Saturday, September 11, 2004

Teaching about Western Europe

Teaching about Western Europe. This is an essay which details ways that teachers can instruct American students about European history.

From the site:

Despite the urgent need to address the very real concerns of today's minorities, the development of the United States has been so closely related to the fortunes of Western Europe that it is almost impossible to keep the subject out of the curriculum. The notion of independence is a key component of American tradition, but many of our political and cultural institutions mirror those of "the old country." Elements of Western civilization emerge in any consideration of American art, literature, and thought. The historical study of almost any American phenomenon requires at least a look at the West European background against which it emerged.

Until the very end of the 19th century, the vast majority of the immigrants arriving in the United States came essentially from Western Europe. Thus the European experience is part of the very fabric of culture in the United States. Sadly, much of the linguistic wealth of the immigrants was lost in the melting pot, but today language teaching is as vigorous as it has ever been, and many modern languages taught in our schools have their roots in Western Europe.

In geography, economics, and history, Western Europe offers a breadth and variety of different social, political, industrial, financial, and legal systems that can be explored as individual cases or as comparative entities or, again, as parts of a cohesive whole. Looking backwards, Western Europe can be viewed as a sum of knowledge and experience. Looking forward it can provide indicators for future trends in our own country. Its study, therefore, has immediate relevance to a great many teaching areas.

Friday, September 10, 2004

History of The Bahamas

History of The Bahamas. This is short but well done history of the Bahamas.

From the site:

In 1492, Christopher Columbus made his first landfall in the Western Hemisphere in The Bahamas. Spanish slave traders later captured native Lucayan Indians to work in gold mines in Hispaniola, and within 25 years, all Lucayans perished. In 1647, a group of English and Bermudan religious refugees, the Eleutheran Adventurers, founded the first permanent European settlement in The Bahamas and gave Eleuthera Island its name. Similar groups of settlers formed governments in The Bahamas until the islands became a British Crown Colony in 1717.

The first Royal Governor, a former pirate named Woodes Rogers, brought law and order to The Bahamas in 1718 when he expelled the buccaneers who had used the islands as hideouts. During the American Civil War, The Bahamas prospered as a center of Confederate blockade-running. After World War I, the islands served as a base for American rumrunners. During World War II, the Allies centered their flight training and antisubmarine operations for the Caribbean in The Bahamas. Since then, The Bahamas has developed into a major tourist and financial services center.

Bahamians achieved self-government through a series of constitutional and political steps, attaining internal self-government in 1964 and full independence within the Commonwealth on July 10, 1973.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Dramatic History or Historical Drama?

Dramatic History or Historical Drama? This is a thought provoking article which argues that historians should more active in shaping plays that deal with history.

From the site:

This article is meant to illustrate the difficulty that historians face in attracting students to their discipline and then holding their attention. Yet it is one of the ironies of this era that historical topics remain quite popular in a variety of genre from motion pictures to the theater. What I propose in this article is that historians with dramatic skills should find ways to write plays about historical subjects rather than leaving such tasks to dramatists who mainly use historical figures to attract attention to their plays. The final portion of the article describes the difficulties that historians have in using such an approach and the ways to overcome those difficulties.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Ulysses S. Grant

Ulysses S. Grant. This is a good biography and overview of the life of the American Civil War General and President.

From the site:

Ulysses Simpson Grant ( April 27 , 1822 - July 23 , 1885 ) was an American Civil War General and the 18th ( 1869 - 1877 ) President of the United States .

Grant (born Hiram Ulysses Grant ) was born in Point Pleasant, Ohio , Clermont County, Ohio (25 miles above Cincinnati on the Ohio River ) to Jesse R. and Hannah Simpson Grant. His father and also his mother's father were born in Pennsylvania . His father was a tanner . In the fall of 1823 they moved to the village of Georgetown in Brown County, Ohio , where Grant spent most of his time until he was 17.

At the age of 17, he received a cadetship to the United States Military Academy at West Point , New York through his Congressman . The Congressman erroneously registered him as Ulysses S. Grant, and as such he is thus known. He graduated from West Point in 1843 , No. 21 in a class of 39.

He married Julia Boggs Dent ( 1826 - 1902 ) on August 22 , 1843 and they had four children: Frederick Dent, Ulysses Simpson, Jr., Ellen Wrenshall, and Jesse Root.
Military career He served in the Mexican-American War under Generals Zachary Taylor and Winfield Scott , taking part in the battles of Resaca de la Palma , Palo Alto , Monterrey , and Vera Cruz . He was twice breveted for bravery: at Molino del Rey and Chapultepec . The following summer, on July 31 , 1854 , he resigned from the army. Seven years of civilian life following, in which he was a farmer, a real estate agent in St. Louis, Missouri , and finally an assistant at his father and brother's leather business.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Byzantine Empire

Byzantine Empire. This is a nice essay on the history of the Eastern Roman Empire. It is from Wikinfo.

From the site:

The Byzantine Empire or Eastern Roman Empire was the eastern section of the Roman Empire which remained in existence after the fall of the western section. The life of the empire is commonly considered to span AD 395 to 1453.

During the thousand years of its existence, it was known as the Eastern Roman Empire. It was not referred to as the "Byzantine Empire" until the 17th century. The Roman emperor Constantine the Great rebuilt Byzantium (today's Istanbul) in AD 330. He renamed it Constantinople and made it the capital of the Roman Empire.

The division of the Empire began with the Tetrarchy (quadrumvirate) in the late 3rd century AD with Diocletian, as an institution intended to efficiently control the vast Roman empire.

The Roman empire was divided by Theodosius I (also called "the great") for his two sons in AD 395. Arcadius became ruler in the East, with his capital in Constantinople, and Flavius Honorius became ruler in the west, with his capital in Milan.

The Byzantines considered themselves to be Romans and the legitimate continuation of the Roman Empire. Practically speaking, however, the general prevailing national identity of the Eastern Roman State was Greek. Greek was not only the official language, but also the language of the church, of the literature and of all commercial transactions. Even though the Byzantine Empire was a multinational state, including Greeks, Armenians, Jews, Egyptians, Syrians, Illyrians, and Slavs, it was considered to be a "Greek state" due to its Orthodox Christian character and its common Greek culture radiated by large centers of Hellenism such as Constantinople, Antioch, Ephesus, Thessalonika and Alexandria.

Monday, September 06, 2004

History of Austria

History of Austria. This is a short and engaging article which gives an overview of the history of Austria.

From the site:

The Austro-Hungarian Empire played a decisive role in central European history. It occupied strategic territory containing the southeastern routes to western Europe and the north-south routes between Germany and Italy. Present-day Austria retains this unique position.

Soon after the Republic of Austria was created at the end of World War I, it faced the strains of catastrophic inflation and of adapting a large government structure to the needs of a new, smaller republic. In the early 1930s, worldwide depression and unemployment added to these strains and shattered traditional Austrian society. In 1933, Engelbert Dollfuss formed a conservative autocracy. In February 1934, civil war broke out, and the Socialist Party was outlawed. In July, a coup d'etat by the National Socialists failed, but Nazis assassinated Dollfuss. In March 1938, Germany occupied Austria and incorporated it into the German Reich. This development is commonly known as the "Anschluss" (annexation).

At the Moscow conference in 1943, the Allies declared their intention to liberate and reconstitute Austria. In April 1945, both Eastern- and Western-front Allied forces liberated the country. Subsequently, the victorious allies divided Austria into zones of occupation similar to those in Germany with a four-power administration of Vienna. Under the 1945 Potsdam agreements, the Soviets took control of German assets in their zone of occupation. These included 7% of Austria's manufacturing plants, 95% of its oil resources, and about 80% of its refinery capacity. The properties returned to Austria under the Austrian State Treaty. This treaty, signed in Vienna on May 15, 1955, came into effect on July 27, and, under its provisions, all occupation forces departed by October 25, 1955. Austria became free and independent for the first time since 1938.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

The Neolithic Mosaic on the North European Plain

The Neolithic Mosaic on the North European Plain. This essay examines the issue of migration among Neolithic peoples and how this shaped cultural developments during this period in Europe.

From the site:

The introduction of agriculture and the successful establishment of farming communities on the lowlands of north-central Europe between 5000 and 3500 B.C. (recalibrated dating) marked one of the most significant transformations of prehistoric society in this region. Many difficulties in the discussion of the establishment of agriculture in north-central Europe stem from an overemphasis on the distinction between "Mesolithic" and "Neolithic" as adaptive patterns. Such a distinction brings about the notion of a boundary between communities practicing these two strategies. It is clear that there was a "frontier" of sorts between these Neolithic groups and the local foraging peoples. Yet it was a permeable frontier, and once domesticated plants and animals became available on the lowlands of north-central Europe, a well-defined boundary between distinct social entities effectively ceased to exist. Moore (1985: 94) has characterized frontiers between sedentary farmers and mobile foragers as "a cultural mosaic of interspersed communities with varying subsistence and settlement requirements." The North European Plain between 5000 and 3500 b.c. (perhaps a bit earlier and perhaps a bit later) can be described in such terms, as a mosaic cultural landscape.

Postglacial Foraging Groups - By the early fourth millennium bc, some foraging communities in north-central Europe appear to have approached "low mobility", to use the term proposed by Bocek (1985). Examples of "low mobility" adaptations are known from many parts of the world, primarily in lacustrine, estuarine, and riverine environments, and there are many such habitats on the North European Plain with their attendant productivity and diversity. Wetland environments such as the Satruper Moor, the Dümmer basin, the Rhine/Maas delta, and perhaps the lake belts of north-central Poland, probably supported growing low-mobility hunter-gatherer populations by the middle of the sixth millennium B.C., although this hypothesis still needs further testing against the archaeological record.

First Stockherders and Farmers -- 5400-4800 B.C.The earliest food-producing communities to appear on the North European Plain were those of the Linear Pottery culture, or Linearbandkeramik), which had also colonized the loess belt across central Europe between 5400 and 5000 B.C. (recalibrated dating). There are three main clusters of Linear Pottery settlement on the North European Plain: the Kujavy region west of Poznan and south of Torun, the area along the lower Vistula north of Torun, and along the lower Oder river south and west of Szczecin. There are vast areas in which Linear Pottery settlements have not (yet?) been found, including the Pomeranian moraine belt, the Baltic coastal plain, and the glacial outwash areas west of the Elbe, but there is the potential for considerable change in this picture. For instance, prior to 1980, only a handful of Linear Pottery sites were known from the area along the lower Vistula north of Torun. Today, close to 200 have been discovered, thanks to the interest taken in them by a local university.