Chess games of the rich and famous: Daumier’s Parisian players

March 7, 2018

Honore Daumier (1808-1879), 1863 painting

Honore Daumier (1808-1879), 1863 painting “The Chess Players” (“Les joueurs d’échecs”) Wikimedia image

You can find these two men playing chess in the Petit Palais, Paris.


58 years ago, lunch at Woolworth’s, with a side of civil rights: North Carolina, February 1, 1960

February 2, 2018

February 1 was the 58th anniversary of the Greensboro sit-in. Be sure to read Howell Raines‘ criticism of news media coverage of civil rights issues in a 2010 article in the New York Times: “What I am suggesting is that the one thing the South should have learned in the past 50 years is that if we are going to hell in a handbasket, we should at least be together in a basket of common purpose.”

This is mostly an encore post; please holler quickly if you find a link that does not work.

Four young men turned a page of history on February 1, 1960, at a lunch counter in a Woolworth’s store in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Ezell A. Blair, Jr. (now Jibreel Khazan), Franklin E. McCain, Joseph A. McNeil, and David L. Richmond, sat down at the counter to order lunch. Because they were African Americans, they were refused service. Patiently, they stayed in their seats, awaiting justice.

On July 25, nearly six months later, Woolworth’s agreed to desegregate the lunch counter. One more victory for non-violent protest.

Ezell A. Blair, Jr. (now Jibreel Khazan), Franklin E. McCain, Joseph A. McNeil, and David L. Richmond leave the Woolworth store after the first sit-in on February 1, 1960. (Courtesy of Greensboro News and Record)

Caption from Smithsonian Museum of American History: Ezell A. Blair, Jr. (now Jibreel Khazan), Franklin E. McCain, Joseph A. McNeil, and David L. Richmond leave the Woolworth store after the first sit-in on February 1, 1960. (Courtesy of Greensboro News and Record)

News of the “sit-in” demonstration spread. Others joined in the non-violent protests from time to time, 28 students the second day, 300 the third day, and some days up to 1,000. The protests spread geographically, too, to 15 cities in 9 states.

On the second day of the Greensboro sit-in, Joseph A. McNeil and Franklin E. McCain are joined by William Smith and Clarence Henderson at the Woolworth lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina. (Courtesy of Greensboro News and Record)

Smithsonian caption: “On the second day of the Greensboro sit-in, Joseph A. McNeil and Franklin E. McCain are joined by William Smith and Clarence Henderson at the Woolworth lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina. (Courtesy of Greensboro News and Record)”

Part of the old lunch counter was salvaged, and today is on display at the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of American History. The museum display was the site of celebratory parties during the week of the inauguration as president of Barack Obama.

Part of the lunchcounter from the Woolworths store in Greensboro, North Carolina, is now displayed at the Smithsonians Museum of American History, in Washington, D.C.

Part of the lunch counter from the Woolworth’s store in Greensboro, North Carolina, now displayed at the Smithsonian’s Museum of American History, in Washington, D.C.- photo from Ted Eytan, who wrote: [“Ever eaten at a lunch counter in a store?”] The words . . . were said by one of the staff at the newly re-opened National Museum of American History this morning to a young visitor. What she did, very effectively, for the visitor and myself (lunch counters in stores are even before my time) was relate yesterday’s inequalities to those of today, by explaining the importance of the lunch counter in the era before fast food. This is the Greensboro, North Carolina lunch counter, and it was donated to the Smithsonian by Woolworth’s in 1993.

Notes and resources:

Student video, American History Rules, We Were There – First person story related by Georgie N. and Greg H., with pictures:

Associated Press interview with Franklin E. McCain:

More:

It was a long fight.

This is an encore post.

Yes, this is an encore post. Defeating ignorance takes patience and perseverance.


December 30 is Hubble Day; are you ready to celebrate?

December 29, 2015

Get ready to look up!

Edwin Hubble.

Edwin Hubble. (Photo credit: snaphappygeek)

At Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub, for several years we’ve celebrated Hubble Day on December 30.

On December 30, 1924, Edwin Hubble announced he’d discovered other galaxies in distant space. Though it may not have been so clear at the time, it meant that, as a galaxy, we are not alone in the universe (whether we are alone as intelligent life is a separate question). It also meant that the universe is much, much bigger than most people had dared to imagine.

December 30, 2015 is the 91st anniversary of the announcement.  When dealing with general science illiteracy, it’s difficult to believe we’ve been so well informed for more than nine decades.  In some quarters, news travels more slowly than sound in the vacuum of space.

I find hope in many places.  Just three years ago the Perot Museum of Nature and Science opened in downtown Dallas.  It’s the old Dallas Museum of Science and Natural History, once cramped into a bursting building in historic Fair Park, now expanded into a beautiful new building downtown, and keeping the Fair Park building, too.  Considering the strength of creationism in Texas, it’s great news that private parties would put up $185 million for a museum dedicated to hard science.

Displays in the Perot border on brilliance at almost every stop.  Stuffy museum this is not — it’s designed to spark interest in science and engineering in kids, and I judge that it succeeds, though we need to wait 20 years or so to see just exactly what and who it inspires.

We visited the Perot regularly through 2014.  On one visit in 2012, as I was admiring a large map of the Moon, a family strolled by, and a little girl I estimated to be 8 or 9 pointed to the Moon and asked her maybe-30-something father where humans landed.  I had been working to see whether the very large photo showed any signs of activity — but the father didn’t hesitate, and pointed to the Sea of Tranquility.  “There,” he said.  The man was not old enough to have been alive at the time; I’d wager most of my contemporaries would hesitate, and maybe have to look it up.  Not that guy.

Visitors to the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, Dallas

On 32 flat-panel video displays hooked together to make one massive display, visitors to the Perot Museum of Nature and Science view Mars as our new Mars Rover’s friend might see it, in a section of the museum devoted to astronomy, physics, astronomy and planetary exploration. Photo by Ed Darrell; use encouraged with attribution.

Still, kids today need this museum and the knowledge and excitement it imparts.  One recent July I accompanied a group of Scouts from Troop 355 to summer camp in Colorado, to Camp Chris Dobbins in the foothills just east of Colorado Springs.  Near lights out one night I hiked the half-mile to our campsite admiring the Milky Way and other bright displays of stars that we simply do not get in light-polluted Dallas County.  I expected that our older Scouts would have already started on the Astronomy merit badge, but the younger ones may not have been introduced.  So I asked how many of them could find the Milky Way.  Not a hand went up.

“Dowse the lights, let’s have a five minute star lesson,” I said.  we trekked out to a slight opening in the trees, and started looking up.  I had just enough time to point out the milky fog of stars we see of our own galaxy, when one of the Scouts asked how to tell the difference between an airplane and a satellite.  Sure enough, he’d spotted a satellite quietly passing overhead — and just to put emphasis on the difference, a transcontinental jet passed over flying west towards Los Angeles or San Francisco.

Then, when we were all looking up, a meteoroid streaked from the south across almost the whole length of the visible Milky Way.  Teenage kids don’t often go quiet all at once, but after the oohs and aahs we had a few moments of silence.  They were hooked already.  Less than five minutes in, they’d seen the Milky Way, found the Big Dipper, seen a satellite, a jet, and a shooting star.

Perfection!

Edwin Hubble’s discovery can now be the stuff of elementary school science, that the blobs in the sky astronomers had pondered for a century were really galaxies like our own, which we see only through a faint fuzz we call the Milky Way.

Do kids get that kind of stuff in elementary school?  Not enough, I fear.

We named a great telescope after the guy; shouldn’t we do a bit more to celebrate his discovery?

More:

Yes, this is mostly an encore post. Fighting ignorance requires patience.

Yes, this is mostly an encore post. Fighting ignorance requires patience.


Lunch at Woolworth’s, with a side of civil rights: North Carolina, February 1, 1960

January 31, 2015

Today is the 55th anniversary of the Greensboro sit-in. Be sure to read Howell Raines‘ criticism of news media coverage of civil rights issues in a 2010 article in the New York Times: “What I am suggesting is that the one thing the South should have learned in the past 50 years is that if we are going to hell in a handbasket, we should at least be together in a basket of common purpose.”

This is mostly an encore post; please holler quickly if you find a link that does not work.

Four young men turned a page of history on February 1, 1960, at a lunch counter in a Woolworth’s store in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Ezell A. Blair, Jr. (now Jibreel Khazan), Franklin E. McCain, Joseph A. McNeil, and David L. Richmond, sat down at the counter to order lunch. Because they were African Americans, they were refused service. Patiently, they stayed in their seats, awaiting justice.

On July 25, nearly six months later, Woolworth’s agreed to desegregate the lunch counter. One more victory for non-violent protest.

Ezell A. Blair, Jr. (now Jibreel Khazan), Franklin E. McCain, Joseph A. McNeil, and David L. Richmond leave the Woolworth store after the first sit-in on February 1, 1960. (Courtesy of Greensboro News and Record)

Caption from Smithsonian Museum of American History: Ezell A. Blair, Jr. (now Jibreel Khazan), Franklin E. McCain, Joseph A. McNeil, and David L. Richmond leave the Woolworth store after the first sit-in on February 1, 1960. (Courtesy of Greensboro News and Record)

News of the “sit-in” demonstration spread. Others joined in the non-violent protests from time to time, 28 students the second day, 300 the third day, and some days up to 1,000. The protests spread geographically, too, to 15 cities in 9 states.

On the second day of the Greensboro sit-in, Joseph A. McNeil and Franklin E. McCain are joined by William Smith and Clarence Henderson at the Woolworth lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina. (Courtesy of Greensboro News and Record)

Smithsonian caption: “On the second day of the Greensboro sit-in, Joseph A. McNeil and Franklin E. McCain are joined by William Smith and Clarence Henderson at the Woolworth lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina. (Courtesy of Greensboro News and Record)”

Part of the old lunch counter was salvaged, and today is on display at the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of American History. The museum display was the site of celebratory parties during the week of the inauguration as president of Barack Obama.

Part of the lunchcounter from the Woolworths store in Greensboro, North Carolina, is now displayed at the Smithsonians Museum of American History, in Washington, D.C.

Part of the lunch counter from the Woolworth’s store in Greensboro, North Carolina, now displayed at the Smithsonian’s Museum of American History, in Washington, D.C.- photo from Ted Eytan, who wrote: [“Ever eaten at a lunch counter in a store?”] The words . . . were said by one of the staff at the newly re-opened National Museum of American History this morning to a young visitor. What she did, very effectively, for the visitor and myself (lunch counters in stores are even before my time) was relate yesterday’s inequalities to those of today, by explaining the importance of the lunch counter in the era before fast food. This is the Greensboro, North Carolina lunch counter, and it was donated to the Smithsonian by Woolworth’s in 1993.

Notes and resources:

Student video, American History Rules, We Were There – First person story related by Georgie N. and Greg H., with pictures:

Associated Press interview with Franklin E. McCain:

More:

It was a long fight.


History of America, or art in America, or American art, or . . .

July 9, 2013

Brilliant piece from Grant Snider — history teachers, this should be a poster in your classroom, no?  Art teachers?

Grant Snider's

Grant Snider’s “American Art, exploring a country through its paintings”

In the course of a junior-level, high school U.S. history class, students should experience each of these works, and many others.  This is one whimsical way to work with serious and uplifting material, no?

Mr. Snider has a short essay — inspiring — and the information on each of the works he portrays, at the Modern Art site (I’ve added links below, here).

Since that formative vacation, the art museum is always one my of first stops in visiting a new city. In the comic above, I’ve curated my ideal collection of 20th-century American art. Here’s a list of works in order of appearance:

Jasper Johns, “Flag”

Edward Hopper,Morning Sun

Ellsworth Kelly, “Red Blue Green”

Wayne Thiebaud, “Refrigerator Pie”

Grant Wood, “Young Corn”

Roy Lichtenstein, “Whaam!”

Stuart Davis, “Colonial Cubism”

Andy Warhol, “Campbell’s Soup Cans”

George Bellows, “Dempsey and Firpo”

Jackson Pollock, “Autumn Rhythm”

Georgia O’Keeffe, “Sky Above Clouds III”

What are your favorite American art works, and what do they portray or demonstrate that you like?

More:


Lunch at Woolworth’s, with a side of non-violence and civility: North Carolina, February 1, 1960

February 1, 2013

Today is the 53rd anniversary of the Greensboro sit-in. Be sure to read Howell Raines‘ criticism of news media coverage of civil rights issues in a 2010 article in the New York Times: “What I am suggesting is that the one thing the South should have learned in the past 50 years is that if we are going to hell in a handbasket, we should at least be together in a basket of common purpose.”

This is mostly an encore post; please holler quickly if you find a link that does not work.

Four young men turned a page of history on February 1, 1960, at a lunch counter in a Woolworth’s store in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Ezell A. Blair, Jr. (now Jibreel Khazan), Franklin E. McCain, Joseph A. McNeil, and David L. Richmond, sat down at the counter to order lunch. Because they were African Americans, they were refused service. Patiently, they stayed in their seats, awaiting justice.

On July 25, nearly six months later, Woolworth’s agreed to desegregate the lunch counter. One more victory for non-violent protest.

Ezell A. Blair, Jr. (now Jibreel Khazan), Franklin E. McCain, Joseph A. McNeil, and David L. Richmond leave the Woolworth store after the first sit-in on February 1, 1960. (Courtesy of Greensboro News and Record)

Caption from Smithsonian Museum of American History: Ezell A. Blair, Jr. (now Jibreel Khazan), Franklin E. McCain, Joseph A. McNeil, and David L. Richmond leave the Woolworth store after the first sit-in on February 1, 1960. (Courtesy of Greensboro News and Record)

News of the “sit-in” demonstration spread. Others joined in the non-violent protests from time to time, 28 students the second day, 300 the third day, and some days up to 1,000. The protests spread geographically, too, to 15 cities in 9 states.

On the second day of the Greensboro sit-in, Joseph A. McNeil and Franklin E. McCain are joined by William Smith and Clarence Henderson at the Woolworth lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina. (Courtesy of Greensboro News and Record)

Smithsonian caption: “On the second day of the Greensboro sit-in, Joseph A. McNeil and Franklin E. McCain are joined by William Smith and Clarence Henderson at the Woolworth lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina. (Courtesy of Greensboro News and Record)”

Part of the old lunch counter was salvaged, and today is on display at the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of American History. The museum display was the site of celebratory parties during the week of the inauguration as president of Barack Obama.

Part of the lunchcounter from the Woolworths store in Greensboro, North Carolina, is now displayed at the Smithsonians Museum of American History, in Washington, D.C.

Part of the lunch counter from the Woolworth’s store in Greensboro, North Carolina, now displayed at the Smithsonian’s Museum of American History, in Washington, D.C.- photo from Ted Eytan, who wrote: [“Ever eaten at a lunch counter in a store?”] The words . . . were said by one of the staff at the newly re-opened National Museum of American History this morning to a young visitor. What she did, very effectively, for the visitor and myself (lunch counters in stores are even before my time) was relate yesterday’s inequalities to those of today, by explaining the importance of the lunch counter in the era before fast food. This is the Greensboro, North Carolina lunch counter, and it was donated to the Smithsonian by Woolworth’s in 1993.

Notes and resources:

Student video, American History Rules, We Were There – First person story related by Georgie N. and Greg H., with pictures:

Associated Press interview with Franklin E. McCain:

More, in 2013:


Remember: December 30 is Hubble Day

December 29, 2012

Get ready to look up!

Edwin Hubble.

Edwin Hubble. (Photo credit: snaphappygeek)

At Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub, for several years we’ve celebrated Hubble Day on December 30.

On December 30, 1924, Edwin Hubble announced he’d discovered other galaxies in distant space. Though it may not have been so clear at the time, it meant that, as a galaxy, we are not alone in the universe (whether we are alone as intelligent life is a separate question). It also meant that the universe is much, much bigger than most people had dared to imagine.

December 30, 2012 is the 82nd anniversary of the announcement.  When dealing with general science illiteracy, it’s difficult to believe we’ve been so well informed for more than eight decades.  In some quarters, news travels more slowly than sound in the vacuum of space.

I find hope in many places.  Just a few weeks ago the Perot Museum of Nature and Science opened in downtown Dallas.  It’s the old Dallas Museum of Science and Natural History, once cramped into a bursting building in historic Fair Park, now expanded into a beautiful new building downtown, and keeping the Fair Park building, too.  Considering the strength of creationism in Texas, the mere fact that private parties would put up $185 million for a museum dedicated to hard science.

Displays in the Perot border on brilliance at almost every stop.  Stuffy museum this is not — it’s designed to spark interest in science and engineering in kids, and I judge that it succeeds, though we need to wait 20 years or so to see just exactly what and who it inspires.

We visited the Perot last night.  As I was admiring a large map of the Moon, a family strolled by, and a little girl I estimate to be 8 or 9 pointed to the Moon and asked her maybe-30-something father where humans landed.  I had been working to see whether the very large photo showed any signs of activity — but the father didn’t hesitate, and pointed to the Sea of Tranquility.  “There,” he said.  The man was not old enough to have been alive at the time; I’d wager most of my contemporaries would hesitate, and maybe have to look it up.  Not that guy.

Visitors to the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, Dallas

On 32 flat-panel video displays hooked together to make one massive display, visitors to the Perot Museum of Nature and Science view Mars as our new Mars Rover’s friend might see it, in a section of the museum devoted to astronomy, physics, astronomy and planetary exploration. Photo by Ed Darrell; use encouraged with attribution.

Still, kids today need this museum and the knowledge and excitement it imparts.  Last July I accompanied a group of Scouts from Troop 355 to summer camp in Colorado, to Camp Cris Dobbins in the foothills just east of Colorado Springs.  Near lights out one night I hiked the half-mile to our campsite admiring the Milky Way and other bright displays of stars that we simply do not get in light-polluted Dallas County.  I expected that our older Scouts would have already started on the Astronomy merit badge, but the younger ones may not have been introduced.  So I asked how many of them could find the Milky Way.  Not a hand went up.

“Dowse the lights, let’s have a five minute star lesson,” I said.  we trekked out to a slight opening in the trees, and started looking up.  I had just enough time to point out the milky fog of stars we see of our own galaxy, when one of the Scouts asked how to tell the difference between an airplane and a satellite.  Sure enough, he’d spotted a satellite quietly passing overhead — and just to put emphasis on the difference, a transcontinental jet passed over flying west towards Los Angeles or San Francisco.

Then, when we were all looking up, a meteoroid streaked from the south across almost the whole length of the visible Milky Way.  Teenaged kids don’t often go quiet all at once, but after the oohs and aahs we had a few moments of silence.  They were hooked already.  Less than five minutes in, they’d seen the Milky Way, found the Big Dipper, seen a satellite, a jet, and a shooting star.

Perfection!

Edwin Hubble’s discovery can now be the stuff of elementary school science, that the blobs in the sky astronomers had pondered for a century were really galaxies like our own, which we see only through a faint fuzz we call the Milky Way.

Do kids get that kind of stuff in elementary school?  Not enough, I fear.

We named a great telescope after the guy; shouldn’t we do a bit more to celebrate his discovery?

More:


“I’ll have a cup of soup, a grilled cheese sandwich, a cup of coffee, and my civil rights, please”

February 1, 2012

Today is the 52nd anniversary of the Greensboro sit-in. Be sure to read Howell Raines’ criticism of news media coverage of civil rights issues in last year’s New York Times: “What I am suggesting is that the one thing the South should have learned in the past 50 years is that if we are going to hell in a handbasket, we should at least be together in a basket of common purpose.”

Four young men turned a page of history on February 1, 1960, at a lunch counter in a Woolworth’s store in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Ezell A. Blair, Jr. (now Jibreel Khazan), Franklin E. McCain, Joseph A. McNeil, and David L. Richmond, sat down at the counter to order lunch. Because they were African Americans, they were refused service. Patiently, they stayed in their seats, awaiting justice.

On July 25, nearly six months later, Woolworth’s agreed to desegregate the lunch counter. One more victory for non-violent protest.

Ezell A. Blair, Jr. (now Jibreel Khazan), Franklin E. McCain, Joseph A. McNeil, and David L. Richmond leave the Woolworth store after the first sit-in on February 1, 1960. (Courtesy of Greensboro News and Record)

Ezell A. Blair, Jr. (now Jibreel Khazan), Franklin E. McCain, Joseph A. McNeil, and David L. Richmond leave the Woolworth store after the first sit-in on February 1, 1960. (Courtesy of Greensboro News and Record) (Smithsonian Institution)

News of the “sit-in” demonstration spread. Others joined in the non-violent protests from time to time, 28 students the second day, 300 the third day, and some days up to 1,000. The protests spread geographically, too, to 15 cities in 9 states.

On the second day of the Greensboro sit-in, Joseph A. McNeil and Franklin E. McCain are joined by William Smith and Clarence Henderson at the Woolworth lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina. (Courtesy of Greensboro News and Record)

Smithsonian caption: "On the second day of the Greensboro sit-in, Joseph A. McNeil and Franklin E. McCain are joined by William Smith and Clarence Henderson at the Woolworth lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina. (Courtesy of Greensboro News and Record)"

Part of the old lunch counter was salvaged, and today is on display at the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of American History. The museum display was the site of celebratory parties during the week of the inauguration as president of Barack Obama.

Part of the lunchcounter from the Woolworths store in Greensboro, North Carolina, is now displayed at the Smithsonians Museum of American History, in Washington, D.C.

Part of the lunchcounter from the Woolworth's store in Greensboro, North Carolina, is now displayed at the Smithsonian's Museum of American History, in Washington, D.C.

Notes and resources:

Student video, American History Rules, We Were There – First person story related by Georgie N. and Greg H., with pictures:

Associated Press interview with Franklin E. McCain:

This is mostly an encore post.


6th Floor Museum, Dallas — go see it

November 23, 2011

The 6th Floor Museum in Dallas presents in-depth studies of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, on November 22, 1963.

There’s a lot more to such a study than you might think.  It’s a relatively quick tour — you can view the museum’s displays and films in about two hours, comfortably, stopping to read exhibit cards and really analyze objects on display.  A couple of the films present a great deal of history quickly and well (Walter Cronkite narrates one).

One cannot avoid a great deal of history of the Civil Rights Movement, the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Cold War, and the start of the Vietnam conflict.  Kennedy’s administration covered only three years, but a very active and important three years in the 20th century.

Increasingly the 6th Floor Museum is a stop for researchers and scholars.  The recent addition of a good reading room for scholars is a great asset.

Curator Gary Mack offers a quick introduction in this video:

1,276

Plan to spend three or four hours.  You’ll find the place very interesting.  After the museum, most likely you’ll want to spend some time exploring Dealey Plaza, the road where Kennedy’s car was when he was shot, and the famous grassy knoll.  It’s a part of downtown that is almost always filled with people in daylight in all but the absolute worst weather.  (Check out the EarthCam at Dealey Plaza.)

Old Red, the old Dallas County Courthouse, with its own museum, is just a half block away.


ACLU and “Uncensored” exhibit

September 4, 2011

Special invitation just for you:

You’re invited: “Uncensored” Celebration at the Harry Ransom Center in Austin

On Friday, September 9, the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas announces “Uncensored,” the opening celebration for the fall exhibitions, “Banned, Burned, Seized, and Censored” and “The Greenwich Village Bookshop Door: A Portal to Bohemia, 1920-1925.”

Materials from the archive of ACLU attorney Morris Ernst, who defended James Joyce’s novel Ulysses against obscenity charges, are featured in the exhibition.

Order your tickets from the Harry Ransom Center’s website.

MORE ON THE EVENT (PDF)

From the flyer on the event:

Banned, Burned, Seized, and Censored

How did hundreds of thousands of books, pictures, plays, and magazines come to be banned, burned, seized, and censored in the span of less than 30 years? This exhibition, drawn from the Ransom Center’s holdings, reveals the rarely-seen “machinery” of American censorship from 1918 to 1941. Writers, reformers, agents, attorneys, and publishers battled publicly over obscenity and freedom of expression. Ulysses, All Quiet on the Western Front, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, and The Grapes of Wrath came under fire from would-be censors alongside classics like The Decameron and The Canterbury Tales.   This exhibition tells how the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice, the New England Watch and Ward Society, the Post Office Department, and the Customs Bureau irrevocably altered the American literary landscape.

The exhibit runs through January 22. The Harry Ransom Center is located at the corner of 21st and Guadalupe Streets on the campus of The University of Texas at Austin. For more information, including a map of parking options, visit http://www.hrc.utexas.edu/visit or 512-471-8944.


Teaching with original documents, at the 6th Floor Museum

July 29, 2011

6th Floor Museum Seminar - teachers in the Dallas Police Station, at Oswald's interrogation room

Teachers inspect the Dallas Police station, where accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald was held. The door at left opens on the room where Oswald was interrogated by police. Panorama photo by Ed Darrell, use encouraged, with attribution; click for larger version

It’s been a good week of finding sources, for history issues across the spectrum, not just about the Kennedy assassination in Dallas.

Certainly one of the highlights was a bus tour that carried us from Dallas’s Love Field airport, along the route of Kennedy’s motorcade, to Parkland Hospital, and then through Oak Cliff along the route accused assassin Lee Oswald is believed to have traveled after the assassination to his capture at the much restored Texas Theatre on Jefferson Boulevard.

In the photo above we discuss the actions of Dallas Police after Oswald’s capture.  This room is in the old homicide division of the old Dallas Police Station, a building still in use for municipal offices and being renovated after the police department moved to a newer building a few years ago.  The door at the left leads to the room where Oswald was questioned about his actions and his knowledge of the day’s events.

Oswald's interrogation room in the old Dallas Police Department - photo by Ed Darrell, 6th Floor Museum teachers seminar

Cops and their desks departed years ago, but Oswald's interrogation room holds a fascinating, film noir atmosphere; view from inside the room, as teachers discuss events of November 22, 1963, in the larger office outside. Photo by Ed Darrell; click for larger view


Bush I Presidential Library and Museum: Hello, Indiana Jones?

June 14, 2011

It’s not really that big — but what do you think of when you see this photo of the unindexed files at the George H. W. Bush Library and Museum (at Texas A&M at College Station, Texas)?

Unindexed files at the Bush I Library - 6-13-2011 1677-Photo by Ed Darrell, use permitted with attribution

Hello? Which row has the Arks of the Convenants?

Yeah, we all thought the same.

The big difference:  In College Station, archivists are working through these documents, indexing them for use.

They use Freedom of Information Act requests to set their agenda, which strikes me as bass ackwards, but they’re working on getting it done.


Big bone sale in Dallas, part 2: Is P. Z. Myers bidding on this one?

June 12, 2011

It’s perfect for him.  Perfect.  Bidding stands at about $2,500 at the moment:

Gem tektite octopus - Heritage Auctions June 12, 2011 - IMGP6864 - copyright Ed Darrell, use permitted with attribution

Did our cephalopod overlords leave this for us, 29 million years ago? It's looking right at you, you know.

Is P. Z. Myers bidding on this thing?

According to the catalogue from Heritage Auctions, this piece of glass was formed in what is now the Libyan Sahara 29 million years ago when a meteoroid struck the sand, creating massive heat that fused sand into glass.  This light lemonade colored glass comes from only a small part of the Libyan sands.  Tektite is collectible by itself.  Some craftsman (unidentified and unplaced in time by Heritage Auctions) carved this piece into a cephalopod.

Taking an uncommonly large and clear specimen, the master lapidarist has carved the form of a malevolent-looking octopus, with superb rugose skin texture and a mass of curling tentacles. With a gorgeous translucence and lovely delicate green/yellow color, this exceptional sculpture measures 2¾ x 2 x 1¾ inches. Estimate: $2,800 – $3,200.

Compared to the giant articulated dinosaurs about 50 feet away from the display, one could easily overlook this little gem.  Still, bidding online looked to be pretty active.  Is P.Z. still in the British Isles?  Is he bidding by internet?  Is his Trophy Wife™ planning a Father’s Day surprise?

Tektites should pique your interest, Dear Reader.  Glass formed only when interplanetary objects smash into the planet, providing clues to the makeup of our solar system and universe, dating back well before recorded time, found in only a few fields around the Earth.  They are the perfect marriage-merger of geology, astronomy, geography, natural history, history and, in this case, art.   They are popular among collectors.    Who walks away with this one this afternoon?


Big bone sale in Dallas

June 11, 2011

Big bones.  Big sale.

Heritage Auction's triceratops, for Jun 12, 2011 auction

Triceratops welcomes bidders and gawkers to the Heritage Auction sale of fossils, gems, meteorites, and other national history ephemera. HA estimates this nearly-complete triceratops, mounted, to be worth about $700,000; less than 24 hours before the live auction, it has an online bid of $500,000 already.

Heritage Auctions set up a bug bunch of fossils, gems, meteorites, taxidermy, and art work from natural materials, for an auction on Sunday, June 12, 2011.

2011 June Dallas Signature Platinum Natural History Auction – Dallas, TX.  Auction #6061.

I can’t afford to bid, but they let me in to get photos.  Nice people.

Heritage Auctions' June special, a triceratops - IMGP6882 photo by Ed Darrell; use permitted with attribution

Heritage Auctions' June special, a triceratops - photo by Ed Darrell; use permitted with attribution

The triceratops greets visitors and bidders at the display site, the Tower Building at Dallas’s art deco gem, Fair Park.  (If you look at the ceiling above the triceratops, you can see where restorers have stripped away several layers of paint to reveal the original ceiling paintings — original artwork, including murals, was painted over in the years following the dramatic debut of the buildings; restoration work proceeds slowly because of lack of funding.)

Triceratops horridus
Cretaceous
Hell Creek formation, Harding County, South Dakota

Researchers dug this particular specimen out of the ground in 2004.  HA’s description just makes one’s science juices flow:

Triceratops has enjoyed much cultural publicity ever since its discovery. It is an iconic dinosaur that has appeared in movies ranging from black and white cinema to modern movies like “Jurassic Park.” It has also been in cartoons, such as the children’s classic “The Land before Time.” Triceratops is also the official state fossil of South Dakota and the official state dinosaur of Wyoming.

The present specimen was discovered in 2004 in two parts: First, the fossil hunters came upon pieces of dinosaur bone eroding down a gully. Following these bone fragments, they eventually came upon large bones that would indicate the presence of a large Ceratopsian dinosaur. While this large mass of bones was being excavated, other members of the team followed another bone trail which led them to an amazingly well preserved skull 750 feet away from the original discovery. Over the course of months, the specimens were carefully excavated in large blocks; each specimen was covered in plaster jackets and removed from the field to the lab. It was only during preparation that they discovered the dinosaur was a Triceratops, and it happened to be a Triceratops with an incredibly complete skull. The bones and skull were carefully removed from their field jackets and prepared using hand tools. Broken bones were professionally repaired and restored while a few missing elements were cast from other Triceratops skeletons. A custom made mount was created to support the bones and the skull; innovative bracket mounts were crafted for each bone so that no bones had to be damaged in order to mount them. The bones were mounted in osteologically correct position; making it comparable to and possibly surpassing the accuracy of older mounts in museum displays. Though it is impossible to say whether or not the skull is original to the specimen, being discovered 750 feet apart, it is certainly possible that the two elements are associated for a number of reasons: first, the size of the skull is consistent with the proportional size dimensions of the skeleton, and second, the surrounding matrix (host rock) was identical in composition.

The completed skeleton is enormous; measuring 19 feet long from head to tail, 11 feet across, and towering 12 feet tall. The skull itself measures 7 feet long with 3 ½ foot long horns; placing it near the top of the size range for Triceratops skulls. The leg bones stand 10 feet tall from toes to the top of the scapula; dwarfing many other Triceratops skeletons. Given that the skull represents about 30% of a dinosaur’s entire skeleton, the present specimen is about 75% original bone, with the right leg, pelvic region, several cervical vertebrae and a few tail vertebrae being cast reproductions.

Who owns the thing?  Who put it together?   Who is losing the specimen, should it go to a private collection (you got a living room that big?), and which museum really wants it?

But that’s just one of the specimens up for sale at this auction, and not necessarily the best.  Also up for bid:  A stegosaurus, and an allosaurus, posed as a “fighting pair.”

Fighting pair - allosaurus and stegosaurus, from Heritage Auctions' June 12, 2011 sale of fossils IMGP6839 - photo copyright by Ed Darrell, use permitted with attribution

The "fighting pair," an allosaurus (left) and stegosaurus (right) posed in combat positions. Photo by Ed Darrell, use permitted with attribution.

If it sells, the stegosaurus will cost a lucky bidder more than $1 million.  The allosaurus requires $1.6 million.

Am I jaded?  On the one hand you can’t look at these specimens without thinking they deserve to be seen by kids, and adults, and studied by paleontologists and biologist of all stripes — and so who has the right to sell these off?  On the other hand, this is a Second Gilded Age, and the search for prize fossil specimens is often financed by the proceeds from these auctions.  I enjoyed an hour’s browsing and photographing — a slide presentation on the wonders of America for some sleepy class next fall.

How many of these specimens will I get a chance to see again in the future?

Or, Dear Reader, how many of these will you ever get a chance to see?

HA will sell a lot more than just a few dinosaur fossils.  This same sale includes the largest shark jawbone ever found, stuffed Kodiak and polar bears (from the same hunter), gems, art from petrified wood and fossilized fish, and a large selection of meteorites, including the only meteoroid ever confirmed to have struck and killed a living creature (a cow in Argentine; you can’t toss a stone without hitting a cow in Argentina, I hear).

Giant shark jaw for Heritage Auctions' June 2011 sale

Requires a large wall and high ceilings to display

I don’t plan to go bid; there’s about an hour remaining for online bidding tonight, but if you’re interested and you’ve got your income tax refund burning a hole in your pocket, you can also bid by telephone and hotlink on the internet (go to the Heritage Auction site for details).   Frankly, I don’t think the sale will get the attention it deserves.  I hope these spectacular specimens will land where they can get  a great, admiring and studious audience.


Free bus tours to the FDR Library?

June 6, 2011

Franklin Roosevelt voting in Hyde Park, New York

Franklin Roosevelt voting in Hyde Park, New York, November 2, 1937 - FDR LIbrary image

In the Dallas district, and across much of Texas, field trips are being cut out.  Budget restraints, you know.  Rick Perry’s math is atrocious, and the “surplus” he claimed we had in the budget turned out to be a $27 billion deficit.

So, I got quite excited to read this press release from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park, New York:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

For information call:
Clifford Laube at (845) 486-7745

YOUR BUS COULD BE ON US!

New funding available for field trips to historic Hyde Park destinations

HYDE PARK – Field trips are back! The National Park Service and FDR Presidential Library and Museum are pleased to offer new transportation grants for 2011 field trips to five renowned Hyde Park destinations – FDR Presidential Library and Museum, Home of FDR National Historic Site, Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site, Top Cottage and Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site.

The new grants are managed by Teaching the Hudson Valley (THV), a nonprofit that helps educators and students discover and appreciate the natural, historical and cultural treasures of the Hudson Valley. A list of available programs and grant application form are available in the Grants section of THV’s website.

“These sites are brimming with world-class learning opportunities for local students,” said Sarah Olson, superintendant of the Roosevelt-Vanderbilt National Historic Sites. “We recognize that many school districts have cut back or eliminated field trips due to budget constraints. These grants are designed to put great field trips back in reach.”

Educators are free to create their own curriculum, and the sites have a wide variety of prepared curricula, including:

  • Pretend You are the President, grades 4-6
  • Eleanor Roosevelt: First Lady of the World, grades 4-6
  • FDR’s Boyhood Farm, grades 1-3
  • Searching for Salamanders, grades 7-12
  • Podcasts interpreting the many trails that traverse the 5 sites

“To walk in the footsteps of history, to touch and hear nature – these are the experiences that make learning vivid and memorable,” said Lynn Bassanese, director of the FDR Presidential Library & Museum. “Field trips are becoming an endangered species, but the need for them is still great. Together these sites have provided decades of great experiences for educators and students. These new grants will help us continue the tradition.”

K-12 educators in public and private schools may apply for regular, summer or after-school programs. Trips should be related to core curriculum or programs and take place by December 31, 2011. Teachers in the same school or district may apply together.

ABOUT THV

Launched in 2003, Teaching the Hudson Valley (THV) helps educators and students discover and appreciate the natural, historical, and cultural treasures of the Hudson Valley. THV programs foster collaboration between schools and informal learning sites. Our growing collection of free K-12 lessons uses significant Valley sites to teach all subjects. For details, visit http://www.TeachingtheHudsonValley.org.

THV is a program of the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area and HRV Greenway Conservancy, Inc.; National Park Service – Roosevelt-Vanderbilt National Historic Sites; Hudson River Estuary Program/NY State Dept. of Environmental Conservation; and Hudson River Valley Institute at Marist College.

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Alas, it turns out it’s not intended for Texas classrooms.  Drat.

I’ve taken large groups of 14-16 year-olds through those sites.  An halfway interested teenager can get eyes opened seeing how FDR grew up, in the place he grew up.  The library and museum offer spectacular displays on FDR’s presidency and the times.  It’s exactly the sort of experience a lot of my students have never had, but need.

I’ll have to see what we can do with museums and libraries a little bit closer — the George H. W. Bush Library in College Station, Texas, the Lyndon Johnson Library in Austin, and the  Bill Clinton Library in Little Rock.  Possibilities of touring close-by sites make me quiet about the odd situation at the George W. Bush Library and Center for Right-Wing Propaganda planned for Southern Methodist University.   There’s a great chance that the advantages of having the educational resources will outweigh the ignominy of the propaganda activities (though the Hoover Institute makes one appropriately wary).

Look for some reports back, soon.  While you wait, call the Texas Lege and tell them to appropriate enough money to educate the students in the American Way, will you?  The Lege is still meeting in Austin, in emergency, special session.


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