Archive for History

Organization of American Historians. Distinguished Lectures Series

This series, representing the best of the American historical profession, now has sixty-six (as of this writing) talks running the gamut from the Civil War in American memory to how alike are Andrew Jackson and Donald Trump. These lectures are well worth a listen.


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Are Travel Bans New?

In a word, no. Here is an article explaining the history of travel bans.

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Handbook of Houston

Launched in 2017 and modeled after the well-received Handbook of Texas, this site contains more than 1200 entries on this city. The articles have bibliographies as well as embedded links to other parts of the Handbook. The articles are arranged by topic; there is a separate biography section included. Given the devastation visited upon this urban area, the fourth largest in the country, a review of its history is in order.

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Today in History: The Russian Revolution Begins

The Russian Revolution celebrates its centennial today. Here are some online primary sources that can help you:

Eyewitness accounts: visitors to Soviet Russia, 1917-1928 from the larger the Russian Revolution and Britain, 1917-1928 (from the University of Warwick);

Foreign Relations of the United States, 1918. Russia; FRUS, 1919. Russia; Subsequent volumes of FRUS (US Department of State). Consult this informative article on the lack of American material on events in Russia during this time: No Little Historic Value: The Records of Department of State Posts in Revolutionary Russia (Prologue, 40(#1, Spring 2008).

Lenin’s Collected Works (including letters; English translation. Available through Marxist Internet Archives.)

The October Revolution (from the Marxist Internet Archives. Includes timeline, primary sources, biographies, and a glossary

Russian Revolution, 1917-1922 (Thousands of newspaper articles from Chronicling America)

Photograohs can also be used as primary sources as long as they, too, are subject to the strict review of historical vetting. Blood Stained Russia (1918) by Donald C Thompson, despite its lurid title, supplied numerous dated photographs grouped around certain themes. Read his Donald Thompson in Russia (1918), a series of letters home to his wife, Dot. Just reading his introduction to this work can leave you breathless, even if some of it is an exaggeration.


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Today in History – The Beginning of the Protestant Reformation

Whether Martin Luther nailed his “95 Theses” to the door of the Wittenberg Cathedral or simply delivered them to his archbishop is a matter of conjecture, but what is indisputable is that his public condemnation of numerous, Papal transgressions, spawned a movement of rebellion whose legacies still reverberate to this day. While not the first wave of protests (hence “protestant”) against the Catholic Church (look at the Waldensian movement and a little later the Hussite movement), this particular iteration proved long-lasting, thanks in no small part to the burgeoning role of the printing press that had been introduced in the West in 1451.

This post will not present a recapitulation of this era. Please come here to read about the best books on the Reformation. (Roland Bainton’s work still stands the test of time, and Parker’s work on Calvin removes much of the heated and opinionated rhetoric associated with this towering intellect.) For an online examination of those turbulent times, please read this entry from Spartacus Educational – Protestant Reformation. Another site worth visiting, and containing audio/video files as well, is this one from Deutsche Welle.

The standard edition of the collected works of Martin Luther, short-handed as WA (Weimerer Ausgabe), took over forty years to compile, are in 121 volumes, and in German; there is an multi-volume selected edition of his works in English. Online works by Luther can be found at: Christian Classics Ethereal Library (hundreds of authors) and Project Wittenberg (along with other contemporary authors). To get an insight into this person, recommended readings include:His Table Talk (conversations with Luther) and Luther’s Correspondence and Other Contemporary Letters.

John Calvin’s challenging works were published in 59 volumes as Ioannis Calvini opera quae supersunt omni; English versions can be found in the CCEL where the commentaries alone comprise 46 volumes. A contemporary document on the man can be found in Memoirs of the life and writings of John Calvin; compiled from the narrative of Theodore Beza…

Other Reformation authors can be found here and here.

Post-Reformation Digital Library is an amazing site holding hundreds, if not thousands of digital copies of primary writings.

From the Reformation to the Thirty Years’ War contains valuable primary sources.
















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Some of the Remaining JFK Assassination Records Have Been Released

The National Archives released another large batch of records that deal with the investigations into the death of President Kennedy. While all the remaining records were assumed to be made public, many were held back due to “national security” concerns. Here is The New York Times take on this development. From the Kennedy Presidential Library, here is an overview of his assassination; Spartacus Educational provides a link-laden review of that event.

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“The Digital Middle Ages”

Is the sub-title for a special issue of Speculum exploring the various projects employing digital technology in the field of medieval studies. An informative introduction (the references and links alone are worth a close read) traces the development/introduction of computers into this area, and subsequent articles highlight certain applications. Artificial paleography, GIS, and visualization are among the tools utilized.

As an ongoing source of information, mention of the Digital Medievalist is a must here.

Work has certainly progressed from the days when I input punch cards of part of the proces of the Knights Templar into the SPITBOL compiler at Columbia University. Just dipping into HathiTrust to consult works that decades ago required treks and quests through the libraries of New York City and beyond is a revelatory experience.

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