Thursday, April 30, 2009

History Carnival #76: April Showers Bring May Flowers?

A gardening theme seems right for the May edition of the History Carnival--let's dig right in!

[Image below, at left: illustration of a hoe, shovel, and rake, bound up with a ribbon that forms a shamrock-like shape, with "P." on top and "H." underneath]

The Free Gardeners of Scotland, a nineteenth-century friendly association, had a fascinating iconography, as shown and described at the Bartholomew Archive blog. (Credit where credit's due: I found the Bartholomew Archive blog by following links posted at both Collins Maps and The Map Room. But it's about far more than maps; follow the blog's link for historian-pleasing posts about ornate stationery, obscure satirical cartoons, railway history, and much, much more.)

A garden is a nice place to read in the springtime... I'm partial to biographies of women, so I'll gladly settle into the hammock with a new book about Katherine Willoughby (at Philobiblon's suggestion), or the new bio of Anne Sullivan Macy (as discussed by its author, Kim Nielsen, at her new blog). Or just tour the various blogs posting in observance of Mary Wollstonecraft's 250th birthday (which happened April 27, hope you didn't forget): Historiann, River Fleet, and GypsyScarlett, among others.

Or perhaps you've got some old (really old) mail to catch up on. Captain Cecil Mainprise's letter from Tibet to his sister Delia is up at Field Force to Lhasa 1903-04; Marion Brown's sending frilly pink letters to her cousin's fiance in 1872, at my own blog of correspondence transcripts, Letters from Sanquhar. Or maybe you just need to sit in an alcove and think about big questions, like "the origins of World War I," or "What did the British Empire ever do for us?"

Hey, what's that racket? Aha, just the cats boxing. Or Fred Ott sneezing (garden's full of pollens). Or one of the other 70 short films the Library of Congress recently uploaded to their new YouTube channel. Read all about this latest LOC venture.

While you're digging deep to make room for a large root ball, be careful you don't dig into the abandoned subway tunnels underfoot. Exercises in "nostalgic futurism" can show where those lie, at Strange Maps. Meanwhile, Laura Wattenberg has been digging in the Social Security data to learn what the Great Depression did to American baby-naming trends.

Creepy things lurk in gardens, under stones, and in some blogs too... Erika Dicker shares a rather shocking "Object of the Week" at the Powerhouse Museum's blog--a century-old Radiostat machine, or portable therapeutic vibrator device. Just as implausibly constructed (and just as real) are the CIA assassination plots against Castro outlined in a recent post at Edge of the American West. Antonio Salieri certainly has an unsavory reputation, from the play and movie Amadeus--is it warranted? Romeo Vitelli at Providentia digs into the facts behind the rumors and drama. Meanwhile, North Carolina is in the painful process of uncovering that state's eugenic sterilization program, and making gestures of redress, notes the Carolina Curator.

How does your garden grow? "Don't be lax!"
You could import some especially sturdy varieties, like the Hungarian horses sent to India in the 1890s. You could hire some experts at creating dramatic landscapes--like the American Museum of Natural History did for their legendary dioramas. Clio Bluestocking is having some luck with growing enthusiastic students, through museum field trips and film clips. Or consider, as Alan Baumler does at Frog in a Well, the 13th-century advice of Zhu Xi on critical reading for a liberal education:
Here’s what is necessary: one blow with a club, one scar, one slap on the face, a handful of blood. Your reading of what other people write should be just like this. Don’t be lax!
On the other hand, Zhu Xi also advised that
People beyond mid-life shouldn’t read much; they should simply turn the little they do read over and over in their minds. Then they’ll naturally understand moral principle.
That's probably a good note to end on. Gather up your cuttings and shears. Thanks to all contributors and writers and readers, it's been fun, but now, the gardening edition of the History Carnival is over and done.

New Image Database from the NLM

[Image description: Stylized portrait of a man, standing at a podium, wearing a powdered wig, ruffled white shirt, and dark glasses.]

The National Library of Medicine has significantly changed their website titled Images from the History of Medicine-- and the over 60,000 images (portraits, photographs, drawings, caricatures, posters, etc.) include a lot of images of interest to historians of disability. In a quick riffle, I found 1838 drawings of "idiots" in Paris, 1791 diagrams for slings and prosthetic devices, and of ear trumpets, and the lovely 1796 portrait at left, of Dr. Henry Moyes (c1750-1807), a noted Scottish chemistry lecturer who was blind after surviving smallpox as a small child. There are many more recent (1970s and later) photographs and posters and pamphlet covers and such as well.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

April 19: Erastus "Deaf" Smith (1787-1837)

[Image description: A county map of Texas with Deaf Smith County highlighted in Red; it's a rectangular block on the New Mexico border in northern Texas]

It's not too hard to find disability-related place names (toponyms). Use Google Maps--there's Cripplegate in London, Cripple Creek in Colorado (and another Cripple Creek in Virginia), Blind Man Road in Williamsburg SC, Lunatic Creek in Montana (and another Lunatic Creek near Tenterfield, Australia), Idiotville (a ghost town) and Idiot Creek in Oregon, Asylum Township in Pennsylvania (actually, that one doesn't have anything to do with a lunatic asylum--it was named for a scheme to provide French nobles a refuge during the Revolution).

And then there's Deaf Smith County, Texas.

The first thing to know about Deaf Smith is that the name is pronounced DEEF Smith. Why? Because that's how its namesake Erastus "Deaf" Smith was called. Smith was born in New York State on this date in 1787. At 11 he moved to Mississippi with his parents; he lost much of his hearing as a youth, after surviving a serious illness. He was also called "El Sordo" (the deaf man) by his Spanish-speaking kin and connections. Smith was a Texas Ranger who served as a scout and a spy during the Texas Revolution. Upon Smith's death in 1837, Sam Houston wrote in a letter, "A man more brave and honest never lived." Deaf Smith County was named for him decades later.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

New Website for College-bound Students with Disabilities (x-AUCD)

This new website has been developed to help high school students learn about living college life with a disability. The site provides video clips, activities, and resources that can help students get a head start in planning for college. Video interviews with college students with disabilities offer a way to hear firsthand from students with disabilities who have been successful. Modules include activities that will help students explore more about themselves, learn what to expect from college, and equip them with important considerations and tasks to complete when planning for college.

Monday, April 13, 2009

News of the Day: Amazonfail and BADD 2009

Does the "Amazonfail" story affect disability studies books too? Oh yes it does!

Will there be a Blogging Against Disablism Day 2009? Oh yes there will!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

April 11: Robert Haig Weitbrecht (1920-1983)

[Image description: black-and-white photo of Robert Weitbrecht, seated, pointing to his TTY and showing it to a man leaning in to see.]

The inventor of the TTY modem (telephone typewriter, now known as TDD), Robert Weitbrecht, was born on this date in 1920, in Orange, California. Weitbrecht, deaf from birth and an astronomer by training, was a ham radio operator in the 1940s--so he had the personal interest and technical expertise to devise alternative ways to communicate electronically, long before texting or twitter or anysuch.

In his memory, TDI has a biennial Robert H. Weitbrecht Telecommunications Access Award to "the indivudual who has made outstanding contributions by any means to improve accessibility to telecommunications and media in the United States."

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Disability Blog Carnival #55 is up NOW!

The April edition of the Carnival, now posted at Yet Another Never Updated Blog, has a superheroes theme--even entries that weren't written directly for the theme are very cleverly worked into the flow--so go read up on heroes and villains, invisibility and other superpowers, secret identities, language, teamwork, and pirates and prosthetics. It's a generous, diverse collection of posts, and quite a number are from new-to-the carnival bloggers.

We need a May host! Email me quick if you want this slot. It can be a bit of a time commitment, but it's usually pretty fun, and you get all the glory, all the traffic, all the link love. (I'm glad to help too, of course.) When we have a May host, I'll post it here--watch for the Bat Signal.

UPDATE: Sarah from Same Difference was first to the mark, and she'll host the May Carnival. Posting date is May 14, so deadline for submissions is May 11--you can submit links for consideration at the form (but BEWARE THE CAPTCHA), or in comments here, or there.

In other Carnival news, I'll be hosting the History Carnival here at DS,TU again, on May 1 (edition #76). May 1 has also, for the past three years, been Blogging Against Disablism Day. So yeah, could be a busy week... !