Welcome to History Carnival LVI at Walking the Berkshires, a blog that despite its name only rarely perambulates about the hills of western New England, though when it does we do tend to kick over stones to see what lies beneath. History is often on tap here, but as regular visitors could tell you, I tend to do things like "follow up a post about one of the worst atrocities in history with a picture of a half naked mermaid" (it was an NC Wyeth, though, so of considerable redeeming artistic value). While I have the utmost admiration for those who use their blogs to delve deeply into a single specialty, it turns out that having a range of interests and the ability to relate them to each other is a distinct advantage for hosting the History Carnival, for what a cabinet of curiosities this one has turned out to be! If this Carnival were an ice-cream sundae, it would probably require lots of hot fudge to unify all the contrasting flavors. So grab yourself a spoon and let me be your soda jerk as we dish up some of the best history blogging of the month of August, 2007. And never mind that it is all going straight to your hips and waistline. The past is always with us.
Cartography, Timelines and Decade Packaging
Strange Maps throws us a curve with a discussion of this map of the social geography of North American baseball. As a patriotic resident of Red Sox Nation, I fear I must agree with the (extensive) comments to this post that Connecticut is disputed territory and threatened by Yankee sprawl.
John Krygier at Making Maps: DIY Cartography reminds us that Erwin Raisz (1893-1968) "generated a pair of 'timecharts of historical cartography' covering key events and individuals in American cartographic history" and shows us where to find them. Meanwhile at The Agonist, Sterling Newberry argues that we should put a fork in the whole concept of decades and declares; "The long decade is done." This reminds me of Utah Phillips' The Past Didn't Go Anywhere (accompanied by Ani DiFranco's righteous groove), in which he calls the whole idea of decade packaging "a journalistic convenience which they use to trivialize and dismiss important events and important ideas."
Whose History Is It, Anyway?
The open source lid came off in August, as the AHA's David Darlington describes in "The Red Pen of Truth?" World History Blog sees more than just the manicured hand of revisionism at work, predicting "The records of anonymous edits (as well as registered users) are going to be treasure trove for historians in the decades and centuries to come. Wikipedia itself is going to be a topic of historical note and all the edits (self-interested or not) tell a rich narrative." For a fresh perspective on Wikis of a quite different sort, Kerim at Savage Minds shows the power and empowerment of Project Naming, in which "Inuit youth took 500 digitized photos taken by Richard Harrington during the 1940s and 50s and asked their elders to help identify the people and places in the pictures. This program was slowly expanded to include...'more than 1,700 photographs' from Canadian archives [that] 'were digitized and sent to Nunavut Sivuniksavut for identification.' "
Lest we get too complacent, however, Brian Downey of Behind AotW reports the "US National Archives has inked another commercial deal to sell public domain materials...The Archivist fails to mention why it’s necessary for the US Government agency to make a commercial deal and charge the public to get these benefits." If that's not bad enough, Janice Brown's Cow Hampshire documents and decries Ancestry.com's aborted strategy to cache biographical data gleaned from genealogical blog posts and sell it to their subscribers regardless of copy write because that would be - um - illegal. Note to Ancestry: it doesn't pay to piss off your base.
Then again, sometimes it's fun just to make stuff up.
Kevin Levin of Civil War Memory gives a thoughtful analysis of some of the problems the Virginia Sesquicentennial of the Civil War Commission will need to address in its work, and explores what it is about American society today that will make it different this time around than at the Centennial - not a simple question. At Another History Blog, David Parker makes a compelling argument that "There was more to secession than slavery, of course, but slavery was clearly the BIG thing...the connection between slavery and 'what they fought for' is not nearly as strong as that between slavery and secession." (Image courtesy of Stay Free! Daily)
Investigations of a Dog, on the other hand, is rethinking the English Revolution, and shows "how historians are breaking out of the Marxist vs revisionist dialectic by taking imaginative approaches which recognise diversity and complexity" in that earlier civil war. Also at the Agonist, Ian Welsh presents the paradox of his friend Peter, who might have been the best man he ever met, and yet had fought for Hitler.
Something old, something new
There are White House Weddings at American Presidents Blog. History is a dirty business for those with a background in soil science, as Natalie Bennett of Philobiblon reveals. It helps to be up on your dendrochronology, says J. L. Bell of Boston 1775. No stranger to what lies beneath, Martin Rundkvist of Aardvarchaeology searches for evidence of "the harbour of the sheaf kings" on Djurö in the Stockholm archipelago. My Beautiful Wickedness offers Home Ec 101 for medieval and early modern homemakers, including this bit of delicious disdain by Erasmus for the state of cleanliness of early 16th century English floors "covered with rushes, occasionally renewed, but so imperfectly that the bottom layer is left undisturbed, sometimes for twenty years, harbouring expectoration, vomiting, the leakage of dogs and men, ale droppings, scraps of fish, and other abominations not fit to be mentioned." The floor in my 7-year-old daughter's room would undoubtedly leave Erasmus cold. Things are far more shipshape at Churbuck.com, where David Churbuck demonstrates the fine points of marlinespike seamanship with buttons and collars for his new spruce Shaw & Tenney oars. In 18th century medical news, The Educational Tour Marm turns kids on to the joys of leech craft, courtesy of Patriot general and apothecary Hugh Mercer.
Museums, Libraries, Missing Persons, Lost and Found
The British Museum has some noteworthy exhibitions on view this season. Amiable Dunce looks forward to "its latest installment in its apparent series of exhibitions about dodgy nations with overlooked and extraordinary histories: The First Emperor: China's Terracotta Army...on September 13", while My London Your London reviews "Faith, Narrative and Desire: Masterpieces of Indian painting in the British Museum." At Everyone Needs Therapy, Therapydoc shares the impact of a visit to Israel's Yad Vashem memorial museum and says; "If you haven't been to any of the Holocaust museums then you're missing out. These memorials are much more than store houses of historical facts, artifacts, newsreels, etc. Their entire raison d'etre is to put you face to face with so much truth that you have to be emotional." Sergey Romanov at Holocaust Controversies looks unflinchingly at the awful arithmetic of the liquidation of the Gypsy Family camp in Birkenau and argues that the website of the Auschwitz Museum's "number of 2897 gassed Gypsies is absolutely unfounded, and potentially, many more hundreds of Gypsies could have been gassed, mostly women and children." Providentia presents "Burning the Library", a fascinating account of gay activist Magnus Hirschfeld - "a true pioneer at a time when such pioneers were rare" - whose library of more than 10,000 volumes was seized as "un-German material" by over 100 students and burned in a public bonfire in 1933.
Nature, Nurture, Sex and Psychology
J. Carter Wood of Obscene Desserts offers "some thoughts on evolution, history and capitalist genes." This is a richly detailed and well articulated post and worth setting aside some uninterrupted time to digest. Wood begins with recent publicity given to "Darwinian" claims made by historian Gregory Clark, saying
"I happen to find a lot of research and theory regarding what we might call the biological basis of behaviour to be very useful; indeed, I have recently argued at length that historians should take account of the increasing amount of insight into the human mind that cognitive and evolutionary psychology have provided.
So, unlike some, perhaps, I do not have trouble with Clark's argument because it's biological; instead, I doubt whether what biology his argument contains is understood and applied correctly."
Erik Michael Johnson of The Primate Diaries presents "The Origins of Forbidden Love; Sexual Identity, Double Standards and the Social Scale", concluding " the double standard we witness today is actually a cultural holdover from this long tradition of patriarchy. While it may have gotten its start as the result of our evolutionary history (males being larger than females) it has been exaggerated and enforced as the result of male-dominated cultural practices. However, this condition is by no means permanent."
Jeremy Burman of Advances in the History of Psychology says "you have a ~38% chance of having your piece accepted for publication" in History of Psychology. You had a somewhat better chance of having your blog post published in this edition of the History Carnival, unless you sent me a stack of them without expressing a preference or didn't meet the basic criteria for submissions.
Valtin at Progressive Historians presents his APA paper on "the long history of behavioral science collaboration with abusive interrogation research, particularly around the subject of sensory deprivation (SD)."
Hadrian's Wall is on the mind of Tony Keen at Memorabilia Antonia, as he considers how the proposed border fence between the United States and Mexico is - and is not - the wall's modern equivalent. Mike of 10,000 Birds draws lessons from the English enclosure movement and the privatization of the common wealth. Kristan Tetens' The Victorian Peeper reveals the marvelous menagerie of Lionel Walter, 2nd Baron Rothschild, while Christopher S. Putnam fills us in at Damn Interesting as to why sending the mail by rocket failed to catch on.
Perhaps in anticipation of the upcoming annual International Talk Like A Pirate Day, Liang Jieming posts Maggie Koerth's piece at History Forum about Cheng I Sao, who as the "most successful pirate of all time controlled a fleet of more than 1,500 ships and upwards of 80,000 sailors -- and she did it all without the help of facial hair." Frog In A Well - The China History Group Blog has Adam Baumler's favorable review of Xue Yu’s new book Buddhism, War, and Nationalism: Chinese Monks in the Struggle against Japanese Aggressions, 1931-1945. Frog in a Well - The Korea History Group Blog's K. M. Lawson looks at "a problem at the heart of studying the history of many post-colonial (in the chronological use of this term) histories: what can’t one blame on Empire?" and memorably asks;
"If Luke Skywalker and his merry band of Ewoks liberate Endor from the hands of the Empire, what aspects of, and for how long can the difficulties faced by post-colonial Endor be rightly blamed on Darth Vader and the Emperor?"
Clio Bluestocking remembers the fate of two trees planted in a Nagasaki park by former President and Mrs Grant, "sixty-six years, one month and two and a half weeks later."
Words and Letters
The Little Professor decodes Victorian literature and provides 10 "Clues that Victorian Characters Are Having Sex, Might Be Thinking About Sex, or Have Had Sex." I'll never look at Middlemarch the same. The Head Heeb delves into Demi-diglossia in Norway and Mike B. at New Leaves uses a passage written by a Maori man to illustrate what he likes about historical writing.
For those who love a series, Judith Weingarten of Zenobia: Empress of the East takes 13-year-old Roman Emperor Gordian III of to war in Persia in two parts. And bringing up the rear, I inflict more than a week of General Sullivan's 1779 expedition against the Iroquois on my regular readers at Walking the Berkshires - Lord knows what the poor dears who dropped by looking for something on invasive species made of it all - but this post can stand on its own if you haven't the stomach for all 8.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a frappe, that is to say a wrap for this 56th edition of the History Carnival. My thanks to everyone who submitted posts and I'm sorry not to have been able to include them all. October's Carnival Host with be will be Simone Drinkwater at Osprey Publishing Blog. You may submit your best history-related posts of September to Simone at <blog AT ospreypublishing DOT com> or use the friendly submission form. And be grateful that these things don't come delivered by rocket.