WWII Defense bond display, Grand Central Station, New York City

7 January 2013

Defense Bond display at Grand Central Station, 1942 (Photo Credit: Arthur Rothstein/Westchester Magazine).

War is expensive, no matter when or where it is fought. During the World Wars, the United States government issued war bonds to help finance military operations. The purpose of these bonds were two-fold, they generated capital for the government as well as making citizens feel as though they were involved in helping the war efforts. The push for selling war bonds during the Second World War was important. The country just dug itself out of the Great Depression and the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 struck a deep chord. In an effort to increase citizen participation and reiterate the sense of patriotism, war bond drives became successful campaigns. Mass media and Hollywood stars and starlets helped to sell defense bonds. Drives and displays were created all over the country to promote homefront efforts. One such display is a massive mural by the Farm Security Administration in New York’s famed Grand Central Station.

The Library of Congress documents the progress of how the massive display at Grand Central Station came to be.

Fabrication of the mural by Farm Security Administration:

Photo Credit: Arthur Rothstein/Farm Security Administration (Library of Congress)

Installing the defense bond sales photomural in the concourse of the Grand Central terminal:

Photo Credit: Arthur Rothstein/Farm Security Administration (Library of Congress)

Photo Credit: Edwin Rosskam/Farm Security Administration (Library of Congress)

Photo Credit: Arthur Rothstein/Farm Security Administration (Library of Congress)

Cocaine as a Local Anesthetic

6 January 2013
Cocaine toothache drops were popular with children and with their parents. Not only would the medicine numb the pain, but it could also put the user in a "better" mood. (Department of Psychology/University at Buffalo)

Cocaine toothache drops were popular with children and with their parents. Not only would the medicine numb the pain, but it could also put the user in a “better” mood. (Department of Psychology/University at Buffalo)

“I was making frequent use of cocaine at that time … I had been the first to recommend the use of cocaine, in 1885, and this recommendation had brought serious reproaches down on me.”

- Sigmund Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams*

Cocaine is now a Class A drug but, at one point in history, it was a popular painkiller and local anesthetic.

Sigmund Freud, the famous Vienna psychoanalyst, used cocaine in the treatment of morphine addiction in the 1880s. Additionally, he thought cocaine was an all-around drug that could help with fatigue, indigestion and depression.

William Halsted in 1922 (Photo by John H. Stocksdale/U.S. National Library of Medicine)

William Halsted in 1922 (Photo by John H. Stocksdale/U.S. National Library of Medicine)

He suggested to Carl Koller, a German eye surgeon, that cocaine could be used as a local anesthetic for eye surgery since it blocks pain.

After experimenting, Koller released medical reports and findings that affirmed Freud’s assumption that cocaine could be used as a local anesthetic because, not only could it blocked pain, it also numbed tissue.

Branching off of Koller’s work, William Halsted, an American doctor, began to inject it into nerves and under the skin for small operations. During his experimentation with cocaine as a local anesthetic, Halsted, himself, became addicted and he documented the drug’s addictive qualities.

In his attempt to kick the habit, Halsted was sent to Butler Sanatorium in Providence, Rhode Island. In order to get him off cocaine, morphine was substituted instead. It did not help. For the rest of his life, Halsted was dependent on both cocaine and morphine.

 

*When cocaine was shown to be addictive and had very harmful side effects, Freud’s medical reputation somewhat suffered.

Dr. Naomi Craft. The Little Book of Medical Breakthroughs. New York: Metro Books, 2010, 78-79.
wired.com

In Their Words – Ralph Waldo Emerson

5 January 2013

“Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.”

- Ralph Waldo Emerson, American Transcendentalist philosopher and essayist, wrote this statement in his essay Self Reliance.

Candy Factory

5 January 2013
Photo by Lewis Wickes Hine/New York Public Library

Candy sorter in the old Huyler factory, New York City (1900-1937). Photo Credit: Lewis Wickes Hine/New York Public Library

U.S. Department of Agriculture/New York Public Library

In a candy factory making gum drops. Photo Credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture/New York Public Library

Photo by U.S. Department of Agriculture/New York Public Library

Chocolate grinders in a candy factory. Photo Credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture/New York Public Library

Photo by Lewis Wickes Hine/New York Public Library

Candy factory workers (1900-1937). Photo Credit: Lewis Wickes Hine/New York Public Library

Zim’s Note: The top and bottom photos immediately reminded me of the “I Love Lucy” episode with Lucy and Ethel in the candy factory. The scene of them frantically sorting candy is one of my favorites of the entire series.

Attorney General Bill Baxley vs. the KKK

4 January 2013
The four girls killed in the bombing (Clockwise from top left, Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson and Denise McNair) (Image found here)

The four girls killed in the bombing (Clockwise from top left, Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson and Denise McNair) (Image found here)

On Sunday, September 15, 1963 a box of dynamite exploded under the steps (near the basement) of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. Four girls, Addie Mae Collins (age 14), Denise McNair (age 11), Carole Robertson (age 14), and Cynthia Wesley (age 14), were killed in the attack, and more than 20 additional people were injured.

A witness came forward and identified known Ku Klux Klan member, Robert Chambliss, of placing the bomb in the church. Chambliss was arrested and charged with murder. Police found that he possessed 122 sticks of dynamite and he was charged with having it without a permit. Less than a month later, Chambliss was found not guilty of the murders and only received a hundred-dollar fine with six-month jail time for possessing the dynamite. The fine and jail time was later overturned on appeals. The FBI identified Chambliss, Bobby Frank Cherry, Herman Frank Cash and Thomas E. Blanton, Jr. as the lead suspects in the bombing. However, by 1968, the investigation closed with no additional charges filed.

Baxley served as the attorney general of Alabama from 1971 to 1979. (Photo by John Scott; Alabama Archives)

Baxley served as the attorney general of Alabama from 1971 to 1979. (Photo by John Scott; Alabama Archives)

This event would become a crucial point for the Civil Rights Movement – both in Birmingham and around the country.

In 1970, Bill Baxley became the youngest person in the United States to hold a state attorney generalship. Within one week of being sworn in as Attorney General of Alabama, 29-year-old Baxley reopened the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing. “Now I could do what I had sworn to do,” he remembers thinking. “Within two months in office I had set one goal for myself: to solve that bombing case.”

Of course his crusade in bringing justice to the four girls brought him some enemies. Especially with the Ku Klux Klan. In February 1976, he received a threatening letter from the KKK’s Grand Dragon Edward R. Fields who stated that Baxley re-opened the case for ‘tactical reasons.’ He also wrote, “We would like to congratulate you, you are not an honorary n*****.”

Baxley promptly wrote back to Fields on official letterhead the following:

Letter from Baxley to KKK

(Image Credit:  Letters of Note)

Transcript:

THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
STATE OF ALABAMA

February 28, 1976

“Dr.” Edward R. Fields
National States Rights Party
P. O. Box 1211
Marietta, Georgia 30061

Dear “Dr.” Fields:

My response to your letter of February 19, 1976, is – kiss my ass.

Sincerely,

BILL BAXLEY
Attorney General

Over seven years of investigating (with previously unused FBI evidence and files), Chambliss was once again brought to court. This time, he was found guilty. He remained in prison until his death in 1985. Witnesses started coming forward and in May 2000, Blanton and Cherry also received indictments (Cash had died in 1994) in the bombings.

When asked in a recent interview where he got the “gumption” to face the KKK and the racial hostilities, Baxley stated, “I was aware there was danger out there. But I was younger, you feel invincible, and I knew I was doing right.”

Sources
Six Dead After Church Bombing,” Washington Post, September 16, 1963.
Joyce Leviton, “After 14 Years, a Young Attorney General Closes in on the Birmingham Bombings,” People Magazine, October 31, 1977.
FBI, “A Byte Out of History – The ’63 Baptist Church Bombing,” September, 26, 2007.
Hunter Ford, “Hunter Ford’s Conversation with Bill Baxley,” Capstone Report, March 24, 2008.
Huffington Post
NPR

Letters From the Front – World War I

3 January 2013

Letter From the Front Photo

[The following letter is one of the many World War I exchanges from Lloyd Maywood Staley to his sweetheart Mary Beatrice Gray. Staley was in the 35th Division U.S. Army which was made up of the National Guards of Missouri and Kansas. This letter was written while he was en route to Liverpool, England before landing in Le Havre, France, where Staley served the rest of his enlistment in the Postal Detachment of the 35th Division, A.P.O. 743.]

Lloyd's official army photo. (Photo courtesy of Marjorie Layton, Lloyd's eldest daughter)

Lloyd Maywood Staley’s official army photo. (Photo courtesy of Marjorie Layton, Lloyd’s eldest daughter and found here)

May 1, 1918
Most anywhere in the Atlantic

My Dearest Mary,
      It has been some time since I have written you but facilities for mailing of letters is rather limited I have found. I suppose I may expect you to get this some time this summer and, if I am lucky, I may get my answer by next winter.
      I remember that today is May the 1st and that it is also your birthday. The best I can do is to write a letter from almost nowhere on earth. I certainly hope May 1st was a more pleasant day in K.C. than here. The sea has been a little rough for two days and this is a pretty sick bunch on board this ship. I have been able to keep going all the time and, aside from feeling disagreeable, I have been alright. I don’t like the looks of anything to eat, though, and don’t expect to until this ship gets across.
      I have been sort of an orderly around the office since I have been here and I get to move around a little which keeps me doing something. All I want to do is to cross this water just once more, then I have no desire whatever to go on any more ocean trips.
      We are going to have an athletic contest of some description tomorrow. There is a half-mile run scheduled so you see we have quite a ship. It won’t take very many turns around this deck to make the distance either.
      There is little to write about, it seems. When I started to write, I thought I might be able to write quite a letter, but this trip is getting so frightfully monotonous that it takes all the pep out of one. The scenery is about the same all the time except it jumps a little higher and perhaps throws a little salt spray on you if you get too close.
      Another amusement we have is to watch the other ships and see how far they duck into the waves each time. Sometimes they are almost out of sight in a hollow between the waves. I used to think I might like the Navy but, if this is a sample, nothing to it for me.
      Don’t be surprised or feel hurt if my letters are short. There is so much we can’t say that I usually tell you about and then conditions for writing of letters are going to be decidedly poor, I am afraid. I will write all that I can and as often as possible and I hope that you get them all O.K.
      I wish you all sorts of good luck and happiness for your birthday. This seems like an inconsistency as you may get this in a month or two, but I am sure you know my thoughts of you tonight.
      So I close with the best of love for the only little girl in the world for me, 
      Your own Lloyd

Lloyd survived the war and on September 15, 1920, Lloyd and Mary were married. They had five boys and three girls. During World War II, their oldest son, Warren, served as a co-pilot on a B-25 bomber while their second son, John, chose the Navy. In February 1944, Lloyd and Mary were informed that Warren was missing in action after flying over the Mediterranean Sea on a mission. They were not given any more information and Warren was later declared killed in action. The other three sons also went into the military but did not serve overseas during this war. Mary passed away on October 11, 1974, Lloyd wrote that they “had fifty-four years of married life and I believe that we both would say they were good years. Times were sometimes difficult but we faced our difficulties together and were strengthened because of them.” Lloyd Maywood Staley passed away on December 15, 1983 at the age of 88 years.

Source

 

Military Censors at Work

2 January 2013

An unidentified group of American military censors at work in an unidentified location during the First World War. During this conflict, the US military began its first large-scale censorship of troop mail. Censors were on the alert for anything that might aid the enemy. References that were almost certain to be cut or blacked out were those to troop locations and movements.

History By Zim’s Year in Review!

1 January 2013

As we celebrate the new year today, I thought it was a good time to look back on History By Zim’s 2012 year.

Viewership

The website was visited in record numbers this year. In March, I posted about hitting the 100,000+ views milestone and eight months later, History By Zim is currently sitting at 600,000+ views.

On April 7th, History By Zim had it’s busiest day with 37,378 views that day (the site averages 500 views a day…). Someone shared Andrew Jackson’s Parrot over on Reddit and the post made it to the top of the day’s popular list.

Zim Around (Online) Town

This year, History By Zim created a Facebook page and Pinterest account. While Pinterest describes itself, over on the Facebook page, I post (almost) daily “On This Day” facts, quotes, news articles, videos and more.

In addition to being seen around various blogs and Tumblr pages, History By Zim was linked in an opinion article on the Los Angeles Times website on Halloween. They linked back to the Halloween in the White House post.

Yearly Fun Facts

History Repeats and DinosaurMost popular referrers to History By Zim:

  1. Google
  2. Reddit
  3. Facebook
  4. Pinterest
  5. Tumblr

Most viewed History By Zim posts:

  1. Andrew Jackson’s Parrot
  2. Lucille Ball
  3. Las Vegas
  4. Lincoln Logs
  5. Byzantine Architecture (yes, this one surprised me too…)

Inquiries

True.

True.

This year, I have been contacted frequently about many things. I’ve fielded e-mails from people requesting more information on specific topics or particular photos. Some have dropped me a line just to say they are enjoying the site. It’s always nice to know that this “little ole’ history site” is actually reaching people!

Back in May I posted about the origins of the Remembrance Poppy. In the post I discussed how Moina Belle Michael campaigned to get the poppy adopted as the national remembrance symbol and became known as the “Poppy Lady.” A few days later, I received an email from Barbara Walsh who was very happy I mentioned Moina Belle Michael because she had a personal connection with the “Poppy Lady.” Barbara actually wrote a beautiful children’s book about the “Poppy Lady” and was kind enough to send me a copy.

A few weeks ago, Smithsonian Books contacted me about whether History By Zim would be interested in doing a book review/feature of an upcoming title. I immediately agreed and The Smithsonian Book of Presidential Trivia was released today if you want to buy a copy. I learned many new and interesting facts about some of the country’s past presidents that may be talked about here as the year progresses….

Onward to 2013!!

What you can look forward to this year:

The only caption needed: This is badass. (Source)

The only caption needed: This is epic. (Source)

But in all seriousness, thank you all for your continual support and enthusiasm for History By Zim. Thank you for your wonderful comments of encouragement and spelling/grammar corrections! I appreciate it more than words could ever express. This year, I hope to make History By Zim bigger and better than ever! I have a list of goals for the site that I intend to keep. One of which is to upload something at least once a day. I want to finish all the partial posts that have been sitting in the queue within the month. Additionally, I want to do more book/movie reviews as well as posting more about art. All in all, I intend to make 2013 a badass year for History By Zim . . . in a good way of course :-)

New Year’s Eve in Pictures

31 December 2012
NYE 1936

The New Year to came to the Bowery in 1936 to be greeted by a toast from these downtown folks. (Daily Mail)

Shirley Temple as the New Year's baby, 1937. (Flickr)

Shirley Temple as the New Year’s baby, 1937. (Flickr)

NYE 1937

As the clocks struck twelve on New Year’s Eve in 1937,thousands of people inundated Times Square with cowbells, noisemakers, and streamers. (Daily Mail)

NYE 1941

A United States Navy man on leave from his ship lifts an elbow and drinks a toast with his girlfriend to peace and more lasting reunions in the new year in 1941. (Daily Mail)

Japanese Americans at Central Utah Relocation Center celebrated reopening of the west coast with a big New Year's Eve party. Joseph Aoki portrays Father Time and his son Tommy, Baby New Year, Topaz, Utah, 1944. (Photo by Charles Mace: National Archives)

Japanese Americans at Central Utah Relocation Center celebrated reopening of the west coast with a big New Year’s Eve party. Joseph Aoki portrays Father Time and his son Tommy, Baby New Year. Topaz, Utah: 1944. (Photo by Charles Mace: National Archives)

New Year's eve party at the Sanford Jewish Community Center, Sanford, Florida, 1944. (State Archives of Florida: Florida Memory)

New Year’s eve party at the Sanford Jewish Community Center. Sanford, Florida: 1944. (State Archives of Florida: Florida Memory)

Hangover Booth

A hangover booth for revelers who go to far on New Years Eve has been set up at the Cafe Zanzibar in 1945. (Daily Mail)

NYE 1946

Two women try hard, but cannot seem to cheer up Jerry Therrien, bartender at the Copacobana in 1946. (Daily Mail)

NYE 1952

New Year’s Eve c.1952. (Flavorwire)

NYE 1956

New Year’s Eve in Times Square, c.1956, Photo by Dan Weiner (Flavorwire)

New-Years-Eve-Ball-1978

New Year’s Eve Ball c.1978, Photo by Chester Higgins Jr. (Flavorwire)

Ball Drop

Russ Brown, superintendent of Times Square, left, checks his watch before hoisting the Times Square ball in 1980, and New York City Mayor Ed Koch, right, gives a “thumbs up” as he flips a switch to test the Big Apple Ball on New Year’s Eve in 1980. (US News)

Merry Christmas!

24 December 2012

merry Christmas charlie brown

Last night I trekked out to my parents’ home in the country. After waking this morning and stumbling my way to the stairs, I glance out the window and saw large, fluffy snowflakes silhouetted against a grove of trees. The sight made me feel content. A wave of happiness flooded through me. I’m home and it’s Christmas. Not everyone is able to say that and it makes me that much more grateful. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year’s!

Since I can’t help myself…

I happen to think this is one of the best Christmas movies ever!

I happen to think this is one of the best Christmas movies ever!

Christmas with the Presidents

23 December 2012
General John J. Pershing and President of the United States Woodrow Wilson (seated center) at a Christmas dinner with the 26th Infantry Division and various French and American officers in Montigny, France in 1917. (Photo:  U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center)

General John J. Pershing and President of the United States Woodrow Wilson (seated center) at a Christmas dinner with the 26th Infantry Division and various French and American officers in Montigny, France in 1917. (Photo: U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center)

President Coolidge illuminating the community Christmas tree, which has been erected on the Monument Grounds, south of the White House, 12/24/1923. (Photo: Library of Congress)

President Coolidge illuminating the community Christmas tree, which has been erected on the Monument Grounds, south of the White House, December 24, 1923. (Photo: Library of Congress)

The President and family in front of the Nation's Christmas Tree in Sherman Square, Dec. 25, 1931.

President Hoover and family in front of the Nation’s Christmas Tree in Sherman Square, Christmas Day, 1931. (Photo: Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum)

The Roosevelt Family in the East Room of the White House, 12/25/1941 (Photo: National Archives)

The Roosevelt Family in the East Room of the White House, Christmas Day, 1941. (Photo: National Archives)

Truman

President Harry S. Truman with Christmas packages on a trip home to visit family in Independence, Missouri. December 25, 1945. (Photo: Harry S. Truman Library and Museum)

President Dwight D. Eisenhower and family, Christmas 1955. (Photo: The White House)

President Dwight D. Eisenhower and family, Christmas 1955. (Photo: The White House)

President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy stand next to Christmas tree in the Blue Room of the White House, 13 December 1961 (Photo: John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum)

President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy stand next to Christmas tree in the Blue Room of the White House, December 13, 1961. (Photo: John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum)

Family photo! President Johnson, the First Lady and even their dog, Yuki, pose for a photo next to the White House Christmas tree in 1967. (Photo: New York Daily News)

Family photo! President Johnson, the First Lady and even their dog, Yuki, pose for a photo next to the White House Christmas tree in 1967. (Photo: New York Daily News)

37th President of the U.S., Richard Nixon, First Lady Pat Nixon and their daughter Tricia stand beside the Christmas tree in the main lobby of the White House on Dec. 21, 1969. (Photo: New York Daily News)

37th President of the U.S., Richard Nixon, First Lady Pat Nixon and their daughter Tricia stand beside the Christmas tree in the main lobby of the White House on Dec. 21, 1969. (Photo: New York Daily News)

First Lady Betty Ford and Susan Ford in the Solarium, Making Ornaments, 11/10/1975 (Photo: National Archives)

First Lady Betty Ford and Susan Ford in the Solarium, Making Ornaments, November 10,1975. (Photo: National Archives)

Jimmy Carter and family celebrate Christmas at home, 12/25/1978 (Photo: National Archives)

Jimmy Carter and family celebrate Christmas at home, Christmas Day, 1978. (Photo: National Archives)

President Reagan and Nancy Reagan decorating the Christmas tree, 12/24/1983

President Reagan and Nancy Reagan decorating the Christmas tree, December 24, 1983. (Photo: Reagan Library)

President Bush Shows his Grandson, Walker, the Oval Office Christmas Tree, 12/09/1991 (Photo: National Archives)

President Bush Shows his Grandson, Walker, the Oval Office Christmas Tree, December 9, 1991. (Photo: National Archives)

Clintons Christmas

The Clinton Family poses for a Holiday Portrait in the Blue Room, December 23, 1999. (Photographer: Sharon Farmer/Photo: William J. Clinton Presidential Library Facebook)

President George W. Bush participates in Christmas Eve Phone Calls to members of the armed forces at Camp David, Friday, Dec. 24, 2004. (Photo: The White House)

President George W. Bush participates in Christmas Eve Phone Calls to members of the armed forces at Camp David, Friday, Dec. 24, 2004. (Photo: The White House)

President Obama and the First Lady descend the Grand Staircase of White House to attend a holiday party, Dec. 13, 2009. (Photo: The White House)

President Obama and the First Lady descend the Grand Staircase of White House to attend a holiday party, Dec. 13, 2009. (Photo: The White House)

Home for the Holidays, 1944

23 December 2012

Photo Credit: National Archives

“A youngster, clutching his soldier father, gazes upward while the latter lifts his wife from the ground to wish her a `Merry Christmas.’ The serviceman is one of those fortunate enough to be able to get home for the holidays.”12/1944

Christmas by the Numbers

21 December 2012

Source: History.com

“The Smithsonian Book of Presidential Trivia”

19 December 2012

(Image via Barnes & Noble)

History By Zim was contacted by Smithsonian Books (they publish material in collaboration with the Smithsonian Institute) to see if I was interested in doing a book review/feature on an upcoming release. The book, The Smithsonian Book of Presidential Trivia, seemed to be right in History By Zim’s wheelhouse. Because of that reason, as well as the Smithsonian connection, I immediately agreed. However, I should state that as excited as I am about this, I made a point of looking through the book as unbiased as I can be. 

The Smithsonian Book of Presidential Trivia
AMY PASTAN
Washington D.C.: Smithsonian Books, 2012
240 pp. $12.95/$15.95 CAN
ISBN: 978-1-58834-325-3

Cover:

Book covers are one of the main selling points of a book, they help set the mood for what the reader can expect. President Theodore Roosevelt’s enthusiastic smile is just one of the many faces and objects popping out of the White House roof. The seemingly random array of things assures the reader that this book is full of all things presidents. Since random trivia play a large role in History By Zim, this is a very good sign.

Standard information dominates the back cover and reads on the textbook side.* It’s important to mention that it states that the book is “[f]ully updated with presidential information to 2013.”

Book Structure:

Coming in around 240 pages, The Smithsonian Book of Presidential Trivia  is substantial enough to appease presidential history experts but not too long to scare off the average history buff.

A short forward by Marc Pachter (Director Emeritus, National Portrait Gallery and Interim Director, National Museum of American History) details the perception of the presidency and how the presidency is as an iconic symbol of the country.

Divided into eleven chapters, The Smithsonian Book of Presidential Trivia deals with every part of the presidency from political campaigns to life in the White House to particular low moments for some. Chapter Eleven, “The Quotable President,” gives quips and soundbites from those who held the nation’s highest office.

Following the chapters is a helpful presidential timeline that lists the order of presidents, their birth/death, term years and vice presidents.

(Photo by Zim)

Content:

I have looked at my fair share of presidential trivia books for here and this one follows the standard Question and Answer format. However, that seems to be the only major similarity between them. This one varies because, not only do they tell you which president[s] is the answer to the question, they give more information about the person, event, object, etc…. in question. It is very helpful to have the additional information on hand and not just the president’s name.

Another big difference between The Smithsonian Book of Presidential Trivia and other related trivia books is that this one pairs questions with photographs of historic artifacts (from Smithsonian’s collections). There are 115 black-and-white photographs in the book.

The Smithsonian Book of Presidential Trivia includes trivia about some First Ladies and children of presidents as well. Hillary Clinton and Lucy Hayes are the most discussed First Ladies with about four to five mentions each.

The most discussed presidents include: Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt (without including mentions about wives and children). James Monroe, Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, Herbert Hoover and George H.W. Bush are the least mentioned with 2-3 entries (including mentions about wives and children).

Things I liked:

  • Discussion on each trivia answer.
  • Numerous photographs of objects from Smithsonian’s collections.
  • Presidential Timeline at the end of the book.
  • Includes trivia on some First Ladies and children.
  • Many questions/answers I had never heard of before. For example: “Which president popularized the term “OK”?” or “Which president wore a ring containing a lock of Lincoln’s hair to his inauguration?”

Things I prefer to have:*

  • An index at the end to where the reader could find information on a specific president. If you are looking for fun facts about Millard Fillmore you would have to page through over half of the book to find anything about him.
  • Colored photographs of the physical objects from Smithsonian’s collections. I find that you can lose some of the details with black-and-white photographs.

Overall Impression:

I enjoyed reading through The Smithsonian Book of Presidential Trivia. It was put together very well. It had a little bit of something about everything and there were some things I had not known about. I would highly recommend this book to any history/trivia buff and even to general/presidential historians as well. The Smithsonian has a high reputation of preserving and sharing history, this book reflects that quality.

Where to find The Smithsonian Book of Presidential Trivia:

Here are a few places you can find the book (it will be released on January 1, 2013)
Amazon
Barnes & Nobles
Smithsonian Books (I assume it will be available here once it is released)

[* I should note that my copy is a proof copy and, therefore, I assume the final copies will vary slightly.]

First National Christmas Tree

16 December 2012

“The National Christmas Tree presented to President Coolidge by Middlebury College as a gift from his home state has been set up in Wash. D.C. immediately behind the White House.” (Photo: Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress)

The National Christmas Tree is located near the White House and has been illuminated by the United States President since the 1920′s. The first president to initiate this annual tradition was President Coolidge in 1923. Middlebury College in Vermont (Coolidge’s home state) donated the 48-foot tall balsam fir which served as the first National Christmas Tree. Illuminating the tree were 2,500 electric red, white and green bulbs donated by the Electric League of Washington. On Christmas Eve, at 5:00 p.m., President Coolidge lit the tree.

President Coolidge illuminating the community Christmas tree, which has been erected on the Monument Grounds, south of the White House. (Photo: Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress)

Information: National Park Service 

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