One of my favorite books of all time is Walter Lord’s A Night to Remember, a retelling of the Titanic’s demise. I finally got around to watching Roy Ward Baker’s 1958 film adaptation of the book on a beautiful Criterion Blu-ray from the library, and it got me wondering: what about the iceberg? In both … Continue reading An Iceberg to Remember
In an email thread about the controversies surrounding the removal of statues, I suggested we relocate all statues to museums and use the space for parks and Little Free Libraries. But that's destroying history! First Amendment! Statues aren't history, as this Twitter thread by Elle Maruska articulates well: Statues are mythology. Statues are hagiography. If … Continue reading Statues and Star Wars
When I first heard of the new book Information Hunters: When Librarians, Soldiers, and Spies Banded Together in World War II Europe by Kathy Peiss, I thought it was so far up my alley it should have just moved in. The book tells two primary, interweaving stories: how the information-collecting missions of the Library of … Continue reading Ideology and ‘Information Hunters’
You probably know of Dorothea Lange's famous 1936 photograph "Migrant Mother" (aka Florence Owens Thompson), an icon of the Great Depression. Perhaps you don't know, as I didn't, just how much the photo was staged and later altered. Evan Puschak of the video series The Nerdwriter breaks down the photo's origin, the alterations (ghost thumb!), … Continue reading Making Migrant Mother
One podcast that survived my recent purge is The Keepers, a series from The Kitchen Sisters and NPR. The series features: "stories of activist archivists, rogue librarians, curators, collectors and historians. Keepers of the culture and the cultures and collections they keep. Guardians of history, large and small, protectors of the free flow of information … Continue reading Go Pack Horse Librarians, Go!
The Frances Willard House Museum & Archives has an extensive collection of books, articles, reference material, and other educational media on topics of all kinds. I've looked through hundreds of books and boxes in the WCTU archives, which hold some material as old as Willard herself. Among these titles are subjects you’d expect: medical treatises, … Continue reading The Opposition in the WCTU archives
Why didn't anyone tell me there are Ulysses Grant and Theodore Roosevelt biopics in the works from Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese? And that Leonardo DiCaprio is attached to star in both of them? The Hollywood Reporter asked a bunch of historians whether Leo should play Grant or Roosevelt. Looking at their pictures above I'd … Continue reading Grant me a Roosevelt biopic
Dan Cohen ponders why some recent sci-fi films prominently feature libraries, archives, and museums: Ever since Jyn Erso and Cassian Andor extracted the Death Star plans from a digital repository on the planet Scarif in Rogue One, libraries, archives, and museums have played an important role in tentpole science fiction films. From Luke Skywalker’s library of … Continue reading For the records
In July 2016 I visited the Norway Resistance Museum in Oslo, which told the story of Norway's occupation by the Nazis during World War II. A name that kept popping up throughout the museum was Vikdun Quisling, the Norwegian politician who collaborated with Hitler and seized control of Norway's government during the occupation. I wanted to … Continue reading Quisling: What’s in a name?
In his book Washington's Crossing, David Hackett Fisher writes about how the colonists responded to the dark days of the American Revolution in 1776: This great revival grew from defeat, not from victory. The awakening was a response to a disaster. Doctor Benjamin Rush, who had a major role in the event, believed that this … Continue reading From defeat, not victory