Mr. K and I are interested in the history of the Oregon Trail. He's good at research, but is coming up blank on papers or discussions to help understand who went, and WHY they decided to spend six months on an incredibly difficult trek in order to try to carve out a living in Oregon. [more inside]
HIVEMIND! Does anyone know any examples of rules or institutions imposed by powerful individuals that other powerful individuals then copied, with the rule eventually spreading through a population? I imagine that someone might impose a rule and that someone else might think, "woah, that's a good idea - I'm gonna impose that, too," and then it spreads. Possible examples might include the origins of Jim Crow laws, or the development of norms of respect (like bowing to old people). I'm especially looking for examples that are discussed in the academic literature, but any thoughts or suggestions are welcome. THANKS!!
I'm applying to the bar in Virginia, and just realized I need a list of all traffic violations I've ever committed. My regular DMV record doesn't go back that far. I need this information in the next 7 days. Where to go? [more inside]
My daughter is 8 and she loves her bedtime stories, but she doesn't want to be read to, she would rather we recite a story out loud while sitting in the dark. Well yesterday my imagination ran out so I told her the story of Mata Hari as best I knew it and she loved it! [more inside]
Severnaya Zemlya, Krasnoyarsk Krai, Russia is censored on Google Maps. Anybody know why? Here it is: link
What is the origin of the term API (Application Programming Interface)? Who coined it? What terms did it compete with?
Did Helen Keller ever express any position for or against homosexual rights? [more inside]
I'm having some trouble finding historical data on (overall) ad spending by medium. What I would really like, is a single graph or at least table, with some numbers going back ~30 years (or more is fine) that goes up to the present (~2014 let's say). I am uninterested in forecasts, and I'm uninterested in data sets with shorter time windows; my search results are just getting swamped by organizations that (i) are selling something, usually forecasting, and (ii) aren't focused on anything older than a few years ago. [more inside]
In Eduard von Grützner's painting Vor der Brotzeit, the monk has something in his hand. What is it?
I'm trying to find an article by some historians that posited that the places described in the Bible we not actually in present day Israel. The historians had done some theorizing that the mountains and valleys mentioned in the bible (can't remember which book) fit better with an area in Saudi Arabia off the coast of the Red Sea. I've searched the Google but can't find any mention of this theory. I would love to find it again. Thanks, MeFi!
This quote is commonly attributed to John von Neumann: "You insist that there is something that a machine can't do. If you will tell me precisely what it is that a machine cannot do, then I can always make a machine which will do just that." Did he say it, or something like it? Where? If not, who did?
The impossible has happened - I am caught up with, or have finished, all my favorite history podcasts. I'm looking for some new ones to add to the line-up. [more inside]
I'm looking for the old time name of a job that I know one of my ancestors did for several generations. It's a weird sounding name for a person that makes sheep gates out of hazel or willow hurdles. I knew it a couple of years ago and have since lost it from my memory and bookmarks. The name was obscure enough that I had no inkling that it was a 'sheepgate maker'(portable sheep fencing) until I googled it and found a reference in a piece or blog about Victorian era occupations. I remember laughing at what it was. [more inside]
What is the equivalent of Halberstam's The Children for the American feminist movement of the late 60's and early 70's? [more inside]
I'm writing an article for my local historical society that I may expand into a book. Can anyone help me choose a citation manager? [more inside]
Hey -- when did film theaters start doing continuous showing, how frequent was it -- that is was it a big city thing or was it everywhere -- and when did continuous showing end, does anyone know?
A strange and learned young comedian once told me about a famous Futurist artist who professed that the best way to die was to be be killed by rival artists in the streets of a hyper-competitive future, or some such. He was most certainly paraphrasing. Anyone have a clue who he was talking about and what was actually said? [more inside]
At some point in the past, thigh and knee surgery wasn't as advanced / available / affordable as it is now, and the average Joe-Schmoe-Quad-Tear like me would have just put a splint on it and had a lame leg the rest of his life. I wonder how many years ago that changed? 1950's? 1970's? 1930's? [more inside]
This is one of my favourite photos ever. A worker bowing their head in front of the Super-Kamiokande neutrino detector, in Japan. I recently came across it again after many internet years, but can't find a larger - or the original - version. Any ideas?
In Ezra Pounds' Canto LXII, there is a minor chronological error, has it been noted before concerning Pounds work? [more inside]
I'm looking for book recommendations for compelling history books, primarily about the advent of colonialism/imperialism and how the colonized in the Americas, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East responded to it. More details inside and thanks in advance for your help! [more inside]
Was a physical description necessary for early 20th century railway travel? I've been looking through a lot classifieds from around 1910, specifically the For Sale and Wanted ads (mostly in Oregon), and there are a lot of rail tickets listed. In the ads the people almost always specify what they look like. [more inside]
My grandpa did an album about his time in the Spanish Civil War, and the liner notes (PDF) utilize five pieces of clip art. I'd like to know where the clip art came from. [more inside]
Listening to the Hardcore History podcast about Ghengis Khan recently, I was reminded of a set of flash-card type things that I remember having when I was growing up. The cards featured a picture of a "great person" on the front, and a short write-up about him or her (but honestly I think they were mostly men) on the back. Can you help me find a set of them? [more inside]
So I recently read Hilary Mantel's old LRB piece on holy and secular anexoria, which reminded me of how much I like her style and insights in her non-fiction pieces and made me regret giving up on Wolf Hall a few years ago. Is there something on Tudor history that would help me enjoy Wolf Hall more? [more inside]
What is this intriguing device I noticed at a friend's house? Friend has no idea. It's about 6 inches in length. It was patented by Holland Mfg of Willamantic, CT, and a Google search suggests it might have something to do with 19th century silk manufacturing. Ideas?
Can you give me examples of male visual artists who are and were known for their gratuitous sexual behavior? Sexuality doesn't matter, and neither does period or style. I'm very curious. Thank you.
This is a two-part question about commodity prices in California in the 1860s. Part 1: How is this newspaper report of "current" (1862) prices read? The @s throw me off. (My best guess is that those are price ranges.) Part two... [more inside]
not sure if this is the case in other areas, but where i live there are zillions of one-bedroom duplexes built in the 1920s. why the sudden duplex housing boom in the 20s? and why are they all single bedrooms - were they meant for singles or couples without kids? i've googled and googled and can't find the answer, so hopefully one of y'all knows!
I'm looking for a book or website I read a few years ago about sovereign default and how it's actually a GOOD thing. The author pointed out several examples in history where countries had defaulted on their debt and emerged more-or-less okay (if I recall correctly there were examples dating back to antiquity). Does anyone have any idea what this was?
Tell me the history books you've read that you could not put down. History of just about anything, but especially historically significant people, say, before WWI. [more inside]
Where can I learn more about Japan's heightened interest, starting in the late 70's, towards cultures they deemed to be exotic, especially in (but not limited to) music? [more inside]
A young woman (14 years old) of my acquaintance absolutely loves those "fun fact of the day" trivia phone apps. Now I'm looking for some books I could recommend to her chock full of fun facts, and explanations of the background of those facts, that would be age- and knowledge-level-appropriate. Ideas? [more inside]
I always thought I could learn whatever I needed to learn about computers, but as my life has gotten more complex, and computers keep changing, I find myself with over 12 years of email from school and three jobs, and more and different kinds of stuff coming all the time. I see four big things I'd like to do with my computing environment (home, work, phone, cloud) but I have no idea how to get started or what is the best way to do this. I need a computing mentor. [more inside]
This is a question about the return of hundreds of thousands of Portuguese colonists to Portugal after the African colonies became independent and the politics thereof. [more inside]
I just finished reading The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer again and it was just as incredible if not more so the second time around. I'm wondering if there are other nonfiction books of similar quality and comprehensiveness for other topics - primarily looking for a diabetes book but also interested in any other comparable books. [more inside]
Are there any good discussion boards or email lists for an amateur ancient history enthusiast? [more inside]
Embarrassingly simple question-- has there been recently published a book about the history of the British (cozy?) mystery? [more inside]
Before Thanksgiving, construction crews working on the Massachusetts State House discovered a time capsule placed there in 1795. It was opened last night at a press conference. Will the contents be on display? [more inside]
Our 12-year-old has expressed some interest in the history of socialism and communism. I would love to find him some resources that aren't quite as blatantly one-sided and dismissive or even flat-out wrong as I've been able to find so far (like a video titled: "Socialism: From Marx to Obama" for example, ugh). I'm a staunch European social-democrat myself, so I can tell him a little about what I know myself, but I'd love to supplement it with some good, easy reading, and maybe some video.
"Nice catch!" you'll think, realizing that I deserve kudos for noticing that this question is hard to find an answer to. But where does the phrase "nice catch" come from? Why is noticing and identifying a thing a "catch"? When was this first used and whence did it come?
The popular perception of Versailles and the 18th century French aristocracy holds that they showed a casual disregard for the the struggles of the poor. This surely has truth to it, but the famous "let them eat cake" anecdote quite likely never happened – so can you point me to any other evidence (letters, anecdotes, trial proceedings, etc) of how the French ruling class actually regarded the poor?
An episode of Sports Night refers to Napoleon's Battle Plan as being: "First we show up, then we see what happens." Does this have any grounding in reality, or is it just Sorkinism gone wild? [more inside]
I'm trying to find historians, writings, examples... whatever I can about 19th century American (especially mid-Atlantic) veggie and herb gardens and could use some help! I'm basically looking for resources on what someone might have had in their home garden. [more inside]
Which articles, written before and as "shock therapy" economic liberalization policies were being implemented in Russia, have best been borne out over time? [more inside]
I am appended to a cosmetics nerd, who is daily engrossed in the theory, history, and practice of makeup in Europe and the US. This is someone who has shelf space devoted to books on, like, the material culture of powder compacts between the great wars. [more inside]
I want to read very good history books. I know such threads exist. But I want recommendations from people who are very well read (decently well read, even) in the subject. If you have a particular interest, what is it, and what are some excellent books you've read and recommend? [more inside]
I know why our ears pop, but I'm wondering when humans reliably began experiencing this sensation caused by anything other than having a cold. Today, we are most likely to feel our ears popping in a airplane or driving a car in the mountains. But before planes and cars, and besides the head colds and infected sinuses that have always been with us, what caused our ears to pop first? [more inside]
Every year I load up my Mom's Kindle library for Christmas. This year I'm finding a lot of stuff on the non-fiction end but very little fiction that is up her alley. Her fave books: Neal Stephenson's "The Baroque Cycle" and Gillian Bradshaw's "The Sand-Reckoner." Got a rec? Expanded explanation of her taste inside! [more inside]
I'm looking for books about the daily lives of ordinary, non-Jewish Germans in the run-up to WWII. Ideally about someone who wasn't that interested or involved in politics and didn't have any strong feelings about Jews, Roma or other Nazi targets. Specific questions inside. [more inside]