Saturday, 26 January 2013

Earliest evidence of Chocolate!

The earliest evidence of chocolate has been found in the Canyonlands in Utah - apparently people were eating chocolate 1200 years ago! This means that cocoa beans were being imported from the Tropics since the c8th, strongly implicating that people in Southwestern USA were not as isolated as archaeologists first believed. The cocoa beans were used to make hot chocolate, but it's not clear whether it was drunk for leisure or ritual purposes.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Elizabeth Keckley in "Lincoln"

I really can't wait to see the film Lincoln, which comes out next week in the US (finally!) It's great to know Elizabeth Keckley, the African American dress-maker to Mrs Mary Lincoln, will be included in the film. She was a close confident of Mary, and her memoir is looked upon as a classic today (it's a very interesting read). As the article below indicates, the memoir wasn't well received at first, and Keckley's decision to include private information about Mary led to an estrangement between the two women.

Images of Sunken Civil War Ship!

3D-Sonar images of a sunken Civil War ship have been released to coincide with the 150th anniversary of it's demise. The Hatteras was sunk by the Confederates in 1863, but the wreck was not discovered until the 1970s. Two crew members died, but the rest were taken alive by the Confederate forces.

    Friday, 18 January 2013

    Most popular photos on Flickr

    The Daily Mail have reported on the most popular photos on Flickr for its 5th anniversary. There are some classics here, most of them historical (which is good to see...!) Have a look through them here -

    Monday, 14 January 2013

    Queen Victoria and a Fugitive Slave

    During the nineteenth century, hundreds of fugitive slaves from the United States made Britain their home. Some became famous as antislavery lecturers, others as boxers or singers, but we will never know the names of all of them. Whilst reading around the history of fugitive slaves in London, I came across Josiah Henson (1789-1883). Born a slave in Maryland, he was destined to become one of the most famous African Americans.

    Henson witnessed severe acts of violence in Maryland, including a brutal attack on his own father (he had an ear nailed to a whipping post) and Henson himself was whipped many times. He diligently saved $450 to secure his freedom until his master changed his mind and set the price of his freedom at $1350. At this point, Henson decided his best course of action was to run away to the North. He eventually settled in Canada. with his wife and four children, and even founded a labouring school for blacks in Canada.

    But Henson's claim to fame goes deeper than this. It's thought he was the inspiration behind the character of George Harris in the famous antislavery novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe. The novel sold 150,000 copies in the US in the 1850s, and over one million in Britain. The book created a storm in the British press, and Queen Victoria herself was very impressed with it - when Henson arrived in Britain, she invited him to Windsor Castle, and gave him a signed portrait of herself. Henson went on to meet the Prime Minister and the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Archbishop asked him where he had received his education, and Henson replied "from the university of adversity."

    Tuesday, 8 January 2013

    1930s London - Excellent Photos!

    A fascinating glimpse into 1930s London! Would love to frame some of these...