Category Archives: Historical

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

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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

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Unsung Heroes — Mary Edwards Walker

If you are looking for a hero, especially if you’re a girl, you might consider Mary Edwards Walker.   Born on November 26, 1832, in Oswego, New York,  she was a nurse, doctor, woman’s rights activist, abolitionist, prohibitionist, alleged spy, and prisoner of war during the American Civil War.  She became the first, and as

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Belated Thoughts on MLK Day

Has Martin Luther King, Jr. Day become just another holiday? I suppose it depends on one’s perspective.  I’ve occasionally been asked about the civil-rights era when I substitute teach, and during the 1960s I was always on the sidelines.  I grew up in an area that was almost exclusively white, and had no real exposure

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When Henry Ford Paid a Living Wage

If you like obscure anniversaries, on January 5, 1914, Henry Ford announced he would start paying his workers $5 for an eight-hour workday, an increase from an average of $2.34 for a nine-hour workday. The resulting reaction was not what you might expect.  Some thought he was crazy.  The Wall Street Journal editorialized that he

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Happy Birthday, Jacob Grimm

January 4th is the birthday of Jacob Grimm of Grimm Fairy Tales fame,  Jacob being the elder. He was born in Hanau, Germany in 1785.  According to The Writers”Almanac, He and his brother volunteered to help some friends gather oral folktales for a research project. The Grimms did such a great job that one of their friends suggested

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“How to Travel While Black”

Yesterday I mentioned some obsolete words associated with slavery.  Today I have another one. It didn’t used to be easy to travel through a segregated country when you were a minority.  So in 1936 an enterprising postal worker named Victor Hugo Green began publishing a guide for black travelers. Originally called the Negro Motorist Green Book,

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Echoes of Slavery Through Language

What is a coffle? It’s an obsolete (I hope) word that means a group of  enslaved people chained together in a line.  It was commonly used by slavers in the 18th and 19th centuries when they moved  slaves long distances. Coffle, like slavepen and overseer (person on a plantation paid a wage to organize the work

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