Monthly Archives: February 2013

100th Anniversary Suffrage March in Washington, DC

Article written by Lonnae O’Neal Parker in Washington Post, February 27, 2013:

At the 100th anniversary of Washington’s Women’s Suffrage Parade on Sunday, participants will march in the bold tradition of suffragette Inez Milholland — even if they, and most of America, have never heard of her. Of all the images and people invoked during this centennial celebration, perhaps the least remembered is the one woman said to have died for the cause.

Milholland, 27, sitting astride a white horse, in white, flowing, Joan of Arc robes is the most iconic image of that 1913 march. When she died three years later, she was hailed as a martyr of the women’s suffrage movement. That she is barely remembered today is part of the challenge and frustration for those who advocate for greater attention to women’s history and for those trying to build a national women’s history museum on the Mall.

The march, sponsored by Delta Sigma Theta sorority and including the National Women’s History Museum, the Sewall-Belmont House Museum and the National Organization for Women, retraces the original 5,000-person march down Pennsylvania Avenue. It will feature women in period costumes and focus broadly on women’s equality.

But in 1913, it was all about the vote.

Milholland, raised in a wealthy Brooklyn family, was educated at Vassar and had a law degree from New York University. Her father was a writer for the New York Tribune, and her parents supported progressive causes, including suffrage and civil rights. She was on the leading edge of educated women advocating for civil, labor and women’s rights. She said she proposed to her husband, Dutch importer Eugen Jan Boissevain, as part of her “new freedom” as a woman.

Milholland and Alice Paul, whom history remembers as an architect of women’s suffrage, organized the 1913 march, and infused it with allegory and symbolism. Justice, liberty, peace and hope were represented by women in robes and colorful scarves, accompanied by the sound of trumpets. Milholland helped wrap the broad themes of American life in canny visual appeals, including her youth and beauty at a time when suffragists were derided for being unfeminine and lacking respectability.

“The only people who have heard about her are those who majored in women’s history in college,” says Joan Wages, president and chief executive of the National Women’s History Museum, which has been trying to secure a permanent site on the Mall for nearly 20 years. “That is because the history textbooks still say that women were ‘given’ the vote in 1920. The 72 years that led up to that 1920 amendment are just erased.”

That Milholland is nearly forgotten underscores the need for a museum to house those images and people who helped build some of the nation’s most transformative movements, Wages says. Scholars have done all this research, “but it’s not making its way into the public arena, and that will be our role, to be the bridge.”

On Wednesday, Reps. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) introduced a bill to establish a privately funded bipartisan commission to determine the feasibility of a women’s history museum on the Mall.

“The history of our country, like history in general, is usually about top-ranked leaders,” says Norton, who points out that legislation about the museum has been introduced for at least 10 years. “If you are writing only about leaders for a millennia, you will only be writing about men. That doesn’t mean that half the population hasn’t made extraordinary contributions to civilization.” The proposed museum might include famous women, but its focus would be women’s history, which is “mostly not made by famous women, even when that history was extraordinary.”

Maloney says she’d heard of Milholland “with her white horse, marching around for suffrage movements, giving so many speeches that she fainted every time. I think people should know about her bravery.”

For all their pageantry, the 1913 parade marchers were heckled and jeered mostly by men, large numbers of whom were in town for Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration the next day.

“You can’t win against misogynist men, but you can help a movement have courage in the face of all that,” says Kathryn Kish Sklar, who specializes in the history of women’s social movements at the State University of New York at Binghamton. That was a large part of what Milholland gave to the cause.

The other part was her life.

Milholland frequently traveled for speaking engagements and activist events. She suffered from pernicious anemia but wouldn’t curtail her travel, despite the pleas of her family. In 1916, she collapsed in the middle of a women’s rights speech in Los Angeles and died a month later. She was 30 years old. Reportedly, her last words were “Mr. President, how long must women wait for liberty?” Poems have been written about Milholland, and Julia Ormond played her in the 2004 television movie about Alice Paul and the founding of the National Women’s Party, “Iron Jawed Angels.”

The notion of those largely forgotten by history also strikes a chord with Sunday’s march organizers. Cynthia Butler-McIntyre, president of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., says when organizers saw historical pictures from the 1913 march, they were immediately drawn to Milholland on horseback.

“That’s how we found out about her role in the march,” Butler-McIntyre says. There was some conversation “about doing the horse,” she says, but “you have to come back to reality and stick to the true purpose of the message now.” The Deltas had been incorporated at Howard University two months before the 1913 march, and its 22 founders were among the few groups of African Americans who participated.

Gwendolyn Boyd, chairwoman of the Deltas’ Centennial Celebrations, says the Deltas can identify with Milholland, because in descriptions of the original march, the sorority’s participation is often overlooked. “We understand how we have to continue to speak up so that our place in history is not lost or forgotten or misplaced.”

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Black Doctors in WWI

Article taken from http://www.army.mil, February 21, 2013:

Nearly 100 years ago, in the era of segregation and Jim Crow laws, 118 African-American doctors answered the country’s call during World War I and voluntarily left their practices to provide medical care to the fighting men in the all-black 92nd Infantry Division and the 93rd Infantry Division.

The medical colleges of Howard University in Washington, D.C., and Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tenn., heavily recruited their graduates and provided more than half of these doctors – 43 from Meharry and 22 from Howard.

When asked at the time by The Washington Bee newspaper why he volunteered, a black doctor from Indianapolis put it simply: “This is a history-making period, and I want to be connected with it.”

On Nov. 3, 1917, eight of these black physicians were sent to the newly established Camp Meade for further training and to provide care for the African-American troops of the 368th Infantry Regiment and 351st Field Artillery, which were stationed there.

The doctors were Arthur L. Curtis and Thomas E. Jones, graduates of the College of Medicine at Howard University; Oscar DeVaughn, Raymond W. Jackson, John H. Williams and James Whittico, graduates of Meharry Medical College; William A. Harris, a graduate of Leonard Medical College in Raleigh, N.C.; and William J. Howard, a graduate of the University of Illinois College of Medicine.

The physicians received specialized training in treating war injuries at Camp Meade Hospital. During their training, the hospital was made up of temporary wooden buildings and tents. It was located along what is now Rock Avenue, about one-half mile south of Kimbrough Ambulatory Care Center.

Before arriving at Camp Meade, the doctors attended the Medical Officers Training Camp (MOTC) for black medical officers, which was a late addition to the segregated Officers Training Camp at Fort Des Moines, Iowa.

The doctors at the MOTC, who were first lieutenants, were housed in whatever spare barracks were left from the field officers. More than 1,000 African-American Soldiers also reported for training as medics. These medics had to use lumber from an old National Guard armory to floor the stables, which lacked plumbing, heating or a cooling system. The men turned the unsuitable buildings into barracks for nearly 1,000 medics.

Training at the camp began in the heat of August 1917. The doctors learned how to make camp, sanitation procedures, regimental medical-detachment administration, camp infirmary work, packing, bearer work and field work.

The physicians also were given command of five- to 10-man medical detachments.

Many training hours also were spent on paperwork, including writing and filing regular Army daily and weekly reports. The reports included lists with the numbers and names of sick and injured men, as well as those who were suffering from veneral disease, tuberculosis, meningitis, cholera, pneumonia and influenza. Sanitation was critical to preventing epidemics.

Of the 118 doctors who were trained at the MOTC, 104 successfully completed the program. Of the 1,021 medics, 949 would continue and ultimately serve with the 92nd or 93rd Infantry Divisions.

Eight of the doctors from the MOTC went on to Camp Meade.

By May 1918, they left for France. They would all serve with the 92nd Infantry Division. Harris, Jones, Williams and Whittico remained with the 368th Infantry Regiment. DeVaughn was assigned the 365th Field Hospital. Howard stayed with the 351st Field Artillery. Jackson and Curtis joined the 367th Field Hospital.

All of these doctors treated the horrific wounds of trench warfare largely caused by artillery (gas and shrapnel) and machine guns. Their Army reports tell of the

carnage they encountered, and the lightening spread of the influenza pandemic that would reach its height just before the great Meuse Argonne offensive in September 1918.

The 18 months of Army training and war experiences certainly equipped them well beyond anything they had learned in medical school. They were given command of medical detachments, which taught them leadership, discipline and responsibility. They learned military organization, planning and training, and participated in grand- and small-scale field operations.

Many of the men used the organizational skills and medical advances that came as a result of the war to make extraordinary contributions to the field of medicine, their communities and their country.

Editor’s note: Joann Buckley and Douglas Fisher are members of the World War One Association and The Great War Society.

Fisher’s grandfather Maj. John N. Douglas served with 1st Lt. Jonathan N. Rucker, a black doctor, in France from 1918 to 1919.

Buckley’s grandfather was a sergeant in New York’s 7th Infantry Division, and her grandmother was a registered nurse who worked with wounded Soldiers.

They are now researching and writing a book on the 104 black doctors who completed medical officer basic training at Fort Des Moines, Iowa.

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King Richard III’s Remains Found Under Leicester Parking Lot

From The AP, February 4, 2013:

LEICESTER, England (AP) — He wore the English crown, but he ended up defeated, humiliated and reviled.

Now things are looking up for King Richard III. Scientists announced Monday that they had found the monarch’s 528-year-old remains under a parking lot in the city of Leicester — a discovery that will move him from a pauper’s grave to a royal tomb and that fans say could potentially restore the reputation of a much-maligned king.

“We could end up rewriting a little bit of history in a big way,” said Lin Foxhall, head of the school of archaeology at the University of Leicester, which conducted the research.

On Monday the researchers announced that tests on a battle-scarred skeleton unearthed in the central England city last year prove “beyond reasonable doubt” that it is the king, who died at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485, and whose remains have been missing for centuries.

“Richard III, the last Plantagenet King of England, has been found,” said the university’s deputy registrar, Richard Taylor, describing the find as “truly astonishing.”

Few monarchs have seen their reputations decline as much after death as Richard III. He ruled England between 1483 and 1485, during the decades-long tussle over the throne known as the Wars of the Roses, which pitted two wings of the ruling Plantagenet dynasty — York and Lancaster — against one another.

His brief reign saw liberal reforms, including the introduction of the right to bail and the lifting of restrictions on books and printing presses.

But his rule was challenged, and he was defeated and killed by the army of Henry Tudor, who took the throne as King Henry VII and ended the Plantagenet line.

Death was just the start of Richard’s problems. Historians writing under the victorious Tudors comprehensively trashed his reputation, accusing him of myriad crimes — most famously, the murder of the “Princes in the Tower,” the two sons of his elder brother, King Edward IV.

William Shakespeare indelibly depicted Richard as a hunchbacked usurper who left a trail of bodies on his way to the throne before dying in battle, shouting “My kingdom for a horse.”

That view was repeated by many historians, and Richard remains a villain in the popular imagination. But others argue that the image is unfair, and say Richard’s reputation was smeared by his Tudor successors.

Philippa Langley of the Richard III Society — which seeks to restore the late king’s reputation — said for centuries Richard’s story had been told by others, many of them hostile.

She hopes a new surge of interest, and new evidence from the skeleton about how the king lived and died — and how he was mistreated after death — will help restore his reputation.

“A wind of change is blowing, one that will seek out the truth about the real Richard III,” she said.

Langley, who helped launch the search for the king, said she could scarcely believe her quest had paid off.

“Everyone thought that I was mad,” she said. “It’s not the easiest pitch in the world, to look for a king under a council car park.”

The location of Richard’s body was unknown for centuries. Records say he was buried by the Franciscan monks of Grey Friars at their church in Leicester, 100 miles (160 kilometers) north of London. The church was closed and dismantled after King Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries in 1538, and its location eventually was forgotten by most local residents.
But last year a team led by University of Leicester archaeologist Richard Buckley identified a possible location of the grave through map regression analysis, starting with a current map and analyzing earlier maps to discover what had changed and not changed. Ground-penetrating radar was employed to find the best places to start digging.

The team began excavating in a parking lot last August. Within a week they had located thick walls and the remains of tiled floors. Soon after, they found human remains — the skeleton of an adult male who appeared to have died in battle.

He had been buried unceremoniously, without coffin or shroud — plausible for a despised and defeated enemy.

Researchers could scarcely believe their luck, and set out to conduct a battery of scientific tests, including radiocarbon dating to determine the skeleton’s age, to see whether, against the odds, they really had found the king.

They found the skeleton belonged to a man aged between his late 20s and late 30s who died between 1455 and 1540. Richard was 32 when he died in 1485.

Osteologist Jo Appleby, a lecturer in human bioarchaeology at Leicester, said study of the bones provided “a highly convincing case for identification of Richard III.”

Appleby said the 10 injuries to the body were inflicted by weapons like swords, daggers and halberds and were consistent with accounts of Richard being struck down in battle — his helmet knocked from his head — before his body was stripped naked and flung over the back of a horse in disgrace.

She said some scars, including a knife wound to the buttock, bore the hallmarks of “humiliation injuries” inflicted after death.

The remains also displayed signs of scoliosis, a form of spinal curvature, consistent with contemporary accounts of Richard’s appearance, though not the withered arm Shakespeare describes him as having.

DNA from the skeleton matched a sample taken from Michael Ibsen, a distant living relative of Richard’s sister. The project’s lead geneticist, Turi King, said Ibsen, a Canadian carpenter living in London, shares with the skeleton a rare strain of mitochondrial DNA. She said combined with the archaeological evidence, that left little doubt the skeleton belonged to Richard.

Ibsen said he was “stunned” to discover he was related to the king — he is a 17th great-grand-nephew of Richard’s older sister.

“It’s difficult to digest,” he said.

The researchers said their findings had not yet been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals, but soon would be. Archaeologist Mike Pitts, editor of British Archaeology magazine, said he found the evidence persuasive.

“I don’t think there is any question — it is Richard III,” said Pitts, who was not affiliated with the research team.

He said it was one of the most exciting archaeological discoveries in ages.

“The identification of the king is just the very beginning of a whole range of new ideas and research that will change the way we view this period of history,” he said.

The discovery is a boon for the city of Leicester, which has bought a building next to the parking lot to serve as a visitor center and museum.
On Monday, the king’s skeleton lay in a glass box in a meeting room within the university library. It was a browned, fragile-looking thing, its skull pocked with injuries, missing its feet — which scientists say were disturbed sometime after burial — and with a pronounced s-shape to the spine.

Soon the remains will be moved to an undisclosed secure location, and next year Richard will, at last, get a king’s burial, interred with pomp and ceremony in Leicester Cathedral.

It is a day Langley, of the Richard III Society, has dreamed of seeing.
“We have searched for him, we have found him — it is now time to honor him,” she said.

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Seventieth Anniversary of Battle of Stalingrad

Story by Alexander Zemlianichenko for The Associated Press, February 2, 2013:

VOLGOGRAD, Russia (AP) — An aged T-34 tank clattered into the center of the southern Russian city once known as Stalingrad and soldiers dressed in World War II-era uniforms marched solemnly as Russia marked the 70th anniversary of the end of one of modern warfare’s bloodiest battles.

President Vladimir Putin came to the city later Saturday to take part in the commemorations, including a visit to the famous hilltop memorial complex surmounted by a towering 87-meter (280-foot) statue of a sword-wielding woman representing the motherland.

“Stalingrad will forever remain a symbol of unity and invincibility of our people, a symbol of genuine patriotism, a symbol of the greatest victory of the Soviet liberator soldier. And as long as we are devoted to Russia, our language, culture, roots and national memory, Russia will be invincible,” Putin said at an evening commemorative concert.

The city 900 kilometers (560 miles) south of Moscow suffered six months of intensive fighting, beginning with massive air strikes, as Nazi forces tried to push deep into the Soviet Union and reach its Caucasus oil fields.

At least 1.2 million people are estimated to have died before the fighting ended on Feb. 2, 1943. The Red Army’s defeat of the Nazis after house-to-house battling was a decisive turn in World War II.

One of the houses became a particularly resonant symbol of the battle. The four-story apartment building became known as the Pavlov House after the sergeant whose platoon inflicted heavy damage on Nazi troops and tanks while under heavy attack for two months, even as civilians continued to occupy it.

A woman born in the house a couple of months before the siege, Zinaida Andreeva, told the Interfax news agency Saturday that “for me, Feb. 2 is like a birthday. It’s a special day, in which tears and happiness are side by side.”

The city was renamed Volgograd in 1961, as part of the Khrushchev era’s drive to erase the personality cult of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. But the name Stalingrad is indelibly connected with the battle that is one of Russia’s most-lauded military achievements.

The connection is so strong that the city council this week passed a resolution under which it would use the name Stalingrad in official communiques on the day commemorating the battle’s end, as well as five other days marking World War II events.

The legacy of Stalin remains a delicate issue nearly 60 years after his death. Although widely reviled for his decades of brutality and repression, many laud him as leading the people to victory against Nazi Germany amid immense suffering.
In a controversial move, Stalin’s image adorns five buses that are to run in Volograd until Russia observes Victory Day on May 9, and similar buses were to run Saturday in St. Petersburg and Chita.

The leader of the liberal Yabloko party’s faction in the St. Petersburg city council, Georgy Poltavchenko, denounced the Stalin buses.

“The victory in the Great Patriotic War” as Russians call WWII ” including the victory in the battle on the Volga, was not achieved thanks to the ‘military genius’ of Stalin … but thanks to the heroic resistance of our people,” he was quoted by Interfax as saying.

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Tenth Anniversary Iraq War Reading Pledge

Gina Isabel Rodriguez, one of our blog followers, wants to honor the service of American soldiers in the Iraq War on its tenth anniversary by having people pledge to read at least one first-person account of that war. Please assist her in this cause by visiting her site:

http://www.causes.com/actions/1726925 It’s the Iraq War Reading Pledge

Thank you!

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