Category Archives: raw material

August 12, 2010, 3:13 pm

Dean Acheson: funnier than you'd think.

Which may not be a high bar to clear, but still. From Present at the Creation, p. 71.

June 9, 2010, 9:10 am

Protect the motherland.

It’s 1915, and Josephus Daniels wants you to want a bigger Navy, by exposing you to “the complex life that throbs through our dreadnoughts.”

Here’s a short clip including a submarine going down.

You can take in the whole thing, or at least 11′24″ of it, at the National Film Preservation Foundation.

May 25, 2010, 9:16 am

The middle, against the world.

H.R. 3314, “to provide for the participation of the United States in the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development,” better known as the Bretton Woods Agreements Act, passed the 79th House on June 7, 1945, by a vote of 345-18, and the Senate on July 19, by a vote of 61-16, and was signed into law by Harry Truman on July 31, becoming Public Law 171, cited at 59 Stat. 512.

April 16, 2010, 8:20 am

Say, Debs …

I’m teaching progressivism today in introductory US history, so I thought I’d post one of my favorite cartoons of the 1912 campaign.

By E. W. Kemble, from Harper’s Weekly, 9/21/1912, p. 9.

April 6, 2010, 1:10 pm

a case of misplaced nostalgia?

Warsaw, 1938

The Times article on Roman Vishniac’s photographs of Jews in Eastern Europe before the Holocaust (a few days old now) is fascinating. I didn’t know him primarily through A Vanished World, the book that’s now (somewhat) in question. Rather, I knew first his scientific photography, probably through the many back issues of Scientific American lying around the house as I grew up. Then, when I began to look more seriously at general photography, I spent a long time with John Szarkowski’s Looking at Photographs, in which he’s represented by this dramatically suggestive scene.

From Maya Benton’s research, it seems that in composing the book, Vishniac winnowed down the wide variety of pictures he took, to present a vision of Jewish Eastern Europe as old, rural, narrow, timeless; and that he arranged them to illustrate narratives that didn’t really take place. Neither takes away, though, from …

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October 1, 2009, 11:25 am

Per capita GDP, selected countries, 1870-1940

Since Ahistoricality asked, some comparisons on late c19 / early c20 levels and growth of per capita GDP.

That’s Germany (DE), United States (US), Britain (UK), Japan (JP), Brazil (BR). Data from Angus Maddison.

September 26, 2009, 1:21 pm

Where I’m coming from and bound to.

Sometimes as historians we have reason to sum up our careers to date and make a projection forward as to what we’re doing next. Here’s mine. I don’t think this will really interest people for discussion, so I’m putting it below the fold by backdating it 72 hours, and people who read the blog on the web probably won’t notice it. Those of you who get these posts on RSS will of course see it presented as if it were fresh and intriguing; sorry about that.


September 16, 2009, 5:01 am


In 1967, Lyndon Johnson’s Department of Labor issued the “Manpower report of the president”, in keeping with the requirements of the Manpower Development and Training Act of 1962 (76 Stat. 23) signed into law by John Kennedy for “making possible the training of the hundreds of thousands of workers who are denied employment because they do not possess the skills required by our constantly changing economy”.

Heading 4 of the introduction to Johnson’s report read, “We Must Make Military Service a Path to Productive Careers”, and underneath that announced,

… the Secretary of Defense has launced ‘Project 100,000′ to accept and train thousands of young men who were previously rejected as unfit for military service. Under this program, 40,000 young men are joining the Armed Forces this year; 100,000 will join next year. All will receive specialized training to help them become good…

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September 10, 2009, 1:43 pm

What falls away is always.

Ted Kennedy’s more-or-less deathbed injunction to Barack Obama:

August 28, 2009, 11:54 am

History mystery: the Oregon land fraud and the Republican nomination of 1912.

In the Report of the Public Lands Commission published 1905, you will find this discreet description of land fraud beginning on page v:

Under the act of June 3, 1878, generally known as the timber and stone act, there has lately been an unusual increase in the number of entries, which can not be accounted for by an increase in the demands of commerce or by any unusual settlement of the localities in which the greater part of the entries were made. … The law was enacted to meet the demands of settlers, miners, and others for timber and stone for building, mining, and other purposes. There is much evidence, however, going to show that many entries have been made for purposes not contemplated by Congress. … The Commission believes that Congress did not intend that this law should be used for the acquisition of large tracts of valuable timber land by individuals or corporations, but it…

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August 22, 2009, 5:07 pm

Civility as bubble

Atrios points us to this Times article, by Jennifer Steinhauer, on the foreclosure crisis in Moreno Valley, out by Redlands in the Inland Empire. It’s inhibited by conventions of the genre, and the interviews seem only to have gone so far, but it’s suggestive — it sketches a picture of the community that took root on one street during the boom years, and the strains that were put on it by the bust.

The neighborly virtues of mutual consideration and assistance seem, in this telling, to go hand in hand with wealth, or with the exclusion of those whose wealth isn’t above a certain bar. For the established residents, moving into this neighborhood, ten years ago, was a move up, and a move away from rougher neighborhoods (El Monte, for example). And as foreclosure pushes some of them out, and the prices of the vacated houses fall to 1989 levels, they seem to fear that rough neighbors like…

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August 3, 2009, 3:10 pm

Corpses as artifacts of a cowboy culture.

Speaking of cowboy culture, here’s a chart of the murder rate in the US for most of the twentieth century.1

Douglas Eckberg presents the revised series because the early Census data under-reported homicides and didn’t cover the whole US; Eckberg’s estimates probably provide a more accurate picture of the murderous early c20.

The numbers indicate something long remarked on but little explained. Here’s Richard Hofstadter in his introduction to American Violence:

For the long span from about 1938 to the mid-1960′s, despite the external violence of World War II and the Korean War, the internal life of the country was unusually free of violent episodes. Industrial violence and lynching had almost disappeared. Rioting in the cities—despite the Harlem riot of 1935, the Detroit riot of 1943, and the Los Angeles zoot-suit riot of the same year—occurred less often than in many past…

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July 30, 2009, 4:44 pm

Schooling II.

A number of people asked in comments to “Schooling” if the pattern shown for migrants out of the South wouldn’t be about the same for the rest of the country. I said “no”, but I couldn’t leave it alone. And since AWC didn’t take the bait when I offered to send him data, I did some figuring myself.

Does the pattern of education for all migrants look like the pattern for migrants out of the South? For this we use the same definition of migrants—recent (within the last five years) migrants across state lines, age 26 or older; nonmigrants defined as people over the age of 26 who live in the same house as they did five years ago.

So the pattern is different. Completion of 8th grade is more common among nonmigrants than among migrants.

What about migrants to the South? Here we look at people born in the non-South, resident in the South, over the age of 26, who moved across state…

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July 28, 2009, 3:04 pm


Did education lead to a brain drain in the Jim Crow South? There’s considerable anecdotal evidence that it did, often focusing on college education.1 Can’t keep ’em down on the farm once they’ve been to an ag. school.

I wondered if it would be possible to have a slightly more systematic go at this question, looking at all levels of education, using IPUMS.

The 1940 census asked people if they’d moved across state lines within the last five years. Suppose you look at people born in the South, resident outside the South, who’d moved across state lines in the past five years, over the age of 26—you’d mainly be looking at people who had moved out of the South after completing their education, wouldn’t you? I think so. Anyway, that’s what the graphs show, with migrants defined as “moved across state lines to a state in the non-South within the last five years”, divided into…

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July 3, 2009, 9:44 am

Jefferson the writer.

Whatever one’s overall opinion of Jefferson the man and Jefferson the president, he could write. Here he is at work, with his strikeouts shown in parentheses:

they are permitting their (sovereign) chief magistrate to send over not only soldiers of our (own) common blood but Scotch & foreign mercenaries to (destroy us) invade and deluge us in blood. (this is too much to be borne even by relations. enough then be it to say, we are now done with them.) these facts have given the last stab to agonizing affection, & manly spirit bids us to renounce for ever these unfeeling brethren! we must endeavor to forget our former love for them and to hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends. we might have been a (great) free & a (happy) great people together, but a communicat(ed)ion of (happiness) [g]randeur & of (grandeur) freedom it seems is be(neath)low their…

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