history

    On June 27, 1844, a mob stormed the jail in the dusty frontier town of Carthage, Illinois. Clamorous and angry, they were hunting down a man they saw as a grave threat to their otherwise quiet lives: the founding prophet of Mormonism, Joseph Smith. They wanted blood.

At thirty-nine years old, Smith had already lived an outsized life. In addition to starting his own religion and creating his own “Golden Bible”—the Book of Mormon—he had worked as a water-dowser and treasure hunter. He’d led his people to Ohio, then Missouri, then Illinois, where he founded a city larger than fledgling Chicago. He was running for president. And, secretly, he had married more than thirty women.

In American Crucifixion, Alex Beam tells how Smith went from charismatic leader to public enemy: How his most seismic revelation—the doctrine of polygamy—created a rift among his people; how that schism turned to violence; and how, ultimately, Smith could not escape the consequences of his ambition and pride.

    From 1944 to 1946, as the world pivoted from the Second World War to an unsteady peace, Americans in more than two hundred cities and towns mobilized to chase an implausible dream. The newly-created United Nations needed a meeting place, a central place for global diplomacy—a Capital of the World.

But what would it look like, and where would it be? Author Charlene Mires share the history with us.

    

  The Statue of Liberty has become one of the most recognizable monuments in the world: a symbol of freedom and the American Dream. In her new book, Liberty’s Torch: The Great Adventure to Build the Statue of Liberty, journalist Elizabeth Mitchell tells the story of the envisioning, funding and building of the Statue of Liberty - dispelling long-standing myths around its creation.

We all know the legend that the statue was a gift from France, but that implies that the government of France gave it to the government of America. In reality, it was the inspiration of the French sculptor, Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, hungry for fame and adoration.

  The Schenectady County Historical Society was founded in 1905 to preserve the history of the area. The Society’s museum and local history and genealogy research library have been located at 32 Washington Avenue in the Stockade neighborhood in Schenectady since 1958.

They are opening a new exhibition this weekend entitled "Canals and Railroads: Collaboration to Competition." The exhibit explores the beginnings of the Canal Era and New York State’s early railroads which were built to enhance and complement–rather than compete with– the waterway system.

It is a traveling exhibit, put together by Alco Historical and Technical Society historian, Dave Gould and Alco Historical and Technical Society designer, John Kolwaite. They join us now along with Mary Zawacki, Curator for the Schenectady County Historical Society.

    Serhii Plokhy is the Mykhailo Hrushevsky Professor of Ukrainian History and the Director of the Ukrainian Research Institute at Harvard University.

His new book is The Last Empire: The Final Days of the Soviet Union.

As prize-winning historian Serhii Plokhy reveals in The Last Empire, the collapse of the Soviet Union was anything but the handiwork of the United States. On the contrary, American leaders dreaded the possibility that the Soviet Union—weakened by infighting and economic turmoil—might suddenly crumble, throwing all of Eurasia into chaos.

Those prejudiced political power brokers, now trying to hang a liturgical lock on this nation’s spiritual inception, as a Christian entity, had best beware of history’s recurrent habit of self-correction…much like proof that appears to be surfacing, now. For starters, let’s not forget the Native American tribes who were here, when the Holy-Roller "conversionists" first set out to "civilize" the “savages” who helped them survive the rigors of this untamed land, they’d come to conquer.  The Amerinds’ own religion taught them to respect and preserve what nature had provided but their fortune-hunting Christian conquerors were determined to despoil. One hesitates to contradict historic errors that have (for some) become part wish-prejudiced and nationally accepted misstatements…but when facts surface, despite repetition to the contrary, truthful contradiction must intercede, like it or not.

Can math be used to better understand history?

Peter Turchin, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Connecticut, is doing just that through complex mathematical algorithms.

    

  Four days before Christmas 1943, a badly damaged American bomber struggled to fly over wartime Germany. At its controls was a 21-year-old pilot. Half his crew lay wounded or dead. It was their first mission. Suddenly, a sleek, dark shape pulled up on the bomber’s tail—a German fighter. Worse, the German pilot was an ace, a man able to destroy the American bomber in the squeeze of a trigger. What happened next would defy imagination and later be called the most incredible encounter between enemies in World War II.

This is the true story of the two pilots whose lives collided in the skies that day—the American—2nd Lieutenant Charlie Brown, a former farm boy from West Virginia who came to captain a B-17—and the German—2nd Lieutenant Franz Stigler, a former airline pilot from Bavaria who sought to avoid fighting in World War II.

The story is told in historian Adam Makos’ new book - A Higher Call - that follows both Charlie and Franz’s harrowing missions.

    In his comprehensive history, The Rise of the Tudors, Chris Skidmore chronicles the early story of the Tudors, beginning with the birth of the future Henry VII and following his life through the tumultuous Wars of the Roses, which ended with Henry’s coronation.

    From ancient currency to Adam Smith, from the gold standard to shadow banking and the Great Recession: a sweeping historical epic that traces the development and evolution of one of humankind’s greatest inventions.

What is money, and how does it work? In Money: The Unauthorized Biography, Felix Martin challenges nothing less than our conventional understanding of money.

    

  Built in the fifth century b.c., the Parthenon has been venerated for more than two millennia as the West’s ultimate paragon of beauty and proportion. Since the Enlightenment, it has also come to represent our political ideals, the lavish temple to the goddess Athena serving as the model for our most hallowed civic architecture. But how much do the values of those who built the Parthenon truly correspond with our own?

In The Parthenon Enigma, Joan Breton Connelly challenges our most basic assumptions about the Parthenon and the ancient Athenians.

Hancock Shaker Village

Apr 11, 2014

    The 750-acre Hancock Shaker Village operates as a living-history museum open to the public with 20 authentic Shaker buildings, costumed interpreters, rich collections of Shaker furniture and artifacts in rotating exhibits, a full schedule of activities and workshops, a mile-long hiking trail and picnic areas, a Village Store and Village Cafe, and a working farm with extensive gardens and heritage-breed livestock.

They kick of their busy season this Saturday, April 12th with Baby Animals!

Shawn Hartley Hancock is the Director of Marketing & Communications at Hancock Shaker Village and she joins along with Shaker Singers - Todd Burdick, Margaret Carlough, Jim Day, Stephanie Guelpa, and Julie Smith.

    James Romm, the James Ottaway Jr. Professor of Classics at Bard College is the author of several books on ancient Greek and Macedonian history and on imperial Rome. His latest book is: Dying Every Day: Seneca at the Court of Nero.

At the center, the tumultuous life of Seneca, ancient Rome’s preeminent writer and philosopher, beginning with banishment in his fifties and subsequent appointment as tutor to twelve-year-old Nero, future emperor of Rome. Controlling them both, Nero’s mother, Julia Agrippina the Younger, Roman empress, great-granddaughter of the Emperor Augustus, sister of the Emperor Caligula, niece and fourth wife of Emperor Claudius.

James Romm will be part of this weekend’s Read Local Red Hook Literary Festival.

    Near the start of the nineteenth century, as the newly established United States looked outward toward the wider world, a group of eminent Protestant ministers formed a grand scheme for gathering the rest of mankind into the redemptive fold of Christianity and “civilization.” Its core element was a special school for “heathen youth” drawn from all parts of the earth, including the Pacific Islands, China, India, and, increasingly, the native nations of North America.

The Heathen School follows the progress, and the demise, of this first true melting pot through the lives of individual students: among them, Henry Obookiah, a young Hawaiian who ran away from home and worked as a seaman in the China Trade before ending up in New England; John Ridge, son of a powerful Cherokee chief and subsequently a leader in the process of Indian “removal”; and Elias Boudinot, editor of the first newspaper published by and for Native Americans.

    In the late summer of 1918, after four long years of senseless, stagnant fighting, the Western Front erupted. The bitter four-month struggle that ensued—known as the Hundred Days Campaign—saw some of the bloodiest and most ferocious combat of the Great War, as the Allies grimly worked to break the stalemate in the west and end the conflict that had decimated Europe.

   This morning in our Ideas Matter segment, we spotlight the Connecticut Humanities Council and learn about History Day In Connecticut.

CT History Day is part of the National History Day which helps students understand how to "do" history and why our history is important.

The program reaches hundreds of schools and thousands of children. It's a way of investing in a future audience for history and the humanities and helps CT students connect directly with the history of their country and their state.

Recent announcements by regional theaters and theatrical companies, in New York’s Capital District and in nearby New England, reveal a spate of performances by Broadway road-shows and locally arranged productions of renowned theatrical works of the past.  Their goals, to make today’s younger audiences familiar with them, thus keep them historically alive.  The idea, although rooted in increased audiences and revenues, is an entirely worthy one.  So much so, it put this elderly commentator on the scent of an appropriate vehicle to familiarize young people with historic political events, worthy of remembrance, through retelling by ethical narrators.  Thus providing better informed citizens, should the same situations occur again, in the future.

    In The Invention of Wings, Hetty “Handful” Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women.

Kidd’s sweeping novel is set in motion on Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership of ten year old Handful, who is to be her handmaid.

  From the frigid trans-Siberian railroad to the antiquated Indian Railways to the futuristic MagLev trains, Tom Zoellner offers a stirring story of man’s relationship with trains. In Train: Riding the Rails That Created the Modern World—from the Trans-Siberian to the Southwest Chief, he examines both the mechanics of the rails and their engines and how they helped societies evolve. Not only do trains transport people and goods in an efficient manner, but they also reduce pollution and dependency upon oil.

Zoellner also considers America’s culture of ambivalence to mass transit, using the perpetually stalled line between Los Angeles and San Francisco as a case study in bureaucracy and public indifference.

    A 2006 report commissioned by Brown University revealed that institution’s complex and contested involvement in slavery—setting off a controversy that leapt from the ivory tower to make headlines across the country.

But Brown’s troubling past was far from unique. In Ebony and Ivy: Race, Slavery, and the Troubled History of America's Universities, Craig Steven Wilder, a rising star in the profession of history, lays bare uncomfortable truths about race, slavery, and the American academy.

Public Domain / Archive.org

The story of Solomon Northup, a free man lured from New York and sold into slavery in 1841, is now known by a worldwide audience thanks to the Oscar-nominated film 12 Years A Slave. The film, directed by Steve McQueen, shares the title of the narrative written by Northup after his rescue in 1853.

    The young Mary Cassatt never thought moving to Paris after the Civil War to be an artist was going to be easy, but when, after a decade of work, her submission to the Paris Salon is rejected, Mary’s fierce determination wavers. Her father is begging her to return to Philadelphia to find a husband before it is too late, her sister Lydia is falling mysteriously ill, and worse, Mary is beginning to doubt herself. Then one evening a friend introduces her to Edgar Degas and her life changes forever. Years later she will learn that he had begged for the introduction, but in that moment their meeting seems a miracle. So begins the defining period of her life and the most tempestuous of relationships.

In I Always Loved You, Robin Oliveira brilliantly re-creates the irresistible world of Belle Époque Paris, writing with grace and uncommon insight into the passion and foibles of the human heart.

    The arrival of the Beatles was one of those unforgettable cultural touchstones. Through the voices of those who witnessed it or were swept up in it indirectly, The Beatles Are Here! explores the emotional impact—some might call it hysteria—of the Fab Four’s February 1964 dramatic landing on our shores.

This intimate and entertaining collection arose from writer Penelope Rowlands’s own Beatlemaniac phase: she was one of the screaming girls captured in an iconic photograph that has since been published around the world—and is displayed on the cover of this book.

      Award winning documentary filmmaker, Ken Burns, will be at the Memorial Hall in Shelburne Falls, MA on February 12 at 7pm to present clips from his new seven-part film The Roosevelts: An Intimate History. The 14 hour film will air on PBS later this year. The event will help the Arms Library raise money for the first phase of a multi-year project to restore the historic Pratt Memorial Library Building. To reserve tickets call 413 625 0306.

“The Roosevelts” weaves together the stories of Theodore, Franklin, and Eleanor Roosevelt – three members of one of the most prominent and influential families in American politics.

Ken Burns has been making films for more than thirty years. Since the Academy Award nominated Brooklyn Bridge in 1981, Ken has gone on to direct and produce some of the most acclaimed historical documentaries ever made, including The Civil War, Baseball, Jazz, The National Parks: America’s Best Idea, The Dust Bowl – and many others.

    The Hanford Mills Museum in East Meredith, NY is having their annual Ice Harvest Festival on February 1st from 10am to 4pm.

Ice harvests were once an essential part of winter in rural communities. Before there was refrigeration, ice was needed to preserve agricultural products and to keep food cold in the warmer months. Ice Festival attendees can take part in a traditional ice harvest! They’ll walk out on the frozen mill pond to help cut and maneuver blocks of ice using historic tools. The ice will be transported by sled and then packed in the Museum’s traditional ice house.

    Fearing a backlash, according to our next guest, the military has routinely distorted its casualty reports in order to hide the true cost of war.

When Soldiers Fall takes a new look at the way Americans have dealt with the toll of armed conflict. Drawing on a vast array of sources, from George Patton's command papers to previously untapped New York Times archives, historian Steven Casey ranges from World War I (when the U.S. government first began to report casualties) to the War on Terror, examining official policy, the press, and the public reaction.

    Jamie Ford's first novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, was a surprise New York Times bestseller. His second book, Songs of Willow Frost is the story of a Chinese-American orphan in Seattle during The Great Depression.

   We are very happy to continue our weekly feature on the RT, entitled – Ideas Matter: Checking in with the Public Humanities. It is our chance to check in with the Humanities Councils throughout our 7-State area to discuss important ideas and why they do indeed matter.

This morning we spotlight the Connecticut Humanities Council and talk about the idea of public commemoration and lessons of history.

Our guest is Dr. Matthew Warshauer, Author, public historian, Professor of History at Central Connecticut State University, Chair of the Connecticut Civil War Commemoration Commission and trustee of Connecticut Humanities.

    The Girls of Atomic City rescues a remarkable, forgotten chapter of American history from obscurity. Denise Kiernan captures the spirit of the times through these women: their pluck, their desire to contribute, and their enduring courage.

At the height of World War II, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, was home to 75,000 residents, consuming more electricity than New York City. But to most of the world, the town did not exist. Thousands of civilians--many of them young women from small towns across the South--were recruited to this secret city, enticed by solid wages and the promise of war-ending work. Kept very much in the dark, few would ever guess the true nature of the tasks they performed each day in the hulking factories in the middle of the Appalachian Mountains. That is, until the end of the war--when Oak Ridge's secret was revealed.

My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel, is a deeply personal narrative history of the state of Israel by Ari Shavit - one of the most influential Israeli journalist writing about the Middle East today.

As it examines the complexity and the contradictions of the Israeli condition, My Promised Land asks difficult but important questions- Why did Israel come to be? How did it come to be? And can Israel survive?

Shavit draws on an almost 30 year long careered delve into his countries most defining conflicts, ambitions, successes, and disappointments- as well as to explore his own families history, and the story of other ordinary individuals.

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