Friday, September 24, 2010

Lewis Hine was one of the great photographers of the Progressive Era, when cities and communities tried to ameliorate the difficult working conditions facing working class Americans. He had a special interest in child labor, and his pictures are now considered "iconic," along with those of the WPA photographers. This doesn't mean that they are any less sad...for some children it meant a lost childhood.

The last years of his life were filled with professional struggles due to loss of government and corporate patronage. Nobody was interested in his work, past or present, and Lewis Hine was consigned to the same level of poverty as he had earlier recorded in his pictures. He died at age 66 on November 3, 1940 in New York.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

One of my favorite true accounts from history is that of Dr. Semmelweis. My grandfather's first wife died after giving birth to my uncle Harold. She died of "childbirth" fever, a common cause of death in new mothers because of an infection that entered through the birth canal when the doctor, or midwife lacked proper sanitation.

There are famous cases of puerperal fever--Jane Seymour, Henry VIII's wife died shortly after giving birth to the future Edward VI.

Semmelweis discovered his germ theory in Vienna clinics for poor women--where he noticed the higher death rate for mothers who were attended by medical students who had just finished performing autopsies. They were accidentally passing germs from the cadavers to the new mothers! Those mothers who were helped by medical students who just had lectures had a much lower death rate. The students were told to wash their hands in a solution of carbolic acid and water, and the death rate dropped dramatically. This was further proof of "germs" that existed on hands. Semmelweiss went insane partly due to stress when few believe his ideas. HE died in 1847--but he is now referred to as the "Savior of Mothers."

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Welcome Back....

The School year has begun and we are off to another great year in history...
Mrs. Olsen finally got the password back for the blog so I hope to have it updated each week.

For European History, students will be learning about the mysterious BOG people whose remains were discovered in the peat bogs of Northern Europe. Were they thrown in as punishment--or some sacrificial ritual--who knows, but the chemicals in the peat preserved the bodies so we can see astonishing details.

Beowulf and all the Northern legends reflected the geography of Europe, the dark, cold, wet forests. Even The Lord of the Rings was inspired by the ancient druidic ruins found in the British Isles and Normandy.