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31 posts tagged with history by filthy light thief.
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Odd leaves from the life of a Louisiana "swamp doctor" (circa 1850)

One of the most intriguing personalities in Southern medical history of the nineteenth century is Dr. Henry Clay Lewis (1825-1850), whose fame rests not on his accomplishments in medicine, but upon his humorous writings published under the pseudonym "Madison Tensas, M.D., the Louisiana Swamp Doctor." Though Lewis was a practicing doctor, his true identity as the author of the "Southern grotesque" (previously) pieces was not known until after his death. His works pre-dated the Southern Gothic style (prev), and are unusual for their time in that "[Lewis] presents his black characters with as much pain and grotesqueness as his white characters, steering away from the time's usual stereotypes." You can read a longer biography and a summary of his style here, or just dive in and read his works, which available online in Odd leaves from the life of a Louisiana "swamp doctor", which was also published as The swamp doctor's adventures in the South-west (also available with fourteen illustrations) on Archive.org.
posted by filthy light thief on Jun 20, 2014 - 6 comments

The Evolution of London, mapped through its roadways

In seven minutes, you can see the evolution of London, as seen in its road network, from the Roman port city of Londonium through the Anglo-Saxon, Tudor, Stuart, Early Georgian and Late Georgian, Early Victorian and Late Victorian, Early 20th Century and Postwar London, set to the scale of the 600 square miles of modern London, though the original city core is a very dense square mile. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on May 10, 2014 - 15 comments

Charting climate change and local loss of flora from Thoreau's journals

From 1851 to 1858, Henry David Thoreau noted a number of natural occurrences in detail, including the first flowering dates for over 500 species of wildflowers in Concord. Additionally, Alfred Hosmer, a botanist in the same area, had recorded the flowering dates of over 600 species of wild plants in 1878 and from 1888 to 1902. With that data, Richard Primack, a biology professor at Boston University, and fellow researcher Abraham Miller-Rushing spent years aligning old plant names with current names to study the change flowering patterns from the recorded past to present. Their phenological study concluded that plants in Concord, on average, are now flowering 10 days earlier than they were in Thoreau's time (full article for the journal BioScience). [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Mar 25, 2014 - 3 comments

A cartographic history of why North, not East or South, is up

How the north ended up on top of the map is an article by Nick Danforth, author/curator of (The/Mid) Afternoon Map blog, detailing how the north-up orientation came to be the default orientation, looking beyond Eurocentrism to Byzantine monks and Majorcan Jews who set the path for modern cartography. If you want more information, you might enjoy the Wikipedia article on the history of cartography, or you can really dig deep with the three-volume text, The History of Cartography, which is available in full from the University of Chicago Press online, split into individual PDFs for each chapter. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Feb 18, 2014 - 28 comments

Grand by Design

Grand by Design is a Centennial Celebration of Grand Central Terminal. It's a looong page with a lot of nice images and facts from the history of the Grand Central Depot/ Station/ Terminal. (Previously)
posted by filthy light thief on Feb 17, 2014 - 6 comments

The Invention of Jaywalking and the Rise of Car Culture

In the history of roads, pedestrians have long been the dominant user class. In the early 20th century, the use of automobiles was increasing, and with it, the conflicts between cars and people on foot. This conflict came to a head in 1923 in Cincinnati, when people were outraged about the number of children killed by autos, and a there was a petition that "would have required all vehicles in the city to be fitted with speed governors limiting them to 25 miles per hour." In response, the young automotive companies organized and started a move to give dominance to cars in the streets. The petition failed, and pedestrians had lost. This was a key moment, marked with the invention of jaywalking. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Jan 26, 2014 - 125 comments

Oliver Stone's Untold History of the United States

"Untold History of the United States challenges the basic narrative of the U.S. history that most Americans have been taught.... [Such history] is consoling; it is comforting. But it only tells a small part of the story." Instead of clips of modern people pondering the past, Oliver Stone's ten-part series relies heavily on archival footage and clips from old Hollywood films, with narration by Stone. Towards the end, he gets into the assassination of JFK, "but that should not detract from a series that sets out to be a counterweight to the patriotic cheerleading and myth-making." [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Dec 23, 2013 - 66 comments

Heritage Minutes: History by the Minute (plus parodies)

Got a minute for Canadian history and some CanCon (prev: 1, 2, 3)? Great! Because Heritage Minutes are just that - 60 seconds of history from Canada's past. To date, there have been over 70 short segments produced, and you can watch them online at Historica Canada, and read about people and events below the videos. If you don't know where to start, here are the top 5 minutes according to a poll from 2012, and the top 10 from Macleans. But if that's all too serious for you, there are also parodies, plus more in this YouTube playlist.
posted by filthy light thief on Oct 22, 2013 - 44 comments

The circuitous histories of hamburgers and ketchup

The history of the hamburger could be a relatively short story, or one spanning centuries and continents, depending on how far you disassemble the modern hamburger. If you look for the origins of ground meat between two pieces of bread, that's something American, but where and when exactly is the question. But how did we get the ground meat patty? You can thank the Mongols and Kublai Khan, who brought their ground meat to Russia. Oh, and don't forget the fish sauce! [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Aug 19, 2013 - 35 comments

David Bradley, IBM engineer, and father of the three-finger salute

David Bradley is an engineer, one of the 12 strategists who worked around the clock to hammer out a plan for hardware, software, manufacturing setup and sales strategy for the first IBM PC from 1980-1981. At that time, Bradley and others were tired of wasting time rebooting the system without powering it down. So, one day he had something like "write keyboard shortcut to reboot system" on list of things to do, and Control-Alt-Delete was created. Years later, he said "I may have invented it, but I think Bill made it famous." (YouTube) [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Aug 8, 2013 - 21 comments

Before there was a [US] national museum, we had a nation of savers

"In the early 1800s, a hammer was kept near Plymouth Rock for the pilgrim who had forgotten to bring one. By the end of the 19th century, what was left of the rock was fenced off within a memorial." "The United States, it turns out, was a nation of casual plunderers from the start. Visitors to Mount Vernon snapped splinters from the moldings; beachgoers in Massachusetts chiseled off chunks of Plymouth Rock; tourists snipped fabric from the White House curtains. By the early 19th century, newspapers were referring to illicit souvenir hunting as a “national mania.” " [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Jun 12, 2013 - 49 comments

Pacifying the Favelas: Preparing for International Attention

Brazilian favelas have a long and sordid history, initially constructed as a shanty town by soldiers who had nowhere to live. Then the poor people from rural areas moved to the cities for job opportunities, expanding the favelas. Today, there are over 500 favelas, with about a third of Rio de Janeiro's population, and they're growing. The three primary drug gangs that fight for control in the favelas formed in the 1970s (PDF), but they were formed not solely by fighters, but also political radicals, and these gangs provide some social services where the government does not. That is, until the Pacifying Police Units were formed in 2008, with the goal of pushing the gangs out and providing government stability from a live-in police force. But this isn't just to an effort to end the gang violence -- the slums are being swept ahead of the tourist rush, and the shanty towns are now seeing a rapid gentrification from non-Brazilians and speculators.
posted by filthy light thief on Jun 6, 2013 - 15 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

White House recipes, from ale to woodcock (roasted)

We know the Obamas planted a vegetable garden in 2009, bringing back the tradition of a White House Vegetable Garden (7:44 YT video), and Barack has home-brewed beer. The White House then released the recipes for their honey ale and honey porter, but what of the other White House recipes? Here are some modern Thanksgiving recipes, but what about the rest of the year? Our White House provides a glimpse into past White House kitchens, menus, and recipes, but that's still too thin. More than 50 White House recipes? Still not enough! OK, how about the complete White House Cookbook from 1887 (on Archive.org, also on Project Gutenberg and Google books). Vintage Recipes has kindly provided a tidied up table of contents and recipes for quicker browsing, but be warned, the techniques are dated, and some of the household tips are a bit questionable. More on presidential gastronomy, previously.
posted by filthy light thief on Sep 27, 2012 - 18 comments

Camel Corps of the US Army: bringing a bit of the Middle East to the Southwest

The U.S. Camel Corps was a short-lived experiment run by the U.S. Army before the Civil War, the result of two decades of support for importing and utilizing the foreign pack animal by George H. Crosman and some of his friends and colleagues. More than 70 camels were brought from the Middle East and southern Europe, along with 5 camel drovers from Greece and Turkey, arriving in Texas in 1856. A select few of that bunch made the trek across "unexplored territory" from El Paso to the Colorado River, with camels faring the best among the group of men, horses, and mules. When James Buchanan became president in 1857, there were numerous changes in command, including the commander of the Army in Texas, who "was outraged when he discovered a herd of camels under his command." By the time the Civil War started, the Camel Corps was dissolved and forgotten, but both the animals and the drovers would leave their mark in the West. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Aug 23, 2012 - 23 comments

Disney Parks, Past and Present

Plenty of people collect Disneyana, the toys, books, animation cels, and theme-park souvenirs. Then there are those fans who collect information and details on the Disney parks themselves, collecting official park maps or drawing up their own ride blueprints, assembling the design history behind the attractions, and even collecting vintage tickets and ticket books. Yesterland (previously: 1, 2, 3) is an ever-growing collection of Disneyland history, and has an updated collection of links to similar fan sites and Imagineering blogs, which is a whole collection of rabbit holes of nostalgia and behind-the-scense information. So grab a riding crop and pretend like it's the 60s all over again!
posted by filthy light thief on Mar 15, 2012 - 9 comments

Enrico Caruso, the first global superstar of the gramophone era

Although many fine divas stamped their mark on early recording, it was the tenor voice of Caruso which was the defining voice of the early twentieth century. His reputation was due to the fact that people could not only hear him in their own homes, but that his success could actually be measured in record sales; he was the first global superstar of the gramophone era. Enrico Caruso was the first recording artist with a million-selling record ("Vesti la Giubba," from Pagliacci), and his recordings of 10 songs 'made the gramophone' in 1902. He went on to make about commercial 490 recordings, and there is even more unreleased material. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Feb 16, 2012 - 14 comments

Listening to the past, recorded on tin foil and glass, for the first time in over a century

Towards the end of the 1800s, there were three primary American groups competing to invent technology to record and play back audio. Alexander Graham Bell worked with with Charles Sumner Tainter and Chichester Bell in at their Volta Laboratory in Georgetown, Washington, D.C., while Thomas A. Edison worked from his Menlo Park facilities, and Emile Berliner worked in his independent laboratory in his home. To secure the rights to their inventions, the three groups sent samples of their work to the Smithsonian. These recordings became part of the permanent collections, now consisting of 400 of the earliest audio recordings ever made. But knowledge of their contents was limited to old, short descriptions, as the rubber, beeswax, glass, tin foil and brass recording media are fragile, and playback devices might damage the recordings, if such working devices are even available. That is, until a collaborative project with the Library of Congress and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory came together to make 2D and 3D optical scanners, capable of visually recording the patterns marked on discs and cylinders, respectively. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Feb 10, 2012 - 21 comments

A Brief History of Palm Trees in Southern California

Of the hundreds of species of palm trees you might find in southern California, only one is native to the state, and that shaggy specimen is naturally found around springs and arroyos in the desert southwest, not lined along beach community parks and streets. How did a desert tree become an icon of fruitful turn of the twentieth century Los Angeles, the former garden city? KCET writer Nathan Masters provides a brief history of palm trees in southern California. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Dec 15, 2011 - 23 comments

123-year-old recording of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, recited it with feeling and expression

The Phonograph Doll was the first attempt at making a talking doll, invented by Thomas Edison. The doll utilized a miniature phonograph to talk, and was possibly the first audio recordings for commercial purposes. An example of the (now 123 year-old) talking doll was found in 1967 in Edison's New Jersey workshop, which is now a National Historic Park and museum. Recently, the warped metal cylinder was optically scanned and re-created, providing a 12-second clip of the oldest known recording of a woman's voice. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Jul 8, 2011 - 22 comments

An Extended Finnish Saturday Matinee

Finnish YouTube user Ishexan has uploaded seven English subtitled movies in parts: Broken Blossoms (1919), Aelita (1924), The Gipsy Charmer (1929), The Tragedy of Elina (1938), The Activists (1939), The Wooden Pauper's Bride (1944), and Sampo (1959), which is based on the epic poem The Kalevala. The films are mostly Finnish, though Aelita is a silent Russian sci-fi film, and Sampo was a joint Finnish and Soviet production. More film clips inside (mostly Finnish documentaries and "dorky musical numbers"). [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Apr 30, 2011 - 12 comments

Nuclear Archeology with John Coster-Mullen

John Coster-Mullen didn't finish his university degree in physics, yet in less than ten years of spare time, he figured out how to make Fat Man and Little Boy, while driving semis for a living. What started as an effort to make replicas of the bombs for the 40th anniversary of the detonation of the two atomic bombs became a larger challenge to simply to present readers with accurate information about the past. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Mar 31, 2011 - 17 comments

First-Hand Gaming History, from Mike Dailly

Game programmer and designer Mike Dailly has been making games since he was 14, back in 1984. It was then that he met David Jones, Russell Kay and Steve Hammond at the Kingsway Amateur Computer Club, a group that gathered at Kingsway Technical College in Dundee, Scotland. These four chaps would go on to form DMA Design, home to Lemmings and Grand Theft Auto, amongst other games. Dailly has been sharing stories and materials from the archives of DMA, including The Complete History of DMA Design, The Complete History of Lemmings (previously), GTA prototypes, graphics and early game design docs (when it was called "Race 'n' Chase"), and more.... [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Mar 24, 2011 - 16 comments

Captain Video! Electronic wizard! Master of time and space! Guardian of the safety of the world!

Captain Video and his Video Rangers was a television series that was staple of the DuMont Television Network. The series first aired in the middle of Golden Age of Science Fiction, and with an initial air date in 1949, it was the first science fiction television series in the United States, complete with futuristic gadgets. The series was aimed at children, with public service announcements for kids, the a special ring (or three). Recorded and broadcast live five to six days a week, the series had a run of thousands of episodes, though most are now considered lost. 24 episodes are in the UCLA Film and Television archive, and a few episodes have made their way into public domain compilations, and online (three random episodes episodes on Internet Archive; and same three episodes on YouTube). Continue in for more on the good Captain, and the network he called home. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Mar 21, 2011 - 19 comments

African-Americans in the Wild West: Nat Love, Cherokee Bill, and Stagecoach Mary Fields

The stories and pictures of the Wild West commonly feature white men, with little notion of the diversity present in the later half of the 19th century beyond the various regiments of "buffalo soldiers". In reality, black cowboys made up a large portion of the cowhand population, possibly a quarter of all cowboys. Estimations range from 5,000 to 15,000 cowboys being of African heritage. Many have been forgotten in the passing of time, but some of their stories live on. For instance, the cowboy Nat Love, the outlaw Cherokee Bill, and (all sorts of awesome) "Stagecoach" Mary Fields. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Feb 25, 2011 - 21 comments

Across Africa for Love and Glory

Ewart Scott Grogan was a British-born figure of controversial sorts, the kind of fellow who would either end up buried in Westminster Abbey-or hanging from a yard-arm. After he survived as soldier in the Second Matabele War, he went on to be the first European to traverse the distance of the African continent from the South in Cape Town to Cairo in the North to win the hand of his bride-to-be from a skeptical father. He started the trek with the uncle of his bride-to-be in February 1898. Two years later, Grogan returned to London, a lone hero (the uncle turned back part way through). In 2007, MeFite Julian Smith retraced Grogan's path, "in part to dispel [his] own pre-wedding jitters," and wrote a book about Grogan's journey, and his own. [via mefi projects] [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Dec 14, 2010 - 5 comments

Saturday Silliness: History on Facebook

In the spirit of Hamlet (Facebook Newsfeed Edition) (originally from McSweeney's Internet Tendencies, and then made graphic) and Austinbook (newsfeed of Pride and Prejudice), here are historical events as Facebook status posts (plus some Biblical events).
posted by filthy light thief on Sep 18, 2010 - 11 comments

Born from jungle techno, the amen break, hip-hop and dub: a history of Drum'n'Bass

Perhaps you were there in 1991 when someone spun We Are i.e. for the first time. Maybe you were a suburban rebel in the mid 1990s, listening to British pirate radio and taping the broadcasts. Or you kept it legit and heard Fabio and Grooverider on Kiss FM or BBC Radio 1. Perhaps you only caught wind of it when Goldie was on BBC's Maestro (prev). You might spend your time figuring out which breaks were used, from the well-known Amen, Brother sample (prev), to Both Eyes Open by Lucille Brown & Billy Clark. Or maybe you don't know the difference between clownstep and liquid funk, but it sounds like something you want to know more about. Step inside, junglist, and embrace the bass. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Feb 9, 2010 - 70 comments

Chicago House Music: History in Interviews and Recordings

Gridface has an on-going series of interviews as part of its Chicago House music history section. The first interview was with Stacey Collins, aka VERB, who started working security at The Music Box in 1983. Others interviewed include producers Merwin Sanders (discog) and Jamal Moss (aka Hieroglyphic Being, IAMTHATIAM, The Sun God) and Frank Youngwerth (discog), and DJ Leonard "Remix" Rroy. [via mefi projects] [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Jan 11, 2010 - 15 comments

Dr. Mayme A. Clayton: a Champion of Black History

Dr. Mayme Agnew Clayton was a librarian and collector in Los Angeles who left behind a collection of remarkable value. Over the course of more than 40 years, she had collected the largest privately held collection of African-American materials, with over 30,000 rare and out-of-print books, 1,700 films dating back to 1916, as well as more than 75,000 photographs and scores of movie posters, playbills, programs, documents and manuscripts. Her collection, which has been compared to the Schomburg Collection in the New York City Public Library, was opened to the public in 2007. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Jan 8, 2010 - 6 comments

Visual review of art history

Are you looking to review your art history knowledge but find google too chaotic, and Prof. Christopher L. C. E. Witcombe's site is overwhelming and has a few too many dead links? Maybe wikipedia lacks the visuals you associate with an art history review, and Art cyclopedia could be a bit more straight-forward? Then The Art Browser might be the thing for you. The site combines brief descriptions of movements and artists from wikipedia, classifications from Art cyclopedia, and large images from Art.com for compact visual overview of art history. [via mefi projects] [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Mar 25, 2009 - 9 comments

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