US Army Evicts Bonus Marchers

27 Jul

On 28th July, 1932, the US Army forcibly evicted Bonus Marchers from the protest camp they had set up in Washington D.C. Coming in the middle of the Great Depression, the event was taken as further evidence that President Herbert Hoover had no sympathy for the plight of the poorest in American society.

Daryl Worthington (his words are above) at New Historian provides a concise overview of a symbolically potent event of 83 years ago with an Iowa tie (Herbert Hoover). You can read Worthington’s entire piece here: US Army Evicts Bonus Marchers.

A nurse’s letter from Gallipoli, 27 July 1915

27 Jul
Australian troops charge near a Turkish trench, Gallipoli Peninsula, Turkey, 1915.

Australian troops charge near a Turkish trench, Gallipoli Peninsula, Turkey, 1915. Photograph: British Official/Corbis

It’s a charming trip going up to Gallipoli. We pass amongst little islands, and the sunsets and the twilights are lovely. It’s all very charming until you come round – and the bursting of shells, the cracking of machine guns, and rifle fire make you realise what war is. All night long it never ceases. But we are so busy that after a time one grows indifferent except when something unusual takes place.

So writes a nurse in a letter from the front in 1915. You can read more of the letter here at the Guardian‘s archive: A nurse’s letter from Gallipoli: from the archive, 27 July 1915 | World news | The Guardian.

What’s in a Name? Religious Nones and the American Religious Landscape

27 Jul

Over the last several years the term religious “Nones” has become a major topic of discussion and analysis by those who pay attention to religious trends. Although the term dates back at least to the 1960s, based on its current usage and popularization, it would appear as though it is a completely new designation for a growing segment of the American population—those who are unaffiliated with any religious group.

So begins a thoughtful post by Richard Flory at Religion Dispatches. It leads me to wonder whether the rise in religious “Nones” parallels–and is connected to–the rise in political “independents.” That is, is formal, institutional religion being more and more perceived as partisan (literally as well as figuratively)–and partisan as less and less desirable for more and more people?

See what you think from Flory’s discussion: What’s in a Name? Religious Nones and the American Religious Landscape | Religion Dispatches.

The Death of the Midwest: Garrison Keillor’s Impending Retirement as a Wake for Midwestern Regionalism

25 Jul

Originally posted on Northwest Iowa Center for Regional Studies:

In the first paragraph on the first page of his first book, in the wind-up for a tale about a private eye (not Guy Noir) who shakes down tycoons for grant money to bestow upon artists, Garrison Keillor alludes to what would be his central significance to American letters. His hero, the grizzled sleuth Jack Schmidt, is returning to Minneapolis after “two days attending a conference on Midwestern regionalism.” The story is sly and meandering and funny and typifies Keillor and his 40 years of story-writing and story-telling and there, prominently on display in the opening scene of his first book, is the key to Keillor’s place in American culture: Midwestern regionalism. It’s a dying art form and, with Keillor’s contemplation of retirement, its final passing may be imminent. (Keillor announced he was retiring in 2013, but later changed his mind.)

So begins a fine essay on Garison Keillor and…

View original 39 more words

Where did the first Americans come from? New clues from new studies.

25 Jul

There are two new papers out  now with genetic research bearing on the geographic origins of the first residents of the Western Hemisphere.

You can read a fine summary of the arguments by Joseph Dussault at the Christian Science Monitor here: Where did the first Americans come from? New clues from new studies. – CSMonitor.com.

Reconfiguring Protestantism and Minorities: A Review Essay

23 Jul

For those who might find it of interest, my latest publication is now out: a review essay. “Reconfiguring Protestantism and Minorities: A Review Essay” considers three books–one on American Indian Pentecostals, one on Latino Pentecostals, and one on Latino Mennonites. It appears in The Annals of Iowa 74 (Summer 2015): 314-320. (In the pdf link, the pages are prepublication ones.)

Some Historical Perspective and Questions on Marriage

20 Jul

The recent U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage is rippling through American society–and will no doubt continue to do so for some time.

Two recent blog posts raise some important historical perspectives (directly or indirectly), and I thus call your attention to them here.

First, my colleague Rebecca Koerselman, a professor of American historian at Northwestern College, notes some of the changes in marriage in the U.S. in last few centuries, and points to the tension between marriage as a religious covenant and marriage as a civil contract: Marriage: Defined by the State or by Religion?

Second, William E. Smith III, a professor of Religious Studies at Indiana University, makes a persuasive case that we need to start considering whether polygamy and other multiple-consenting-partner relationships can be considered marriage: Who’s Scared of Polygamy? A Restrained Case for the “Slippery Slope” Argument.

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