Category Archives: History

A Strange Aside – A Rejoinder About Crackers

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I saw this interesting photo on the Smithsonian Libraries Tumblr which led me to this online archive of Forest & Stream from the 1890s. Where I found the letter included below (because of the interesting photograph beside it). Bonus points for the ability to download specific pages with or without the OCR data.

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The letter makes for an interesting read in a variety of ways. Just another example of how much amazing content is out there.

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A Rejoinder About Crackers

While I do not wish nor intend to enter into controversy with “A Georgia Cracker” over the manner in which I described my first meeting with a “Florida Cracker,” still if you will kindly allow me a little of your valuable space in which to defend myself, I promise not to transgress again.

Now, in the first place, if “A Georgia Cracker” will kindly look on page 507 of Forest and Stream, in the first column near tbe top, he will find these words: “There may be a better class of this part of the human race than we met. I hope there is.” I did not say that there was not a better class of these people. That I hoped there was. My assertion that we did not meet this better class, however, I still stand by. While I do not in the slightest doubt the word of your Atlanta correspondent when says he has met this better class, still what he has met and what I have seen are “horses of different colors.”

Secondly — 1 do not wish “A Georgia Cracker” nor any one else, from anything I may have written, to infer that I include all persons born in the State of Florida categorically as “Crackers.” Far from anything of the kind. I always supposed that they were to be found exclusively in the lower class of Southern whites. And from all accounts of camping, hunting and fishing in that State that I have read (for I, too, have read Forest and Stream very closely ; in fact, as I write my eyes rest on more numbers of that valued journal than an able-bodied man could very well lift, as they date as far back as 1879), I do not remember having read anything that would lead me to infer to the contrary. I would not for one minute class the considerate Fernandina storekeeper with the concave-chested exister.

Thirdly— It puzzles my mind considerably, in fact, it is utterly impossible for me to get it through my head — how under the sun friend “Georgia Cracker” could investigate such cases so thoroughly as in one place to say that if I “had taken the trouble to inquire of them their birthplace,” as he had done in Georgia and Florida, “I am sure their answer would have been Philadelphia or other refined centers of the North;” when in another place he distinctly says he never has run afoul of a case of the kind while hunting, fishing and traveling in every State east of the Mississippi.

Fourthly— Of the hospitality of the people of the South as a whole there is no question. But as to his inferring in one place that my article was written to suit the taste of Northern readers of Forest and Stream; then again, in another place, of his distastefulness of my use of Forest And Stream’s columns in which to vent spleen and prejudice against the South he simply is ‘way off the track, as I have no feeling of prejudice whatever to vent against the South— for, list you, Sir Georgia Cracker, while I gently whisper in your ear the fact that every drop of blood that flows through my veins is Southern. My parents and grandparents, uncles, aunts and each and every one of their preceding ancestors, extending far back into the past, years before the signing of the Declaration of Independence, all first beheld the light of day in that sunny land to the south of Mason and Dixon’s line.

With good feelings for all — even concave-chested “Crackers”— and animosity to none, I close.

Wm. H. Avis.

New Haven, Conn., July 4.

Historical Selfies

These were all focused on historical “selfies” right before disasters but you could do the opposite. I was inspired by the horrible and fascinating Selfies at Funerals Tumblr. You might also be appalled/inspired by Rich Kids of Instagram. I really don’t know quite enough about the selfie/hashtag culture to do this really well. The details with hashtags are what make it interesting and you need to do some research to make it work properly. There is work in humor.

Get the Photoshop template here.

George Armstrong Custer Selfie

Cpt. Smith Titanic Selfie

Napoleon Selfie

Rasputin Selfie

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If You Give Bieber A Bike . . .

Mostly Nonsense

A Bieber flavored over simplication on the fallacy of hardware creating change. Probably useless but it amused me for the presentation and the audience seemed to enjoy it. My 20 minute presentation ended up being a 90 minute conversation.

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If you give Bieber a bike will he get home more quickly?

It seems like a straightforward question, an easy answer. Of course the bike will get him home faster.
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But we tend to make a number of assumptions. It could be you’re a Bieber fan and you know where Bieber is now and where his home/homes are, maybe you’re a Belieber and you even know which home he’s going to. Most people don’t. They don’t know where Bieber is nor where he’s going despite general agreement on the definition of “home.”

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Furthermore, I don’t know if Bieber can drive a motorcycle or if he can drive this motorcycle. If he can drive a motorcycle, how well can he do it? Does he have gas? Is a helmet required?

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Now if we give Bieber a bike and he can drive it, we have to think about the terrain between where he’s starting and where he wants to go. Maybe there’s a forest in between those two points. A forest without roads or gas stations. This street bike will actually slow him down. Maybe there’s a road and things will work out really well.

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If there’s an ocean between the two points, then requiring a motorcycle will likely result in Bieber drowning. That will substantially delay his return home.

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Things begin to get complex and we have yet to address monkey transportation and associated documentation.

So my final answer ends up being “it depends” which happens to be the same answer I give on whether or not technology will impact student learning.

Slightly Less Nonsense

Continuing in the Bieber theme . . .
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This is the recent quote and associated Internet furor that led to the Bieber flavor of this presentation. I learned quite a bit about Bieber as a result. This quote is a decent example of the kind of flexibility technology provides for teachers. Access to current events and the ability to associate these events with a variety of other resources quickly and easily is unique and matters. I can now use this quote to drive a conversation and build interesting extensions and associations through other media elements. There are lots of easy wins in both English and history. Naturally, showing students the quote doesn’t require them to have computers but building experiences off of that quote is made far easier and offers far more opportunities if students have technology and Internet access.

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The association of technology with current events is pretty obvious. I don’t think the association of technology with historical sources is as publicized. The fact that I can provide copies of a handwritten letter from a US soldier at Dachau written on SS stationary is amazing. It is not the same as holding the material but it’s far more visceral than reading a type written version or getting a quoted excerpt in a textbook. Technology removes a number of restrictions that have long shaped the content we are able to provide as well as the things we were able to do with that content.

From there I showed them where some of our students at Moody MS, with the help of Will Berry, (one of our awesome ITRTs) had been taking this historical material and using Timeline JS to build interactive multimedia timelines on WWII. Students selecting and curating primary source material to enrich a historical story is not revolutionary but technology allows for access to a breadth and depth of material that was previously impossible. The ability for many students to build collaboratively and create an interactive product that other students could actually use is fairly unique as well.

I said a few other things as well but that’s the gist of where things went with the Bieber.

Maus Timeline

Maus Timeline Screenshot

I read Maus I and II and opted to make a timeline.

Maus is a graphic novel completed in 1991 by American cartoonist Art Spiegelman. It depicts Spiegelman interviewing his father about his experiences as a Polish Jew and Holocaust survivor. The book uses postmodern techniques—most strikingly in its depiction of races of humans as different kinds of animals, with Jews as mice, Germans as cats and non-Jewish Poles as pigs. Maus has been described as memoir, biography, history, fiction, autobiography, or a mix of genres. In 1992 it became the first graphic novel to win a Pulitzer Prize.

Wikipedia

It’s a good text to explore via a timeline because of the the non-linear storyline and the advantages of setting additional historical context.

As a result of this, I’ve spent some time trolling the National Archives. Normally I wander around the Library of Congress but I was doing a parallel reading of The Liberator1 by Alex Kershaw which had some great images from the National Archives so I was inspired to go check it out.

There is a lot of great content available digitally, including some stuff I hadn’t seen before. Search and features leave something to be desired and you have to be really specific with your search terms. One other thing to be aware of is that deep links to the pages found in your search expire.

A few of the WWII pieces I liked but didn’t put in the Maus timeline are below. I also found a pretty decent, although silent, video of soldiers spraying people with what is probably DDT in an effort to kill louses and prevent typhus (aka war fever) from spreading.


Shooting the bull


1 Another WWII text but of more traditional style. Nothing great but did have an interesting portion on the murder of SS guards at Auschwitz by U.S. soldiers.

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Colonial Research – Ephemera

Beaver Hats

Here are examples of hats made of felted beaver fur, because if you ask your students to draw a picture of a beaver hat, you’re likely to get some sort of coonskin monstrosity. (Seriously, you should try that.)


Pukestocking, Puke-stocking, Puke Stocking

tl;dr – Being called puke-stocking likely has everything to do with fashion instead of seasickness.
Despite many sites claiming that Pilgrims were called puke stockings, I can’t find anything substantial to back that up (and now think it means something entirely different anyway). I did find a reference to puke stockings in Shakespeare’s King Henry IV -

Wilt thou rob this leathern jerkin, crystal-button,
not-pated, agate-ring, puke-stocking, caddis-garter,
smooth-tongue, Spanish-pouch,–

Which led first to this explanation and then to this one which seems to have some backing.

In 1598, when Shakespeare wrote his play, “puke” was a very fine grade of woolen cloth, often used to make stockings as well as other garments. This kind of “puke” first appeared in English in the mid-15th century, derived from the Middle Dutch word “puuc,” meaning “the best grade of cloth.” Interestingly, “puke” cloth was, in Shakespeare’s day, usually dyed deep bluish-black or dark brown, leading to the term “puke color.” This “puke,” however, is unrelated to the brownish-purple color we know today as “puce,” which takes its name from the French word for “flea.” Apparently if one looks very, very closely at fleas (I’ll pass, thanks), they are purple-brown in color.

Source

John Smith

tl;dr – Captain John Smith was not a nice man.

Thus haue you heard the particulars of this massacre, which in those respects some say will be good for the Plantation, because now we haue iust cause to destroy them by all meanes possible: but I thinke it had beene much better it had neuer happened, for they haue giuen vs an hundred times as iust occasions long agoe to subiect them, (and I wonder I can here of none but Master Stockam and Master Whitaker of my opinion.) Moreouer, where before we were troubled in cleering the ground of great Timber, which was to them of small vse: now we may take their owne plaine fields and Habitations, which are the pleasantest places in the Countrey. Besides, the Deere, Turkies, and other Beasts and Fowles will exceedingly increase if we beat the Saluages out of the Countrey, for at all times of the yeare they neuer spare Male nor Female, old nor young, egges nor birds, fat nor leane, in season or out of season with them, all is one. The like they did in our Swine and Goats, for they haue vsed to kill eight in tenne more then we, or else the wood would most plentifully abound with victuall; besides it is more easie to ciuilize them by conquest then faire meanes; for the one may be made at once, but their ciuilizing will require a long time and much industry. The manner how to suppresse them is so often related and approued, I omit it here: And you haue twenty examples of the Spaniards how they got the West-Indies, and forced the treacherous and rebellious Infidels to doe all manner of drudgery worke and slauery for them, themselues liuing like Souldiers vpon the fruits of their labours. This will make vs more circumspect, and be an example to posteritie: (But I say, this might as well haue beene put in practise sixteene yeares agoe as now.)

Page 147

Not Everyone Was A Jefferson Fan

ames Akin’s earliest-known signed cartoon, “The Prairie Dog” is an anti-Jefferson satire, relating to Jefferson’s covert negotiations for the purchase of West Florida from Spain in 1804. Jefferson, as a scrawny dog, is stung by a hornet with Napoleon’s head into coughing up “Two Millions” in gold coins, (the secret appropriation Jefferson sought from Congress for the purchase). On the right dances a man (possibly a French diplomat) with orders from French minister Talleyrand in his pocket and maps of East Florida and West Florida in his hand. He says, “A gull for the People.”