March Links Round-Up

A post-war South Carolina scene at a cotton gin at the Knox Plantation. (Robin Stanford Collection/Courtesy of Library of Congress)

Erstwhile blogger Caroline Grego compiles a short list of history-related news links from the past month, which may or may not be exactly from March.

Trans Atlantic Slave Trade Visualization by Matthew Burdumy and Professor Adam Rothman

This website is not an article, but it is a valuable teaching tool and, technically, a “link.”  Matt Burdumy, a computer science major at Georgetown, and Prof. Adam Rothman, a historian at Georgetown, have produced a trio of interactive graphics that illustrate the Atlantic slave trade from the early 16th century to the late 19th.  They collected their information from the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database.  The maps, in simple Google Maps format, are animated across time, and the frequency of voyages into and out of each port cause those locations to turn from green to red, as on a heat map.  In the first, they map the ports from which Atlantic slaving ships departed.  In the second, they show where Atlantic slavers purchased Africans.  In the final, they chart the ports of sale of enslaved Africans.

This would be a valuable teaching tool for demonstrating to students the global nature of the slave trade, beyond (though certainly also within) American borders.  While the maps have some pitfalls–they show frequency and proportion, which, while useful, necessarily omits actual numbers–they are a useful visualization for the changing Atlantic slave trade and would pair well with a lecture on the Atlantic slave trade itself.

‘Actual scenes of slavery in America’:  Grandmother’s rare trove of Civil War snapshots acquired by the Library of Congress, by Michael Rune

In Texas, eighty-seven year-old Robin Stanford spent forty years gathering Civil War-era photographs–almost all of which are stereo pictures, in which two photos of the same scene were seen together through a stereo viewer, mimicking a 3-D image.  The Library of Congress has just purchased the collection of 500 photographs, which are mostly of the South before Union occupation, and has already digitized and posted a number of them online.

Stanford began collecting as a housewife in the 1970s.  She read the three-volume series, Lee’s Lieutenants, and thus began her fascination with the subject matter.  Her collection grew gradually, and though she had intended it for her son, he died suddenly last year–and so, she sold her collection to the Library of Congress.  They plan to digitize the entire collection.

Danielle McGuire on the Film Selma, by Danielle McGuire

Dr. Danielle McGuire, an associate professor of history at Wayne State University, is best-known for her book At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance, in which she focuses on the influence of sexual violence against black women on the Civil Rights Movement.  Here, she provides a perspective on Selma.  She argues that, the debate about the accuracy of the film’s portrayal of Lyndon B. Johnson aside, the film is valuable because of its complex portrayal of the Civil Rights Movement.  Because of its depiction of “small, intimate moments behind the veil,” Selma corrects the over-generalized image of the Civil Rights Movement that too many Americans have.

She also points to the nuance of David Oyelowo’s performance as Dr. King.  Because of the moments of private tenderness and negotiation between him and his family, the inclusion of his influential inner circle, and his sparring with other activists over tactics and strategies, the viewer is left with the picture of a man who is “more complicated, more radical, more human, and, I think, more like someone to emulate rather than simply idolize.”  Selma, McGuire argues, is important because of its “depth and dimension,” which ultimately serve as a “corrective” to popular perceptions of the Civil Rights Movement.

The Marbled Murrelet KOs the Logging Industry — Again, by Char Miller

The marbled murrelet, listed as a threatened species, has time and time again foiled logging industry efforts to open up more acreage of old-growth forest in California, Oregon, and Washington for clearcutting.  In February, this little bird, which lives on the Pacific for much of its life and nests in the massive hemlock, redwood, Sitka spruce, and Douglas fir in the American Northwest, did so once again.  The D.C. District Court of Appeals rejected, for the fifth time, industry attempts to de-list the murrelet as threatened–which would thereby increase available forests for extensive logging.

The timber wars of the 1970s, 80s, and 90s revolved around the spotted owl and salmon and ended, legally in any case, when the federal government ordered foresters to plan around the needs of those two species.  This set a precedent for protection of the marbled murrelet and its nesting habitats in the lush forests of the Pacific Northwest.  And while the resulting conflict has not been as explosive or visible as the timber wars of decades gone by, the struggle between stakeholders over the fate of northwestern old growth forests is still far from over–this time, it hinges on marbled murrelets.

One thought on “March Links Round-Up

  1. More than 29 million people around the world are still living in slavery. According to the first-ever Global Slavery Index 2013, the Caribbean country Haiti ranks second in prevalence after Mauritania in West Africa. Pakistan ranks third on a list in which mainly African and Asian countries predominate.

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