On the day of Hitler’s suicide, a squad of American soldiers found themselves face to face with the eighty-year-old composer and conductor Richard Strauss. Alex Ross reflects on the story of the encounter: http://nyr.kr/UqKUES
“Why do I find these tales mesmerizing? Perhaps it has to do with the awkward relationship that any child of the postwar American empire has with the old European colossus of classical music. No matter how deeply we bow before it, we feel like intruders, pulling into the driveways of the great composers and threatening them with eviction.”
Photograph by AP.
A lot of people have asked about my process doing research for medievalpoc. I use a lot of resources and tools that are readily available for anyone to use, and this is one of them. There are thousands of manuscripts available to just page through and zoom in on, as if you had the book right in front of you.
If the idea of searching through endless lists of titles and numbers is daunting to you, the Digitized Medieval Manuscripts Collection has a blog.
The blog makes topical posts with images of the manuscripts according to those topics, and then links to the full manuscripts, so you can go looking at them yourself:
They also have a Twitter.
One of the best things about medievalpoc is that I get to see people get excited about art and history, and if you decide you’d like to go exploring, this is a great place to do that. I think the manuscript viewer is relatively user-friendly, and there’s a ton of information about the histories of the manuscripts themselves there, too.
I wish I could know how the people who illuminated these would react if you told them that one day their books would be duplicated into an incoporeal form that anyone in the world can summon at will with the right equipment.
Well, considering none of the above creatures actually exist, seems like they’d probably take it in stride. ;) Magic and dragons kinda go together TBH
Sergeant Phelps worked for General Eisenhower. Four decades after Eisenhower had defeated the Axis powers, Phelps recalled an extraordinary event. One day, the general told her, “I’m giving you an order to ferret those lesbians out. We’re going to get rid of them.”
“I looked at him and then I looked at his secretary who was standing next to me, and I said, ‘Well, sir, if the general pleases, sir, I’ll be happy to do this investigation for you. But you have to know that the first name on the list will be mine.’ “
“And he was kind of taken aback a bit. And then this women standing next to me said, ‘Sir, if the General pleases, you must be aware that Sergeant Phelp’s name may be second, but mine will be first.”
“Then I looked at him, and said, ‘Sir, you’re right. They’re lesbians in the WAC battalion. And if the general is prepared to replace all the file clerks, all the section commanders, all the drivers-every woman in the WAC detachment-and there were about nine hundred and eighty something of us-then I’ll be happy to make that list. But I think the general should be aware that among those women are the most highly decorated women in the war. There have been no cases of illegal pregnancy. There have been no cases of AWOL. There have been no cases of misconduct. And as a matter of fact, every six months since we’ve been here, the general has awarded us a commendation for meritorious conduct.”
“And he said, ‘Forget the order.’”
this is your periodic reminder that old-timey medicines did not fuck around
"Skillfully combined with a number of other ingredients"
This looks like the most amazing OTC medicine ever known to mankind. If they could just get laudanum in there it would be like the pinnacle of 19th century medicine.
Chiune Sugihara. This man saved 6000 Jews. He was a Japanese diplomat in Lithuania. When the Nazis began rounding up Jews, Sugihara risked his life to start issuing unlawful travel visas to Jews. He hand-wrote them 18 hrs a day. The day his consulate closed and he had to evacuate, witnesses claim he was STILL writing visas and throwing from the train as he pulled away. He saved 6000 lives. The world didn’t know what he’d done until Israel honored him in 1985, the year before he died.
Why can’t we have a movie about him?
He was often called “Sempo”, an alternative reading of the characters of his first name, as that was easier for Westerners to pronounce.
His wife, Yukiko, was also a part of this; she is often credited with suggesting the plan. The Sugihara family was held in a Soviet POW camp for 18 months until the end of the war; within a year of returning home, Sugihara was asked to resign - officially due to downsizing, but most likely because the government disagreed with his actions.
He didn’t simply grant visas - he granted visas against direct orders, after attempting three times to receive permission from the Japanese Foreign Ministry and being turned down each time. He did not “misread” orders; he was in direct violation of them, with the encouragement and support of his wife.
He was honoured as Righteous Among the Nations in 1985, a year before he died in Kamakura; he and his descendants have also been granted permanent Israeli citizenship. He was also posthumously awarded the Life Saving Cross of Lithuania (1993); Commander’s Cross Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland (1996); and the Commander’s Cross with Star of the Order of Polonia Restituta (2007). Though not canonized, some Eastern Orthodox Christians recognize him as a saint.
Sugihara was born in Gifu on the first day of 1900, January 1. He achieved top marks in his schooling; his father wanted him to become a physician, but Sugihara wished to pursue learning English. He deliberately failed the exam by writing only his name and then entered Waseda, where he majored in English. He joined the Foreign Ministry after graduation and worked in the Manchurian Foreign Office in Harbin (where he learned Russian and German; he also converted to the Eastern Orthodox Church during this time). He resigned his post in protest over how the Japanese government treated the local Chinese citizens. He eventually married Yukiko Kikuchi, who would suggest and encourage his acts in Lithuania; they had four sons together. Chiune Sugihara passed away July 31, 1986, at the age of 86. Until her own passing in 2008, Yukiko continued as an ambassador of his legacy.
It is estimated that the Sugiharas saved between 6,000-10,000 Lithuanian and Polish Jewish people.
Molly, by Golly!: The Legend of Molly Williams, America’s First Female Firefighter
This legendary tale introduces young readers to Molly Williams, an African American cook for New York City’s Fire Company 11, who is considered to be the first known female firefighter in U.S. history. One winter day in 1818, when many of the firefighting volunteers are sick with influenza and a small wooden house is ablaze, Molly jumps into action and helps stop the blaze, proudly earning the nickname Volunteer Number 11. Relying on historic records and pictures and working closely with firefighting experts, Dianne Ochiltree and artist Kathleen Kemly not only bring this spunky and little-known heroine to life but also show how fires were fought in early America.
Vera Atkins (real name Vera-May Rosenberg) was recruited by the spymaster known as Intrepid—Canadian business man William Stephesen—at the age of twenty-three and before the outbreak of World War II found herself fighting along side American, Canadian and British civilians to derail the dangers of the Third Reich. By the mid-1930s she was already an experienced spy, currying and sending information to both President Roosevelt and Churchill.
When the Second World War finally broke out in Europe, Atkins had secured herself a high ranking position in Churchill’s Special Operations Executive (SOE) and became Great Britain’s greatest female agent of the war. However, despite her position of power she remained a civilian, not becoming commissioned officer until 1944 in WAAF.
Atkins’ job was to select and train the female field agents to jump into enemy occupied countries. She trained her agents who in turn jumped deep into enemy territory to aid Resistance, destroy vital targets, help Allied pilots evade capture and radio information back to London. Her agents were said to be the most prepared and dedicated of those trained by the SOE and were “prepared to die to liberate Europe from the Nazis”; in many cases her agents did.
Although decommissioned in 1947, her work didn’t stop. She went to Germany on her own to try and discover the fates of her agents that had disappeared behind enemy lines. She investigated all 118 losses of the F section successfully, save for one, whose fate she could never find.
She largely shied away from speaking about her wartime efforts; “Vera chose obscurity…Men didn’t like the idea of a spymisstress.” In fact, she was noted for ‘outfoxing’ many about her service who would later lead extensive careers from the OSS to CIA, and SOE to MI5. Many would not know of her work until she spoke of it herself, a skill that came in common when she began working during the Cold War. She was known for disappearing and reappearing months at a time without a word.
Ian Fleming, the man who would create James Bond, hailed Atkins as “the boss [in the real world of spies]” and purportedly based the character of Miss Moneypenny off her. On countless occasions, he cited Atkins for reminding him that “Bond and blunt instruments were the weapons of the weak.”
Vera Atkins died at the age of 92 in a nursing home located in Hasting on 24 June 2000.
Red lipstick in advertisements in the March 1, 1942 issue of Vogue Magazine.
As the United States and other Allied powers tried to prevent the spread of the totalitarian regimes of Italy, Germany, and Japan, they assembled the largest fighting force in history. The urgency of the war, along with changing conceptions of women’s roles in society, meant that the U.S. military enlisted the help of thousands of women. In fact, about 350,000 women served in thee armed forces, while 19 million women held jobs at home supporting the war effort (Collins 374). When women shipped off, they took cosmetics with them into battle. Lipstick was one of the ways these women defined themselves; to them it signaled femininity and strength.
The U.S. government endorsed lipstick for other reasons. Along with cosmetic companies, the government nationalized women’s bodies and militarized their sexuality, creating a new proper usage of lipstick by associating it with war effort. Women took the encouragement to wear lipstick as an opportunity to participate in war support and boost morale, as well as to explore personal expression of the once taboo topic of the female body. The necessities of war clashed with traditional gender roles, and as women took on greater responsibilities, they had to satisfy seeming impossible demands. Women were to be feminine, but not too sensual, and able to do a man’s job when needed, but not become masculine in the meantime. Ladies navigated this treacherous terrain by using a widely accessible vehicle: the simple, everyday item of lipstick.
[Detail from Tussy lipstick ad:]
New brave lipstick color by Tussy
Like warming your lips with rosy-red courage! Tussy Fighting Red—new as today—is brave in color. And on your lips it glows like Liberty’s torch, it wins! Perfect make-up partner for your spring costume colors of navy, aqua, air-force blue, rose, and beige … adds dash to your defense uniforms. This spring wear the new Tussy Fighting Red and be brave—for him!
[Illustration detail from Tussy lipstick ad.]
[Detail from DuBarry lipstick ad:]
WHEREVER THERE’S A JOB to be done, you’ll find her. The American beauty has rolled up her sleeves and gone to work. And what’s more—she’s kept her spirit and her perspective.
SHE HASN’T FORGOTTEN the job of being a woman too! She knows that “beauty is your duty" … that little things like a radiant smile, a dash of color, and a fresh, well-groomed look can add up to a very important thing called morale.
AND SO DU BARRY SALUTES the new American beauty with a spirited cosmetic color—Emblem Red. A bright, brave red … clear as a bugle call. In lipstick, to add sparkle to her smile. In rouge, to play up that vital clear-skinned glow. A perfect foil for muted “military” blues and olives … lovely, too, with Easter Parade navy, grey, and beige. On duty—or off—the new American beauty looks her best!
Note: Look at the rhetoric used in the ads. Words such as “courage” and “brave” are used to describe appearances, colors are described in military terms (“navy,” “air-force blue,” “beige,” “‘military’ blues”), and patriotic imagery is used (“Liberty’s torch,” “American beauty”). The lipsticks are named “Emblem Red” and “Fighting Red.” The war is never explicitly mentioned, but there’s no doubt what effort the American beauty should be working towards.
The Tussy ad shows a woman in a dress dancing with a man in uniform and emphasizes how the lipstick will make her look brave “for him”. Conversely, the DuBarry ad shows a woman in uniform and speaks of her “duty” to both work and beauty.
Both ads frame woman’s appearance as a responsibility — to retain her femininity and maintain male soldiers’ morale.