Keep Mum: WPA Posters Do the Talking

25 Jun

Indian court, Federal Building, Golden Gate International Exposition, San Francisco, 1939 Pomo Indian basket, California /

At the Library of Congress, Kristi Finefield reminds us of WPA poster art:

Artists working for the Federal Art Project (FAP), a part of the Work Projects Administration (WPA), created thousands of posters between 1936 and 1943. The posters took on all manner of topics: public health and safety, cultural events and exhibitions, education, tourism, and wartime warnings, to name a few. Only a small percentage of those posters survive, and today they continue to deliver their messages with strong graphics and few words.

With that in mind, it seems only fair that I let the posters do the rest of the talking, while I keep mum!

See some examples here: Keep Mum: WPA Posters Do the Talking | Picture This: Library of Congress Prints & Photos.

That Flag Again: The Meanings of the Confederate Flag and Iconography | JSTOR Daily

24 Jun

At JSTOR Daily, Matthew Wills provides some concise background to the Confederate battle flag and its more recent use. For his post, and links to two articles, see here: That Flag Again: The Meanings of the Confederate Flag and Iconography | JSTOR Daily.

Cutting the liberal arts undermines our cultural traditions – The Washington Post

23 Jun

Despite common perception, the university is a profoundly conservative institution whose core value remains the preservation of the cultures and traditions of the past. Permit the utilitarian winds of today to blow unchecked, and tomorrow we will wake up with our cultural heritage in shreds.

To paraphrase John Donne, every German department’s death diminishes me.

As a historian, I find much to agree with in the words of Kathryn Lynch, an English professor as well as a dean at Wellesley College (see above).

The immediate issue that brings her words is the proposal to weaken tenure at the University of Wisconsin campuses. However, tenure is not the real issue, according to her; rather, it is the value of the seemingly useless humanities. Read her entire essay here: Cutting the liberal arts undermines our cultural traditions – The Washington Post.

Kennewick Man a Native American, DNA Research Says

22 Jun

The skeletal remains of an 8,500 year old man found in Washington in 1996 have recently undergone DNA sequencing, revealing for the first time that he was a member of an indigenous Native American population.

To read the rest of David DeMar’s summary of the Kennewick Man at NewHistorian, see here: Kennewick Man a Native American, DNA Research Says.

The Charleston Shooting and the Potent Symbol of the Black Church in America

19 Jun

Last night, Dylann Storm Roof entered the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston, South Carolina, sat through an hour-long meeting, and then opened fire on those in attendance. Reverend Clementa Pinckney, a state senator, was among nine individuals who were killed. Many are shocked at not only the grisly nature of the shooting, but also its location. “There is no greater coward,” Cornell William Brooks, president of the N.A.A.C.P, declared in a statement, “than a criminal who enters a house of God and slaughters innocent people engaged in the study of scripture.” Yet this experience is unfortunately, and infuriatingly, far from new: while black churches have long been seen as a powerful symbol of African American community, they have also served as a flashpoint for hatred from those who fear black solidarity, and as a result these edifices have been the location for many of our nation’s most egregious racial terrorist acts.

So begins a fine historical background piece by Benjamin Park on Emanuel Church, Charleston. You can read the entire piece at Junto, a blog on by historians on “early America”: The Charleston Shooting and the Potent Symbol of the Black Church in America « The Junto.

The Battle of Waterloo and things Napoleonic

18 Jun

His Royal Highness the Prince of Orange with his arm in a sling after being wounded in the battle of Waterloo. 1816. European Division.

Today is the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, where the self-styled Emperor of France met his final defeat. Taru  Spiegel of the Library of Congress has a brief discussion of the event and of various Napoleonic (or Napoleonic-related) items in the Library’s holdings. Of particular note is a Dutch connection … which you can read about in Spiegel’s post here: The Battle of Waterloo | Library of Congress Blog.

Review of Stephen Siff, “Acid Hype: American News Media and the Psychedelic Experience”

17 Jun

Journalist Stephen Siff has a new book out on journalism’s coverage of “acid” through the Sixties. Scott McLemee at Inside Higher Ed provides a fascinating review of Siff’s book here: Review of Stephen Siff, “Acid Hype: American News Media and the Psychedelic Experience” | InsideHigherEd.

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