history

history

Independent but Intertwined

Independent but Intertwined

On July 4th, Americans celebrate our Independence Day, and the anniversary of our declaration of ‘no more rule by redcoats’.  At the time – a mere 245 years ago – the United States and Great Britain were bitter enemies.  But today, there is a ‘Special Relationship’ between the two, and both affirm the other as their most important foreign ally.  What would become the United States was hardly the only territory that chafed under the rule of the British Empire.  The peoples of Ireland, India, China, Apartheid South Africa, Aborigines in Australia, and more had grievences with the Crown.  Immediately after the Revolutionary War, average Americans viewed Great Britain as synonymous with everything bad in the world, and vice versa.  … Continued
History of HIV/AIDS

History of HIV/AIDS

The history of AIDS, and the human immunodeficiency virus that causes it, has left a long and bloody mark on world history, moving from an academic concern, to an always-fatal but poorly understood disease, to an inflection point in civil rights, to what is now, in much of the world, a survivable chronic condition.  It has been an instrument of death and division which has cost perhaps 35 million lives. HIV was a zoonotic disease transmitted to humans from apes, mutated from the related simian immunodeficiency virus.  While the nature of its first transfer to humans remains a point of debate, it spread rapidly via unsterilized injections (commonplace in most of the regions of Africa where infected apes were known) … Continued
American protest music: a brief history

American protest music: a brief history

While Americans have always performed music, serious study of American musical forms only begins in the 20th century.  John Lomax, beginning as a graduate student at Harvard, was among the very first to take interest in traditional American music, and he began his work with “cowboy” songs, which detailed the lives of what he felt were “authentic” Americans and their experiences.  Although his viewpoint could comfortably be considered naïve today, his work, along with that of anthropologist Franz Boaz and, slightly later, poet Carl Sandburg, became the foundation for American folk music studies.  It is from folk music that the protest music movement stems.  The very first protest singer/songwriter was a Swedish immigrant, born Joel Hagglund in 1879.  After his … Continued
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