Sunday, December 21, 2014

WW2 Propaganda: What It Really Meant

This article was originally published on Historical Honey:

WW2 Propaganda: What It Really Meant

by Chelsea McInnis
December 24, 2013

World War II propaganda posters were essentially used as advertisement to inspire, persuade and educate the people of their country during the war. Equipped with suggestive and educational values, these posters were advertisement gold. Whether it be to formulate hatred, maintain morale or urge production, many posters were shocking, catchy and just downright weird. Here are a few outrageous ones from around the world:

‘When You Ride Alone, You Ride With Hitler.’
Image source:

What I think it means: Is Hitler going to break into my car on my drive to work?

What it actually means: If you do not conserve gasoline for the war effort, your loss will be the enemy’s gain.

Themes: Conservation. Anti-German. Urging citizens to conserve was a HUGE theme for propaganda posters worldwide. Gasoline was particularly important as it was necessary to fuel military tanks and aircraft.

‘Keep Mum, She’s Not So Dumb!’
Image source:

What I think it means: Sexist men assuming the woman is an idiot.

What it actually means: Shut up about military affairs in public. Military men from all branches of the Armed Forces are gathered around a blonde woman as they exchange military secrets. Instead of assuming this lady is not so bright, she should be treated as an informant. A beauty with brains? UNIMAGINABLE.

Themes: Careless talk (with a touch of sex appeal). The idiom ‘Loose Lips Sink Ships’ originated from propaganda posters during WWII, urging people to be careful of what they say and who they say it in front of as the enemy could be anywhere.

‘Here Are The ‘Liberators.’
Image source:

What I think it means: The Statue of Liberty is going to come alive and destroy your cities Godzilla-style.

What it actually means: Portrays the United States as an angel of death and Italian cities burning after a bombing. The poster was issued by the Italian Social Republic, a now defunct puppet state of Nazi Germany led by Mussolini. The poster is showing the enemy’s potential, hoping to inspire patriotism and a solid defense against the United States.

Themes: Anti-American. Death, Injury, and Destruction.

‘My Son! You See What They Have Done to Me. Destroy Fascists in The Sacred Fight!’
Image source:

What I think it means: Appealing to all the soldiers who have mommy issues.

What it actually means: Mother Russia is urging the soldiers to fight for her, her people, her lands etc. No one lost more people in World War II than the Soviet Union, with estimated casualties between 22-30 million.

Themes: War effort. Revenge.

Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill as Octopi.
Image source:

What I think it means: Japan has a craving for calamari?

What it actually means: Symbolically cutting the West’s hold on Asia and the Pacific islands, a Japanese soldier cuts off the tentacles of Roosevelt and Churchill.

Themes: Anti-Allies. Resistance. Victories.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Boston: The Athens of America

This article was originally published on Historical Honey but I'm taking it back. I can do that right?:

Boston: The Athens of America
by Chelsea McInnis
November 9, 2013

The comparison to Athens might be a little far-fetched, but for America, Boston is as old as it gets. The epicenter of the American Revolution, Boston, Massachusetts is the gateway to where the Old meets the New England. So join me on a whirlwind tour of historical hotspots in a place that I am happy to call home. Whether you enjoy an authentic Boston tea party or a pint at the oldest pub in America, Boston has many places of interest to awaken your inner patriot.

Image source: Boston Sailing
Faneuil Hall, Fourth Most Visited Destination in America. I’m not kidding.
Faneuil (pronounced fan-yule, not fan-ooley, and for the love of everything holy NOT Nathaniel) Hall, located in the heart of downtown Boston, sees nearly 20 million visitors each year. Behind Times Square, the Las Vegas strip, and the Washington D.C. National Mall and memorial parks, Faneuil Hall beats out the almighty Mickey Mouse for the coveted fourth place position in Forbes Traveler’s America’s Most Visited Tourist Sites. Are you telling me that America puts a historical site on more of a pedestal than Disney World? Well, not quite. Faneuil Hall was an old meeting house used by the patriots during the conflict leading up to the American Revolution. Now its surrounding area is a one-stop-shop for Boston tourists, housing various shops and eateries.

The Not-So-Fancy Boston Tea Party
Originally called 'the Destruction of the Tea in Boston' by President John Adams, the Boston Tea Party increased American/British tension which ultimately led to the American Revolution. A brief history:

Image source: © HistoryThruHerStory

The present site of the Boston Tea Party isn’t much of a site at all. Boston’s waterfront has been severely altered in the last few hundred years and the wharf where the Tea Party occurred is now landfill. The city slapped a plaque on a building to signify the location. If you want to protest like the patriots did, the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum is around the corner. There you can board replica ships and throw a styrofoam box (labeled TEA) tied to a rope over the side (if you are into throwing styrofoam boxes previously soaked in not-so-clean channel water). The Standells' 1966 hit 'Dirty Water' is specifically named after sketchy Boston water, so STEER CLEAR my friends. Steer very clear. Let a friend toss it over.

The Freedom Trail
If you ever visit Boston and do not walk along at least part of the Freedom Trail, you lose. The Freedom Trail is the bee’s knees of Boston. A nearly three mile long red path on the road, it will take you to 17 of Boston’s most important historical sites. The Granary Burying Ground (resting place of Sam Adams, Paul Revere and John Hancock among a few), the Old North Church, the Bunker Hill Monument and the site of the Boston Massacre are only a few of the sites you will come across.

Other Oldies but Goodies:
Paul Revere House, 1630: Home of our most beloved patriot, Paul Revere’s former home is the oldest building in downtown Boston.

Boston Common, 1634: America’s first public park.

Old State House, 1713: As the oldest surviving public building in Boston, it is where the Declaration of Independence was first read publicly and the site of the Boston Massacre.

Boston Light, 1716: America’s first lighthouse is in Boston Harbor and is said to be especially haunted.

Bell in Hand Tavern, 1784: The oldest pub in America.

Union Oyster House, 1826: America’s oldest restaurant still operating under the same name.

Tremont Street Subway, 1897: The oldest subway tunnel in North America.

Fenway Park, 1912: Dubbed ‘America’s Most Beloved Ballpark,’ Fenway is also the oldest baseball stadium in America and home to the Boston Red Sox.

Friday, December 19, 2014

HTHS Weekly: History from the Interweb #15

HTHS Weekly: History from the Interweb is a round-up of brand spankin' new history articles, selected by yours truly. Click on the link to be directed to the home site where you can read a professional being professional in their entirety.

Because BuzzFeed is funny like that.

Will the Search for Amelia Earhart Ever End? at Smithsonian
Nearly eight decades after she disappeared in the South Pacific, the aviator continues to spark intense passion - and controversy.

In dark waters just outside the Golden Gate Bridge, archaeologists have pinpointed the final resting place of the worst shipwreck in San Francisco's history. New sonar maps show for the first time the mud-covered grave of the SS City of Rio de Janeiro, nearly 300 feet below the surface. The steamer sank on Feb. 22, 1901, just before reaching its destination, with 210 people on board, most of them Chinese and Japanese immigrants.

“If I were married to you, I’d put poison in your coffee,” Lady Astor once famously remarked to Winston Churchill. “If I were married to you,” he replied, “I’d drink it.” Saying exactly what Churchill said isn’t easy.

London Mayor Boris Johnson on Winston Churchill's Cheekiest Quotes at Smithsonian
London's mayor talks about his new Churchill biography, 50 years after the British Bulldog's death.

Time capsule hidden by Adams, Revere unearthed at CBS
A time capsule dating back to 1795 has been recovered in Boston's Old Statehouse. It was originally placed by Revolutionary War figures Samuel Adams and Paul Revere.

US, Cuba Declare Historic Breakthrough at Discovery
The United States and Cuba made a historic breakthrough in their Cold War stand-off Wednesday, moving to revive diplomatic ties and launch measures to ease a five-decade US trade embargo. In the wake of a prisoner exchange, President Barack Obama said the United States was ready to review trade ties and to re-open its embassy in communist Cuba that has been closed since 1961.

Winged warriors: pigeons in the First World War at History Extra
In the centenary year of the First World War, the UK is reflecting on the bravery of the men and women involved in the conflict. Yet often the pivotal role of animals in the war is overlooked: from camels that carried wounded men to safety on the North West Frontier of India, to dogs fitted with apparatus for laying telephone wires. Here, Lee Fribbins from Racing Pigeon magazine explores one of the most important war animals – the humble homing pigeon.

Million-Mummy Cemetery Unearthed in Egypt at Discovery
She's literally one in a million. The remains of a child, laid to rest more than 1,500 years ago when the Roman Empire controlled Egypt, was found in an ancient cemetery that contains more than 1 million mummies.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Ms. Marvel Making History

Marvel Comics celebrated its 75th anniversary this year and as many honor Marvel's achievements, the popular comic publisher continues to push the boundaries and make history with their 2014 release of the Ms. Marvel series.

I've heard lots of buzz about the revamped Ms. Marvel so I thought I'd check it out. I'm not afraid to dip my toe into the buzz. I embrace the buzz. Most times, I join the buzz. I picked up Ms. Marvel Volume One: No Normal (the first five issues compiled into one nice, neat book) and thought I'd give it a go.

Ms. Marvel/Kamala Khan isn't your typical va-va-voom lady-superhero, but a young Muslim girl from Jersey City. The 16-yr-old outcast is unexpectedly gifted with some freaky super powers to which she must first learn to control and then kick bad-people ass. As someone who has never (like ever) read a graphic novel before, I believe anyone when they tell me this series is "groundbreaking."

Review with lots of spoilers
So first off, how is Ms. Marvel making history? Of what I gather from my basic superhero knowledge (movies), not being a voluptuous super-heroine is uncommon and most certainly being a Muslim super-heroine is even more unusual in the comic world. And forget sprawling metropolises like NYC and Gotham, Kamala dwells in Jersey City - Obscure-town, USA.

Kamala is being painted in the series as an outcast, however in today's definition of what's "cool" or not, Kamala would be Queen Cool. She writes fan fiction, loves video games, references Taylor Swift, the Avengers, phone apps, "MeTube" (YouTube), and wears a bomber hat alongside pink tights. She says hip things like "righteous," "wannabe hipster punk," "boss" (as in 'awesome'), "this is totally happening," "word," "come at me bro," "there are layers of unpackable crazy up in here," "this is a legit thing," and a sarcastic "wow that's real deep." By today's standards, Kamala's eccentricity would be celebrated.

Begin rant: It's kind of like the new Spider Man movies. Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) is an adorable skateboarder who is super bright, witty, talented, sensitive but not too sensitive, a family guy (when he isn't indirectly contributing to their murder), all that stuff. Yet, he is portrayed as an outcast. This type of persona non grata has been the 'it' person for years. I learned recently that Abercrombie & Fitch, Hollister, Aeropostale and similar store's sales have deeply declined, while H&M, Forever 21, and Topshop are all thriving. People want the more affordable, mixy-matchy clothes that they can play around with and make their own. Why? Because they want to look unique. Unique is in. A recent Boston Globe article said that lil baby Prince George's clothing style doesn't appeal to younger American parents because they "lean more toward the hipster look" for their babies. Like mustache pacifiers. I know this is just about clothes, but you get what I'm saying. End rant. Anyways, depicting Kamala as an outsider didn't work for me.

I had some problems with a few of the other characters as well. Kamala's dad had a violent outburst directed towards her over a pretty minor issue in the beginning of the volume, but then later goes on to act indifferent when dealing with what I thought was a larger transgression by Kamala. His personality was inconsistent.

Then there is Bruno. Bruno is Ms. Marvel's Lois Lane, Pepper Potts, Gwen Stacy, Mary Jane, etc. However, it took forever to come to this realization. Throughout the first issue, Bruno was just a convenience store clerk. In the second issue, he calls Kamala's parents to tattle on her so I was like OH he's an obnoxious convenience store clerk. It is not until the fourth issue he addresses himself as Kamala's "second best-friend." Firstly, addressing yourself as such is weird and a little sad. Secondly, I wish major relationships would have been a little more clearly defined from the get-go.

And finally: Vick. Vick is Bruno's brother. Vick is also an asshole. He tries to get Bruno to steal from the convenience store and when he doesn't, Vick robs it himself with a gun in which he shoots Kamala as she attempts to stop him. Vick blames his attempt at thievery on Bruno because Bruno wouldn't steal money from the store in the first place. Then he blames Kamala getting shot on Kamala because she was squeezing him too tight while trying to subdue him. Narcissist? This guy seriously sucks. The rest of the volume is Kamala trying to save Vick after he is shortly thereafter held hostage by a crime-boss-type figure known as the Inventor. Why is he the victim that Kamala is trying to save? He should be the scumbag the superheroes are trying to stop.

The real villain in this series is the mysterious Inventor. Whom we finally catch a glimpse of on the last page and it is no other than a gigantic penis parrot!

I thought the numerous Muslim references in Ms. Marvel were unnecessary. I understand that by listing religious stereotypes and then having a character interpret and/or challenge them is educational and enlightening for comic book readers, BUT there were just too many. For example: Muslim dietary restrictions, frowning on alcohol, wearing a headscarf, getting signed out of health class by her parents, "stuck with the weird holidays," someone reeking of curry, "dumb inferior brown people," speaking Urdu, bringing pakoras to lunch, traditional Muslim dress, and praying were all mentioned in the first 30 pages. Thirty pages in a comic book takes about four minutes to read so it was a little overkill. The momentum didn't stop there either. The entire volume was packed full of Muslim stereotypes. I get it. Our religious and cultural backgrounds do not solely define us as the kind of person we are or who we want to be. I get it. Diversity should be celebrated. I get it. I believe in it.  I advocate it. Can we move on?

Besides some minor frustrations (such as Kamala getting constantly grounded. She keeps getting grounded then she goes out. Then gets grounded then goes out. Then gets grounded then goes out. Then gets grounded then goes out. It's like the author and all of the characters forget Kamala was just grounded), I enjoyed this unconventional comic and I will most definitely be picking up Volume 2: Generation Why (get it? Generation Y?) which comes out in March 2015.

Friday, December 12, 2014

HTHS Weekly: History from the Interweb #14

HTHS Weekly: History from the Interweb is a round-up of brand spankin' new history articles, selected by yours truly. Click on the link to be directed to the home site where you can read a professional being professional in their entirety.

The worst despots of the 20th century have been subjected to culinary scrutiny in a new book Dictators' Dinners: The Bad Taste Guide to Entertaining Tyrants - and it's fascinating stuff. The book claims "vegetarian" Hitler wolfed down baby pigeon stuffed with tongue and liver, while Kim Jong-Il favored dog-meat soup which would supposedly provide immunity and virility.

From the Queen to the Kardashians, sending a Christmas card featuring a photograph of yourself and your family is a time-honored tradition. Has there ever been a less festive Christmas card than the one sent by Tony and Cherie Blair this week? The former prime minister looks as if he is a hostage, forced to broadcast a cheery message to the outside world by his captors, while silently pleading for the torture to stop.

39 Renaissance Babies Who Can't Even at BuzzFeed
Either all Renaissance babies were the spawn of Satan or these artists were smoking something nice.

Bulldozer attack on Nazi concentration camp at TeleGraph

A month aftEr the infamous "ArbeiT macht frei" Sign was stolEn from DaChaU, another foRmer NazI concenTration camp has been attacked in GermanY. Unknown assailants used a stolen bulldozer to sMAsh their waY into the Langenstein-ZweiBErge camp causing an estimated €50,000 in damage.

Tudor dining: a guide to food and status in the 16th century at History Extra
If you're eating pottage for lunch, you can't sit with us.

Shackled Skeletons Unearthed at Roman Necropolis in France at History
During a recent excavation of a building site in southwestern France, archaeologists turned up an ancient Roman necropolis containing hundreds of human graves. Five skeletons with iron shackles on their ankles, wrists or necks, suggest they might have been slaves who met their end in the gladiatorial arena.

Gang of Robbers Nabbed While Looting Ancient Cave in Israel at History
The Israel Antiquities Authority announced last weekend that six men have been charged with digging illegally for antiquities in a remote cave in the Judean Desert. The cave where they were apprehended, located on a sheer cliff face, is close to where the famed parchment and papyrus documents known as the Dead Sea Scrolls. Archaeologists believe more scrolls may still be left undiscovered in the region, and Israeli authorities believe the alleged looters were looking for them.

Scientists in Chicago prise open Egyptian mummy's coffin at The Guardian
'Prise' meaning punch through the sarcophagus' face.