History

Ottawa to Fund $35.7-million in Quebec City Historical Projects

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has announced $35.7-million in funding for historical and archaeology projects in Quebec City, while opening the door to further federal funding for a tall-ships regatta that will stop in the city in 2017.

Mr. Harper said the federal government will help to restore the old city’s historic walls and two architectural landmarks. The money will go to refurbish the 400-year-old fortifications ($30-million over six years), the Dauphine Redoubt that is a part of the Artillery Park ($4.5-million over three years) and Maillou House that was built in 1737 ($1.2-million over three years).

Air Raid on Pearl Harbor

On December 7, 1941, Japanese planes attacked the United States Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii Territory, killing more than 2,300 Americans. The U.S.S. Arizona was completely destroyed and the U.S.S. Oklahoma capsized. A total of twelve ships sank or were beached in the attack and nine additional vessels were damaged. More than 160 aircraft were destroyed and more than 150 others damaged.

A hurried dispatch from the ranking United States naval officer in Pearl Harbor, Commander in Chief Pacific, to all major navy commands and fleet units provided the first official word of the attack at the ill-prepared Pearl Harbor base. It said simply: AIR RAID ON PEARL HARBOR X THIS IS NOT DRILL.

Richard III’s DNA shows an Infidelity Surprise

It seems there was a bit of hanky-panky under the sheets a few hundred years ago. That’s certainly nor unusual amongst the royals but the degree of proof certainly is new. When Richard III’s body was exhumed recently and a DNA sample was obtained, it proved that his supposed descendants weren’t his at all. It seems there was a “false paternity” event somewhere along the way.

Details may be found in an article by Paul Rincon, science editor for BBC News, at http://goo.gl/X0zqlP.

The Boston Directory, 1789 to 1900, to be Digitized and Placed Online

The Boston Athenaeum has digitized its collection of Boston city directories. John Norman published the first such directory in 1789 under the formal title of The Boston Directory. Containing, A List of the Merchants, Mechanics, Traders, and others of the Town of Boston; in Order to enable Strangers to find the Residence of any Person. The 1789 Directory also included a map of Boston, lists of public offices, lawyers, medical professionals, bankers, and lists of the names and homes of engine-men (firefighters).

The Boston Directory appeared in 1789 and was published irregularly until 1825, when annual publication started.

You can read more at http://cdm.bostonathenaeum.org/cdm/landingpage/collection/p16057coll32.

New York State Military Museum is Digitizing World War I Harlem Hellfighters Regiment Records

The 369th Infantry Regiment, also known as the Harlem Hellfighters, was an infantry regiment of the United States Army that saw action in World War I and World War II. The Regiment consisted of African-Americans and African Puerto Ricans and was known for being the first African-American regiment to serve with the American Expeditionary Force during World War I. Details about the regiment may be found on Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/369th_Infantry_Regiment_(United_States) and at http://dmna.ny.gov/historic/articles/blacksMilitary/BlacksMilitaryWW1.htm.

The New York State Military Museum is now digitizing the unit’s post-World War I records. The cards are from 1921 to 1949 and include names, ages, addresses, birthplaces, occupations and enlistment dates.

The Official Thanksgiving Day has Moved Around a Bit

Thanksgiving Day is celebrated as a holiday in the United States and Canada as a day of giving thanks for the blessing of the harvest and of the preceding year. The Canadians now celebrate the holiday on the second Monday of October while the holiday is on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States. Those dates have changed over the years, however.

The Great Stink of 1858 in London

NOTE: I suggest you not read this article just before dinner. However, it describes a major problem that many of our ancestors faced, in London and elsewhere.

Modern developed cities of millions produce a lot of waste, not the least of which is that produced directly by the population. Over time, people have developed infrastructure to remove this waste quickly to avoid infection and contamination of ground water. For much of the world and for much of human history, however, the process of waste disposal has been much less sterile and impersonal.

About 150 years ago, London saw the formal opening of a great sewage system constructed by the Metropolitan Board of Works and its engineer, Joseph Bazalgette (1819-1891). Prior to this, an increasing proportion of London’s sewage was routed into the Thames (via drains set up originally for surface water), leading to dreadful pollution and the Great Stink of 1858.

The Great Stink, sometimes called the Big Stink, was a time in the summer of 1858 during which the smell of untreated human waste and effluent from other activities was very strong in central London. The stench prompted London authorities to accept a sewerage scheme proposed by Joseph Bazalgette, implemented during the 1860s.

Was the First Thanksgiving Held in Florida?

Did the first Thanksgiving held in the New World happen in Saint Augustine, Florida on September 8, 1565? One person with significant credentials in history claims Thanksgiving started decades before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock.

“The first Thanksgiving that involved a feast and lots of local food and inviting the local people, the Timacuan Indians here in St. Augustine to be part of it, and that’s our Thanksgiving,” says Kathleen Deagan, Ph.D., the distinguished research curator emerita at the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida. “Most of us associate our early history and our founders of the English colonies of Jamestown and of Plymouth, and really the first settlement was here in St. Augustine in 1565.”

Dr. Deagan continues, “It never ceases to astonish people the first thanksgiving meal was smoked meat and fish. Ham. Garbanzo beans. Red Wine. Olives and Olive oil. There wasn’t any corn as far as we know, no turkeys, no mashed potatoes, no pecan pie for sure!”

Follow-up: President of Turkey says Muslims Discovered America

Three days ago, I wrote (at http://blog.eogn.com/2014/11/15/president-of-turkey-says-muslims-discovered-america) about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s claims that the Americas were discovered by Muslims in the 12th century, nearly three centuries before Christopher Columbus set foot there. Now the president has ordered Turkey’s educational institutions to adopt a policy of highlighting the contribution of Islam to global science and arts, including the discovery of the Americas.

He also slammed criticisms from columnists and cartoonists mocking his claims that Muslim sailors discovered the Americas and constructed a mosque in Cuba centuries before Columbus. However, he did not acknowledge numerous claims that still other Europeans and orientals were visiting the Americas long before the 12th century.

A New Fad Sweeps the Country in 1870s

We all know about popular fads: the hula hoops of the fifties, the pet rocks of the seventies, and body-piercing jewelry of the present time. The young people generally embrace fads with open arms while older generations wring their hands and wonder what the younger generation is coming to. However, we generally do not think about fads in the times of our ancestors. A quick bit of historical study shows that our ancestors were just as enthusiastic about new ideas and fashions as are any of their descendants. Some of these fads had far-reaching effects on future generations. In fact, some of us might not be here today had it not been for one of these fads.

One item that we take for granted today is the bicycle. Yet this two-wheeled device was all the rage when first introduced in the late 1870s. To be sure, two-wheel conveyances had been invented much earlier but were rarely seen. In 1790, Frenchman Chevalier de Sivrac conceived the idea of a crude form of a bicycle, consisting of a wooden beam with wheels attached below each end. It had no pedals; the rider pushed along the ground with his feet. It had no steering capability. Even worse, it had no seat. The rider simply sat on the beam. Apparently de Sivrac built only one of these, and it was soon relegated to a storage shed. Later models improved on the earlier design with a cushioned seat of some sort. In 1813, Baron Charles de Drais of Saurbrun, Germany, introduced a bicycle that was similar to Sivrac’s model but with a swivel head to aid steering.

President of Turkey says Muslims Discovered America

I can’t vouch for the accuracy of this claim but it is interesting. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Saturday that the Americas were discovered by Muslims in the 12th century, nearly three centuries before Christopher Columbus set foot there.

“Contacts between Latin America and Islam date back to the 12th century. Muslims discovered America in 1178, not Christopher Columbus,” the conservative president said in a televised speech during an Istanbul summit of Muslim leaders from Latin America. “Muslim sailors arrived in America from 1178. Columbus mentioned the existence of a mosque on a hill on the Cuban coast.”

World War II Marine Corps Combat Recordings are Available Online

Marine Corps Combat Recordings provide an amazing and vivid accounting of the war in the South Pacific during World War II. Actual recording began late in 1943 and continued through the occupation of Japan in 1945. The recordings are some of the most historically significant collections in the Recorded Sound Section of the Library of Congress.

Click on the above image to view a larger version

Preservation of an Early Fugitive Slave Chapel that was part of the Underground Railway

London, Ontario’s 166-year-old fugitive slave chapel has made its way home, in much the same way the first black families found refuge prior to the end of the U.S. Civil War: With perseverance amid tribulation, and hope for a greater glory.

The chapel was moved from Thames St. to a lot beside its daughter church, Beth Emanuel British Methodist Episcopal (BME) Church on Grey St, a slow-crawling 140 minutes through London’s downtown traffic.

The Slave Chapel was built in 1848 on Thames St., and became home to the African Methodist Episcopal congregation. It soon became London’s centre for fugitive slaves from the U.S.

Shoah Visual History Foundation Offers Video Testimonies by Holocaust Survivors

Steven Spielberg has won almost every honor Hollywood can bestow for his movies, including “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “Saving Private Ryan.” It was 1993’s “Schindler’s List,” however, that gave the director the opportunity to create a very different legacy — “something I was put on this earth to do,” Mr. Spielberg said.

“Schindler’s List” is based on the true story of Oskar Schindler, a German industrialist who saved more than 1,000 Jews from the Nazi death camps during World War II. It won seven Academy Awards, including best picture and best director. While filming “Schindler’s List” in Poland, Mr. Spielberg was visited by Holocaust survivors eager to have their stories told, and some survivors appeared at the end of the film. Mr. Spielberg fulfilled a promise to give them a voice by establishing the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation in 1994 to film and preserve first-person survivor testimonies and encourage their use in education.

Steven Spielberg established the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation to gather video testimonies from survivors and other witnesses of the Holocaust. While most of those who gave testimony were Jewish survivors, the Foundation also interviewed homosexual survivors, Jehovah’s Witness survivors, liberators and liberation witnesses, political prisoners, rescuers and aid providers, Roma and Sinti (Gypsy) survivors, survivors of Eugenics policies, and war crimes trials participants. The archive was later expanded to include testimonies by survivors of the 1937-38 Nanjing, China, Massacre and of the 1994 Rwandan Tutsi genocide.

Identifying Subjects of Photos of Virginians and North Carolinians 1890 to 1922

For the last four years, New York researcher and photographer Sarah Stacke has been trying to identify people in anonymous portraits taken of Southerners at the dawn of a new century. The images include both White and Black Americans. Given the locations and dates, we can assume that many of the Black Americans were former slaves. Sarah Stacke would like to identify all of the subjects before their names become lost to history. Can you help?

The pictures were taken by little known photographer, Hugh Mangum. He traveled across Virginia and North Carolina from 1890 to 1922. Rare for the time, Mangum photographed both blacks and whites, sometimes sitting them right after the next. Mangum died of influenza at the age of 44 and left little record of his clients.

New Project Hopes to Find Out How Many Irishmen Died in the First World War

The Irish War Memorial Records, which list the names of 49,400 men who died in the first World War, are to be updated. The Government is to combine with Google and the In Flanders Fields museum in Ypres to update the records, which were first created in 1922. They hope the project will give a more accurate picture of how many Irishmen died in the war.

The records represent an attempt to catalogue all those who died, but they include non-Irish soldiers who died in Irish regiments and exclude many Irishmen who died in non-Irish regiments. There are also many double entries and errors. The records were digitised and released last year. They are available at imr.inflandersfields.be, but many of the individual records after nearly 100 years are flawed or incomplete.

You can read the details in an article by Ronan McGreevy and also watch a video in the Irish Times web site at http://goo.gl/OgJmZu.

The Confederates Who Moved to Brazil

Many citizens of the Confederacy disappeared from public records at the end of the Civil War or soon thereafter. Of course, record keeping was spotty at best in the turmoil that followed the defeat of the Confederacy. If you can’t find your relatives during that time, you might be tempted to say, “Oh well, he (or she) probably died in the war.” Don’t be so sure.

Americana is a small city about 100 miles from São Paulo, Brazil’s largest city. The town was settled by disgruntled American Confederates after their side lost the Civil War. Descendants of the original settlers still live there today, and most of them still speak English with a strong southern drawl.

After the Civil War, many families from the old South were left landless and destitute. They probably hated living under a conquering army of Yankees. Brazilian emperor Dom Pedro II realized this group of disenchanted Americans could be a solution to one of his problems: how to develop the sparsely-settled areas of his country. He was especially interested in developing the cultivation of cotton, a crop well-known to the former Confederates. He provided incentives to people who knew how to raise cotton, offering land at twenty-two cents an acre with four years credit and passage to Brazil for thirty Yankee dollars. Each family was encouraged to bring a tent, light-weight furniture, farming supplies and seeds, and provisions to last six months.

California State Library Digitizes 3-D Images from 1800s

The California State Library is digitizing about 10,000 old sepia-toned 3-D photos – most from the 1800s. Officially known as stereoscopic photos, they were a popular turn-of-the-century parlor activity, shared like postcards and viewed through hand-held viewers that turned the side-by-side double photos into a single 3-D image.

Taken by both professional and amateur photographers, the photos subjects ranged from majestic outdoor settings like Yosemite’s Half Dome to news-style photos of major events such as the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. They also captured everyday portraits of Americans at work and play, from Gold Rush miners to tourists visiting “Toyland” at the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco.

Boston’s Old State House Time Capsule Made a Few Accurate Predictions — And Some Very Wrong Ones

A letter to posterity written more than 100 years ago and found in a time capsule hidden inside Boston’s Old State House golden lion statue made a few accurate predictions — and some very wrong ones. An archivist for the Bostonian Society, Elizabeth Roscio, opened one of the letters on Tuesday that was found in the 113-year-old time capsule, from George A. Litchfield, the business manager of the Boston Traveler. Litchfield’s 1901 letter describes an era of what he considered advanced technology, and some visions of the future that included adventures in flight, exploration, and communication.

Today in History: The War of the Worlds Broadcast, October 30, 1938

Seventy-six years ago today, on October 30, 1938, the CBS radio network broadcast a radio play of H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds. the broadcast caused widespread panic, with citizens taking to the streets and scores of injuries resulting. Many listeners apparently thought it was a factual news broadcast.

In fact, the story wasn’t new. The War of the World was first published as a serialized novel n Pearson’s Magazine in the UK and Cosmopolitan magazine in the US. in 1897 and told the story of an alien invasion of England. The Mercury Theatre’s on air production changed the location to New Jersey and employed a series of news bulletins to heighten the realism of the story.

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