How Literate Are You by 1918 Standards? Take This Oddly Poetic Test.
Here is one version of the Devens Literacy Test, used on Army recruits during World War I. (See three other versions here.) The test was designed by psychologist E.A. Shaw and named after Camp Devens, in Ayer, Mass., where it was developed. It begins with simple queries meant to be answerable by people with minimal education, moving forward into more and more difficult questions targeted at soldiers who had been to college.
How to Sketch a Terrible Place: A Union POW's Hand-Drawn Map of Andersonville Prison
This sketch, drawn by Robert Knox Sneden, a Union mapmaker who spent 13 months as a Confederate prisoner, depicts the layout of the notorious Andersonville Prison in April 1864.
A Serious Security Handbook for Civil Rights Volunteers
This three-page security handbook was issued to Freedom Summer volunteers headed to Mississippi in 1964. The handbook shows how the Freedom Summer organizers tried to orient college students, who had signed up for stints teaching at Freedom Schools, registering voters, and assisting local activists in providing basic social services and organizing protests.
Some Exceptionally Vivid Soviet Anti-Religious Propaganda
Here are four pieces of anti-religious propaganda published in the young Soviet Union. These are undated, and the artist’s name has been lost, but it’s likely that they were printed and distributed during the 1920s or 1930s, when the newly-empowered Bolsheviks made the elimination of religious power one of their main goals.
Woodward's Notes, Typed From Memory, on His Meetings With Deep Throat
These two pages of notes from Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward record information from his parking-garage meetings with the Watergate informant “Deep Throat.” W. Mark Felt, then the FBI’s Associate Director, outed himself as Deep Throat in 2005.
Is It Possible To Fit the Civil War Into a Single Chart? Here's One Beautiful Attempt
This chart, digitized by the Library of Congress, depicts major battles, losses, and other events in the American Civil War. (Click on the image to arrive at a zoomable version, or visit the LOC’s website.)
A Boy Named Humiliation: Some Wacky, Cruel, and Bizarre Puritan Names
Puritanism has its roots in the late sixteenth century, after Henry VIII broke ties with the Catholic Church. The Puritans believed that reforms had not gone far enough and advocated for a church entirely divorced from Catholic ceremonies. For over a century, Puritans argued amongst themselves, schismed, predicted the end of the world, fought the English Civil War, and colonized the northeastern United States.
Picking Through George Washington's Trash
Here are five things found in a garbage pile excavated at George Washington’s plantation home in Virginia between 1990-1994. The Mt. Vernon Ladies’ Association has put a collection of these finds online, in a searchable database, along with item descriptions. Over 300,000 artifacts have been unearthed in all.
Pretty Pincushions, Embroidered by British Soldiers in WWI and Sent To Their Sweethearts Back Home
Pages From an Underground Railroad Conductor's Diary Preserve Fugitive Slaves' Stories
William Still, Philadelphian and son of a formerly enslaved woman who had escaped to freedom before his birth, was a prominent conductor on the Underground Railroad. Starting in 1852, Still recorded details about each fugitive he encountered, writing down names, ages, skills, status of family members, names of slaveowners, and conditions of enslavement.