Tag Archives: Cultural History

Ugly History of North Country Nationalism Offers Lessons For Today


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Goodness has long been an admirable part of our identity as Americans. It is evident at the national level in our response when natural disasters strike here or abroad. Closer to home, we see it manifested daily in our own Adirondacks and foothills, where people donate, volunteer, and reach out to help others. Our foundation as small-town folk is one of welcoming, caring, sharing.

Along with that comes the knowledge that we’re also lucky to be Americans, lucky to not have been born in some other country where things are much different. Many of the lessons we learned in school were derived from the struggles of others in less fortunate circumstances.

We were taught to appreciate certain rights and freedoms, to speak out against perceived wrongs, to defend the less capable, and to question the directives of those in leadership positions. In some countries, those rights are viewed as privileges for the chosen few, or are not available at all. Continue reading

A History of Mail Order Brides in Early America


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ben_franklins_worldHow do you build colonies without women?

Most of the colonial adventurers from England and France who set out for Jamestown, New France, and colonial Louisiana were men. But how do you build and sustain societies and spread European culture—in essence, fulfill the promises of a colonial program—without women?

You can’t. Which is why Marcia Zug, a Professor of Law at the University of South Carolina Law School and author of Buying a Bride: An Engaging History of Mail Order Matches (NYUPress, 2016),  joins us in this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast to explore one of the solutions that England and France used to build their North American colonies: mail order bride programs. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/120

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Kerry James Marshall: The Master is Present


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School of Beauty, School of Culture, 2012. Kerry James MarshallKerry James Marshall, at the Met Breuer exhibition until January 29, boldly claims center stage in American art with his show entitled “Mastry.” A Chicago-based painter, Marshall seizes the spotlight at the center of conversations about American art at the center of the country’s art scene in New York. His mastery unfurls over a grand expanse of work, complemented by his own selections from the Metropolitan Museum’s collections, a curated sidebar that testifies to his confident deployment of art history in his own work. History, genre, cityscape, portrait – Marshall draws from the visual riches of the past, transforming Western art traditions into his own language. His cityscapes suggest how his paintings reclaim space.  Continue reading

CFP: Making New Connections in Early America, 1750–1850


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usa-1850-mapProposals are invited for a two-day conference on entangled history in Early America from 1750 to 1850, which will be held at the McNeil Center for Early American Studies in Philadelphia, PA during April 2018.

The organizers are looking for scholars who challenge traditional narratives of imperial or national history by applying a wider lens to Anglo-America. The goal is to foster a wide-ranging debate on relations across borders – geographic, political, legal, social, and ethnic – in the Americas. Continue reading

The World of John Singleton Copley


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ben_franklins_worldWhat can the life of an artist reveal about the American Revolution and how most American men and women experienced it?

The Ben Franklin’s World podcast explores the life and times of John Singleton Copley with Jane Kamensky, a Professor of History at Harvard University and the author of A Revolution in Color: The World of John Singleton Copley (W.W. Norton & Co, 2016) You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/106

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The Origins of Racial Segregation in the United States


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ben_franklins_worldEver wonder how the United States’ problem with race developed and why early American reformers didn’t find a way to fix it during the earliest days of the republic?

In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, Nicholas Guyatt, author of Bind Us Apart: How Enlightened Americans Invented Racial Segregation (Basic Books, 2016), leads us on an exploration of how and why the idea of separate but equal developed in the early United States. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/096

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Friendships Between Men and Women in the Early Republic


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ben_franklins_worldIn the early American republic, men and women formed and maintained friendships for many of the same reasons we make friends today: companionship, shared interests, and, in some cases, because they helped expand thinking and social circles.

In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, we explore friendship in the early American republic. Specifically, we investigate what it was like for men and women to form and maintain friendships with each other. Our guide for this exploration is Cassandra Good, author of Founding Friendships: Friendships Between Men & Women in the Early American Republic (Oxford University Press, 2015). You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/094

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Rumors, Legends, and Hoaxes in Early America


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ben_franklins_worldDid you know that George Washington’s favorite drink was whiskey?

Actually, it wasn’t.

Washington preferred Madeira, a fortified Portuguese wine from the island of Madeira.

Why the false start to our weekly exploration of history?

In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, Gregory Dowd, a Professor of History and American Culture at the University of Michigan, leads us on an exploration of rumors, legends, and hoaxes that circulated throughout early America. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/091

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New Albany Exhibit Features Works On Paper


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View of the South Part of Lexington. Plate IVThe Albany Institute of History & Art continues celebrating its 225th anniversary with the new exhibition, Masterworks: Paper, on view through October 16.

This exhibition showcases more than 150 rarely seen items from the Albany Institute’s library and museum collections that span more than three centuries. Sharing in common the medium of paper and close ties to Albany and the Capital Region, the objects in Masterworks: Paper illustrate diverse and eclectic themes, and tell stories that represent the personal and intimate as well as the historical and panoramic. Continue reading