A Student of History

December 31, 2006

Loyalism in Revolutionary New England

Filed under: The Academy — John Maass @ 10:11 pm

As part of the the Ohio Seminar in Early American History, Dr. Tom Ingersoll of OSU-Lima will discuss his paper “‘A Day of Strict Reckoning: Loyalism in Revolutionary New England.”   More details are here.


4 New Books on WW 2

Filed under: New books — John Maass @ 6:30 pm

The Washington Post has a review of 4 new WWII books, here.  The books are Stanley Weintraub’s 11 Days in December: Christmas at the Bulge, 1944; Sam Moses’ At All Costs: How a Crippled Ship and Two American Merchant Mariners Turned the Tide of World War II; Lloyd Clark’s Anzio: Italy and the Battle for Rome — 1944; and Alex Kershaw’s The Few: The American “Knights of the Air” Who Risked Everything to Fight in the Battle of Britain.

11 Days in December

Saving a Church….

Filed under: Historic Preservation — John Maass @ 6:29 pm

Associated Press:
A historic church in the seaside city of Steinbeck can cut down four redwood trees that are damaging the structure, city officials said.

The roots from the 100-foot trees have grown into the foundation and crumbling sandstone walls of San Carlos Cathedral. Church officials also said the trees threatened an adjacent property, which contains pottery remnants and other artifacts dating back centuries to Monterey’s early days.

“I will be granting their request to remove all the trees,” City Manager Fred Meurer said.

The cathedral, finished in 1794, is the oldest continually operating church in California and the smallest cathedral in the United States. Parishioners apparently planted the trees in the 1950s.  The area next to the cathedral where the trees stand will likely be turned into a prayer garden, church officials said.

December 29, 2006

Brits to Finally Pay Off Debt

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Maass @ 10:17 pm

Britain will settle its World War II debts to the US and Canada when it pays two final instalments before the close of 2006, the Treasury has said.The payments of $83.25m (£42.5m) to the US and US$22.7m (£11.6m) to Canada are the last of 50 instalments since 1950.

The amount paid back is nearly double that loaned in 1945 and 1946. “This week we finally honour in full our commitments to the US and Canada for the support they gave us 60 years ago,” said Treasury Minister Ed Balls.

“It was vital support which helped Britain defeat Nazi Germany and secure peace and prosperity in the post-war period. We honour our commitments to them now as they honoured their commitments to us all those years ago,” he added.

The last payments will be made on Friday, the final working day of the year.


Under the lend-lease programme, which began in March 1941, the then neutral US could provide countries fighting Adolf Hitler with war material.

The US joined the war soon after – in the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbour – and the programme ended in 1945.

Equipment left over in Britain at the end of hostilities and still needed had to be paid for.

The US loaned $4.33bn (£2.2bn) to Britain in 1945, while Canada loaned US$1.19 bn (£607m) in 1946, at a rate of 2% annual interest.

Upon the final payments, the UK will have paid back a total of $7.5bn (£3.8bn) to the US and US$2 bn (£1bn) to Canada.

Despite the favourable rates there were six years in which Britain deferred payment because of economic or political crises.

There are still World War I debts owed to and by Britain. Since a moratorium on all debts from that conflict was agreed at the height of the Great Depression, no repayments have been made to or received from other nations since 1934.

(From the BBC)

What do we do with Civil War Monuments?

Filed under: Historic Preservation,The strange place called the South — John Maass @ 6:26 pm

Check out the Civil War Memory blog to read a very interesting piece on what to do with Confederate monuments now that we are in thge 21st century—or should we do anything with them at all?

The removal of the statues from the grounds to a museum sends the message that their preferred interpretation of the past is no longer valid or relevant.  The defensiveness that accompanies this typically brings out the rants about liberals and political correctness rather than a more serious consideration of how public objects are now being interpreted by parties that traditionally have had little or no say in how the past is remembered. 

December 28, 2006

Spain in Georgia

Filed under: The Academy — John Maass @ 3:52 pm

There is a neat article in the on-line AHA Perspectives issue in connection with the AHA meeting next weekend in ATL. It is called Spain in Georgia: “You won’t find anything new in the archives in Seville”

As a young doctoral candidate in 1994, University of Georgia graduate John Worth was in no mood to appreciate the humor of the unintended pun. He was eager to jump into the thick books and moldy basements of the Old World and begin searching for fragments of a lost century of Georgia’s history. Treasure hunters began hanging out in Seville in the 1970s while looking for records of shipwrecked cargos of gold, silver, jade, and emeralds from the 16th and 17th centuries. But Worth was after something more precious than the riches of a thousand caravels—the records of lost civilizations. He wanted to find out what happened to the great Native American provinces like Coosa, Cofitachequi, and Ichisi, the most powerful and influential societies north of Mexico in the early 16th century. So Worth did not heed the dismissals of a few historians and archivists who had worked over the records. Instead, he charged off to Spain like a modern conquistador in reverse.

The full article is here.

Jamestown’s 400th

Filed under: New books — John Maass @ 2:49 am

Get ready for a deluge of new books on Jamestown, just in time for that Virginia colony’s 400th anniversary in 2007.  I guess the publishers think that a number of books to fill up museum and visitor center bookshelves will be the best thing for tourists.  Just a quick search on Amazon.com for titles to be released in 2007 shows:

1607: Jamestown and the New World by Dennis Montgomery

The Jamestown Colony: An Encyclopedia by Frank Grizzard and D. Boyd Smith

A Savage Kingdom: The True Story of Jamestown, 1607, and the Settlement of America by Benjamin Woolley

The Jamestown Project by Karen Ordahl Kupperman

Jamestown, Quebec, Santa Fe: Three North American Beginnings by James Kelly and Barbara Clark Smith

1607: A New Look at Jamestown by Karen Lange

Jamestown, 1607 by Michael L. Cooper

Some just came out in 2006:

Empires in the Forest: Jamestown And the Beginning of America by Avery Chenoweth and Robert Llewellyn

Jamestown, the Buried Truth by William M. Kelso

The Deadly Politics of Giving: Exchange and Violence at Ajacan, Roanoke, and Jamestown by Seth Mallios

December 27, 2006

“World events,” not history, pupils want

Filed under: The Academy,The world today — John Maass @ 5:02 pm

From London:

Historians have raised fears that A-level history will be “dumbed down” after teachers called for a new course with more film and TV for less academic teenagers.

An Ofsted report found that many pupils wanted to drop British history and focus on world events, which they said would be more useful for their future careers.

The Historical Association described the findings as “worrying”, and urged teachers to use more imagination to make lessons interesting.

Isn’t it interesting that the students think that world events would be more useful to them (how?, I wonder) but do not seem to think that a knowledge fo history would be?  How are they to make sense though of “current events” without the background to see them in historical perspective?

The rest of the piece is here.

December 21, 2006

Christmas Break

Filed under: Uncategorized — John Maass @ 3:31 pm

I will be on Christmas Holiday for the next several days, so no new posts will appear until after Dec. 27th.  Have a Merry Christmas!

General Horatio Gates-the TV Show

Filed under: Wars — John Maass @ 12:47 am

Photo of painting. See below for details. 

As part of the History Channel’s series on Revolutionary War generals, one episode will feature Horatio Gates, the “Hero of Saratoga,” but also the miserable wretch of Camden (according tp most accounts.   On the HC’s website they say that it will air at 9 AM on Dec. 30, to be followed by shows on Greene, Morgan, Cornwallis, and Lafayette. 

Why do I mention the Gates show?  Well, in all modesty (actually, a lack thereof) I am one of the talking heads on the program.  I have no idea how many times I will be “on camera,” nor do I know whatthe quality of the show will be like.  It was filmed in March 2005, when the production company flew me out to Universal Studios in LA, interviewed me for 90 minutes on camera, and then sent me home the next morning on an 8 AM flight back to Ohio.  Not much fun, considering I was in the middle of preparing for my general exams for my Ph.D. candidacy.

Anyway, it will be interesting to see how it comes off, and if you see it, please feel free to leave comments here. 

December 20, 2006

Hurricane Relief Grant Program

Filed under: Historic Preservation — John Maass @ 2:29 am

The first round of grants in the federally funded Hurricane Relief Grant Program for Historic Preservation awarded more than $6.4 million to 57 applicants.

The grants, administered by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, will be used to repair and restore historically significant publicly and privately owned structures that were hurricane damaged.

The largest is $1 million for the Old Hattiesburg High School. Among other significant awards was $400,000 for the Bond-Grant House (above) in Biloxi. Other amounts ranged from $9,000 to $150,000.

A list of all grants is here.

December 19, 2006

More on the Irish Psalter…

Filed under: Ireland — John Maass @ 3:16 pm

In follow up to an earlier post (here):

An astonishing discovery in an Irish bog is posing an unusual conservation challenge. A chance find by a peat cutter last summer in County Tipperary, southern Ireland, turned out to be a psalter, which has been dated to around 800 AD. The discovery has been described as the Irish equivalent of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

National Museum of Ireland conservator Rolly Read and his team are now stabilising the compacted vellum mass. The difficult issue is how to separate the pages, preserving as much as possible of the ancient text.

The rest of the story is here.

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