Monday, January 31, 2005

Archive of Exiles

Here is an interesting effort to create a center for research around those who were forced to flee Nazism.
The aim of the Else Lasker-Schüler-Foundation is the establishment of a real Centre of Persecuted Arts. This is intended to be developed as a centre of documentation and information on topics such as censorship, the proscription and burning of books, the persecution and emigration of writers, artists and other intellecuals in the past as well as today.
The site has a number of biographies (in German) and links to other sites.

Smallpox outbreaks

The Centers for Disease Control publishes (and makes available for free online) a monthly journal called Emerging Infectious Diseases. They almost always include one historical essay and this month's is a Historical Review of "Surveillance and Control Measures during Smallpox Outbreaks".

"We reviewed historical data from 2 smallpox outbreaks in Liverpool and Edinburgh during the early and middle years of the 20th century to assess their contribution to developing modern strategies for response to a deliberate release of smallpox virus. Reports contemporaneous to these outbreaks provide detail on the effectiveness of public health interventions. In both outbreaks, extensive contact tracing, quarantine, and staged vaccination campaigns were initiated, and the outbreaks were controlled within 15 months and 3 months, respectively. In Edinburgh, the number of fatalities associated with vaccination exceeded the number of deaths from the disease. In Liverpool, ambulatory, vaccine-modified cases and misdiagnosis as chickenpox resulted in problems with outbreak control. The relatively slow spread of smallpox, as exemplified by the report from Liverpool, allowed for effective implementation of targeted intervention methods. Targeted surveillance and containment interventions have been successful in the past and should be explored as alternatives to mass vaccination."

The Russia That Was

It's been quite a while since I've posted here, and I do apologize.

Anyways, the Library of Congress has a wonderful online exhibition of photographs taken by Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii, "the photographer to the Tsar".

The photographs of Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863-1944) offer a vivid portrait of a lost world--the Russian Empire on the eve of World War I and the coming revolution. His subjects ranged from the medieval churches and monasteries of old Russia, to the railroads and factories of an emerging industrial power, to the daily life and work of Russia's diverse population.

In the early 1900s Prokudin-Gorskii formulated an ambitious plan for a photographic survey of the Russian Empire that won the support of Tsar Nicholas II. Between 1909-1912, and again in 1915, he completed surveys of eleven regions, traveling in a specially equipped railroad car provided by the Ministry of Transportation.

There are some truly stunning pictures in this collection, wrapping a painterly sense of color and light with a hyper-realistic sheen. It is amazing to think that many of these photos are now around a century old, and to dwell on the enormous change that this world would soon be experiencing.

Some of my favorites:
Cathedral of St. Nicholas, Mozhaisk
The Emir of Bukhara
Jewish Children with their Teacher
Portrait of Pinkhus Karlinsky, 84 Years Old
View of the Nilova Monastery

Friday, January 28, 2005

Rome Reborn

Last night Professor Florence Hsia (who specializes in Jesuit Science in China) turned us on to this exhibit, available online:
Vatican Exhibit: Rome Reborn
From the site:
"ROME REBORN: THE VATICAN LIBRARY AND RENAISSANCE CULTURE presents some 200 of the Vatican Library's most precious manuscripts, books, and maps--many of which played a key role in the humanist recovery of the classical heritage of Greece and Rome. The exhibition presents the untold story of the Vatican Library as the intellectual driving force behind the emergence of Rome as a political and scholarly superpower during the Renaissance. The exhibit will be on display in the Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress from January 8, 1993 through April 30, 1993. The online exhibit will be available by anonymous FTP and the World Wide Web indefinitely.

The exhibit is divided into nine (9) sections: The Vatican Library, Archaeology, Humanism, Mathematics, Music, Medicine & Biology, Nature Described, A Wider World I: How the Orient Came to Rome, and A Wider World II: How Rome Went to China. Each section contains exhibit text and separate image files for each object. This online exhibit includes not only objects from the Library of Congress exhibit, but also the alternate objects (brought from Rome to be used if there were a problem with one of the primary objects) and items omitted later in the planning process..."

Really beautiful images, check it out.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

LII Miscellany (27 January)

Monday, January 24, 2005


An excellent essay in the London Review of Books on the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. A sample:
"Since this is still predominantly a compendium of men written by men, the right searches ought to yield some illumination about favoured male self-descriptions. Perhaps surprisingly, only 17 of our national heroes were ‘all-round sportsmen’, and only two had ‘dashing good looks’, but ‘attractive to women’ throws up a fascinating medley of attitudes among its 27 results.

Some concentrate on the physical, such as the entry for Edwin Booth (1833-93, ‘actor’) – ‘with dark eyes, long dark hair, romantic good looks, and a warm musical voice, Booth was attractive to women’ – and some not, such as that on Marcus Cunliffe (1922-90, ‘Americanist’), who is described as ‘generous, relaxed, charming, urbane, vivacious, witty, playful and attractive to women’.

Others excite more sympathy, such as Thomas Jones (1870-1955, ‘civil servant and benefactor’) whose agreeable qualities ‘made him particularly attractive to women, especially after his wife’s death’; one immediately senses a whole squadron of those female ‘forceful personalities’ steaming over the horizon."

Thursday, January 20, 2005

LII Miscellany (20 January)

It's not just Google

... getting into digitising.

I got a pointer today to the Canadian libraries website where medieval and early modern-related texts are being put up.

My source was very excited the presence of all but one of the 24 volumes of the Records of Early English Drama (REED; 1979-)

I was also pleased to find: A Transcript of the Registers of the Company of Stationers of London; 1554-1640 A.D.

The interface is not entirely intuitive and it requires the download of yet more (free) software, but probably worth it!

Wednesday, January 19, 2005


Dennis Hidalgo on David Cannadine's Ornamentalism.

The cricketer king

I bet you that this is the strangest piece of history you'll read all day.

Martin Luther King

This is a bit late (except for those of us in Britain who don't know when MLK day is) but I thought I'd link to Flea's post on Martin Luther King.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Recommended by an expert

... as one of the best sites on the web for an up-to-date introduction on the latest understandings on human evolution, the Smithsonian Human origins programme.


Profgrrrrl brings us the origin of the saying 'colder than a witch's . . .

Monday, January 17, 2005


Is Shakespeare's signature proof that he was diseased? From Barista.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Read the palms

Leaves of digital: "The Indian public will finally have a chance to freely access ancient records dating back to the 18th century. This is because the world's largest collection of palm-leaf manuscripts will soon be digitised.

The museum in South India - home to more than 10,000 ancient palm-leaf manuscripts - will be undergoing a digital revolution ..."

Hat-tip to Rare books.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

History Carnival #1

Come and visit the first History Carnival!

A miscellany

One week for me equals c. 800 emails, I've discovered, by going away and leaving them to collect. But it is worth it, really, for all of the multifaceted gems of links ...

An online journal of very modern history, Genders - "gender and sexuality in relation to social, political, artistic and economic concerns". From "Race, Gender and Terror: The Primitive in 1950s Horror Films", to "Technologies of Race: Special Effects, Fetish, Film, and the Fifteenth Century".

Women's War Work, by Jennie Churchill, 1916, completely accessible on the web, with an introduction and brief biography of her. (And it doesn't just cover the obvious nursing etc ...)

Two articles from 1918 about the Chinese who contributed worked with the Allied forces in France in World War I.

Two sites that archive women's studies syllabi by discipline here and here. And a site that will find you a syllabus about anything. (Well anything that so exists.)

A lovely 15th-century poem about London and lawyers.

Les Spectacles de la foire d'Émile Campardon (1877) (The theatre shows of the fair) Théâtres, Acteurs, Sauteurs et Danseurs de corde Monstres, Géants, Nains, Animaux curieux ou savants, Marionnettes Automates, Figures de cire et Jeux mécaniques des Foires Saint-Germain et Saint-Laurent, des Boulevards et du Palais-Royal depuis 1595 jusqu'à 1791. (There's a great deal in it about the associated crime ...)

CELL 2004 Online Edition of the Workdiaries of Robert Boyle.

American prison conditions in the Eighties and Nineties (and possibly continuing - not sure on that).

Apologies for the lack of credits, but just reading and collecting them took long enough!

Friday, January 14, 2005

Classical Women

I really enjoy this site on Roman Women, focusing on biographies of important figures.

Sumo wrestlers? Not role models

Josh at Far Outliers has another interesting piece on the history of sports in Asia. This one deals with the problems of gaining acceptance for sumo, a sport that appeared to be nothing more that street-fighting. My favorite part:
Promoters promised to control the incipient sport better and to donate a share of the profits to public works. Accordingly, benefit sumo was permitted in Edo in 1684, in Osaka in 1691, and in Kyoto in 1699. The authorities granted permits to hold benefit sumo almost every year after that.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

LII Miscellany (13 January)

Wednesday, January 12, 2005


Here's a little bit of World Wide Web history for you!

Friday, January 07, 2005

A Special Photo Archive

At the BBC website: Your Photo Gallery.

A lovely collection of old (and not so old!) photos sent in by readers: mostly pictures of family members (going back to the 19th century) with short biographies or family histories as well.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Renaissance drama

Two sources in my email today:

News on the Rialto: "Here's the latest news on the world's greatest writer." (Yes, you might have guessed that's Shakespeare. I've been interested to see that in the book list meme that's flooding around the web - mine's here - he's the one just about guaranteed to stay on. Either he is on everyone's bookshelf, or they're just not game to admit that he isn't.) This is the blog from Shakespeare Magazine.

Current and Forthcoming Renaissance Drama Productions from the University of Birmingham Skakespeare Institute. I think they mean in England, but that's not entirely clear.

LII Miscellany, part II

LII Miscellany (6 January)


Rob has started writing about a cross-cultural friendshiphere.

Image of the scientist

Why do we always picture scientists in the same pose: peering up into a flask of coloured liquid? PZ Myers has been finding out. It goes back at least to the 13th century.

Australian children's literature

Read more at Barista.

Monday, January 03, 2005


Kent writes about the film The Motorcycle Diaries.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Un site dramatique

Théâtres de société: rayonnement du répertoire français entre 1700 et 1799 is a wonderful historical dictionary providing information on much more than simply the theatre. It is also illustrated, so worth a browse even if your French is shaky.

A sample entry: Montalembert, Hôtel de (La Bergère de qualité, du comte? de Montalembert, 24 janvier 1784)“L’hôtel de la rue de la Roquette [voir Clermont qui l’occupa jusqu’à sa mort en 1771] fut acheté par le marquis de Montalembert, maréchal de camp, qui continua la joyeuse vie de son prédécesseur; le théâtre reprit ses représentations privées sur lequel on vit M. de Saint-Georges qui cumulait l’art de l’escrime avec l’art dramatique.” (Capon, 1902, p. 14)

Now if I just had a swish handheld computer or mobile, when wandering around Paris, as I'm planning to do next week, I could look up the history of the places I saw .... mmm. Maybe I can see the point of the technology - you just need the applications to justify it (and of course the funds to support it).

The site is also home to a number of essays and other resources, mostly in French.

P.S. Having posted references to a couple of French-language sites I feel obliged to point out that my French is about as good as you'd expect for someone who scraped through the first year Open University course about this time last year. I can more or less read it with some recourse to a dictionary, speak a little if I have a few seconds to compose the sentence (although with a horrible Australian accent, so I'm told), and almost never understand it when it is spoken to me ... just so no one thinks I'm any sort of resource!

But one of these days I WILL get better at it.

(Via C18-L.)

Early Modern Carnival

Carnivalesque #3 is up: part 1 and part 2.

Many thanks to Claire for playing host.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Soviet space missions

A fascinating post from Barista.
In the excitement of Saturn and Titan, we tend to forget that the Russians - or rather the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics - have been trundling their bolted objets-de-Stakhanovite around the Solar System for a long time.

The seven basic plots

Happy New Year everyone!!! I'm hosting the third Early Modernists' carnival on my blog on Sunday night (UK time) so let me know if there are any posts you want me to include.

In the meantime our story telling friend has posted a great review of Christopher Booker's The Seven Basic Plots.
Christopher Booker’s magnum opus, about the seven basic plots which lie behind all storytelling, has taken 34 years to write, during a period of human history which amply illuminates his central thesis that all storytelling has the underlying purpose of showing humankind how to live.