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History Archives | OUPblog

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9780190203672

Fool’s gold and the founding of the United States of America

“When the legend becomes fact, print the legend,” the hard-bitten newspaperman, Maxwell Scott says to Ransom Stoddard in the classic western film, The Man Who Shot Liberty Vallance. So many legends have been attached to the founding of the United States it is sometimes difficult to see through the haze of myths to the real beginnings.

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A profile of Zelda Wynn Valdes: costume and fashion designer

In this interview with Professor Nancy Deihl, Master Teacher of Costume Studies at New York University, we look back in history to discuss and discover the life and accomplishments of Zelda Wynn Valdes, celebrity dressmaker and designer of the original Playboy bunny costume.

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Cold War dance diplomacy

Why did the US State Department sponsor international dance tours during the Cold War? An official government narrative was sanctioned and framed by the US State Department and its partner organization, the United States Information Agency (USIA—and USIS abroad). However, the tours countered that narrative.

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Vergil in Russia: milestones of identity

In 1979, one of the most prominent Russian classical scholars of the later part of the twentienth century, Mikhail Gasparov, stated: “Vergil did not have much luck in Russia: they neither knew nor loved him.” Gasparov mostly blamed this lack of interest on the absence of canonical Russian translations of Vergil, especially when it came to the Aeneid.

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Women and restaurants in the 19th-century United States

Delmonico’s in New York opened in the 1830s and is often thought of as the first restaurant in the United States. A restaurant differs from other forms of dining out such as inns or taverns and while there have always been take-out establishments and food vendors in cities, a restaurant is a place to sit down to a meal.

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Cinderella science

Imagine a plant that grew into a plum pudding, a cricket bat, or even a pair of trousers. Rather than being a magical transformation straight out of Cinderella, these ‘wonderful plants’ were instead to be found in Victorian Britain. Just one of the Fairy-Tales of Science introduced by chemist and journalist John Cargill Brough in his ‘book for youth’ of 1859, these real-world connections and metamorphoses that traced the origins of everyday objects were arguably even more impressive than the fabled conversion of pumpkin to carriage (and back again).

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The Battle of Bayside, Queens: a Q&A

From 1970 to 1975, Bayside Hills—a pleasant and prosperous neighborhood in Northeastern Queens, a borough of New York City—was embroiled in controversy when a local woman named Veronica Lueken announced that the Virgin Mary was appearing to her at St. Robert Bellarmine’s Church. At first Lueken was regarded as a “local kook.” Then, in 1973, a traditionalist Catholic group from Canada called The Pilgrims of St. Michael declared her “the seer of the age” and pilgrims started to flock to Bayside Hills.

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Affirmative action for immigrant whites

In mid-February the Public Broadcasting Service aired a four-hour documentary entitled The Italian Americans, an absorbing chronicle of one immigrant group’s struggles and successes in America. It has received rave reviews across the country. For all its virtues, however, the film falls short in at least one important respect.

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Looking back at Typhoid Mary 100 years later

Typhoid Mary Mallon is one of the best known personalities in the popular history of medicine, the cook who was a healthy carrier of typhoid fever, who spread illness, death, and tragedy among the families she served with her cooking, and whose case alerted public health administrations across the world to this mechanism of disease transmission.

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Heroes of Social Work

Few professions aspire to improve the quality of life for people and communities around the globe in the same way as social work. Social workers strive to bring about positive changes in society and for individuals, often against great odds. And so it follows that the theme for this year’s National Social Work Month in the United States is “Social Work Paves the Way for Change.”

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Beethoven’s diagnosis

Since Beethoven’s death on this day 188 years ago, debate has raged as to the cause of his deafness, generating scores of diagnoses ranging from measles to Paget’s disease. If deafness had been his only problem, diagnosing the disorder might have been easier, although his ear problem was of a strange character no longer seen. It began ever so surreptitiously and took over two decades to complete its destruction of Beethoven’s hearing.

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Jerome: a model scholar?

The Renaissance vision of Jerome (c. 347-420 AD), as depicted by Albrecht Dürer in a world-famous engraving of 1514, seems to represent an ideal type of the scholar: secluded in the desert, far removed from the bustle of ordinary life (with a lion to prove it), well-established in his institution (as shown by the cardinal’s hat), and devoted to his studies.

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Comic books and censorship in the 1940s

Comic books have long purveyed action, action, and still more action. Their plot lines do not simply progress, they are raging torrents of emotion, violence, and drama. They were a part of the mass commercialization of leisure during the twentieth century.

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Murky waters: partisanship and foreign policy

The recent letter written by 47 Republican senators to the government of Iran about nuclear negotiations has revived talk about the classic phrase “politics stops at the water’s edge.” The tag line, arguing that partisanship should be put aside in foreign policy, is often attributed to Senator Arthur Vandenberg (R-Michigan) who used it in endorsing some of the diplomatic initiatives of the Democratic Truman administration at the start of the Cold War.

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The death of a friend: Queen Elizabeth I, bereavement, and grief

On 25 February 1603, Queen Elizabeth I’ s cousin and friend – Katherine Howard, the countess of Nottingham – died. Although Katherine had been ill for some time, her death hit the queen very hard; indeed one observer wrote that she took the loss ‘muche more heavyly’ than did Katherine’s husband, the Charles, Earl of Nottingham. The queen’s grief was unsurprising, for Elizabeth had known the countess longer than almost anyone else alive at that time.

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How false discoveries in chemistry led to progress in science

In the popular imagination, science proceeds with great leaps of discovery — new planets, new cures, new elements. In reality, though, science is a long, grueling process of trial and error, in which tantalizing false discoveries constantly arise and vanish on further examination. These failures can teach us as much — or more — than its successes.

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