Flower

Johannes Gutenberg and His Printing Press

Johannes Gutenberg (1400-1468)

Johannes Gutenberg Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary

Johannes Gutenberg invented the Internet. Well, okay, he didn’t, but he might as well have. His invention of the mechanical printing press around 1440 was no less revolutionary than the advent of the World Wide Web. Whether you are reading this blog online or if you printed it out and are reading hard copy, you can thank Gutenberg.

Before Gutenberg, what printing there was in the Western world was used mainly for copying images, reproducing such things as playing cards or creating designs on cloth. All books were laboriously hand made by either monks or professional copyists.

Born in Mainz, Germany, around the year 1400, he began at an early age to study metalworking in his father’s goldsmith shop. While not the first to invent moveable type (the Chinese may have done that), he was the first to perfect the system of mechanical moving type and integrate it into a printing press. His mechanical moveable type ushered in the printing revolution. It helped bring about an era of mass communication that influenced the Renaissance, Protestant Reformation, the Age of Enlightenment and the Scientific Revolution.

The Gutenberg Bible

The Gutenberg Bible [Public Domain via Library of Congress]

Gutenberg’s crowning achievement is the iconic Gutenberg Bible, printed in Mainz around 1450. Also called the 42-line Bible because each page has 42 lines of text, it was the first major book printed using his new printing press. An edition of the Latin Vulgate, his version of the Bible is known for its artistic and aesthetic beauty. Since its initial publication, 49 copies have survived. The Library of Congress and the national libraries of Britain and France have complete, near-perfect copies.

Gutenberg Taking the First Proof

Gutenberg Taking the First Proof, Engraving via Library of Congress [Public Domain]

Gutenberg’s experiments made printing practical, and his method of using type endured almost unchanged for five centuries. This month marks the 550th anniversary of the death of Johannes Gutenberg (February 3, 1468). While attempts have been made in recent decades to debunk Gutenberg’s monumental achievement, the opinions of Gutenberg’s contemporaries, along with the substantial historical evidence in his favor, will serve to keep him regarded as one of the most influential figures in world history.

Now would be a good time for History and ELA teachers and STEM programs to encourage students to use eLibrary to research Gutenberg’s revolutionary invention.

Don’t have elibrary? Request a free trial.

Anniversary of the Greensboro, North Carolina Sit-Ins

Greensboro Sit-Ins, Feb. 1960

Greensboro Sit-Ins Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary

February is Black History Month, and Social Studies teachers can begin the month-long commemoration by letting students use eLibrary to research the Greensboro, North Carolina Sit-Ins, which began February 1, 1960.

Just after 4 o’clock in the afternoon, four college freshmen from the all-black North Carolina Agricultural and Technical (A&T) College entered the Woolworth’s department store in downtown Greensboro. They made a few small purchases and then sat down at the store’s Whites-only lunch counter and ordered coffee. The waitress said: “We don’t serve Negroes here.” One of the students replied: “I beg to differ,” pointing out that the store accepted their money at the cash register when they bought school supplies. The young men were asked to leave, but they remained seated until the store closed at 5:30. Ezell Blair Jr., Franklin McCain, Joseph McNeil and David Richmond, who became known as the “Greensboro Four,” ignited a movement that would change the country.

Students on Day 2 of the Sit-In

Students from North Carolina A&T College [Photo Public Domain via the Library of Congress]

The next day, more than 20 black students joined the sit-in. As some white customers heckled them and the lunch counter staff refused them service, the students read books and studied or sat quietly. On day four, some 300 people took part in the sit-in. A week later, the sit-in movement spread to other cities in North Carolina and then to other major cities in the South.

The movement, while not the first sit-in, gained much media attention and showed that young African-Americans could peacefully protest against segregation and have a real impact.

In July 1960, Woolworth’s manager Clarence Harris asked several black employees to change out of their work clothes and order a meal at the counter, thus ending the store’s Whites-only policy.

The Original Woolworth's Lunch Counter

The Original Woolworth’s Lunch Counter [Photo via the Smithsonian Natural Museum of American History]

While there is no longer a Woolworth’s in downtown Greensboro, in 2010, fifty years after the first sit-in, the site of the former store reopened as the International Civil Rights Center & Museum.

Students can jump-start their Black History Month class projects by looking at eLibrary’s Research Topics. Here is just a brief sample:

Civil Rights (U.S.)

Civil Rights Act of 1964

Freedom Rides

Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)

When searching eLibrary, make use of our Editors’ Picks feature, which will be focusing on Black History Month topics during February.

Don’t have elibrary? Request a free trial.

200th Anniversary of Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein”

"Frankenstein" by Mary Shelley

Frankenstein Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary

No doubt since the end of Christmas/Winter break you have been spending some of your time looking around in the new eLibrary (which is pretty cool, if I say so myself). If you teach Literature, now would be a good time to let your students use the resources in eLibrary to research a story that blends some great writing with Greek mythology, Gothic horror and science fiction.

This January marks the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s Frankenstein. She began writing the story when she was just 18, and the first edition was published January 1, 1818, when she was 20. The original title of the novel was Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus.

By now, almost everyone has seen at least one film version of Shelley’s tale. The best known is James Whale’s 1931 classic starring Boris Karloff. This movie, and many others, veered far from Mary’s original story. Even Thomas Edison filmed a version of it in 1910.

SPOILER ALERT!

As Shelley’s story goes, scientist Victor Frankenstein creates an artificial man from the parts of dead bodies and brings the creature to life. The “monster” initially seeks affection from Victor and others but is met with repulsion and horror. Alone and miserable, the creature turns his wrath upon his creator, and Victor dies. Filled with remorse, the monster ends his own life.

Mary Shelley

Mary Shelley Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary

The name Prometheus in the title comes from a character in Greek mythology who creates man out of clay and then steals fire and gives it to humanity. Zeus punishes Prometheus by sentencing him to eternal torment. In the Romantic era, the figure of Prometheus was often seen as a symbol of humankind’s overreaching quest for scientific knowledge and the consequences that would follow.

eLibrary contains numerous resources to help students learn about Shelley’s Frankenstein as well as other topics such as Romantic literature, Gothic horror, mythology and science fiction.

If you have time, definitely check out James Whale’s films Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein (1935), and, just for the fun of it, watch Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein (1974) which pokes gentle fun at all of the old horror movies while giving them their due at the same time. In his movie, Brooks used most of the original lab equipment from Whale’s 1931 film.

Click here to learn more about the new elibrary!

Augustine and the First “Modern” Autobiography

St. Augustine of Hippo

St. Augustine of Hippo Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary

Mihi quaestio factus sum. This is a Latin phrase which means, roughly translated, “I have become a problem to myself.” This was written by Aurelius Augustinus, aka St. Augustine of Hippo. Historians know a lot about Augustine, like when he was born (November 13, 354); when he died (August 28, 430); and just about everything else in-between. The reason we know so much about him is due to his autobiography, The Confessions, written sometime between 397 and 400 AD. While not the first autobiography ever written, it is considered to be the first modern Western autobiography. For 1,600 years, this book has influenced how Christians (and many non-Christians) have penned their life stories.

Hundreds of medieval manuscripts of Augustine’s Confessions survive, the earliest dating from the late sixth century. There are nine surviving manuscripts dating from the ninth and tenth centuries. The first printed edition was made in Strasbourg, France, around 1470, and the book has never gone out of print since then.

Latin Research Topic

Latin Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary

Roman Catholicism Research Topic

Roman Catholicism Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary

 

 

 

 

 

 

The work, originally titled Confessions in Thirteen Books, is more of a spiritual autobiography than a straightforward telling of a life story, although there is plenty of that in the book as well. Born of a Christian mother (Monica) and a Pagan father (Patricius), Augustine was very early on a deep thinker. He was sent away to the University of Carthage at the age of 16. Augustine doesn’t shy away from dishing the dirt on himself during his early life. He became a teacher of rhetoric and moved to Rome with his mistress and his son. His religion at the time was Manichaeism, a combination of elements of Christianity and Zoroastrian themes. It was in Milan that his life began to change when he came under the influence of Ambrose, the city’s bishop. Augustine was baptized, ordained a priest and in 396 was himself made a bishop in Hippo (Annaba, Algeria).

African Literature

African Literature Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary

Algeria Research Topic

Algeria Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Confessions is both an autobiography and a theological work. It presents a detailed account of his philosophical and religious development and is the most complete record of any single individual from the fourth and fifth centuries. According to Oxford and Cambridge professor Henry Chadwick, Confessions will “always rank among the great masterpieces of Western literature.”

Augustine also found time to write The City of God, one of the most influential religious/philosophical books ever written. This was penned sometime later than 410 AD, after Rome fell to the barbarians. Augustine died in Hippo as the Vandals were besieging the city.

Literature teachers and librarians can help students learn more about Augustine of Hippo and his works by pointing them toward the many resources in eLibrary, such as our list of religious and theological publications.

Don’t have eLibrary at your school or library? Request a free trial.

Magellan Discovers the Straits

I guess if you are the first to do something or see something, you get the right to name whatever it was that you did or saw. Ferdinand Magellan had a lot of firsts in his 41 years of life. He was the first person to circumnavigate the world and the first European to cross the Pacific Ocean. Ferdinand was also the first to sail through the strait that would bear his name, but, to his credit, on his voyages he did not name the things he discovered after himself. For example, the Strait of Magellan was originally called the “Strait of Saints.” The archipelago at the southernmost tip of South America he named Tierra del Fuego (Land of Fire) instead of something silly like “Magellan Land.” And, after coming through the strait to the ocean, he called it the Pacific (Peaceful) instead of the Ocean of Magellan or some other self-serving title. In tribute to a man who chose not to honor himself, two galaxies, two craters of the moon, one crater of Mars and a NASA spacecraft have been named in honor of Magellan.

The infographic below tells you a little about Magellan and his discoveries.

 

In 1988, I passed through the Strait of Magellan aboard a U.S. Navy ship called The Sampson. It was an interesting trip. The weather seemed to change every 30 minutes or so. One minute the sun would be shining and the next it would be snowing. Here are a few photos I took while cruising through the Strait:

Heading into the Strait of Magellan

Aboard the USS Sampson Heading into the Strait of Magellan [Photo by Tom Mason]

Opening of the Strait of Magellan

Entering the Strait of Magellan [Photo by Tom Mason]

Snow-Capped Mountains in the Strait

Snow-Capped Mountains in the Strait of Magellan [Photo by Tom Mason]

Sunken Ship in the Strait

One of Several Sunken Ships Seen in the Strait [Photo by Tom Mason]

 

Learn more about Ferdinand Magellan and his accomplishments by visiting eLibrary!

Geography Trivia: Chester A. Arthur and the Prime Meridian

Chester A. Arthur

Chester A. Arthur Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary

These days, the average person takes for granted how easy it is to get from one place to another. Most of us don’t even need maps when traveling. We have GPS technology in our cars and GPS Apps on our phones that tell us which direction to go and where to turn and when we will arrive at our destination. Our phones even change the time for us when we enter in to a new time zone. But, this was not always the case.

The prime meridian is a great circle drawn on maps and globes of the Earth that passes through the North and South Poles, separating the globe into two hemispheres: East and West. This prime meridian passes through Greenwich, England. Governments, however, did not always agree that the Greenwich meridian was the prime meridian, making navigation and time standardization very difficult. Sea navigation, as well as the astronomical charting of stars, usually remained a matter of local, national or sometimes even religious preference. Maps could be based on longitude east or west of St. Petersburg, Rome, Jerusalem, Paris, the Canary Islands or Washington D.C. Needless to say, all of these prime meridians led to a massive amount of international confusion. Although latitude (North and South) had always been measured from the Equator, there was no equivalent point from which to measure longitude.

The beginning of the 19th Century saw calls for unification and the adoption of one common meridian. But the problem was not one of geographical location alone; it was also linked to the measurement of time. To standardize one, would require the standardization of the other.

The Prime Meridian

The Prime Meridian Photo via NASA [Public Domain]

By the 1870s, with the increasing use of rail transportation, there was intense pressure both to establish a prime meridian for worldwide navigation purposes and to unify local times for railway timetables. Great Britain had already solved this problem by using the Greenwich Meridian to standardize its time zones. In the United States, the problem with time standardization was more complicated, with one railroad timetable showing over 100 local times varying by more than 3 hours. President Chester A. Arthur decided he had had enough. He called for an International Meridian Conference, which was held in Washington D.C. in October 1884, to determine a prime meridian for international use. Specifically, the Conference was to hammer out the choice of “a meridian to be employed as a common zero of longitude and standard of time reckoning throughout the world.”

Delegates from 25 countries attended the Conference. The Conference established that the meridian passing through the Royal Observatory at Greenwich would be the Earth’s prime meridian, and all longitude would be calculated both east and west from it up to 180 degrees. The Conference also established Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) as a standard for astronomy and the setting of time zones.

Standing on the Greenwich Meridian

One Can Stand in Both the Eastern and Western Hemispheres Astride the Greenwich Meridian [Photo via Wikimedia Commons] (CC BY-SA 2.0)

This semester, there are two good reasons for Geography teachers to tell students about the 1884 International Meridian Conference: 1. It is a very interesting topic, and. 2. How often do Geography teachers get to mention Chester A. Arthur in class? Teachers can have their students use eLibrary to find out more about the Prime Meridian and other Geography-related topics.

If you do not have a subscription to ProQuest products, you can get a free trial here.

Trivia Time:

  • In addition to sporting some very flashy sideburns, by all accounts, Chester A. Arthur’s presidency was a popular and successful one. In fact, after Arthur’s death in 1885, Mark Twain wrote of him: “It would be hard indeed to better President Arthur’s Administration.” The New York World also wrote of Arthur’s time in office: “No duty was neglected in his administration, and no adventurous project alarmed the nation.”
  • The prime meridian also sets Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). UTC never changes for daylight savings time. Just as the prime meridian is the standard for longitude, UTC is the standard for time. All countries and regions measure their time zones according to UTC.
  • The vote to select Greenwich at the 1884 Conference passed 22 to 1, with San Domingo (Dominican Republic) voting against and both France and Brazil abstaining.

Elvis! Where Are You?

Elvis Research Topic

Elvis Presley Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary

Unless you are well over the age of 40, you probably don’t remember when Elvis died. I remember exactly where I was when I found out about the death of “The King.” I had been hired, along with my cousin Ricky, to clean out the inside of an old Ben Franklin store in downtown Russellville, Kentucky. Part of that job was to smash through concrete blocks with sledgehammers, which we did with glee. When I got home, my mom was in the kitchen fixing dinner, and the first thing she said to me was: “Elvis Presley died today.” I remember being stunned, standing silently for a few moments, then saying something like, “No way.” I turned on the TV and waited for the 5:30 CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite. Sure enough, that was the lead story that night…the death of Elvis. I also recall glancing into the kitchen to confirm what Mom had already told me. I could see that my mom was wiping a tear with the back of her hand, and I never knew whether her tears were for Elvis or on account of the onions she was slicing.

Wednesday, August 16th, marks the 40th anniversary of the death of one of the icons of American music. It is difficult now, in the 21st century, to understand the impact that Elvis had on American music and culture. Many of the most well-known musical artists from the 1950s to the 1980s and beyond were influenced in some way by Presley. You doubt me? Read some of these quotes:

  • Elvis is the greatest cultural force in the 20th century.” – Leonard Bernstein
  • Hearing him for the first time was like busting out of jail.” – Bob Dylan
  • It was like he came along and whispered some dream in everybody’s ear, and somehow we all dreamed it.” – Bruce Springsteen
  • I would practice Elvis in front of the mirror when I was twelve or thirteen years old.” – K.D. Lang
  • Elvis Presley is like the ‘Big Bang’ of Rock ‘n’ Roll. It all came from there.” – Bono of U2
  • It was Elvis that got me interested in music.” – Elton John
  • Elvis is iconic; a lot of performers today look to that for inspiration.” – Beyonce
  • I doubt very much if The Beatles would have happened if it was not for Elvis.” – Paul McCartney

By now, the story of Elvis’ rise from poor kid in Tupelo, Mississippi, to “King of Rock ‘n’ Roll” and his tragic death from prescription drug abuse is well known. Sadly, some people’s exposure to Elvis might be the spate of really bad movies and soundtracks he cranked out or the many Las Vegas shows he did in the 1970s, but to get a grasp of the “real Elvis,” one has to listen to some of his recordings from the mid-to-late 1950s and early 1960s where Presley was producing some very innovative music indeed.

Elvis' Graceland in Memphis, TN

Graceland via Wikimedia Commons Photo by Jan Kronsell (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Elvis purchased Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1957. It was a former church that had been converted into a 23-room mansion. He lived there for the rest of his life. I’ve been to Graceland twice, once in the mid-1980s and again in 2001. Sure, it can be kind of schmaltzy and cheesy, but there is a lot of good music history to experience in Memphis (Beale Street, the Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum and Sun Records Studio). In the end, I came away from Graceland both times a bit sad thinking about what was and what might have been.

Elvis was born in 1935. He died when he was just 42. Today, had he lived, he would be in his 80s. Like James Dean and Marilyn Monroe who went before him, it is hard to imagine an 80-year-old Elvis Presley.

This August would be a good opportunity for music teachers, or even history teachers with a keen interest in pop culture, to use the resources in eLibrary to introduce your students to the musical and cultural influence of “The King.”

And, as John Lennon of The Beatles noted, “Before Elvis, there was nothing.”

Let others know about some of your Elvis or Graceland memories. You can tweet us using #ProQuest.

Just some of the many eLibrary articles and videos about Elvis:

The Day Elvis Died Atlanta Journal and Constitution (Newspaper)

Elvis Presley American Cultural Leaders (Reference Book)

Elvis Presley Is Drafted into the Army MPI Video

Elvis Presley Marries Priscilla MPI Video

Elvis: Rock ‘n’ Roll’s Reluctant Rebel History Today (Magazine)

Stuck on Elvis: Elvis Presley: Perceptions and Legacy The World & I (Magazine)

A Few More Quotes:

  • I saw Elvis live in ’54. It was at the Big D Jamboree in Dallas and the first thing, he came out and spit on the stage…it affected me exactly the same way as when I first saw that David Lynch film. There was just no reference point in the culture to compare it to.” – Roy Orbison
  • But the [record] that really turned me on, like an explosion one night, listening to Radio Luxembourg on my little radio when I was supposed to be in bed and asleep, was “Heartbreak Hotel.” That was the stunner. I’d never heard it before, or anything like it. I’d never heard of Elvis before. It was almost as if I’d been waiting for it to happen. When I woke up the next day I was a different guy.” – Keith Richards
  • I’m sitting in the drive-through and I’ve got my three girls in the back and this station comes on and it’s playing “Jailhouse Rock,” the original version, and my girls are jumping up and down, going nuts. I’m looking around at them and they’ve heard Dad’s music all the time and I don’t see that out of them.”  – Garth Brooks
  • If life was fair, Elvis would be alive and all the impersonators would be dead.” – Johnny Carson

 

Unlikely Friends: Mark Twain and Ulysses S. Grant

Last Photograph of U. S. Grant

The Last Photograph of U. S. Grant via Library of Congress [Public Domain]

On Monday, July 20, 1885, after 11 months, two volumes, 1,231 pages and 291,000 words, “he put aside his pencil and said there was nothing more to do,” Mark Twain remembered. Twain was referring to Ulysses S. Grant’s heroic task of finishing his memoirs before succumbing to throat cancer.

History teachers know Grant as the general who saved the Union during the Civil War and as the 18th President of the United States. Teachers of Literature know Mark Twain as the author of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and other great works.  What many may not know is that the two men were friends, and Twain was the publisher of Grant’s memoirs. Both Huck Finn and The Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant were published in 1885, and neither book has gone out of print since that time.

A little background: After leaving the presidency in 1877, Grant made a series of financial miscues. It seems he was a much better general than financier. He became a partner in and invested a substantial sum in a Wall Street firm called Grant and Ward. The firm collapsed, leaving Grant and his wife Julia with $130 Julia had stored in a cookie jar and Grant with only $80 in his pocket. Desperate for funds, Ulysses agreed to write his memoirs to be published in The Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine. Century offered Grant only a 10% royalty for the book, a sum much smaller than even a novice author would have received.  Mark Twain, knowing that his friend was being cheated, contacted Grant and asked him to not sign a contract with Century. Twain convinced Grant to sign with Twain’s own publishing outfit, Charles L. Webster & Co. Twain offered Grant 75% of the sales and a small advance which enabled Grant to write without worrying about money.

Mark Twain Research Topic

Mark Twain Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary

Shortly after beginning the book, however, Grant was diagnosed with advanced, terminal throat cancer. Grant knew he was in a race against time to finish his project, hoping that it might sell enough to provide for Julia and his family after he was gone. Doctors moved Grant and his family to a resort on Mount McGregor in the Adirondacks, hoping the fresh air would prolong his life. He suffered terribly during the writing of his memoirs. Working against the clock, he sometimes hammered out 25 to 50 pages per day. As his condition worsened, he wrote propped up in his chair by pillows, too weak to walk or even talk above a whisper.  “I am sure I will never leave Mt. McGregor alive,” he confided to Julia. “I pray God however that I may be spared to complete the necessary work upon my book.”

Grant Writing His Memoirs at Mt. McGregor 1885

Grant Writing His Memoirs at Mt. McGregor, 1885 Library of Congress [Public Domain]

 

Grant finished the book on July 20, 1885, and he died just 3 days later. Twain himself worked furiously during that Summer and Fall following Grant’s death to get the two-volume autobiography/memoir published.

 

Grant could not have known that his memoirs would sell enough for Twain to give some $450,000 to Julia (over $10 million today), making her one of the wealthiest women in the country.

 

Today, Grant’s autobiography is still considered by many scholars to be one of the greatest military memoirs ever written.  According to his friend Mark Twain, “General Grant’s book is a great, unique and unapproachable literary masterpiece.”

History and literature teachers should let their students spend some time searching eLibrary for more information on these two great figures from America’s past.

If you do not have a subscription to ProQuest products, you can request a free trial here.

EXTRA:

*Grant dedicated his memoirs to “the American soldier and sailor” – both Northern and Southern. “As it is, the dedication is to those we fought against as well as those we fought with. It may serve a purpose in restoring harmony.”

*A quote from General William Tecumseh Sherman: “Other books of the war will be forgotten, mislaid, dismissed. Millions will read Grant’s Memoirs and remember them.”

*Among the last words in Grant’s memoirs were the words that would eventually be engraved on his tomb: “Let us have peace.”

*Twain visited Grant on several occasions in the months prior to his death. After one such visit, Twain noted: “One marked feature of General Grant’s character is his exceeding gentleness, goodness, sweetness. Every time I have been in his presence–lately and formerly–my mind was drawn to that feature. I wonder it has not been more spoken of.”

Breaking News: Vice President Shoots Former Treasury Secretary!

Dueling Pistol

Dueling Pistol Photo via Pixabay [CCO Public Domain]

If you find yourself teaching U.S. History in summer school classes, you might want to rip a page from the headlines of July 11, 1804, and share it with your students. In what has to be one of the wackiest acts of political animosity in United States history, a sitting vice president fought a duel with and fatally wounded a hero of the Constitutional Convention and former Secretary of the Treasury. If it sounds convoluted, it is.

Your students are probably familiar with Alexander Hamilton either via textbooks or the wildly popular “Hamilton” Broadway musical. If not, here is a brief primer. Hamilton was born on Nevis, an island in the Caribbean. He arrived in the Colonies in the 1770s and joined the Continental Army during the American Revolution. He was noticed by General George Washington who used him as an aid. Fast-forward to the Constitutional Convention, where Hamilton was instrumental in winning ratification of the Constitution. He was appointed the nation’s first Secretary of the Treasury by President George Washington. Hamilton developed a monetary policy that saved the young country from financial ruin. He later became leader of the political party known as the Federalists.

Aaron Burr may be the lesser known of the two figures, but he was an accomplished person in his own right. Burr, born in 1756, was from a wealthy New Jersey family. He graduated college at the age of 17. Like Hamilton, he joined the Continental Army and served for a while under General Washington. Burr was elected to the New State Assembly and later served as a state attorney. In 1790, he defeated Hamilton’s father in a bid for the U.S. Senate. Burr eventually became vice president under Thomas Jefferson in 1800.

Now, here is where things get a bit ugly.

Aaron Burr Research Topic

Aaron Burr Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary

Alexander Hamilton Research Topic

Alexander Hamilton Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Long before the advent of social media, politicians were bad-mouthing each other either in a public forum or in print. Hamilton detested Burr. Hamilton once said of Burr: “I feel it is a religious duty to oppose his career.” Hamilton began his first series of public attacks on Burr when Burr first ran for the vice presidency in 1796. Hamilton considered Burr to be “dangerous” and an “opportunist” and spoke against him on many occasions. Burr later ran as an independent for governor of New York. During the election, his character was attacked so viciously by Hamilton that he challenged him to a duel, or an “Affair of Honor.”

These so-called affairs of honor were somewhat commonplace in the late 1700s and early 1800s, and they usually ended peacefully enough, but not this time. Burr demanded satisfaction. The combatants met at seven o’clock in the morning at a spot near Weehawken, New Jersey. There are conflicting reports about what happened next.

Even though some pundits say we live in the era of “Fake News,” we have nothing on the media of the time of the Burr/Hamilton duel. Hamilton’s assistant said that Hamilton decided that the duel was immoral and deliberately fired his pistol into the air. Burr’s assistant, however, claimed that Hamilton fired at Burr and missed. Many newspapers of the time tended to print the version of the story associated with the political party they supported. Some praised Hamilton and declared Burr to be a murderer. Burr’s supporters, however, attacked the newspaper campaigns aimed at him.

What is known for sure is that Aaron Burr shot Alexander Hamilton in the stomach, and the bullet stopped near Hamilton’s spine. He died the next day.

Historical marker of Hamilton-Burr duel in Weehawken, NJ

Historical marker of Hamilton-Burr duel in Weehawken, NJ via Wikimedia Commons by Billy Hathorn (CC-BY-SA 3.0)

Burr was charged with murder, but because he was a sitting vice president living in Washington, D.C., he was immune from prosecution. His reputation, however, was forever tarnished. In 1805, Burr led a half-baked scheme to take over the Louisiana Territory and establish himself as the leader of a new empire. He even went so far as to lead armed citizens down to New Orleans, but he was captured and tried for treason. He, again, avoided prison and promptly left the country. In later life, he returned to the U.S. to practice law. He died in 1836.

This Summer, instead of challenging your students to a duel, challenge them to explore the many historical Research Topics available in eLibrary.

Dueling Trivia:

*The dueling ground in Weehawken, New Jersey, where Alexander Hamilton was fatally wounded was the same spot where Hamilton’s own son was killed in 1801 defending his father’s honor.

*Future president Andrew Jackson fought a duel with Charles Dickinson in 1806. Dickinson accused Jackson of cheating on a horse racing bet, so the two met near the Red River in Kentucky for a 19th-century throw-down. Dickinson fired first and hit Jackson in the ribs. Jackson returned fire, killing Dickinson. Doctors judged the musket ball lodged in Jackson’s chest to be too close to his heart to remove, so the bullet stayed in his body for the rest of his life.

*In 1826, Senator John Randolph accused Secretary of State Henry Clay of “crucifying the Constitution and cheating at cards.” Randolph, of course, found himself challenged to a duel. Randolph, a crack shot, decided that it would be unwise and unmanly to kill Clay, so he determined to aim high and let Clay live. When both men met for the duel, Randolph accidentally fired his gun into the ground. Clay, accepting that it was a misfire, allowed Randolph to reload his pistol. Randolph, still not wanting to kill Clay, fired first and nicked Henry Clay’s coat. Clay fired back and missed his target. They decided to have a do-over. This time, Clay fired first, missing his opponent yet again. Randolph then fired his weapon into the air. Moved by the gesture, Clay met Randolph at mid-field and shook his hand, thus ending the duel.

If you do not have a subscription to ProQuest products, you can request a free trial here.

 

There is a Cure for the Summertime Blues

School's Out!

School’s Out Photo via Pixabay [CCO Public Domain]

It’s Summer, and teachers all over the United States are relaxing, going on vacations and otherwise enjoying some much-needed time away. But, sooner or later, educators realize that they need to start preparing for the next semester’s classes. When rockabilly artist Eddie Cochran sang “there ain’t no cure for the Summertime Blues” back in 1958, he had high-school students in mind. Teachers, however, can also experience some blues of their own during the summer months when they begin planning for the coming school year.

Here is how one teacher is preparing for the Fall semester.

Tammy Rastoder is a high-school teacher of Language Arts electives (Yearbook, Journalism and Creative Writing) at South Warren High School in Bowling Green, Kentucky. This coming Fall she will begin her 6th year of teaching.

She began her summer vacation in early June by attending a 2-day workshop at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, sponsored by the school’s yearbook company, Jostens. The workshop is for both faculty advisers and students. With assistance from Jostens’ journalism, photography and design instructors, attendees are shown how to plan their book’s theme, ladder (what appears on each page) and cover. The workshop features break-out sessions specifically for advisers, student editors, and photographers. Tammy says it is “well worth it to put in those couple of days at the beginning of the summer to get a head-start on yearbook planning” so she can “hit the ground running when school starts.” She attended the workshop with two of her student yearbook staffers.

Jostens' Yearbook Workshop in Nashville (2017)

Yearbook Workshop. Jostens Workshop leader Lauren Logsdon with South Warren design editor Eve Baughman and editor-in-chief Kylee Eilers. Photo Courtesy Tammy Rastoder

This summer, Tammy’s school district is also participating in SCK-LAUNCH: Educator Externship. Educator Externships are work-based learning and professional development opportunities that provide teachers with exposure to local businesses and the types of careers students may want to pursue. This involves teachers visiting various workplaces to “gain a perspective of the talent pipeline and skills students will need to be successful” and to “link those skills into the classroom and when mentoring students.”

For the most part, though, Tammy says that she finds new ideas for her classes and ways to improve her teaching methods through reading, watching documentaries, traveling and various art activities that she does for fun during the summer. She is always thinking of ways to incorporate Summertime experiences into her classroom.

Tammy and her fellow educators have access to professional development materials and videos at the Continuous Instructional Improvement Technology System (CIITS) website, which is provided to all Kentucky public schools. Your state no doubt has similar development resources that are available for teachers to use.

The Warren County school district also provides two days of professional development on various topics for teachers during the summer.

Like Tammy, hopefully, all of you teachers will find time to have fun and relax this summer, but when you start planning this Fall’s lessons, take some time to search eLibrary’s many educator resources, including our huge list of Research Topics.

Tammy Rastoder

Tammy Rastoder [Photo Courtesy Tammy Rastoder]

Speaking of Summertime Blues, during her time off, Tammy and her husband Samir are heading first to Memphis and then will take the Mississippi Blues Trail down to New Orleans.

Have a great summer!

If you have some ideas about preparing for classes during the summer months, you can share them by tweeting us using #ProQuest.

 

Here are just a few eLibrary educator resources:

Research Topics

Teacher Resources (eLibrary Topic Browse)

Managing Your Classroom (eLibrary Topic Browse)

Subject Support (eLibrary Topic Browse)

Teachers’ Professional Resources (eLibrary Topic Browse)

Curriculum Design, featuring Assessment Strategies, Lesson Plan Aids and National Education Standards (eLibrary Topic Browse)