history

Fox Pictures

Movies about space flight always seem to be strong contenders for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. 

But a movie about math whizzes who made space flight possible?  That is the storyline of Hidden Figures, up for several Oscars on Sunday, February 26th. 

It is based on the true story of African American women whose calculation skills helped people fly into space, detailed in a book of the same name by Margot Lee Shetterly. 

She visited with us after the book was finished and as the movie neared completion. 

Yann Dujardin, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28536452

If you sat down to begin writing your memoirs, which stories would you choose to tell the overall story of your life? 

It's an important question, and one Peter Gibb thinks about, deeply.  He wrote his own memoir, King of Doubt, and counsels other people on memoir writing, in a process called Memoir and Mindfulness (M&M--sorry, not the chocolate candy). 

Peter finds the process to a healing one, giving new perspective on life. 

Oregon State Archives

The federal constitution is on display at the National Archives in Washington for all to see. 

Oregon's first constitution, though younger by 70 years, is not healthy enough for public display.  Paper doesn't age well. 

The state just embarked on a crowdfunding campaign to raise $100,000 to restore and display the 1857 constitution. 

National Archives

In a less candid age, the end of the phrase "Eleanor and..." was "Franklin."  Roosevelt, that is. 

The first lady and the president broke many barriers in their 12 years in the White House. 

But Eleanor Roosevelt's biggest barrier was broken out of the public eye, in her loving relationship with reporter Lorena Hickok.  "Hick" was Eleanor's constant companion for decades, a story told by Susan Quinn in her book Eleanor and Hick

Google Streetview

The Southern Oregon Historical Society is trying not to become history itself.

SOHS was once funded by property taxes, but a change in law allowed its levy money to be redirected, and it was. 

The organization has struggled since then, with programs and staff cut to a bare minimum. 

Staff is now all-volunteer.  And a tax levy to create a historic preservation district failed in the November election. 

Anna Geisslinger/hungercreek.com

The Meriwethers are not just singers and musicians, they are historians, in a sense. 

Their music tells the story of the Corps of Discovery led by Lewis and Clark, sent to explore the lands of the Louisiana Purchase more than 200 years ago. 

Francis Sinclair/Public Domain

You have to admit, it took courage for our ancestors to get in rickety boats and travel across vast expanses of ocean to find lands new to them. 

It took luck, too... and ocean currents and a number of other factors. 

Archaeologist Scott Fitzpatrick at the University of Oregon studies the history of colonization in the Pacific and in the Caribbean.  And his studies take in weather patterns and other forces that may have forced choices on ancient explorers. 

NASA/Public Domain

Recent history shows how trends in human behavior produce similar movements in different places far apart. 

Example: the UK vote on "Brexit" and the American presidential election.  But that's to be expected in a modern, connected world, right? 

So how do we explain some of the human revolutions of antiquity?  Michael Scott takes on that project in his book Ancient Worlds: A Global History of Antiquity, showing how societal changes happened even among humans scattered far and wide. 

White House Photo Office/Wikimedia

Conservative giant William F. Buckley called his TV show "Firing Line" when it debuted in 1966. 

But despite the title, it was not a free-fire zone for people to yell at one another.  Debate and disagree, yes... but not like today's shouting matches on cable news channels. 

Buckley's show and his other work in media made him the prototype pundit, and that role allowed him to present his ideas to a broader audience.  Over time, they became mainstream. 

M.I.T. professor Heather Hendershot reconstructs the journey of conservatism from outcast to inner circle in her book Open to Debate

A samurai master from Japan from two centuries ago would probably appreciate the work coming out of Dragonfly Forge in Coquille. 

Michael Bell and son Gabriel turn out swords the old way, combining centuries-old practices with modern technology. 

Their work is highly regarded, and carries a high price. 

Rogue Valley Flying Club

You don't have to be "Sully" to fly a plane.  You don't even have to be a professional. 

Amateur pilots in the Rogue Valley have banded together to create the Rogue Valley Flying Club, offering benefits to members that include planes to rent. 

Wikimedia

It's hard to believe it was less than a century ago that women first gained the right to vote across the United States. 

And pay stubs and other indicators show that women have still not completely caught up to men.  That does not mean they have been devoid of influence, though. 

Sue Armitage reaches back in time for the stories of Shaping the Public Good: Women Making History in the Pacific Northwest, just out from Oregon State University Press.

Public Domain/Wikimedia

Unless your family is rich or famous or both, you will not be reading about ancestors in history books. 

But every family has a story to tell, and oral historians Daniel Alrick and Julie Kanta help them get told. 

They record interviews with people about their lives and families, a process that started with Julie's college capstone project a couple of years back. 

It's become a business, Living Legacy

Dorothea Lange shot some of the most memorable photographs in 20th-century America. 

But they were still photographs.  Now Lange is the subject of a documentary film called "Grab a Hunk of Lightning," a story in moving pictures about her work in still pictures. 

It's a labor of love, directed by Dyanna Taylor, who is Lange's granddaughter. 

Wikimedia

For generations of Americans, it's pleasant to be able to talk about Vietnam without the word "war" behind it. 

That war cost 58,000 American lives and tore the social fabric of the country. 

Now historian Christopher Goscha presents Vietnam: A New History

The book teaches a great deal about a country with a rich history and many different ethnic groups and languages. 

Wikimedia

There are entire libraries of books written about the American Civil War. 

But Pulitzer Prize winning historian Steven Hahn ranges far afield in time and space for his latest book, A Nation Without Borders: The United States and Its World in an Age of Civil Wars, 1830-1910. 

The book details the wrenching shift from an agricultural nation with legal slavery to an industrial power taking a prominent place on the world stage. 

Oregon DOT

The story of Oregon from before statehood is a story of migration: people moving in, historic residents being forced out, other people being shut out. 

Scholars, historians, and just folks will discuss migration this week at the Oregon Migrations Symposium in Eugene. 

Eliza Canty-Jones edits the Oregon Historical Quarterly; Bob Bussel is a professor at the University of Oregon. 

Wikimedia

Shaun Usher has built a fascinating career reading other peoples' mail. 

Best of all, he's not about to be arrested for it, since he compiles letters from people no longer alive. 

Usher visited a couple of years ago with the first Letters of Note; he's back with a second volume. 

Highlights include letters written by J.K. Rowling, Che Guevara, and Marge Simpson.  Marge Simpson? 

Library of Congress

We give our presidents some slack when it comes to war. 

Americans revere the presidents who oversaw major conflicts, especially Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt. 

You'll have to excuse Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith if they do not join in the reverence.  They are the co-authors of The Spoils of War: Greed, Power, and the Conflicts That Made Our Greatest Presidents

The book argues that presidents support waging war for selfish reasons. 

Wikimedia

The world can seem like a troubled place right now. 

And Michael Meade not only acknowledges that feeling, but knows of times in the past when the world seemed troubled. 

Meade is a scholar of mythology, anthropology, and sociology, and he visits Southern Oregon University tonight (October 21st).  He says the adversity in the world can trigger a time of renewal. 

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