In the BBC series Blackadder Goes Forth, Baldrick memorably described the finest culinary delight available in the trenches of the First World War as “rat-au-van” – rat that had been run over by a van. In fact, new research suggests the standard of fare on offer to the men on the Western Front was, if perhaps repetitive, at least nutritious, plentiful and, on occasions, flavoursome.
Andrew Robertshaw, curator at the Royal Logistic Corps Museum, has produced a guide to the food eaten by British soldiers of the First World War, complete with recipes for some of the meals.
Although there was no rat-au-van, there were some now largely forgotten dishes, such as beef tea, mutton broth, brawn, potato pie and duff pudding.
But Mr Robertshaw also shows how some modern favourites, such as egg and chips, and curry were popularised by the conflict.
The research, contained in a new book Feeding Tommy, involved an investigation of the archives of the RLC – the successor to the Army Service Corps, whose job it was to feed the men – as well as study of memoirs from serving soldiers....
Thursday, May 23, 2013 - 14:50
Visitors to a Second World War-themed event celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Dambuster have turned out in Nazi uniforms despite a ban on the costumes.
Organisers of the 1940s weekend in Haworth, West Yorkshire, faced complaints last year from a party of German tourists about the flaunting of regalia linked to the Holocaust.
This year, an attempt to prevent a repeat of the controversy, signs warning "No Nazi or SS Insignia or uniforms on these premises" were displayed on shops pubs and camp sites.
Businesses all over the town were given signs saying Nazi or SS uniforms "not welcome," in a bid to avoid "unnecessary offence"....
Thursday, May 23, 2013 - 14:47
As one of Britain’s top spies in the Second World War, being arrested in Spain dressed as a woman caused a major headache for his political masters.
Lieutenant Colonel Dudley Clarke, a key figure in British intelligence in the Middle East, was detained in Madrid after being seen “in a main street dressed, down to a brassiere, as a woman”.
The spy was on his way to Egypt to pass on key information and the incident sparked a mad scramble in London to ensure he was released and sent on his way as quickly as possible.
Files released by the National Archives show that Lt Col Clarke – who was supposed to maintain a low profile, travelling under cover as a war correspondent for The Times – had stopped off in the Spanish capital on his way to north Africa in October 1941....
Thursday, May 23, 2013 - 14:46
NEW YORK — The Muppets may have taken Manhattan, but they're getting a spiffy new home in Queens.
Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Bert and Ernie of "Sesame Street" fame, the stars of "Fraggle Rock" and other puppets, costumes and items from throughout Muppets creator Jim Henson's career have been donated to the Museum of the Moving Image, which is building a new gallery to house them, the institution announced Tuesday.
Encompassing almost 400 items ranging from original puppets to behind-the-scenes footage, the gift is a boon for the 25-year-old museum, which saw attendance skyrocket in 2011 and 2012 during a temporary exhibit of Henson's work. And it fulfills a cherished goal for Henson's widow and collaborator, Jane Henson, who died last month at 78....
Thursday, May 23, 2013 - 14:39
For years, historians have disagreed whether the New York Public Library's original copy of the Bill of Rights is the one that went missing long ago from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
On Wednesday, the state and the library are expected to call a truce after agreeing to share custody of the 223-year-old document for the next century, at which point the agreement must be renegotiated or extended.
While no clear-cut answer has emerged as to the document's rightful owner, the pact ends five years of discussions between Pennsylvania and the library and closes the door on a legal fight.
"One of the things we have avoided here is the tremendous cost of litigation and the uncertainty in a court of law," Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett said....
Thursday, May 23, 2013 - 14:37
WASHINGTON — Michelle Obama said Wednesday that stories of toil and sweat by slaves once held at a historic home within sight of the White House are an important part of U.S. history, including her own personal story, and are “as vital to our national memory as any other.”
The first lady commented as American Express announced its donation of $1 million to the White House Historical Association to preserve Decatur House and pay for education programs for children. The nearly 200-year-old house is owned by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and operated by the association.
Most of the money will be spent to preserve the building’s former slave quarters, where about 20 men and women “spent their days serving those who came and went from this house” and their nights “jammed together on the second floor of the slave quarters, all the while holding onto a quiet hope, a quiet prayer that they, too, and perhaps their children, would someday be free,” Mrs. Obama said....
Thursday, May 23, 2013 - 14:27
VICKSBURG, Miss. — Even 150 years later, Vicksburg is still overshadowed by Gettysburg — so much so, that the Mississippi city is having its Civil War commemoration a few weeks early rather than compete with Pennsylvania for tourist dollars around July 4.
Union forces waged a long campaign to conquer Vicksburg and gain control of the lower Mississippi River. The effort culminated in a concentrated military attack that started May 18, 1863, and a siege that started eight days later. Confederate forces surrendered the city on July 4.
The Battle of Gettysburg was fought July 1-3, 1863, and it produced a shockingly high number of casualties — 51,000 dead, wounded or missing....
Thursday, May 23, 2013 - 14:22
Edward VIII was bugged on the orders of the Home Secretary in the days before his abdication as part of a wider Government campaign to control the impending scandal.
Intelligence files kept secret for almost 80 years today reveal that phone calls from Buckingham Palace and the monarch’s Windsor residence, Fort Belvedere, were monitored while he decided whether to give up the throne for Wallis Simpson.
The revelation suggested an extraordinary breakdown of trust between Edward and his Government amid the constitutional crisis in December 1936.
The Cabinet papers also show the huge lengths the then Home Secretary Sir John Simon went to try and keep a lid on the looming controversy after a journalist leaked the story....
Thursday, May 23, 2013 - 13:34
Britain paid millions of pounds to military and political leaders in Spain to ensure they remained neutral during the Second World War, secret files reveal.
Some $10 million was paid to one double agent alone to distribute to key individuals, including General Franco’s brother Nicholas, in the hope they would not enter the conflict.
But despite the money, intelligence officers later suspected General Franco of ordering his officials to pass on secrets to the Germans.
The effective bribes also sparked a row with the US after the Americans froze the money planned for Britain’s “friends in Spain”.
The $10 million were to be paid to Juan March, a contact who had served as a double agent for Britain during the First World War, according to the intelligence papers released by the National Archives....
Thursday, May 23, 2013 - 13:32
British military chiefs thought Hitler was more use alive than dead in the later stages of the Second World War because of the “blunders” he was making.
The view emerged as the Government discussed bombing a rumoured hiding place of the Nazi leader two weeks after the launch of the D-Day landings.
MI6 had also been asked to draw up a hit list of key German and French figures ahead of Operation Overlord to ensure the landings were a success, previously secret intelligence files reveal today.
But the head of the Secret Service disliked the idea as did another intelligence chief even though there were people he would happily “kill with my own hands” without “spoiling my appetite”....
Thursday, May 23, 2013 - 13:30
Plans to assassinate key German figures, including Erwin Rommel, in the run-up to D-Day are revealed in newly-released British intelligence files.
It was discussed in communications between the British government, military and intelligence services with the aim of aiding the landings.
They planned to target those involved in the Gestapo and enemy logistics.
However it was dismissed as "the type of bright idea which... produces a good deal of trouble and does little good".
The letters and telegrams detailing the plans were revealed in a file, dated 1944 and obliquely entitled "War (General)", from the foreign office's permanent under-secretary of state Sir Alexander Cadogan....
Thursday, May 23, 2013 - 13:27
The Republican nominee for lieutenant governor in Virginia has called the Constitution’s original clause to count blacks as three-fifths of a person an “anti-slavery amendment.”
In an April 28, 2011 statement while he was a Senate candidate, conservative minister and lawyer E.W. Jackson held up the three-fifths clause as an “anti-slavery” measure. The context of his statement was to attack President Obama after a pastor at a church service he attended referred to the three-fifths clause as a historical marker of racism.
“Rev. [Charles Wallace] Smith must not have understood the 3/5ths clause was an anti-slavery amendment. Its purpose was to limit the voting power of slave holding states,” Jackson, an African-American, said in his statement....
The clause was demanded by Southern proponents of slavery as a way of enhancing their congressional representation. They wanted slaves to be counted as full persons but settled on three-fifths. People of African descent would have had no real rights either way. The inclusion of the clause greatly enhanced the South’s political power and made it harder to abolish slavery. The clause was effectively eliminated after the Civil War by the Thirteenth Amendment....
Thursday, May 23, 2013 - 13:25
Get ready for months of John F. Kennedy nostalgia.
The calendar is dotted with 50th anniversary commemorations of events from JFK's crowded last year of life, ending with the saddest of anniversaries in November.
In speeches, books, magazines, conferences, symposiums, news stories and television specials, admirers will pay tribute to the forever youthful president who inspired millions and was cut down in his prime in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963.
"He's frozen in people's minds at age 46," said Kennedy biographer Robert Dallek. "Kennedy still gives people a sense — to this day — of hope for the future."...
Thursday, May 23, 2013 - 13:23
A group of Japanese intellectuals on Tuesday rebutted their government's territorial claim to Dokdo and urged Japan to have a correct understanding of history.
During a press conference in Busan, they called on Shimane prefecture to rethink its annual observance of Takeshima (Dokdo in Japanese) Day, designated in 2005 to underline its sovereignty claim to the Dokdo islets in the East Sea.
"We perceive the Dokdo issue as a historical issue rather than a territorial one," said Kuboi Norimo, former history professor at Momoyama Gakuin University.
"Japan occupied Dokdo to lead the (1904-05) Russo-Japanese War more advantageously, and Tokyo has since recognised it as its territory. Regarding it as a territorial issue is like glorifying its invasion into Korea rather than repenting for it."...
Wednesday, May 22, 2013 - 12:16
“A few things remain constant in America – death, taxes, baseball and, since the 1950s, widespread, often successful efforts by a passionate minority to keep fluoride out of drinking water,” Donald R. McNeil wrote in Wilson Quarterly.
McNeil has written one of the more complete histories of the fluoridation wars that I was able to find. It starts on Jan. 26, 1945 when the city of Grand Rapids, Mich. became the first city to fluoridate its water supply. It was meant to be a public health experiment, to test whether fluoridation could protect against tooth decay, especially among younger children.
It would take decades to have any results and, therefore, ”the pioneers of fluoridation were generally a cautious lot,” McNeil writes, noting that they thought “that communities should at first fluoridate only on a test-batch basis.”...
Wednesday, May 22, 2013 - 10:25
Lt. Cmdr. Benjamin Amdur got to see how much of a difference 50 years could make to nuclear submarines when he got to his new command.
Amdur had previously served as the engineering officer of the Virginia-class submarine North Dakota, which will become the service’s newest sub when it is delivered in 2014, a Navy release said. On Tuesday, he became the officer-in-charge of the Nautilus, the world’s first nuclear-powered ship, during a ceremony in Groton, Conn.
“I’m amazed every day at how far we have come in 50 years of nuclear power, and, as a credit to the original nuclear designers of Nautilus, I am also amazed on a regular basis at the similarities between them. How many things they got right the first time,” Amdur said in the Navy release....
Tuesday, May 21, 2013 - 18:50
MADRID — Six months after announcing a significant easing of the naturalization process for Sephardic Jews, the Spanish government has yet to put the rules into practice, leaving many applicants for citizenship frustrated.
The change, announced in November by the foreign and justice ministers, was presented at the time as a conciliatory gesture toward Sephardic Jews, whose ancestors were expelled more than five centuries ago during the Spanish Inquisition, one of the darkest chapters in Spanish history.
Foreign Minister José Manuel García-Margallo said the time had come “to recover Spain’s silenced memory.”...
Tuesday, May 21, 2013 - 18:41
JAKARTA, Indonesia — Tree-lined Cendana street in an upscale neighborhood in central Jakarta has not changed much in recent decades, save for the demolition of a few Dutch colonial homes in favor of modernist villas. Yet the former resident whose home once took up the entire middle of the block initiated dramatic changes in his country, and 15 years after he disappeared from Indonesia’s political scene, debate still rages about whether they were for better or worse.
Cendana is synonymous with Suharto, the army general-turned-president who ruled Indonesia for 32 years while residing in the houses at Nos. 6, 8 and 10, which were renovated and connected. After his death in 2008, an Indonesian Web portal dedicated to paranormal activity published an account by an elderly servant who said that Mr. Suharto’s ghost was still there and occasionally pinched and poked him.
Perhaps. But more certain is that Mr. Suharto’s spirit continues to loom over modern-day Indonesia....
Tuesday, May 21, 2013 - 18:39
An international team of scientists has finally solved one of history’s greatest mysteries: What caused the devastating Irish potato famine of 1845? The research team, which published its findings in the journal eLife this week, used DNA sequencing of plant specimens dating from the mid-19th century to identify the pathogen that led to the death of nearly 1 million people and the mass emigration of another 2 million from Ireland by 1855. The discovery marks the first time scientists have successfully sequenced a plant’s genome from preserved samples and opens the door for further research into the evolution of pathogens and the spread of plant disease around the world.
Scientists have long known that it was a strain of Phytophthora infestans (or P. infestans) that caused the widespread devastation of potato crops in Ireland and northern Europe beginning in 1845. P. infestans infects the plant through its leaves, leaving behind shriveled, inedible tubers. The most likely culprit, they believed, was a strain known as US-1, which even today is responsible for billions of dollars of crop damage each year. To solve the mystery, molecular biologists from the United Kingdom, Germany and the United States examined DNA extracted from nearly a dozen botanical specimens dating back as far as 1845 and held in museum collections in the UK and Germany, which were then sent to the Sainsbury Laboratory in Norwich, England. After sequencing the genome of the 19th century samples and comparing them with modern blights, including US-1, they were able to trace the genetic evolution of P. infestans around the world and across centuries....
Tuesday, May 21, 2013 - 18:34
Monticello is one of the region's most popular landmarks, bringing in tourists from around the country to view the mansion and garden of Thomas Jefferson.
But it's also a former plantation with deep racial history that's often been overlooked on tours and in public dialogue.
Monticello opened in 1923, and for the first 50 or so years there was little, if any, mention of slavery.
"For a long time it wasn't a topic that was talked about," said Gary Sandling, the vice president of visitor programs and services for Monticello. "There would have been talk of servants, or field hands, or a skilled workforce," he said....
Tuesday, May 21, 2013 - 18:29
WASHINGTON — The Smithsonian is asking for the public to help fund an exhibit about the history of yoga.
The first-ever exhibition on the visual history of yoga is scheduled to debut this fall at the Sackler Gallery....
Tuesday, May 21, 2013 - 18:17
HAGERSTOWN, Md. — Soldiers in Hagerstown were among the first black men in Maryland to join the ranks of the Union during the Civil War, and were involved in the siege of Petersburg, Va., during the conflict.
Among the first local blacks who joined the Union were members of Moxley’s Band, a Hagerstown-based black brass band that became known as the 1st Brigade Band, U.S. Colored Troops, according to local historian Steve Bockmiller....
Tuesday, May 21, 2013 - 18:06
Researchers began decoding the glyphic language of the ancient Maya long ago, but the Internet is helping them finish the job and write the history of this enigmatic Mesoamerican civilization.
For centuries, scholars understood little about Maya script beyond its elegant astronomical calculations and calendar. The Maya had dominated much of Central America and southern Mexico for 1,000 years before their civilization collapsed about 600 years before the Spaniards reached the New World....
Tuesday, May 21, 2013 - 18:05
SAN DIEGO — In the ocean off Coronado, a Navy team has discovered a relic worthy of display in a military museum: a torpedo of the kind deployed in the late 19th century, considered a technological marvel in its day.
But don't look for the primary discoverers to get a promotion or an invitation to meet the admirals at the Pentagon — although they might get an extra fish for dinner or maybe a pat on the snout.
The so-called Howell torpedo was discovered by bottlenose dolphins being trained by the Navy to find undersea objects, including mines, that not even billion-dollar technology can detect....
Monday, May 20, 2013 - 11:37
Five copper coins and a nearly 70-year-old map with an ‘‘X’’ might lead to a discovery that could rewrite Australia’s history.
Australian scientist Ian McIntosh, currently Professor of Anthropology at Indiana University in the US, plans an expedition in July that has stirred up the archaeological community.
The scientist wants to revisit the location where five coins were found in the Northern Territory in 1944 that have proven to be 1000 years old, opening up the possibility that seafarers from distant countries might have landed in Australia much earlier than what is currently believed.
Back in 1944 during World War II, after Japanese bombers had attacked Darwin two years earlier, the Wessel Islands - an uninhabited group of islands off Australia’s north coast - had become a strategic position to help protect the mainland....
Monday, May 20, 2013 - 10:23
Jorge Rafael Videla, the military junta leader who oversaw a ruthless campaign of political killings and forced disappearances during Argentina’s so-called Dirty War against dissidents in the mid-1970s, died on Friday in the Marcos Paz Prison in Buenos Aires, where he was serving a life sentence for crimes against humanity. He was 87.
His death was announced by Argentina’s Secretariat for Human Rights.
At least 15,000 people were killed or “disappeared” during the junta’s campaign, according to government estimates. Human rights officials say the figure is closer to 30,000.
General Videla rose to power in 1976, when he led a largely bloodless coup against President Isabel Martínez de Perón, widow of Juan Domingo Perón, the founder of the country’s populist movement. Whisked away by helicopter in the dead of night, Mrs. Perón was arrested and charged with corruption, and General Videla, the chief of the armed forces, took over the presidency and established a military junta, promising to restore civilian rule promptly....
Friday, May 17, 2013 - 15:57
An MP for the ultra-right Golden Dawn party, Panayiotis Iliopoulos, was ejected from a session in Parliament on Friday after the deputy used derogatory language to revile fellow MPs and cries of "Heil Hitler" were heard in the House.
Originally assumed to have been uttered by far-right MPs, Parliament's minutes revealed that it was actually leftist Syriza MP Christos Pantzas who first cried 'Heil Hitler' in the House, not the far-right MPs.
The upheaval began when Yiannis Dragasakis, a prominent SYRIZA MP and economist who was chairing the session, asked security guards to remove Iliopoulos after the far-right MP remarked that «Mr Alexis is preparing a souped-up question for the prime minister," he said, adding that the leftist opposition leader Alexis Tsipras was "sleeping the sleep of the just" and dreaming of waking up as prime minister....
Friday, May 17, 2013 - 11:40
Nicholas Winton is famous because he did not turn over the page. While many British people tut-tutted when they read about the plight of Jews in central Europe under the Nazis in late 1938 and then turned to the next item of news, he took action. At the time, he was working as a broker at the London Stock Exchange and was about to go on a skiing trip as a Christmas break. Instead, he received an urgent call from a friend to come to Prague, where the latter was visiting a refugee camp. Winton cancelled his holiday, went over and saw the situation facing the Jews in the Nazi-occupied part of Czechoslovakia.
Winton became convinced that a human tragedy was looming – which only immediate action could avert – and focused on the need to rescue the endangered children. However, Britain had already set a limit on the number of children it would let in, which was happening through the Kindertransport programme. So he returned to England to persuade the Home Office to grant additional entry permits and for whom he personally would find sponsors so that they were not a burden on the state....
Friday, May 17, 2013 - 11:01
During a joint press conference this afternoon at the White House, President Obama dismissed his critics’ charges that this weeks scandals are of a similar nature to those that tarnished and shortened the tenure of President Richard Nixon during the early 1970s. Shrugging off the accusations, the president indicated the comparisons don’t bother him and that his critics can draw their own conclusions....
Friday, May 17, 2013 - 09:12
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — One by one the teenage singers practice the opening lines to “Boogie Wonderland,” a disco-funk hit from an era before they were born, as dancers work on hip-swinging moves that require perfect choreography.
In another room, young musicians play the same song over and over on guitar, piano and drums, trying to get in rhythm and in tune before the singers and dancers join them to rehearse for an outdoor concert. The music hits a fevered high as the singers and the band mesh to recreate a pop classic....
Thursday, May 16, 2013 - 22:26
COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Danish museum officials say that an archaeological dig last year has revealed 365 items from the Viking era, including 60 rare coins.
Danish National Museum spokesman Jens Christian Moesgaard says the coins have a distinctive cross motif attributed to Norse King Harald Bluetooth, who is believed to have brought Christianity to Norway and Denmark....
Thursday, May 16, 2013 - 22:16
Today, what’s hot in cartography! We need to talk about cartography more often here on the A-blog. Let’s just admit it: Most of us could easily spend an entire evening studying maps. And I don’t mean Rand McNally road atlases, though those are great, too. I mean old maps, obscure maps, maps of the dark side of the moon, star charts, nautical charts, topographic maps, lidar maps, maps of Civil War battles, maps of subway systems and sewer lines, and maps of buried treasures that we’d go out and find if we weren’t so busy, you know, looking at maps.
Here’s my news item: Friday a bunch of historians with a cartographic interest will convene at the Library of Congress to discuss the famous maps of Martin Waldseemuller....
Thursday, May 16, 2013 - 22:15
When Elias Unger looked out from his front porch on May 31, 1889, he was astounded by what he saw. His house overlooked Pennsylvania’s Lake Conemaugh, a 2½ mile-long man-made body of water formed by one of the world’s largest earthen dams. On that morning, the rain-swollen lake was dangerously close to breaching the wall.
Gathering a work crew, Unger labored frantically to shore up the dam, but it was too late. By afternoon, the 72-foot wall had given way, sending 20 million tons of water surging down the Little Conemaugh River Valley toward Johnstown, Pa., and claiming the lives of 2,209 people.
On a recent visit, I stood near Unger’s porch, looking out over a pastoral valley dotted with trees and the Little Conemaugh gently meandering through it. A railroad track ran along the valley floor. I could see the remainder of the dam: two earthen abutments with a telltale 270-foot gap between them....
Thursday, May 16, 2013 - 22:00
The nurse and the soldier may never have met – and eventually married – had it not been for the American government’s mistreatment of black women during World War II.
Elinor Elizabeth Powell was an African-American military nurse. Frederick Albert was a German prisoner of war. Their paths crossed in Arizona in 1944. It was a time when the Army was resisting enlisting black nurses and the relatively small number allowed entry tended to be assigned to the least desirable duties....
Thursday, May 16, 2013 - 20:48
Kansas State Board of Education member Steve Roberts came under fire Tuesday for using the “N-word” at last month’s board meeting.
Roberts, R-Overland Park, who used the word during a discussion of African-American history, stood by his choice of words “100 percent.”
But board member Carolyn Campbell, D-Topeka, along with two members of the NAACP, called Roberts’ comments offensive.
Roberts said the word on April 16 in the context of a vote on history standards....
Thursday, May 16, 2013 - 20:45
Safely guarded in an air-conditioned vault in Atlanta, Georgia, lies one of western society's most valuable artefacts.
So valuable, that its owner could lose millions if anyone so much as got a look at it.
That's what Coca-Cola would have us believe anyway, claiming the only original copy of the soft drink's top-secret recipe lies underneath its US headquarters.
But one man is threatening to lift this veil of secrecy this week as he claims to publish a copy of the original formula in a new book....
Thursday, May 16, 2013 - 20:05
New images of a possible lost city hidden by Honduran rain forests show what might be the building foundations and mounds of Ciudad Blanca, a never-confirmed legendary metropolis.
Archaeologists and filmmakers Steven Elkins and Bill Benenson announced last year that they had discovered possible ruins in Honduras' Mosquitia region using lidar, or light detection and ranging. Essentially, slow-flying planes send constant laser pulses toward the ground as they pass over the rain forest, imaging the topography below the thick forest canopy.
What the archaeologists found and what the new images reveal are features that could be ancient ruins, including canals, roads, building foundations and terraced agricultural land. The University of Houston archaeologists who led the expedition will reveal their new images and discuss them Wednesday at the American Geophysical Union Meeting of the Americas in Cancun....
Thursday, May 16, 2013 - 10:48
A statue honoring Confederate soldiers that has stood for more than 100 years outside a Leesburg, Va., courthouse is now at the center of a battle between an attorney and residents.
The statue, which reads “In memory of the Confederate Soldiers of Loudoun County, Va. Erected May 28, 1908,” shows a soldier standing guard with his rifle, WTOP reports.
John Flannery, an attorney who regularly hears cases inside the courthouse, said the statue intimidates clients and should be moved into a museum or graveyard.
"It deters people. It chills them from believing they can get a fair shake in court," Flannery told WTOP....
Thursday, May 16, 2013 - 10:43
Experts believe that the church is one of the most important archaeological finds in Britain, as it pre-dates both the castle and the Norman Conquest.
Construction workers have also unearthed eight skeletons in the Norman building, believed to be the remains of powerful and wealthy people.
Cecily Spall, an archaeologist on the site, said the find was hugely significant for Lincoln. “The information we can get from this undocumented church is gold dust,” she said.
“Historical documents only tell part of the story for this area so this find is very special.”...
Thursday, May 16, 2013 - 07:55
The first German settlers arrived in Texas over 150 years ago and successfully passed on their native language throughout the generations - until now.
German was the main language used in schools, churches and businesses around the hill country between Austin and San Antonio. But two world wars and the resulting drop in the standing of German meant that the fifth and sixth generation of immigrants did not pass it on to their children....
Hans Boas, a linguistic and German professor at the University of Texas, has made it his mission to record as many speakers of German in the Lone Star State as he can before the last generation of Texas Germans passes away.
Mr Boas has recorded 800 hours of interviews with over 400 German descendants in Texas and archived them at the Texas German Dialect Project. He says the dialect, created from various regional German origins and a mix of English, is one of a kind....
Wednesday, May 15, 2013 - 12:27
Curators at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture are working with restoration experts to dismantle an antebellum slave cabin on Point of Pines Plantation in Edisto Island, S.C. The cabin was donated to the museum last month by the Edisto Island Historical Society. The two-room cabin, which measures 16 by 20 feet, is believed to be in its original location and will become part of the “Slavery and Freedom” exhibition in Washington when the museum opens its doors in 2015.
“Slavery is one of the last great unmentionables in public discourse,” said Lonnie Bunch, director of the museum. “The cabin allows us to humanize slavery, to personalize the life of the enslaved, and frame this story as one that has shaped us all. [Slavery] is not just an African American story.”
The museum had been searching for a slave cabin to display for its permanent collection. The cabin will be displayed prominently in the museum, visible from three levels. Although the cabin will be reconstructed on-site, visitors will not be able to enter or touch the cabin because of its fragility....
Wednesday, May 15, 2013 - 08:34
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Manuscripts and other materials that offer new perspectives on Thomas Jefferson are being donated to the foundation that owns his estate.
The Thomas Jefferson Foundation was to formally accept 2,500 manuscripts, works of art and decorative objects at a reception Tuesday afternoon at the Jefferson Library at Monticello. The items donated by Sister Margherita Marchione are related to Jefferson’s longtime friend, Philip Mazzei.
“The materials shed new light from different angles on Jefferson, Monticello, and the whole founding generation,” Jack Robertson, Monticello’s foundation librarian, told The Daily Progress (http://bit.ly/10UNnTC )....
Tuesday, May 14, 2013 - 17:21
Anastasia Romanov, the youngest daughter of the last Russian Tsar, was already smoking at the age of 15, encouraged by her proud father Nicholas II.
The anecdote about the Grand Duchess, a key figure in the conspiracy theories that followed the gunshot and bayonet murders of the Romanovs, has been revealed by a series of photographs found in a remote museum in the Urals.
Taken in 1916 near Mogilyov, where the Russian military was headquartered during World War I, the photo shows the young girl puffing at the cigarette with every encouragement from her father.
“At the time there was not the same stigma attached to smoking,” wrote the Siberian Times, which described the pictures found in the local history museum of Zlatoust, a small city about 186 miles from Yekaterinburg. It was there that the tsar and his family were slaughtered in 1918 by the Bolsheviks on the orders of Soviet founder Vladimir Lenin....
Tuesday, May 14, 2013 - 17:20
BALTIMORE — FBI and National Archive officials are returning to their rightful owners more than 10,000 important historical documents seized during a massive theft investigation involving a well-known collector of presidential memorabilia.
Barry Landau and assistant Jason Savedoff were caught stealing documents from the Maryland Historical Society almost two years ago. An investigation led authorities to a cache of thousands of stolen documents in Landau’s New York City apartment, including some containing a who’s who of American and international history. Both men pleaded guilty to their crimes and are serving prison sentences.
Now, officials are returning the documents to 24 identified victims nationwide, including university libraries and historical societies in New York, Connecticut, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. On Monday, they returned 21 items to the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore....
Tuesday, May 14, 2013 - 17:01
Tristram Hunt, a Labour education spokesman and historian, has attacked Education Secretary Michael Gove over his use of evidence.
It follows a Freedom of Information request showing Mr Gove's claim about children's lack of historical knowledge had been based on a UKTV Gold survey.
Mr Gove had been setting out the need to raise standards in history.
A Department for Education spokeswoman said: "There is plenty of other evidence to support this argument."
Mr Hunt, taking up last week's attack by the education secretary on the use of Mr Men characters in teaching history, accused Mr Gove of being "Mr Sloppy"....
Tuesday, May 14, 2013 - 15:48
A massacre of 50 Maori on Wellington's south coast has been brought to light thanks to a lucky Google search.
Historian Elsdon Best wrote a comprehensive history of Wellington Maori, The Land of Tara and They Who Settled It, in about 1919.
However, an incident in which northern Maori swept into Wellington and killed 50 Ngati Ira iwi at Tarakena Bay about 1820 came to his attention only after his book was published.
He told fellow historian Henry Christie, who wrote about it in 1931. Miramar military historian Allan Jenkins came across Christie's record of the massacre about 30 years ago but, despite numerous searches, was unable to find it again....
Tuesday, May 14, 2013 - 15:40
TOKYO (AP) — An outspoken nationalist mayor said the Japanese military's forced prostitution of Asian women before and during World War II was necessary to "maintain discipline" in the ranks and provide rest for soldiers who risked their lives in battle.
The comments made Monday are already raising ire in neighboring countries that bore the brunt of Japan's wartime aggression and have long complained that Japan has failed to fully atone for wartime atrocities.
Toru Hashimoto, the young, brash mayor of Osaka who is co-leader of an emerging conservative political party, also said that U.S. troops currently based in southern Japan should patronize the local sex industry more to help reduce rapes and other assaults....
Tuesday, May 14, 2013 - 15:25
A study of remains from Central Europe suggests the foundations of the modern gene pool were laid down between 4,000 and 2,000 BC - in Neolithic times.
These changes were likely brought about by the rapid growth and movement of some populations.
The work by an international team is published in Nature Communications.
Decades of study of the DNA patterns of modern Europeans suggests two major events in prehistory significantly affected the continent's genetic landscape: its initial peopling by hunter-gatherers in Palaeolithic times (35,000 years ago) and a wave of migration by Near Eastern farmers some 6,000 years ago. (in the early Neolithic)...
Tuesday, May 14, 2013 - 15:13
Madrid, May 7 (EFE).- Eleven of the 13 Neanderthals who lived in northern Spain's El Sidron cave were right-handed, indicating that these cousins of modern humans had a brain structure similar to that of Homo sapiens, a study published in Plos One magazine said.
Researchers, among them members of Spain's CSIC research council, analyzed grooves in more than 60 Neanderthal dental pieces.
Manual laterality "reflects specialized organization of the brain, so its evolutionary origin has been the subject of research for decades," project director Antonio Rosas said....
Tuesday, May 14, 2013 - 15:06
Plague may have helped finish off the Roman Empire, researchers now reveal.
Plague is a fatal disease so infamous that it has become synonymous with any dangerous, widespread contagion. It was linked to one of the first known examples of biological warfare, when Mongols catapulted plague victims into cities.
The bacterium that causes plague, Yersinia pestis, has been linked with at least two of the most devastating pandemics in recorded history. One, the Great Plague, which lasted from the 14th to 17th centuries, included the infamous epidemic known as the Black Death, which may have killed nearly two-thirds of Europe in the mid-1300s. Another, the Modern Plague, struck around the world in the 19th and 20th centuries, beginning in China in the mid-1800s and spreading to Africa, the Americas, Australia, Europe and other parts of Asia. [In Photos: 14th-Century 'Black Death' Graveyard]....
Monday, May 13, 2013 - 14:11