Thursday, January 31, 2008

Review Jeopardy and Radio Stories

Here is a link to the Progressive Era Review Jeopardy game from my page at the SBS website. (The picture was taken at a college golf tournament in Santa Barbara, California. I shot 71 and 72 that day, and pardon the pun, but ballooned to a 78 in windy conditions the next day in the final round.)

In other news, this week National Public Radio aired several stories that relate broadly to Helen Keller, her history, and her legacy.

1. Listen here about a man who sees yet is without vision.

2. Check out this story about sight technology for the blind.
I've witnessed this technology at work. While working on my Master's degree, I was the graduate assistant in 2000 for Dr. Stan McGowen, a history professor who is visually impaired. I'd read student essay exams to him, open and read his mail to him, and simply just talk history with him. Stan lost his sight in a flying accident (he was a test pilot with the Army), and then went on to finish a Master's degree and Ph.D. degree at Texas Christian University in history while blind. He published his first book with Texas A&M University Press and another book on the history of helicopters, and another book on Vietnam. Also, he is an activist for those with visual impairment; read the story here and here. Stan also recently won a humanitarian award.

3. Finally, listen to this story about a deaf woman who still hears sounds.

Any thoughts?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Nooses in the News 2.0

Historian of race and religion Edward J. Blum (San Diego State University) recently reviewed a new book on lynching photography in "Arts & Letters" section of the New York Sun.

Perhaps the most well-known book on lynching photography is Without Sanctuary, but the book by Apel and Smith that Blum reviews sounds interesting as well and will surely initiate new conversation. Blum's review mentions that Lynching Photographs discusses formative moments in the visual history of lynching; we will discuss two of these events later on during the year: the murder of Emmett Till and the murder of James Byrd, Jr. in 1998, a resident of Jasper, Texas.

[Photo credit here.]

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Raking Muck with Upton Sinclair

Upton Sinclair (1878-1968), similar to W.E.B. Du Bois and Helen Keller, is a complicated and interesting historical figure, worthy of serious reflection.

Sinclair is probably best known for his muckraking work in the novel The Jungle. Yet he wrote much more, including a book on early 20th century religion, as well as other novels critical of trends, ideas, and practices of his time and place. Once a member of the socialist party, Sinclair joined the Democratic party so he could run for governor of California in 1934.

Here is Sinclair's American Writer's page, another page about teaching Sinclair, and his PAL page. Here is Sinclair on the radio. Sinclair's papers reside in the Lily Library at Indiana University.

There were several commemorations of Sinclair's 1906 book The Jungle in 2006: read one, and then another.

The most recent biography of Sinclair is Radical Innocent (2006), and another important book also published recently is Upton Sinclair and the Other American Century (2006). the movie "There Will be Blood" is based on Sinclair's 1927 novel Oil!.

[Photo credit here.]

Monday, January 28, 2008

Jacob Riis in the House

Follow this link to read a part of How the Other Half Lives. As a reminder, bring a hard copy to class with all 6 questions answered. We will compare and contrast Riis with Upton Sinclair's work.

[Photo credit here.]

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Helen Keller

One of the most important reformers during the Progressive era was Helen Keller (1880-1968). Well known for learning how to communicate despite visual and auditory impairments, Keller wrote books, went on speaking tours (with her teacher Anne Sullivan) and worked tirelessly on behalf of the blind, founding Helen Keller International. Keller's activism and convictions aligned her with socialist causes during her lifetime, and she was a member of the Industrial Worker's of the World, or "Wobblies."

Keller's papers are at the American Foundation for the Blind. This collection houses photographs, artifacts and awards from Keller's life, and documents and writing. Of particular interest are her comments about World War I, a letter to Woodrow Wilson, reflections on faith (read her exchanges with Mark Twain on this page too), and thoughts on education.

Also read her statement from "This I Believe" (1951), learn more about her work on behalf of women, and her thoughts about the senses.

There is an on-line HK kid's museum, a web presence for Ivy Green, Keller's birthplace, and a page for a women's hall of fame. There is even a Helen Keller Festival in Alabama. Check out her wikiquote page as well. Read an interview with Keller here, and watch video clips about Keller here and here and here.

Famous writings include an autobiography The Story of My Life (1903)--published the same year as The Souls of Black Folk--as well as "The World I Live In" (1908). Keller also published writing on socialism, "Out of the Dark" (1913), and a book on her Christian faith titled My Religion (1927). Many of her writings are available on-line here and here. A page devoted to her engagement with socialism is here. Similar to Du Bois, the FBI investigated the activities of Keller. Check out the file here. About how society remembers Keller, read this fascinating article.

Interestingly enough, W.E.B. Du Bois met Helen Keller in Roxbury, Massachusetts, while he was a student at Harvard. "Perhaps just because she was blind to color differences in this world," Du Bois wrote in 1931, "I became intensely interested in her, and all through my life I have followed her career."

Du Bois goes on to tell a story where when Keller once visited her home state of Alabama she "courageously and frankly...spoke out on the iniquity and foolishness of the color line. It cost her something to speak. They wanted her to retract, but she sat serene in the consciousness of the truth she had uttered. And so it was proven, as I knew it would be, that his woman who sits in darkness has a spiritual insight clearer that that of many wide-eyed people who stare uncomprehendingly at this prejudiced world" (Herbert Aptheker, ed., Writings by W.E.B. Du Bois in Non-Periodical Literature [1982], p. 164).

Who is Helen Keller, and how much, if at all, has your view about her changed as a result of reading some of the things she said? Why? If you could ask Keller one question about her life, what would it be?

Read and respond by 7:50am, Tuesday 1/29.

[Photo credit here.]

Monday, January 21, 2008

$how Me The Money: Gilded Age Review Jeopardy

Play the game again, and review for tomorrow's exam. Find it at my SBS page (teacher directory) here.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Nooses in the News: Why History Matters

Symbols have power. Symbols have meaning. Symbols have a context. Symbols have histories. Behold the noose.

Nooses have been in the news--again. Most recently a white, female golf commentator made a reference to Tiger Woods and lynching, a statement that got some media attention and led to a two-week suspension for the sportscaster. The South Carolina native and Duke graduate apparently didn't know or remember the history of lynching; an unfortunate word choice--its history, its symbol, its power--sparked significant controversy. And then, the golf publication Golfweek put a picture of a noose on the cover of a recent issue that dealt with the Tiger Woods story. Read more about these stories from this local blogger, and read these very interesting posts (and here) from the blog of Edward Gilbreath. Professional golfer Jim Thorpe offers commentary and perspective here.

This is of course another instance of why history matters, and why the teaching of history matters so much.

Then there were the many stories about the "Jena 6" from Louisiana, where race, class, and the South's (and that nation's) history converged, most notably on a day of national protest last fall. The fact is, Jena (or at least the news coverage of it) overshadowed many other "noose incidents" in 2007. Read here about Columbia University, here about the Coast Guard, and, from a Houston suburb, Pearland, here. A Washington Post article details other incidents here, and a New York Times opinion piece provides a map of recent incidents (see map above).

As many readers will remember, some of our recent study of Jim Crow America focused on lynching and its history. The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow documentary has a companion website with helpful maps, and the authors of Without Sanctuary created an on-line documentary of their book.

And perhaps most notably, the W.E.B. Du Bois Crisis essay "The Son of God" (1933) we read contains an important scene where the carpenter Joshua is lynched for his teaching, and for the power of his message of liberation, equality, and justice. You will recall, Mary, his mother, saying: "Behold the Sign of Salvation--a noosed rope." Here, Du Bois creatively and powerfully writes redemptive power into a symbol of death--a true prophet.

Yet, there's more to this history. The theologian James Cone recently appeared on the Bill Moyers Journal and powerfully discussed the intersections between lynching, race, religion and history. The historian Donald Matthews published a three-part article on lynching a few years back, and Edward J. Blum covers lynching, race, and religion in one chapter of his recent book on Du Bois.

For a musical and lyrical expression of lynching, its history, its tragedy, its sorrow, and its power, listen to Billie Holiday's "Strange Fruit." Read about the song and find the lyrics here.

[Photo credit here.]

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Du Bois's Life and Times

To add to our current discussion about the life and times of W.E.B. Du Bois (1868-1963), I offer the following links to articles, essays, primary documents, and interviews to move the conversation along.

Start here with a short biographical sketch of Du Bois, and a photo-text exhibit on Du Bois's life.

The University of Massachusetts-Amherts contains the largest collection of Du Bois's papers, and hosts an on-line repository with tons of pictures and a large number of documents. In fact, the Afro-American studies department at UMass-Amherst takes it name from Du Bois. Here's another collection of things Du Bois (click on the animated map--a cool feature of the site), and a short summary of his early life in Great Barrington.

Here's a report about the history of Du Bois's Encyclopedia Africana project, another project related to Du Bois's encyclopedia idea, and some pictures from Du Bois landmarks in Ghana.

I mentioned in the Du Bois lecture that he spent time studying in Germany. Read some thoughts about that here, and read Du Bois's musings on the "talented tenth." Read this interesting exchange between two scholars about Du Bois's posture toward Joseph Stalin.

There's the W.E.B. Du Bois Virtual University, Professor Robert Williams's fabulous repository of Du Bois resources, the resources page at the W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies at UMass-Amherst, Dr. Steven Hale's Du Bois on-line selections, resources from the Documenting the American South project, the Perspectives in American Literature (PAL) page, the reading room at Harvard's Du Bois Institute, documents from the FBI files of Du Bois (though redacted), Du Bois's New York Times featured author page (subscription required), the e-project at the University of Virginia Library (scroll down for Du Bois), and in other various places Paul Harvey points out.

Another interesting site comes from Dr. Richard Rath, a historian who does sensory history among other things, teaches at the U. of Hawaii and with some students developed a kind of soundtrack to Souls of Black Folk. It is amazingly cool, and a helpful resource in teaching. Check it out here.

Other on-line readings from Du Bois include Darkwater (1920) which includes an interesting story titled “Jesus Christ in Texas.” Du Bois's “A Litany at Atlanta” is a psalm of lament written in response to the 1906 Atlanta riot that we talked about in class. Another interesting piece from Darkwater is "The Souls of White Folk" with clear references to World War I, among other things.

In 2007 two bloggers interviewed Edward J. Blum, a scholar of W.E.B. Du Bois who published an important book titled W.E.B. Du Bois, American Prophet. (Be sure to read the customer review of Ed's book, as well as this recent review.) You will learn more about Du Bois, of course, but also tons about how historians tells stories about the past, and how professors and teachers teach history. Read one interview here, and the other 7-part conversation below.
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7

Ed has also written a few things for the University of Pennsylvania Press blog. Here's a piece about how Du Bois might respond to several contemporary high-profile atheists--interestingly enough a charge leveled many times over at Du Bois himself. Here's an editorial wherein Blum offers political advice to Barak Obama and the Democratic Party via the work of Du Bois. Finally, here's an entry celebrating Du Bois's birthday.

And speaking of birthdays.....since mine is coming up (as is Du Bois's on Feb. 23), I can't help but mention two interesting gift ideas-- I mean teaching aids: a W.E.B. Du Bois doll (seriously), and a Du Bois t-shirt.

[Photo credit here.]

The Great Debaters

Per class discussions about Jim Crow America, here are a few links to items related to the movie The Great Debaters. If you've seen the movie--or when you do--leave your comments.

Assess the film for historical accuracy, dramatic and cinematic production, and/or relate it to class discussions. To what extent did this dramatization--based on a true story--contribute to, challenge, or refine your understanding of American history?

For the IMDB, click here. Find a review article from the Atlanta archdiocese here, and read an article about one of the actual people on which the film was based. Finally, here's an article from Wiley College (a school in Texas), the school whose debate team was victorious in a national competition.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

History SMARTs in Room 3103

Here's a picture from Friday's unveiling of the SMART board. SMART technologies is based in Canada, and you can read more about the company here.

What do you think of the SMART board, and how useful is it for history class? What ideas of your own can you offer for how we can better use it in history?

Read more about the photographer here.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The History of Jim Crow

American writer and author James Baldwin (1924-1987) once said: "American history is longer, larger, more various, more beautiful, and more terrible than anything anyone has ever said about it."

This post provides additional on-line resources to compliment class discussions about the history of Jim Crow.

The first link will take you to the website of the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia at Ferris State University in Michigan. Dr. John Thorpe is the Museum Director and Dr. David Pilgrim is the Curator.

Read about the museum here, and more about the history of Jim Crow here and here. In short, this museum seeks to collect artifacts from the Jim Crow period, promote critical scholarly analysis, and offer teaching resources for education and racial healing.

The museum has a traveling exhibit, "Hateful Things," and you can view selected images from the exhibit here and here.

In addition to class discussions about the museum, its aims, and the power of historical memory, we will also view selected scenes from the documentary "The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow." See the stories and links pages also. In class we will examine the geography of Jim Crow at this page, and trace out its history here.

[Photo credit here.]

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Gilded Age

The following are key terms for Ch. 24, and some of the terms correspond to the reading on pp. 530-39. We will address Jim Crow in class tomorrow, but be sure to have pp. 512-513 read before you come to class.

These terms will constitute part of your study guide for the exam.
Tomorrow be prepared to discuss terms relevant to pp. 530-39.


Union Pacific Railroad
Central Pacific Railroad
Transcontinental Railroad
Leland Stanford
Collis P. Huntington
James J. Hill
Northern Pacific Railroad
Southern Pacific Railroad
Cornelius Vanderbilt
4 time zones
Bessemer process
Interstate Commerce Act
Interstate Commerce Commission
Thomas Edison
A.G. Bell
Andrew Carnegie
J.P. Morgan
John D. Rockefeller
Vertical Integration
Horizontal Integration
U.S. Steel Corporation
Standard Oil Company
Gospel of Wealth
Sherman Anti-Trust Act
James Buchanan Duke
Women and the Industrial Revolution
National Labor Union
Colored National Labor Union
Mother Jones
Knights of Labor
Haymarket Square
Samuel Gompers
Assembly Line
American Federation of Labor
Labor Day
American Industry, 1900 (map, p. 547)

[Photo credit here.]

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Painting the Past: The Gilded Age and Progressive Eras

Welcome back and Happy New Year!

In addition to the social and political changes of the Gilded Age and Progressive Eras, the artwork of the time sheds light on trends, ideas, and events. Check out the some of the painting here, and follow these links to learn more.

Pick one (1) artist and painting that intrigues, mystifies, or inspires you, and explain why. Comment by Tuesday, January 8, 7:50am.