OBSCURE HISTORIES, Vol. 1, Issue 1 (JUNE 2015)
From the OH Kitchen
It has been about a year
since I launched Obscure Histories, and it has changed dramatically since its initial inception. First conceived of as supplemental educational material for middle school scholars, OH has shifted to respond to our actual demographics – discerning professionals and educators who are interested in short-form, primary-sourced, historical content. In part, the shift was made because reviews and off-hand comments by enthusiastic readers allowed me to see that some OH content could be considered too gruesome for young adults. Where I saw an opportunity to talk about riots and rioting, sensible educators rightly considered that an act of sedition.
From the start, I’ve wanted to be responsive to our readership, and take interests and demographics into consideration as we grow. We are now quarterly (for now), and that allows us to grow in depth as well as breadth. New online entries will have additional resource links on the article page, not a dedicated resource page. One of my favorite features – The Rabbit Hole – will be brought up to the top right corner, too. When I talk with people about OH, the Rabbit Hole feature is particularly
useful and unique among similar online fare. More than anything, I have conceived of OH as a Gateway to Inquiry - a starting place, impetus, or nucleus for further research, and these searches and resources are meant to make that next step easier.
More than anything,
I have conceived of OH as a
Gateway to Inquiry
- a starting place, impetus, or nucleus
for further research.
I am very grateful for your continued interest in OH. For, to be honest, there is no shortage of original content found online. Indeed, there is a steady stream of blogs and similarly designed themes that – despite appearing uncannily alike – cater to niche interests, such as Gettysburg History, or the History of Cookbooks. I rather naively started OH thinking I could even find a way to mine this outpouring of knowledge and information, and I saw OH as a place for enthusiasts to tell their favorite story learned from these first-wave efforts. This has not come to pass, but I remain hopeful that OH’s original tag of “Everyone has a story,” can eventually be redeemed. I mean, sure: your favorite story about the illegality of camel hunting in Arizona might not carry the same emotional heft as NPR’s “Story Core,” but I promise you that it will make someone smile. (Namely, me. Because I love that story.)
Also, OH now has “History with Science” as the current beacon, and my new full-time employment has led us to go quarterly. I hope you like what we’ve done with the place.
I’m thrilled that one of my best pals, Marcie Holmes, has agreed to share her groundbreaking research on USAF training techniques; Marcie currently has a Postdoc at Birkbeck in London and she’s very busy - we are lucky to have her contribution. I’m excited that Brendan Wolfe will again share his extensive knowledge of Colonial Virginia, but this time examining the difficulties that historians have in classifying the “armed conflicts” between natives and the early colonists.
Our wonderful associates continue to give us terrific work. Julia Chen enlightens us about “Columbia,” the early female personification of the United States, and her transition from native savage to protector goddess. Julia is also a fantastic copy-editor. Michael Gott has an excellent discussion on Japanese Fire Balloons used in WWII – knowledge about the world’s first intercontinental weapons was kept from the general population for years. It should again be noted that Julia and Michael are 100% volunteer associates of OH. I cannot begin to express how grateful I am for their research, contributions, assistance, and as general counselors.
OH, 1/1 (June 2105)
THE MARY ROSE
A WAR BY ANY OTHER NAME
COLUMBIA: ALLEGORY OF AMERICA
MARCIE HOLMES, PHD
US AIR FORCE TRAINING:
MATCHING HUMANS TO MACHINES
FUGO: JAPANESE WAR BALLOONS
DANA ROVANG, PHD
THE ILLUSIONISTS OF EL ALAMEIN
RENATO LEVI: WWII DOUBLE-AGENT
My Grandpa Herb – who is my inspiration for this kind of publication – gives us another “Story Behind the Stamp.” This stamp story looks at Henry VIII’s warship, the Mary Rose. I went to Portsmouth in 1988, just after the Mary Rose was raised from the Channel, and I saw the beginnings of her restoration. Because of Grampa Herb’s article, I now know a lot more about the process of preservation I witnessed.
My contribution will look at WWII’s Second Battle of El Alamein - Operation Bertram, which took place in Northern Africa. Even though the battle isn’t as recognized as Normandy or the Battle of the Bulge, it was an important and decisive battle. When I was researching it, however, my investigation uncovered a quite obscure spy - Renato Levi - who was posted in Cairo; those exceptional moments in researching remind me why I love to do history, and why OH is still here.
As always, thank you for reading. You are all so important to the success of this modest little venture, and I’m grateful for your support and continued interest. I am introducing the new “Letter to the Editor” feature, so comments or complaints can be sent directly to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our next issue will center on Fabric, broadly conceived. If you have a story idea you’d like to contribute, I would love to hear about it! To be fair, we’re test-driving this format right now, and it remains to be seen whether this is a one-off, or if we keep doing this on some schedule as yet to be determined. Your comments and engagement would be extremely helpful in figuring out our next steps!
Yours in mystery,
If you like OH stories and materials, please consider contributing an ideo for a story, making a small donation, or purchasing merchandise from the OH store. As you know, we do not make money from OH, and we do this because we love it. But we do have operating costs to maintain the website. Every little bit goes a long way, and we are very grateful for any support you can share. Your name will be printed in the next issue (unless you wish to remain anonymous).