lizcommotion: A black-and-white photo of a Victorian woman (victorian lady)
I ran out of new episodes of Orphan Black (which I enjoy but does make me so twitchy about eugenics and creeped out), so of course I watched seven episodes of PBS's Mercy Street last night. It's a period show set during the Civil War at a Union hospital in Alexandria, VA (though filmed in Richmond). I have mixed feelings. Spoilers within.

tw: on-screen period racist violence, sexual assault and why this makes me shouty, also the copious white tears of Confederates including PTSD and SI, all the mental health triggers )

tl;dr However historically accurate or not Mercy Street may be, I did not like it and it made me shouty. It did keep me occupied during a pain flare but uh. Would not rec.
(this is a show where my partner looks at me and goes, "Why did you watch this?" and I go, "Um, pretty skirts? Filmed locally? Shouty historian? I...don't know.")
lizcommotion: A black-and-white photo of a Victorian woman (victorian lady)
I can and will try to write a short answer to this, as I have Many Thoughts on the US ideals of "progress".

(Note: I am writing from a US history perspective here, so I use the word "we" in places to mean "the US mainstream narrative" but it's to save lots of words; I know there are a lot of other perspectives throughout the world and even within the US and I don't want to discount them. Just, language is hard, and expanding beyond the US begins to be beyond the scope of one blog entry.)

Much of the ideas we currently have about progress coalesced during the Progressive Era (1890s-1920s), though they draw from other times and have morphed since then as well.

The Progressive Era was kind of a mixed bag, in a "tally up how we did by today's moral standards" measure. tw: there are some good things here, but gear up for All The Grossness of Historical and Modern Racism, Classism, Sexism, Ableism, anti-NDN policies et al herein, you have been warned )

So, do I think "progress" should be a taboo word like "f-g-t" or banned from the language? No. Plus "I'm making a lot of progress on my life goals" is certainly a fine use of the word.

But I think that knowing the history of how the idea of Progress has been misused is important. (It can have its good points, too.) When I reflexively flinch at the word, now, I also look very carefully at how people use it -- because the speaker can often betray traces of progressivism's history without meaning too.

David Brooks is a soft targettw: yes expect David Brooks to be gross and racist and ethnocentric )

lizcommotion: A black-and-white photo of a Victorian woman (victorian lady)
I was talking to [community profile] altamira today about various and sundry historical things, including how peoples' descendants try to scrub the historical record of things that are considered offensive or scandalous. this got us talking about historical sources and sources in general, and so now you get a (minor) history-research-meta linkspam.

one of the reasons I feel people should hire more historians is that good historical methods training teaches you to find information and also teaches you to assess the inherent biases of all information and use the biases to your advantage. in the so-called Information Age, where we're hit with a firehose of social media and data, I would think having employees who could help sift through that data and/or locate some specific information for you would be invaluable. but, you know, maybe that's just me.

(what follows will be primarily US-centric, as despite my interest in global history, my experience actually studying history has been in the US)

unfortunately, mostly you don't get to the cool historical methods things until upper level history major courses, which means you had to enjoy the stuff enough to get there. social studies teachers are trying to change this, but with the focus on STEM and cuts to school funding social studies teachers are often the ones who don't actually have upper-level training in their field (sorry that I have lost my citation for this). so instead we teach students to memorize facts, as opposed to question facts that are presented and form their own opinions based on evaluating primary sources. the second would form a much more educated electorate, know, perhaps there are other motivations for underfunding social sciences? or perhaps it's a fear of a challenge to American Exceptionalism. anyway, I digress.

if you are interested in learning how historians know what they know, here are some good sources:

Examples of Critical Reading
How to Read a Primary Source
How to Read a History Book
A Layperson's Reading List in American History

Some high school teachers are discussing sources and teaching methods on twitter under the hashtags #sschat and #hsgovchat

there are way more sources, but I am trying to not dive into a full fledged rabbit hole at the moment.

However, I will share a personal experience of my own morning's research rabbit hole, complete with internal meta analysis of sources, the order in which I found them, etc. You should know that it deals with white people I may be related to murdering Native Americans in the Ohio Valley, so. If you need to skip this, totally do that. I will try to post a different research rabbit hole that is an easier to read at another point.

racism, massacres, and problematic history be here )

tl;dr To get a more wholistic view on this, I would probably contact the resource room at the National Museum of the American Indian and ask about sources from the Iriquois perspective. (And also, what term is better than "Mingo" but more specific than Iriqois, which is a huge umbrella term.) Honestly, there may not be that many surviving records because historical whitewashing, but that is where I would go to make a start. Probably it is where I will go when I have email spoons.

final thoughts, includes some dealing with white guilt )

Anyway, that is what my historian internal thought process looks like, and in this case what it looks like when it's something related directly to me (and also hella gross historical racism that there is a "perspective" on but not an exoneration, iykwim).
lizcommotion: Image of a lit tealight candle (candle)
Since I'm hitting a paywall on Ancestry (which apparently holds most of the UK military records on WW I but I may be able to access through a local library), I thought I'd take another route to try to determine which regiment my g-grandfather was in. This is also useful since he had a fairly generic Irish name, and it will help narrow things down once I *do* get access.

I am actually kind of proud that I think I figured it out?

I know from oral history from several relatives several battles he was in, that he was injured, and bits and pieces of the name of parts of the branches he served in. (He was in a fusilier branch, for example, that was from Northern Ireland. Not sharing too much atm because don't want to doxx myself.)

Anyway, I basically figured out that he was in the Irish Guard, then narrowed it down to which of the three branches he was in at the time. Then I figured out which battalion was present in each of the battles family oral history accounts states that he was in.

Now, caveats of course: oral history is unreliable, and he also could theoretically have been switched around between multiple battalions due to injuries etc.

But I'm pretty sure that if family info is accurate and he was in one unit the entire time, I've got it narrowed down.

Doing some reading of first person accounts of those battles, I can totally understand why he would *never talk about the War*, why he wouldn't mind my mom cutting up his medals' ribbons for doll clothes, and guess there were a lot of complicated survivor guilt feelings not unlike friends I've known who lived through the AIDS crisis. This is part of why I'm doing this research -- not so much "what things did my family do" but "how did the events my family lived through likely shape intergenerational family and behavioral patterns?"

(Also, wow, that type of information is *super* scattered across the interwebs. It was also hard to find on websites I find "reliable", though that could be because I haven't done enough research in this area to know which ones to look in. Still, win!)

I also couldn't help thinking that finally all those school math(s) problems of, "If Anna sits next to Bob and Susan sits next to Derek and..." actually were paying off.

In some of the letters we have, I found out that another Great-Grandfather fought in WWI. He's the one where there was a huge family rift over a will and a second wife, though, so I have no information other than "he fought in WWI and then he was a coal miner and then the family rift over a will and a second wife." Digging may have to wait til Ancestry access.
lizcommotion: A photo looking up at an autumn tree canopy (autumn trees)
Because this is how I cope, y'all.
  1. I have four hanks of yarn (one of which is very tiny, two of which are very big) drying on hangers in my bathroom.
  2. [personal profile] skud made another post about fashion which is fascinating (note very photo heavy).
  3. Friends, online and off, who are super duper amazing. If you are reading this, this means you!
  4. Had a lovely date with my partner yesterday evening. We were too tired to see Thor 2 at 8:45, which...I blame walking in cold wind for? But anyway, we had good times and might see a movie sometime soon.
  5. I got a rocking chair from Goodwill. It is my favoritest chair. It is the PERFECT height for me, and I can actually put my feet on the ground. I can also self-soothe and also if I start having venuous pooling I can rock and it helps with that too. WIN. (I might call her Gertie, I'm not sure though.)
  6. I started washing my hair in baking soda, then rinsing it with water and then rinsing it again with vinegar or apple cider vinegar per [personal profile] lynnoconnacht 's recommendation and it is amazing. Admittedly I've been doing it for two days so far, but I am a convert already.
  7. Talking to my nephews and brother on the phone.
  8. My grandmother is coming to visit for six weeks starting in mid-December. She is 94 and crossing the Atlantic solo. I love my grandma so much. <3 <3 <3
  9. I have been going for walks and spinning while I walk. This is working and increasing my cardio stuff and the amount that I spin. WIN.
  10. I met someone while doing #9 who thought his daughter might like spinning, so I gave him a tiny bit of wool for her to play with and told him about YouTube instructional videos and also local yarn shops and building spindles from a CD and a dowel. :DDD spinning evangelism ftw.
  11. I am researching doing historical interpreting as volunteering with spinning as my demonstration. It is still in a formative stage.

lizcommotion: A hand-drawn heart around the words "You are so lovely, you know?" (lovely)
Yesterday I was talking to [personal profile] jelazakazone about Viktor Frankl and his book, Man's Search for Meaning. We talked about a lot of things like imposter syndrome and creating crafts and dis/ability and trauma/bullying and it was really a very, very good discussion. (Thanks, jelazakazone!)

Anyway, I was thinking about how I find meaning in my life. What is its purpose? I used to think that I was going to save the world, somehow; I always planned to do Peace Corps until health got in the way. Dedicate myself to others, yadda yadda, which isn't healthy unless you have really good boundaries. It's a trap our society creates and reveres. A false pedestal (but then aren't all pedestals?)

For awhile I wanted to leave my mark on the world as a historian, perhaps by writing an important paper or creating an important bit of research. Once I started immersing myself in African/African Diaspora History, I wanted people to know about injustices that happened in the "Global South", which...burned me out. Again, an unsustainable goal without really good boundaries, but really the boundary is flawed because it all rests on other people knowing...and I had all this knowledge of past injustices burning inside me but it felt like there was nothing I could do with all this energy.

Right now I think my meaning is something along the lines of "create crafts and beauty and hopefully help people stay warm in the process, and help me stay healthy/sane through my creative outlets". -ish. I'm still refining, which is part of the "search" part.

content note: f*ck yeah, healing from trauma )

So there.

lizcommotion: Two African American men gazing at a sign reading "March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom" (bayard rustin)
So this poem was totally not what I was thinking of writing, and I'm still not completely sure about it or whether it totally completes the goals of the challenge. Plus, I have generally learned to trust poems that write themselves, so. Here you go.

If you're interested in the Poetree challenge for this week, you can find it here.

never learned anything from history
by [personal profile] lizcommotion 

i used to be a historian
but it done make me mad done make me sad
all the cheatin' all the stealin' all the lyin'
all the killin' we done all through time

Ancient Rome threw people to the lions
was built by slaves and stealing peoples' land
people say, look at those buildings
they're a great civilization
we should try to be like Rome
it done made me made done made me sad

i thought, i'll take a fun class
sex and sexuality in the US
NSFW (language) and also cut for length )

lizcommotion: Two African American men gazing at a sign reading "March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom" (bayard rustin)
So there are certain things I mention at dinner parties and at any parties or conversations that I know about from my history degree that are conversation stoppers. But they are things I feel like people should know about, only they don't know about them. But it's kind of like, I dunno, talking about genocide at dinner?

Usually I just stay quiet, but I am going to mention a thing here behind a cut. Be forewarned that it is a TRIGGERY thing and it has the potential to:
  1. make you angry at people in the past
  2. be visually disturbing (pictures of graphical violence if you follow the link)
  3. poke at any anti-racism feelings you have rather hard
  4. make you angry at people in the present for ignoring this part of history in favor of the [World War II] History Channell
  5. make you insufferable at dinner parties

TRIGGER WARNING please read numbered list above; triggers involve racial violence, hate crimes, learning things that will make it hard for you to stay quiet at dinner parties )
lizcommotion: Lily and Chance squished in a cat pile-up on top of a cat tree (buff tabby, black cat with red collar) (Default)
Continuing on the quilting theme, there was an exhibit near Seattle that started after I left that I really wanted to see. It's called "Bold Expressions: African American Quilts from the Collection of Corrine Riley" and runs until October 7, 2012 at the Bellevue Arts Museum. Many of the materials are scraps of blue jeans, flour sacks, and work clothes.

Here is one sample from the deeply abridged (only 12 photos) and drool-worthy online exhibit, entitled "Controlled Crazy Quilt" (Indiana, 1970s):

image of a crazy quilt in bold colors and...I really can't do it justice with words, I'm sorry

For more images, click here.

From a review of the exhibit, which maybe does a better job with verbal expressions:

"I saw striking and organic Rauschenberg swathes in a strip-style quilt from East Texas, circa 1930s or ’40s, and, when looking at examples of what are categorized as “controlled crazy quilts,” I made plans to reorganize my already color-grouped closet in a whole new way. Reds and blues hang out with pale pink, two examples put cobalt blue with dull plum and creamy white, and different shades of denim show up in the most inspiring and satisfying ways....

It’s Riley’s contention, and BAM’s artistic director Stefano Catalani agrees, that all of the quilters’ decisions—the random red square, the broken pattern—were intentional, but I’ve found that many artists and designers are happy to admit that their best work often comes from a happy mistake or a last-minute recovery from some supply or time shortage."

lizcommotion: A black-and-white photo of a Victorian woman (victorian lady)
Here's an interesting article on Etsy about the origins and history of crazy quilting. No wonder I like it so much - its origins are Japanese. ^_^

Bonus: Also linked from the article above, a piece about Japanese Boro: "Literally translated as rags or scraps of cloth, the term boro is also used to describe clothes and household items which have been patched-up and repaired many times. Once clothing was made, it would be maintained throughout the owner’s lifetime, or perhaps even longer."

image of a crazy quilt from the Museum of Appalachia, courtesy of Wikipedia


lizcommotion: Lily and Chance squished in a cat pile-up on top of a cat tree (buff tabby, black cat with red collar) (Default)

October 2017



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