History

Works of history explore a person, event, or other meaningful part of the past. These works examine the subject in detail, especially as the subject relates to subsequent events or how the subject had an impact on society.

Mary Chesnut: The Firing on Ft. Sumter

Mary Boykin Miller Chesnut (1823-1886) was a prominent woman from South Carolina. Her husband, James Chesnut, was a U.S. Senator before the Civil War. Well-educated, intelligent, and well-connected, Mary understood, as the Civil War began, she had a front row seat to a historic moment in history. She began recording…

Hallowe’en in America

The Book of Hallowe’en was published in 1919 and described Halloween customs around the world. This passage is about how the holiday was celebrated then. —————————————————- While the original customs of Hallowe’en are being forgotten more and more across the ocean, Americans have fostered them, and are making this an…

Stickeen

Naturalist John Muir went to Alaska in 1879 to explore the area. He was joined by Rev. Young who had a small black dog named Stickeen. Stickeen was a quiet, independent, and intelligent dog. Early one morning Muir went to explore a nearby glacier. Stickeen followed him, and together they…

Gibraltar

Published in 1869, Mark Twain’s book The Innocents Abroad tells of his trip through Europe and the Mideast in 1867. In this passage, Twain has arrived in Gibraltar, gateway to the Mediterranean Sea. He is taking a tour of Rock of Gibraltar and has already heard the story of the…

Primary Source: The 1896 East St. Louis Tornado

On the afternoon of May 27, 1896, a Category 4 tornado hit St. Louis, Missouri and East St. Louis, Illinois. It is the third deadliest tornado in U.S. history, and one of the rare ones to hit a large urban area. Below is a report from The Illinois State Journal…

The Mayflower Compact

The Mayflower Compact  was a document written and signed by the Pilgrims as they arrived in the New World in 1620. The group had originally planned to go to the Hudson River area, which was part of the Virginia Colony. Bad weather, however, put them farther north, near the coast of Massachusetts. Since they…

Primary Source: Opening of the Panama Canal

Formally opened on August 15, 1914, the Panama Canal was considered a “wonder of the modern world.” The project involved digging over 50 miles across the tropical Isthmus of Panama to connect the Atlantic Ocean/Gulf of Mexico with the Pacific Ocean. Previously, to navigate from one ocean to another required…

Primary Source: The Statue of Liberty

Designed by Frenchman Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, the construction of The Statue of Liberty began in the 1870s. Originally named “Liberty Enlightening the World,” the statue was erected in New York Harbor and officially dedicated on October 28, 1886. However, bad weather postponed the fireworks display that had been planned for…

African American Inventors: Elijah McCoy

Elijah J. McCoy was born in Canada in 1844. His parents had been slaves in Kentucky, but they escaped. The anti-slavery volunteers of the Underground Railroad helped them get to Canada. After the Civil War was over in 1865, the family returned to the U.S. and lived in Michigan. As…

Primary Source: Mother’s Day Oberved All Over America

While the roots of a day to honor mothers began earlier, when Anna Jarvis’ mother died in 1905, Jarvis dedicated herself to promoting the idea of one day to recognize mothers. She started in Philadelphia, and the movement grew quickly. This is a newspaper article from the Boston Herald on…