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26 November
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Thanksgiving

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Originally Lincoln set the date of thanksgiving when he issued the Thanksgiving proclamation that declared it would be the last Thursday of November. In 1939 Franklin D Roosevelt announced that November 23 would be the new day for Thanksgiving. This was the next to last Thursday not the last as Lincoln had set up so many years ago. This did not go over well, but for two years FDR did it. Then finally on November 26, 1941, he admitted his mistake and signed a bill into law officially making the fourth Thursday in November the national holiday of Thanksgiving Day.

Listen to our history podcast on thanksgiving.

Lots More on Thanksgiving:

I don’t know why exactly but I have done lots of post on or around Thanksgiving for the past eight years  Here are some of the highlights:

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23 November
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LIFE Magazine Publishes Under Time Inc. for First Time

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First cover of LIFE magazine from 1936.

First cover of LIFE magazine from 1936. Image Credit: 2NeatMagazines.com

So, LIFE magazine had been around well prior to November 23, 1936, but in a form we would not recognize today.  You see back in January of 1883, LIFE magazine officially started.  Back then it was a humor and general interest magazine.  In 1936 Henry Luce paid $92,000 for LIFE magazine. Becoming the third magazine for Time, Inc. after Time (1923) and Fortune (1930). The first issue featured a cover of Fort Peck Dam by Margaret Bourke-White, pictured above, for 10 cents.

The Story of LIFE Magazine Part 1

The Story of LIFE Magazine Part 2

The Story of LIFE Magazine Part 3

The Story of LIFE Magazine Part 4

How life helped shape science:

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22 November
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50th Anniversary of the JFK Assassination

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President John Fitzgerald Kennedy (aka “JFK”, “John Kennedy”, and “Jack Kennedy”) was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, at 12:30 pm Central Standard Time on Friday November 22, 1963, while on a political trip to Texas. He was shot once in the throat, once in the upper back, with the fatal shot hitting him in the head. He was the 35th President of the United States, serving from January 1961 until November 1963.  He was the 4th president to be killed.


There is a ton of information out there for the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination.  So we will just cover some of it.  I juste looked at the history channel’s website and I’m very disappointed to find that the FK specials will not be running the the prime time slot.  It will be on in prime time on H2, if you get that.  History channel will be running Pawn Stars instead, good grief!  You can watch all kinds of cool full length video on PBS right now, so no need to wait for it on history channel or PBS.

There is much, much more out there though like this article on Boing Boing that states:

59 percent of Americans now believe there was more to JFK’s death than a lone gunman.

Below is a great video all tweaked with computers to show the best view possible of the assassination.

And lastly here are some pictures that you have probably never seen. They were first published in LIFE magazine 11/14/2013.

Decide you want to dive into the huge amount of information about the JFK assassination? Here are some books to get you started.

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21 November
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Titanic’s Sister Ship the Britannic Sinks

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Britannic sinking

Britannic sinking

She was the third and largest Olympic-class ocean liner of the White Star Line. She was launched two years after Titanic’s disastrous failure in the cold North Atlantic Ocean. After the Titanic went down several design changes were made to the remaining Olympic-class liners. She was intended to be a transatlantic passenger liner. However, she was launched while the first world war was raging and was enlisted as a hospital ship in 1915. It was in that role that she met her demise. She hit an underwater mine in the Kea Channel off the Greek island of Kea on the morning of 21 November 1916, and sank with the loss of 30 lives.

There were 1,066 people on board, with 1,036 survivors taken from the water and lifeboats; roughly an hour later, at 9:07 AM, the ship sank. In spite of Britannic being the biggest ship lost during the First World War, her sinking was not as costly in terms of loss of human life as were the sinking of RMS Titanic and Cunard’s RMS Lusitania, or many ships lost during the First World War. – Wikipedia

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18 November
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History of Time Zones

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Time Zone Map

Time Zone Map

American railroads maintained many different time zones during the late 1800s. Each train station set its own clock so it was difficult to coordinate train schedules. Time calculation became a serious problem for people traveling by train (sometimes hundreds of miles in a day), according to the Library of Congress. Every city in the United States used a different time standard so there were more than 300 local sun times to choose from. Railroad managers tried to address the problem by establishing 100 railroad time zones, but this was only a partial solution to the problem.

Operators of the new railroad lines needed a new time plan that would offer a uniform train schedule for departures and arrivals. Four standard time zones for the continental United States were introduced on November 18, 1883. Britain, which already adopted its own standard time system for England, Scotland, and Wales, helped gather international consensus for global time zones in 1884. – http://www.timeanddate.com/time/time-zones-history.html

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18 November
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Jonestown Massacre

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Jonestown is the informal name for the Peoples Temple Agricultural Project in northwestern Guyana located in South America. It was led by a man named Jim Jones. It became famous when on November 18, 1978, 918 people died at a nearby airship and in Georgetown, the capital of Guyana. 909 died from cyanide poisoning. Other members killed five people at the Port Kaituma airstrip, including a United States Congressman, Leo Ryan.

The Peoples Temple group was formed in Indianapolis, Indiana in the 1950s. Guyana was chosen as a location for the group to move to incase of police of media crackdown. During what Jones called “White Nights” the group practiced what would be done if they were attacked. After discussing multiple choices they agreed on what they called “revolutionary suicide”. They practiced “revolutionary suicide” as described by a People Temples defector:

Everyone, including the children, was told to line up. As we passed through the line, we were given a small glass of red liquid to drink. We were told that the liquid contained poison and that we would die within 45 minutes. We all did as we were told. When the time came when we should have dropped dead, Rev. Jones explained that the poison was not real and that we had just been through a loyalty test. He warned us that the time was not far off when it would become necessary for us to die by our own hands. – Deborah Layton

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17 November
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10th Anniversary of the Governator

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Schwarzenegger

Image Credit: schumachergirl1956

On November 17, 2003 Arnold Schwarzenegger was sworn in as governor replacing Gray Davis in a special recall election. Schwarzenegger had previously served as the chairman of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports from 1990 to 1993. He was nominated by George W. Bush, who liked to call him “Conan the Republican”. Most actors in Hollywood tend to be liberal and Democratic-leaning, so Schwarzenegger’s republican choice was a little different. Also, unlike a lot of actors of the time he was very outspoken about his choice and political beliefs. Schwarzenegger announced his candidacy on an August 6, 2003 airing of The Tonight show with Jay Leno.

On October 7, 2003, the recall election resulted in Governor Gray Davis being removed from office with 55.4% of the Yes vote in favor of a recall. Schwarzenegger was elected Governor of California under the second question on the ballot with 48.6% of the vote to choose a successor to Davis. – From Wikipedia

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16 November
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The Sound of Music Debuts on Broadway

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The original Broadway production, starring Mary Martin and Theodore Bikel, opened on November 16, 1959. It is a musical with music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II and a book by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse. It is based on the memoir of Maria von Trapp, The Story of the Trapp Family Singers.

Mary Martin Theodore Bikel Baroness Maria Augusta von Trapp (26 January 1905 – 28 March 1987)
Maria Rainer, Mary Martin Captain von Trapp, Theodore Bikel Baroness Maria Augusta von Trapp
(26 January 1905 – 28 March 1987)

The songs from the musical have become standards, such as “Edelweiss”, “My Favorite Things”, “Climb Ev’ry Mountain”, “Do-Re-Mi”, and the title song “The Sound of Music”. The original 1965 movie staring Julie Andrews is now a classic, winning 5 Academy Awards.  The film had a budget of just 8.2M, but brought in 126.5M the the US alone in box office sales.

Details of the history of the von Trapp family were altered for the musical. The real Georg Ludwig von Trapp did live with his family in a villa in Aigen, a suburb of Salzburg, and Maria von Trapp had been sent to be a tutor to one of the children. Lindsey and Crouse altered the story so that Maria was governess to all of them. The names and ages of the children were also altered. The von Trapps spent some years in Austria after Maria and the Captain married and was offered a commission to Germany’s navy. Since Von Trapp opposed the Nazis by that time the family left Austria after the Anschluss, they went by train to Italy and then traveled to London and the United States.  To make the story more dramatic, Lindsey and Crouse had the family, soon after Maria’s and the Captain’s wedding, escape over the mountains to Switzerland on foot. – Wikipedia

Learn more:

The Sound of Music The Sound of Music (Audio CD) The Sound of Music: The Complete Book and Lyrics of the Broadway Musical
The Sound of Music (Movie, 1965) The Sound of Music (Audio CD) The Sound of Music:
The Complete Book and
Lyrics of the Broadway Musical
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14 November
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Moby Dick First American Edition Published

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Moby Dick Title Page

Moby Dick Title Page

The first edition entitled “The Whale” came out in Britain on October 18, 1851.  It was later published in America on November 14, 1851 by Harper and Brother’s, New York.  The story is about the voyage of the whaling ship Pequod.  It is considered a great classic of American literature.

The author Herman Melville was born in New York City in August 1, 1819.  He died 72 years later on September 28, 1891.  He began writing Moby Dick in 1850 after several other books.  It was the 6th book he had written.  His first book was entitled Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life.  The book was a success and a sequel, Omoo, was published in 1847.

Moby Dick had a disappointing reception, so while Melville continued to produce novels, he also had to do something to bring in revenue.  In 1865 he returned to New York to work as a customs inspector, a job he held for 20 years.  Melville died as a mostly ignored writer.  It wasn’t until the 1920’s that scholars rediscovered his works.

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Moby Dick is in the public domain and free to download via Project Gutenburg.

If you want to pay for a physical copy you can find it here: Moby-Dick: Or, the Whale (Clothbound Classics) or you can download a free version for your Kindle, Moby Dick: or, the White Whale

Melville: His World and Work

Melville: His World and Work

Melville: His World and Work

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12 November
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Ellis Island Closes

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Ellis Island

Image credit: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ellis_Island.JPG

On November 12, 1954 after 62 years of operation with more than 5,000 immigrants a day passing over through Ellis island closed, due much in part to reduced use and its disrepair.  12 million people entered during its operation.  Including its first visitor 15 year old Annie Moore from Cork, Ireland.  The last person through the gates saws a Norwegian merchant seaman named Arne Peterssen in 1954.

During World War I immigration slowed and Elis was used as a detention center for suspected enemies.  In 1924 the Immigration Act was passed which reduced the number of new comers allowed into the US and also enabled US consulates to process immigrants.  After 1924 the facility was used as a hospital in World War II and a Cost Guard training center.  In 1984 the island had a $160 million dollar face lift, the largest historic restoration in IS history.  In September 1990 the Ellis Island Immigration Museum opened to the public and today is visited by almost 2 million people a year.

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American Passage: The History of Ellis Island

American Passage: The History of Ellis Island

American Passage: The History of Ellis Island

 

Forgotten Ellis Island: The Extraordinary Story of America's Immigrant Hospital

Forgotten Ellis Island: The Extraordinary Story of America’s Immigrant Hospital

Forgotten Ellis Island: The Extraordinary Story of America’s Immigrant Hospital

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