The Rest Is History

A scandalous “Star-Spangled Banner” episode, pirate math, and internet Egyptology.

By Jaime Fuller

Friday, July 05, 2019

Sparklers on the Fourth, by Hananiah Harari, 1940. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Patricia and Phillip Frost.

• Thinking about Thomas Jefferson and John Adams on the anniversary of their July 4 deaths: “These famous founders weren’t just flawed—they were flawed in ways that reveal some of the exclusionary, white supremacist elements of the nation’s origins.” (The Saturday Evening Post)

• On the Japanese stories of Lafcadio Hearn. (Paris Review Daily)

• On old feminist utopias. (Current Affairs)

Zora Neale Hurston “approached folk culture not as a static relic of the past, but as a dynamic sieve that collects the critical contemporary commentary of its creators. For Hurston, lore was a special form of knowledge that disclosed the cosmic discovery process of humanity, unfolding perpetually as various groups of people living in unique locales ‘use up a great part of [their] life-span trying to ask infinity some questions about what is going on around its doorsteps.’ ” (Black Perspectives)

• Learning a lot on the edges of a dead literary luminary. (London Review of Books)

• An open letter to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. (NYR Daily)

• On the cast of characters that surrounded the Plessy v. Ferguson case. (The Nation)

• A 1917 “Star-Spangled Banner” scandal. (

• A World War II aircraft was recently excavated in Ireland. (The Irish Times)

• There’s a new campaign to digitize a trove of New Orleans newspapers. (Fine Books & Collections Blog)

• “Fellow scholars have asked why Otaño-Gracia would want to study Old Norse literature considering that she’s from Puerto Rico—as if it’s a more logical area of study if you’re from, say, Ohio. She’s been mistaken for a waitress by an older male scholar while out to dinner at Kalamazoo, even though she was wearing her nametag displaying her academic affiliation.” (The Chronicle Review)

• Go to school, learn some pirate math. (Aeon)

• When Egyptology meets internet crowdsourcing. (The New Yorker)

• This week in history: President James Garfield was shot by Charles Guiteau on July 2, 1881. (Library of Congress Blog)

• This week in obituaries: a 9/11 first responder, a Cold War journalist, a former curator at the Museum of Modern Art, an editor of World of Interiors, “midwife to the minivan,” a federal prosecutor in the Rodney King case, and “a television news reporter who would ultimately get more than 115 suspects to turn themselves in to law enforcement.”