Saturday, November 13, 2010

European Discovery and the Colonisation of Australia

The European Discovery and the Colonisation of Australia is a nice essay on the beginning of European history in Australia. The site was created and is maintained by the Australian government.

From the site:

The first records of European mariners sailing into 'Australian' waters occurs around 1606, and includes their observations of the land known as Terra Australis Incognita (unknown southern land). The first ship and crew to chart the Australian coast and meet with Aboriginal people was the Duyfken captained by Dutchman, Willem Janszoon.

Between 1606 and 1770, an estimated 54 European ships from a range of nations made contact. Many of these were merchant ships from the Dutch East Indies Company and included the ships of Abel Tasman. Tasman charted parts of the north, west and south coasts of Australia which was then known as New Holland.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Francis Scott Key

Francis Scott Key is an illustrated biography of lawyer and poet Francis Scott Key. Is short and easy to read. It is worth a brief visit.

From the site:

When the British invaded Washington in 1814, Ross and Cockburn with their staff officers made their headquarters in Upper Marlboro, Md., at the residence of a planter, Dr. William Beanes, whom they subsequently seized as a prisoner. Upon hearing of his friend's capture, Key resolved to release him, and was aided by President Madison, who ordered that a vessel that had been used as a cartel should be placed at his service, and that John S. Skinner, agent for the exchange of prisoners, should accompany him. Gen. Ross finally consented to Dr. Beanes's release, but said that the party must be detained during the attack on Baltimore. 

Key and Skinner were transferred to the frigate "Surprise," commanded by the admiral's son, Sir Thomas Cockburn, and soon afterward returned under guard of British sailors to their own vessel, whence they witnessed the engagement. Owing to their position the flag at Fort McHenry was distinctly seen through the night by the glare of the battle, but before dawn the firing ceased, and the prisoners anxiously watched to see which colors floated on the ram­parts. Key's feelings when he found that the stars and stripes had not been hauled down found expression in "The Star-Spangled Banner," which gained for him a lasting reputation.

On arriving in Baltimore he finished the lines which he had hastily written on the back of a letter, and gave them to Capt. Benjamin Eades, of the 27th Baltimore regiment, who had participated in the battle of North Point. Seizing a copy from the press, Eades hastened to the old tavern next to the Holliday Street Theatre, where the actors were accustomed to assemble. Mr. Key had directed Eades to print above the poem the direction that it was to be sung to the air "Anacreon in Heaven." The verses were first read aloud by the printer, and then, on being appealed to by the crowd, Ferdinand Durang mounted a chair and sang them for the first time. In a short period they were familiar throughout the United States.

Friday, August 20, 2010


Did you know that Germany and Italy were Facebook friends prior to World War Two? Very cool summary of the war at "OMG WWII on FACEBOOK!"

Friday, July 23, 2010

Who Was the Better Roman Emperor?

Princeton researchers have created a website called All Our Ideas. It allows people to compare two ideas and vote on the one they think is best.  So, for instance, the site asks, "What is our most important national priority?" You then click on one of two ideas. When you do, you're offered another pair of ideas. You're free to add your own suggestions, too.

Someone has set up a page there to ask Who Was the Better Roman Emperor?  Very amusing but I am not sure if I can really say if Florianus was better than Galba. Other votes were easy. Augustus beats Caligula hand down.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Portent: John Brown's Raid in American Memory

The Portent: John Brown's Raid in American Memory  is an nice site from the Virginia Historical Association. It describes Brown's raid and explores its immediate aftermath in American politics and its meaning over time.

From the site:

Throughout the twentieth century and during the past decade, apologists for John Brown have turned out imagery and biographies while his detractors have not been active. It has mattered little—the imagery and biographies have changed few opinions. Americans remain as divided over Brown now as ever.

To this day mention of the name John Brown brings powerful feelings to the surface. His violent attack against slavery continues to inspire debate about issues of liberation, justice, vigilantism, and terrorism. Do individuals ever have the right to carry out violent acts based on conscience? Does society have the right to protect itself by any means from such acts of violence and the fear they engender? If John Brown believed that he would succeed in what he saw as his God-directed assault on slavery, does the precedent of his attempt give anyone so inspired the freedom to pursue whatever course seems appropriate to carry out his or her righteous (or self-righteous) aims? If he believed he would ultimately fail but launched the attack anyway in an effort to make himself into a martyr, is Brown so different from the bombers of today—from Oklahoma City to Iraq—who attempt to galvanize public opinion and in that way incite political and social change? Do fanatical individuals ever have the right to put the lives of others at risk?

Friday, July 09, 2010

History Wiz

History Wiz is a source for history with original content. This includes multimedia exhibits, as well as links to other sites. Topics include world history, American history, and current events.

From the site:

The mission of this site is to promote an interest in history, to help us understand where we have been so we can know where we are going, and to provide high-quality history materials free of charge to everyone. We believe that history is more than a compilation of facts - it is the stories of the great and small, the causes and the effects. It is not just the political, but the social, religious, economic, and philosophical development of humankind. We try to bring this to life through exhibits. In addition, we provide a geographical, chronological, and topical interface which provides a basis for research. Although this site is based in the United States and American history is well represented, the focus is on an inter-connected world free of nationalistic bias. 

The director of HistoryWiz is Jennifer Brainard, BA, MAT, JD. Much of the information and recommendations found on these pages are based on her knowledge and experience as an educator and history journalist. This experience includes teaching in college and high school and authoring many articles on history. All materials on this site are copyrighted.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Mysteries of Çatalhöyük

Mysteries of Çatalhöyük is an interactive tour of this archaeological dig in Turkey. It includes a timeline and photographs of the project, and details of the techniques used.The site is geared towards children.

From the site:

What are they excavating at Çatalhöyük?
Archaeologists are excavating the remains of a Neolithic town. 9,000 years ago, this place was one of the world's largest settlements. At a time when most of the world's people were wandering hunter-gatherers, as many as 10,000 people lived at Çatalhöyük.

What does Çatalhöyük mean?
Çatalhöyük means 'forked mound' and refers to the site's east and west mounds, which formed as centuries of townspeople tore down and rebuilt the settlement's mud-brick houses. No one knows what the townspeople called their home 9,000 years ago.

Where is Çatalhöyük?
The site is in central Turkey, southeast of the modern city of Konya.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

The Midwestern U.S. 16,000 Years Ago

The Midwestern U.S. 16,000 Years Ago is an online exhibit by the Illinois State Museum depicting the environments, plants, and animals of the late Pleistocene.

From the site:

The landscape of the Midwest was very different 16,000 years ago. Although glaciers were retreating, much of the midwestern U.S. was still under ice. Some areas had been only recently deglaciated. These areas may have been covered with bare sheets of till that were slowly being revegetated. Large, proglacial lakes formed where morraines dammed the water coming off the melting glaciers. Dust storms were depositing thick layers of loess (windblown dust) over many areas. Lakes, marshes, and mires were common.

Sixteen thousand years ago the climate was quite different in the area. Temperatures in the summer were significantly cooler than today. Winter temperatures were colder than those experienced today but not dramatically so.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Camarines Sur History

I discovered a brief but interesting history from the Philippines. It is Camarines Sur History. The same site also has Camarines Sur Capitol History Both are brief reads and taught me something about a place I knew little about.

From the site:

In 1569, Luis Enriquez de Guzman, with Augustinian friar Alonzo Jimenez, reached the present town of Camalig, then a thriving village or rancheria. They found the natives living in thatched sheds called “kamalig”, which translates to ""rice granary."" Andrez de Ibarra, while in search of provisions, followed the route taken by de Guzman and reached Kalilingo and Bua (the present towns of Bato and Nabua) in 1570.

In 1573, Miguel Lopez de Legaspi dispatched Juan de Salcedo, grandson of Miguel Lopez de Legaspi, to explore the region as far as Paracale in search of gold and other precious stones. A year later, Salcedo cruised the Bicol River and reached Bato Lake. Hence, the first recorded account of the discovery of the place.

In 1574, at the height of the Spanish colonization of the islands, Guido de Lavizares mentioned in his letter to the King of Spain the land of ""Los Camarines"" – apparently referring to the area of what is now Camalig, Albay, where rice storehouses and granaries or “camarin” abound. Thus, the name “Camarines” was coined and somehow stuck. Spanish colonizers later denominated the area into two distinct aggrupations.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Giants in the Mountains: The Search for Sasquatch

It doesn't matter if Sasquatch (Bigfoot) exists or not. People still think they are seeing something. The oral accounts and folklore around this topic makes for a rich historical topic to study. Assuming Bigfoot is never found, will not historians still be examining the accounts of people who though they saw one centuries from now? The Washington State Historical Society has a new exhibit up titled Giants in the Mountains: The Search for Sasquatch.

From the site:

Explore the Sasquatch mystery, set in the Pacific Northwest region said to be home to these ape-like creatures. The exhibit examines how scientists attempt to explain and investigate the Sasquatch phenomenon. It also looks at hoaxes and popular cultural interpretations of Bigfoot. A look at tribal legends and masks provide yet another insight into this elusive being.

This exploration of Sasquatch stories looks at the Pacific Northwest environment, which provides a rich setting for the folklore surrounding these unexplained creatures.

Physical evidence collected by anthropologist and famed Bigfoot researcher, Dr. Grover Krantz, and Discovery Channel expert and professor Dr. Jeffrey Meldrum of Idaho State University, are on display.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Winter Olympics History Carnival is Up!

History Carnival LXXXV, a Winter Olympics Edition, is up at Disability Studies. It looks like a good collection. I am pleased to have received a gold medal for my now notorious and most famous post, Did Alexander the Great Fight the Yeti.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Africville Relocation Report


Africville was a small town in Nova Scotia, Canada. It was inhabited by black families. The city of Halifix grew and in the late 60s decided to annex the land that Africville was on. The buildings in the community were destroyed and the population was evicted to make way for a variety of municipal projects including a bridge. This is a very sad part of Canadian history. The Africville Relocation Report from Dalhousie University has primary source documents from the time.

From the site: 
The Africville Relocation Report of 1971, by Don Clairmont and Dennis Magill, documents the story of the residents of Africville, whose homes and lands were expropriated by the City of Halifax during the 1960s. 
Many years later, this seminal report continues to be a primary source for study in many areas of scholarship including local and Canadian history, African Canadian studies, law, sociology, social work, municipal politics and public administration, urban planning, and environmental racism. 
As a publication of the Institute of Public Affairs, this research study is an enduring manifestation of the intellectual capital of Dalhousie University.  In keeping with the scholarly publishing environment of the 21st Century, the Killam Library is immensely pleased to preserve and enhance access to the Africville Relocation Report as the first digital title in its electronic booklist.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

English Only Sentiment on Facebook

While on Facebook the other day, I noticed a new meme spreading in people's status updates. It read, "Why the hell do I have to press one for English if I live in America?"

I found that amusing. The obvious answer, "Because English is not the original language of North America?" Here is a response I made to one friend:

Just for the sake of argument, the original languages of the US were Native American. English was imposed later by European immigrants. In addition, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo which ended the Mexican-American War assured that Mexican citizens who came into American jurisdiction in what is now six states would have their rights recognized. The English speakers were the "immigrants."

Plus, it just makes good business sense to allow customers who speak another language the option to communicate with you in that language as you take their money. I have an online business and I have a Spanish portal there. I enjoy the dollars that result.

But yeah, I wish everyone used English. However, the history of North American does not support a universal English language. Some accommodations for Spanish, French, Hawaiian (the non-immigrant tongue of the State of Hawaii), or other native tongue will not really hurt anyone. I will gladly push one. I will become annoyed though if is becomes "Press two for English."

It really appears to me that anyone insisting on English only in the USA does not understand history very well. It may be just a populist backlash from some who do understand the historical issues but I think many are just ignorant and do not realize that large portions of the USA have been speaking another language like Spanish centuries before they became American and that English is the language of the immigrants.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Looking at 4,000 Year Old DNA From Greenland

There is an interesting find at of Greenland. The DNA of a 4,000 year old man was sequenced and some surprises were discovered. An article titled After 4,000 years, DNA suggests ancient Greenland man had risk of baldness and even dry earwax was written by Malcom Ritter.

The biggest shock is that the man was not related to any of the Native Americans in Greenland or the Americas. The article notes, "More importantly, comparisons of his DNA with that of present-day Arctic peoples shed light on the mysterious origins of the man's cultural group, the Saqqaq, the earliest known culture to settle in Greenland. Results suggest his ancestors migrated from Siberia some 5,500 years ago."

The analysis shows the now extinct Saqqaq were not direct ancestors of today's Inuits or Native Americans. The Saqqaq are all gone and no one is certain how they arrived in Greenland. Others findings were that the man had the genes for baldness and dry earwax.

The article also noted, "The DNA was recovered from a tuft of hair that had been excavated in 1986 from permafrost on Greenland's west coast, north of the Arctic Circle. The thousands of years in a deep freeze was key to preserving the genetic material. But most ancient human remains come from warmer places with less potential for preservation, and scientists said it's not clear how often DNA from such samples would allow for constructing a genome."

More information on the history of Greenland can be found at History of Greenland.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Recovering Shackleton's Whiskey

In 1909, British explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton and his companions were forced to abandon their attempt to reach the South Pole. In the process, they unknowingly left behind some major historical treasures.

The article Plan to recover two crates of Shackleton’s whisky buried in Antarctica has the details. The article notes, "Shackleton and his men were donated the crates of whisky as they set off for the South Pole in 1907. Severe weather conditions meant they had to be rescued two years later when just days away from reaching their target. All supplies were then left behind in their hut at Cape Royds including the two cases of whisky. The crates were discovered by polar explorers in January 2006, but couldn't be removed as they were too deeply embedded. However, the team going back to Antarctica next year has agreed to try to retrieve some bottles."

Is the whiskey drinkable?  Mr. Paterson (Whyte & Mackay's master blender) said Shackleton’s whisky could still be drinkable and taste exactly how it did 100 years ago, but conceded that the bottles could have been damaged due to the changing conditions in the Antarctic. Whyte & Mackay's is the brand of the whiskey and the recipe for this whiskey has been lost. Mr. Paterson is hoping some alcohol archaeology will help the company recover the blend.

Due to various treaties, it may be difficult to get the bottles out of Antarctica. I am hoping they have success. This seems like worthwhile history.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Did Alexander the Great Fight the Yeti?

While reading the Anabasis Alexandri (Robson translation) at the Ancient History Sourcebook at Fordham, I came upon a curious passage. It reads as though Alexander's men, in the course of the invasion of India, fought a pitched battle with a tribe of Yeti! Very strange but it is indeed in the account from antiquity. Here is the passage that suggests Yeti's, "Those captured were hairy, not only their heads but the rest of their bodies; their nails were rather like beasts' claws; they used their nails (according to report) as if they were iron tools; with these they tore asunder their fishes, and even the less solid kinds of wood; everything else they cleft with sharp stones; for iron they did not possess. For clothing they wore skins of animals, some even the thick skins of the larger fishes." Maybe they were just strange hairy men...

Here is a more complete account of the battle from

Thence they set sail and progressed with a favouring wind; and after a passage of five hundred stades the anchored by a torrent, which ,was called Tomerus. There was a lagoon at the mouths of the river, and the depressions near the bank were inhabited by natives in stifling cabins. These seeing the convoy sailing up were astounded, and lining along the shore stood ready to repel any who should attempt a landing. They carried thick spears, about six cubits long; these had no iron tip, but the same result was obtained by hardening the point with fire. They were in number about six hundred. Nearchus observed these evidently standing firm and drawn up in order, and ordered the ships to hold back within range, so that their missiles might reach the shore; for the natives' spears, which looked stalwart, were good for close fighting, but had no terrors against a volley. Then Nearchus took the lightest and lightest-armed troops, such as were also the best swimmers, and bade them swim off as soon as the word was given. Their orders were that, as soon as any swimmer found bottom, he should await his mate, and not attack the natives till they had their formation three deep; but then they were to raise their battle cry and charge at the double. On the word, those detailed for this service dived from the ships into the sea, and swam smartly, and took up their formation in orderly manner, and having made a phalanx, charged, raising, for their part, their battle cry to the God of War, and those on shipboard raised the cry along with them; and arrows and missiles from the engines were hurled against the natives. They, astounded at the flash of the armour, and the swiftness of the charge, and attacked by showers of arrows and missiles, half naked as they were, never stopped to resist but gave way. Some were killed in flight; others were captured; but some escaped into the hills. Those captured were hairy, not only their heads but the rest of their bodies; their nails were rather like beasts' claws; they used their nails (according to report) as if they were iron tools; with these they tore asunder their fishes, and even the less solid kinds of wood; everything else they cleft with sharp stones; for iron they did not possess. For clothing they wore skins of animals, some even the thick skins of the larger fishes.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Looking for lots of free K-12 history lessons plans? is the place as it has hundreds of history and social studies related lesson plans. Also included is lesson plans relating to mythology and free PowerPoint presentations ready to be adapted and sued by history teachers.

Here are a few sample ancient history lessons:


Early Man


Ancient Egypt

Ancient Greece

Ancient Rome

Ancient China

Ancient India

Iron Age Celts

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Teaching History With Technology presents The Center for Teaching History with Technology, a resource created to help K-12 history and social studies teachers incorporate technology effectively into their courses.

From the site:

Find resources for histlaptop classory and social studies lesson plans, activities, projects, games, and quizzes that use technology. Explore inquiry-based lessons, activities, and projects. Learn about new and emerging technologies such as blogs, podcasts, wikis, ipods, and online social networks and explore innnovative ways of integrating them into the curriculum. Find out how others are using technology in the classroom.

Friday, January 15, 2010


OurStory is a project of the Smithsonian,s National Museum of American History. It is designed to help children and adults enjoy exploring history together through children's literature, everyday objects, and hands-on activities.

Some topics covered include:

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Nonviolence

A Letter to Abraham Lincoln

Making the Star-Spangled Banner

Life in a WWII Japanese-American Internment Camp

A Puerto Rican Carnival

Great Women of Our Pasts

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Women's History Month (Library of Congress)

Women's History Month (Library of Congress) - This site pays tribute to the generations of women whose commitment to nature and the planet have proved invaluable to society. The emphasis is on American women.

From the site:

The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in paying tribute to the generations of women whose commitment to nature and the planet have proved invaluable to society.