Historical Treasures, Oddities, And Delights

June 20 2014 10:13 AM

The Romantic, Hopeful French Pictorial Postcards of World War I

These brightly colored postcards, sent by French families and soldiers during World War I, are partof a set of similar cards available on Flickr from the George Eastman House. Because sending postcards to soldiers was postage-free during the conflict, the cards were mass-produced in great quantity and variety. Imagery offered solace and urged staunch resolve.

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June 19 2014 11:19 AM

The Puzzle-Writing, Puzzle-Solving Teen Subculture of the Late 19th Century

Here’s one issue of the Bay State Puzzler, which had a six-issue run in 1886 under the guiding hand of editors Edwin F. Edgett (apparently then 19 years old) and Charles H. McBride (apparently then 17).

June 18 2014 11:10 AM

Jane Austen's Collection of Critical Feedback From Her (Sometimes Harsh) Friends and Family

In an eight-page document, Jane Austen collected her friends’ and family’s opinions of her third and fourth novels, Mansfield Park (1814) and Emma (1815). The British Library recently made the manuscript available online as part of its great Discovering Literature: Romantics and Victorians collection.

June 17 2014 11:38 AM

Interactive Time-Lapse Map Shows How the U.S. Took More Than 1.5 Billion Acres From Native Americans

This interactive map, produced by University of Georgia historian Claudio Saunt to accompany his new book West of the Revolution: An Uncommon History of 1776, offers a time-lapse vision of the transfer of Indian land between 1776 and 1887. As blue “Indian homelands” disappear, small red areas appear, indicating the establishment of reservations.  

June 16 2014 12:30 PM

A Unique Atlas Shows How Much of the Arctic Has Been Mapped by the Inuit 

A group of researchers has collated historical documents to produce an interactive atlas, Pan Inuit Trails, that shows how much of the Canadian Arctic has been explored and mapped by the Inuit people.


June 12 2014 11:56 AM

The Sniffy, Scandalized Letter That Sealed the UK Government's Ban of Ulysses

In this letter, the British Director of Public Prosecutions, Sir Archibald Bodkin, issued an official opinion on James Joyce’s book Ulysses, calling it a “filthy book” and declaring that it should “not be allowed to be imported into the country.” The government adopted Bodkin’s recommendation, and banned Ulyssesfrom the UK.

June 11 2014 12:34 PM

How Eisenhower Handled McCarthy's Threat to a "Middle-of-the-Road" GOP 

In March 1954, President Eisenhower sent this letter to George N. Craig, then the Republican governor of Indiana, defending his policy of not publicly criticizing the actions of Sen. Joseph McCarthy. The letter shows how carefully Eisenhower had formulated this tactic, and how often he had fielded questions about its appropriateness.

June 10 2014 3:15 PM

An Early Draft of "The Star-Spangled Banner," With All Those Verses We Never Sing

This year marks the bicentennial of Francis Scott Key’s “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and there will be commemorations galore (see the Smithsonian’s extensive plans here, and the Maryland Historical Society's here). Here’s one of Key’s first drafts of the song, including the unfamiliar second, third, and fourth verses. 

June 9 2014 2:53 PM

A Detail-Packed Mid-19th-Century Map of World Religious Belief

This 1854 map of world religious belief appeared as part of an atlas published in Scotland by cartographer Alexander Keith Johnston. The map, a “Moral and Statistical Chart Showing the Geographical Distribution of Man According to Religious Belief,” presents religious geography from a Scotch Protestant perspective.

June 6 2014 9:34 AM

"A Forlorn Little Rescue Party": Post-Combat Interviews With D-Day Survivors From One Hard-Hit Company

This testimony, collected soon after D-Day by the U.S. Army Historical Section, compiles memories from seven survivors of Company A, 116th Infantry Regiment, 29th Infantry Division.