Columbus’s most prized possession

September 28, 2010

Columbus feared that King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella would not honor pledges they had made to him as recompense and honor for his great work of discovery on their behalf.  Before his final voyage, he assembled a legal document showing those promises made to him, and his work for Spain.

This illustrates, once again, the human dimension of the great drama of the age of exploration, of Columbus’s stumbling on to the America’s in his efforts to get to China.

The Library of Congress and the History Channel team up again to show off these grand snippets of history:

On January 5, 1502, prior to his fourth and final voyage to America, Columbus gathered several judges and notaries in his home in Seville. The purpose? To have them authorize copies of his archival collection of original documents through which Isabel and Fernando had granted titles, revenues, powers and privileges to Columbus and his descendants. These 36 documents are popularly called “Columbus’ Book of Privileges.” Four copies of his “Book” existed in 1502, three written on vellum and one on paper. The Library’s copy, one of the three on vellum, has a unique paper copy of the Papal Bull Dudum siquidem of September 26, 1493, which extended the Spanish claim for future explorations.

Borrowed with permission from Mr. Darrell’s Wayback Machine.


World history teachers, take quick note! Paleolithic sources

September 7, 2010

More accurately, sources on the paleolithic.

K. Kris Hirst at About.com blogs about archaeology at least weekly — I just subscribe to her stuff and get it when it comes.  So, file this under “I get e-mail.”

This week, she’s got stuff world history teachers could use on the old stone age.  See if this doesn’t pique your interest:

From K. Kris Hirst, your Guide to Archaeology

It’s the beginning of a new school year, and as every one knows, World History begins with the Paleolithic period–the Old Stone Age, the evolutionary moment from which all of our amazing human culture derives. Keep that trowel sharp!

Guide to the Stone Age
The Stone Age (known to scholars as the Paleolithic era) in human prehistory is the name given to the period between about 2.5 million and 20,000 years ago. It begins with the earliest human-like behaviors of crude stone tool manufacture, and ends with fully modern human hunting and gathering societies…. Read more

Control of Fire
The discovery of fire, or, more precisely, the controlled use of fire was, of necessity, one of the earliest of human discoveries. Fire’s purposes are multiple, some of which are to add light and heat, to cook plants and animals, to clear forests for planting, to heat-treat stone for making stone tools, to burn clay for ceramic objects…Read more

The Invention of Footwear
Believe it or not, we humans have worn shoes of one sort or another for some 40,000 years! Read more

The Ileret Footprints
Not as well known and much younger than the Laetoli footprints are the Ileret footprints, two sets of fossilized footprints of a possible Homo erectus or Homo ergaster discovered at the FwJj14E site, near the modern town of Ileret in Kenya. Read more

See what I mean? Go see what else she’s got.  Some of us are going into the third week, and are already past that lecture . . .


Newseum’s interactive map of today’s headlines

June 2, 2010

This is cool.

Pam Harlow, an old friend from American Airlines, and a map and travel buff, e-mailed me with a link to the Newseum’s interactive headline map.  I can’t get a good screen shot to show you — so you gotta go to their site and see it for yourself.

When it comes up in your browser, it features a map of the continental 48 states, with dots marking major daily newspapers across the nation.  Put your pointer on any of those dots and you see the front page of the newspaper for today from that city.

Using the buttons at the top of the map, you can check newspapers on every continent except Antarctica.

How can I use this in class?

Update:  Here’s a screen shot of the Newseum feature:

Newseum's interactive front-page feature - showing the front page of the Idaho Statesman-Journal of Pocatello, Idaho, on December 15, 2013

Newseum’s interactive front-page feature –  on December 15, 2013


Free, detailed maps of Germany

March 3, 2010

Need maps of Germany for geography or world history?

Germany’s geodetic and cartography agency, Bundesamt für Kartographie und Geodäsie, in Frankfurt,  has three detailed maps available in .pdf form at it’s website.

These .pdfs are suitable for papers sizes roughtly 8.5 by 11 inches in the U.S. — but they probably would scale up nicely for poster-size maps, too.  The maps are in color, and in German.


Why more kids should study world history, harder

November 20, 2009

Jon Taplin explains why knowing world history is valuable. The sad thing is that, of course, the story that makes his reason doesn’t appear in the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills list for world history, nor in any other social studies course.

Now that the Texas State Board of Education has taken off the cloak of education and made it clear that social studies in Texas is considered a political free-fire zone, and that they plan to vitiate anything but the propaganda value for the Republican Party, Taplin’s piece has all the more poignance.

The Renaissance, and Florence, were more than just a minor question on the TAKS test.  Santayana’s Ghost weeps bitterly.

Why isn’t Jon Taplin’s blog required reading in more places, by more people in government and politics?  We know why the Texas State School Board doesn’t want anyone to read it — that alone should make people fight to see what Taplin says.

Promote this idea in your own study group:

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World history sources and images from the Library of Congress

July 19, 2009

World Treasures of the Library of Congress looks like a good source of images and information for world history classes and student projects.

Magna charta cum statutis angliae, (Great Charter with English Statutes). Library of Congress

Magna charta cum statutis angliae, (Great Charter with English Statutes). Library of Congress

These links are to exhibits that are closed, but whose images are still maintained on line.  The Library promises to update exhibits, and on line collections will grow, too.

There really is some remarkable stuff, most of it obscure enough to be really cool, still.

A 16th century miniature pictures Rustam, the hero of the Persian national epic, The Shah Namah, tossed into the sea by the demon Akwan. (Library of Congress, Near East Section).

A 16th century miniature pictures Rustam, the hero of the Persian national epic, The Shah Namah, tossed into the sea by the demon Akwan. (Library of Congress, Near East Section).


D-Day, remembered by the men who fought there

June 7, 2009

Before we move past remembrances of D-Day, let’s take a moment to think about and memorialize the soldiers who fought there, so many of whom died there.

From the National Guards feature, This Day in National Guard History:  Circular written by General Dwight D. Eisenhower explaining the importance of the Normandy invasion on winning the war. These were distributed to every member of the attacking force the night prior to the D-Day landings. Sergeant J. Robert Bob Slaughter, a Guard member of Virginias Company D, 116th Infantry, passed his copy around among the members of Company D to get their signatures (front and back) as they waited to load aboard the landing craft that would take them to Omaha Beach. By nightfall of June 6, about half of these men were dead or wounded. Courtesy John R. Slaughter

From the National Guard's feature, This Day in National Guard History: "Circular written by General Dwight D. Eisenhower explaining the importance of the Normandy invasion on winning the war. These were distributed to every member of the attacking force the night prior to the D-Day landings. Sergeant J. Robert "Bob" Slaughter, a Guard member of Virginia's Company D, 116th Infantry, passed his copy around among the members of Company D to get their signatures (front and back) as they waited to load aboard the landing craft that would take them to Omaha Beach. By nightfall of June 6, about half of these men were dead or wounded. Courtesy John R. Slaughter"

National Guard’s “Today in History” explains the story for June 6, 1944:

Normandy, France — The Allied invasion of France, commonly known as “D-Day” begins as Guardsmen from the 29th Infantry Division (DC, MD, VA) storm onto what will forever after be known as “bloody Omaha” Beach. The lead element, Virginia’s 116th Infantry, suffers nearly 80% casualties but gains the foothold needed for the invasion to succeed. The 116’s artillery support, the 111th Field Artillery Battalion, also from Virginia, loses all 12 of its guns in high surf trying to get on the beach. Its men take up arms from the dead and fight as infantrymen. Engineer support came from the District of Columbia’s 121st Engineer Battalion. Despite high loses too, its men succeed in blowing holes in several obstacles clearing paths for the men to get inland off the beach. In the early afternoon, Maryland’s 115th Infantry lands behind the 116th and moves through its shattered remnants to start the movement in off the beach. Supporting the invasion was the largest air fleet known to history. Among the units flying missions were the Guards’ 107th (MI) and 109th (MN) Tactical Reconnaissance Squadrons The Normandy campaign lasted until the end of July with four Guard infantry divisions; the 28th (PA), 29th, 30th (NC, SC, TN) and the 35th (KS, MO, NE) taking part along with dozens of non-divisional units all earning the “Normandy” streamer.

Be sure to read the other posts in this series about Eisenhower’s Order of the Day:D-Day, 65 years ago today,” and “Quote of the moment:  Eisenhower, duty and accountability.


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