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New York City's Asylum for the Insane on Blackwell's Island
Moses King / British Library

This past Saturday was the 154th birthday of Nellie Bly, one of the first (if not the first) American investigative journalists.

Her willingness to be checked into the New York City Women's Insane Asylum helped change the way America treated people who were mentally ill.

Anesthesia
striatic / FLICKR - bit.ly/1xMszCg

Imagine going to the dentist and needing a filling, but there’s nothing to numb you up. There’s no novocaine. Just drilling.

Thankfully, we have local anesthesia for dental work and eye surgery. For that, we can thank a man who died 74 years ago today.

THE QUILT INDEX

For six years now, the Detroit Unity Temple has held a quilt exhibit in February. Many of the quilts – but not all – are tributes to African-American history. This year a quilt that’s getting a lot of attention is called “Strange Fruit."

Sir Francis Galton in 1893
WikiCommons

This week marks the 196th birthday of someone who occupies a place of dishonor in the annals of science. Sir Francis Galton was born this week in 1822. He was interested in a wide range of fields: meteorology, psychology, and biometrics, but it was his social theory on eugenics that left an unsavory and unhappy mark on the world.

Prince Albert memorial
Paul Hudson / Flickr - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCl0

 

156 years ago this day, a husband died.

His grieving wife wore black from that day until her own death 40 years later.

That is the story of Britain's Queen Victoria and her husband, the Prince Consort Albert.

The New Press, 2017

There are accepted historical “facts” which do not hold up to closer scrutiny. One of those is that slavery was something that happened in the South, not the North. That is simply wrong.

A new book examines examples of Northern slavery, focusing on the early days of Detroit.

will keith kellogg with horse
University of Michigan Medical School Center for the History of Medicine

A chirpy, cheery jingle from the 1960s was part of a massive advertising effort that helped Kellogg’s Corn Flakes become amazingly popular.  

Kellogg’s best to you” meant breakfast to countless families across America. Open that box of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, or Rice Krispies, pour on the milk — and you've got breakfast.

A view across the devastated neighborhood of Richmond in Halifax, Nova Scotia after the Halifax Explosion in 1917. The steamship Imo, one of the ships in the collision that triggered the explosion, can be seen aground on the far side of the harbor.
wikimedia commons

The University of Michigan hockey team started its season last week. But the program started 94 years ago. It was a surprising byproduct of the worst man-made explosion to that point, and of a young man who changed his mind about Americans.

Courtesy of the American Museum of Magic

The word “magic” may conjure images of witches and wizards casting spells in a bygone era, long before the rise of science and modern civilization.

However, there is a spot in Michigan where magic still thrives.

Courtesy of the Grand Valley State University special collections

One way to learn history is through textbooks and lectures. Another is through the words and handwriting of the people from our past. That’s right: letters, something today’s college students don’t see too much of.

Students at Grand Valley State University are getting a chance to experience the emotional and historical power of letters through a podcast called To the Letter.

A Broadway theater called the Eugene O'Neill
Rough Tough, Real Stuff / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

One of America's greatest playwrights was born 129 years ago this day.

Eugene O'Neill was a prolific writer whose works earned him four Pulitzers and a Nobel Prize.

And it was his youthful battle with tuberculosis that inspired many of his greatest works.

UpNorth Memories - Donald (Don) / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCLO

The Cobo Convention Center in Detroit has hired a company to dive into the possibility of selling the center's naming rights.

Free Press columnist Rochelle Riley calls it "incidental good news" that 1950s-era Mayor Albert Cobo's name would be removed from the center should the naming rights be sold. Cobo was controversial in that his urban renewal plans displaced African Americans in Detroit – a lot of them.

smussyolay / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Grocery store shelves, restaurant menus and cookbooks are a lot different in 2017 than they were 30 or 40 years ago.

Americans tend to pay a lot more attention to the food we eat and how it's prepared. We know more about fine wines. Many of us seek out organic fruits and vegetables, and are willing to try exotic foods our parents and grandparents couldn't even imagine.

But, at the same time, we've seen the income inequality gap widen. How has "good food" become conflated with high status?

vintage cars at Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Museum
F.D. Richards / Flickr

President Trump’s proposed budget would eliminate the federal funding for a group that works to preserve Michigan’s automotive history. The MotorCities National Heritage Area covers 16 counties and includes museums, parks and entertainment venues, including the Henry Ford Museum, the Michigan International Speedway and the Michigan Theatre in Jackson.

Vincent Van Gogh self-portrait, painted in 1887.
Wikipedia / Art Institute of Chicago

Happy 164th birthday to the man who is the personification of the "tortured artist."

Vincent Van Gogh was born on this day in 1853.

University of Michigan medical historian and PBS contributor Dr. Howard Markel joined Stateside to talk about some of the mysteries that still remain about this iconic artist. He started with the famous story of Van Gogh cutting off his own ear. 

Shelby Kroske, MSU Libraries

 

Michigan State University historian Liam Brockey has spent years studying the history of Catholicism. Now, that scholarship is generating something unexpected: Oscar buzz.

Brockey served as a consultant on legendary filmmaker Martin Scorsese’s latest work “Silence,” the story of two Portuguese Jesuit priests who travel to Japan in the 1640's to find their lost mentor.

In new new book, Heather Ann Thompson looks at the Attica prison uprising of 1971. and what it can tell us about today's prisons.
flickr user Jayu / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

 

The book Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and its Legacy has been getting lots of attention by the national media and is a National Book Award finalist.

The author is University of Michigan Professor of History Heather Ann Thompson.

She joined us today to talk about the 1971 prison uprising in New York and what we can learn from it today.

The film includes scenes of ordinary Americans going about their daily lives and emphasizes the impact of war here at home.
screengrab / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

“Today is the day that will live in infamy,” in the words of President Franklin Roosevelt.

This is the 75th anniversary of Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor – the attack that propelled the United States into World War II.

The next year, some Hollywood heavyweights produced a propaganda film called Fellow Americans designed to boost support for the war.

It was narrated by Jimmy Stewart, the first movie star to enter military service. At the time of this film he was a 2nd lieutenant in the Army Air Corps.

This posthumous portrait of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was painted by Barbara Krafft in 1819.
Public Domain / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

 

The Magic Flute is one of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s most famous works.

There’s a good chance you know the piece, but what you might not know is that Mozart finished and premiered the opera in the very final months of his life.

Mozart died 225 years ago today. He was only 35.

The cause of Mozart’s death is a medical question that has endured as long as his music.

“It’s OK to look for that rustic experience, but maybe at the same time you’re not completely willing to leave those modern comforts behind," Hogue told us.
flickr user Terry Bone / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

 

Michigan outdoors and camping: the two are practically synonymous.

We’ve got something like 13,500 campsites in Michigan, more than any other state.

But how much are we really communing with nature when we camp when we hook up to electricity, boot up the wi-fi and set out our folding chairs under the awning?

Architect Martin Hogue has spent a lot of time exploring just what camping really means in 2016. His exhibit 925,000 Campsites: The Commodification of an American Experience is now running through the end of the year at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield.

Animal bones found in the Saints Rest privy.
Courtesy of Autumn Byers

Archeology is not just about digging into prehistory, coming up with arrowheads, pottery shards and mastodon bones.

It can also give us a window into the not-too-distant past.

Say, the campus of Michigan State University in the mid-1800s.

That’s what Autumn Beyer is doing in her work with the MSU Campus Archeology Program. She’s studying what students and professors ate in the early days at Michigan State and how they got that food.

Flickr user - Patty Follow / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Ancient Egyptian history and culture is considered one of the oldest traces of Western civilization, and those who ruled in Egypt were known as pharaohs. 

King Tutankhamun, or King Tut, is one of the most widely known pharaohs. His tomb was discovered 94 years ago today, in 1922, by archeologist Howard Carter. Inside it was the mummified body of King Tut.

Howard Markel, a University of Michigan professor and medical historian, discussed King Tut's tomb and its supposed curse with Stateside

Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II
Public Domain

 

Broadway musicals have covered a dizzying array of subjects. It may be hard to believe, but that list includes the life and trials of a young physician.

On this evening, 69 years ago, the medical musical "Allegro" opened on Broadway.

Although it’s long been forgotten, University of Michigan medical historian Dr. Howard Markel believes the lessons taught by "Allegro" are worth remembering today.

First Ladies Michelle Obama, Laura Bush, Hillary Clinton, Barbara Bush and Rosalynn Carter stand during dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in 2013.
Public Domain

 

A recent Boston Globe piece from Mark Peters takes a look at the title “first lady,” calling it an “archaic term.”

We don’t use the term “lady” very often these days, he argues, save for when referring to the wife of the president.

How did we arrive at the title “First Lady” in the first place, and why do we still use it?

Courtesy of Shirley Burke

The National Museum of African American History and Culture opens this weekend in Washington. One of the items on display is a violin that, until now, was in Michigan with Shirley Burke.

The Draken Harald Hårfagre as it passed Detroit on July 13.
Mark McClelland

If you're in Detroit this weekend, don't worry, your eyes are not deceiving you. Yes, that's a Viking ship at the Detroit Yacht Club.

The Draken Harald Hårfagre has been visiting North America after it sailed from Norway to Iceland, Greenland, and then through the St. Lawrence Seaway to the Great Lakes.

This train wreck was big news at the time
Jodi Westrick/Michigan Radio

People from the Adrian area and local historians know the story of the “wreck on the Wabash.” But outside of those circles, the train crash that took place in 1901 isn’t especially well-known.

There are many tragic elements to this story and for a thorough sense of what took place, you can read historian Laurie Perkins’ book, “Wreck on the Wabash” (written under the name Laurie C. Dickens).

Prisoners of war held in Michigan’s camps were mostly German, but there were also soldiers of other nationalities, like these Italians captured by the Germans in Greece in 1943.
Wikimedia user Bild Bundesarchiv / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

There aren't many books that serve up history, suspense, crime and a love story, all beautifully tied together.

Wolf's Mouth manages to offer all that and more.

flickr user Ted Eytan / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Deciding who should be allowed to use what bathroom has consumed a lot of attention across the country, and certainly here in Michigan.

With all the controversy about public restrooms and transgender people using the ones that match their gender identity, let's roll back the years to figure out just how sex-segregated bathrooms came to be in the first place.

Terry Kogan is a professor at the University of Utah's College of Law. He has spent the past decade considering the rights of transgender people, and the public restroom question in particular. 

When rabies stopped being a death sentence

Jul 6, 2016
Painting of Louis Pasteur working in his lab, 1885
Albert Edelfelt / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0 / Public Domain

Many of us are following the headlines about the Zika virus with mounting alarm.

Before that, it was Ebola. Think back to October 2014, when a New Jersey nurse was quarantined after returning home from caring for Ebola patients in West Africa.

She later sued the state, by the way.

That same month, a Liberian man named Thomas Duncan left his home to visit Dallas, Texas. He left Liberia healthy. Two weeks later he was dead of Ebola, the first person diagnosed with the deadly disease in the U.S.

In 1885 people were equally terrified of rabies.

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