Flower

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)

Fun & Educational Travel in Florida (with Hernando de Soto)

Hernando de Soto knew a good vacation spot when he saw one.

It is almost June, and that means that the school year is winding down, and many teachers and librarians are looking forward to a much-needed vacation! And, like de Soto, many of you, with families in tow, will be heading for sunny Florida to rest and relax on the beach. But just because you are on vacation doesn’t mean the learning has to stop. There are many fun and educational things to do and places to see while in the Sunshine State.

Hernando de Soto Research Topic

Hernando de Soto Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary

Florida Beach Towns Research Topic

Florida Beach Towns Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unlike Hernando, most of you will be either flying or driving the interstate to your destination. After sailing for over 30 days, in late May 1539, Spanish conquistador de Soto landed nine ships with over 620 men and 220 horses in an area generally identified as south Tampa Bay, Florida. You must admit…travel is so much easier today. How would you like to take care of 200 sea-sick horses for a month?

After hitting the beach, wearing yourself to a frazzle at Disney or taking the kids to see Harry Potter at Universal, it will be time to check out some of the slower-paced sites Florida has to offer…like the Kennedy Space Center, a STEM teacher’s dream.

Kennedy Space Center Rocket Garden

Kennedy Space Center Rocket Garden [Photo by Tom Mason]

Atlantis Exhibit, Kennedy Space Center

Josh at the Atlantis Exhibit, KSC [Photo by Tom Mason]

 

 

My son Josh and I geeked out at Kennedy. Plan on spending an entire day there.

Besides seeing the awesome Rocket Garden, you can go to the Astronaut Hall of Fame, and don’t forget to take the bus tour where you will pass by the Vehicle Assembly Building (one of the largest buildings in the world) and stop at the Explore the Moon exhibit which is a massive display of the technology that sent humans to the moon.

 

 

One of the highlights is the Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit which takes you past two solid rocket boosters and orange external tank to see Atlantis close-up.

Space Shuttle Atlantis, KSC

Space Shuttle Atlantis, KSC [Photo by Tom Mason]

Moving up the “Space Coast,” you’ll arrive at St. Augustine. Besides being the oldest city in the United States, it also lays claim to having the oldest wooden school house in America. It is located in the Old City on St. George Street near the City Gate. Tax records show that the tiny school was around in 1716 and possibly before then. You will notice a huge chain wrapped around the building; it was placed there in 1937 to hold the house in place during hurricanes. I might also recommend going on one of the Ghost Walks in the Old City (which will take you past the school house). They are entertaining, educational and not too scary for the kids. History teachers (and history buffs) will enjoy the many sites in Old St. Augustine.

Oldest Wood School House in America

Oldest Wood School House in the USA [Photo by Debra Mason]

For you ELA teachers, I would recommend the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum in Key West. It was Hemingway’s home from 1931 to 1939 and is now open to the public. It is a U.S. National Historic Landmark.

Now, getting back to de Soto…

While Hernando might get a failing grade for his relations with the Native Americans he encountered, you certainly have to give him an “A” for chutzpah. Hernando de Soto led the first European expedition deep into the territory of the modern-day United States (Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee and Arkansas), and he was the first documented European to have crossed the Mississippi River. He encouraged the local natives to believe that he was a type of sun god, but, uncharacteristic of a deity, died of a fever on May 21, 1542.

Hopefully, that will not happen to you while on vacation this summer.

Here are just a few eLibrary Research Topics and Websites to look at before you head out on your Florida vacation:

Everglades National Park (Research Topic)

Florida Forests and Parks (Research Topic)

Florida History (Research Topic)

Florida Keys (Research Topic)

Fun Florida Field Trips (FL Dept. of Education Website)

Key West (Research Topic)

Let others know about some of your educational travel ideas. You can tweet us using #ProQuest

May 11, 330 AD – The Naming of Constantinople…And Why You Should Care!

Byzantine Empire Research Topic

Byzantine Empire Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary

Byzantium. Constantinople. Istanbul.  Three names for one city – one of the most important cities in the history of civilization.

The year 324 marked a turning point for western civilization, for it was then that Emperor Constantine the Great proclaimed Byzantium the new capital of the Roman Empire. On May 11, 330, he officially changed the city’s name to Constantinople to reflect the importance of the city to the world.

It is believed that Byzantium was founded by the Greeks around the year 657 B.C. The meaning of the name Byzantium is unknown, but it likely comes from an ancient Greek legend of a King Byzas.

Constantine the Great Research Topic

Constantine the Great Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary

Constantine chose his new capital wisely. The city is located on the European side of the Strait of Bosporus. The Bosporus (in northwestern Turkey) is significant because it is the passage linking the Black Sea to the Mediterranean, forming part of the continental boundary between Europe and Asia. Due to its natural and man-made defenses, the “City of Constantine” was able to withstand the barbarian invasions that devastated Rome and the Western Empire in 476.

Constantine referred to his newly-named city as “Nova Roma,” or, the New Rome. After the fall of Rome, the Eastern Empire, referred to as the Byzantine Empire, lasted for more than a thousand years. From the mid-5th century to the early 13th century, Constantinople was the largest and wealthiest city in Europe. The city spawned a rich tradition of art, literature and architecture, as well as serving as a buffer between Europe and threats of invasion from Asia.

Constantinople was especially important for preserving in its libraries manuscripts of Greek and Latin authors during a period when violence and chaos resulted in the mass-destruction of books and art in western Europe and north Africa. When the city finally did fall, thousands of these ancient manuscripts were taken by refugees to Italy, where they played a key part in stimulating the transition to the Renaissance and then to the modern world. In addition, moving the capital of the Empire to the East gave prestige to the Bishop of Constantinople (Ecumenical Patriarch) and made the city a dual center of Christianity, alongside Rome. This eventually led to the Great Schism that divided Western Catholicism from Eastern Orthodoxy in 1054.

Ottoman Empire Research Topic

Ottoman Empire Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary

Turkey Research Topic

Turkey Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The month of May is important in the history of Constantinople for another reason: on May 29, 1453, after Sultan Mehmed’s Ottoman army stormed the city, Emperor Constantine XI was killed in battle, ensuring that the fall of the Byzantine Empire was complete. The city was then under Ottoman control and was the capital of the Ottoman Empire until its demise in 1922.

It is not an overstatement to say that the military, political, religious and artistic influence of the city on the Western world, over the many centuries of its existence, is incalculable.

Teachers: You can help your students learn more about this culturally significant city by pointing them to the great History and Geography resources in eLibrary.

Trivia Time!

  • From the date of its construction in 537 AD until 1453, Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom) served as an Eastern Orthodox cathedral and seat of the Patriarch of Constantinople. It was the world’s largest cathedral for nearly a thousand years. The building was later converted into an Ottoman mosque from 1453 until 1931. It was then secularized and opened as a museum in 1935.
  • Constantinople was renamed Istanbul in 1930.
  • The name Instanbul (which means “in the city”) likely comes from the word Stamboul which refers to the older, ancient Byzantium part of the city.
  • It is said that on the day when the city fell to Mehmed, a crescent moon hung in the sky. Today, many Islamic nations around the world commemorate the military victory of 1453 with crescent moons on their flags.
  • France and Britain promised Constantinople to the Russians if the Entente won World War I. (Didn’t happen due to the fall of the Russian Empire in 1917).
  • The song “Istanbul (Not Constantinople)” was released in 1953 by The Four Lads, and later recorded in 1990 by They Might Be Giants.
  • The Byzantine Empire was the only organized state west of China to survive without interruption from ancient times until the beginning of the modern age.

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May 5th and May 6th: Cinco de Mayo and Derby Day!

Cinco de Mayo Research Topic

Cinco de Mayo Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary

Teachers! Don’t miss a unique opportunity to have a multicultural celebration in your classrooms on Friday, May 5th. Friday is Cinco de Mayo, while Saturday, May 6th, will be Derby Day, a celebration of the “Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports” at the Kentucky Derby!

First things first:  As most of you know, Cinco de Mayo is NOT Mexico’s Independence Day. That will be September 16th. Cinco de Mayo is the anniversary of the Mexican Army’s defeat of French forces at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. It seems that Cinco de Mayo is perhaps observed more in the United States than in Mexico because it has turned into a celebration of Mexican culture instead of a great military victory. The roots of Cinco de Mayo go back to the French occupation of Mexico which occurred after the Mexican-American War (1846-1848) and the so-called Reform War of 1858-1861. Cinco de Mayo celebrations probably began in the 1860s in California where Mexicans living there opposed French rule in Mexico.

Kentucky Derby Research Topic

Kentucky Derby Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary

On Saturday, May 6th, Louisville will showcase the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby. The history of the Derby dates way back to 1862. After seeing horse races in both England and France, Meriwether Lewis Clark, grandson of William Clark of the Corps of Discovery explorers Lewis and Clark, decided to stage a racing event in the States. With help from his uncles John and Henry Churchill, Clark developed a racetrack called the Louisville Jockey Club. The first “run for the roses” was held on May 17, 1875. (FYI: the race was won by Aristides). In 1883, the name Churchill Downs was first used for the track that hosts the Kentucky Derby, the first leg of the famed Triple Crown of horse racing.

Educators should take time out this Friday to have some fun in the classroom learning about and celebrating these two unique cultural events.

Mexico Research Topic

Mexico Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary

Louisville Research Topic

Louisville Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Let Us Celebrate – Cinco de Mayo” is a fine collection of resources from the Library of Congress that features links to several Primary Sources relating to Hispanic Americans, Hispanic Exploration in America, France in America, a Guide to the Mexican War and Mexican Immigration, among other topics. Today in History: May 5 is a nice website, also from the Library of Congress, that explains Cinco de Mayo and provides links to other resources. A very nice collection of curricular materials to help teach students about Cinco de Mayo can be found at the New York University Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies.

As far as learning about the Derby, the Kentucky Derby Museum provides several downloadable materials that educators can use in the classroom, including Derby Trivia and Fun Facts, Coloring Sheets, Kentucky Derby Seek and Find and a Suggested Reading list. If you care to have a sing-a-long of “My Old Kentucky Home,” you can find the lyrics here! And feel free to make up your own activities, such as having a Derby Hat contest.

eLibrary has many resources to help you have fun (and learn a little) about these two annual festivals.

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100 Years Ago This Week: “It’s War!”

America in WWI Research Topic

America in World War I Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary

Calling all History teachers!  Don’t let this week go by without talking to your students about World War I. This Thursday, April 6, marks the 100th anniversary of the United States’ declaration of war on Germany. On April 2nd, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson had asked Congress for the declaration, stating that it would be a “war to end all wars” and that it would “make the world safe for democracy.” All-out war had been raging in Europe since August 1914. Wilson had kept America out of the fighting, even after the sinking of the Lusitania in May 1915, which had 128 Americans on board. Germany had resumed unrestricted submarine (U-Boat) warfare on all commercial ships heading toward Britain.  In addition, British Intelligence intercepted a secret German diplomatic communication, called the Zimmermann Telegram, which proposed a military alliance between Germany and Mexico. These events, plus the fact that the United States had loaned massive amounts of money to the allies and feared it would not get that money back if the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria) won, tipped the scales in favor of war.

Tom Young Mason Draft Card

Thomas Young Mason Draft Registration Card [Ancestry Library via ProQuest]

The Selective Service Act was signed May 18, 1917. In the United States, over 9-and-a half million men, ages 21 to 31, signed up at their local draft boards. One of those men was my grandfather, Thomas Young Mason. Tom was a 30-year-old farmer from Logan County, Kentucky, when he signed his draft card on June 5, 1917. The reason I know this is because I found a copy of his draft card while searching AncestryLibrary.com, available via ProQuest. I was surprised at how easy it was to find information about my grandfather. I can’t say that I know a lot about his time during the Great War. He died years before I was born, and my family never was much for telling war stories. I do, however, have some nice photographs of him in his WWI uniform. I also have, at home in my basement, the very hat he was wearing in those photos.

Thomas Young Mason (1886-1953)

WWI Photo of Thomas Young Mason [Image Courtesy Blog Author]

Grandma & Grandpa Mason

Grandma & Grandpa Mason [Photo Courtesy Blog Author]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My grandfather was one of the lucky ones who made it home from the War. Europeans bore the brunt of the casualties with 9 million military men killed and over 30 million wounded. World War I was one of the most tragic events in modern world history, and the “peace” that was reached at its end led directly to the Second World War.

eLibrary has many resources teachers can use to explain this momentous time in world History. A really good high school lesson plan called “Wilson & American Entry into World War I” can be found at EDSITEment!, a National Endowment for the Humanities website.  While you and your students are conducting research on this topic, don’t forget to check out ProQuest’s awesome Trench Journals and Unit Magazines of the First World War, a digital collection of writings produced near the trenches and on the home front.  During this 100th anniversary of the United States’ entry into World War I, it might be a good idea to take some time out from your regular class assignments and get your students involved in a discussion on this timely topic. One idea would be to have your class watch the American Experience documentary The Great War,” which premieres on PBS April 10.

Factoids:

While Woodrow Wilson often gets credit for the phrase “the war to end all wars,” delivered during his April 1917 speech before Congress, many historians assume that he got the idea from a 1914 book by H.G. Wells entitled “The War That Will End War.”

The United States officially declared war on Austria-Hungary on December 7, 1917. Twenty-four years later, on December 7, 1941, FDR asked Congress for a declaration of war against the Empire of Japan, marking America’s entry into World War II.

 

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