Category Archives: Historical

The History of Political Correctness

I can’t remember when I first heard the phrase “political correctness”.   Certainly it has an unfortunate reputation now; I have a friend who equates it with original sin. But if you define it as being appropriate for the circumstances, political correctness goes back a long way.  I’ve recently read a “Verbal Energy” column by

Read More

Where History Comes From, Part 2385

How much of history can you trust?  As a history nerd, I’ve thought about this often (at least 2384 previous times).   I usually end up pondering some of my favorite quotes — “History will be kind to me for I intend to write it”  —  Sir Winston Churchill “History is the version of past events

Read More

Some Facts About the 4th of July

I hope everyone enjoyed their 4th of July.  After the parades, cookouts and fireworks, I came across some interesting details about the holiday, courtesy of the daily email from The Writer’s Almanac — [July 4th] marks the day in 1776 when the Continental Congress approved the Declaration of Independence from Great Britain. The document was

Read More

In Praise of Unsung Heroes

A major problem with studying history is you have to dig to get the real story.  So much gets left out of the standard history books. One of my favorite examples is Rosalind Franklin, whose pioneering work in X-ray crystallography enabled James Watson, Francis Crick, and their colleague Maurice Wilkins to discover the structure of

Read More

A Reminder of the Automobile’s Impact

Yesterday my hometown of Pleasant Hill, Ohio celebrated its sesquicentennial. (Actually I grew up on a farm five miles from the nearest town, but this is where I went to school, so close enough.)  Looking at old pictures on display, some from over a century ago, brought back a lot of memories… and some surprises.  

Read More

Happy Birthday, Niccolò Machiavelli

Somehow in this political year it seems fitting to write about Machiavelli, famously the author of The Prince.  He was born in Florence, Italy, on May 3, 1469, into one of the prominent merchant families of this city-state.  However, the family was not wealthy, and financial worries would dog Niccolo throughout his life.  He became

Read More

How Many Slaves Tried to Run Away?

I was in the classroom earlier this week as an aide in some middle school social studies classes, and they were studying the Underground Railroad.  All this week they were watching a movie entitled Race to Freedom about slaves trying to make it to Canada.  We hear so much about the Underground Railroad, and movies

Read More

A Visit to Hiroshima

As a history nerd, I jumped at the chance to visit Hiroshima during my recent trip to Japan. Today, Hiroshima is a modern, vibrant city. But the past is being brought to vivid reality by the Peace Memorial Park, which is on an island  between the Honkawa and Motoyasu-gawa Rivers, and the Atomic Bomb Dome

Read More

Who’s First? (Seriously)

Were the Wright Brothers really the first to fly an airplane?  They’re given credit, and they certainly advanced aviation, forming their own company and continuing their research.  But there are other claimants.  (A good article summarizing those claims is at http://www.airspacemag.com/history-of-flight/who-flew-first-290750/?no-ist.  And I still consider the Wright Brothers to be first.) James Watt is associated with

Read More