Flower

Author Archive

Canada … You Don’t Look a Day Over 149

Canada 150 via Flikr [CC BY-NC-SA 2.0]

July 1, 2017, marks the 150th anniversary (the sesquicentennial) of the Canadian Confederation.  On this date, the three British colonies of the Province of Canada (Ontario and Quebec), Nova Scotia and New Brunswick united to form the Dominion of Canada under the British North America Act of 1867.  What is now ten provinces and three territories sprang from these original four.

In celebration of her sesquicentennial, here are 13 interesting and fun facts about Canada.

  1. Canada’s name means “village” originating from the Iroquoian word, “kanata.” When the French explorer, Jacques Cartier, met the Iroquois chief, Donnacona, he inquired the name of the land. Whether Cartier truly understood Donnacona’s response or not, the country’s name has remained since the 16th century.
  2. While technically not a confederation, the use of the term Confederation became the go-to descriptor for Canada’s union in the 19th century. Canada is actually a federation because of its central government and partially self-governing provinces.

    National Flag of Canada via Wikimedia Commons [Created by E Pluribus Anthony]

  3. The iconic Canadian national flag, unofficially the Maple Leaf, did not become official until February 1965. That is almost 100 years after the formation of the Confederation! Until then, Canada had used about 13 different flag designs.
  4. Canada is huge in terms of area (9.9 million square km/3.8 million square mi).  It is the second largest country in the world.  Only Russia is larger.
  5. There are over 36 million people who call Canada home. Almost 21% of the Canadian population is foreign born.  Canadians claim over 200 languages, including 60 indigenous, but English and French are Canada’s official languages.  Montreal is the second largest French-speaking city in the world after Paris.
  6. Canada’s First Nations number 1.8 million people and 634 tribal governments and bands. Canoes, hockey, corn, snowshoes, chewing gum and cough syrup are just some of their contributions to Canada and the world.
  7. Canada has 20 percent (one-fifth) of the freshwater in the world. It has more lakes than the rest of the world’s lakes combined. No other country’s surface area is covered by as much water as is Canada’s – almost 9%.
  8. Record holder: Canada has the largest polar bear population, produces the most maple syrup and has the most doughnut shops per capita. It also claims the most educated society with over half its residents having college degrees.
  9. While polar bears are populous in Canada, they are not the national animal. That would be the North American Beaver.
  10. Canada could have become part of the United States if it had wanted. According to Article XI of Articles of Confederation, the first constitution of the United States, Canada would have been 

    Provinces of Canada, July 1867-July 1870 via Wikimedia Commons [CC BY-SA 3.0]

    automatically accepted into the union—no questions asked. Any other colony requesting admission would have required nine states to agree.
  11. Ice hockey is the most popular sport in Canada. It was invented by the Mohawks who called it “aukie.” What would surprise many is one of America’s most popular sports, basketball, was invented by a Canadian.  In an effort to keep his students active on rainy days, Dr. James Naismith created the game in 1891 in Springfield, Massachusetts.
  12. Canada vs. America: The United States invaded Canada twice – first during the American Revolutionary War in 1775, second during the War of 1812. The United States lost both times.
  13. Canadians are not Americans, and they don’t end every sentence with ‘eh.  The debate over Canadian identity has been ongoing since before Confederation.

Canada’s sesquicentennial is a year-long celebration.  For students in Canada and those in the United States who would like to learn more about their northern neighbor, eLibrary offers a multitude of resources.  Check out Research Topics on Canada’s First Nations, Canadian provinces and territories, Canadian history and Canadian identity.  Search Canadian publications to find provincial newspapers, magazines and reference works such as the Toronto Star, Canadian Geographic, and the Canadian Encyclopedia plus many others.  Canada’s official Canada 150 website offers the scoop on all the celebrations commemorating Canada’s 150th birthday.  For more facts about Canada, the CBC’s Amanda Parris shares 150 of them in this fun video.

To our Canadian friends:  How you are celebrating Canada’s 150th?  Tweet us at #ProQuest.

The Legacy of Loving v. Virginia

A recent statistic showed 1 in 6 marriages today is interracial.  This is certainly not a difficult number to grasp.  Imagine though that a mere 50 years ago in 16 Southern states interracial marriage was against the law — anti-miscegenation laws designed to preserve “racial integrity.”  While 50 years may seem like a long time ago in the rather short history of the United States, the country is only two generations removed from forbidding people from different races to marry.

Yesterday, June 12, was Loving Day.  It marked a significant day in our nation’s civil rights history albeit one that is not as well known as Brown v. Board of Education.  On that day in 1967, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled unconstitutional laws prohibiting interracial marriage.  The impact of the landmark Loving v. Virginia decision is still felt today.

Loving v. Virginia Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

Richard Loving and Mildred Jeter were married in 1958.  He was white, she black and Native American.  Their marriage was a violation of Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act of 1924, and just five weeks into their marriage they were arrested.  Neither Richard nor Mildred wanted to be a civil rights activist.  They wanted only to live and raise their family quietly in Virginia.  Watch the 2016 movie Loving to see an excellent dramatization of their story and struggle.

The Loving decision paved the way for marriage equality.  The landmark Supreme Court ruling, Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), which opened the door to same-sex marriage, evokes memories of Loving.  Mildred Loving even spoke in favor of gay marriage before her death in 2008.  Another impact of Loving is a fivefold growth in interracial marriages since 1967 when only three percent of marriages were racially mixed.  Interracial couples still face discrimination and hostility, but there has been much progress since Richard and Mildred Loving took their stand.

Katie and Chris [Photo Courtesy of Katie Coulter]

Teachers:  How can you relate this to your students?  Marriage for most of them is years away.  But they are dating and in relationships now.  More than 11 million Americans are in interracial marriages and relationships today, like my niece Katie and her boyfriend Chris.  The Loving decision and its continuing impact should not be forgotten in the civil rights discussion.  eLibrary can help you in this discussion with relevant Research Topics (Civil Rights Movement, Gay Marriage, Race and Ethnicity, Racial Segregation, White Supremacy) and up-to-date newspaper articles surrounding the 50th anniversary of Loving.

When the U.S. and Russia Played Let’s Make a Deal

Alaska Purchase Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

The discussion of recent U.S.-Russia relations is a good opportunity to share the history of relations between the two countries with your students.  A significant event in this history is the Alaska Purchase which occurred 150 years ago when the relationship between the two countries was perhaps more allied than it is now.  Considered a “folly” by some at the time, the acquisition of Alaska added over 586,000 square miles of new land to the growing United States.

Russia had been a player in the Alaskan territory since the mid-1700s.  By the mid-1800s, Russia was having financial difficulties after its defeat in the Crimean War, and the territory had become a burden.  Russia decided to put the unprofitable and indefensible territory on the market.  The United States seemed the only potential buyer.  In March 1867, armed with instructions to accept no less than $5 million for Alaska, the Russian minister to America, Edouard de Stoeckl, was surprised when Secretary of State William Seward came in with just that for a first offer.  By the time negotiations were over, the U.S. offer was up to $7.2 million.  On March 30, 1867, the United States became the proud owner of a seemingly barren land.

U.S. Secretary of State William H. Seward [Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons]

Tsar’s Ratification of the Alaska Purchase [Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not everyone was as enthusiastic about the deal as William Seward was.  He was a proponent of territorial expansion and could see the potential in Alaska’s natural resources that skeptics who referred to the deal as Seward’s Folly or Seward’s Icebox could not.  The deal, though, was a good one for the U.S. averaging to less than two cents per acre.  It remains the second-largest land deal ever.  In 1880, Seward’s vision would be vindicated when gold was discovered paving the way for population growth, new towns, and statehood.

Your students can learn more about the Alaska Purchase and the major players by starting with eLibrary.  One excellent resource is the book, The Alaska Purchase.  It covers everything from Alaska’s “discovery” by the Russians to its statehood in 1959.  Consider this lesson from the Library of Congress for your students to dig deeper into using primary sources.

Fun Fact:  While you cannot see Russia from Sarah Palin’s home in Wasilla, you can see it from Little Diomede in the Bering Strait.  The island is 2.5 miles from its Russian counterpart Big Diomede.  You can also see Russian mainland from the top of St. Lawrence Island about 37 miles away as well as some Siberian mountains from Cape Prince of Wales, the westernmost point of the American mainland.

eLibrary’s editor‐created Research Topics give content, context and pathways beginning users need to start researching U.S.-Russia relations and other topics.

Don’t have eLibrary? Free trials are available.

A Name You Should Know: Claudette Colvin

Claudette Colvin Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

Most everyone knows Rosa Parks whose courageous action of not giving up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama city bus to a white passenger on December 1, 1955, helped launch the civil rights movement.  Most people do not know Claudette Colvin who also refused to give up her seat on the bus — nine months before Rosa Parks.

On March 2, 1955, fifteen-year-old Claudette Colvin remained seated when a white passenger boarded the bus and waited for her to move.  She believed it her constitutional right to sit wherever she chose even though Jim Crow laws of the day dictated otherwise.  She was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.  Claudette would later say, “I couldn’t get up that day.  History kept me stuck to my seat.  I felt the hand of Harriet Tubman pushing down on one shoulder and Sojourner Truth pushing down on the other.”

Claudette Colvin’s arrest provided the spark needed to make a stand and provide a test case to end segregation on city buses.  However, local African-American leadership thought otherwise.  They believed Claudette would be perceived as too militant.  Her image was not the one the movement wanted to cast.  When she became pregnant a few months later, their belief was reinforced.  Instead, Rosa Parks’ similar act of defiance would hasten the 381-day Montgomery Bus Boycott and lay the foundation for the modern civil rights movement.

Not until many years later would Claudette Colvin become more than just a footnote in history.  Her role is not celebrated, but it is nonetheless pivotal.  In a recent honor, Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange called her “an early foot soldier in our civil rights.”  Claudette Colvin stands alongside Rosa Parks — two women, two generations — taking a stand and helping to change history.

Happy Birthday, Half-Pint!

Laura Ingalls Wilder Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

Today marks the 150th birthday of one of the most widely read American children’s authors, Laura Ingalls Wilder.  Her autobiographical Little House on the Prairie series based on her childhood, published from 1932 to 1943, remains at the top of many a young child’s reading list today.  In the pantheon of children’s literature, the Little House books are considered classics having sold over 60 million copies.

Laura Ingalls was born in the Big Woods of Wisconsin on February 7, 1867.  She was the second child born to Charles and Caroline Ingalls.  Her books reflect her life during the 1870s through 1880s as part of a pioneer family on the move.  At the urging of her daughter, Rose, Laura wrote nine books chronicling the family’s moves from the Big Woods to Missouri, Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa and finally South Dakota.  Her first book, Little House in the Big Woods, was published in 1932 when Laura was 65.

Little House on the Prairie Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

The legacy of Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Little House books has been enduring.  In 1954, to honor her enduring contribution to children’s literature, the American Library Association created the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal.  Originally awarded every three years to an American author or illustrator, it is now awarded annually to any author or illustrator whose books, like Laura’s, have made a lasting impact in the world of children’s literature.  Perhaps more well known is the Little House on the Prairie television show that ran from 1974-1983.  The show remains popular and  continues in reruns today.

For this writer, Laura Ingalls Wilder and her books played an important part of my childhood and my adult life.  I remember receiving the Little House box set for Christmas at age 9 from my grandparents.  What an exciting gift for a young reader!  My sister and I took turns reading the series.  Little House was weekly viewing for my family and remained so for me in my college years.  My roommate and I would set our schedules around Little House reruns.

Take some time to learn more about this influential writer who died at age 90 in 1957.  Read or re-read the Little House books.  See for yourself why the legacy and impact of Laura Ingalls Wilder endures.

Happy Birthday, Stephen Hawking!

Stephen Hawking Research Topic via ProQuest eLibra

“Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’ into the future,” Steve Miller wrote in his 1976 hit, “Fly Like an Eagle.” And so, time has once again quickly slipped into a new year.  Many long to forget 2016 with its spate of notable personality deaths.  Instead of lamenting the year past, let’s begin by wishing an early happy birthday to a man who became a “cultural icon” by writing about the beginning of time and the universe.

This coming Sunday marks the 75th birthday of the one of the most prominent scientists of our time, Stephen Hawking.  Dr. Hawking is well known for in scientific circles as a theoretical physicist and cosmologist which has led to a pop culture following outside that realm.  Dr. Hawking is a favorite scientist of Dr. Sheldon Cooper on TV’s The Big Bang Theory.  An intimate portrait of the man was made into a 2014 movie, The Theory of Everything, starring Eddie Redmayne who won the Best Actor Academy Award for his portrayal of Hawking.

Born January 8, 1942 in Oxford, England, Hawking knew from a very young age he wanted to study mathematics.  Unable to pursue a degree in mathematics at University College, his father’s alma mater, Stephen studied physics and gained first class honors at graduation. This led to graduate research in cosmology and a PhD in applied maths and theoretical physics at Cambridge.  It was during his studies, at age 22, he was diagnosed with a slow-progressing form of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease).  Despite his physical limitations, Dr. Hawking has not let his disease limit him professionally.  For thirty years, from 1979 to 2009, he served as the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge, a position once held by Isaac Newton.

In 1988 Hawking achieved worldwide acclaim with his bestselling book, A Brief History of Time.  He wrote the book to make topics in cosmology like the Big Bang and black holes more understandable and attainable.  Ever the research scientist, Professor Hawking continues to research and lecture on topics related to mathematics, cosmology and theoretical physics.  A current area of interest is the search for extraterrestrial life in the universe.

 

December 7, 1941: Infamy at Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

Pearl Harbor Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

“Yesterday, December 7, 1941–a date which will live in infamy–the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the empire of Japan.”

With those words, President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked for a declaration of war against Japan.  Seventy-five years ago tomorrow Japan attacked the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor in the Hawaii Territory.  The surprising assault came in the early hours of a tranquil Sunday morning, and it hastened the United States’ entry into World War II.  Over 2,400 servicemen and civilians lost their lives that day.  For the Greatest Generation, Pearl Harbor was their September 11th.

The attack at Pearl Harbor was a pivotal moment in American history.  Until December 7, 1941, the United States’ policy regarding World War II was one of isolation.  The provocation by the Japanese that day transformed America from the once fourteenth-ranked military power to the world’s leading superpower.  It moved the United States to be more involved on the world stage.

Very few, if any, American military and government leaders thought Pearl Harbor would ever be attacked.  It was believed to be “the strongest fortress in the world” and too far from Japan.  The Philippines was a more likely target.  Two waves of Japanese Zero fighters, more than 350 in total, launched from six aircraft carriers within 300 miles of the Hawaiian islands took aim at Battleship Row and Hickam Airfield where over 300 American warbirds stood tip to tip.  Japan’s goal was to prevent the United States from hindering its military actions in Southeast Asia by neutralizing the U.S. Pacific Fleet.  In just 90 minutes, Japan devastated the American forces at Pearl Harbor.  The attack was a great tactical victory for the Japanese.

The numbers were staggering: 2,403 lives lost, 1,178 wounded, five battleships sunk and almost 200 planes destroyed.  The sight of the sunken USS Arizona remains one of the most iconic images of that day.  To this day, 1,177 men lie at rest in her remains on the harbor floor.

Department of the Navy [Public Domain] via Wikimedia Commons

Wreckage of the USS Arizona [Public Domain] via Wikimedia Commons

The numbers of World War II veterans dwindle each day and their personal accounts go with them.  To read their stories and learn more about the attack at Pearl Harbor, search eLibrary and its vast resources of timely newspapers, magazine articles and primary source materials.

Related Research Topics

World War II

Japan in World War II

U.S. Navy

 

1986 World Series: The Curse of the Bambino Continues

Babe Ruth Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

Babe Ruth Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

Babe Ruth was a baseball icon for the New York Yankees.  But before he was a Yankee, he was a member of the Boston Red Sox.  From 1914-1919, the Babe helped the formidable Red Sox win five of the first fifteen World Series.  During the 1919-1920 off-season, Babe was traded to the rival Yankees.  And so began the “Curse of the Bambino.”  The previously unsuccessful Yankees would go on to win 26 of 39 World Series in which they appeared, while the Red Sox would not see another World Series title until 2004.

Bill Buckner [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Wikimedia Commons

Bill Buckner [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Wikimedia Commons

The Curse proved alive and well in the 1986 World Series — October 25, 1986 to be exact.  It was game 6, and Boston was one win away from winning the title over the New York Mets.  What happened in that game has been rightly described as a “miracle.”  The Sox had leads of 2-0 and 3-2 into the seventh inning, but the Mets rallied to tie the score going into the bottom of the ninth.  Unable to break the tie, the game went into extra innings.  In the top of the tenth, the Red Sox took the lead once more scoring two more runs.  After two quick outs by the Mets in the bottom of the tenth, the Sox were one out away from the championship.  Twice they were one strike away.  But after a single by Ray Knight scored Gary Carter and a wild pitch allowed another run to score, the Mets had once again rallied to tie the score, 5-5.  Then came the play that changed the game and the Series.  Mookie Wilson hit a slow rolling grounder down the first base line.  Legendary broadcaster Vin Scully made the unforgettable call: “Little roller up along first. Behind the bag. It gets through Buckner! Here comes (Ray) Knight, and the Mets win it!”  First baseman Bill Buckner missed the ball as it rolled between his legs.  The Mets would go on to win Game 7 and the title on October 27.  Bill Buckner would remain a pariah well into the 20th century, and the Red Sox would have to wait another 18 years to be World Series Champions and curse-free.

Thirty years later, Major League Baseball is on the verge of another “cursed” World Series.  The Chicago Cubs have not won the Series since 1908 and the Cleveland Indians since 1948.  Will the “Curse of the Billy Goat” finally end with a Chicago win?  Will Steve Bartman end his reign as baseball’s current persona non grata?  Will the Indians win another professional sports title in 2016 for the city of Cleveland?  Stay tuned.

Happy Birthday, Desmond Tutu!

Desmond Tutu Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

Desmond Tutu Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

This Friday marks the 85th birthday of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu.  One of the most revered religious leaders and social justice activists in the world, Archbishop Tutu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his leadership and work in the campaign to eradicate apartheid in South Africa.

Desmond Mpilo Tutu was born October 7, 1931 in Klerksdorp, South Africa.  When he was 12, his family moved to Johannesburg, South Africa’s largest city.  It was an experience there that helped form his future.  While standing on a street corner with his mother, a priest walked by and took off his hat in a show of respect to Tutu’s mother.  This would have been just another encounter except the considerate priest was white — a significant moment for young Desmond in apartheid South Africa where blacks were regarded inferior.  Tutu would later become friends with the priest, Trevor Huddleston.  Huddleston believed in racial equality and became a leading voice in the anti-apartheid movement.  Tutu’s friendship with Huddleston helped grow his Anglican faith and and influenced his decision to become an Anglican priest.

Desmond Tutu wanted to help people, and he became a teacher which is where his passion for social justice first came into play.  After the government changed the curriculum for his black students to lesser than white students and separated the races in all educational facilities (Bantu Education Act of 1953), Tutu and his fellow teachers protested, and he eventually left his position.  In 1976, after becoming the bishop of Lesotho, Tutu gained international recognition for leading peaceful protests of apartheid bringing light to the rights of black South Africans.  For encouraging change and reconciliation between blacks and whites in South Africa, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984.

Known as the “politician-preacherman”, Desmond Tutu has never been one to back away from a cause in which he believes, especially those dealing with human rights.  Despite his retirement in 1996, Archbishop Tutu continues to fight for racial equality around the world.  Other causes he champions are HIV/AIDS awareness and eradication in Africa, poverty and income inequality,  condemnation of anti-gay laws and interfaith dialogue and inclusion.

To learn more about Desmond Tutu and other human rights activists and/or Nobel Peace Prize winners, visit eLibrary.  You will find a wealth of information, both historical and current.

 

Beryl Markham: Record-Setting British Aviator

Beryl Markham Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

Beryl Markham Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

Most people know Amelia Earhart as the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.  But there was another pioneering woman pilot who also recorded a “first” by flying solo across the Atlantic.  Her name is Beryl Markham, and what makes her solo flight a record is that she did it east to west as opposed to Earhart’s west to east.

Beryl Markham was born in British East Africa (Kenya) in October 1902, one year before the Wright Brothers would make their historic flight.  Before embarking on her piloting adventures, she was a racehorse trainer.  It was during that time she also saw her first airplane and met the man who would teach her to fly.  Beryl Markham earned her commercial pilot’s license becoming the first woman in Kenya to do so.

Beryl Markham’s flight is memorable because she flew westward against the prevailing Atlantic winds which was very dangerous. On September 6, 1936, she left Abingdon airfield in her monoplane, the Messenger, with a destination of New York.  The flight was even more treacherous as Markham experienced bad weather and ran out of fuel causing her to bring the plane down in Nova Scotia.  This was well short of her destination, but she suffered only minor injuries and caught a plane to New York where she was warmly welcomed.

Learn more about Beryl Markham and her unconventional (for the time) and extraordinary life in eLibrary.  Also, use eLibrary to discover other pioneering women pilots.  Look for Research Topics on these lesser-known, but no less remarkable aviators: 1) Bessie Coleman, the first licensed pilot of African American descent in the world 2) Amy Johnson, famous British aviatrix who was the first to fly solo from England to Australia and 3) Jackie Cochran, record-setting pilot with over 200 records and director of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) in World War II.