Historically Thinking सार्वजनिक
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When the Massachusetts Historical Society was founded in 1791, its august members probably did not anticipate that one day its archives would contain not only family papers, but family dresses–as well as waistcoats, wigs, and at least two scarlet cloaks worn by fashionable men in the late eighteenth century.Kimberley Alexander (who is Director of M…
 
On April 11, 1865, Abraham Lincoln addressed a crowd gathered outside the White House. He spoke not of recent victories, or those to come, but to the shape of the peace that would follow. Now that the Thirteenth Amendment had been passed by Congress, he urged that it be ratified. Moreover, it seemed to him, Lincoln said, that it was necessary for “…
 
At the end of the 19th century, Amsterdam was home to nearly seventy diamond factories, in which were 7,500 steam-powered polishing mills. The workers who cut and polished the diamonds, brought there from the mines of South Africa, were not all Jewish–but many of them were. Indeed, in the late 1890s Jews were about 10% of the population of Amsterda…
 
It is perhaps the greatest scandal and sea-story of the first half of 19th Century America that nearly everyone has forgotten. It led to a court martial, endless headlines, a fistfight in a meeting of the President’s cabinet, and quite possibly to the foundation of the United States Naval Academy. And given that nearly everyone who went to see in t…
 
In late November, 1864, David R. Snelling visited his uncle, who then lived in Baldwin County near Milledgeville, Georgia. As a boy, he had worked in his uncle’s fields alongside those his uncle enslaved. Now Snelling returned home as a Lieutenant in the Army of the United States, commanding Company I of the First Alabama Cavalry–though detached on…
 
My guest today is Dr. Ben Jones, Director of the South Dakota State Historical Society and the South Dakota State Historian. Ben Jones served for 23 years in the United States Air Force, attaining the rank of lieutenant colonel. During his service he taught at the Air Force Academy. Subsequently he was dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at So…
 
For over a generation the history of the American West has been described by scholars as one of violence, including genocide, ethnic-cleansing, and settler colonialism. While it replaced an older history which spoke of “winning the West” and the triumph of civilization, curiously enough both the old and the now aging histories of the west focused o…
 
In 1780, captured American naval officer Joshua Barney escaped from prison in Plymouth, made his way to London, and with the help of some English sympathizers to the American Revolution was able to take the ferry to Ostend, the principal port of the Austrian Netherlands. During his journey he struck up an acquaintance with an Italian noblewoman aft…
 
In 1776 a massive British fleet of more than 400 ships carrying tens of thousands of soldiers arrived outside New York Harbor. Many of these soldiers were German, hired from their princes by the British government. Americans then and now have called them Hessians. For the next seven years, these German soldiers marched, fought, and suffered seeming…
 
The history of the ancient Near East can seem like staring down a deep, deep well of time, so deep that it gives one vertigo. It stretches back to 3,500 BC: that is, I’ll do the math for you, 5,522 years ago. In thinking about its 3,000 years of history, one begins to think not in terms of years, but in decades and centuries.Yet there were continui…
 
At her 80th birthday party Agatha Christie described a conversation she had once overheard about herself. She had been ona train, and there listened to two ladies talking about her, copies of her latest mystery perched on both their knees. “I hear,” said one, “that she drinks like a fish.”Christie’s latest biographer Lucy Worsley begins her new boo…
 
If we know Mikhail Ilarionovich Golenischev-Kutuzov, we know him as Tolstoy imagined him, as an old man, before Austerlitz, “with his uniform unbuttoned so that his fat neck bulged over his collar if escaping… in a low chair with his podgy old hands resting symmetrically on its arms'' who begins to snore loudly and rhythmically as his generals plan…
 
For centuries the Kingdom of England faced northeast, across the northern seas towards Scandinavia. Indeed, under King Canute, England was part of Scandinavia. But with the Norman invasion–even though the Normans were eponymously “North-men”–that changed dramatically. Within a few decades, the French and English royal trees began to intertwine, to …
 
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