BRINGING HISTORY TO LIGHT
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The Smithsonian Institution
OUR SHARED FUTURE:
Reckoning With Our Racial Past
Columbia: Allegory of America
By Julia Chen
Ever wonder why you hear the name "Columbia" used for things? Colombia University, the Columbian Exhibition, the District of Columbia?
The word and the personification of that term was thought to be the "Spirit of America." America became Columbia, and this personification was often used as a reminder of American values that encouraged the taking in of refugees and good treatment towards immigrants (see "The Chinese Question" below).
This piece by OH writer, Julia Chen, outlines the origins of Columbia and how she was used in popular culture to describe critical moments in the American psyche at a given time, from an untamed wilderness, to moving forward after the Civil War, to presiding over the height of technological and scientific achievement at the time at the Columbian Exhibition.
Although Columbia has fallen out of general use, we can look this this representation of America to give us a window into how people saw current events in America at certain times in history.
OBSCURE HISTORY FACT
The personification of Columbia was almost wholly created by Phillis Wheatley, a poet and enslaved person, in an 1776 ode to George Washington, His Excellency George Washington. She was seized from West Africa when she was seven, and became one of the best known poets in the 18th Century.
Smithsonian Open Source
REPRESENTATIONS OF COLUMBIA OVER TIME
Theodor Galle, replica after Johannes
Stradanus, Ca. 1600
Mid-late 17th century
John Gast, 1872
Illustrated Newspaper (January 22, 1881).
Here, Columbia is asking Andrew Johnson to move reconstruction along following the end of the Civil War. She is holding the 14th Amendment, which freed the enslaved persons in America.
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Batteries and Supercapacitors
The UCLA California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI) is currently working on using graphene as a long-term battery. Although two years old, this short documentary reveals the common, every day tools being used to solve problems in the laboratory, as well as the discovery process that often leads to where you wouldn't expect.
ARGONNE NATIONAL LABORATORY at the University of Chicago and their work on constructing the super battery. Check out the latest information in their quest to make the better battery.
ELON MUSK has also set batteries in his sights.
Whether you are a lifelong learner, a student looking for a novel paper topic, or a teacher looking for flexible and primary-sourced material, we hope to have something here to entertain and enlighten.