Originally published 08/09/2013
Nathaniel Popkin is the author of Song of the City: An Intimate History of the American Urban Landscape.Perhaps no book has better clarified the story of 20th century urban decline than the 1996 Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit (Princeton Press) by Penn historian Tom Sugrue. That book, which won the Bancroft Prize in 1998 and cemented Sugrue’s place among the top urban historians, illuminated the ways in which racism, federal policy, and corporate disinvestment combined to send Detroit—and dozens of other industrial cities—into freefall. Sugrue, who grew up in Detroit and lives in Mount Airy, is a careful observer of both his cities.
Originally published 07/19/2013
A Philadelphia historian sparked a days-long — and so far fruitless — archival search when she challenged her blog readers to take an “impossible” test purportedly once given to prospective black voters in Louisiana.The test, which asks the taker to “spell backwards, forwards” among other tasks, went viral on the Internet after it posted on a noted civil rights history website. The Tennessee State Archives put a copy in its collections. Teachers are using it in their history lessons. However, history experts in Louisiana do not have a copy of it.“I suspected that was a hoax,” Andrew Salinas, reference archivist for the Amistad Research Center at Tulane University, said Wednesday.A former civil rights worker who insists the test was given offered another explanation. Jeff Schwartz said Louisiana might have been reluctant to preserve an embarrassing chapter in its history....
Originally published 07/08/2013
PHILADELPHIA — Caretakers of a deteriorating piece of maritime military history hope to have its future secured by next summer and continue working to ensure it stays afloat in the meantime.The USS Olympia, a one-of-a-kind steel cruiser from the Spanish-American War, ideally would have been dry-docked every 20 years for maintenance but has not been out of the water since 1945. Since taking stewardship of the National Historic Landmark from a cash-strapped nonprofit in 1996, the Independence Seaport Museum has spent about $5 million on short-term repairs, inspections and maintenance but cannot afford to keep the ship.A field of six organizations initially vying for the Olympia has been narrowed to two preservation groups — one in the San Francisco Bay Area, where the 5,500-ton warship was launched in 1892, and one in Port Royal, S.C., a strategic support post for the Atlantic fleet during the Spanish-American War....
Originally published 06/07/2013
PHILADELPHIA — A new exhibit created by a University of Pennsylvania professor and host of a popular public television show examines how wartime propaganda has been used to motivate oppressed populations to risk their lives for homelands that considered them second-class citizens.“Black Bodies in Propaganda: The Art of the War Poster,” opens Sunday and continues until March 2 at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. Lectures, film screenings and other programming will be rolled out over the course of the exhibit’s run.The exhibit’s 33 posters, dating from the Civil War to both World Wars and the African independence movements, are part of the personal collection of Tukufu Zuberi, a Penn professor of sociology and African studies and a host of the PBS series “History Detectives.”...
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