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Lorraine Hansberry: A Voice for African Americans and Women

Lorraine Hansberry ProQuest Research Topic

Lorraine Hansberry ProQuest Research Topic

As Black History Month closes and segues into Women’s History Month, it seems fitting that Lorraine Hansberry, an African American playwright, should bridge that transition. Hansberry’s work not only embodied and reflected the struggle of African Americans in the age of segregation during the 1950s and 1960s, it also voiced her concern for women’s rights. In an interview with Studs Terkel in 1959 Hansberry told him “the most oppressed group of any oppressed group will be its women, and that those who are “twice oppressed” may become “twice militant.”

Hansberry grew up in a civil rights family in South Side Chicago. Her father, Carl Augustus Hansberry, was a successful real estate broker and civil rights activist. In 1938, when Lorraine was around eight, her father bought a house on the edge of the white, upper middle class neighborhood of Washington Park in South Side Chicago. They immediately felt the violent brutality of racism and racial segregation from white residents of that neighborhood. The violence became so unbearable at one point, Lorraine’s mother patrolled the house with a loaded German Ruger pistol. Residents then tried to force out the Hansberrys legally, and the case eventually wound up in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee, and Louis Gossett, Jr in 'A Raisin in the Sun'

Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee, and Louis Gossett, Jr in ‘A Raisin in the Sun’ (via Wikipedia Commons)

Miss Hansberry’s most famous play, “A Raisin in the Sun,” which took its title from the Langston Hughes poem “Harlem,” reflects her experience during that time. First debuting in New Haven, Connecticut, it became the first play by an African American woman to open on Broadway. For that work, she also became the first African American and fifth woman to win the highly acclaimed New York Drama Critics’ Circle award. The Hollywood film version of the play soon followed and starred the same acting ensemble that opened the play on Broadway, with such notable actors as Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee, Claudia McNeil, and Louis Gossett, Jr.

For the literary and theatre world, Lorraine Hansberry’s life and work was cut way too short. In 1965, at the age of 34, she succumbed to pancreatic cancer, but not before ‘A Raisin in the Sun‘ had made a huge cultural and social impact. The play has since been reproduced in many countries including Sweden and Russia, and at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester, England, as well as countless revivals on the American stage, most notably the recent 2008 movie revival starring Sean Combs, Audra McDonald, and Phylicia Rashad.

Students can explore further in eLibrary’s new vibrant website and platform to find out more about Lorraine Hansberry, her work, and her fight for civil rights for African Americans and women.

Here are some other resources on Lorraine Hansberry to help get you started:

Lorraine Hansberry’s Reflective ‘Window’
Washington Post (Newspaper)

Lorraine Hansberry’s Les Blancs and the American Civil Rights Movement
African American Review (Scholarly Journal)

New PBS Film Tells Hansberry’s Story
Chicago Tribune (Newspaper)

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A Name You Should Know: Robert Smalls

Frederick Douglass. Sojourner Truth. Martin Luther King Jr. Rosa Parks. These names are in the pantheon of African American heroes. Each year during Black History Month their names are at the fore of many celebrations. Robert Smalls. His name is not well-known, or even known at all, but his contribution to black history is extraordinary and fascinating.

Robert Smalls Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

Robert Smalls went from slave to naval captain to U.S. congressman by age 36. The story to his fame began in Charleston, South Carolina 13 months after the attack on Fort Sumter. Smalls was entrusted with piloting the CSS Planter, a Confederate military transport ship. He gained the confidence of the ship’s owners, and in doing so he began to plan an escape to the Union blockade about seven miles in the distance. On the early morning of May 13, 1862, Smalls stole the Planter after its three officers went ashore for the night leaving Smalls and his slave crew alone. Donning the captain’s straw hat and employing the signals he had memorized, Smalls steered the Planter to another wharf where his family and the families of the other crew were waiting. Sailing past five fortified Confederate posts, Smalls’ plan succeeded as the Planter made it to the Union without incident. At just 23 years old, Robert Smalls delivered 16 men and women to freedom and gave critical Confederate defense information to the Union. A reporter hailed it “one of the most daring and heroic adventures” of the Civil War.

Robert Smalls’ story did not end there. Hailed a hero, he was able to lobby the federal government for the enlistment of black soldiers in the Union war effort and reportedly recruited almost 5,000 men himself. He lead the Planter in 17 battles and eventually became her captain. He was the highest-ranking African American officer in the Union Navy. After the war, he became a leader during Reconstruction in the Republican Party. He was elected to the South Carolina legislature and later to the U.S. House of Representatives five times. One of his key initiatives was ensuring free education for all children.

Whether known for their activism or heroism, here are a few other names you should know. Honor them by sharing their stories with others not only during Black History Month but throughout the year.

Bessie Coleman

Hiram Revels

Dorothy Height

Nat Love

Daisy Bates

Guion Bluford

ProQuest’s eLibrary is an excellent resource for students wanting to learn more about African American history and achievement. The new eLibrary platform makes searching easy with its visually appealing Common Assignments and Subject trees. Also, make sure to look at the Editor’s Picks which are focused on Research Topics related to Black History Month. This new feature will change frequently so check back to see what’s new.

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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.

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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.

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Celebrate Black History Month 2018 with eLibrary’s Editor’s Picks

2018 Black History Month Poster (Credit: Association for the Study of African American Life and History )

 

February is Black History Month in the United States. Created in 1926 as Negro History Week by Dr. Carter G. Woodson, the founder of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), Black History Month is not only a time of celebration of the achievements and contributions of the African American community, but it also brings attention to the African American experience in the United States.

The ASALH continues what Dr. Woodson started by focusing on a different theme for Black History Month every year. The theme for 2018 is African Americans in Times of War which coincides and commemorates the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.  African American men and women have served in every war from the War of Independence to the War on Terror. Take a look at the new eLibrary Editor’s Picks as it pays tribute to those African Americans who served — those who served in the Armed Forces as well as those who served their communities.

eLibrary Editor’s Picks via ProQuest eLibrary

Featured Editor’s Picks include African Americans in the Civil War and both World Wars I and II. These Research Topics will lead your students to information with which they may not be familiar — the pioneering 54th Massachusetts Infantry in the Civil War and the 369th Infantry Harlem Hellfighters in World War I and the persistence of segregation in the military during World War II. As students scroll through the carousel, they will find the fascinating story of Robert Smalls, a 23-year-old slave who stole a Confederate ship, navigating his family and crew to freedom. He would later serve the Union in the Army and Navy and South Carolina as a Congressman in the United States House of Representatives. There is General Colin Powell, retired four-star U.S. Army general. He served his country in war, and he was the first African American to serve on the Joint Chiefs of Staff and as Secretary of State. Unrelated to the theme but also featured are the inspiring lives of Madame C.J. Walker and Mae Jemison. Madame C.J. Walker used her marketing skills to create a cosmetics and hair care empire in the early 20th century. Her business helped to serve and empower African American women. Mae Jemison was the first African American woman to travel to space in 1992. She also served as a doctor, college professor, Peace Corps worker and an advocate for science education for minority students.

Teachers and students: Make sure to check Editor’s Picks regularly because they will change frequently. Featured Research Topics related to monthly celebrations like Black History Month, significant events, anniversaries and people will be highlighted. Other times the picks will complement the Trending Research Topics. Research Topics are curated and created by editors with students in mind to use as a “jumping-off” point into the wonderful world of research.

eLibrary’s Editor’s Picks are but a small sample of the Research Topics related to black history. eLibrary offers a plethora of information and sources on many important people, stories and events in the African American experience.

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Holocaust Remembrance Day and the Liberation of Auschwitz

Holocaust Remembrance Day is January 27. It was established by the UN in 2005 on the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1945, but the date had been observed by many countries for years. Auschwitz was the largest of the Nazi concentration camps—more than a million people were killed there in Hitler’s plan to eliminate Europe’s eleven million Jews.

Knowing that the Allies were closing in, SS leader Heinrich Himmler had ordered the evacuation of concentration camps in hopes of keeping prisoners from falling into Allied hands and telling their stories, as well as to keep them as bargaining chips in possible negotiations at the end of World War II. At Auschwitz in the days before liberation, hundreds had been killed and around 60,000 had been forced to march to Polish cities 30 miles or more away. Those who could not keep up were shot and many died from the cold and starvation—maybe as many as 15,000 did not make it.

When the Soviets finally arrived at Auschwitz, they found more than 7,000 remaining prisoners, most of whom were sick or dying.

Initially, the camp was established to hold Polish political prisoners. It wasn’t until after the January 1942 Wannsee Conference that Auschwitz would become a destination for Jews and other people who were deemed undesirable to the Nazis. One of Himmler’s top deputies, Reinhard Heydrich, convened the meeting of many high-ranking German officials to come up with the implementation of “The Final Solution to the Jewish Question.” Heydrich, dubbed by Hitler as “the man with the iron heart,” was a chief architect of the Holocaust, having had a large part in justifying the invasion of Poland, the planning of Kristallnact and the formation of the Einsatzgruppen in addition to being largely responsible for carrying out the plans for the extermination camps.

As Allied forces made their way through German-held territory, other camps were liberated, ending the sickening Nazi effort at genocide.

Of course, the Holocaust has now become part of the history curriculum (and other curricula), as we continue to examine how the darkness in the heart of a man could lead to the deaths of six million people. It is a difficult subject. eLibrary is here to help educators tackle it with a rich variety of articles, photos, quality website links, maps and more, including the stories of survivors. Many of these assets are gathered together for easy access in our Research Topics, which provide everything from overviews to in-depth analysis to help your students get started on their research or to supplement your instruction.

Holocaust Memorials Research Topic

Holocaust Memorials Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

Holocaust Remembrance Day is a good time to examine the lives lost and to reflect on how we can respect human dignity. Following is a partial list of Research Topics relevant to the subject. Other RTs and plenty of individual resources can be discovered by searching in the new eLibrary or by browsing through our Common Assignments and Subjects trees, which have an engaging graphical interface. (Quick tip: After you have done a search, click on “Other Sources” to get at Research Topics more easily.)

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Holocaust

Auschwitz

Holocaust Memorials

Nazi Concentration Camps

Reinhard Heydrich

Kristallnacht

Many of our Holocaust-related RTs have been assembled in this jump page:

ProQuest Research Topic Guide: Holocaust

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!

The Punic Wars: Carthage vs. Rome

Punic Wars Research Topic

Punic Wars Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

To Ticinus succeeded Trebia, where, in the consulship of Sempronius, the second outburst of the Punic war was spent. On that occasion, the crafty enemy, having chosen a cold and snowy day, and having first warmed themselves at their fires, and anointed their bodies with oil, conquered us, though they were men that came from the south and a warm sun, by the aid (strange to say!) of our own winter.

This is an excerpt of Florus’ account of the Punic Wars concerning the Battle of Trebia (December 18, 218 BC), which saw Hannibal’s Carthaginian army rout the Romans during the second installment of a set of three wars that would eventually cement Rome’s place as the most powerful player in the Mediterranean region.

The Punic Wars occurred between 264 and 146 BC, in the middle of Rome’s Republican period. They began when both Rome and Carthage, a North African city-state in what is now Tunisia, intervened in military dispute on the island of Sicily between Syracuse and the Mamertines.

The First Punic War, 264-241 BC, was largely a naval war for control of Sicily. Despite Carthage’s initial naval superiority, Rome was victorious and Sicily became the republic’s first province.

The Second Punic War, 218-201 BC, is the most well-known of the Punic Wars because of the Hannibal’s bold traversing of the Alps on Elephants to attack the Romans in Italy. Hannibal had a string of victories with the Battle of Trebia, the Battle of Lake Trasimene and the Battle of Cannae, in which 50,000 Roman soldiers were killed in a single day. Despite his successes, Hannibal eventually had to return home to protect Carthage, where his defeat at the Battle of Zama ended the war.

The Third Punic War, 149-146 BC, was essentially a siege of Carthage, and the result was Scipio Aemilianus’ (Scipio Africanus the Younger) destruction of the city and Roman domination of the Mediterranean by an imperial republic.

Educators, eLibrary has great information for your history classes, as evidenced by the eLibrary article and Research Topics links above. If you are doing a lesson on the Punic Wars, you can direct your students these links and to the immediately relevant RTs below. Or, feel free to just assign this blog entry to them for an overview of the topic.

Research Topics:

Punic Wars

Ancient Rome

Carthage

Hannibal

eLibrary Completely Transforms on Thursday!

 

Oh My Gosh – It’s only 48 hours away!

On Thursday, December 14th, elibrary.bigchalk.com will become explore.proquest.com.

This isn’t just a fresh coat of paint. eLibrary has been completely re-imagined and redesigned to more efficiently guide students to identify their research topic and find authoritative information to support their research claim. Get ready for:

Highly Visual Navigation: Users are shown our curated Research Topics front and center!

Easy Topic Selection: Students can browse through simplified Subject and Common Assignment trees to help them with the most stressful research task – choosing a topic.

Streamlined Feature Set: There’s now more focus on tools that researchers actually use, like citation generation and Google integration.

More Efficient Search Engine: Users will find relevant content faster.

Responsive Design: The new eLibrary is optimized for use on desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones.

Cross-Search: Hosting on the award-winning ProQuest platform allows simultaneous searching with other ProQuest databases.

The eye-popping, curiosity-sparking look and feel of the new eLibrary very cleverly disguises what continues to be a powerful tool that will engage your students in research.

Click here to learn more about the new elibrary!

 

New eLibrary Coming December 14th!

 

On December 14th, eLibrary will deliver stress-free researching to your library. The date is coming fast, and we couldn’t be more excited! Here are some reasons for you to get excited too:

Highly Visual Navigation: Users are shown our curated Research Topics front and center!

Easy Topic Selection: Students can browse through simplified Subject and Common Assignment trees to help them with the most stressful research task – choosing a topic.

Streamlined Feature Set: There’s now more focus on tools that researchers actually use, like citation generation and Google integration.

More Efficient Search Engine: Users will find relevant content faster.

Responsive Design: The new eLibrary is optimized for use on desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones.

Cross-Search: Hosting on the award-winning ProQuest platform allows simultaneous searching with other ProQuest databases.

The eye-popping, curiosity-sparking look and feel of the new eLibrary very cleverly disguises what continues to be a powerful tool that will engage your students in research.

Click here to learn more about the new elibrary!

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