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British Actors, American History

“I played a soldier confronting President Lincoln in the film Lincoln, and I say to him, in the winter of 1865, ‘When are we going to get the vote?’ and then there I am, 100 years later, depicting Dr. King, alongside the very same actor, Colman Domingo — we confronted President Lincoln together — we are now in a jail cell, asking for the vote again, in 1965,” Oyelowo said in an interview with BuzzFeed News. “I’ve played a preacher in The Help, I played a fighter pilot in Red Tails, I played someone who was in a sit in, was a Freedom Rider, was a Black Panther, then goes on to be a senator in The Butler. They’re all characters that took me on this journey through what it has been to be a black person for the last 150 years.”

Oyelowo stopped, paused, and corrected himself slightly here. In nearly every role he’s taken on since he arrived in the United States, he’s portrayed the sojourn for what it’s like to be a black American for the last 150 years. [more inside]
posted by Eyebrows McGee on Jan 25, 2015 - 10 comments

we have inherited a ring of wolves around a door covered only by a quilt

No-man's Land. (Fear, Racism, and the Historically Troubling Attitude of America's Pioneers)
DISCUSSED: Laura Ingalls Wilder, Kansas, Bonnets, “A Great Many Colored People,” Copper Gutters, Martin Luther King Jr., People Who Know Nothing about Gangs, Scalping, South Africa, Unprovoked Stabbing Sprees, Alarming Mass Pathologies, Chicago, Haunted Hot Dog Factories, Gangrene, Creatures from the Black Lagoon, Tree Saws, Headless Torsos, Quilts, Cheerleaders, Pet Grooming Stores, God

posted by ChuraChura on Jan 18, 2015 - 10 comments

You asked me to write my life.

My name is Omar ibn Seid (pdf, 163 kb). My birthplace was Fut Tûr, between the two rivers. I sought knowledge under the instruction of a Sheikh called Mohammed Seid, my own brother, and Sheikh Soleiman Kembeh, and Sheikh Gabriel Abdal. I continued my studies twenty-five years. Then there came to our place a large army, who killed many men, and took me, and brought me to the great sea, and sold me into the hands of the Christians, who bound me and sent me on board a great ship and we sailed upon the great sea a month and a half, when we came to a place called Charleston in the Christian language. There they sold me to a small, weak, and wicked man.
[more inside]
posted by ChuraChura on Jan 14, 2015 - 6 comments

The Barbarous Years

The Shocking Savagery of America's Early History, a look at historian Bernard Bailyn's book.
Bailyn has not painted a pretty picture. Little wonder he calls it The Barbarous Years and spares us no details of the terror, desperation, degradation and widespread torture—do you really know what being “flayed alive” means? (The skin is torn from the face and head and the prisoner is disemboweled while still alive.) And yet somehow amid the merciless massacres were elements that gave birth to the rudiments of civilization—or in Bailyn’s evocative phrase, the fragile “integument of civility”—that would evolve 100 years later into a virtual Renaissance culture, a bustling string of self-governing, self-sufficient, defiantly expansionist colonies alive with an increasingly sophisticated and literate political and intellectual culture that would coalesce into the rationale for the birth of American independence. All the while shaping, and sometimes misshaping, the American character. It’s a grand drama in which the glimmers of enlightenment barely survive the savagery, what Yeats called “the blood-dimmed tide,” the brutal establishment of slavery, the race wars with the original inhabitants that Bailyn is not afraid to call “genocidal,” the full, horrifying details of which have virtually been erased.
[more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Dec 20, 2014 - 42 comments

"Be brave but never take chances"

Jackson Lears is interviewd by Public Books on The Confidence Economy
Absolutely, the confidence games take the form of their setting. In capitalist settings, it’s multivalent. Not only does one need confidence to trust the merchant who’s selling you an item, but the merchant needs confidence to start his own business, he needs it to invest, and the market needs it to be propelled forward. Of course we’re sitting here talking about this in the shadow of the banking crisis and recession! The cultural feature we’re talking about may be common to human interaction, no matter the specific setting, but those specific settings—a Mississippi River steamboat in the the mid-nineteenth century, or Catholic Italy a half millennium before—give form to its expression.
[more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Dec 13, 2014 - 3 comments

Sand Creek Will Be Forgotten No More

Remember the Sand Creek Massacre. "The 1864 murder of 200 innocent Indians is still largely forgotten. Many people think of the Civil War and America’s Indian wars as distinct subjects, one following the other. But those who study the Sand Creek Massacre know different." The Horrific Sand Creek Massacre Will Be Forgotten No More. "The opening of a national historic site in Colorado helps restore to public memory one of the worst atrocities ever perpetrated on Native Americans." [Previously]
posted by homunculus on Nov 29, 2014 - 16 comments

"Nobody had fooled around with the heart before."

Black laboratory technician Vivien Thomas was paid a janitor's wage, never went to college or medical school, and was one of the pioneers of open heart surgery.
posted by Snarl Furillo on Nov 5, 2014 - 20 comments

The Construction of Whiteness

Gerald Horne is the John J. and Rebecca Moores Chair of History and African American Studies at the University of Houston. He is a prolific author whose most recent book is The Counter-Revolution of 1776: : Slave Resistance & the Origins of the United States of America (published by NYU Press; available on Google Books). From the publisher's description:
The so-called Revolutionary War, Horne writes, was in large part a counter-revolution, a conservative movement that the founding fathers fought in order to preserve their liberty to enslave others—and which today takes the form of a racialized conservatism and a persistent racism targeting the descendants of the enslaved.
Early in the book, Horne writes:
The construction of 'whiteness' or the forging of bonds between and among European settlers across class, gender, ethnic, and religious lines was a concrete response to the real dangers faced by all of these migrants in the face of often violent rebellions from enslaved Africans and their indigenous comrades.
He recently sat down with Paul Jay of the Real News Network for the show Reality Asserts Itself. The result is a far-ranging discussion that covers his youth growing up in Jim Crow era St. Louis, his personal and intellectual development, pre-revolutionary America and the lucrative business of slavery, the Civil War and Reconstruction, and the Civil rights movement. The interview concludes by bringing us back to recent events, including the recent chokehold death of Eric Garner in New York, and the protests in Ferguson, Missouri. [more inside]
posted by mondo dentro on Aug 25, 2014 - 14 comments

Colonial American Digressions

About Colonial Indoor Lighting
Buttons In Colonial America
Colonial Meals Were Fattening
and more
posted by the man of twists and turns on Aug 14, 2014 - 10 comments

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

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