Category Archives: Historical

“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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Happy Birthday, Ellis Island

I’ve been catching up on my reading, and I realized we’ve just passed another interesting anniversary. Ellis Island formally closed on November 12, 1954.  I visited the island while chaperoning a middle-school educational trip to New York City about 15 years ago and got to see the museum.  More than 12 million immigrants passed through its gates in

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The Story of Otto Weidt

When we think of the Holocaust, we tend to focus on the number dead.  But there were a surprising number of resisters.  They were brave individuals who normally get forgotten by the history books.  It’s our duty to make sure they’re remembered. I’m sure you’ve heard of Oskar Schlindler and Raoul Wallenberg. Their cases have been

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Some Thoughts About Berlin

Did anyone miss me?  I have been traveling for two weeks — to Berlin, Germany to run a marathon and on the Los Angeles for a Disneyana Fan Club special event.  I didn’t mention this beforehand because I don’t like to publicize my travel plans.  I’m going to share most of my travel stories on

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The Little Things in History

Many times in history, it’s the little things that are critical.  You may know about how at the Battle of Gettysburg, Union General G. K. Warren found a critical spot in the Union line that was unoccupied and organized its defense on his own initiative.  Otherwise, the battle could’ve been lost.  Also in that battle,

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Strangest Story of World War II

There are a lot of strange stories from World War II.  My favorite is the Dam Busters (http://www.dambusters.org.uk/) — the attempt to flood the Ruhr Valley by breeching upstream dams with bouncing bombs.  (Hey, it was a partial success!) Now a friend has told me of an even stranger story  —  The only time the

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Happy 4th of July

If you really want to learn about the 4th of July, I would recommend “Fun Facts for July 4” at the Washington Post website. http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2014/07/03/fun-facts-for-july-4/ For example, three of the first five U.S. presidents died on July 4.  John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died in 1826, the 50th anniversary of the country’s birth.  (Adams’ last words were

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Forgotten History — Nazi Summer Camp

So much of history never makes it into your standard textbooks.  For example, we know there are prisoners in every war.  Yet unless something catastrophic happens, like the high death rate at Andersonville, Georgia in the American Civil War or “brainwashing” in the Korean War, these stories are usually forgotten. That’s why a podcast about World

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