American History

Courtesy of Dawn Sinclair Shapiro

For more than 70 years, programs around the United States forcibly sterilized tens of thousands of American citizens.

When Children Become Consumers

Oct 11, 2016
Courtesy of the Lois Lenski Collection of Early American Children's Literature, UNC-Greensboro

Within minutes of watching weekend morning cartoons, viewers see a range of commercials targeting children. Social scientists have long been outspoken about the effect these kind of advertisements can have on children’s psyche and development. 

Photo of Oscar Charleston's baseball card
Ryan Christoff

Durham and baseball are intimately connected in the minds of many Americans because of the movie "Bull Durham." But the relationship between the city of Durham and the sport dates back to more than a century before the film.

Image of Theodore Roosevelt
Library of Congress

The 2016 race for the White House is full of expectations from both sides of the aisle about the role of the 45th president. How has that office evolved? And what does history tell us about how presidents are judged?

Image of Chang and Eng Bunker
Wikimedia Commons

Note: This is a rebroadcast from last year.  

Conjoined twins Chang and Eng Bunker toured the world in the mid 1800s, putting their bodies on exhibit for a wide array of audiences. They eventually settled in rural North Carolina, became slave owners, and fathered 21 children, but they were never able to escape the public eye. 

Mary Kratt in rhododendron at age 6
Mary Kratt

Historian and author Mary Kratt grew up in the countryside surrounded by trees, the occasional quail hunter and not much else. As a little girl she spent a lot of time on her own and became a keen observer of her surroundings and other people, and she says that’s exactly why she is a successful poet today. 

Kratt has authored six poetry books and a number of books and essays on Charlotte history.

Charmaine McKissick-Melton at a ceremony for Sigma Tau Delta, an English honor society.
Chi Brown / NCCU Office of University Relations

In 1963, the Durham School Board extended the desegregation of schools to elementary school students. Third-grader Charmaine McKissick-Melton and her brother, Floyd Jr., were two of the first African-Americans to integrate North Durham Elementary School.

Marco Williams is a filmmaker and film educator. Here he is filming Lloyd Knight, Marth Graham Dance company for the film Echo.
Marco Williams

Note: This is a rebroadcast from earlier this year.

Marco Williams is a filmmaker who is not afraid of telling stories that others don't want to tell. 

He has produced more than a dozen documentaries exploring race, death, violence and the American psyche. His work has earned him an Emmy, a Peabody, and a litany of other documentary awards.

Image of Henrietta Bingham (middle) with her brother, nephews and nieces in 1942.
Emily Bingham

When Emily Bingham chose to become an author and historian she set one rule for herself: she would never write anything about her own family. The legendary Louisville media moguls had already been in the headlines far too much for stories about their family politics and lawsuits.

Image of Golden on the campaign trail for Robert F. Kennedy's successful run for US Senate. The inscription reads: "To Harry...and afterwards I put on my coat, did what you told me, and won the election. My thanks, Bob Kennedy"
Harry Golden Papers, J. Murrey Atkins Library Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Harry Golden is no longer a household name in North Carolina, but at one point he was likely the most famous North Carolinian in the country. Golden was a Jewish-American writer who grew up in New York City’s Lower East Side in the early 1900s.

Image of a plate of soul food, including fried chicken, mac and cheese, collards, and fried okra.
Flickr/Jennifer Woodard Maderazo

Adrian Miller calls himself a “recovering lawyer and politico turned culinary historian.” He went from working as a special assistant to former President Bill Clinton and a legislative director for former Colorado Governor Bill Ritter to becoming a soul food scholar.

“Practicing law was not the thing for me,” Miller says.“I was singing spirituals in my office, so I figured I needed to do something else.”

Image of Katharine Wright sitting beside Wilbur before her first flight in 1909.
Courtesy of Special Collections and Archives, Wright State University

The state of North Carolina has many claims to fame, but there is likely none more popular or controversial than the slogan on the state license plate: “First In Flight.” The phrase commemorates the spectacular achievement of brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright who piloted their first flight in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina in 1903.

    

Historian and Civil War reenactor Philip Brown.
http://www.ncdcr.gov/

April 9, 1865 is widely known as the day the American Civil War ended.

Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee handed his sword over to Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant in Appomattox, Va.

But 89,000 of Gen. Joseph E. Johnston's men were still scattered across the South, willing and able to continue fighting the North. 

Image of UNC-Chapel Hill's Battle Hall building.
UNC-Chapel Hill Library

In 1915, former UNC President Kemp Plummer Battle sent a sealed box to the North Carolina Historical Society that contained two items: a letter and a Montgomery Ward catalog.

He wanted these objects to serve as an impetus for reflection on the past at two distinct points in the future—1965 and 2015. In 1965, Chancellor Robert B. House honored the request with an essay detailing major changes he had witnessed in the past 50 years. But this year, the UNC-Chapel Hill History Department is taking a more playful approach. They have asked four faculty members from distinct backgrounds to reflect on changes in American society from their perspective—from a look at leisure in America to an examination of modern-day advertising.  

A photo from Grenada, Miss., where Nan Elizabeth Woodruff studies the legacies of terror and violence against people of color.
Matthew Nichols / Flickr Creative Commons

  This year marks the 50th anniversary of many monumental moments of the civil rights movement.

And a group of scholars and activists gather today at the National Humanities Center to push for increased dialogue about how the historical violence against people of color continues to resonate today.

    

2015 marks the 50th anniversary of key moments in the civil rights movement, including Bloody Sunday and the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The Biltmore Company

Biltmore House is bringing Downton Abbey to Asheville with a new exhibit featuring more than 40 original costumes from the show.“Dressing Downton: Changing Fashion for Changing Times” traces the evolution of fashion and social norms during the early 20th century and draws a number of parallels between

Marco Williams is a filmmaker and film educator. Here he is filming Lloyd Knight, Marth Graham Dance company for the film Echo.
Marco Williams

Marco Williams is a filmmaker who is not afraid of telling stories that others don't want to tell. 

Image of Chang and Eng Bunker
Wikimedia Commons

  

Conjoined twins Chang and Eng Bunker toured the world in the mid 1800s, putting their bodies on exhibit for a wide array of audiences.

Image of actor Alphonse NIcholson playing the character Abel Green in Frieght.
Nick Graetz

  

A new one-man show by playwright Howard Craft tells the story of a man who exists in five incarnations at different points in American history. 

This fall marks the 150th anniversary of a landmark in the history of American dictionary making: the creation of the 1864 edition of Webster's Dictionary. 

Creative Commons/ Wellcome Library, London

Writer Megan Mahew Bergman describes her newest collection of short stories as “10 years of my reading life.” Almost Famous Women (Scribner/2015) is historical fiction that explores the lives of powerful and unusual women who have remained in the margins of history. The stories range from an account of conjoined twins who were sold into show business in North Carolina, to the life and legacy of Africa’s first female horse trainer. Host Frank Stasio talks to Megan Mahew Bergman about women who took risks, broke rules, and disrupted cultural and gender norms in the early to mid 20th century.

Image of H.L. Mencken
Flickr/Union-Square

 

H.L. Mencken was a columnist, author and journalist regarded as one of the most influential American writers from the early 20th century.

Livingston Press

    

Durham writer Gregg Cusick's day job as a bartender allows him to write about some things he hears from the other side of the bar.

He uses just a few elements of the tales from his patrons to create historical fiction in the form of short stories.

His first book, My Father Moves Through Time Like a Dirigible (Livingston Press/2014), is a collection of short stories that explore our emotional connections to our own stories of love, loss and humor.

Image of Sarah Hale, editor of Godey's Lady Book
Wikimedia Commons

    

Many people sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner may hearken back to some version of a story about Pilgrims and Native Americans feasting together. 

Raleigh Little Theatre

In popular culture, the term cakewalk means anything that is effortless and easy.

Cast of 'The Womanless Wedding', 1890 Trinity College Drama Group
Duke University Archives

"Stranger than Fiction: True Stories Found in NCpedia" is a special event which will be held Saturday September 13 at the North Carolina Museum of History. A panel of experts will share lesser-known stories from North Carolina's history.

Here are five such stories from NCpedia, the online encyclopedia of all things North Carolina:

1. There's a tradition in the state for men to get dressed up and hold 'Womanless Weddings'

Ringlets, a baby-doll face and a sweet singing voice may be the most recognizable aspects of Shirley Temple's famous persona.