Reginald Marsh was an American painter born in Paris on March 14, 1898. Both of Reginald Marsh’s parents were painters. When Marsh was two years old his family moved to Nutley, New Jersey. He attended Yale University and graduated in 1920. After college, Marsh settled in New York in 1920 and began working as a free-lance artist. In 1925 he became an original member of the staff of The New Yorker magazine, for which he drew humorous illustrations and metropolitan scenes. In 1929 he began painting scenes of city life, including Coney Island crowds and Bowery derelicts. Marsh was attracted to the noise and movement of New York City. He liked to depict crowds pursuing public pleasures at theaters, burlesque houses, dance halls, and beaches. His beach scenes usually show healthy young people sunning, wrestling, and embracing each other, such as in Negroes of Rockaway Beach (1934). After his death on July 3, 1954, many of his prints and thousands of unfinished sketches were found in his estate. Many of his works are displayed in prominent art museums throughout the country, such as the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the Art Institute of Chicago.
John James Audubon was born on April 26th 1785 in Haiti. He was the son of a French captain and a Spanish creole. He was taken to Paris where he studied with the French painter Jacques-Louis David. Audubon escaped from France in 1803 to prevent being drafted into the Napoleonic wars. He settled on a family owned estate near Philadelphia. It was here that Audubon studied and drew birds. Audubon was fascinated by nature and and made it a habit to interact with his surroundings. Audubon’s goal was to document all the birds of America. He made trips to the south, including Florida, where he did many of his most famous works. John James Audubon made a collection of 435 plates, containing 1055 different kind of birds. In 1826 Audubon went to England in the hope of getting his drawings published, and by the following year he had obtained sufficient subscribers to enable him to begin the publication of his Birds.
Mill Grove Farm. This was Audubon’s first home after arriving in America.
John James Audubon watercolor paintings are now home to the New-York Historical Society! The N-YHS plans to show a three part exhibition of John James Audubon’s collection. Audubon’s Aviary: The Complete Flock (Parts I-III) will showcase all 474 watercolors by Audubon. Audubon’s Aviary: Part I of The Complete Flock exhibition is up from March 8, 2013 to May 19, 2013. For more information: http://www.nyhistory.org/exhibitions/audubons-aviary
- Evans F.
This month the United States of America, and the world, have lost a true friend and fighter for freedom. Margaret Thatcher, a strong-willed, impactful woman left the world more open than before, and more prosperous. Strong connections with the United States, especially with Ronald Reagan allowed for the ‘freedom duo’ to influence the world, in every aspect possible. Thatcher was the first woman in history to rise to the top of British politics, and remained in tenure for 11 years. Throughout those years the world saw the reversal of a global economic crisis, advancements in technology, and most notably the fall of Communism. The ‘Iron Lady’ propelled Great Britain onto the forefront of international debate over whether or not freedom would be allowed to remain oppressed in such a blatant manner, or opened for all of humanity to experience. Some argue that Thatcher was rigid, and not keen towards listening, but in fact she was one of the great compromisers of recent history. Gorbachev, Miners, Northern Ireland, and the British State were all a part of compromises under the policies of Thatcher. One of the most accomplished individuals, Thatcher rose from just a grocer’s daughter to a Baroness. The essence of Thatcherism was free economics, and a strong state, “A country can prosper only by encouraging people to save and spend, no more than they earn.” Under her pilotage Britain became a global power, Capitalism spread, and Communism fell. Thatcherism is exactly what the world needs today; the will to fight for what you want, and the self-generated guidance needed to succeed. With heavy hearts we bid goodbye to Lady Thatcher. We’ll miss you Maggie.
Charles Kyle O’Rourke
1950s Brooklyn gang called The Jokers
A project by Bruce Davidson, who engaged in a photographic study of troubled teenagers in the 1950s. The photographs show the dark side of what was thought of as a innocent time period. Davidson followed the gang around for several months. Their “turfs” were Prospect Park, Helen’s Diner, and Coney Island. He went on to write, “I met a small group of teenagers called the Jokers, I was 25 and they were 16. I could have easily been taken for one of them.”
Almost everyone has seen Titanic at one point. Whether it’s the music or the iconic romance, Titanic pulls us all in and illuminates a part of history that only our great-grandparents would remember. While the team behind the movie took a few artistic liberties-most notably Jack and Rose’s famous whirlwind relationship- many aspects of the film are accurate representations of what actually happened in the middle of the Atlantic, April 15, 1912.
Even though Jack and Rose weren’t real people, many of their shipmates were. For example, Margaret Brown, otherwise known as “The Unsinkable Molly Brown”, was just as spirited in 1912 as she was portrayed in the film. Molly, a first class passenger, was the only person aboard one of the 20, half empty, lifeboats who suggested they go back to save the people in the water. One of 702 survivors, Molly was instrumental in rescuing several abandoned passengers.
Additionally, the notorious ‘sinking scene’ is reportedly one of the most expensive scenes ever filmed in Hollywood. For good reason though! This scene is almost completely accurate. The ship did indeed break in two, the lights still burned and both Captain E.J. Smith and engineer Thomas Andrews both went down with their ship. One of the most iconic aspects of the infamous sinking though, the violin, recently began to be disputed until new findings shut the controversy down. The famed violin played by Henry Hartely and his eight-man band as the ship sunk was discovered in early March, silencing everyone who claimed it was a myth invented by survivors. Hartley’s band, who went down with the ship along with Smith and Andrews played waltzes and ragtime to sooth the passengers that scrambled for a spot on a lifeboat.
Though you can’t take everything in Titanic at face value, watch it again through a new lens and you never know what you might learn!
Pedagogy of the Oppressed is the central work of Brazilian philosopher and educator Paulo Freire. The Pedagogy is centered on the realization of an oppressive reality and the development of a method to change that reality, or as he calls it the pedagogy of the oppressed. Freire deeply discusses the traits and behaviors of a system of oppression and the way it oppresses people. He also discusses the importance of education in the revolution to end a system of oppression.
I personally found The Pedagogy extremely thought provoking. It got me critically thinking about my own reality as well as all the systems in action within it. One of the most striking to me was the dialectical relationship of humanization and dehumanization. With reading The Pedagogy I was forced to ask myself what it means to be human. In asking this I also contemplated societal definitions of worth and importance as well as superiority and inferiority. I came to understand how truly materialistic the reality I live in is. How society defines what is better or worse, based on material possession. It is defined that by having more, a person has a higher position on the social ladder. Why is this? How is somebody better than someone else, more human than someone, by simply owning more than another? After asking myself these questions I began to think of power and its definition in our society. Power is defined with socially constructed ideas such as social position, wealth, and race. None of these are natural constructs. So how can having more or less of these things make one naturally superior to another? Considering this, how can power even define one human superior to another? Why aren’t we all equal in worth because of the simple fact that we are human? After realizing this I formed my own theory around power and its definition. This chain of critical thought was initiated by reflection on Freire’s work. This is why I enjoyed reading The Pedagogy so much because it got me thinking critically about everything and forming my own theories.
After reading The Pedagogy I’ve been able to recognize systems of oppression, especially being in a major cultural hub like New York City. The most noticeable is the cultural and economic segregation within the city and how the public school system is used to sustain it. Wealthy people live more in Manhattan and parts of queens and Brooklyn. Most of the people in these ‘wealthy’ areas are white with little diversity. As you get farther from Manhattan, the neighborhoods get poorer and in some cases more dangerous. In these neighborhoods there are few white people and more minorities. This is because cost of living is more expensive in popular parts of the city and only wealthy people can afford it. Where there are more wealthy people, there is obviously more money, which means more money is spent on things like the funding of education. This means students in these wealthy areas go to well-funded public and private schools. In poorer areas, the opposite is true. Students in poor areas go to poorly funded schools. This makes a dramatic difference in the school experience wealthy and poor students will have. Students that go to a well-funded school will have better teachers, facilities and extracurricular activities and experiences. Students that go to a poorly funded school will more likely get poor faculty, facilities and little options when it comes to extracurricular activities. Also, there is a different culture among students towards learning. In wealthy schools, the importance of success is instilled in students at an early age. This makes them want to be successful so they can make a living for themselves. In poorer schools, the importance of success is not instilled and students do not get the support they need. This makes them underappreciate the importance of school and makes them resistant to striving in school. This is what makes it so difficult for those born into poverty to escape, they are not taught how to. This means that those who are educated in wealthy areas with well-funded schools are more likely to go to a great college and make a great living and those who are educated in poor areas will more than likely have an opposite experience. Therefore the present system of education in New York City keeps people in their economic and social ‘place’. These ‘places’ or social roles are another form of oppression I have noticed, not only concerning race but gender as well. They are oppressive because these social roles limit individuals by what they can do and how they can act because it may not be considered socially acceptable. These social roles within the city have been developed throughout the history of the city and have their own historical reasons. History does not justify these social roles but it explains how they came to be.
“A house divided against itself cannot stand”
This is perhaps one of my favorite speeches or quotes made by Abraham Lincoln. Many Americans are familiar with this name. The name probably rings a bell to most people due to his significant role in the civil war. I believe once the Emancipation Proclamation is mentioned, Lincoln’s name always comes up. In order to understand his strong opposition to slavery, one has to fully understand where Lincoln came from. And often times, people’s morals and values are influenced by where they grew up at and the forces that helped shape them. Lincoln’s parents were members of a Baptist Congregation. The Baptist church had separated from another church due to their strong opposition to slavery. His parents were strongly anti-slavery because they believed that slavery was morally wrong and went against God’s will. Later in his life, his family moved to Indiana because it was a free state and had abolished slavery long ago.
Although he had a rough education (he never went to college) he spent a lot of time reading books that he had borrowed from his neighbors. Lincoln rose to fame when he went to a debate with Douglas (author of Kansas-Nebraska Act), he was later invited to speak more about slavery in other states. What Lincoln was debating about might often be misunderstood by many. Lincoln wasn’t an abolitionist. He wasn’t too concerned about ending slavery anyways. What bothered him was the expansion of slavery to new territories that had been acquired either through imperialism or war. Lincoln did not have a problem with slave states but he however did not want slavery to be spread to new territories. Although he had lost the debate to Douglas (apparently most people supported the expansion of slavery), his popularity made him a presidential candidate in the 1860 election. His Republican Party supported prohibition in the new territories but opposed the interfering of the states where it already existed. Many southerners warned that if Lincoln won the election, they would secede from the union and become their own separate nation. As president, this was scary; you can’t afford to lose half of your country. Half a nation cannot survive.
Once elected president, South Carolina was the first to secede on December 20, 1860, followed by many other states seceded from the union. The union was splitting into two gradually. Lincoln was such a cool guy, he said nothing, and most presidents would probably have ordered an army to bring back the seceded states. Lincoln’s biggest fear was losing a section of the country but he kept calm and allowed the states to leave but of course Lincoln had his game plan laid out. This plan is what would change the course of history as we know of it.
Lincoln knew that the seceded states left the union because they didn’t want to give up slavery, they were afraid that Lincoln might abolish slavery. Lincoln’s plan was to only abolish slavery in new territories. Lincoln figured that if the states were seceded to continue slavery, then he would end slavery permanently to bring them back. He knew that the south depended heavily on slaves for its economy, he wanted to hit them hard right in their pocket. If this happened, then the seceded states would have no option but to return back to the union for help. I mean what is a nation without a strong economy, they will fall down. If the south seceded they would fall regardless because they can’t only depend on cotton to boom their economy.
Being such a gentleman, Lincoln gave them an option, they had a choice to either return back to the union or lose all of their slaves they had and this included states that already were slave states. When the states refused to return back, Lincoln knew he had to make a permanent law. To hold the country together, Lincoln announced the Emancipation Proclamation. This granted freedom to slaves that were in the areas of the rebellion states. On January 1, 1863 the law was passed. This was Lincoln’s declaration of freedom for all slaves in the Confederacy not under the union control. The Emancipation also allowed for slaves to be enlisted in the union army. Slaves saw this as perhaps an opportunity to fight for liberty, 180,000 slaves fought in the army. Some argued that although the constitution did not say anything about the abolition of slaves, it did say that all men were created equal. Lincoln mainly wanted to free the slaves because he needed more people to fight in the army and also to outnumber the number of people in the confederate army. But maybe perhaps this did not apply to everyone. Lincoln ratified the amendment in order to effectively abolish slavery in the nation. The war was now not only to preserve the union but also to free slaves and end slavery. Lincoln is perhaps remembered for preserving the nation during the civil war and also beginning the process that led to the end of slavery. Lincoln saved America. There are those who argue that Lincoln’s decision to emancipate the slaves was not right because although he liberated the slaves, the slaves faced difficulties such as discrimination and the competition for jobs. The Emancipation Proclamation might not have officially ended slavery but it was a head start and Lincoln is to be credited for it!!
Did you know that…
Abraham Lincoln was the first president to make THANKSGIVING a national holiday. It is true. On October 3, 1863 Lincoln issued the proclamation that set a day to be observed as a thanksgiving day.!
- Christabel Fosu Asare
A visiting speaker at my school claimed that women in the 1950’s were more powerful than women today. In his view, 50s icons like the dainty Audrey Hepburn had beauty and elegance that put them on a pedestal, elevating them from the crass world of men. While I can understand the admiration or affinity for a certain style associated with the 50s, like Hepburn’s, I found his sort of lament for a time when women had a more “behind-the-scenes power” ignorant. In the 50s, women were culturally repressed as society encouraged them to solely aspire to being a wife and mother. My American image of power would not be the housewife of 1950s advertisements and television, smiling in a kitchen with turkey in hand, but rather Rosie the Riveter.
The Rosie “We Can Do it!” advertisement is significant because it is one of the only iconic American images that overtly celebrates women’s strength. The Rosie advertisement was created in a time when women were gaining independence. After years of the New Deal’s discouragement of women’s participation in industry, when so many men were out of work, job openings in war factories during World War II allowed women to join the workforce and play an active role in the war effort. By the end of the war, six million women made up one third of the workforce, and half of them worked in traditionally male jobs.
As demonstrated by the return to a limiting ideal of feminine domesticity during the decade following WWII and even pervading societal norms in regards to a women’s role, joining the workforce did not end women’s disenfranchisement.
However, the ability to participate in a national effort outside of the domestic sphere and the autonomy to choose to have a job outside of the home were pivotal advances in women’s fight for equality. The unabashed strength and power of Rosie the Riveter not only indirectly embodies the progress of the feminist movement but also the quintessentially American resilience and drive for improvement.
When I was little, the Civil War era fascinated me. I poured over pictures of men in uniforms and women in hoop skirts, and I devoured historical fiction featuring young girls in the Confederate South. I learned that the South seceded because they wanted the right to own slaves, and that the North, land of abolitionists and escaped slaves, fought for African-Americans’ rights to be free. I divided the North and South into two opposite camps of thought; though my post-Civil Rights mind assumed that there must have been some in the South who did not approve of slavery, considering the evil of that institution, I never thought of Northerners as being at all divided. This assumption was proved wrong through my research on the two paintings The Window and Negro Life at the South in the New-York Historical Society Collection.
When I began my research on The Window, painted in 1863 by Thomas Worthington Whittredge, I was confused by its seeming ambiguity on the matter of slavery. The scene depicted here is peaceful and harmonious; yet the subject matter, a black nurse holding a white baby, is and has been a tricky matter at many points of America’s history. The scene is set in the North, where slavery had been illegal for decades, so the nurse is certainly free; but her role as a free woman is remarkably similar to her enslaved counterpart in the South.
I found Negro Life at the South, painted in 1859 by Eastman Johnson, to be equally confusing. The slave house depicted provides a sharp contrast to the slaveowner’s house next door: one is tumbledown and falling apart, while the other is clean and neat. The slaves pictured here look happy and content: the play games, play the banjo, and even flirt. There is one white woman at the edge of the painting; she sits, watching, but does not join in.
Both paintings could be seen as supporting or opposing of slavery. The window is open to a beautiful landscape in The Window, which could be a symbol of hope for slaves; but the black nurse is both physically and socioeconomically trapped inside the house and her role as servant. The slaves’ house pictured in Negro Life at the South is tumbledown, but the slaves are happy and content. There is no evidence of family separation, hard labor, or sadness here.
Why would two Northern men paint scenes that seem fairly content with the existence of slavery, when such fierce battles were being waged, both on and off the field, over this very issue? The answer to this question points to a history more complex than I realized when I was a little girl pouring over Civil War photographs. The truth is that economically the North benefited greatly from slavery, even though officially they were opposed to it. New York City, where both Whittredge and Johnson had studios, was the choice destination for many wealthy Southerners escaping the heat of a Southern summer; and the city’s racism was intense.
The Window and Negro Life at the South were shown at a fair at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 1864, in aid of the United States Sanitary Commission, which provided sanitary and medical assistance to the volunteer forces of the Union during the Civil War. Both paintings were eventually bought by a man named Robert L. Stuart, who donated a substantial amount of money to support the Union. He must have seen the messages of the paintings as anti-slavery. Are they indeed anti-slavery? Did the artists seek to romanticize or oppose slavery in these paintings? The answers to these questions is left up to the viewers.
Ration tokens, “Red Points” 2002.1.4667
Many of us had our first experience with rationing during Hurricane Sandy this year. Lines for gasoline were hours long and were restricted to certain days, and grocery deliveries were unable to be filled. While this was the first semblance of rationing that has occurred in the United States in a long time, it was nothing compared to the system set in place during World War II. Because of the need for the workforce and factories to shift from farming and producing civilian goods to producing war materials, the result was shortages of everyday items like children’s toys and gasoline. To prevent people from hoarding goods, and thus driving prices up which could lead to inflation, the Office of Price Administration was created. The OPA regulated the prices of many goods, including food and material like nylon and ended up with a hefty list of regulated goods by the end of the war. This list of rationed goods grew to include sugar, butter, coffee, meat, tires, gasoline, and rubber boots to name a few.
The OPA created price ceilings for each item that got rationed. These price ceilings fixed the maximum price that the item could be purchased for, to prevent overpricing. These prices stayed roughly the same throughout the entire war. Every person was issued ration books, even small children. These books contained cards good for certain amounts of rationed goods. Even if you had the money to pay for an item, you couldn’t buy it unless you had a ration card for it as well.
Since these ration cards were good for certain amounts, if someone wanted a smaller amount than what the card called for, they received change in the form of red or blue “points.” For example, if you wanted to buy ¼ pound of sugar, but had a ration card for ½ pound, you would get points to make up the difference. Similarly to how change was used, these points had different values based on the colors. Because all spare metal was needed for war material, the points were made up of vulcanized fiber. The image above shows a few red points.
Rationing in the United States ended by the close of the war, when factories began producing civilian goods again and farms no longer had to feed an army. For more information on rationing, the role factories played during World War II, and the war on the homefront, visit the World War II exhibition at the New-York Historical Society!
“The release of atom power has changed everything except our way of thinking…the solution to this problem lies in the heart of mankind. If only I had known, I should have become a watchmaker.” – Albert Einstein
As many of you may know nuclear weaponry is very destructive. Ever since the creation of the atomic bomb, there has been pressure for nations to keep up with the technology. The outcome of a nation gaining possession of one can be frightening. Tens of thousands of people have died from these weapons of mass destruction; billions of dollars have been spent to repair homes, hospitals and economies. Now the question: what have we as human beings learned from this and are we preventing the future use of these weapons?
There are a total of 23,375 warheads active in the world and from the look of this statistic it answers the question clearly.
My opinion on this matter is that maybe the reason why so many nuclear bombs are so active is due to a fear of being subverted by another nation or to make a point. A country that is in the process of creating nuclear weaponry is Iran. According to the Guardian News Article, “From 2004, alarmed by the invasion of neighboring Iraq, those officials say Iranian technicians pursued only design work and computer modeling to reduce the chances of being detected”. The Iranian government states that their nuclear program is peaceful and not to be alarmed or come up with any definite conclusion on the matter.
(You can go to this website to find out more information: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/nov/02/iran-nuclear-weapons-programme)
Iran is not the only nation conducting experimental nuclear weaponry. Other countries like India, Korea, China and even more are conducting such experiments. Their reason for the creation of such weapons does not justify what may seem to be the inevitable future of worldwide fear and the deaths of thousands if not millions of people.
- Malik Shaw
Many Americans are familiar, at least in part, with The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, a short story by Washington Irving. It was published in 1820 in a collection of short stories called The Sketch-Book of Geoffrey Crayon. Taking place in the small town of Sleepy Hollow (in New York), the story follows a country schoolmaster named Ichabod Crane who enters into a rivalry with the brawny Brom Bones for the hand of the wealthy coquette Katrina Van Tassel. Following a party at the Van Tassels, Ichabod is chased through the woods by the Headless Horseman, a local specter who was a Hessian soldier killed in the Revolutionary War. According to Sleepy Hollow legend, the Headless Horseman rides at night, with its pumpkin head in its hands, looking for a new head. Nothing is found of Ichabod in the morning, except for his hat, his saddle, his horse, and a shattered pumpkin. Irving hints that Brom Bones impersonated the Headless Horseman to scare Ichabod Crane away and that Ichabod moved to a different part of the country.
Irving’s works gained him a reputation as one of the first American writers who was respected in both America and Europe. Many Europeans of the time looked down on Americans as coarse and rude, so this was quite an accomplishment. In America, his books had a special significance. Stories like The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle effectively gave Americans a history and myths to call their own. While Irving most likely derived inspiration from the many ghostly riders of European superstition, such as the Irish dullahan and the Wild Hunt (which is found in the myths of many countries), his stories add elements of rural America that give them a uniquely American taste. For example, he refers to the Dutch settlers, as the Netherlands owned the colony until 1664. His stories, along with the books of James Fenimore Cooper, which romanticize the frontier, created an identity for Americans that complemented the political identity formed during and after the Revolutionary War. His stories paint a vision of an idyllic America, with rural glens and old superstitions. Yet, he also adds a sense of rationality to his tales. He gives a possible reason for the Headless Horseman that chases Ichabod that dispels the superstitions. This nods to the hope that America would be a country based on logic and modern democracy that would be better than the Old World.
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow has become more than just a short story, like the tall-tale exploits of Paul Bunyan and Davy Crockett. It has become an integral part of American myth and identity. The story of Ichabod Crane has made its way into American art, evidenced by this sculpture by John Rogers. The sculpture, which resides in the New York Historical Society’s John Rogers collection, is titled “Ichabod Crane and the ‘Headless Horseman.’” It depicts a terrified Ichabod Crane and an ominous Headless Horseman (although you can see Brom Bones’ face in the depths of his coat). Another Rogers’ sculpture at the NYHS shows Ichabod Crane courting Katrina Van Tassel. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow has also made its way into plays, musicals, opera, and countless movies.
In 8th grade, I watched both the Disney version of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, which more closely follows the plot, and the Tim Burton version, which definitely doesn’t. In the Disney version, as in the book, the characters are stereotypes, but there is no really clear character to like. Katrina is nice, but a flirt. Brom Bones is mischievous and rather self-important, but he is regarded as a “local hero.” And Ichabod Crane is definitely not a shining, moral main character. He is basically a gold-digger. Tim Burton makes the story a battle between good and evil. The Headless Horseman an actual character from nightmares. Ichabod Crane is a police inspector with a troubled, but entirely blameless, past. I’d suggest watching both of them, as long as you can stomach decapitated corpses (for the Tim Burton version), but first you should read the story, which isn’t very long. I’ve provided a link for the entire Disney version and the preview for the Tim Burton version.
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow has had a lot of impact on American culture (even beyond literature, art, and film). North Tarrytown, where the story’s events are set even renamed Sleepy Hollow. Towns and suburban subdivisions across the country have also been named Sleepy Hollow—from Illinois to Virginia to Florida. Washington Irving has left a lasting legacy.
One day, I walked into my American History class, tired just like any other teenagers and just like on any other days. The first thing I saw was an object that looked like a projector. Then I remembered what Mr. Barry, my American History teacher, had told the class the day before; we are going to learn about the Civil War through something different than power points.
I did not predict that I was going to fall in love with the “antique” slide projector and the history that it projected on the board.
The lesson began and Mr. Barry projected the first few images. The images showed the sites of the battles. I was already enthralled. To be honest the photographs of the blue skies were so beautiful that I was more committed to the photographs than to the history that the photographs were showing. Thankfully, Mr. Barry allowed me to include some of the photos in this blog post. The photographs had an odd effect on me. I felt nostalgia for the past, but the photos were taken in the 90’s (before I was born or when I was very little), I have never been to the battle sites, and the actual battles took place around 150 years ago. It didn’t make sense for me to feel nostalgia for an event, a place, a time that I have never been through.
That’s when I realized that this presentation is much more powerful and meaningful than power point presentations that I stare at day after day. The images were visually and emotionally relevant to my personal experience. The sky is blue today, it was blue 20 years ago, and it was blue 150 years ago. I always knew that history is relevant to the present, but this was the first time that I felt that history is relevant to the present and to me.
Mr. Barry explained to us that these photographs were taken when he was given a grant to follow the footsteps of his great great grandfather, Timothy Carroll, in the Battle of Gettysburg. This made the Civil War even more relevant and personal because it was explained through the experience of someone related to my history teacher, not through the experience of a famous general found in my textbook.
At that point, I was fully interested in the history of the Civil War, not just the photographs. When I decided that this blog article is going to be about Timothy Carroll, I was a bit worried. I did not take any notes during class. I was so immersed in the story, which Mr. Barry was telling us, that I forgot to take notes. I was nonetheless eager to write about Timothy Carroll. I asked Mr. Barry for an interview. He gladly accepted.
Formulating the interview questions was unexpectedly challenging. I didn’t know how much Mr. Barry knew about Timothy Carroll. I went to Mr. Barry to interview him not expecting for him to be able to answer all the questions I have.
Q: What battles did Timothy Carroll fight in?
A: Oh this interview is about Timothy Carroll? Cool! He fought in many battles. I’ll name the important ones.He fought in the Battle of Fair Oaks, Malvern Hill, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Wilderness, and Spotsylvania. His throat was wounded in Spotsylvania, so I am not sure if he actually fought in the Battle of Cold Harbor. He fought in many more battles, but those are the important ones.
Q: What is his nationality?
A: He was born in Ireland. I don’t know what county in Ireland he was from, but many Irish immigrants were from County Cork or County Clare, so he might be from one of those counties. I know that by 1847, he was 5 years old. He was buried in the Calvary Cemetery in Queens. An Irish family was buried on top of him, but that was common for graves in that Cemetery.
Q: How did he end up fighting in the Civil War?
A: He volunteered. In fact he even reenlisted as a veteran for 3 more years. A furlough and bounty were granted to each soldier who reenlisted.
Q: What was his experience like in the Civil War?
A: His unit was formed in the summer of 1861 and was trained at Willetts Point in Queens, which is now more commonly know as Fort Totten. Then in the fall of that year, the unit fought in the Battle of Bull Run, which is the first major battle of the Civil War. His regiment, the 65th New York had a brilliant record. It was the last regiment in the battle of Potomac. He was wounded three times. He nevertheless enlisted. Half of the soldiers in the 65th New York reenlisted. 3 days before the Civil War ended, Timothy Carroll’s left shoulder was wounded at Sailor’s Creek (or Sayler’s Creek). That knocked him out. Then in March or April, he was given the title of lieutenant, which is the highest rank for a sergeant. Long story so much shorter, he entered as a private (the lowest rank) and then earned the title of lieutenant by the end of his career as a soldier.
Q: How did you find out that Timothy Carroll became a Lieutenant?
A: I went to the National Archives in Washington D.C. They have pension records and military records. Anyone with a relative who fought in any American War can find their relatives’ records at the National Archives.
Q: If you could ask one question to him, what would it be?
A: These are really great questions. Did you make these on your own? (me: Thank you, and yes, I did.) That’s something I discuss with my Civil War classes. I want to ask him many questions. I can’t just ask one. Can I ask maybe two or three? (me: sure!) I would ask him “How did you keep going?” Battle environments are harsh and cruel. I wonder how he went through that and even reenlisted after having fought in many battles. I would also ask him “What did you think of general McClellan?” McClellan was such a controversial character in the Civil War. I wonder what Timothy Carroll, a Union soldier, thought of McClellan, a controversial Union general.
Q: Did you always know about Timothy Carroll?
A: Timothy Carroll is the great grandfather of my mother, so she had some stories about him. I visited Gettysburg with my family and found the battle site interesting. There was also a document in a frame about Timothy Carroll on our wall when I was growing up. When I was little, I simply wondered about Timothy Carroll, and then when I learned a bit more about him, I was more interested. I found out that he was part of the 65th New York, so I researched the regimental history. When I was teaching at another school, I got a grant to take a trip to follow the footsteps of Timothy Carroll. There was one requirement. I had to present something to the faculty, so I took photos throughout my trip. I put my photos together and prepared a presentation. Power point did not exist at that time. The presentation went really well. It began as a “wow”, but now I am writing a whole book about the 65th New York.
Q: Why did you choose to tell the story of the Civil War with the photos projected by the slide projector and through the eyes of Timothy Carroll?
A: It’s a different way to learn. I thought it was a good deviation from the power points. It was a personalized presentation that puts a different spin on the battles of the Civil War. Students have told me that they like it. Also, I put too much work in the presentation to just store it somewhere and never show it. And I like bringing in the slide projector to go along with this presentation. It’s like an antique, and when I bring it in to school, it’s dusty. I get made fun of when I bring that it.
Mr. Barry was able to answer all of my questions. It is fascinating how a primary document that was hanging on the wall when Mr. Barry was little has ultimately led him to write a book about the 65th New York. History can inspire individuals and relate to our daily lives. It is so easy to forget that the Civil War was much more than Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee. I often feel distant from historical figures because, well, they’re dead, but also because of the way textbooks portray them. I find it hard to relate to heroes in my textbook. Learning about Timothy Carroll gave me a whole new perspective on the Civil War. Now I can relate to the Civil War more than before I knew about Timothy Carroll. I like to think that the descendant of Timothy Carroll is teaching me.
I do not like the commonly accepted definition of “history” which is “the study of past events”. This definition separates the past from the present even though they are interrelated. We fail to recognize that certain things from the past are still the same today. History most certainly relates to the present.
After all, we are all living under the same blue sky that Timothy Carroll and Lincoln used to live under, aren’t we?
- Seunghee Kim
As New Yorkers, Nueva York is not really new to the eyes. We know where it comes from…but we don’t really know how it came about. Well, you may simply say, “Spanish people or Latinos.” And the truth is, either of those answers would be correct. A cool fact about New York is the long involvement it has had with Latin America and Spain. Since the 1600s New York and Spanish speaking folks have had meaningful connections. With the connection between New York and Latin America came the development of commerce, manufacturing and transportation to communications, entertainment and the arts. For me, this is wonderful because there are different people from different backgrounds coming together. What that creates is a sense of discovery. I mean let’s just take the chance to see how Spanish speaking individuals have had an impact on Nueva York…diversity wise. Let’s go with food, since eating is such a wonderful hobby of all. Arroz y frijoles (rice and beans), Gambas Ajillo (garlic prawns), Paella (rice with seafood), just to name a few. These are food cuisines probably eaten by many New Yorkers for lunch or dinner…or breakfast everyday. Many probably are saying, “Well, of course we eat these dishes….it’s food!” But’s that’s the point. America is known as a melting pot if it was not for Latinos or Spaniards who knows what life would be without Arroz y frijoles. From commerce to food, Spain and Latin America has had a huge influence on New York and the good thing is, it’s still thriving to this day. All this information comes from the collaboration between New York Historical Society and El Museum which explored the dynamic relationship between New York City and Spanish speaking world.
- Fanta Conde
Let Freedom Ring – Flocabulary Rap
“Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can’t ride you unless your back is bent.”
These are the words of Martin Luther King Jr. It’s easy to read these words and allow them to go in one eye and out the other. Change? Who has the time? As a nation we have dedicated this month to prominent black Americans. This distinction between blacks and whites brings about both a curse and a blessing. Black history “month” as a concept is rather misleading. It would seem that representing blacks shows the innovation and the maturity of our society – but this is one month out of the year and many people only recognize Martin Luther King day – a day out of the year. To take a month out of the year to “celebrate” black Americans when the rest of the year is spent in the glorification of white history seems to present some sort of disconnect? There is no such thing as “White History month” because it simply fills the rest of the nation’s holidays (Presidents Day, Columbus Day, etc.) but what is this point of this “realization” you might ask. Black history month as a notion is, as stated earlier both a blessing and curse, it shows both the worst and best of our society.
Only today, as I sat in our school assembly watching a program titled “African Discovery through Music,” did I realize how unknowledgeable I am about African and African American history. I’ve spent years in school and yet I didn’t know that on the Underground Railroad slaves’ sewed secret messages to one another; hanging blankets with these messages in front of their masters. Information which seems so trivial has the most bearing in today’s society. Gospel, Jazz, R&B, Soul, so many genres have come from the black population and yet this is not something which is actively thought of. Credit has not been given where it is due and programs similar to this are able to bring out this. Though my years of school I have learned that blacks were slaves, they were emancipated in 1863, and other facts about slaves and African-Americans; almost always in relation to the white population. What new acts and legislature the government had created to give African-Americans better lives, how the whites oppressed the blacks, how the whites reacted to the increasing equality of African Americans. Idealists and the naive seem to believe that that by saying that someone is equal, they really are. Programs similar to “African Discovery through Music” do just what has evaded us as a concept. They do not portray African-Americans as people who “need” a holiday for recognition – they simply acknowledge just how much legitimate bearing African culture has in our ever day lives; through something that we can all relate to; music. Though African-Americans have been continual victims of the system it is imperative to recognize that they are no lesser than anyone; and I think that this program did just that. Just food for thought. Check out Wincyco (the company responsible for the “African Discovery through Music) at their website or on Twitter!