History

Mapping Migration in the United States

The New York Times has published an interesting series of maps of the United States showing where the residents of each state were born. It shows the percentage of natives of each state, along with the other states where people were born and also the percentage of residents who were born outside the U.S. Within a state, larger shapes mean a group makes up a larger share of the population. The map shows data from 1900, 1950, and 2012.

Those born in Louisiana must really enjoy living there as 79% of the Louisiana residents of 2012 were also born there. Only 36% of the Floridians are native born, which should surprise no one.

700+ Hours of Moving Film Footage from the Great War Now Online

More than 700 hours of moving film footage from the great war has been newly released online for the first time, in a joint European project involving the UK’s Imperial War Museum. The footage, available on the Imperial War Museum website, has been released online for the first time. You can learn more at http://www.iwm.org.uk/exhibitions/iwm-london/first-world-war-galleries and in a video at http://bcove.me/hfedsjvf.

The Great Colonial Hurricane of August 1635

As we enter the hurricane season in the Northern Hemisphere, perhaps we should stop and think a bit about hurricanes that affected our ancestors. They had no Weather Channel, no special live reports from the scene and, indeed, no advance warning at all. In fact, for centuries nobody knew that storms moved. The transplanted Europeans of the 1600s knew almost nothing of hurricanes, an entirely foreign phenomenon. They thought storms happened in only one place and were caused by an angry God. Their fears of approaching death were reinforced when a lunar eclipse followed the natural disaster.

The Great Colonial Hurricane of August 1635 most likely was a category 3.5 hurricane that probably stayed off the Atlantic coast, causing little damage, until it got to New England. Colonists often wrote about weather in their journals. The first recorded mention of the Great Colonial Hurricane was on August 24, 1635, at the Virginia Colony at Jamestown. It was mentioned as a big storm in journals of the early residents but no major damage was reported. Today’s historians are guessing that the eye of the hurricane probably passed east of Jamestown, well out to sea. It then most likely passed over uninhabited easternmost Long Island before moving north into New England.

Are These YOUR Ancestors? Faces of Medieval Scots Digitally Reconstructed.

The skeletons of almost 400 men, women and children from between the 15th and the 18th century, whose remains were unearthed in a cemetery five years ago, have been brought back to life thanks to digital faces created by forensic artists. By examining the remains, experts from the University of Dundee have revealed how the individuals lived and died, as well as what some of them would have looked like.

Scientists used forensic modelling to work out the shape of facial muscles and tissues, before using a computer programme to rebuild three of the people’s faces, which look strikingly modern.

The World’s First Mobile Phone?

According to an article in The Daily Mail, Philadelphia experimenter W W McFarlane invented a mobile telephone in 1920 that required three pieces of stove pipe stuck to a board as an aerial. It reportedly worked over a range of up to 500 yards.

I find it interesting that the person talking on the “telephone” in the above picture was not driving. I wish people today would not drive and talk on the phone simultaneously.

Child Migrants Have Been Coming to America Alone Since Ellis Island

Barry Moreno, a librarian at the Ellis Island Immigration Museum and author of the book Children of Ellis Island, is quoted in an article about unaccompanied children who immigrated to America. The Immigration Act of 1907 declared that unaccompanied children under 16 were not permitted to enter in the normal fashion. But it didn’t send them packing, either. Instead, the act set up a system in which unaccompanied children — many of whom were orphans — were kept in detention awaiting a special inquiry with immigration inspectors to determine their fate. At these hearings, local missionaries, synagogues, immigrant aid societies and private citizens would often step in and offer to take guardianship of the child, says Moreno.

One of these children may have gown up to become your ancestor. You can read the interesting story, written by Tasneem Raja, in the Moyer & Company web site at http://goo.gl/rhGBRx.

Looking for Descendants of a World War I Glasgow Kilt Maker

Economic historian Dr Helen Paul, of the University of Southampton, found a hand-written message when she was removing the packing stitches from a kilt that has been passed down in her family for decades. The message reads: “I hope your kilt will fit you well, & in it you will look a swell. If married never mind. If single drop a line. Wish you bags of luck, & a speedy return back to Blighty.” Underneath was the name of Helen Govan, of 49 Ardgowan Street in Glasgow.

Dr. Paul reports, “This garment has been in our family for a number of decades, and until recently, we were completely unaware there was such an intriguing secret hidden in its folds. It was a real surprise when the note fell out.

“My father tried to trace any relatives of the note’s author a few years ago, but his efforts failed and I’m hoping to pick up where he left off.”

How They Made Books in 1947

Back before ebooks, printing was a time-comsuming laborious process. Once the author finished the writing tasks, teams of people working together were required to produce just one book. An Encyclopaedia Britannica Films documentary created in 1947 is available on YouTube that shows the process.

Johnny Appleseed Exhibit to Hit the Road

If you picture Johnny Appleseed as a loner wearing a tin pot for a hat and flinging apple seeds across the countryside, experts say you’re wrong. A traveling exhibit funded by an anonymous donation to the Johnny Appleseed Museum at Urbana University will help clear misconceptions about the folk hero and the real man behind the legend.

John Chapman, known as Johnny Appleseed to generations of Americans, was a pioneer nurseryman in the late 18th and early 19th centuries credited with introducing apple trees to portions of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and West Virginia. While it’s probably true that he lived outdoors and wore ragged clothes, at least sometimes, researchers doubt he wore a pot on his head or just gave his seedlings and nurseries away.

If You Leave Out the Legally Inedible Parts, Haggis is Edible

Do you have Scottish ancestry? If so, you may have heard of haggis, considered the national dish of Scotland. It is a savoury pudding containing sheep’s pluck (heart, liver and lungs); minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, and traditionally encased in the animal’s stomach and simmered for approximately three hours. Haggis apparently was a food staple in Scotland for centuries.

If you have an interest in the food of your ancestors, you might want to read Nick O’Malley’s description of his recent encounter with haggis. (Spoiler alert: it wasn’t real haggis as it didn’t have sheep’s lung in it. Sheep’s lung cannot be sold as “food” in the U.S.) You can read about Nick’s recent experience in the MassLive web site at http://www.masslive.com/dining/2014/07/i_ate_it_so_you_dont_have_to_h.html. The article also tells where Americans can purchase “pseudo-haggis” in a can.

UN Opens Secret Archive on WWII Massacres, Murders, Torture to Public

CBS News reports that the U.N. War Crimes Commission archive that has largely been locked away for the past 70 years under restricted access at the United Nations will be made freely available to visitors to the research room of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. Many of those named in the archive were never held accountable for the atrocities they committed.

While many of the crimes detailed in the archive are horrible to even imagine, the contents can be valuable to historians and to genealogists alike. The names of victims are often mentioned, along with the details of their incarceration and deaths. In many cases, families may be able to learn what happened to their missing relatives.

You can read more in an article in the CBS News web site at http://goo.gl/GCRrqi.

Amateur Explorers Claim to Find Lost US Army Fort in Florida Everglades

A team of amateur explorers say they found the site of a lost U.S. Army fort buried deep in the Everglades that once served as a restocking post for troops during a series of guerilla-like battles with Seminole Indians. Nestled into the dense, waterlogged swamps 60 miles from the coast, Fort Harrell, built in 1837, was one of nearly a dozen forts across Florida used in the early and mid-19th century.

The team identified the site by overlaying old maps with global positioning satellite coordinates. They found one site on a 1940s aerial map and found post holes in the damp ground and limestone that may have supported a wall. About 100 yards away buried in the mud they found a weathered 20-foot Cypress log carved into a long beam.

You can read more in a Reuters article by Zachary Fagenson, and available at http://goo.gl/zDOAHM.

Auto Racing Was Wildly Dangerous in the ’30s—And a Lot More Fun

If you are a motor racing enthusiast, as I am, you might enjoy looking at the photographs available at the Motoring Picture Library. It is primarily a stock photography service. Print photographs may be purchased for a fee. However, anyone and everyone is invited to look at the available old and new photographs at no charge.

An Austin 747 cc takes a gnarly turn at the Donington Park Race Meeting, May 13, 1933. Click on the above image to view a larger version.

Canaan, Connecticut, History Center to Open July 13

The Canaan History Center will open its doors for the first time to the public on July 13, providing an opportunity for researchers to delve into the history of the area. The center is located in a white clapboard building at 115 Main St. that once served as the law offices of civil rights attorney Catherine G. Roraback.

Details are available in an article by Alice Tessier in the Litchfield County Times at http://goo.gl/bU6fU4.

Napoleon and Josephine’s Marriage Certificate For Sale

Here is a chance to own a piece of history. It will “only” cost $135,000 or so.

The marriage certificate of Napoleon and his first wife Josephine is to be sold at auction in September. The document dated March 8, 1796, was signed by the future Napoleon I and his fiancee Marie Josephe Rose Tascher de La Pagerie, or Josephine, the Viscomtesse de Beauharnais.

The marriage certificate states that the pair will “in no way be responsible for the debts and mortgages of the other” and that there will be “no common property” between them.

Do You Remember the Slide Rule?

It wasn’t all that long ago that engineers, astronauts, mathematicians, and students proudly carried the original pocket calculator. I had one and thought I was proficient at it. Sadly, I misplaced it years ago.

The slide rule was a simple device with one sliding part that could do complex mathematical calculations in moments. Multiplication, division, roots, logarithms, and even trigonometry could be performed with ease. But as technology marched forward with sophisticated computers and graphing pocket calculators, the lowly slide rule was forgotten.

Man Dead for 200 Years Gets American Citizenship

Sometimes it takes a while to get things done. Bernardo de Gálvez y Madrid, the Viscount of Gálvez, was recently granted honorary American citizenship. Gálvez was a hero of the American Revolution, having led battles against the British at Pensacola and along the Gulf Coast. Galveston, Texas is named for Gálvez.

Our Lives Are Far Better than those of Our Ancestors

Most all of our ancestors lived in poverty and often faced starvation, incurable diseases, infant mortality, and short life expectancies, even of adults. Today, even the poorest American families enjoy a roof over their heads, a solid floor under their feet, running water, a flush toilet, and electricity. Those were all unimaginable luxuries, far beyond the dreams of our ancestors, only a few generations ago.

Don Boudreaux of MRUniversity (an online educational service not affiliated with any traditional college or university) explores the question economists have been asking since the era of Adam Smith: what creates wealth? On a timeline of human history, the recent rise in standards of living resembles a hockey stick, flatlining for all of human history and then skyrocketing in just the last few centuries.

More Than One Million Canadian Vintage Photographs to be Available

The Toronto Public Library’s special collections department has just received a sizeable donation: more than one million photographs, which represent the complete photographic archive of the Toronto Star for the years 1900–1999. The public will have access to most of these images as of July 7. They’ll be available in the Marilyn & Charles Baillie Special Collections Centre on the fifth floor of the Toronto Reference Library—the TPL also has plans to make some of images available in its digital archive at http://www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/digital-archive.

Genealogy Experts Reveal the real Captain Blackadder was a Dundee War Hero

This surprise concerns one of my favorite television series: Blackadder. The names of Blackadder, Darling, Lieutenant George and Baldrick will be familiar to many people, thanks to the BBC’s Blackadder series. But they may be surprised to learn that the characters, originally invented by Richard Curtis and Rowan Atkinson, really did exist. Specialist military genealogy website Forces War Records has the proof.

After coming across a Captain Blackadder while uploading records to a database, the staff at www.forces-war-records.co.uk set about uncovering other servicemen who shared names with the fictional stars of Blackadder Goes Forth.

Details may be found at http://www.forces-war-records.co.uk.

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