History

Postcards Provide Link to Edwardian Social Media

You can see postcards that your UK ancestors may have seen from 1901 to 1910. The following announcement was written by the folks at Lancaster University:

A new public searchable database provides access to a unique and inspirational treasure trove of amazing stories and pictures through what Lancaster University researchers term the ‘social media’ of the Edwardian era.

Piccadilly Circus

Piccadilly Circus – Click on the image to view a larger version.

Described by researchers at Lancaster University as the social media of its day, with features of Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Messenger and SMS texts, the ‘hands-on’ database includes 1000 postcards, written and sent between 1901 and 1910, together with transcriptions and carefully researched historical data about the people who wrote and received the fascinating cards.

Preserving Medieval Graffiti

st-georgeWe have all read about the Middle Ages, right? A time of kings, princes, knights and fair damsels in distress. It is a vision of the past that includes the splendor of great cathedrals and the brooding darkness of mighty castles. A past of banquets and battles.

There’s only one thing wrong with that vision: 95% of the people were not a part of it.

Most men, women and children were commoners. 95 per cent of the population performed about 99% of the work. This undoubtedly includes your ancestors and mine.

We rarely read about the 95% of the population who were common people. With low levels of literacy throughout much of the Middle Ages, these people did not leave written records behind. The few texts that described the common people were actually written and compiled by the priests, scribes and lawyers of the elite. They refer to the lower orders, but are most certainly not in their own words. However, many of these common folks did leave something written behind: graffiti.

The Strange Tale Of 19th-Century Quack Doctors

BeechamsPillsDuring the 19th century, quack “doctors” outnumbered legit ones three to one. A growing interest in science and a booming open market proved irresistible to businesspeople who rushed to bring products with dubious medical claims to health-starved consumers. These were the people who treated (and mistreated) our ancestors’ medical woes. Among these were Wallace and Willis Reinhardt, twin brothers who helmed a kind of fraudulent dynasty in the Midwest.

After being run out of Minnesota for fear of a grand jury investigation of their faux medical institute, the brothers set up shop in Milwaukee. Under the guise of the “Wisconsin Medical Institute,” they took advantage of ailing patients, diagnosing “sexual ailments” and pushing pricey treatments on their victims. Those who were unable to travel to their office could experience the Reinhardt’s “cures” from afar thanks to mail-order books, devices and medicines.

Virginia Tech’s Civil War Newspaper Collection is Online

The American Civil War Newspapers website can be a valuable resource for genealogists researching Civil War era ancestors, even those outside of Virginia. The ultimate goal of the American Civil War Newspapers website is to index newspapers from the Civil War era — Northern and Southern, Eastern and Western, urban and rural, white and black — in order to offer a balanced cross-section of opinion, observation, and experience, from all across America.

CivilWarNewpaper

Quoting from the newspaper collection’s web site:

“For many years the newspapers of the Civil War era were probably the most neglected of all sources, and yet they are one of the richest. The reason no doubt lay in the sheer mass of them, their inaccessibility, and the fact that they were not indexed. Few if any scholars had the time or resources to spend weeks and months scanning page by page in the hope of finding something of use to their projects. Yet the newspapers are the surest windows on the attitudes of the time, despite their inevitable editorial bias.

Photographs of Men Who Fought in the Revolutionary War

LemuelCookYes, you read that right. Photographs of Americans who fought in the Revolution are exceptionally rare because few of the Patriots of 1775-1783 lived until the dawn of practical photography in the early 1840s.

Utah-based journalist Joe Baumam spent three decades researching and compiling the images. These early photographs – known as daguerreotypes – are exceptionally rare camera-original, fully-identified photographs of veterans of the War for Independence – the war that established the United States.

You can see the photographs in an article in The Daily Mail at http://goo.gl/S3s7g8.

If one of them happens to be your ancestor, right-click on the image to save a family heirloom!

Who Wrote the Declaration of Independence?

The Constitution

The Constitution

In school, I was taught that Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence. I was also taught that it was signed by all the members of the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776. Now an article by Matthew Wills says that both “facts” are erroneous.

Wills says that Jefferson did actually write the first draft, aided by a committee that consisted of Jefferson himself plus John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert Livingston. In later years, Thomas Jefferson claimed that credit must go to Locke, Montesquieu, the Scottish Enlightenment, and the long struggle for English civil liberties.

How to Find a Revolutionary War Patriot

The Fourth of July seems like the perfect day to plan genealogy research to find information about your ancestors in the 1770s. If they were in the original 13 colonies, they may have participated in the American Revolution, either as a Patriot or a Loyalist. You might want to refer to the article I published last year, How to Find a Revolutionary War Patriot, available at https://goo.gl/KAfk14.

William Shakespeare’s Coat of Arms Discovered

William_Shakespeare_1609William Shakespeare’s biography has long circled a set of tantalizing mysteries: Was he Protestant or secretly Catholic? Gay or straight? Loving toward his wife, or coldly dismissive?

Most of those questions remain unanswered but one new discovery does provide a bit of insight into the man’s personal life. New documents were recently discovered by Heather Wolfe, the Folger Shakespeare Library’s curator of manuscripts. The documents are said to relate to a coat of arms given to Shakespeare’s father in the year 1596 — a discovery that offers proof of Shakespeare’s gentlemanly status and provides researchers with new insights into his life.

The Most Famous Historic Houses in each State

ThrilList.com has compiled a list of the most famous historic houses in each state. The list includes a two-story log building built by the Russians in Alaska long before the United States purchased the territory, the Paul Revere House in Boston, the Edgar Allan Poe House in Baltimore, Maryland, the Ernest Hemingway Home in Key West, Florida, and the Playboy Mansion in California.

Famous_House

Today in History: 22 June 1633 (383 years ago): Galileo admits the Earth is the Center of the Universe

On 22 June 1633, the Holy Office in Rome forced Galileo Galilei to recant his view that the Sun, not the Earth, is the center of the Universe in the form he presented it in, after heated controversy.

Galileo

You can read more about the trial at http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/galileo/galileoaccount.html.

I have to wonder what “irrefutable facts” of today will be disproven in the next 383 years. Which “absolute truths” do we believe today will be rejected by the year 2399?

A New Immigration Exhibit opens on Ellis Island

RSL_Ellis_IslandA new, temporary exhibition opened recently at the Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration. It focuses on the immigrants’ stories, awash in hopes, uncertainties and, apparently, disinfectant. The new exhibition, which is called “Via Antwerp: The Road to Ellis Island” and will be in place through Sept. 4. It nicely complements the permanent exhibits at Ellis Island, which are heavy on the arrival-and-processing chapter.

The traveling exhibit was created by Antwerp’s Red Star Line Museum and focuses on the experiences of those leaving Europe for the United States. All of the people featured in the new exhibit left Antwerp and traveled to the US on the Red Star Line’s ships.

King Henry I May Be Buried Under a Parking Lot

King Richard III’s body was discovered buried under a parking lot. The same fate may await the bones of King Henry I. Technicians are using ground-penetrating radar at the site of a former abbey in Reading, England, as part of a survey they hope will reveal the burial place of King Henry I.

Henry-IHenry I, a son of William the Conqueror, ruled from 1100 to 1135. He reportedly died after eating lampreys, a kind of jawless fish. He ascended to the throne after the death of his elder brother William II. Henry has been described as a usurper because he seized the crown while another elder brother was away on a Crusade.

Records written at the time of Henry I’s death say that his body was buried in front of the the high altar of Reading Abbey. The abbey was founded by King Henry I himself. The abbey is now in ruins and much of its former grounds are now the site of a car park and a nursery school.

You can read more in an article by Dan Bilefsky in the New York Times at http://goo.gl/iyrxl9.

Let Your Cell Phone Tell You About “History Here”

History Here is a fascinating cell phone app produced by the History Channel. It displays historical locations that may be hidden all around you, including architecture, museums, battlefields, monuments, famous homes, tombstones, and much more.

You can use it at home to learn what historical events happened near you. However, the History Here app will also come in handy when you’re traveling to a new city as it locates large and small museums alike. It also finds events, both famous and obscure. For instance, the first time I used History Here, it displayed information about the first National Women’s Rights Convention held in 1850 a few miles from my home. Who knew?

Besides historic homes and museums, the app also maps many graves of historic figures. Hit a spot on the map, and you’ll get a brief history lesson. You can save spots and later receive alerts when you’re walking near a mapped site.

History Here has recently added TOURS, a list of curated tours in various cities. The TOURS feature uses locations as a way to learn about historical themes and topics, such as Marilyn Monroe’s Hollywood, Civil War Atlanta, and Al Capone’s Chicago.

Rare 2,000-Year-Old Roman Documents Found in London Mud

Paper does not last for thousands of years but wood apparently can do so, if it is buried in mud. Researchers from Museum of London Archaeology uncovered more than 400 wooden tablets during excavations in London’s financial district for the new headquarters of media and data company Bloomberg.

So far, 87 have been deciphered, including one addressed “in London, to Mogontius” and dated to A.D. 65-80 – the earliest written reference to the city, which the Romans called Londinium.

U.K. National Maritime Museum and the Crew List Index Project Announced

The National Archives of the United Kingdom has a new crowdsourcing project beginning in June:

Merchant 1915 Crew List Index project

“Building on the success of the Merchant 1915 Crew List Index project, we have once again joined forces with the National Maritime Museum (NMM) and the Crew List Index Project team (CLIP) to create a new free-to-search database resource relating to all the Royal Navy officers and ratings that served in the First World War – Royal Navy First World War Lives at Sea – based principally on service records held by The National Archives.

Immigration Animation

In this animated clip from Max Galka, historical immigration flows to the U.S. in different time periods are illustrated. Look at the video player below or at https://youtu.be/RnIOyTXReto.

Ireland Recognizes 1847 Gift from Choctaw Nation During Potato Famine

In 1847, less than 16 years after the Trail of Tears, the all but penniless Choctaw Nation donated $170 – nearly $5,000 today – to complete strangers starving in the Irish Potato Famine. 168 years later, the Irish have not forgotten.

During the Great Potato Famine of the 1840s, more than a million people perished in Ireland when a blight decimated potato crops that served as the primary food source for almost half the population, but primarily the rural poor.

Genealogy Project Reconnects Chinese Youth with History

More Chinese youth are getting involved in a genealogy project that aims to record and preserve family histories, China Daily reported. Organized by a nonprofit called the Beijing Yongyuan Foundation, the annual project engages college students to compile videos of family histories being told orally and to present the final output as a short documentary. A professional panel then judges the entries.

The genealogy project encourages Chinese students to interview older family relatives and to document their life experiences, especially during world War II when the country suffered terribly at the hands of Japanese invaders. Many stories revolve around the Rape of Nanjing. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nanking_Massacre for more information about the horrific mass killings in Nanjing.

“Ancestors, Family, and Associates in the War of 1812 Records“ is now available on Ancestry Academy FREE of Charge

This is a great video and should appeal to anyone with an interest in one of the lesser-known wars of the United States. Today’s announcement from the War of 1812 Preserve the Pensions team states:

“The War of 1812 was America’s ‘Second Revolution’ – little understood by many in America how precarious the survival of the new nation was. This segment enlarges the student’s understanding of the causes of the war and how the Napoleonic War on Europe’s continent distracting the British military may very well have saved the nation. Ending in 1815 with the ratification of the Treaty of Ghent, the war directly led to the penning of our nation’s national anthem, The Star Spangled Banner and propelled Battle of New Orleans’ famous General Andrew Jackson to the Presidency of the United States, serving as its seventh president. To place an ancestor in the context of history, this segment paints the landscape of the social climate during the War’s four year course – 1812 to 1815.”

Ancestors, Family, and Associates in the War of 1812 Records is available at https://www.ancestry.com/academy/course/war-of-1812?ref=searchbar.

The Preserve the Pensions Blog at http://www.preservethepensions.org/blog also states:

Ancestry.co.uk Adds the Ireland Courts Martial Files (1916-1922)

On Easter Monday, 24th April 1916, a small group of Irish Volunteers occupied the General Post Office (GPO) in Dublin and proclaimed an Irish Republic. The volunteers also secured several other key locations throughout the city including the Four Courts and City Hall. From a military perspective, the Easter Rising was a complete failure. But it was the events that followed that ensured the effects of the Rising would alter the course of Irish history. It is within this context that the Courts Martial Files play such an important role.

EasterRising

Martial Law was declared in on the 25th of April 1916 in an attempt to maintain order on the streets of Dublin. This was later extended to the whole country. During the aftermath of the Easter Rising, and during the years of the Irish War of Independence individuals were arrested under Martial Law if suspected of being pro-independence and committing treason to the Crown.

Under Martial Law individuals were tried without a defence council, without a jury and the trials took place in private chambers. Members of the public and members of the press were not allowed to be present at the trial.

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