Monthly Archives: May 2016

The Rural Cemetery Movement

Read the complete transcript of this episode.

Does your city have a big, sprawling cemetery – maybe one with ornate Victorian monuments and statuary? If it does, it was likely built during the rural cemetery movement of the early to mid nineteenth century, an effort to move places of burial away from the center of villages and to the park-like settings on the outskirts. What spurred this move? Join Elizabeth and Sarah as they talk grave iconography, disease epidemics, the commodification of death, and ‘rural’ cemeteries.

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Show Notes & Further Reading

Bender, Thomas. “The ‘Rural’ Cemetery Movement: Urban Travail and the Appeal of Nature,” The New England Quarterly 47 (June 1974).

Greenfield, Rebecca. “Our First Public Parks: The Forgotten History of Cemeteries,” The Atlantic, March 16, 2011.

Schantz, Mark. Awaiting the Heavenly Country: The Civil War and America’s Culture of Death. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2008.

Williams, Tate. “In the Garden Cemetery: The Revival of America’s First Urban Parks,” American Forests, Spring/Summer 2014.



Race, Murder, and Protest in Buffalo 1980.

In the Fall of 1980, serial killer Joseph Christopher set out on a racially motivated killing spree in Buffalo, NY. His horrendous acts inspired the city to rally together in the name of peace and to publicly condemn Christopher’s actions and his supporters. Join us as History Buffs Intern and Public History student Destiny Johnson frames an interview with Buffalo resident Ellie Dorrittie, who was there for it all.

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Show Notes & Further Reading

Hewitt, Christopher. Political Violence and Terrorism in Modern America: A Chronology.

Rule, Shelia.”Slaying of 6 Blacks Brings Racial Tension to Buffalo.” New York Times. 11 Oct 1980. p25.

Rule, Shelia. “Carey Asks FBI for More Help on Murders in Buffalo.” New York Times. 16 Oct 1980. p B3.

The Bank War: Interview with Paul Kahan

In The Bank WarPaul Kahan explores the struggle between Andrew Jackson and the federal banking system. As History Buff Dan notes in his intro to an interview with Kahan, the Bank War was as instrumental in shaping U.S. history as the American Civil War. And Kahan weighs in on the $20 bill debate, revealing why it is a good idea to take Jackson off the federal currency.

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Show Notes & Further Reading

Kahan, Paul. The Bank War: Andrew Jackson, Nicholas Biddle, and the Fight Over American Finances. Westholme Publishing, 2015.

Passing: Race, Disability, and Gender

What do Michael Jackson, Franklin D. Roosevelt and a 17th-century Frenchman named Marin le Marci have to do with the debates about the North Carolina bathrooms bill? Marissa, Sarah, and Katie weave together a discussion of ways people have defied socially constructed systems of race, ability, and gender, and “passed” as something else.

**Correction: Sarah mentions “David Wilson” – she meant Daniel Wilson. (Sorry!)

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Show Notes & Further Reading

Applebaum, Yoni. “Rachel Dolezal and the History of Passing for Black.” The Atlantic (15 Jun 2015)

Bates, Karen Grigsby. “‘A Chosen Exile’: Black People Passing in White America.” NPR (October 7, 2014)

Brune, Jeffrey, ed. Disability and Passing: Blurring the Lines of Identity

Carter, Julian B. The Heart of Whiteness Normal Sexuality and Race in America, 1880-1940. Durham: Duke University Press, 2007.

Daston, L., & Park, K. (1985). “Hermaphrodites in renaissance france.” Critical Matrix,1(5), 1.

Fikes, Robert. “The Passing of Passing: A Peculiarly American Racial Tradition Approaches Irrelevance.”

Haynes, Monica. “Passing: How Posing as White Became a Choice for Some Black Americans.” Pittsburgh Gazette (October 26, 2003). 

Laqueur, Thomas Walter. Making Sex: Body and Gender from the Greeks to Freud. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1990.


Mini-Cast: How Britain and Russia made Afghanistan

There’s been a lot of talk in the news lately about international borders. See, for example: Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March 2014; the question of EU nations protecting their own borders from the overwhelming flow of migrants into Europe; the fluidity  and conflict of the Turkey-Syria border, and Donald Trump’s insistence that Mexico pay for a wall along the US-Mexico border. This got us to thinking:  what goes into making a border?  Who decides where the line is, and how is it enforced?  Marissa and Katie look to answer this question by exploring the the creation of Afghanistan’s borders in the late nineteenth century.  It’s a dramatic Victorian conflict that’s still relevant today. Join us!

The Great Game: the afghan Emir Sher Ali Khan with his “friends” Russia (the bear) and Britain (the lion), by Sir John Tenniel (1878).  Wikimedia Commons. Public Domain.


Show Notes and Further Reading

Special thanks this week goes out to Dr. John Brobst, Assistant Professor of History and Director of Graduate Studies at Ohio University, whose work on Central Asia inspired and informed much of this week’s episode.


Brobst, John.  The Future of the Great Game: Sir Olaf Caroe, India’s Independence, and the Defense of Asia (2005)

Fromkin, David. “The Great Game in Asia,” Foreign Affairs, Spring 1980

Hopkirk, Peter.  The Great Game: The Struggle for Empire in Central Asia (1992) and Tresspassers on the Roof of the World: The Secret Exploration of Tibet (1995)

Sergeev, Evgeny. The Great Game, 1856-1907: Russo-British Relations in Central and East Asia (2013)

Feature image:  A map of the countries between Constantinope and Calcutta:  including Turkey in Asia, Persia, Afghanistan, and Turkestan. London : Edward Stanford, 1912. Library of Congress.