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Engaging with history at #OHA2017

For most Americans, Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks for all of the best things in life: family, friends, football, and, of course, heaps of delectable food. Few care to spend any time thinking about the myths that underlie American perceptions of the holiday, and even fewer can appreciate how and why this holiday is frequently observed as a day of mourning among many Native Americans.

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The politics of contamination

Since entering office, the Trump administration has diverged from its predecessor on many fronts. Environmental regulation and drug control are two prime examples. Under Scott Pruitt, the EPA has loosened or eliminated numerous Obama administration rules on pollution and jettisoned climate-change research. At the Department of Justice, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has instructed federal prosecutors to seek maximum penalties for drug-law offenders

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What is Thanksgiving? A Brit’s guide to the holiday

Thanksgiving is one of the most important holidays in the US calendar. However for those who have never lived in America, the celebration can seem perplexing and often down-right bewildering. Here in the Oxford offices at Oxford University Press, we thought we may have understood the basics, but on researching more into the holiday, we have been left with many more questions than answers. For instance, what is a “Turkey Trot” or sweet potato pie, and if television is to be believed – do people actually go around the table saying what they’re thankful for?

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5 facts that help us understand the world of early American yoga

Long and varied as yoga’s history on the Indian subcontinent may be, its comparatively short residency on American soil is no less interesting. Early American yoga—a concept held together only by the fact that it appears to belong to a cast of characters who call themselves yogis—oscillates between the menacing and the marvelous, the magical and the mechanical, the strange and the familiar.

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Four NYC-inspired sundaes for National Sundae Day

November 11 is National Sundae Day. To celebrate, we’ve created four New York City–themed sundae recipes, inspired by Greater Gotham: A History of New York City from 1898 to 1919. Take a look at the recipes below and get a taste of NYC—no matter where you are in the world.

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On burnout, trauma, and self-care with Erin Jessee

Last week, Erin Jessee gave us a list of critical questions to ask to mitigate risk in oral history fieldwork. Today, we’ve invited Jessee back to the blog to talk more in-depth about her recently published article, “Managing Danger in Oral Historical Fieldwork,” spotting signs of trauma during interviews, and dealing with the sensitive nature of oral history.

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The history of medical ethics

On the 20th of August 1947, 16 German physicians were found guilty of heinous crimes against humanity. They had been willing participants in one of the largest examples of ethnic cleansing in modern history. During the Second World War, these Nazi doctors had conducted pseudoscientific medical experiments upon concentration camp prisoners and the stories that unfolded during their trial

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Crime and punishment, and the spirit of St Petersburg

Crime and Punishment is a story of a murder and morality that draws deeply on Dostoevsky’s personal experiences as a prisoner. It contrasts criminality with conscience, nihilism with consequences, and examines the lengths to which people will go to retain a sense of liberty. One of the factors that brought all these things together was the novel’s setting, around the Haymarket in St Petersburg, where the grandeur of the imperial capital gives way to poverty, squalor, and vice.

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The history of Acupuncture [timeline]

With its roots stretching back to over 6,000 years BCE, Acupuncture is one of the world’s oldest medical practices. This practice of inserting fine needles into specific areas of the body to ‘stimulate sensory nerves under the skin and in the muscles of the body’ is used widely on a global scale to alleviate pain caused by a variety of conditions.

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A Q&A with art historian Janet Wolff on memoir writing

Janet Wolff is a renowned art historian and writer. A combination of memoir, family history, and cultural criticism, Janet Wolff’s Austerity Baby is more than just your typical memoir; touching on themes of exile, displacement, and mortality – all of which remain relevant today. In this interview, Wolff recounts her inspiration, process, and family discoveries during her writing and research.

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The importance of physics for humanists and historians

If you studied history, sociology, or English literature in your post-secondary education, it was probably in part because physics was too hard to understand or not as interesting. If you did not pay attention to quiet developments in the world of physics over the past several decades, you missed some very interesting important discoveries. Today, physics is not what our parents or even any of us who went to high school or university in the last quarter of the twentieth century learned because the physicists have been busy learning a lot of new things.

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Can microbiology tell us exactly what killed the Aztecs?

The arrival of the Spanish conquistadors to Mexico in the 1620s marked the beginning of the end for the indigenous people. With an estimated population of between 15 and 30 million at this point, this dropped dramatically to only two million by 1700: the result of battles, famine, drought, and perhaps most significantly, infectious diseases. The following Q&A investigates how microbiology contributed to the ruin of the once-flourishing Mesoamerican culture.

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Six questions to ask before you hit record

Erin Jessee’s article “Managing Danger in Oral Historical Fieldwork” in the most recent issue of the OHR provides a litany of practical advice about mitigating risk and promoting security. The entire article is well worth a read, but for the blog we’ve asked Jessee to provide us a list of some of the most important questions for oral historians to think about in evaluating and limiting exposure to risk.

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