Weekend Reading

This week: Abraham Lincoln’s letter from “God”; a voice speaks from 1878; a long-lost transcript resurfaces; baseball in the Civil War; the surprisingly long history of gay marriage debates in Minnesota; the deaths of Russell Means and Jacques Barzun; and historical Halloween costumes.

• The rise and fall (and recent commemoration) of the Revolutionary War general whose name was (for a short time after the Battle of Saratoga) mentioned side-by-side with that of George Washington but is now barely remembered.

Abraham Lincoln, 1865
1865 photo of Abraham Lincoln – Library of Congress

• The New York Times‘ Civil War blog, Disunion, continued to showcase lesser-known aspects of that well-known conflict: the growing love of baseball on both sides of the war; and the diseases that killed more than twice as many soldiers as combat.

• Also from that blog, religious historians Edward J. Blum and Paul Harvey (The Color of Christ: The Son of God and the Saga of Race in America) explained that a letter addressed to Abraham Lincoln from a woman calling herself “your Heavenly Father and the God of All Nations” was just one example of self-proclaimed direct revelation in antebellum and Civil War America.

• Now available: the oldest known recording of an American’s voice, from 1878. It even includes a blooper. (The researcher who recovered this recording earlier did the same with one from France produced in 1860.)

• One of the most important international conferences of the 20th century took place in 1944 at Bretton Woods, in the mountains of New Hampshire. And now historians have access to a full transcript of the meeting that gave birth to the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. (H/T Kyle Peterson)

• Already a Pulitzer Prize winner for her history of the Soviet Gulag system, journalist Anne Applebaum was named a finalist for non-fiction category of the National Book Award for her forthcoming Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-56. Read a preview/interview here.

• In the wake of the death of Russell Means, The Atlantic remembered the American Indian Movement — including its 71-day siege of Wounded Knee, SD.

• Before Minnesotans go to vote on Amendment 1… Check out the forty-year history of same-sex marriage debates in the state, featuring archived audio from Minnesota Public Radio.

• Still looking for a Halloween costume? May the National Museum of American History suggest… Rosie the Riveter? John Brown? or Muhammad Ali?

• Or perhaps a nurse from World War I?

• Church historian Barry Levis reflected on the challenge of teaching the history of Christianity to undergraduates at an “almost stridently secular” college.

• And Jacques Barzun joined the long line of revered historians to have passed from this life in 2012.

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