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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: american history, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. Me & Mr. Bell: A Novel, by Philip Roy | Book Review

This book will appeal to middle grade readers who like stories about inventions, airplanes, famous people, overcoming difficulties, and life in earlier times.

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2. Illustration Inspiration: Diane Goode

DIANE GOODE has illustrated 55 beloved and critically acclaimed picture books, including the New York Times best seller, FOUNDING MOTHERS and the Caldecott Honor Book, WHEN I WAS YOUNG IN THE MOUNTAINS.

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3. Declaration of independence

By Stephen Foster


Finishing a book is a burden lifted accompanied by a sense of loss. At least it is for some. Academic authors, stalked by the REF in Britain and assorted performance metrics in the United States, have little time these days for either emotion. For emeriti, however, there is still a moment for reflecting upon the newly completed work in context—what were it origins, what might it contribute, how does it fit in? The answer to this last query for an historian of colonial America with a collateral interest in Britain of the same period is “oddly.” Somehow the renascence of interest in the British Empire has managed to coincide with a decline in commitment in the American academy to the history of Great Britain itself. The paradox is more apparent than real, but dissolving it simply uncovers further paradoxes nested within each other like so many homunculi.

Begin with the obvious. If Britain is no longer the jumping off point for American history, then at least its Empire retains a residual interest thanks to a supra-national framework, (mostly inadvertent) multiculturalism, and numerous instances of (white) men behaving badly. The Imperial tail can wag the metropolitan dog. But why this loss of centrality in the first place? The answer is also supposed to be obvious. Dramatic changes, actual and projected, in the racial composition of late twentieth and early twenty-first century America require that greater attention be paid to the pasts of non-European cultures. Members of such cultures have in fact been in North America all along, particularly the indigenous populations of North America at the time of European colonization and the African populations transported there to do the heavy work of “settlement.” Both are underrepresented in the traditional narratives. There are glaring imbalances to be redressed and old debts to be settled retroactively. More Africa, therefore, more “indigeneity,” less “East Coast history,” less things British or European generally.

The British Colonies in North America 1763 to 1776

The British Colonies in North America 1763 to 1776

The all but official explanation has its merits, but as it now stands it has no good account of how exactly the respective changes in public consciousness and academic specialization are correlated. Mexico and people of Mexican origin, for example, certainly enjoy a heightened salience in the United States, but it rarely gets beyond what in the nineteenth century would have been called The Mexican Question (illegal immigration, drug wars, bilingualism). Far more people in America can identify David Cameron or Tony Blair than Enrique Peña Nieto or even Vincente Fox. As for the heroic period of modern Mexican history, its Revolution, it was far better known in the youth of the author of this blog (born 1942), when it was still within living memory, than it is at present. That conception was partial and romantic, just as the popular notion of the American Revolution was and is, but at least there was then a misconception to correct and an existing interest to build upon.

One could make very similar points about the lack of any great efflorescence in the study of the Indian Subcontinent or the stagnation of interest in Southeast Asia after the end of the Vietnam War despite the increasing visibility of individuals from both regions in contemporary America. Perhaps the greatest incongruity of all, however, is the state of historiography for the period when British and American history come closest to overlapping. In the public mind Gloriana still reigns: the exhibitions, fixed and traveling, on the four hundredth anniversary of the death of Elizabeth I drew large audiences, and Henry VIII (unlike Richard III or Macbeth) is one play of Shakespeare’s that will not be staged with a contemporary America setting. The colonies of early modern Britain are another matter. In recent years whole issues of the leading journal in the field of early American history have appeared without any articles that focus on the British mainland colonies, and one number on a transnational theme carries no article on either the mainland or a British colony other than Canada in the nineteenth century. Although no one cares to admit it, there is a growing cacophony in early American historiography over what is comprehended by early and American and, for that matter, history. The present dispensation (or lack thereof) in such areas as American Indian history and the history of slavery has seen real and on more than one occasion remarkable gains. These have come, however, at a cost. Early Americanists no longer have a coherent sense of what they should be talking about or—a matter of equal or greater significance–whom they should be addressing.

Historians need not be the purveyors of usable pasts to customers preoccupied with very narrow slices of the present. But for reasons of principle and prudence alike they are in no position to entirely ignore the predilections and preconceptions of educated publics who are not quite so educated as they would like them to be. In the world’s most perfect university an increase in interest in, say, Latin America would not have to be accompanied by a decrease in the study of European countries except in so far as they once possessed an India or a Haiti. In the current reality of rationed resources this ideal has to be tempered with a dose of “either/or,” considered compromises in which some portion of the past the general public holds dear gives way to what is not so well explored as it needs to be. Instead, there seems instead to be an implicit, unexamined indifference to an existing public that knows something, is eager to know more, and, therefore, can learn to know better. Should this situation continue, outside an ever more introverted Academy the variegated publics of the future may well have no past at all.

Stephen Foster is Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus (History), Northern Illinois University. His most recent publication is the edited volume British North America in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries (2013).

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Image credit: The British Colonies 1763 to 1776. By William R. Shepherd, 1923. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

The post Declaration of independence appeared first on OUPblog.

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4. New Work

An investment in knowledge pays the best interest. ~ Ben Franklin

BenFranklin_Rbaird72sm BetsyRoss_Rbaird_sm

For more examples of my work visit: www.robertabaird.com

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5. Direct TV appearance!

House of Angels

House of Angels

Hey there . . . our trip to North Carolina was great.  We actually got to go after gem stones where “the real” John Victor goes for them.  It’s at Doc’s Rocks in Boone, NC.  Wow! Got several amethysts the size of large grapes and plums! Also netted some garnets and other gems.  So, we were interviewed by Joan Able, host of Healing Miracles, on Direct TV.  Don did two half-hour interviews, and I did one.  So, the three shows are scheduled to be aired on three consecutive Thursdays:  May 16, 23, and 30, on Direct TV at 12 Midnight.  The Healing Miracles shows are also broadcast on the internet, on Wednesdays at 8 pm and Thursdays at 7 am (EST).  To find the schedules for the internet (I’m not sure whether it’s the Wednesday before or after the TV broadcast) at:  www.TKMI.org.

I was thrilled when she decided to start with a focus on my Johnny Vic books!  After all, it’s a miracle that I was able to write and publish them — hahaha.  And, of course, I’ve written them as testiments to the legacy of our founding fathers and America’s Christian heritage.  Not familiar with Johnny Vic?  Check out my website at:  www.annrichduncan.com.

And, of course, the whole reason we were invited to the show?  It was to focus on the House of Angels, our outdoor sanctuary for prayer and healing.  You can see pictures of this beautiful place if you go to my website and hit the “about Don” button.

Oh!!!!  I shouldn’t forget my novel! The SEED, featuring a grown up John Victor.

ISBN 0-7414-3072-X

ISBN 0-7414-3072-X


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6. International Women’s Day 2013

March 8 was declared International Women’s Day in 1911 (see International Women’s  Day 1911-2011) and has evolved in the US  into a month-long celebration honoring the contributions of women to the human story. This year, the National Women’s History Project (NWHP) theme for Women’s History Month is Women Inspiring Innovation Through Imagination: Celebrating Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (see this blog’s posts:  Science Technology Engineering Math– Stem , Sally Ride 1951-2011,  and Developing Literacy page for STEM links).

About 20 years ago, I participated in the Bay Area Science Project (BASP) through Berkeley’s Lawrence Hall of Science.  It was a fabulous six-week teacher workshop conducted at St. Mary’s High School in Berkeley.  We covered lots of STEM topics, and, explored the FOSS and GEMS programs.  A focus of the workshop was to bring hands-on science into the schools. One of the lead instructors brought in a lovely science themed calendar demonstrating one small way to include science on a daily basis in the classroom.  Marie  Curie was the only woman celebrated in the calendar.  I commented about the lack of gender equity in the calendar and was surprised to hear the instructor declare, “Well, there really aren’t any of note.”  This was Berkeley! I was motivated to find and share the legions of women scientists who had not received public acclamation for their work. Fast forward 20 years, and I was delighted to read about the STEM theme of Women’s History Month.

NWHP honors 18 STEM women.

The 2013 Honorees represent a remarkable range of accomplishments and a wide diversity of specialties including medicine, robotics, computer programming, atmospheric chemistry, architecture and primatology. These women’s lives and work span the centuries of American history and come from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. We are proud to honor them and all women seeking to advance these important fields.

Drum roll please:

  • Hattie Elizabeth Alexander (1901–1968)  Pediatrician and  Microbiologist
  • Marlyn Barrett (1954) K-12 STEM Educator
  • Patricia Era Bath (1942) Ophthalmologist and Inventor
  • Elizabeth Blackwell (1821–1910) Physician
  • Katharine Burr Blodgett (1898–1979) Physicist and Inventor
  • Edith Clarke (1883–1959) Electrical Engineer
  • Rita R. Colwell (1934) Molecular Microbial Ecologist and Scientific Administrator
  • Dian Fossey (1932–1985) Primatologist and Naturalist
  • Susan A. Gerbi (1944) Molecular Cell Biologist
  • Helen Greiner (1967) Mechanical Engineer and Roboticist
  • Grace Murray Hopper (1906–1992) Computer Scientist
  • Olga Frances Linares (1936) Anthropologist and Archaeologist
  • Julia Morgan (1872–1957) Architect
  • Louise Pearce (1885–1959) Physician and Pathologist
  • Jill Pipher (1955) Mathematician
  • Mary G. Ross  (1908–2008) Mechanical Engineer
  • Susan Solomon (1956) Atmospheric Chemist
  • Flossie Wong-Staal (1946) Virologist and Molecular Biologist

Graphic Rosie Tech from Claremont Port Side.


0 Comments on International Women’s Day 2013 as of 3/6/2013 8:04:00 AM
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7. International Women’s Day 2013

March 8 was declared International Women’s Day in 1911 (see International Women’s  Day 1911-2011) and has evolved in the US  into a month-long celebration honoring the contributions of women to the human story. This year, the National Women’s History Project (NWHP) theme for Women’s History Month is Women Inspiring Innovation Through Imagination: Celebrating Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (see this blog’s posts:  Science Technology Engineering Math– Stem , Sally Ride 1951-2011,  and Developing Literacy page for STEM links).

About 20 years ago, I participated in the Bay Area Science Project (BASP) through Berkeley’s Lawrence Hall of Science.  It was a fabulous six-week teacher workshop conducted at St. Mary’s High School in Berkeley.  We covered lots of STEM topics, and, explored the FOSS and GEMS programs.  A focus of the workshop was to bring hands-on science into the schools. One of the lead instructors brought in a lovely science themed calendar demonstrating one small way to include science on a daily basis in the classroom.  Marie  Curie was the only woman celebrated in the calendar.  I commented about the lack of gender equity in the calendar and was surprised to hear the instructor declare, “Well, there really aren’t any of note.”  This was Berkeley! I was motivated to find and share the legions of women scientists who had not received public acclamation for their work. Fast forward 20 years, and I was delighted to read about the STEM theme of Women’s History Month.

NWHP honors 18 STEM women.

The 2013 Honorees represent a remarkable range of accomplishments and a wide diversity of specialties including medicine, robotics, computer programming, atmospheric chemistry, architecture and primatology. These women’s lives and work span the centuries of American history and come from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. We are proud to honor them and all women seeking to advance these important fields.

Drum roll please:

  • Hattie Elizabeth Alexander (1901–1968)  Pediatrician and  Microbiologist
  • Marlyn Barrett (1954) K-12 STEM Educator
  • Patricia Era Bath (1942) Ophthalmologist and Inventor
  • Elizabeth Blackwell (1821–1910) Physician
  • Katharine Burr Blodgett (1898–1979) Physicist and Inventor
  • Edith Clarke (1883–1959) Electrical Engineer
  • Rita R. Colwell (1934) Molecular Microbial Ecologist and Scientific Administrator
  • Dian Fossey (1932–1985) Primatologist and Naturalist
  • Susan A. Gerbi (1944) Molecular Cell Biologist
  • Helen Greiner (1967) Mechanical Engineer and Roboticist
  • Grace Murray Hopper (1906–1992) Computer Scientist
  • Olga Frances Linares (1936) Anthropologist and Archaeologist
  • Julia Morgan (1872–1957) Architect
  • Louise Pearce (1885–1959) Physician and Pathologist
  • Jill Pipher (1955) Mathematician
  • Mary G. Ross  (1908–2008) Mechanical Engineer
  • Susan Solomon (1956) Atmospheric Chemist
  • Flossie Wong-Staal (1946) Virologist and Molecular Biologist

Graphic Rosie Tech from Claremont Port Side.


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8. This Day in History

Washington Monument

February 21, not a particularly notable day, thought I to myself. Day before George Washington’s birthday (February 22, 1732). So, what possibly could have happened?

What a surprise!  Here are a few gems from the Library of  Congress American Memory Today in History, Arts and Entertainment site This Day in History, and Historyorb.com.

On February 21:

  • In 1972, Richard M. Nixon arrived in China for a historic eight-day official visit. He was the first US president to visit the People’s Republic of China since its founding in 1949.
  • The National Association for  Stock Car Racing, NASCAR, was founded in 1948.
  • The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx was published 1oo years before NASCAR in 1848.
  • The Washington Monument was dedicated on this date in 1885
  • In 1431, England began the trial against Joan of Arc.
  • The first known sewing machine was patented in the US by John Greenough in Washington, D. C. in 1842.
  • The World’s Fair in San Francisco, officially known as the Panama-Pacific International Exposition,  opened in 1915 celebrating the successful completion of the Panama Canal in 1914 and a shout out to the world that Frisco was back in business after the devastating Great San Francisco Earthquake April 18, 1906.
  • The first American Indian newspaper in the US, Cherokee Phoenix, was published in 1828.
  • And, as we get ready for the World  Champion San Francisco  Giants 2013 Season,  we remember that the then NY Giants played the Chicago White Sox in the first exhibition night game in 1931.

Come back next week as we kick off National Women’s History Month. Graphic from Flickr Creative Commons license courtesy of izik.


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9. Black History Month: At the Crossroads of Freedom and Equality

Black History Month 2013 commemorates two significant events in American History, the 150th anniversary of the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation, and the 50th Anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington, D.C. and Dr.Martin Luther King, Jr.’s I Have a Dream speech.

Black History Month began in 1926, largely through the efforts of Dr. Carter G. Woodson.  February was selected because it is in February that we celebrate the birthdays of two great men, President Abraham Lincoln and Abolitionist Frederick Douglass. An interesting project is the Abraham Lincoln Historical Digitization Project by Northern Illinois University. Also, you might want to check out Stanford University’s The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute.

Books of interest compiled by Mary Schulte of the Kansas City Star:

  • I, Too, Am America by Langston Hughes, illustrated by Bryan Collier
  • Skit-Scat Raggedy Cat: Ella Fitzgerald by Roxane Orgill, illustrated by Sean Qualls
  • Desmond and the Very Mean Word by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Douglas Carlton Abrams, illustrated by A. G. Ford
  • H.O.R.S.E.: A Game of Basketball and Imagination by Christopher Myers
  • The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis
  • Courage Has No Color, The True Story of the Triple Nickles, America’s First Black Paratroopers by Tanya Lee Stone
  • I Have a Dream by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., paintings by Kadir Nelson
  • A Splash of Red, the Life and Art of Horace Pippin by Jen Bryant
  • Unspoken, A Story from the Underground Railroad by Henry Cole
  • Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men Who Changed America by Andreas Davis Pinkney, illustrated by Brian Pinkney

Related Articles:

Graphic from Perris Valley Historical & Museum Association, Perris CA


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10. Summer Musings

Today in History, from the Library of Congress American Memory, we celebrate the Fourth of July. PBS.org offers a comprehensive history of Independence Day at A Capitol Fourth, America’s Independence Day Celebration including the history and music of the celebration, the history of Old  Glory and the National Mall, and lots of links to significant people, places, monuments, and museums of our shared American history. Check it out. Here is a link to local San Francisco Bay Area Fourth of July Events.

Speaking of local, did you know the annual Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival held in San Francisco’s  Golden Gate Park in August brings more than $67 million  to the local economy, including over 750 jobs.  See San Francisco State University Professor Patrick Tierney’s study.  Tierney is chair of the Department of Recreation, Parks and Tourism at SFSU.

And. . . a music-based  curriculum, Academic Music, designed by SFSU researchers Susan Courey and Endre Balogh, is helping children understand fractions.  See  the findings of the six-week trial run at Palo Alto’s Hoover Elementary School in the journal Educational Studies in Mathematics. Look out Kahn Academy! Both of these SFSU studies were highlighted in the SF State Magazine Spring/Summer 2012 edition.

Finally, artist and SFSU Alum Steven J. Backman  used 30,000 toothpicks in his 13-foot long replica of the Golden Gate Bridge. Now on display at the Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Museum at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco.

Graphic courtesy Flickr Creative Commons License by Citoyendu Monde Inc.

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11. San Francisco Earthquake: April 18, 1906

Reposted from April 18, 2011

San  Francisco Earthquake and Fire 1906The Great San Francisco Earthquake and Fire, April 18, 1906, stretches the imagination as to understanding the widespread destruction of our fair city. Natural disasters throughout our shrinking planet have let us to better able comprehend the impact such horrors present to human beings. We can recall most recently the earthquakes of Japan on March 11, 2011,  Abruzzo, Italy on April 6, 2009, and in the Sichuan Province of Central China on May 12, 2008, Hurricane Katrina and the Levee Breaks of August 2005, and the Indian Ocean Tsunami of December 26, 2004.

Those of us in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1989 can’t forget the Loma Prieta Earthquake of October 17.The Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco is gathering more data, spearheaded by Gladys Hansen San Francisco City Archivist Emeritus and Curator of the Museum,

In response to repeated requests through our website we are setting out to compile a new and more accurate account of those affected by the 1906 earthquake. We want information on everyone who was here at the time, both survivors and those who perished.

See the Great Register to share your family history and to read about what it was like at the time. Selections young readers might enjoy include: The Great Quake by Beth Geiger (National Geographic Explorer Journal, April 2006), The Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 by Bryan Brown (Junior Scholastic Journal, March 27, 2006), Shake, Rattle and Roar! (Junior Scholastic, March 27, 2006), If You Lived at the Time of the Great San Francisco Earthquake by Ellen Levine, The Earth Dragon Awakes by Laurence Yep, and A Song for Sung Li by Pamela Dell. These are all available at the San Francisco Public Library searched with keyword San Francisco Earthquake.

How prepared are you? Check out with your family San Francisco’s 72hours.org for advice on how to prepare your family for natural and human made disasters.

Graphic from http://www.kahnfoundation.org/images/sf_fire.png

Related articles 


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12. Donna M. McDine Tackles American History

Author Showcase

By Bianca Schulze, The Children’s Book Review
Published: February 4, 2012

Donna M. McDine

Donna McDine is an award-winning children’s author. Her stories, articles, and book reviews have been published in over 100 print and online publications. Her interest in American History resulted in writing and publishing The Golden Pathway. She writes, moms and is the Editor-in-Chief for Guardian Angel Kids, Publicist for the Working Writer’s Club, and owner of Author PR Services from her home in the historical hamlet Tappan, NY.

TCBR: Can you share a little on your background and how you became a children’s book writer?

Donna M. McDine: I was at a crossroads in my professional career longing to challenge myself outside of computers. At that time I came across the Institute of Children’s Literature aptitude test in a magazine and I took the plunge and completed it. I was happily accepted and graduated from the Writing for Children and Teenagers course in 2007 and haven’t looked back since.

What inspired you to write The Golden Pathway?

I have always been intrigued by American history and I live in the historical hamlet Tappan, NY – which was an integral part of the American Revolution.

What age group did you write the book for?

The Golden Pathway is written for ages 8-12. After discussing curriculum needs with several middle-grade teachers, they all expressed interest in books with illustrators for the visual learners in their classrooms.

Slavery is a topic that can make many people uncomfortable. However, it is a topic that certainly requires attention and discussion and should be approached with sensitivity. What was your approach when telling this particular story?

Even though the main character in the story is a boy, I wrote The Golden Pathway with my daughter in mind. She had come across a television documentary of human trafficking and it shocked her (please know she was 13 at the time). In discussing the documentary our conversation evolved into African slavery. And from there I took her feelings on the subject matter and it flowed into the story.

What would you say is the most important lesson that readers will take away from reading your book?

Children can make a difference even if an adult around them is negative. 

The main character, David, is extremely brave considering the era in which he was raised. From where do you think he draws his inner strength?

From his upbringing by his mother, she taught him how to be sensitive to other people’s needs and he just knew what was right and what was wrong.

You have received Honorable Mentions in the 77th and 78th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competitions. What does it mean to you to have received these honors?

These awards provided me with the confidence in my writing to keep going and not to let rejection get in the way of the next story fighting to get o

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13. Rosa Parks refuses to change her seat

This Day in World History

December 1, 1955

Rosa Parks refuses to change her seat

On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks refused to move—and became the mother of the civil rights movement.

In 1955, strict segregation laws separated African Americans and whites in public settings across the South, including Parks’s home town, Montgomery, Alabama. That December evening, returning home from work, Parks sat with three other African Americans in a row just behind the fourteen whites in the front of the bus. Because the bus was full, a white man had to stand when he entered the bus. Under the South’s Jim Crow laws, whites sat and African Americans stood. The bus driver told Parks and the other three blacks to move to the back of the bus—the black section. The other three did, but Parks refused. The driver insisted, and she refused again.  Faced with continued refusal, he used his powers under a city ordinance to arrest her. The driver summoned the police, and Parks spent the night in jail.

The arrest galvanized Montgomery’s African Americans. The local chapter of the NAACP had long resented the segregated buses and the drivers’ treatment of blacks; now they had a chance to act. The next day, a women’s council called for a boycott of the city bus system. African Americans by the thousands complied.  By December 5, a new group—the Montgomery Improvement Association—was formed to coordinate the boycott. Inspired by young clergyman Martin Luther King, Jr., Montgomery’s African Americans kept up their boycott for more than a year, until the U.S. Supreme Court ruled segregation on buses unconstitutional. The Montgomery Bus Boycott was one of the early triumphs of the civil rights movement. Parks later admitted her surprise: “I had no idea when I refused to give up my seat on that Montgomery bus that my small action would help put an end to the segregation laws in the South.”

“This Day in World History” is brought to you by USA Higher Education.
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14. Thanksgiving 2011

Thanksgiving, while not strictly an American holiday, has a  history that runs deep.  In October 1782, the Continental Congress declared November 28, 1782, a day of Thanksgiving for the young country.President Abraham Lincoln in 1864 proclaimed a national day of thanksgiving during the Civil War as he shared the news of General U.S. Grant’s success in battles.  Thanksgiving was to be celebrated the last Thursday in November. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, through much maneuvering, formally declared the fourth Thursday of November as Thanksgiving to begin in 1942. Curiously, the change in Thursdays had to do with boosting the economy for the Christmas shopping season, as it was considered at that time inappropriate to advertise for Christmas before Thanksgiving! My goodness how times have changed!

The Education and Social Science Library (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign), created a Thanksgiving reading list for children. Available on line also is their catalog of Native American Children’s and Young Adult Literature.

A very happy Thanksgiving to you and your families from SSPP Reads.

Reposted  from SSPP  Reads 11/10/2010. Graphic from Mike Licht, Creative Commons License.


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15. Author Interview: Krista Russell

New Bedford, Massachusetts, 1851 With the establishment of time and place, Krista Russell sets the stage for her debut novel, Chasing the Nightbird. This historical adventure for middle grade readers (or anyone with an interest in the history of whaling) tells the story of Lucky Valera, a fourteen year old boy who has grown up at sea, working on whaling ships with his father. After his

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16. Veterans Day: 11-11-11

The Veterans Day National Ceremony is held each year on November 11th at Arlington National Cemetery . The ceremony commences precisely at 11:00 a.m. with a wreath laying at the Tomb of the Unknowns and continues inside the Memorial Amphitheater with a parade of colors by veterans’ organizations and remarks from dignitaries. The ceremony is intended to honor and thank all who served in the United States Armed Forces. (US Dept. of Veterans Affairs)

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Veterans Day National Committee have provided a Teacher Resource Guide for this year’s Veterans Day, 11-11-11. There are more than 24 million Veterans who have reintegrated back into our communities.

Following are a few key facts about Veterans’ Day; you can find more at VA Kids. or keyword search at the San Francisco Public Library.

  • WWI officially ended in the summer of 1919 with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles
  • Bullets stopped flying  seven months earlier  on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month–11-11-1918–when an armistice between Germany and the Allied Forces went into effect.
  • In 1938, the US Congress declared Armistice Day a federal legal holiday.
  • In 1968 Congress enacted legislation to change Veteran’s Day to the fourth Monday of October but under pressure from veterans groups, the holiday returned to the historically significant date of November 11.

Make your own medal to give your veteran, thanking him or her for their service to their country.

Parts of this post originally appeared here on 11-07-2010. Graphic from Department of Veterans Affairs.


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17. So what do we think? The Wild West: 365 days

 

 The Wild West: 365 days

 

 Wallis, Michael. (2011) The Wild West: 365 days. New York, NY: Abrams Press. ISBN 978-0810996892 All ages.

 Publisher’s description: The Wild West: 365 Days is a day-by-day adventure that tells the stories of pioneers and cowboys, gold rushes and saloon shoot-outs in America’s frontier. The lure of land rich in minerals, fertile for farming, and plentiful with buffalo bred an all-out obsession with heading westward. The Wild West: 365 Days takes the reader back to these booming frontier towns that became the stuff of American legend, breeding characters such as Butch Cassidy and Jesse James. Author Michael Wallis spins a colorful narrative, separating myth from fact, in 365 vignettes. The reader will learn the stories of Davy Crockett, Wild Bill Hickok, and Annie Oakley; travel to the O.K. Corral and Dodge City; ride with the Pony Express; and witness the invention of the Colt revolver. The images are drawn from Robert G. McCubbin’s extensive collection of Western memorabilia, encompassing rare books, photographs, ephemera, and artifacts, including Billy the Kid’s knife.

 Our thoughts:

 This is one of the neatest books I’ve seen in a long time. The entire family will love it. Keep it on the coffee table but don’t let it gather dust!

 Every page is a look back into history with a well-known cowboy, pioneer, outlaw, native American or other adventurer tale complete with numerous authentic art and photo reproductions. The book is worth owning just for the original pictures.  But there is more…an index of its contents for easy reference too! Not only is this fun for the family, it is excellent for the school or home classroom use too. A really fun way to study the 19th century too and also well received as a gift.  I highly recommend this captivating collection! See for yourself at the Litland.com Bookstore.

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18. “One Love,” Based on the Song by Bob Marley, Adapted by Cedella Marley

Add this book to your collection: One Love

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©2011 The Childrens Book Review. All Rights Reserved.

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19. Memorial Day 2011

From the Library of Congress American Memory, Today in History– May 30:

“In 1868, Commander in Chief John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic issued General Order Number 11 designating May 30 as a memorial day ‘for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land.’ The first national celebration of the holiday took place May 30, 1868, at Arlington National Cemetery, where both Confederate and Union soldiers were buried. Originally known as Decoration Day, at the turn of the century it was designated as Memorial Day.”

John McCrea in 1915 penned the poem about In Flanders Field and  Moina Michael, known as the Memorial Poppy Lady, in 1918 wrote this reply.

We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies

Perhaps we all can pay tribute to our young heroes who gave their lives and remember their valor.

Graphic from Flickr Creative Common License by The U.S. Army


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20. What Does the American Flag Symbolize?

Flag Day! What's that? On this day in 1777, the Second Continental Congress adopted the stars and stripes as the nation's flag. In 1916, President Wilson officially proclaimed June 14 to be Flag Day.  Since then, it has been a day to commemorate the American flag. Consider it a warm up for Independence Day.

Like apple pie, the bald eagle, and Lady Liberty, the flag symbolizes our nation: it is a visible sign of invisible things. Look at the pictures in the collection that follows and for each ask yourself the question, "What does the flag represent here?" Share your answers by writing a comment below.

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21. Modern Styles and Methods in Maine Moderns

Paul Strand, a friend of Alfred Stieglitz and his wife, Georgia O’Keeffe, visited O’Keeffe while she was away in New Mexico. Stieglitz had written O’Keeffe on June 27, 1931 from Lake George, NY, “…Strand will add to his trophies of photography. What a chance he has. He ought to do some great work this year after the criticism I gave him.” Georgia then wrote Alfred on July 10, “Strand didn’t like the ‘paint quality’ in one of my best paintings—Made me want to knock his hat off or do something to him to muss him up—The painting certainly has no resemblance to a photograph.” Who was this friend admired by Stieglitz, considered “the founding father of American modernism,” and brazen enough to criticize O’Keeffe’s work?

Maine Moderns Strand was a member of what Libby Bischof and Susan Danly refer to as the “Stieglitz circle” in their Maine Moderns: Art in Seguinland, 1900-1940, which accompanies a show of the same name on view this summer at the Portland Museum of Art, Maine.  Seguinland, a resort area on the quiet coast of Maine, attracted this small circle of modernist artists (which was never actually joined by Stieglitz but was always encouraged by him) in the early twentieth century. These painters, sculptors, and—most “modernly”—photographers used the forests, beaches, and villages to inform and inspire their work. Strand was actually one of the last to join the summer vacationers, who included Clarence H. White, Gertrude Käsebier, Max Weber, John Marin, Marsden Hartley, Marguerite Zorach, Gaston Lachaise, and William Zorach. Stieglitz promoted the work of the artists, especially hoping to place photography firmly on the level of other art forms.

Bischof and Danly showcase a beautiful selection of the Seguinland’s modernist work, which used techniques already popular in European and American cities in an entirely new setting. A gelatin silver print by Strand, Cobweb in the Rain, belongs to his series of close-ups of natural forms including driftwood and plants on the beaches he visited during the summer. White beads of water drape across the bursts of leaves in this photograph. Seguinland proved welcoming to all the artists’ cameras, including that of F. Holland Day. His Youth in a Rocky Landscape shows a boy, arms outstretched, on a cliff, calling back the lost Arcadia. Maine Moderns brings together these pieces from a group who did not consider themselves a school of artists but friends enjoying the life of rural New England. As Strand wrote Stieglitz, “The weeks in Maine were . . . perfect days of work and play. I did much work and had much joy in doing it.”

 

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22. A Little Less Unknown: Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan Bob Dylan does not want us to know who he is. He recently turned seventy, and if no one has figured him out by now, nobody probably ever will. The Andy Warhol Factory’s Screen Test of Bob Dylan, filmed in 1965 attempts to get close to him, figure out what is underneath the voice and lyrics. He sits impatiently, looking down most of the time, unsmiling. He could be anyone, which is really the point of being Bob Dylan. As David Yaffe points out in Bob Dylan: Like a Complete Unknown, the screen test demonstrates that “[b]eing Bob Dylan has apparently already gotten old.”

Yaffe does not set out to find Bob Dylan’s core, but instead gives us a series of portraits that peel back enough layers to understand what the various cores look like. One of these layers is Dylan through the medium of film, which includes numerous documentaries and an appearance singing in a Victoria’s Secret commercial. (The oddness of the commercial diminishes—slightly—after reading this report which claims that in the same year he made Andy Warhol’s film, Dylan said “ladies’ undergarments” might be the only thing that would entice him to sell out.) Even in the cases where the singer was not directly involved in a movie, he still used the production to further complicate his image.

He wrote, directed, and starred in his own a movie, which still has no official video or DVD release because the four-hour-long Renaldo and Clara was, as Joan Baez called it, “a giant mess of a home movie. What makes it worthwhile to Yaffe is that Dylan appeared as another self-constructed version of himself, even if the rest was a surrealist disaster. Documentary makers have tried to show that in film, as in concert, the musician “had a black self, a symbolist poet self, an outlaws self, a misogynistic matinee idol self.” More recently, he gave full reign to the director of I’m Not There, allowing a wide assortment of actors, including a woman and an African American, to add new representation to both his real-life and onscreen character. He is as much one person’s reaction to him as he is all the faces he has willingly presented to his fans.

23. Constitutional Signers

Students reenact the signing of the Constitution.
The authors of Signing Their Lives Away: The Fame and Misfortune of the Men Who Signed the Declaration of Independence (Philadelphia: Quirk Books, 2009), Denise Kiernan and Joseph D’Agnese, have come up with a new book to be released in September: Signing Their Rights Away: The Fame and Misfortune of the Men Who Signed the United States Constitution (same publisher, 2011).

The concept and organization of the second book (I haven’t read the first one) is formulaic. Organized first by state and then by the signers in that state, the authors provide a brief biography of each of the 39 men. The biographies are short (4–5 pages each) and include interesting facts presented in a well-written way. For example, George Clymer of Pennsylvania is described as an “unassuming moneybag,” “cool cucumber,” and “big shot from a big state.” The title of this chapter, “The Signer Whose Home Was Destroyed by the British,” draws one in, though we are soon told that the destruction of his home did not affect Clymer much, and that he went on to serve as a U.S. Representative and to manage excise taxes for the Washington administration and negotiate treaties with the Creek and Cherokee.

A Good Read? I cannot imagine anyone reading Signing Their Rights Away in one or two sessions, even though the book is short. The stories are too similar to one another, though the authors do provide a twist to each biography, such as “The Underachieving Signer” for John Blair of Virginia, a man who said nothing at

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24. California, the 31st State

Admission Day, September 9, was a state holiday when I was a girl.  Today we look at our history with a more critical eye to get a better understanding of the human condition.  California became the 31st state to join the Union on September 9, 1850, not long after gold was discovered at Sutter’s Mill in 1848 in Coloma.  By 1869 the first westbound train arrived in San Francisco thanks in no small part to the Chinese and Irish Immigrants yet in 1882, Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act which banned all Chinese immigration.

California History is the fourth grade curriculum throughout California.  Here at Sts. Peter & Paul’s we use the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt History/Social Science textbook and follow the California State Standards and the Archdiocesan Curriculum Guidelines.  Students in fourth grade explore history, indigenous people of California, the Spanish and Russian influence in our history, the California Missions, the Gold Rush,  immigration to the Golden State, and of course geography.

You might want to check out some of these links to learn more about the great state of California and you too can exclaim Eureka! I have found it!

Graphic from Flickr Creative Commons by kevincole.


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25. We Remember Ten Years Later

Today marks the tenth anniversary of September 11.  The New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) has produced a comprehensive education curriculum for K-12 students to help teachers talk about the tragedy of September 11, 2001. Beginning the Conversation outlines important areas to address in the discussion with children. Books may be a useful way to further the discussion and the following books are recommended by NJEA:

Graphic from PBS Sacred Remains.


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