history

history

Harry Houdini: Fake news fighting pioneer

Harry Houdini: Fake news fighting pioneer

The immigrant born as Ehrich Weiss became more than a star.  Throughout his career, Harry Houdini continuously upended public perceptions of magic and reality with daring escapes, feats of mentalism and, toward the end of his life, debunking the claims of spiritualists.  As committed as he was to furthering magic, he was equally devoted to the pursuit of truth and spent much of his last years exposing fraudulent mediums, spirit photographers and others who claimed to communicate with the dead.  Spiritualism began as a religious awakening movement in 1848, when two sisters, Kate and Margaret Fox, stated that they had been able to contact the spirit of a deceased peddler, “Mr. Splitfoot”, and began to hold séances in their home … Continued
Learning About Daily Life

Learning About Daily Life

Cultures, customs, and routines have been as diverse in the past as they are today.  But for a long-past civilization, there is no longer a means of direct intercultural communication to learn about it.  Still, knowledge of the inner workings of a society and culture are vital to many types of researchers.  Greenwood Press’s database Daily Life Through History offers a unique exploration of these questions, shedding insight on what life was like in any given era or part of the globe; not just for the elites, but also for those of more modest estate – what was it like obtaining necessities, like bread; or to what degree people were free to move about and make life choices such as … Continued
Living in Interesting Times

Living in Interesting Times

Do you keep a diary?  In times of crisis, firsthand, contemporaneous accounts are among the most valuable to the historians of later decades.  We call these ‘primary’ sources – those created by the people who lived the events that are described.  Letters and diaries have long been fertile sources for understanding history, and the blogs and emails of today will likely inform the historians of tomorrow.  While our times can seem unprecedented, calamities of various sorts have always shaped the eras they happened in.  The Influenza pandemic of 1918, commonly called the Spanish Flu, is often held up as a comparison to today’s struggle with the COVID-19 coronavirus.  Studying how people survived previous crises and catastrophes; and the lived experience … Continued
Why voting matters

Why voting matters

While the right to vote has been part of the US Constitution since the founding of this country. it was originally limited to white male landowners – a wealthy elite in many cases.  The right to vote, considered a cornerstone in the popular conception of democracy, is a hard-won right earned through centuries of war, civic strife, protest and direct petitioning.  In honor of the struggles of those who have come before, and to preserve the liberties that this nation holds dear, it is worth understanding what voting means and why voting is such an important act. The first amendment to the Constitution related to voting came in 1870, almost 100 years from the date of its ratification.  The 15th … Continued
The 19th Amendment and Suffrage in Indiana

The 19th Amendment and Suffrage in Indiana

January 16th marked the centennial anniversary of Indiana’s ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment (which would become law later in the year, in August of 1920).  A vital milestone in the evolution of equal rights, the women’s suffrage movement had existed in one form or another since the nation’s founding, but had gained particular momentum in the Reconstruction era.  Even today, it continues to resonate, influencing the shape and ideals of modern inclusivity and equal rights movements.  Hoosiers are celebrating the milestone across the state, and after a commemoration led by the Lieutenant Governor, Suzanne Crouch, on the 16th, there will be events, lectures, and travelling exhibits about women’s suffrage to learn from.  A calendar of these events as well as … Continued