History is the polemics of the victor, William F. Buckley allegedly said. Not so in the United States, at least not regarding the Civil War. As soon as Confederates laid down their arms, some picked up their pens and began to distort what they had done, and why. Their resulting mythology went national a generation later and persists — which is why a presidential candidate can suggest that slavery was somehow pro-family, and the public believes that the war was mainly fought over states’ rights.
The Confederates won with the pen (and the noose) what they could not win on the battlefield: the cause of white supremacy and the dominant understanding of what the war was all about. We are still digging ourselves out from under the misinformation that they spread, which has manifested in both our history books and our public monuments.
Get students thinking about patterns and the 'why's' of history with a focus on the geography and movement behind the historical story. This is the link to some of the digital maps that can help you put history in it's place. For more lesson plans, click here.
has been pivotNot just tasty but essential for life, salt has a long and tumultuous history all its own.
You wouldn’t think it to look at them, but your salt and pepper shakers have caused a lot of problems over the years. Underneath that innocuous ceramic bulb lies a history of kingdoms torn apart, newly discovered worlds and powerful trade dynasties. The story of spices fills many a book, but we’re going to take an abridged look at salt and pepper over the next two weeks.
Salt doesn’t just make your food tastier—it’s actually required for life. Sodium ions help the body perform a number of basic tasks, including maintaining the fluid in blood cells and helping the small intestine absorb nutrients. We can’t make salt in our own bodies, so humans have always had to look to their environments to fill the need. Early hunters could get a steady supply of salt from meat, but agricultural groups had to seek it out by following animal tracks to salt deposits.
Anti-suffrage literature printed in the 1910s, as suffrage activists in the United States ramped up their campaign for enfranchisement, took a number of clever forms. Advocates like the members of the National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage tried to portray a desire for the franchise as foreign to women’s nature. (See, for example, the many anti-suffrage postcards that used humor to police gender roles, mocking women who wanted to vote as unnaturally aggressive and their husbands as unmanly.)
In this piece of anonymously-authored ephemera, suffragettes are pictured not as men, but as roly-poly three-year-old girls. They bear an array of placards whose slogans mix the actual platform items of women working for the vote (“Votes for Women,” “Equal Rights”) with petulant and childish demands (“No More Early Bedtimes,” “Cake Every Day”).
In the course of the book, the weak-willed protestors leave behind their goals one by one, after kissing boys, eating too many sweets, or simply falling asleep—a story that paints women’s desire for suffrage as frivolous and shallowly felt.
This interactive, designed and built by Slate’s Andrew Kahn, gives you a sense of the scale of the trans-Atlantic slave trade across time, as well as the flow of transport and eventual destinations. The dots—which represent individual slave ships—also correspond to the size of each voyage. The larger the dot, the more enslaved people on board. And if you pause the map and click on a dot, you’ll learn about the ship’s flag—was it British? Portuguese? French?—its origin point, its destination, and its history in the slave trade. The interactive animates more than 20,000 voyages cataloged in the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database.
"We have a myth today that the ghettos in metropolitan areas around the country are what the Supreme Court calls 'de-facto' — just the accident of the fact that people have not enough income to move into middle class neighborhoods or because real estate agents steered black and white families to different neighborhoods or because there was white flight. It was not the unintended effect of benign policies, it was an explicit, racially purposeful policy that was pursued at all levels of government, and that's the reason we have these ghettos today and we are reaping the fruits of those policies."
Early in April 1919 news of the arrest of Indian nationalist leaders in the Sikh holy city of Amritsar sparked riots in which a mob went on the rampage, killing several Europeans, leaving an English female missionary for dead, and looting numerous banks and public buildings. British and Indian troops under the command of Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer were sent to restore order and Dyer banned all public meetings which, he announced, would be dispersed by force if necessary.
Despite this, thousands gathered in protest in a walled enclosure called the Jallianwala Bagh, near the city’s Golden Temple, sacred to Sikhs. Dyer marched a force of 90 Gurkha and Indian soldiers into the enclosure and, without warning, they opened fire for about 10 to 15 minutes on the panicking crowd trapped in the enclosure. According to an official figure, 379 were killed and some 1,200 wounded, though other estimates suggest much higher casualties.
Seth Dixon's insight:
April 13, 1919. This was a pivotal moment that propelled the independence movement in India, and help Gandhi get more popular support.
Women On 20s aims to compel historic change by convincing President Obama that NOW is the time to put a woman's face on our paper currency. But who should it be? We believe that's for you, the public, to decide from a slate of inspiring American women heroes.
Seth Dixon's insight:
History isn't just about the past--it's also a communal experience about how we collectively choose to remember the past. How we tell history tells us as much about ourselves as it does previous generations.
“We tell our students about change over time, we have our students read about change over time, with GIS my students are able to see change over time”. - Teresa Goodin, Gifted Resource Teacher, Albemarle County Schools
Do you want your students to work like twenty-first century “digital” historians?
Do you aim to have your students grasp the connections between geography and history?
Do you aim to make your activities inquiry-based, interactive, and exciting?
Do you aim to create activities that integrate twenty-first century workforce skills?
"Imagine you are a slave. You belong to a farmer who owns a tobacco plantation on the eastern shore of Maryland. Six long days a week you tend his field. But not for much longer . . .What will you do? Make your choices well as you embark on your journey to freedom.
To play The Underground Railroad: Journey to Freedom, you must download and install the free Sandstone Player Software on your computer. Sandstone is required to support the 3-D style interaction in the game. Click here to find instructions for downloading Sandstone on a Mac or PC.The game is also available as both an iOS and an android app."
Blacks weren’t the only victims of violence by white mobs.
While there are certainly instances in the history of the American South where law officers colluded in mob action, the level of engagement by local and state authorities in the reaction to the Plan de San Diego was remarkable. The lynchings persisted into the 1920s, eventually declining largely because of pressure from the Mexican government.
Historians have often ascribed to the South a distinctiveness that has set it apart from the rest of the United States. In so doing, they have created the impression of a peculiarly benighted region plagued by unparalleled levels of racial violence. The story of mob violence against Mexicans in the Southwest compels us to rethink the history of lynching.
When Gavrilo Princip assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, on June 28 1914, few could have known it would reverberate for four years of brutal war, leading to the fall of three European empires and revolution in what would become the Soviet Union. The past 100 years have seen another World War and the rise and fall of the Soviet Union, but much of present-day Europe is based on the lines drawn following the conflict sparked by Princip's bullet.
Seth Dixon's insight:
This interactive map has a nice 'slider' feature to compare the two maps.
Celebrating the 100th year of the National Geographic cartographic department, they provide a truncated roundup of the thousands of maps they've made over the past century. I liked this tidbit about the Germany map above:
Our maps haven't just chronicled history; they've made it. General Dwight D. Eisenhower carried our map of Germany during his 1945 offensive. When a B-17 carrying Admiral Chester Nimitz got lost in a rainstorm, the pilot landed safely using the Society's map of the Pacific war theater. The map, Nimitz later wrote Gilbert H. Grosvenor, "lent an unexpected but most welcome helping hand."
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