Can ghosts teach us anything about the Reign of Terror?
It was the Indian month of Shravana, and early summer rains of 1653 would have set in as the delegation of villagers toiled up the steep slopes to the gates of the fort of Rohida, (later named Vicitragadh) and presented themselves to the officials there.
Some of the most important documents for historians of Jewish history are documents that haven’t been saved at all. In fact, they’ve been discarded – into a closed storage space known as a geniza.
Cats and dogs in art are rarely mere props. More than decoration, their presence serves a meaningful purpose. They may represent human endeavors, moralities, values, and behaviors. Alternately, their image may signify the lives and conditions of individual animals themselves, or entire categories of such animals, existing in domestic relationships with humans, as suppliers of labor, or even as a sources of food. Animals in art offer novel and useful ways to understand historical trends and events.
As historians, most of the time we tell stories about strangers. But I come from a family of story-tellers and, in our family, Passover was a special occasion for telling family stories. So, today I’m writing a story about a beloved family photograph.
Getz/Gilberto was not North America’s first encounter with bossa nova, the lyrical fusion of samba and cool jazz emanating from the smoky nightclubs, recording studios, and performance halls of Rio de Janeiro in the mid-1950s. Yet the eight-track LP was by far the most successful.
My mother, Rae Straw, and her friend Pam had an odd assignment in 1979 for two travel agents from Houston: selling the Soviet Union to American tourists. For travel agents, such familiarization or “FAM” trips were a regular occurrence, but going to the Soviet Union during the preparations for the 1980 Moscow Olympics was a unique experience.
How to Cook and Eat in Chinese was the earliest popular, English-language guide to Chinese cooking. First published in 1945 and reprinted several times, it remains in wide use today.
The practice of child abandonment and efforts to manage it have a long history and I recently encountered a series of surviving artifacts from about 250 years ago that provide us with a rare window into the abandoned and the abandoners.
Does history offer lessons for the present? Skeptics about the possibility of drawing meaningful, specific, and persuasive lessons from history may be strengthened in their views by the two documents below.