson exactly where he could stick his offer. This letter was part of The Freedmen's Book (full download in many different formats) which was distributed to those freed after and during the Civil War, so that they would know stories of other freedmen who had done well, including Touissant L'Ouverture, Phillis Wheatley and Frederick Douglass. The book was put together and published by Lydia Maria Child, abolitionist, women's rights activist, Indian rights campaigner and all around awesome person. She became famous in her own time for her cookbook The Frugal Housewife, but today her best known work is Over the River and Through the Woods. The Freedmen's Book was part of an effort by abolitionists after the war to educate freed slaves. The American Antiquarian Society has a great website about that movement, Northern Visions of Race, Region and Reform, which has plenty of primary sources and images galore.
posted by Kattullus on Apr 22, 2010 - 92 comments

Not quite Alexander Hamilton, but...

At first I thought it was a teaparty rap, but no, it's much much better. (SLYT) Previously.
posted by treeshar on Feb 15, 2010 - 40 comments

The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History

"Promoting the Love and Study of American History." The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History has many resources on its website, including over 50 free lecture podcasts, a collection of war letters throughout history, a Lincoln bicentennial page, and a new John Brown exhibition. [more inside]
posted by Hargrimm on Oct 17, 2009 - 7 comments

Paging Duncan Fletcher...

Who will be our era's Duncan Fletcher? Fed up with widespread financial sector double-dealing, profiteering and opportunism in the aftermath of the 1929 stock market crash that triggered the Great Depression, a soft-spoken, conservative Democrat senator from Jacksonville, Florida stepped up to play an instrumental role in shaping post-Depression era financial policies. [more inside]
posted by saulgoodman on Mar 23, 2009 - 31 comments

People's Past, In Pictures, Pamphlets, and Prose

Drawing from 175 digital collections and growing, American Social History Online pulls together primary sources documenting our past as a people. A project of the Digital Library Federation. [more inside]
posted by Rykey on Dec 22, 2008 - 9 comments

Oral History of Black Leadership

Explorations in Black Leadership is a collection of video interviews with prominent African-Americans, focusing on activists of one sort or another. 34 people are interviewed, including Nikki Giovanni, John Lewis, Barbara Lee, Bobby Rush, Dorothy Height and Amiri Baraka. There are full transcripts of every interview. Here's an excerpt from the Nikki Giovanni interview: "The kids today have to have a voice. I'm amazed that they found it. I remember Sugarhill Gang with Sylvia, you know: "Uptown, Downtown, the Holiday Inn." You know, things like that. Then, of course, I remember the explosion of Tupac Shakur. Losing Tupac was a great loss for this generation. I have a tattoo--it says "Thug Life" --because I wanted to mourn with this generation. I don't see how people can knock the kids…paying so little attention. I had deep regrets--and I know Rosa Parks, you know, we don't hang out but I know her--I so regretted that she lent her name to be used against Outkast, because Rosa Parks is a wonderful--is a wonderful tune. And they were giving her problems. If people don't--if the younger generation doesn't sing the praises of the older generation they get forgotten."
posted by Kattullus on Oct 25, 2008 - 8 comments

The Fifties: an invention of Sha Na Na / Scottish Highlanders / Rondald Reagan

Remember the Fifties? For a certain generation, who could forget those golden innocent days as depicted in shows like Happy Days, Grease and the band Sha Na Na. But it turns out that vision of the 50's is mostly fantasy and never existed, largely invented by a group of Columbia U students around 1969. [more inside]
posted by stbalbach on Oct 3, 2008 - 61 comments

One Hardscrabble Sumbitch

The John Mobberly Story (parts one through four) about a Confederate Guerilla who terrorized Loudoun county Virginia and the Harpers Ferry area, as written by blogger Neddie Jingo. [more inside]
posted by Devils Rancher on Oct 3, 2008 - 8 comments

Thomas Jefferson Papers

The Massachusetts Historical Society has a nice collection of Thomas Jefferson's papers online. It includes two catalogs of Jefferson's books, a draft of the Declaration of Independence and his Garden Book. Architectural Drawings too! [more inside]
posted by marxchivist on Aug 22, 2008 - 6 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

Japanese American Relocation Digital Archives

JARDA: Japanese American Relocation Digital Archives is a collection of photographs, diaries, letters, camp newsletters, personal histories and a wealth of other material relating to the relocation and internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. The site is divided into four categories: People, the men, women, and children who were incarcerated. Places, prewar neighborhoods and wartime camps. Daily Life, eating, sleeping, working, playing, and going to school. Personal Experiences, letters, diaries, art and other writing by internees. Among the photographers hired by the War Relocation Authority was famed dust bowl photographer Dorothea Lange. 855 of her photos are on the site. Even though she was working as a propagandist many of her images captures a starker reality, for instance this picture of a glum little girl.
posted by Kattullus on Aug 3, 2008 - 10 comments

The story of a post-bellum South family, through photos and letters

"Palmetto Pathos is an examination of a Southern family, from their 1684 arrival in Pennsylvania to Southern Spartanburg County in the present..." It's more than an examination; one might call it a narrative of one Smith family, spanning the 18th century to the mid-20th century. There's a little of everything: a recipe, a mysterious family photo, financial matters, even a few cuties. I could just post links but the best way is to just dive in.
posted by zorro astor on May 5, 2008 - 5 comments

Do You Like American Music?

Sounds of America is a new monthly streaming audio program, a collaboration between the National Museum of American History and Smithsonian Global Sound. Up now are 3 episodes: African-American music in New Orleans, Women in American Music, and Freedom Songs of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement.
posted by Miko on Apr 2, 2008 - 12 comments

A slice of true Americana

The Diner: A true American hallmark, that first appeared on the horizon in the early 70's (the 1870's that is), and has remained a fixture on the American psyche since. If you've never been to one, why not go ahead and have your next meal there? There maybe one right around the corner from where you live. If not, well, like me, you can sit back and look at the glorious images that are available and hope that one day your dream comes true. But until then: remember to adhere to the Ten Commandments, and yeah--if you can--get a copy of Diner (youtube) and watch it. It might not be "strictly" about Diners, but it's fun all the same. [previously]
posted by hadjiboy on Mar 28, 2008 - 69 comments

Blood Bitters 'n' Swamp Root

Time, Tide, and Tonics: The Patent Medicine Almanac in America. "Almanacs have been a part of American life since its very beginning. One of the first books printed in English America was an almanac [pdf]. By the mid-18th century the almanac had become, after the Bible, the book most likely to be found in ordinary homes. Produced annually, almanacs provided practical information and entertainment."
posted by katillathehun on Mar 25, 2008 - 6 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

Archaeology and Early Human History of Texas

Texas Beyond History is a comprehensive web site covering the last 10,000 years of human occupation of (what is now called) Texas. A small section of the site was previously posted on Metafilter. via archaeolog.
posted by Rumple on Feb 19, 2008 - 7 comments

Civil War and/or Aerial Reconnaissance Nerds Only

The of Battlefields and Bibliophiles blog has a fun quiz. Check your knowledge of American Civil War battlefields by guessing which battleground is featured in the Google Earth images. Answers here. [more inside]
posted by marxchivist on Feb 6, 2008 - 5 comments

History Archives: Online.

Want to study some history and have hundreds of hours on your hands? Don't worry now. We already exhaustive know about the Valley of the Shadow project. But what about Great Unsolved Mysteries in Canadian History, a bilingual English-French archive? If neither of these (vast) subjects tickle your pickle, don't worry... [more inside]
posted by flibbertigibbet on Dec 27, 2007 - 6 comments

American Knockoffs

A nation of outlaws. A century and a half ago, another fast-growing nation had a reputation for sacrificing standards to its pursuit of profit, and it was the United States.
posted by Kirth Gerson on Aug 27, 2007 - 18 comments

The Sand Creek Massacre

On November 29, 1864, John Chivington led the Colorado Volunteers in a dawn attack in which at least 150 Cheyenne men, women and children were slaughtered (many of their corpses grotesquely mutilated), bringing a new wave of Indian-white conflict to Colorado's high plains along the Santa Fe Trail. The Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site was officially dedicated today. See photos of some of the people involved, read some contemporary propaganda concerning the event, as well as actual testimony from witnesses and perpetrators.
posted by flapjax at midnite on Apr 28, 2007 - 17 comments

Compact Histories of 48 First Nations

First Nations Histories is a site with compact histories of 48 first nations, from the Abenaki to the Winnebago, written by Lee Sultzman. They are primarily focused on nations in the Northeast, Midwest, with a smattering in the Plains and the Southeast. It also hosts two articles that aren't part of the project, Manifest Destiny and Western Canada and The Coree are Not Extinct.
posted by Kattullus on Feb 15, 2007 - 10 comments

"We're dead, come and get us."

The Young Brothers Massacre. The gunfight that killed the most law enforcement officials is US history did not happen at Waco or Kansas City, but just outside of Springfield, MO (which was also home to the first famous "high noon" shootout of the Wild West). On January 2, 1932, the two Young Brothers murdered the six policemen who'd come to arrest one of them for killing a town marshall. Not much later, they met their own end. This 1932 quickie pulp remains the best (or at least most readable) version of the story. (Warning: a few postmortem photos are included).
posted by Bookhouse on Dec 2, 2006 - 8 comments

A different 13th Amendment?

Most people know that Abraham Lincoln was elected in 1860. However, not many people know that a man named John J. Crittenden made a last-ditch effort to amend the Constitution, as a compromise between the north and south. How would have American history have progressed if this was the 13th Amendment as opposed to this?
posted by JoshTeeters on Aug 1, 2006 - 39 comments

take THAT Montgomery Ward!

The Zobo! Spanish-American Chess Men! Where can you find these amazing products, including Sanitary Belt Pads the Toilet Mask, or a handy goat harness, at amazing, rockbottom prices? The Sears, Roebuck Catalog, of course. Everything you could need for the modern American family! They did houses (1, 2) even. Starting in 1888 and mostly selling watches, this venerable institution of consumerism spent its first 10 years rapidly growing and adding products, lasting for over 100 years before finally folding in 1993. The catalog still stands as a detailed historical document of what the average American would buy to get through life. They make a fun collector's item, too (1902 available on CD-ROM as well). [ This post inspired by the 1902 Sears, Roebuck Catalog blog. ]
posted by tweak on May 26, 2006 - 11 comments

The Goats of West Point

The Goats of West Point
”...though only about twenty years of age, had the appearance of being much older. He had a worn, weary, discontented look, not easily forgotten by those who were intimate with him.”
A new book tells the story of Sergeant Major Edgar Allan Poe, Battery H (.pdf), First Artillery Washout, West Point, Class of 1834. And of other famous cadets.
posted by matteo on Apr 6, 2006 - 6 comments

1896

1896. The presidential campaign in political cartoons and annotations. Including: Popocratic Witches; Goldbug variations; Bryan the Lion (a link in the Oz connection); the Populist Pandora; Resurrecting Secession; and so much more.
posted by OmieWise on Dec 29, 2005 - 6 comments

American Prophet

PICTURE THIS: A folksy, self-consciously plainspoken Southern politician rises to power during a period of profound unrest in America. The nation is facing one of the half-dozen or so of its worst existential crises to date, and the people, once sunny, confident, and striving, are now scared, angry, and disillusioned. Through a combination of factors -his easy bearing chief among them (along with massive cash donations from Big Business; disorganization in the liberal opposition; a stuffy, aloof opponent; and support from religious fanatics who feel they've been unfairly marginalized)-he wins the presidential election. Ripped from today's headlines? Nope. Sinclair Lewis, Circa 1935: "It Can't Happen Here" has been recently reissued. But you can read it here (with free registration) at American Buddha (possibly NSFW). first link via Arts & Letters Daily
posted by spock on Dec 28, 2005 - 44 comments

Leonard Bernstein: Miracle on 57th Street

Miracle on 57th Street.
Thomas Wolfe said that America is not only the place where miracles happen, but where they happen all the time. This is the story of a miracle, a true-life fairy tale, and appropriately enough it begins with the intervention of the Almighty.
Artur Rodzinski, music director of the New York Philharmonic from 1943 to 1947, was an eccentric, a health nut who drank only milk from goats he raised himself and who kept a loaded revolver in his back pocket whenever he conducted. Rodzinski said that God told him to hire 24 year old Leonard Bernstein, to be his assistant conductor. In the fall of 1943 Rodzinski decided to take a vacation, spend a little time with his goats, and called in Bruno Walter to conduct seven concerts in ten days. Only hours before one of those concerts (in the program, works by Schumann, Rosza, Strauss and Wagner) Walter fell ill. Rodzinski was only four hours away, in his farm. But he declined to come back to Carnegie Hall: "Call Bernstein. That's why we hired him." The concert was broadcast over radio and a review appeared on page 1 of The New York Times the next day: "Young Aide Leads Philharmonic; Steps in When Bruno Walter is Ill". In the same size type as another that read, "Japanese Plane Transport Sunk." More inside.
posted by matteo on Dec 28, 2005 - 48 comments

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