Friday, March 23, 2007

International Polar Heritage Committee

International Polar Heritage Committee. This site provides a resource for those working to preserve and protect the non-indigenous human heritage of Antarctic and Arctic regions. It includes information about the organization, reference material, and related groups.

From the site:

This site is provided by the International Polar Heritage Committee (IPHC) as a resource of information on matters related to the human heritage of Arctic and Antarctic regions. It is offered to everyone with an interest in the preservation and protection of the history of exploration, research and exploitation in polar areas.

The IPHC does not claim to have specific expertise in matters related to the indigenous heritage of Arctic regions but it is committed to co-operate closely with groups that do.

Our aim is make this web site as comprehensive and accurate as possible with regular updates of news so we suggest you check the site often. If you have information or suggestions which you would like us to include please contact us.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Nature of Geographic Literacy

The ERIC Digest The Nature of Geographic Literacy is by Alan Backler and Joseph Stoltman. It is from 1986. Despite the age of the article, it is still an interesting read. Students do not understand geography and this directly hinders their ability to understand history.

College students I teach often are clueless as to where American states are located. They are unaware of what countries are in Africa or Asia. No, neither Laos or Guyana is in Africa...

History teachers at all levels need to address geography before they launch into history or the students may not understand the lesson being taught.

From the site:

Much attention has been given recently to the "geographic illiteracy" of Americans. This attention has unfortunately reinforced the common view that geographic literacy consists only in knowing where things are. Where on a world map is Vietnam? Through which countries does the Nile River flow? Where is Atlanta located?

Knowing where things are is only the first step in attaining geographic literacy. Ultimately, geography is concerned with understanding why things are located where they are. To answer this type of question requires the use of a wide range of geographic themes, concepts, and skills. Birdsall (1986) says: "We must also be comfortable enough with the underlying concepts and principles of geography that our understanding of places and people will be enhanced, not limited."

This digest explores the nature of geographic literacy. It discusses 1) fundamental themes of geography, 2) basic geographic skills, and 3) likely outcomes of education for geography literacy.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Communist Party USA donates collection to NYU

CNN has this report titled Communist Party USA donates collection to NYU. It should be quite the archive for scholars researching this doomed cause. The article notes, "The Communist Party USA has donated a vast collection of its photographs and documents, including smuggled directives from Moscow, to New York University. It will take years to catalog and include the collection, which also has original founding papers, personal letters and secret code words."

I found this quote amusing. Michael Nash, director of the Tamiment Library, was surprised to be contacted. He said, "I didn't realize it (the party) still existed."

Indeed. The party had brief successes before the Cold War before fading into a joke. How could it have possibly been successful in the heart of world capitalism? Even the poor never went for it in large numbers. Communism appears to the vast majority to be unAmerican.

Gus Hall was the long time chairman of Communist Party. He ran for president five times and was often the butt of jokes of comedians. In 1996 he told the Cleveland Plain-Dealer that "Socialism in America will come through the ballot box." Hall did not stand for socialism and neither did his party. They stood for Stalinist Communism and history left them behind. He and his party remained anachronisms as good communists in an age when it was clear that communism was not a viable system. And had he ever won, the ballot boxes would have vanished...

Most of these documents have never been released before. It should provide for much fascinating research.

Monday, March 19, 2007

The Last Bear Hunt of Wood County, Ohio

While reading the online version of the Toledo Blade, I came across this great oral history account of the last bear hunt in Wood County located in Northwest Ohio. The article is titled Old flintlock, tale survive by Steve Pollick.

The story relates on how Bill Lorenzen discovered that the story told by his grandmother about his great grandfather Washington Avery killing the last bear in Wood County was true. This was verified by both oral history and a 19th century newspaper account. In the process, Lorenzen also came to acquire the gun which killed the last bear.

The last bear hunt was in 1858. Today, someone killing the last bear in an area would be considered an environmental terrorist. In pre-Civil War Ohio, it was seen as heroic. The hunt took over a day, involved many people, and covered a large distance.

Here is an excerpt:

"Another hunter, 'Old' Jake Hedinger, turned loose a couple of dogs, which pursued the bear and pulled it from the lower trunk of a tree. The bear, still full of energy, took off toward Plank Road [State Rt. 25] and Sugar Ridge Road. More men joined the hunting party as the bear headed toward what was called Rudolph Ditch, now Toussaint Creek, off Devils Hole Road. Toward the end of the day Avery got another shot at the bear, his ball this time striking it in the back. A short time later another hunter, William Mears, shot the bear again, the dogs in hot pursuit. The bear, dying, took a last powerful swat at one of the dogs, mortally injuring it. And it was finished."

As a native of NW Ohio, I found the account interesting. Further, the hunt happened where I lived. My elementary School (Webster Elementary) is located in the small town of Scotch Ridge referenced in the account. My interest in history also is raised when a family oral history proves to be true 150 years after the event.