Archive for the ‘Random History’ Category

Just some Random Occurrence

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

So the other day my mom and I bought a bunch of Tea Cups from an Antique Store to make Christmas presents out of. Since we had bought so many (They were inexpensive!) we were able to pick out which ones we wanted to keep. I personally liked this one a lot, so I kept it.

The Teacup

Now as these stories go, it doesn’t end there. Just yesterday I was going through my Mom’s jewelry when I cam across a black box. It turns out that this black box contains all of my Grandma’s jewelry, which was given to my mom for safekeeping after she passed away. Imagine my shock when I came across this!

The Front:

Front of Brooch

The Back:

Back of Brooch

Needless to say I immediately ran to get the teacup to confirm that they are in fact the same picture. I don’t know much about art, but I did notice some differences. Mostly the color scheme and the fact that the teacup appears to be some kind of water color painting.

Teacup and Brooch

Why am I posting about this? Well besides the fact that this is just really a strange occurrence… I mean I just happened to be obsessed with THAT tea cup and then happen to stumble across THAT brooch a couple days later??? It amuses me…. So I want to know if anyone else recognizes the painting and if they can provide more information. Unfortunately the teacup doesn’t have any sort of markings, all that I found was on the back of the brooch. And well, that really isn’t that much to go on. But I really want to figure out if this was a popular painting used on porcelain, probably from the early to mid 20th century, and who painted it in the first place.

Exam Week: Day 3

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

So after spending most of yesterday in the ICU, also known as my bed, I woke up this morning feeling very much refreshed. Note to self, 9 hours of sleep in a 72 hour time period is never a good idea. Tomorrow I have both of my history finals (which I am for some reason excited for) and I thought that it might be fun to do another history related post. However, because it is finals week I am sure most people don’t want to spend the time reading through another lengthy post. (Nor do I really have time to spend writing said post, I still have some finals to study for too!) So instead I think I will write out another advice post. Instead of Research Advice, this time it will be study advice. Once again it will be related to History, however I think anyone can use some advice on studying. So here goes for what I have learned during the past 4 years! :)

  1. The first one I guess will be the obvious. As students,, we hear our Professors tell us this All The Time. It’s pretty simple. Don’t try to cram everything you need to know for an exam into 3 hours of intensive studying. It won’t work. Our short term memory is not that great. However, I do realize that most times we find out self short on time for studying. How to compensate for that? I recommend about 3-4 days ahead of the exam, just set aside an hour to go over the notes and articles you have read. Really you spend the same amount of time studying but because you spread it out, you have time to review everything you went over. Helping you remember. This video is just interesting, however accurate it may be….
  2. The second point is kind of related to the first one. However this one is more about how to study vast amounts of information, rather than when to do it. This is just something that has worked for me in the past, and maybe it will work for others. One thing that I like to do when studying for a history exam is to create a story out of all the dates and terms and people. Rather than memorizing each individual event, I try to make a story in my head about how each event leads to the next. This also works for people. Instead of memorizing everything about one person, then moving onto the next person and so on. I first look at how these people link together. This is especially the case for memorizing all the people involved in Watergate….
  3. The third point is something that I am sure has happened to everyone. Have you ever taken a test and come to a question that you don’t know the answer to, but you know EXACTLY where it is on a specific page in a book? Yes? Well that is our lovely photographic memory at work. This is why I recommend you multiple mediums to help study. Because quite frankly, why just use a book when you can also use video, or images, or audio to help you understand a topic? This is why I think the idea of Digital Humanities is pretty cool, because it brings all of that to you through the web. So I recommend hopping on Youtube or even the Internet Archive to find such things.
  4. Also, it is always helpful to study with a group. This does go along with the previous point about processing information, because it is another way in which you can re-learn the information you need for the exam. It is one thing to read about it, but it is an entirely different thing to talk about it. Also by talking with fellow students you will learn more and have a good time. ^^
  5. My final point makes me wish I took my own advice, but it is quite simple. Don’t forget to take care of yourself. That means sleeping, eating healthy, and also making sure your mind isn’t too overwhelmed by all the stress. The first one is simple, you need sleep otherwise you feel like crap. (There was a reason why most of yesterday was spent in my bed.) The second one is also simple, if you don’t get enough vitamins and nutrients then it really does hurt your body. (There is a reason why we are always told to rest and eat before big exams) And the final point? Well quite frankly there are times where your brain just needs a mind dump. So I recommend doing something not exam related. Something that you enjoy or helps you relax. For UMW students I do recommend the Stress-Free Zone. :D However, just doing something as simple as playing Tetris or going for a walk also helps.

That’s all I have for now. There are plenty of other ways to help study for exams and I am sure everyone has their own methods. These are just what works for me. If anyone else has any suggestions just comment! And Happy Studying :)

This is Halloween….

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

So I decided in honor of Halloween I will write up a post on the history of this day. Also it gives me an excuse to share this video:

History of the Holiday

Halloween has long been recognized as a day to pay respect to the dead. Originally it is linked to the Celtic festival of Samhain, this festival was celebrated on the night before the Celtic New Year (November 1) and was thought to be the day where the boundaries between the dead and the living  fell away. On this days the ghosts of ancestors were able to enter the world of living, and those still living paid their respects to them through certain rituals. Which included bonfires, sacrifices and they also wore costumes made from animal skins.

When the Romans came and conquered the Celtic lands, there own festivals became intertwined with that of the Celts. Most famous is the festival for the goddess Pomona. Many people believe this festival is the origin of our version of Halloween. However, with the rise of Christianity the holiday began to take on a new form. In an attempt to convert the Pagan Celts into Christianity, the Pope made the 1st of November All Saints Day. The night before was known as All Hallows Eve, and many of the rituals performed for Samhain were now being adopted into this new Holiday. The history channel also made this short clip about the holiday.

Origins in America

However that still doesn’t answer the question as to why it became so popular in America. I never noticed Halloween was that big of a thing for Americans until I moved back to Germany. There Halloween, and the concept of trick-or-treating was not as popular as in the U.S. While it did pick up over the year I lived there, by the last year the entire neighborhood welcomed the idea of trick-or-treaters, it wasn’t celebrated the same way as in the U.S. For one thing, the children all dressed up with something commonly associated with the dead. Witches, werewolves, and vampires were the big hit in Germany. There were no fairies prancing around on Halloween. That was saved for another holiday, known as Karnival or Fasching. Back to why it became popular in the U.S.

It is generally accepted that the influence of the immigrants, especially those from the United Kingdom, is what led to the rise of Halloween in America. This book actually chronicles the history of Halloween as an American holiday. Before the immigrants, America was largely Protestant and therefore didn’t partake in many of the Catholic Church’s traditions. America sort of embraced the holiday as a way to build community ties. And by focusing on those ties, Halloween became a profitable enterprise sometimes around the 1920′s. (Oh Hallmark, you have done it again!) Some say Trick-or-Treating has its roots to All-Souls-Day, where poorer families would walk around and beg for food in return for their prayers. They would then receive soul cakes from the families. Finally, here is another page about the history of Halloween. There is really loads of information out there, and I think I just barely summarized what I found. It’s pretty cool. :D

Research Advice

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

I have recently been tied up with multiple other projects, so research on the Mafia has been somewhat lagging. Depressing I know! However I am creating a site about Forrest Gump and its historical significance. This is pretty awesome and I will definitely share when it is complete! :D

So to compensate for the lack of Mafia, I figured it would be interesting and useful to talk about Research in general. It kind of is a important part for a History major and you pick up a lot of things along the way. So here are a few research tips I have learned over the past 3 1/2 years at college.

  1. When you pick a topic, there is a tendency to immediately research everything about that specific topic. But I found that beginning with a broader scope and then focusing the research later on the specific topic really helps in gaining a deeper understanding of the events surrounding said topic. For example, Sophomore year I did my 299 paper on the downfall of the Knights Templar, more specifically on what the causes of their collapse were. However, when I began research I first looked at secondary sources covering the institution as a whole, along with researching the Catholic Church, Crusades, the French and the Holy Land. The reason why I did this is because it all related back to the causes for the downfall of the Knights Templar.
  2. I prefer starting with secondary sources for two reasons. One being the reason mentioned above- gain a broader understanding and two is the Bibliography! The best sources I found (primary and secondary) came from the bibliographies of the first books I read.
  3. Jack Bales is a Hero. Really, he is. This man can find anything you need to know, and if he can’t he will make it his mission to find it! I definitely went to him for researching the Knight’s Templar because, as it turns out, no one really likes talking about their downfall. So sources were scarce. However he found planety of sources for me to work with, and I even contacted a historian who has done a lot of research in that field.
  4. Email never hurts, if you come across a source that really encompasses what your topic is about I recommend emailing the author/historian. I assume that for the most part they are ecstatic that someone is reading their work and would at the very least send a couple more sources. An email never really hurt anyone.
  5. As for reading through the massive amounts of source material- skim, don’t read word for word. It is time consuming and frustrating. What I found to be useful is to read the introduction paragraph skim until you come to a part that is interesting and read the conclusion.
  6. Also, most books will only mention your topic here and there so looking through the table of contents and index is a great way to cut down on time spent researching.
  7. Write down what you don’t understand. I know people should do this anyway but I just want to take the time to mention that if a name or event appears a couple of times but you don’t know what it is, write it down to research elsewhere. Obviously its important, and it might lead you to new sources.
  8. Don’t try to do research in one sitting. It won’t work out well. I usually try to put 2 hours aside a couple of times to do research for the project. That way I am not confined to the library all day Sunday. I admit sometimes I get caught up in the research and forget about the time that has passed and re-emerge in the real world 6 hours later… usually my stomach brings me back.
  9. Write your bibliography as you go. Instead of waiting till the end to type up all the sources you compiled, if you type up a quick citation while you are researching  time is saved later, more time for writing the research paper ;)
  10. Coffee is your friend! It isn’t just the added benefits of keeping me awake, but also it keeps me focused. If you aren’t a coffee person and cup of tea works well too.

Those are just a couple of things I have come across, maybe they will help you in your classes or maybe not. But I guess it gives more background as to the kinds of things I do to create a project such as the Mafia Project, or write a paper. Which I will be doing next semester! Whoot!