A History of Liberal Christianity since the 19th Century and Its Impact in the United States

In the context of theology, the word liberal does not refer to political liberalism, and it should be distinguished from progressive Christianity. Introduction Liberal Christianity, also known as liberal theology, is a movement that interprets and reforms Christian teaching by taking into consideration modern knowledge, science and ethics. It emphasizes the importance of reason and experience over doctrinal[…]

Ancient and Medieval Dance, It’s Death during the Christian Reformation, and It’s Revival

Despite opposition from the early church, dance was an integral part of Christian devotion for many centuries before falling out of favor. By Dr. Kathryn DickasonVisiting Scholar, School of ReligionDornsife College of Letters, Arts and SciencesUniversity of Southern California Introduction In the PBS documentary series “The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our[…]

The Art and Architecture of Amiens Cathedral

Amiens Cathedral provides a window into the practice and culture of religious belief of the Middle Ages. By Emogene CataldoPhD Candidate in Art HistoryColumbia University Visiting Amiens Cathedral With its two soaring towers and three large portals filled with sculpture, Amiens Cathedral crowns the northern French city of Amiens. The cathedral is still one of the tallest[…]

Peace to Be Picked Up: The Secret Diplomacy Failure of 1916 that Changed the World

From August 1916 until the end of January 1917, leaders from Germany, Britain, and the United States secretly struggled to end the Great War. By Dr. Philip ZelikowWhite Burkett Miller Professor of HistoryJ. Wilson Newman Professor of GovernanceMiller Center of Public AffairsUniversity of Virginia On August 12, 1916, France’s president, Raymond Poincaré, walked up to[…]

The Reel Story of the Great War: Videography during World War I

Soldiers were assigned to capture the action and sacrifice on camera for purposes of both patriotism and propaganda. The War According to CBS-TV By far the largest grouping of World War I film titles is located in the CBS collection. It contains footage collected from numerous sources by CBS TV for its landmark 1964–1965 documentary[…]

Anna Atkins and the Cyanotype Process in Botanical Illustration in the 19th Century

Although today Atkins’s prints are sold and viewed as art, they were originally made as botanical illustrations. By Elliot KrasnopolerPhD Candidate in Art HistoryBryn Mawr College Who Was Anna Atkins? We are looking at a white-ish blue, organically-shaped form radiating from a central point, and surrounded by a rich, flat cyan-blue tone. Little here gives[…]

From the Society Pages to the Museum in the 18th Century

How Gilda Darthy’s bed tells a story about writing women back into history. By Amanda BermanCuratorial Assistant, Department of Sculpture and Decorative ArtsGetty Museum With its grand size and luxurious upholstery, this bed makes a statement. However, it is also special because we know so much about it. It’s unusual for an 18th-century piece of[…]

An Historical Overview of Senate Filibusters and Cloture

With few examples of the practice before the 1830s, the strategy of “talking a bill to death” was common enough by mid-century to gain a colorful label—the filibuster. Introduction The Senate tradition of unlimited debate has allowed for the use of the filibuster, a loosely defined term for action designed to prolong debate and delay[…]

A History of the Filibuster in the United States Senate

Although not explicitly mandated, the Constitution and its framers clearly envisioned that simple majority voting would be used to conduct business. Introduction A filibuster is a parliamentary procedure used in the United States Senate to prevent a measure from being brought to a count. The most common form of filibuster occurs when one or more senators attempt to delay or block a vote[…]

Paying Reparations to Slave Owners and Their Heirs in the 19th Century

History is full of examples of nations paying out to compensate for slavery. But the money never went to those who actually suffered. Extorting Haiti A prominent example is the so-called “Haitian Independence Debt” that saddled revolutionary Haiti with reparation payments to former slave owners in France. Haiti declared independence from France in 1804, but[…]

White Mob Riots in Washington in 1848 to Defend Slaveholders’ Rights

Riots by proslavery forces raged for three days in the nation’s capital after the capture of a ship bearing fugitive enslaved people. By Dr. Michael David CohenResearch Professor of GovernmentAmerican University Introduction Long before the demonstrations over Black Lives Matter, long before the marches of the civil rights era, strife over racism convulsed the nation’s[…]

No Pensions for Ex-Slaves: How Federal Agencies Suppressed Movement to Aid Freedpeople

The movement to grant pensions to ex-slaves faced strong opposition from three executive branch agencies. By Miranda Booker Perry Introduction The Union victory in the Civil War helped pave the way for the 13th amendment to formally abolish the practice of slavery in the United States. But following their emancipation, most former slaves had no[…]

A History of the Washington Monument

The geometric layout of Washington, D.C.’s streets and green spaces reserved a prominent space for a monument to George Washington. Introduction “First in War, First in Peace, and First in the hearts of his countrymen.” George Washington’s military and political leadership were indispensable to the founding of the United States. As commander of the Continental[…]

A History of Washington, D.C. from Its Early Settlement

Archaeological evidence indicates American Indians settled in the area at least 4,000 years ago, around the Anacostia River. Introduction The history of Washington, D.C., is tied to its role as the capital of the United States. Originally inhabited by an Algonquian-speaking people known as the Nacotchtank, the site of the District of Columbia along the Potomac River was first selected by President George Washington.[…]

The Price of Public Resistance to Safety during the 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic

At the first hint the virus was receding, people pushed to get life back to normal. Unfortunately another surge of the disease followed. Introduction Picture the United States struggling to deal with a deadly pandemic. State and local officials enact a slate of social-distancing measures, gathering bans, closure orders and mask mandates in an effort[…]

Band of Angels: Sister Nurses in the Spanish-American War

The need for trained nurses was heightened — and the work of the sister nurses in the Civil War was not forgotten. By Dr. Mercedes GrafFormer Professor of PsychologyIllinois School of Professional PsychologyGovernors State University Introduction Although thousands of patriotic women rushed off to care for the sick and wounded during America’s bloody Civil War[…]

Alonso de Ovalle’s Early Modern ‘Tabula geographica regni Chile’

In 1646, a Chilean man named Alonso de Ovalle published an illustrated text titled Historical account of the Kingdom of Chile. By Dr. Catherine E. BurdickProfessor of Arts and HumanitiesUniversidad Mayor de Chile Introduction What images might enhance a map of a distant land in a remote corner of the world? Might lava-spewing volcanoes, a strutting[…]

The Ancient Peruvian Moche Royal Tombs of Sipán

The tombs were found almost completely undisturbed. A Golden Discovery In 1987, Peruvian archaeologist Walter Alva received a tip from the police that local villagers had discovered gold in one of the huacas (a term for ancient sacred sites used widely in Peru) and were looting artifacts at the site of Huaca Rajada in the town of Sipán, near[…]

A Brief History of 6 Interesting Games in the Ancient and Medieval Worlds

The history of games dates to long ago. Games were used to pass the time, but some people used them to learn and share life’s experiences. Techniques of the games varied from one person to another. People’s intelligence was also measured by how they performed at a particular game. Board and dice games were one[…]

Armor and Weapons in Ancient Rome

Major tactical changes came during the final days of the Late Republic. Introduction From the days of the hoplites through the creation of the legionary until the fall of the Roman Empire in the west, the Roman army remained a feared opponent, and the Roman legionary’s weapons and armor, albeit with minor modifications, remained the[…]

A History of the Ancient Roman Legionary

Discipline was severe, and the living conditions were often very harsh. Introduction The Roman legionary was a well-trained and disciplined foot soldier, fighting as part of a professional well-organized unit, the legion (Latin: legio), established by the Marian Reforms. While major tactical changes appeared during the final days of the Roman Republic and the early days of the Roman Empire, Roman armor and[…]

Officers of the Ancient Roman Army

There was a direct link between citizenship, property and the military. Introduction With the appearance of the legionary, the Roman army was able to maintain a vast empire that totally embraced the Mediterranean Sea. Although the success of the army rested on the backs of the foot-soldiers and cavalry, there were others on the field and in camp who enabled them[…]

‘Father of Rome’: The Legend of Romulus

Despite the ancients acknowledging Romulus’ many misdeeds, even long after his death, the Romans largely viewed him as a laudable hero. Introduction Despite allegedly founding Rome and being hailed a hero, Romulus’ legacy is complex and his biography is even disturbing at times. He was allegedly guilty of committing many terrible deeds that still make readers recoil, but[…]

Sacred Sites and Rituals in the Ancient Celtic Religion

The religious leaders in Celtic communities were the druids. Introduction In the religion of the ancient Celts who lived in Iron Age Europe from 700 BCE to 400 CE, certain natural sites like springs, river sources, and groves were held as sacred. These places, as well as some urban sites, often had purpose-built temples, shrines,[…]

A History of Ancient Celtic Religion

Besides gods, animals were also important to the Celts and were perhaps themselves regarded as sacred. Introduction The polytheistic religion of the ancient Celts in Iron Age Europe remains obscure for lack of written records, but archaeology and accounts by classical authors help us to piece together a number of the key gods, sacred sites, and cult practices. Variations existed across regions and the[…]

A History of the Christian Gospels

The gospels were produced from c.70 CE to perhaps 100 CE. Introduction The New Testament contains four gospels attributed to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The four gospels are not biographies of Jesus, nor are they history as we define it. What each gospel attempted to do was write a theological explanation for the events[…]

Hokusai’s Printed Illustrated Books in 19th-Century Japan

The technology of printing had advanced rapidly as it became available to commercial publishers in the seventeenth century. Introduction Katsushika Hokusai is among the most celebrated Japanese painters in the world. His print Under the Wave off Kanagawa, or The Great Wave (1830) is instantly recognizable. While Hokusai is primarily known today for his prints[…]

Japonisme: Japanese Artistic Influence on the West in the Nineteenth Century

The Western fascination with Japanese art directly followed earlier European fashions for Chinese and Middle Eastern decorative arts. Introduction James McNeill Whistler’s Whistler’s Caprice in Purple and Gold (above) is an early example of Japonisme, a term coined by the French art critic Philippe Burty in 1872. It refers to the fashion for Japanese art[…]