Monday, November 11, 2013

The Gilded Age

While the 'White City' of the Colombian Exposition 1893 showed the world the wonder and grandeur of the America Spirit it also covered up many deep rooted social and political issues of the Gilded Age.

The Statue of the Republic welcomed fair goers with its outstretched gilded arms. (Its actually made from bronze). The name 'White City' referred to the architecture and gleaming 'white wash' of many of the buildings; but it could also be used as a metaphor for the perceived superiority of Western or 'White' culture at this time. As fair goers walked the grounds they couldn't help but to compare and contrast the exhibits of seemingly 'backwords' World Cultures with the progress and technology of America.

If you were visiting the Exposition and had never been to America before, what would you think?

Was the America's view of the rest of the world discriminatory? Hypocritical?

How permanent was the fair? What happened to the buildings after the fair ended?

How was the Fair perhaps 'deceptively' pleasing?

What does it mean if something is 'Gilded?'

How did the White City compare to actual Chicago or other American cities? Was it reality?

What were some of the issues facing Americans during the 'Gilded Age?'

Thursday, October 31, 2013

H.H. Holmes

Sadly, there have been plenty of serial killers who have made names for themselves in America, from Jeffrey Dahmer to Charles Manson to Ted Bundy. But one of the earliest well-known American serial killers attained fame in his own horribly unique way.

 In 1893, the World's Fair was held in Chicago, and a man named H.H. Holmes built a hotel in the suburb of Englewood to accommodate some of the many expected visitors. Unfortunately, the hapless guests were in for an unwelcome surprise, and many didn't come out alive. Holmes (born Herman Mudgett) already had a record as a fraud artist, and he was known for being cruel to children and animals. His hotel, which was later dubbed "The Murder Castle," was in fact the worst kind of fraud: a bizarre prison where guests were held captive, tortured and murdered [source: Taylor]. Some guests were gassed in their rooms, and others were burned with blow torches. Holmes slid their bodies down chutes to the basement where he had set up his own crematorium, as well as acid vats and lime pits. A blood-spattered surgical table, along with containers of poisons and bones, completed the evil array.

 The murders were discovered when Holmes was arrested for insurance fraud and police searched the hotel. Holmes admitted to 28 counts of murder, but he was likely responsible for more deaths. He was hanged for his crimes in 1896, and the hotel was burned to the ground. Holmes has also been linked to many other crimes, including murders throughout the United States and Canada. Some believe he killed as many as 200 during his lifetime [source: A&E].

 It is estimated that the United States accounts for 85% of the World's serial killers; more than the rest of the world combined! How do we explain this?

What do these killers have in common? Why are almost all of them men?

Where are you more at risk for serial killers: in the country or in the city?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Green Acres...

...Is where we'd rather be!

Or is it?

What was one cause of the pattern of economic activity shown in the graph above?

Where would you rather live? In the City or in the Country? Why?

What were the problems with city life?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Sound of Silence

How long can you go without talking?

Chief Marie, 89, of the Eyak tribe in Alaska, learned her native tongue from her parents, but the spread of English and competition from the Tlingit, another aboriginal tribe, meant that she was the last 'traditional' speaker. A survey backed by the US National Geographic Society found that Native American languages are some of the world's most endangered.

Every year more and more languages are gone forever as their last speakers pass away. I'm reminded of the gloomy prediction that half of all languages will disappear this century.

Some linguists argue that the birth and death of languages is a natural phenomenon that we shouldn't worry too much about. The global success of English, for example, has changed it forever. But it's hard not to mourn the loss of a language and all that it stands for.

Imagine not being able to speak ever again.  What difficulties would you have?

What happens to a culture when their language is lost? 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

TV Values

What cultural values do you suppose television reflected during the 1950s? 
What cultural values does television programming reflect today?

Leave It To Beaver is a show remembered by some as an example of a simpler time in America. A time before today's modern anything-goes mentality and it's culture of crassness. A time when traditional family values ruled the day. It is remembered by others as seemingly taking place in an alternate universe that bore no resemblance to reality evenwhen it was new.

I watched a lot of Leave it to Beaver in my childhood, as it was on every afternoon in re-runs, but it wasn’t until seeing it in adulthood that I appreciated to what extent the show does not merit its reputation as a phony part of a repressive Fifties monoculture. Yes, it depicts a world that probably never existed, and yes, like most of what was on television at the time, it under-represents diversity. There are no homosexuals (although who can be entirely sure about Mr. Rutherford?), few black people, and very limited controversy. Within its contained world, however, Leave it to Beaver promotes honesty and personal responsibility over the values of social status or self-interest. It also overturns (usually, anyway) the assumption that dishonesty is an accepted, and even expected, mode of behavior.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

WWII to Vietnam

    A quick preview of what we won't  study until the 4th quarter but could be tested on tomorrows OGT: World War II, Hitler, Cold War, Bay of Pigs, Cuban Missile Crisis and the Space Race

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentines Day Massacre

Gangland violence in Chicago captured headlines and attention across the nation the afternoon of Thursday, Feb. 14, 1929, and fueled rumors in Butler County. The crime later was called "the most spectacular of the decade in Chicago." There were more than 500 gangland murders in the Windy City in the 1920s.

The 1929 St. Valentine's Day Massacre took the lives of seven men by machine-gun and shotgun fire at about 10:30 a.m. in a garage at 2122 North Clark Street in Chicago. The mass shooting climaxed a struggle for control of Chicago's North Side. It pitted the powerful gang of Al Capone against the faltering group led by George (Bugs) Moran. Capone ordered his lieutenants to annihilate the entire Moran gang -- and they almost did it. Moran and two other gang members approached the garage, but fled when they believed police were raiding the building.

Moran had been lured to the massacre site by the prospect of buying bonded whisky. At stake was the security of Capone's illicit liquor business, estimated at more than $60 million a year by federal authorities. The killings solidified the 30-year-old Capone's control over the Chicago whisky trade and other criminal activities.

The Chicago crime still dominated conversations four days later when three strange men checked into the Anthony Wayne Hotel at High Street and Monument Avenue in Hamilton. They aroused suspicion by arriving in an expensive car with Illinois license plates and asking for the hotel's highest priced room.

Who were these mystery men and why did they come to Hamiltion, Ohio?

What connection did other notorious gangsters like John Dillinger have to this area?

Dillinger and Capone were the 'Original' Original Gangstas. How 'Gangsta' are you?

Bet you didn't know Mr. Kelly is related to a notorious 20s gangster either.

Monday, February 4, 2013


I am a soldier;
serving proudly, standing tall.
I fight for freedom, yours and mine,
by answering this call.
I do my job while knowing,
the thanks it sometimes lacks.
Say a prayer that I come home,
its me that's got your back

-a poem by Autumn Parker

Who's got your back? Who do you turn to when you really need a helping hand? Your friends? Your family?

Article 10 of President Wilson's League of Nations called for mutual defense by the signers of the treaty and a pledge that all members would "respect and preserve... the territorial integrity and existing political independence of all the Members." In effect the memebers of the League of Nations swore to 'have each others backs.'

Critics felt that Article 10 could unconstitutionally lead the US into a war without the consent of Congress. They feared that the United States might be dragged into another conflict costing hundreds of thousands of American lives. They wanted a return to isolationism.

After looking at both sides of the issue what would you have done? Would you have supported joining the League? Why or why not?

What are the '8 Rules of Fight Club?' How was Wilson's club different? What did critics think of his ideas?

Did the United States actually join?  League of Nations Song

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Letters From the Trenches

During World War I, on and around Christmas Day 1914, the sounds of rifles firing and shells exploding faded in a number of places along the Western Front in favor of holiday celebrations in the trenches and gestures of goodwill between enemies.

Starting on Christmas Eve, many German and British troops sang Christmas carols to each other across the lines, and at certain points the Allied soldiers even heard brass bands joining the Germans in their joyous singing.

At the first light of dawn on Christmas Day, some German soldiers emerged from their trenches and approached the Allied lines across no-man's-land, calling out "Merry Christmas" in their enemies' native tongues. At first, the Allied soldiers feared it was a trick, but seeing the Germans unarmed they climbed out of their trenches and shook hands with the enemy soldiers. The men exchanged presents of cigarettes and plum puddings and sang carols and songs. There was even a documented case of soldiers from opposing sides playing a good-natured game of soccer.

Hollywood vs. History: Compare this music video to the letters of soldiers who were actually there.

In class we have discussed the devastating effect of new WWI weapons including machine guns, flame throwers and gas. According to the letter what weapon might have ended the war? Why do you suppose this truce didn't last?

Write a letter of your own from the trenches describing the conditions and your experiences.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


The front page of The New York Times after the sinking of the ocean liner Lusitania by a German submarine, along with a notice printed within from the German Embassy in the USA warning against trans-Atlantic travel.

Why did the Germans target a defenseless passenger ship like the Lusitania?

How was the Lusitania different than the battleship Maine?

How did the attack pull America closer to war?