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.

31 comments:

Ahistoricality said...

Nicely done!

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