EducationHistory

Endless Summer (2) From Massachusetts to Rural New York: Latin Grammar Schools, Dame Schools, and the Two-Term School Year

  According to one popular narrative, the public school year in the United States includes a disproportionately long summer vacation because this was the pattern set by schools in rural agricultural regions during the formative years of the nation. In the first two posts of this series we observed that …

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EducationHistory

Endless Summer (1) Massachusetts: From Puritan Colony to Horace Mann and the Common School Movement

The popular agrarian history explanation for the lengthy summer vacation taken by most schools in the United States is inadequate and misleading. It evokes a sense of historical inevitability and shared experience which fails to reflect reality. In the last post, we acknowledged that, prior to the heavy mechanization of …

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EducationHistory

Endless Summer: Why Do American Schools Have Such a Long Vacation? (An Introduction)

Summer in the United States is a time of contradictions. Schoolchildren dream of golden, stress-free days, while working parents scramble to find childcare for two to three months. Among middle class families, extroverted children look forward to summer camps, and introverted children try desperately to convince their parents that they …

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FoodHistoryScience

Forget GMOs: You Should Know About Nitrogen!

What do red clover, seabird poop, World War I, the current world population and the Oklahoma City bombing all have in common? Nitrogen, specifically fixed nitrogen. In human hands it has the power to nurture or to destroy. We cannot exist without it. For example, it is nitrogen in the …

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FeminismHistory

A Fond Farewell to Rosie the Riveter

Rosie died last month. More precisely, Mary Doyle Keefe passed away on 21 April 2015 at the age of 92. Mary Doyle was the model for Norman Rockwell’s “Rosie the Riveter” painting, which appeared on the cover of the Memorial Day, 29 May 1943 issue of the Saturday Evening Post. …

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HistoryTraditions & Celebrations

The Time Traveller’s Guide for Parents #4: Mothering Sunday

England, 18th century “THE Word Lent in the Saxon Tongue signifies Spring, and because this Time of Fasting begins in the Spring, it therefore borrows its Name from the Season, and is called Lent. THIS Fast is of such great Antiquity, that it seems to have been used from the …

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History

The Time Traveller’s Guide for Parents #3: The 10 Items You Absolutely MUST Have for Your New Infant!

England, ca 1800 – 1900 This is such an exciting time to have a new baby! Advances in technology and manufacturing mean that many goods such as lace, textiles, and even embroidery that heretofore could only be produced by laborious handwork can now be made in impressive quantities and varieties …

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History

The Time Traveller’s Guide for Parents #2: Do NOT Swaddle Your Infant

England, ca 1740 – 1800 The days of swaddling are behind us. We are pleased to report that what one of our acquaintance termed “the barbarous custom” has been, according to a medical expert writing in The Lady’s Magazine (1785), “almost universally laid aside”. And yet, perhaps there are lingering …

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History

The Time Traveller’s Guide for Parents #1: Swaddling Your Infant

England, ca. 1550 – 1750 Congratulations on your condition! Be certain to start gathering your childbed linen right away! Remember, everything, including thread and textiles, is made by hand and unmechanized ground transport is the only option for getting items brought to you. If you require anything from London, and …

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ActivitiesHistoryMedia & Technology

Internet Meme Demolition Derby: Don’t try this at home edition

(TW: Really crummy ableist language) Going back over our many visits to the IMDD, we will find one theme recurring, nostalgia, a yearning on the part of the meme creator or sharer for the past. Usually the nostalgia is for an idealized past that was simpler, or more enlightened, or …

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