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The Origins of Halloween

As giddy children head out in the streets tonight for Trick or Treat with goody bags in hand, all dressed up in various ghoulish and festive costumes, it may interest students to know a little about the unusual history and traditions of Halloween. Educators can take advantage of eLibrary’s Research Topics and other documents and web resources to aid in their research.

Halloween ProQuest Research Topic

Halloween ProQuest Research Topic

Halloween, as we know it today, appears to have arisen from the convergence of two distinctly different cultures’ earlier holidays: the Irish Gaelic harvest festival Samhain (pronounced sow’in), celebrated with a feast for the dead, and the Roman Catholic Christian holiday of All Saints’ Day, or All Hallows’ Day, which also honored the dead. All Hallows’ Day was originally celebrated in mid-May and honored saints, martyrs, and family members who recently passed away.

Samhain, which is still celebrated today by some Brits and has its roots in Celtic Druidic traditions, marked the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter. The belief was that during this time the divide between our world and the spirit world was at its thinnest and could be easily bridged. Families honored the dead by inviting them into their homes and offering food. However, when people went out at night, in order to avoid the more harmful spirits, they wore costumes and masks to disguise themselves. In addition, Druids built huge bonfires where people brought their fall harvest food to share with the community. Afterwards, people would take a log or branch from the bonfire to light their own fires at home which would keep them warm for the winter months ahead.

Celts ProQuest Research Topic

Celts ProQuest Research Topic

Around 600 A.D. Pope Gregory I, in an effort to Christianize and transform the rituals of the pagans, issued an edict to synthesize their Druidic practices into Christian practices to more easily convert them to Christianity. Eventually, All Hallows’ Day was moved from May 13 to November 1, with All Hallows’ Eve (Halloween) falling on October 31. As a result, many of the ancient Celtic traditions of Samhain survive today. Interestingly, around this same time, Mexico also celebrates El Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead) holiday. Similar to All Saints’ Day and Samhain, but with roots from the Aztec culture, it is also considered a time to celebrate the fall harvest and honor those who have passed away.

Educators can teach students more about these ancient holidays and the people who practiced these ancient rituals and traditions with the help of eLibrary with its accompanying Halloween Research Topic and other related Research Topics and resources below.

Related Research Topics:
All Saints’ Day
Celts

Druidism
Paganism
Roman Catholicism
Day of the Dead

Other Resources:
Halloween
American Heritage (Magazine)
A World of Fright
Ottawa Citizen (Newspaper)
Saint Gregory I (Pope)
Britannica Concise Encyclopedia (Reference Book)

 

United Nations Day

In 1945, the charter of the United Nations went into effect and the world entered into a new era of cooperation among countries around the world. In honor of this monumental event, every October 24 since 1948 has been celebrated as United Nations Day.

The UN’s roots are in the League of Nations, an organization formed after World War I and promoted by President Woodrow Wilson, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts. While the League ultimately failed, the idea of an international organization to keep world order was taken up again after World War II, growing out of the establishment of the Allied Powers during the war.

While the success and effectiveness of the UN has been questioned–notably by Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign–it has been a forum for countries to air grievances, cooperate on humanitarian matters, act as a check against aggression and promote human rights, a cause that was taken up by Eleanor Roosevelt and that resulted in the UN Declaration on Human Rights.

United Nations Research Topic

United Nations Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

You can use eLibrary to supplement your Social Studies class lessons on history, civics and world affairs. Our Research Topics are a good way to provide students with background information and in-depth articles, videos and more. Possible strategies:  Assign whole RTs or specific articles from them as background for discussion; have students select topics for research, selecting from a list of RTs; have students search in eLibrary to discover RTs and other resources related to the UN.

See the following for a sample of relevant resources eLibrary has to offer:

United Nations

League of Nations

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea

Woodrow Wilson

Eleanor Roosevelt

Leading Issues in the News: Protests in Sports

Washington Redskins Kneel During the National Anthem

By Keith Allison from Hanover, MD, USA (Washington Redskins National Anthem Kneeling) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

At the beginning of the 2016 NFL preseason, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick ignited a firestorm of controversy by sitting down during the national anthem. He explained his reason for sitting as follows, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way.” In the 49ers final preseason game, Kaepernick kneeled during the anthem instead of sitting as a way to show more respect to military members while still protesting the anthem. Throughout the 2016 season, several NFL players joined Kaepernick in “taking a knee” during the anthem.

The protests became more widespread at the start of the 2017 season after President Donald Trump said NFL owners should fire players who kneel during the national anthem. In the games following Trump’s comments, more than 200 players kneeled while other teams linked arms in solidarity.

The protests are not confined to just the NFL. Soccer players and WNBA players have protested by kneeling or by staying in the locker room during the national anthem. Major league baseball player Bruce Maxwell of the Oakland Athletics knelt during the anthem, while NHL player J.T. Brown of the Tampa Bay Lightning raised his fist while standing on the bench during the national anthem.

Although the protests have generated controversy, they have also started conversations over racial discrimination, police brutality and freedom of expression.

This is not the first time athletes have used the world of sports to make a stand over social issues.

Protest at the 1968 Summer Olympics

Extending gloved hands skyward in racial protest, U.S. athletes Tommie Smith, center, and John Carlos stare downward during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner after Smith received the gold and Carlos the bronze for the 200 meter run at the Summer Olympic Games in Mexico City on Oct. 16, 1968. Australian silver medalist Peter Norman is at left. (AP Photo) (Credit: Public Domain)

At the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, African-American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised a fist while the national anthem played during their medal ceremony. The gesture was viewed as a “Black Power” salute and became front page news around the globe. The athletes stated they were there to express African-American strength and unity, protest black poverty, and remember victims of lynching.

On October 17, 1968, the International Olympic Committee convened and determined that Smith and Carlos were to be stripped of their medals for violating the fundamental principles of the Olympic spirit.

Forty-nine years later, that moment at the Olympics continues to reverberate through sports.

Learn more about the current national anthem protests as well as the historical context by visiting SIRS Issues Researcher and eLibrary. Not a customer? Free trials are available.

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!

What are you celebrating today?

Christopher Columbus photo via Wikimedia, indigenous Guatemalan girls photo via CultureGrams.

 

Today, or on a day soon to come this month, countries throughout the Western hemisphere will mark some aspect of the European encounter with the Americas. Which aspect they choose to celebrate depends on their perspective. And in fact some cities within the same country (namely the U.S.) will be celebrating under different titles.

In many Latin American countries, this October holiday is called Día de la Raza (Day of the Race) in an effort to highlight the indigenous cultures Columbus encountered when he arrived in the Americas. However, some indigenous groups, such as those in Chile, find nothing to celebrate on this day and instead call it Día de la Resistencia Indígena, or Indigenous Resistance Day.

Within the United States, the federal holiday is called Columbus Day, a title that, according to the New York Times, has been controversial from the start. Formally made a recurring holiday in 1934, Columbus Day began as a celebration more significant to Italian-Americans than the general population, and Italian-American groups today still advocate for the holiday to be called Columbus Day. As the figure of Columbus broadened to represent general European settlement of the Americas, resistance to the holiday deepened. As one Christian Science Monitor article (available via SIRS) put it, “For many native Americans, Columbus is a symbol of European colonialism, enabling widespread destruction of indigenous cultures and its people and paving the way for rampant oppression and forced relocation.” In response, many states with high native populations stopped celebrating Columbus Day and some cities and states added “Indigenous People’s Day” to the holiday name or changed the name entirely. Today only 25 states in all observe the holiday.

However, shifting the celebration from Columbus to the people he and other Europeans colonized is not itself without controversy. Last month an opinion piece (available via eLibrary) in The Weekly Standard argued that “up until fairly recently the European discovery of the Americas was regarded as a milestone in Western civilization . . .” The author also likened Columbus Day to other U.S. holidays that are outdated but “represent the great American habits of adaptation and historical amnesia.”

So what is the holiday called where you live today? Or is it considered a holiday at all? And do you agree with that status or name? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. In the meantime, check out more Columbus Day/Día de la Raza/Indigenous People’s Day articles and information in CultureGrams, SIRS, and eLibrary!

Coming Soon: The New eLibrary!

Launching at the end of 2017, the new eLibrary is a completely re-imagined, redesigned experience to more efficiently guide novice researchers to identify their research topic and find authoritative information to support their research claim. See the upgraded features:

Featured Research Topics help users get started quickly

Editor’s Picks and Trending Research Topics, featured with image snapshots on the home page, help users explore and find topics quickly. Over 11,000 editor-created Research Topics are available in eLibrary and intuitive browse features guide students to their topic with a minimum of effort.

A better search experience

The new eLibrary will offer a cleaner, more appealing and visual, responsive design that will save users time regardless of device. The home page starts with a simple, single search box effortlessly guiding students to their topic and supporting content.

Simple icons help users search by Assignment or Subject

Beyond the featured Research Topics, on the home page, users can browse from one of two lists – Common Assignments and Subjects. Simple icons guide users to topics aligned to common curriculum.

Better design, better search

The highly visual and intuitive navigation gets researchers to the content they need quickly. And, the popular Research Topics feature is showcased front and center!

Trending Topics and Editors’ Picks sections are a great starting point for users to easily find a topic

• The responsively designed user interface is optimized for access on any device, 24/7

A streamlined feature-set focuses on tools that researchers actually use!

The more efficient search engine enables users to find relevant content faster

• Users can cross-search eLibrary with other ProQuest databases, improving library return-on-investment

• eLibrary content will be hosted on the award-winning ProQuest platform, and will offer two methods of access: a custom Guided Research application and as part of the unified platform, assuring ease-of-use

For more information, visit the eLibrary support page.

Hitching a Ride: Biological Relationships in the Natural World

While breezing through National Geographic‘s online magazine a few weeks ago I came across a remarkable photograph that had been taken off the coast of New South Wales, Australia: a seal riding on the back of a humpback whale. Scientists say this event is indeed rare, but not unheard of.  It’s not clear whether this was an example of a special biological relationship between the seal and whale or if the seal was just joy riding. This got me to thinking about other biological relationships that occur quite often in nature, such as the one between the oxpecker and the African buffalo, or the common relationships between insects and plants.

eLibrary can assist ecology and biology educators in teaching students the world of these complex relationships with specific resources in the fields of biology and ecology.

In ecology, the interaction and relationship between two different species is called symbiosis. Within symbiosis, there are three major types of relationships: mutualism, commensalism, and parasitism.

These relationships can occur not only between species in the animal world but also in the plant and microbial worlds. Anyone who has seen the bright orange or yellow plant-like covering on some rocks are probably looking at lichen, a symbiotic relationship between algae and fungus. And relationships can also exist between biological kingdoms such as between plant and animal (for example, the flower and the bee). It might also surprise your students to learn that we humans, as well as other animals, have symbiotic relationships with microorganisms within our own bodies.

In the case of the relationship between the red-billed oxpecker and the African buffalo, this is considered a mutualistic relationship (sometimes called cleaning symbiosis) where each benefits from the other’s existence and behavior. The oxpecker will perch somewhere on the buffalo and feed on ticks (parasites) and other insects that have taken up residence and pester them. In this way, both mutually benefit from each other: the oxpeckers get a hardy meal and the ungulates are happily rid of the annoying parasites.

You can learn more about the other types of symbiosis (commensalism and parasitism), and other animal and biological relationships in eLibrary. We have a wealth of biological and ecological resources to assist you in helping your students explore the world of symbiosis and biological relationships. We have Research Topics on Symbiosis, Community Ecology, Biomes and Ecosystems, Population Ecology, as well as the broader subjects of Biology and Ecology that can enrich your instruction.

It’s International Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day, an off-the-books celebration of all things pirate. The idea was hatched in 1995 when friends John Baur and Mark Summers (aka Ol’ Chumbucket and Cap’n Slappy) began, inexplicably, to insult each other in pirate lingo while playing racquetball. So, in honor and in the spirit of this incredibly important holiday, eLibrary presents …

Six stream-of-consciousness Research Topics vaguely related to International Talk Like a Pirate Day:

Piracy in the Caribbean: This is what we all think of when we think of pirates–eyepatches, peg-legs, fighting with swords. We tend to think of pirates as happy-go-lucky adventurers, but their short careers were often filled with brutality.

Piracy in the Caribbean RT

Piracy in the Caribbean Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

 

Piracy in Somalia: At the other end of the timescale is modern-day piracy in which gangs hijack cargo ships off the coast of Somalia and hold them for ransom. The hijackings fell off in 2013 due to security actions by vessel owners and increased naval patrols. (The Tom Hanks movie Captain Phillips portrays such an incident.)

Piracy in Somalia RT

Piracy in Somalia Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

 

Parrots: OK, let’s lighten things up a bit. What can I say? Beautiful parrots that would make Long John Silver proud.

Parrots RT

Parrots Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

 

Treasure Island: This is the book that provided pretty much all of the stereotypes we know about pirates.

Treasure Island RT

Treasure Island Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

 

Barbary Wars: Back in the day, the Barbary states (current day Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya) demanded American merchant ships pay tribute or be attacked by “Barbary pirates.” Then Thomas Jefferson became president, and he was having none of it. He (and successor James Madison) used military force to end the practice. (For a famous incident in the Barbary Wars, see this post from last year: Stephen Decatur Burns the USS Philadelphia.)

Barbary Wars RT

Barbary Wars Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

 

Linguistics: Well, I said vaguely related, and it is Talk Like a Pirate Day …

Linguistics RT

Linguistics Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

 

While this has been a lighthearted post, we are serious about providing content for your classroom, and the information above gives you an idea of the breadth of information–history, modern issues, science, literature–contained in our collection of more than 11,000 Research Topics. You can see how a trip to eLibrary could bolster classwork, assignments, and discussions on just about any topic with introductory and in-depth material.

And, arrrrren’t you glad I made it through this without a bit of cheesy pirate talk?

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.

Remembering the Tragic Death of a Princess

Princess Diana was perhaps the most famous, most popular woman in the world. She was a picture of grace and beauty. She was a role model to millions, as both a member of royalty and as an active contributor to many humanitarian efforts.

Princess Diana Research Topic

Princess Diana Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary

And then, suddenly, she was gone. On August 31, 1997, she passed away after a car crash in a road tunnel in Paris, France.

She was born Diana Francis Spencer on July 1, 1961, and became Lady Diana Spencer after her father, John, inherited the title of Earl Spencer in 1975. She officially became a Princess after marrying Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, in 1981. Her two sons, William and Harry, were born in 1982 and 1984, respectively.

Prince William Research Topic

Prince William Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary

Prince Harry Research Topic

Prince Harry Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary

So much of Diana’s life can be used to educate and inspire students, (i.e., her remarkable life and her ascension to British royalty.) But perhaps even more intriguing was her devotion to several humanitarian causes, such as her fight against the use of landmines.

Princess Diana also dedicated much time and energy to visiting AIDS patients, helping to remove the widespread fear of touching those who are HIV positive. She was also Patron of The Leprosy Mission for England and Wales, and was known to visit with the homeless.

Peruse eLibrary for all of the aforementioned topics, as well as material related to other facets of a life truly well-lived.

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