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15 February
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The First Teddy Bear

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Theodore Roosevelt Teddy Bear

Theodore Roosevelt Teddy Bear

The first Teddy Bear was the brain child of Morris Michtom who was inspired by the political cartoon above.  The cartoon was drawn by Clifford K. Berryman and called “Drawing the Line in Mississippi,” where President Theodore Roosevelt is depicted showing compassion for a small bear cub.  Michtom liked the cartoon and showed it to his wife, Rose.  Rose went to create the teddy bear.  On February 15, 1903 the Russian Jewish immigrant placed the little teddy bear in his shop window at 404 Tompkins Avenue, New York.

It was donated to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History where it is currently on display.  After the creation of the bear in late 1902, the sale of the bears was so brisk that Michtom created the Ideal Novelty and Toy Company.  Through many mergers the company was eventually part of Mattel.

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03 January
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Alaska

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Alaska becomes a state on this day in 1959.  President Eisenhower signed the official declaration which made Alaska the 49th state on this day.

New Flag Unveiled; 7 Staggered Rows Have 7 Stars Each – New York Times

On March 30, 1867, Secretary of State William H. Seward signed an agreement with Baron Edouard Stoeckl, the Russian Minister to the United States.  Widely referred to as “Seward’s Folly”, it ceded possession of the vast territory of Alaska to the United States for $7.2 million. Few citizens of the U. S. could fathom what possible use or interest the 586,000 square miles of land would have for their country. In a speech given at Sitka (the capital until 1906, when it was moved to Juneau) on August 12, 1868, however.

Sources:

http://www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/big/0103.html#article

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alaska#Statehood

http://xroads.virginia.edu/~cap/bartlett/49state.html

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03 November
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Laika, the Russian Space Dog

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Laika, The Russian Space Dog

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Posta_Romana_-_1959_-_Laika_120_B.jpg

56 years ago today, November 3,1957, the Russian space program launched a dog into space. Laika was one of three dogs tested to see which would go into space. All passed the test, but Laika was the lucky one to win a one way trip to space. Laika rode into space on Sputnik II where she would stay for eternity as there were no plans for Sputnik II’s reentry.

Laika means “barker” in Russian. She was a three-year old mutt that weighted 13 pounds. Before launch she was hooked up to machines to record what happened to her body during launch and also once in space. In addition to being the first animal in space she is probably the fastest traveling animal as well, she circled the earth every hour and forty-two minutes, traveling approximately 18,000 miles per hour.

While there was much debate as to how long Laika lived after the launch, According to a 2002 BBC article “After five to seven hours into the flight, no life signs were being received from Laika. By the fourth orbit it was apparent that Laika had died from overheating and stress. “ We also know that on the sixth day the life support in the module failed and on April 14, 1958 Sputnik II reentered the atmosphere and burned up. Her death sparked much debate over animal rights. In Russian, she is seen as a hero.

This part of the show tells the story of Oleg Gazenko, the Soviet scientist who selected and trained space-dog Laika, the first living creature in orbit. http://web.archive.org/web/20060614193101/http://spacedog.biz/gscfiles/gscgazscript.htm

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Laika: The 1st Dog in Space

Laika: The 1st Dog in Space

Laika: The 1st Dog in Space (Famous Firsts: Animals Making History (Graphic Planet))

Space Race

Space Race

Space Race: The Epic Battle Between America and the Soviet Union for Dominion of Space

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