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Last week’s announcement that there will be an impeachment inquiry into the actions of President Trump has created an opportunity to talk with students about the historical precedents of this action. The nearest my courses this semester get chronologically to any discussion of impeachment is the Watergate scandal and that’s only if I get through the civil rights movement at record pace. As a result, I find myself recommending sources for students to consult outside of class.

 

Here are some (very) general online sources that I have found particularly helpful for first and second year college students. Feel free to share these with your students and add your own suggestions in the comments section below.

 

 

 

 

For those students who may have already studied the impeachment process in a political science course, I’ve found it meaningful to suggest that they undertake their own study of media biases. Have the students search the web for editorials and political cartoons that argue for/against impeachment. Remind them that today’s current events will be tomorrow’s subjects for history courses. Political cartoons and editorials from today’s papers will be used years from now to discern how Americans were reacting to events in Washington during this impeachment inquiry. 

 

Finally, suggest that they spend some time listening to the nightly cable news shows or talk radio -- most important here would be to compare what different news outlets are saying about the same topic. Ask them to consider how historians decades from now will view the arguments made in these forums.

 

The impeachment inquiry will no doubt be a complex period of highly charged debate among politicians in Washington. As a current event in 2019 it offers a valuable opportunity for history students to consider the complexity of the times in which the primary sources we are studying in our textbooks originated. 

When we think about September, we think about fall foliage, apples, and pumpkin spice lattes. But, did you know that September is also the month that contains  the International Day of Peace?

 

The holiday was first started by the United Nations in 1981. For the past few years, the United Nations had dedicated this day to a peaceful cause in hopes of raising awareness on global issues that continue to affect all of us.

 

Some of the themes for the past few years include: human rights, education and democracy.

 

This year's focus is on climate change--urging people to take action on combating climate change and raising awareness on sustainability and green initiatives.

 

Share what you think is important by using the hashtag #peaceday to spread the word.

 

To learn more about the event click here:

https://www.un.org/en/events/peaceday/

International Day of Peace 

Suzanne McCormack

Taking Note(s)

Posted by Suzanne McCormack Expert Sep 18, 2019

We just finished the second week of the fall semester and I’m already feeling anxious about the notes my students are not taking during class. 

 

History classes are notorious for being heavy with note taking. My on-campus classes meet twice a week for 75 minutes each. I plan for students to be taking notes from my lecture for at least some part of each meeting. To guide their note-taking I distribute a handout at the start of each class meeting containing key terms for the lecture and any images that we will be discussing. I intend for the students to use the handout to follow along with lecture and I instruct them to do so during the first week of classes. They know that the handout is theirs to keep and that if they miss a lecture they should get a copy of the handout to begin catching up. 

 

All that being said … some of my students are not writing down anything I say. Nothing. 

 

I look around the room a lot as I’m lecturing to gauge whether students are following the lesson. Many are writing in notebooks or on the handout, a couple are typing notes on a laptop or iPad. Others are doing nothing. No moving pencil or pen, no laptop: just a desk empty but for the handout I’ve distributed. It’s these students about which I’m truly worried. I know how much of the exam will come directly from the very lecture I am delivering at that moment and yet I cannot seem to convey to those students the importance of taking notes. 

 

I recently spoke with a counselor in student support services at my college about this problem. Our school, I learned, now employs “academic coaches” to help students learn to better utilize both classroom and independent study time. I can definitely see the need for such a professional -- not a content specialist but someone who can help students figure out what they need to know and how best to learn it. Academic coaches are available to meet with our students one-on-one or to address them as a class during our meeting time. 

 

Thinking about the topic for this blog led me to do some research of my own and I found that there is, of course, an abundance of note-taking advice available online for students. Many student support web sites have note-taking tips to share with students. More interesting to me, however, are suggestions to faculty about how to make our lectures more friendly to note-taking. A particularly helpful site is the University of Nebraska’s Teaching Students to Take Better Notes, which is intended as a guide for new-to-teaching graduate students but is a great reminder to any of us who lecture about keeping our thoughts succinct and organized.

 

I’ve decided to address the issue of note taking at the start of each class this week. My hope is that my reminder about the importance of class notes for exam preparation will have some impact. Are your students taking notes? Is there anything in particular you do to ensure that their note taking is productive? Thoughts welcome.  

In August the New York Times released The 1619 Project, an ambitious publication of the paper’s weekly magazine that seeks to address our nation’s troubled history with slavery at its 400th anniversary. Written and produced by black authors and historians The 1619 Project, according to the Times, “is first and foremost an invitation to reframe how the country discusses the role and history of its black citizens.” (“How the 1619 Project Came Together”) The result is a resource rich with thought-provoking work on nearly every aspect of slavery from capitalism to segregation to myths about black bodies, among many others. 

 

Everyone who teaches the history of the United States should set aside some time to grapple with the works presented by The 1619 Project. These are twenty-first century- scholars and writers seeking to place the history of slavery at the forefront of our modern-day discussions of race. They recognize that the history of this “peculiar institution” remains inextricably linked to our daily lives 400 years after its origin. College students of all races and political perspectives can benefit from consideration of this critical historical topic in a contemporary setting. As I write this blog I’m working my way through the articles and thinking about how best to add the work to what I already teach about slavery. 

 

I’m hoping to integrate the project -- as well as published responses to it -- into my Black History course this fall. My plan is to have students read an article of their choice from The 1619 Project and then react to the published criticism in an informal journal entry. A quick Google search provides numerous examples of criticisms of the project by politicians and social commentators who view it is as a form of propaganda, as well as those who have supported the Times’ decision to tackle this important topic. Discussion of The 1619 Project offers an opportunity to broaden the classroom study of slavery while also enabling students to consider how contemporary scholars and politicians continue to respond to our national history. The start of a new school year is the perfect time to help students grapple with these complex issues. Are you using The 1619 Project in your classroom this fall? If so, please share your thoughts and ideas with the Macmillan History Community.

August is for vacations, air conditioned rooms, and sipping cold drinks at the beach, but what some people may not know is that August was a pivotal month for civil rights activists.

On August 28th 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. made his infamous “I Have a Dream” speech to thousands of activists in Washington D.C. The simple yet powerful words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech united people from all over the country so that together, we can achieve an idyllic version of the America Dr. Martin King Jr. had envisioned.

Several months after the speech was made, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. went on to become one of the youngest people to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

Despite the enormity of the speech and his status as an iconic leader of the Civil Rights Movement, the path to equality was still a hard paved road. In 1965, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led the Selma to Montgomery March, a 53-mile 3-day walk, to advocate for the rights of African Americans to vote. The protest was a success; as a result of their efforts, President Lyndon B. Johnson called on Congress to pass federal legislation that would protect all African Americans’ right to vote.

So much has changed in the past few decades after the speech was made. Let’s take this moment to remember all that we have accomplished, while continuing to pave a brighter future for all people.

On behalf of the Diversity & Inclusion Council at Macmillan Learning, we invite you to celebrate Women’s Equality Day this Monday, August 26th!

 

After nationwide women’s rights marches in the 1970s, Congress designated August 26th as Women’s Equality Day. The observance of Women’s Equality Day commemorates the certification of the 19th Amendment that granted women the right to vote almost 100 years ago, and calls attention to women’s continuing efforts toward full equality.

 

The Macmillan Learning D&I team has assembled a number of resources for you to explore and learn more about Women’s Equality Day. 

 

Film Screening!

There are many ways to engage students on Women's Equality Day. One of the things we are doing with Macmillan Learning employees, are screenings of the film “He Named Me Malala” on Monday, August 26th. The documentary tells the story of Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani teenager who was targeted by the Taliban for her advocacy of girls’ education. 

 

The film is currently streaming on NetflixYou can license the film for $75 for large groups on campus.

 

The History Behind Women’s Equality Day

 

 

Women’s Equality Today

 

 

 

 

Additional Resources

 

 

 

 

Tell us in the comments if you are talking about Women's Equality Day with your students! We'd love to hear your ideas to engage students on History!

 

Best,

Nikki Jones and the Macmillan Learning Diversity & Inclusion Council

 

Nikki is the Senior Director of Marketing Outreach and Diversity Initiatives at Macmillan Learning

Prep time for fall semester and I’m in that familiar August headspace where I’m questioning how I can make certain “must teach” topics more enjoyable for the students and for me! I’ve written here before about struggling with topics that are not of great interest to me (see, for example, my blog from one year ago “Teaching the American Revolution”). As I plan for fall semester I’m tackling another area that I find difficult: the Industrial Revolution. 

 

I’ve decided this year to focus largely on local history in my coverage of the Industrial Revolution. My campus is only seven miles from Slater Mill, the first water-powered cotton mill in the United States. In spite of our proximity to this historic location, the majority of my students have no understanding of its significance. As a result I’m challenging myself to a quick study of local history over this next month. My hope is that students will become more interested in the topics of the Industrial Revolution if they can relate it to a place that some of them pass by everyday. A field trip would be fun but does not fit into the already overflowing US History I syllabus.

 

I started my preparation with a search for quality primary sources and quickly found the 1917 publication  “Pawtucket Past and Present,” a document billed as a “promotional and advertising tool” for the Rhode Island city. While the entire publication at more than sixty pages is too large to use in class, sections of the document vividly depict a popular interpretation of how cotton production came to be in Rhode Island. I’m hopeful that the prose -- intended to sell the city to readers -- will capture the historical imagination of my students in ways that my lectures have failed in previous years. Here is a sample:

 

In a shop in what was then Quaker Lane and is now East Avenue...Samuel Slater with meagre assistance began the manufacture of the Arkwright models. His pay was a dollar a day. The windows of the small shop where he worked were shuttered and the doors barred, and every effort was made to keep the project secret. His patterns were made of wool, and the motive power was furnished by a wheel laboriously turned by a negro named Primus. (10)

 

One idea I’m toying with is having students conduct on-the-spot web research in small groups and then report to the class. This short paragraph offers a starting point for the kinds of questions they could answer quickly: what was the Arkwright model? Was $1/day a decent rate for the 1790s? Why were the windows shuttered? What was the demographic makeup of Rhode Island in the early industrial period?

 

My hope is that spending the first third of our meeting time in active conversation and research about local industry will better prepare students to consider the broader, national history of industrialization covered by my lecture. A review of last year’s notes from the one class meeting I had to cover the Industrial Revolution reminded me that a 75-minute lecture did little to pique student interest. Pinning my hopes on a new approach this year!

Suzanne McCormack

Sabbatical's End

Posted by Suzanne McCormack Expert Jun 26, 2019

My semester-long sabbatical ended abruptly with the start of summer session at my college so it’s the perfect time to reflect on five months of research. The goal of this project at the outset was to study the care of women categorized as mentally ill (today’s terminology) in the period 1870 to 1920 in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. As with any project, I’ve met with some success and some failure while being introduced to questions that I did not know I needed to answer. 

 

My research at the Rhode Island State Archives, for example, has proved more fruitful than I expected. Not only have I been able to learn a lot about the state’s efforts to care for mentally ill women, I’ve also been introduced to the challenges of basic health care for poor women in a way I had not anticipated. Looking specifically at conditions and challenges in our nation’s smallest state has been alarming. Sick women often arrived at the RI State Almshouse with children-in-tow. Sometimes those children were healthy and other times they were even sicker than their mothers. In all cases, however, the Almshouse -- one of the only safety nets for poor women in this era -- was the last resort as care at private hospitals was financially out of reach.  

 

Learning more about the history of the US healthcare system has been a goal of this project from the start. In an earlier blog, “Making Connections: History & Medicine”  I mentioned my interest in helping students at the community college where I teach develop an understanding of healthcare historically. In a future semester I’m hopeful that I can offer a  course designed specifically for our nursing and health-care focused students. Secondary readings toward that end are my focus for the remainder of the summer. 

 

Finally, the greatest challenge I have faced during this sabbatical is access to sources. Access to patients’ records and/or doctors’ notes that could shed light on illnesses and treatments has been inconsistent. Historians have published several narrative histories utilizing 19th-century patients’ records in states such as New York and Virginia -- sometimes changing patients’ names and other times publishing doctors’ notes verbatim. In New England, however, I have been challenged by the inconsistency of repositories’ policies on access. While some libraries allow review of patients’ records after a waiting period of 70 years (from the document’s creation), others have closed patients’ records entirely by citing modern-day state laws regarding patient privacy. I continue to engage in discussions with these libraries about the importance of medical records as historical sources. While I certainly understand concerns about privacy I also believe that being one-hundred years removed from the time period is a significant buffer, especially when coupled with the promise of patient anonymity. 

 

I’m excited to continue this research. Taking a few months away from the classroom to focus on a project that is entirely my own has reinvigorated my academic interests and my desire to find new topics to share with students. I’m inspired to better manage my teaching/preparation time so that all of this amazing research I’ve done does not collect dust. Suggestions welcome.  

 

Happy Summer! 

 

   

 

  

The Fourth of July is a celebration that harkens images of backyard barbecues, apple pie, fireworks, and maybe even the hit Broadway musical Hamilton. The traditions surrounding the Fourth of July are just as important to the American experience as the actual event itself. However, how did this come to be? 

 

The History

 

  • While the 4th of July celebrates American independence from Great Britain in 1776,  it wasn’t declared a national holiday until 1870, almost 100 years after the original signing of the Declaration of Independence. 
  • Fireworks being associated with Independence Day actually predates it becoming a federal holiday. John Adams, after signing, had written to his wife: It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”
  • No one is completely sure how “as American as apple pie” came to be, considering that apples are native to Asia and the first recorded apple pie recipe was from England. An ad in the Gettysburg Times promotes “New Lestz Suits that are as American as apple pie,” which is where the expression may have originated. However it started, apple pies are intertwined in American culture, so they’re worth eating on the most patriotic day of the year!

 

Want to explore more American history? Nancy Hewitt’s Thinking Through Sources for Exploring American Histories Volume 1 gives a firsthand look into the American Revolution and much more!

 

What’s your favorite 4th of July tradition?

Before the horrific events of the Pulse nightclub shooting, the UpStairs Lounge arson attack was one of the deadliest assaults on the LGBQT community-- except hardly anyone heard about it. In honor of #PrideMonth, read into why this deadly attack is completely unknown to so many.  Read more here: https://www.wbur.org/hereandnow/2019/05/06/upstairs-lounge-fire

 

In topical classes on gay and lesbian history, everyone covers Stonewall, but is this covered? What are you covering in your courses?

Teaching our students to properly cite sources is an essential component of college-level history courses. In a previous blog I mentioned that last summer I started requiring a rough-draft of the Works Cited page in the earliest stages of my students’ research. This week I will share that brief assignment and the reasons I have found it effective.

 

Open my assignment here.

 

Requiring (and grading) a draft Works Cited page has proved useful for a number of reasons.

 

First and foremost, this assignment forces my students to get to work locating sources immediately. My assignment starts with students submitting a research topic. In my experience this step should be completed through Google Docs, the Blackboard “Journal,” or some other tool that enables feedback directly to the student. I respond to the students as the topics are submitted and encourage them to ask questions before they begin searching for sources. Once they have an approved topic the students have one week to submit their draft Works Cited page. I employ this quick turnaround period to discourage students from putting the assignment aside once the topic is approved and forgetting about it until the week before the due date.

 

Second, the draft Works Cited page enables me to stop bad research in its tracks. It is not uncommon, for example, for students to ignore my instructions about the required library databases and instead conduct a web search (ie, “Google” their topic). I’ve also had students submit draft Works Cited pages that will not lead them to detailed research materials because the sources they have chosen are too general. Or, students will sometimes use the wrong databases in spite of my link to history-specific materials. A philosophical or literary evaluation of Martin Luther King, Jr’s, “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” is not the same as a historian’s examination of what was happening in Birmingham when King was jailed. Catching these problems in the drafting phase is critical.

 

Finally, I have found that when I place the Works Cited front and center the students view it as more than an afterthought. For years I inadvertently allowed students to throw together their Works Cited pages as they completed their projects only to be surprised by their poor quality. No doubt many of those Works Cited pages were pieced together in the middle of the night!  Asking students to consider this critical component of their work in the earliest stages of research has heightened their view of its importance, and ultimately increased their understanding of why sources matter.

 

What do you do to help students understand the value of quality sources and citations? Please share!

I was first introduced to Jane Addams during my junior year of college when my professor assigned Twenty

Years at Hull House. It was not until several years later when I used the book with students in a course of my own, however, that I was truly impacted by Addams’s work. Today I teach at a community college where some of my students are immigrants for whom English is not their native language and many more are first-generation Americans seeking to bridge the vast cultural divide between the country of their parents’ birth and their lives in the United States. Addams’s work, for me, is more relevant than ever.

 

My interest in Addams was renewed last week when I visited the Hull House Museum in Chicago. Addams established Hull House in 1889 with fellow activist Ellen Gates Starr. The settlement would serve as her personal and professional home until 1935. According to the museum’s web site, Hull House “residents” -- educated women (and occasionally men) recruited by Addams and Starr -- “provided kindergarten and day care facilities for the children of working mothers; an employment bureau; an art gallery; libraries; English and citizenship classes; and theater, music and art classes.” Their work intimately connected them with the diverse people of their South Halsted Street neighborhood: Greeks, Italians, Irish, Bohemians, Russians, Polish, African Americans and Mexicans.

 

Although the settlement at Hull House would eventually encompass several buildings the museum as it stands today consists of only the main home at 800 S. Halsted Street on the edge of the University of Illinois Chicago campus. College students from UIC guide guests through rooms that display documents, images, and other artifacts from Addams’s life work. Visitors learn that art and music were prominent in the lives of Hull House residents and visitors, no doubt a welcome distraction from the long hours many immigrant men and women spent in Chicago’s factories. The simplicity of Addams’s upstairs bedroom with its twin bed, desk and fireplace is in sharp contrast with museum pieces that remind us that Addams was once considered by the FBI to be “the most dangerous woman in America.” (Social Work & Society International Online Journal).

 

More than a century after Addams and Starr founded Hull House the challenges facing immigrants in the United States remain wrought with fear and uncertainty. In her commencement address at the University of Chicago in 1905 Addams cautioned her audience that Americans  “refuse to see how largely the question [of immigration] has become an economic one.” Addams’s many years of direct involvement in the lives of immigrants remains relevant today as we address similar questions of citizenship and assimilation, standards of living and economic progress. If you’re not already sharing Addams’s story with your students, I encourage you to revisit turn-of-the-century immigration questions through her writings.

 

   

According to my social media feeds, National Teacher Appreciation Day was May 7th. Reading posts thanking teachers and mentors last week led me to think a lot about what my years in the college classroom have meant to me personally. Although in higher education we are called “professors,” when it comes down to what we do day in and day out, we are teachers.

 

Rather than rehash what I’ve “given” to my students over the years, this week I’d like to share three lessons I have learned from my students:

 

First, most days the most important contribution I can make to the classroom is a positive attitude. My students are working long hours at low-paying jobs and caring for children and/or parents, in addition to the demands of their academic schedule. They need supportive reminders that their hard work is going to pay off in the long term even more than they need to hear my assessment of the newest publications on slavery or 19th-century urbanization. I’ve witnessed first-hand that some days the encouragement of a teacher is the only thing keeping my students from deciding that the demands of finishing their education is too much.

 

Second, human beings learn best from our failures. Conversations with students who are failing a course because of bad decision-making, poor planning, or plagiarism are heartbreaking for us teachers. On more than one occasion, however, I have heard from students months or years later that my having held them accountable for their actions in the classroom led to a positive change in their life. I’ve also had the great fortune of what I call “repeat” students: those who failed my course and chose to do a retake with me. Seeing these students successfully pass a course the second-time-around is immensely gratifying

 

Finally, “to those who much is given, much is expected.” My brother wrote this quote -- attributed to President John Kennedy among others -- in a book he gave me many, many years ago when I was starting graduate school. The degree I was pursuing at the time was funded by a generous tuition scholarship and teaching assistant-ship. It was not until I had been teaching at a community college for several years and came across his handwriting in that book that I really thought about what that quote meant. My students remind me every single day to value my education and the sacrifices that were made along the way.

 

Those of us who have had the privilege of earning graduate degrees in the humanities have so much to offer our students. Their desire to learn from us -- to be our students -- is truly a gift that we should not take for granted.

History of Mother’s Day

Whether its flowers, breakfast in bed, or a handwritten card, Americans typically resort to “leisurely” activities to honor mothers and mother figures on Mothers Day.

 

We’ve been celebrating since 1914 when Woodrow Wilson declared the second Sunday in May as a national holiday. However, celebrating mothers dates back much further. The origins of Mother’s Day in the U.S began in the 19th century before the civil war. Women created clubs such as the “Mothers’ Day Work Clubs” to educate on proper child care and work on reconciliation between the divided nation. This club sprouted more such as “Mothers’ Friendship Day” and “Mother’s Peace Day.”

 

International Celebrations

This Sunday, May 12, we’ll take the time to celebrate all that our mothers have done for us in the U.S. But what about the rest of the world? We gathered a list of some other traditions countries to take to honor their mothers.

 

Britain (NPR)

In Britain, Mothering Sunday, or Mother's Day, is celebrated on the fourth Sunday of Lent, which fell on March 6 this year. According to Britannica, the custom began in the Middle Ages when people who had moved away returned to visit their home parishes and their mothers on that day. In particular, it was a day when children who left home to work as domestic servants were given a day off.

 

Bolivia (Mental Floss)

During the struggle for independence from Spain in the early 19th century, many of the country's fathers, sons, and husbands were injured and killed on the battlefields. As the history is told to Bolivian students, one group of women from Cochabamba refused to stand idly by; on May 27, they banded together to fight the Spanish Army on Coronilla Hill. Though hundreds died in battle, the legacy of their contributions lives on thanks to a national law passed in the 1920s making the day on which the “Heroinas of Coronilla” took to the streets national Mother’s Day.

 

Ethiopia  (Global Citizen)

Mother's Day in Ethiopia is celebrated with a three-day festival called Antrosht, which takes place at the end of Fall. Not only is it a celebration to honor mothers, but also a time to celebrate the end of the rainy season. It is a time for singing and dancing and an amazing three-day feast where a traditional hash meal is prepared, with all members of the family bringing the various ingredients.

 

France (Global Citizen)

Mother’s Day in France is called Fete des Meres. It takes place in late May or early June, depending on when Pentecost takes place. Fete des Meres became an official celebration in 1950, although Napoleon was the first to declare it a holiday. Much like other countries of the world, the French celebrate their mothers with a relaxing day of food and gifts and spending time with family.

 

Germany (Care)

Muttertag takes place on the second Sunday in May (unless it falls on Pentecost, in which case it occurs on the first Sunday of the month). In Germany, the giving of Mother's Day cards is extremely popular. During WWII, Mother's Day traditions took on political significance as the day to acknowledge women for producing children for the Vaterland, or Fatherland. Medals were awarded in gold, silver or bronze, based upon how many children were in the household. After the war, it assumed a softer feel, with the giving of gifts, cards and flowers, as well as festive meals earmarking the day.

 

India (Scholastic)

Each October, Hindus honor Durga, the goddess of mothers, during the 10-day festival known as Durga Puja. The celebration is thought to date back to the sixteenth century and is considered both a religious ceremony and a time for family reunions. One story tells of Durga returning to her parents’ home to show off her own children. Families spend weeks preparing food, gathering gifts, and decorating their homes for the festival.

Indonesia (Mental Floss)

Made official in 1953 by its president, Indonesia's Mother’s Day falls on the anniversary of the First Indonesian Women’s Congress (1928). The first convening of women in a governmental body is still considered pivotal in launching organized women’s movements throughout Indonesia. The holiday was created to celebrate the contributions of women to Indonesian society.

 

Japan (Scholastic)

Following World War II, a version of Mother’s Day grew popular as a way of comforting mothers who had lost sons to the war. You’ll see carnations presented around this March holiday, as they symbolize the sweetness and endurance of motherhood in Japanese culture. Originally, children gave a red carnation to a living mother and displayed a white one if their mother had died. Now, white has become the traditional color.

Mexico (Time)

Mexico takes very Mother’s Day very seriously. In fact, Manuel Gutierrez, president of the national association of restaurateurs, told the WashingtonPost in 2012 that May 10—whatever the day of the week—is the busiest day of the year for Mexican restaurants. Flowers are a must, but the day is also filled with music, food, celebrations, and often a morning serenade of the song “Las Mananitas” from mariachi singers:“Awaken, my dear, awaken/ and see that the day has dawned/ now the little birds are singing/ and the moon has set.”

 

Peru (Care)

Mother's Day is celebrated the second Sunday of May with gifts, chocolates and joyous family meals. In Peru, children often give their moms handmade items, which are reciprocated with gifts from them, in turn.

Peru's indigenous Andean population, however, also celebrates the gifts of Mother Earth, or Pachamama, in early August, says Hopgood. Pachamama is an ancient mythological goddess beloved by many indigenous Andean populations. Mythology cites Pachamama as the cause of earthquakes and bringer of fertility. Her special worship day is called Martes de Challa.

Russia (Time)

In the former Soviet Union, mothers were celebrated on International Women’s Day on March 8, a celebratory date that has since become an internationally-observed day to honor women and reflect on the goal for gender equality. In 1998, post-Soviet Russia introduced Mother’s Day on the last Sunday in November, but most of the gift giving still happens in March.

 

Serbia (Care)

Another country which needs three days to fully acknowledge their mothers and the spirit of family is Serbia, where Mother's Day takes place in December and is part of a series of holidays including Children's Day and Father's Day. All three holidays take place on consecutive Sundays and require lots of rope!

On Children's Day, children are tied up and must agree to behave before they are unbound. On Mother's Day, it is the mom's turn to be tied up, where she will remain until she supplies yummy treats and small gifts to her children. Finally it is father's turn. The dads are tied up with rope until they give their families Christmas gifts. At that point, everybody feasts.

For more universally inspiring moms, check out this TED Talks Playlist, Talks by Fierce Moms: https://www.ted.com/playlists/247/talks_by_fierce_moms

Researching care of the mentally ill during my semester-long sabbatical has shown me just how much I have overlooked the importance of teaching the history of medicine in my courses. I blogged earlier this semester about some of the web-based resources I plan to share with students in future courses (see “Making Connections: History & Medicine”). Although I teach US Women’s History every semester, discussion of health-related issues in my courses has revolved solely around the political arguments for/against birth control and abortion rights. During this sabbatical I’ve been introduced to the works of several historians who are exploring the myriad of roles that doctors and hospitals have played in the lives of women. Here are two examples of recently published research that I recommend that faculty share with US history students:

 

In Medical Bondage: Race, Gender, and the Origins of American Gynecology (University of Georgia 2017) historian Deirdre Cooper Owens explores the way in which black women’s bodies were used to aid the development of medical specialization. “Within the professional women’s health-care world,” Owens writes, “diseased and living black women’s bodies were...profitable. Doctors used the diseased reproductive organs of black cadavers to facilitate gynecological research and provide education in the field of gynecology.” (p. 17) White interests in preserving enslaved women’s ability to reproduce was central to these studies and played a significant role in the development of this important medical specialization. Black women, however, were exploited through this process in both life and death. According to Owens, “Although the biomedical research that nineteenth-century doctors conducted sought to locate the alleged biological differences between black and white people, white doctors used black women’s bodies in their research because they knew that women’s sexual organs and genitalia were identical to white women’s.” (p. 21) Owens’s study forced me to consider the horrifying medical/scientific components of the institution of slavery that I have often overlooked in my courses as I focus on living conditions and the labor of slaves.

 

Wendy Gonaver’s 2018 work The Peculiar Institution and the Making of Modern Psychiatry 1840-1880 (University of North Carolina Press 2018) documents the histories of two Virginia asylums in the 19th century with a focus on the lives of slaves, free blacks, and white women. Of particular interest to me for my general US and Women’s History classes is her discussion of domestic violence. White women who alleged domestic abuse in Virginia found themselves -- often voluntarily -- in the state’s asylums. “In a sense,”  Gonaver contends, “the asylum became the paternalistic caretaker to those who had been wounded by the abuses of patriarchal power and, for a number of reasons, were unable to fend for themselves.” (p. 135) Rather than punish the abusers, therefore, women were re-victimized by surrendering their personal freedoms and control of their children in exchange for the physical protection of institutionalization.

 

In a typical semester I teach five courses. While valuable research is being published nearly every day, my teaching responsibilities limit the time I can dedicate to examining new content that could dramatically alter my students’ perspectives. The work of these two historians reminds me why taking the time to read new research is critical to our success as teachers. What have you read recently that will impact future iterations of your courses? Please share.