Monday, January 19, 2015

Lift Every Voice and Sing

In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, here's a lovely rendition of my favorite patriotic song:



Thanks, James Weldon Johnson, for the song, and deepest gratitude to MLK and all who have lived the words.  True patriotism always, always holds our feet to the fire.  'Til victory is won...

Monday, January 5, 2015

A Today in History/Images from the Past Hybrid: Silent Cal, Native Headgear, & the Coolidge Menagerie

President Calvin Coolidge died today in 1933.  Coolidge became president following the death of Warren Harding in 1923 and was elected in his own right in 1924.  The 30th president was legendary for a very un-modern-presidency approach toward public life: namely, he preferred to say as little as possible.  A famous tale relates his reaction to a guest who told him that her friends bet she couldn't make him say three words: "You lose."  Many textbook authors have enjoyed juxtaposing their tales of "Silent Cal" with this photo indicating that perhaps the laconic chief executive had a lighter side:


Often overlooked is the reason for this photo (and a series of other, less formal, snapshots in headdress): Coolidge signed into law the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924, granting citizenship to all Native Americans born in the United States.  Yes, prior to this date, the country's original inhabitants were not automatically regarded as U.S. citizens.  About 2/3 of Native Americans had gained citizenship through a variety of means, some of which required leaving behind traditional cultural practices (see this Oklahoma State site for more extensive information).  For making Native citizenship universal, in theory if not always in reality (see this Politico article for information on how some states continued to fight universal Native citizenship), the Sioux made Coolidge an honorary tribal member.

On a truly lighter note, Coolidge and his wife, Grace, were avid pet lovers, caring for dogs, cats, birds, and more exotic species throughout their lives.  Here's Silent Cal with his white collies, Rob Roy and Prudence Prim, on vacation in New York:



Here's Grace Coolidge with the couple's raccoon, Rebecca:


Other companions included Enoch the goose, lion cubs named Tax Reduction and Budget Bureau, Ebenezer the donkey and a host of domestic cats.  For a complete list, as well as credits for both pet photos above, see the Web site of the Presidential Pet Museum.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Link: breaking the NFL color barrier

Interesting link to a new documentary on the first four African American NFL players to break the color barrier imposed between 1933 and 1946 -- a year before Jackie Robinson famously began the process of dismantling segregation in Major League Baseball.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Interesting Resource Link: Political Cartoons of Clifford Berryman

I haven't had a chance to look through the entire online exhibit yet, but I just came across a cool Web site devoted to the cartoons of Clifford Berryman, who drew political cartoons first for the Washington Post (1896-1907) and then the Washington Evening Star (1907-1949).  I enjoy using political cartoons to illustrate lectures, as they often convey essential truths about an era better than any other medium I might choose.  Nice to be aware of this resource for future reference.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Today in History: Civil War

Union forces entered Atlanta, Georgia, on this date in 1864.  Atlanta's status as a railroad link made this Union victory especially significant; General William Sherman embarked upon from Atlanta upon his famous March to the Sea.

In lieu of the historical photo posting I missed yesterday (ah, Labor Day, in my life you are a day filled with labor), here's a great 1950s-era soap commercial I found while looking up newsreel footage for class.  Useful preparation for the next time you find yourself "showing off your trousseau":

Friday, August 29, 2014

World War I in Britain, Then and Now

Take a look at this interactive Web site contrasting historical photos taken in Britain during World War I with contemporary street views.  Fascinating!  The site was created by a British real estate company, of all things.  I was struck by the continuity in many of these photos, even where structures suffered significant bomb damage.  I would love to see a comparable time-lapse comparison of, say, streets in Los Angeles.  If you've come across something similar in your travels through the ether, let me know; if I come across anything like that I will post it here.