It all started with a question, one my parents had been unable to answer for 70 years. What happened to the French doctor they had taken in during the Russian siege of Budapest? He was an escaped prisoner of war. They were just trying to hang on. Together, they hid in a cellar, beneath the feet of German soldiers who had made the home their headquarters.San Francisco Journalist John Temple follows the threads of World War II into the present.
Many of history’s darkest figures were denied a formal burial place primarily to prevent their graves from becoming pilgrimage sites...... Such figures’ literal corporeal remains hold a persistent grip on our collective anxiety, their memories firmly planted in heritage discourses even as we attempt to efface their human remains from the landscape.Paul Mullins, a historical archaeologist who has previously looked at humanizing Nazi everyday life, Eva Braun's underwear, the repugnant heritage of slavery, and selfies at Auschwitz, turns his attention to Dark Heritage and the Burial of Abhorrent Bodies.
Someday this country’s gonna be a fine, good place to be. Maybe it needs our bones in the ground before that time can come: An essay on the summer of the Atomic Bomb, by Joni Tevis. Originally published in The Diagram
Workers renovating Emerson High School in Oklahoma City recently discovered slate blackboards, still complete with chalked lessons and drawings, which had been covered up by the installation of new boards in early December, 1917. An additional photogallery (and autoplaying video) can be found here (slightly different versions of that page here and here).
Former TV cameraman Rick Suddeth has posted numerous videos of everyday life in the former Soviet Union in the 1980s and early 1990s. These are mostly raw footage or lightly edited, some are silent. Moscow traffic ca. 1986. Moscow grocery store ca. 1990. Universam Department Store, Moscow, 1990. Queuing for wine at a state liquor store. In the Cosmos Night Club. [more inside]
Frank Norris and the Invention of Film Editing: "At the heart of American author Frank Norris’ gritty turn-of-the-century fiction lies an essential engagement with the everyday shock and violence of modernity. Henry Giardina explores how this focus, combined with his unique approach to storytelling, helped to pave the way for a truly filmic style."
Alison Atkin is a Ph.D. student in osteoarchaeology at the University of Sheffield, studying plague cemeteries. Her research is presented in this quirky, hand-drawn poster. Don't miss GIFs of the interactive panels at her blog, Deathsplanation.
"Is it OK to take a selfie at Auschwitz?", asks archaeologist Paul Mullins. Selfies are people in places, not objects in spaces, says Katie Warfield.
On a wooded hillside outside Vladivostok, Russia, fourteen Canadians found their final resting place in 1919. Five others died at sea. They were ordinary folk who had enlisted in the closing days of the Great War for service in an unlikely theatre — Siberia. Consisting of 4,209 men and one woman, Canada's Siberian Expedition mobilized alongside a dozen Allied armies in a bid to defeat Lenin’s Bolsheviks. The mission failed — in the face of a robust partisan insurgency, divided Allied strategies, and heated domestic opposition.This is their story, including over 2,000 photographs and images. Also available in French and Russian.
A Philosophy of Tickling. As Nietzsche put it, in an ironic jab at eudaimonism: “What is the best life? To be tickled to death.”
Photographs and more photographs of the ancient city of Palmyra, seat of the Palmyrene Empire and home to Queen Zenobia.
Julius Fromm, a “quintessential ‘entrepreneurial proletariat’”, and a modest man with minimal education, sought a career alternative to making cigarettes and began taking evening classes in rubber chemistry around 1912. Julius Fromm then hit upon the idea of making condoms. The early condoms from the eighteenth century were generally made of animal intestines, and were used primarily by wealthy men – like Giacomo Casanova, who referred to them as “English riding coats” . . .The Great Rubber Robbery: How Julius Fromm’s Condom Empire Fell to the Nazis. via 3 quarks daily
Charles C. Mann on How the Potato Changed the World. Photo Gallery. Video. Alfred Crosby Interviewed on the Columbian Exchange.
Biomedical Ephemera, or, a Frog for your Boils is "A blog for all biological and medical ephemera, from the age of Abraham through the era of medical quackery and cure-all nostrums. Sometimes featuring illustrations of diseases and conditions of the times, sometimes fascinating ephemeral medical equipment, and sometimes clippings and information about the theories themselves." The archive page is also a useful starting point. via Things Magazine.
Objects Through Time tells the story of immigration and the changing ethnic diversity of New South Wales, Australia through "movable heritage" - that is, artifacts and objects with historical resonance. While almost ignoring 50,000 years of aboriginal occupation, the site does a nice job of both familiar topics through a fresh lens (e.g., Captain Cook's "secret instructions"), but also takes pains to look at those lesser known topics which may be more accessible through material culture than through texts. [more inside]
The Language of Food is a blog with only four entries, but each one is an excellent, well-researched essay on, yes, food and language: ketchup, entrée, dessert, and ceviche. The author, Dan Jurafsky, teaches a parallel course at Stanford, the syllabus for which you can peruse here. via (mefi's own) honestengine.blogspot.com
The American Academy of Pediatrics is proposing that doctors be authorized to perform a “ritual nick” on the genitals of pre-pubescent girls in order to satisfy cultural requirements and hopefully stave off more invasive forms of Female Genital Cutting (FGC):
Most forms of FGC are decidedly harmful, and pediatricians should decline to perform them, even in the absence of any legal constraints. However, the ritual nick suggested by some pediatricians is not physically harmful and is much less extensive than routine newborn male genital cutting. There is reason to believe that offering such a compromise may build trust between hospitals and immigrant communities, save some girls from undergoing disﬁguring and life-threatening procedures in their native countries, and play a role in the eventual eradication of FGC. It might be more effective if federal and state laws enabled pediatricians to reach out to families by offering a ritual nick as a possible compromise to avoid greater harm. (source: PDF; not safe for work, contains line drawings of female genitalia.)
"Seventy two specimens of castes in India". This illustrated manuscript made in southern India in 1837 consists of 72 full-colour hand-painted images of men and women of the various castes and religious and ethnic groups found in Madura, India at that time. Search or browse (recommended) all the images, in very good resolution, from Yale's Beinecke Library. [more inside]
Selections from a handmade military discharge scrap book and comic made by a USSR army recruit, 1984-1986.
Metafilter's own JF Ptak has an interesting post on the Life magazine issue of March 2nd, 1942, readers of which were confronted by some startling maps detailing possible Axis invasion strategies for North America. There was invasion down the St. Lawrence valley, there was invasion via Trinidad, via Bermuda, full frontal west coast, and down the west coast as well - note the mapping of the large "fifth columns". As Ptak notes, maps such as these with huge arrows pointed menancingly at the American homeland were very much not the norm of the day. [more inside]
Native American Sites in the City of Philadelphia is a superbly illustrated exposition of the historical development of Philadelphia, with a focus on those few surviving Native American sites which lie under the urban fabric. Lots more excellent Public Archaeology is available from the Philadelphia Archaeological Forum. Bonus link: Philly's lost creeks and streams. [more inside]
Land's End: Photographer and writer Christopher Grabowski documents the fading industrial towns of the British Columbia coast. Interview, and some of his other Photo Essays at Geist Magazine.
Real USSR is a blog containing commentaries on everyday life in the former Soviet Union. The liberal use of family and other amateur photos provides unusual insight into the daily experience of Soviet life. Topics range from 1940s homemade double-exposure photography to queueing to USSR - the birthplace of feminism. via
The blog associated with Ptak's online science bookstore is an absolutely fascinating, frequently-updated tour through historical, social, and scientific miscellany extracted from unusual books in the collection of the author, John Ptak. [more inside]
Waterlines is a new online exhibit from the excellent Burke Museum at the University of Washington, Seattle. It tells the story of the land underlying Seattle, one of the United States' most geologically active city sites, and of the human attempts to engineer this landform. Closely related are the archaeology of West Point and Coast Salish Villages of Puget Sound (e.g., read the story of North Wind and Storm Wind).
The Digital Archaeological Atlas of the Holy Land is a comprehensive spatially-referenced database of current archaeological knowledge of all periods of Levantine history and prehistory. Spatial search is a good entry point, as are the Palestine Exploration Fund historic maps. You can also search by time period or dig into the many ancient Empires of the area. Or just look at everything in the database. The site is a work in progress, but a cool one powered by a consortium of over 30 professional archaeologists. May require Google Maps. via
Peace and War in the 20th Century is an ambitious, in progress, massive assemblage of posters, photographs, propaganda, ephemera, letters, diaries, paintings, sketches, stories, letters, music and related items, from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. The collection is international in scope. Some of the nodes lack content, and the navigation is a little confusing, so the jump I list some of my favourite case studies from their site. [more inside]
Christmas in the London Blitz, 1940; Making Christmas Crackers, 1910; Santa Claus, 1898; Christmas is coming, 1951: short films from the British Film Institute's wonderful Youtube Channel (including excellent playlists), which you can also explore through Google Earth using the kmz file found here.
The University of Washington has put a collection of Vietnam War era printed ephemera (posters, flyers, pamphlets, magazines, mostly cheap mimeographs or photocopies) online. The browsable collection ranges from Defend the Black Panthers to How to Make a Revolution in the U.S. to the Planetary Citizen Human Manifesto to plain old Do Something. The collection offers a fascinating insight into the passion, energy and graphic sensibilities of grassroots, home-front politics in late 1960s and early 1970s Seattle. [more inside]
OPAL Libri Antichi from the University of Turin offers over 3,000 books as free, open PDF files. Most of these date between AD 1500 and 1850 and most are in Italian, with many in French. They tend to be plain books with few illustrations. A few English titles are present, including David Hume's 1800 Essays on Suicide and the Immortality of the Soul; several texts by William Wycherley such as Love in a wood: or St. James's-Park (1735); and Richard Lassels 1686 work The voyage of Italy: or, a compleat journey through Italy with the characters of the peaple, and the description of the chief towns ... (volume 2) - an early travel guide. The PDFs are unsearchable plain scans. via this thread in the W4RF forum which contains hundreds of links to free online historical documents
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.
Answers Research Journal is a new "professional peer-reviewed technical journal for the publication of interdisciplinary scientific and other relevant research from the perspective of the recent Creation and the global Flood within a biblical framework." Current Volume. Call for Papers.
Art Images for College Teaching is a searchable, browsable collection of 2,027, well, art images for college teaching, and appears to be mainly the personal collection of Art Historian Allan Kohl (previously on MeFi), and thus represents his interests and specialities, not to mention the variable quality of his photographic skills. Rather strong in Ancient and Medieval, especially architecture, but tapers off as you become more distant from Europe or closer to the 20th century. Nice sets include the Lion Hunt from Ashurbanipal, Iraq; the exterior sculpture of Chartres; and grave stele.
The Japanese National Archives have a nice set of late 1930s, pre-World War 2, civil defence posters, created in response to their hostilities with China: General Air Raid Defence; Blackout Control; Fire Protection; and Gas Attack. via Airminded, an excellent blog on "Airpower and British Society 1908-1941, mostly." [more inside]
"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]
Cornell University and the University of Michigan collaboratively present two sites on the "Making of America" (Cornell Site; Michigan Site), together including over one million pages of 19th Century American books and periodicals online. At this Cornell page you can browse or search some well-known, full-text periodicals including: The Atlantic Monthly 1857-1901; Harper's 1850-1899; Scientific American 1846-1869; Putnam's 1853-1870; and The Manufacturer and Builder 1869-1894. From Michigan, you can browse less well-known journals, including American Jewess 1895-1899; Ladies Repository 1846-1871; and the Journal of the United States Association of Charcoal Iron Workers 1880-1891. warning: frames abound [more inside]
Agence Eureka is a French language image-blog with hundreds or even thousands of scanned illustrations, mostly from mid-20th century French schoolbooks, educational material, magazines, and ephemera. The current front page is slightly NSFW. Some of the categories include anatomy 1 & 2 (mildly NSFW); chocolate wrappers/trading cards; bricolage; decoupage (cut-outs); math education; playing cards; books and magazines; cars; cinema; orientalisme; sport; mild pin-ups; and many others (scroll all the way down the right to see the tags). [more inside]
Born in Bohemia, Wenceslas (Vaclav) Hollar (wikipedia; illustrated chronology of his life; essay on Hollar) was one of the leading etchers and illustrators of the middle 17th Century, working primarily in England and Belgium. The University of Toronto has placed almost his entire works online, including more than 4,000 images and some complete illustrated books. Some favorites: the man himself; simple, powerful Illustrations of Genesis; The Pack of Knaves; Elephants and Flowers; Shells; Fitting out a Hull; and Muffs (sfw). Most images are zoomable, and you can create marked lists and compare images side by side.
Northwestern University hosts a fine collection of historic East African photographs, viewable as sample sets or in their original photo-albums (requires flash). But the real prize is their wonderful collection of 113 historic maps of Africa, which are zoomable to incredible detail, also 1, 2, 3. via
A nice set of photographic glass-plate transparencies depicting life in Japan ca. 1910. These "Yokohama photographs" were sold to foreign tourists between about 1868 and 1912. I found the Crafts and Trades section most interesting.
The Monumental is My Sickness: a newly translated 1979 interview with German sculptor Arno Breker. Extremely revealing about art, memory, Nazism, and the troubling life story of "Hitler's Favourite Sculptor". For context, read this critical review of a recent exhibition of Breker's work. More Arno Breker resources, including many photos: (in French); the museum of Arno Breker (in German); Wikipedia entry. via
The Perfume of Garbage: an archaeology of the world trade centers (pdf). What do the the godfather of garbology, a leading post-modern archaeological theorist (blog), and a "space archaeologist"(cf. space junk) think about the WTC? Obviously as a ruin and as an archaeological site - but much more. An intriguing analysis placing the WTC ruins into archaeological context, and, most particularly, responding to the Smithsonian's exhibition of artifacts from the events of September 11, 2001. Also, a commentary (pdf) responding to garbage, space and the WTC. And yes, garbology goes well beyond Mick Jagger ephemera.
The Virtual Gramophone. A massive database of early Canadian 78 RPM recordings, now available in mp3 and rm format. Over 13,000 titles available, freely downloadable. Includes biographical notes on the artists, notes on the history of Canadian recording, interesting technical notes on media conversion, a few videos from the olde dayes, and podcasts. This collection is particularly strong on Quebecois and Acadien folk/fiddle music. Courtesy of the Library and Archives Services of the Government of Canada. Mentioned once before in passing, five years ago on Metafilter, but much improved since them realaudio only days.
Searchable database of >120,000, reasonably high-resolution editorial cartooons. Mainly from the UK, and from the last 100 years. Search by person depicted (e.g., Thatcher, Gorbachev, Thatcher and Gorbachev); by year (e.g., Hitler and Stalin in 1941 or 1942), by design elements (e.g., cartoons referencing sculpture by Rodin, or cartoons with zebras), by topic (e.g., BSE, Falklands War), by artist (e.g., William Hogarth, L.G. Illingworth, Carl Giles, Steve Bell) or by publication outlet (e.g., Punch, Evening Standard (over 10,000 from Evening Standard alone). There is a handy searching wizard as well.
I send you some of the urine I pass in the morning: A large, interesting, well-presented archive of notes and letters (includes facsimiles) written by ordinary Virginians in the early 19th century to a country doctor, William Carmichael of Fredericksburg. Also includes medical instruments and pharmaceuticals of the time, and browse a facsimile of the doctor's daybook. Carmichael also tended to the health of slaves.
The Virtual Museum of Canada has funded or collaborated on almost 150 virtual exhibits, mostly relating to Canadian History and Culture. There is great diversity, among my favourites are Nk'Mip Nation Aboriginal Childrens' Art from the Inkameep day school (a welcome counterpoint to the residential schools tragedy), the historic re-photography and soundscapes of Montreal, Haida Culture documented , and also compared to Inuit Culture, Inuit (Eskimo) games and 3-dimensional (VR) sculpture, a history of the Canadian Trucking Industry, a splendid overview of Canadian documentary film making, Canadian design in the late 20th century, and the Shipwrecks of Vancouver Island. There is also a searchable image gallery. The only thing missing is a historical whodunnit or two (or three). All sites available in both French and English, and some in other languages too.