The Rest Is History

Something borrowed, something blue, something fossilized.

By Jaime Fuller

Friday, April 05, 2019

The Music Lesson, by John George Brown, 1870. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of Colonel Charles A. Fowler, 1921.

• An oral history of Harold Washington’s 1983 mayoral campaign in Chicago. (New York)

• Muhammad’s travels through the European Enlightenment. (Aeon)

• What we can learn from Roman engineering. (Nautilus)

• Thinking about gender in nineteenth-century Brooklyn. (Pictorial)

• The radical ambition of the Appalachian Trail. (Places Journal)

• The history of a drinking fountain in thirteenth-century Asia: “Crowned by a trumpet-wielding, angelic automaton, the main structure formed a magnificent silver tree, wrapped in silver serpents and complete with branches, leaves, and fruit…Up in the branches, four pipes emerged to splash a different alcoholic beverage down to silver basins waiting below. There was grape wine, fermented mare’s milk, rice wine, and honey mead, all to be ready when the khan so desired. This so-called ‘drinking fountain’ was, for all intents and purposes, a most convoluted and extravagant bar.” (Public Domain Review)

• A very old skull fossil was found in a Siberian cave: “If the latter estimate proves correct in further studies, ‘Denisovans were the last surviving hominids who were not Homo sapiens.’ ” (Science News)

• American myths about the frontier and its limitlessness: “The frontier represents not only a literal space but a political strategy. The strategy was to use the expansion of American power to avoid having to resolve thorny domestic political conflicts.” (The Nation)

• How the experience of sound has changed over the course of history. (

• The birth of blackface: “Folklorists say that the lore cycles back as long as the conditions that created it in the first place haven’t changed that much, and that’s what we’re seeing…As long as the American psychosis about race is still embedded in the culture, which it clearly is, then things like blackface are going to keep reappearing.” (The Guardian)

• Meet the Blue Stocking Society. (JSTOR Daily)

• The story of Redoshi: “The footage is the only known video of a woman who survived slavery in the United States.” (New York Times)

• A history of music copying: “Millett v. Snowden becomes the first known music-copyright-infringement case in the United States. The music for the song in question, ‘The Cot Beneath the Hill,’ was reprinted without copyright in the Ladies Companion magazine, and the Southern District of New York awarded the plaintiff $625 over the breach.” (Vulture)

• This week in obituaries: Agnès Varda, the first black mayor in the Northeast, the inventor of Swiss Miss hot cocoa, the man who taught Indiana Jones how to use a bullwhip, a poet, and a private investigator.