Thursday, November 11, 2010

Courthouse World War II Exhibit

Our local Citrus County Old Courthouse Heritage Museum has a special display focusing on Florida in World War II. There is a special focus on our own Citrus County veterans, with memorabilia donated for the exhibit from Citrus County World War II veterans.
Florida had a large role in the American effort to win World War II. There was an active ship building program, agricultural efforts, radar stations, and numerous air bases built to provide both training facilities as well as patrols over the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean, seeking enemy ships.

From a press release from the Heritage Museum:
“At this time sixty-five years ago World War II was winding down. Germany had already surrendered to the Allied Forces and concentration camps were being liberated. In early August 1945 the United States unleashed the power of atomic weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to hasten the surrender of Japan. August 15, 2010 was the sixty-fifth anniversary of VJ day. These events are surely etched in the memories of those old enough to remember.

Among Citrus County’s large population of veterans, those who served during World War II are now aged in their eighties and nineties. To honor our World War II veterans, dubbed “the Greatest Generation” by newscaster Tom Brokaw, the Old Courthouse Heritage Museum, in downtown Inverness, is presenting an exhibition titled, Florida in World II, under the theme: World War II …Before the Memories are Gone. The exhibit will focus on the role of Florida in World War II and highlights the Attacks, the Civil Defense, Volunteering on the Home Front, Shipbuilding in Florida, The Cost of Victory, and How the War Changed Florida. Be sure to see this exhibit before or as part of the activities of Veteran’s week 2010 in November."
If you are in Citrus County and can visit the exhibit, do so soon. It ends this month.
And, it’s well worth the visit.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Podcasts: Historical information on the iPod and the Web

Sigh. Second year in a row - no posts in August. The good news is I've stockpiled some information to turn into blog posts. Here's the first.

I have to admit that I have discovered podcasts. Below are four that I now use, along with their website - just in case you don't have an iPod.

There are many advantages to listening to podcasts - especially well done ones - in our ever-busy world. You can listen to them while you exercise, take walks, drive to work, lunchbreaks, etc. Books are great, and I would never give up on them, but podcasts are usually one-topic, and the ones I've listed run between 13 and 20 minutes.

While this is a very brief list, try them. Post others history related/Social Studies related podcasts if you have some favorites.

The four I'm currently listening to, both American history and World history, are:

Colonial Williamsburg podcasts (American colonial history). Want to know about the importance of fifes in the 18th century military world?

History Network Military History podcasts (Military History, world history). I now know more about howitzers than ever before.

Things You Missed In History Class podcast, by How Stuff Works (Two hosts present world history topics). Tidbits on the fourth crusade that I never realized.

A History of the World in 100 Objects podcast by the British Museum and the BBC. (Unique view of history through 100 different objects and their effect and influence on history).

I realize there are many more out there - and gradually more will be added to this list. Try one, and enjoy!



Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Nuclear Detonations: 1945 - 1998

I first saw this site through Matt Rosenberg’s Geography Blog – and I think it could be used in a number of our Social Studies classrooms in our middle and high schools. I’m not too sure about using it in the elementary school.

The site hosts a short video by Isao Hashamoto, a Japanese artist who created a time-lapse animated map of nearly every nuclear detonation (2053 of them) recorded between 1945 and 1998.

Hashamoto stated:
"This piece of work is a bird's eye view of the history by scaling down a month length of time into one second. No letter is used for equal messaging to all viewers without language barrier. The blinking light, sound and the numbers on the world map show when, where and how many experiments each country have conducted. I created this work for the means of an interface to the people who are yet to know of the extremely grave, but present problem of the world."
While the work does not include the North Korean tests (estimated at two) that have been held in the 21st century, it is a significant and accurate piece of work.

This is a shocking and disturbing visual image, especially when we get to the early 1960s and the height of the Cold War era.

Possible topics of discussion for our students would be where were the detonations held – and why?

Other questions come to mind as well that could prove worthwhile for discussion/exploration.

For example: What happened to the people who lived on Bikini Island – which became a test site – as well as what long term effects happened to the land there? What are the long-term effects of nuclear blasts in the American West, especially Nevada, where nuclear testing took place for years – and the underground water table? What about testing sites in the former Soviet Union states?

And, perhaps, more importantly, what is the probability of nuclear weapons being used either by terrorist organizations, Iran, Israel, or North Korea?

An excellent article titled “The Growing Nuclear Club” by Kathy Sutcliffe appeared on the Council of Foreign Relations website. The article discusses current and potential members of the “Nuclear Club”. Another good visual to use is from Doomsday Clock.

Yet, it is also important to remember the conditions that formed the basis of the development of the atomic weapon (a race between the U.S. and Nazi Germany in World War II), as well as the reason for the continuing development of weapons and delivery systems (the Cold War, spies, selling of state secrets – a whole variety of interesting topics of discussion).

Do you know where your local Civil Defense shelter is???

This all could lead to wonderful exploration, critical thinking, as well as use of all aspects of Social Studies (from history to sociology, geography to environment and economics).


Site for nuclear detonations
Matt’s Geography Blog
Bikini Island
International Atomic Energy Agency


Screen Shot of Video/Geekosystem
Bikini Relocation/Bikini Atoll
1954 Nuclear Explosion at Bikini Atoll/atomic archive
Civil Defense Guy/Civil Defense Museum

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Subtle Change in Declaration Draft

Even the best of us can make mistakes – including that renown Founding Father, Thomas Jefferson.

In a press release on July 2, research chemist Dr. Fenella France and Librian of Congress James Billington pointed out that Jefferson had made, then soon caught and corrected, a slip in wording.
While listing the grievances against King George III, Jefferson had written: “He has incited treasonable Insurrections of our Fellow Subjects, with the allurement of Forfeiture and Confiscation of our Property.”

He realized his error almost immediately, as evidenced by the fact that the still wet ink was smudged. France thinks that Jefferson wiped over the original word with his hand, then wrote “Citizens” over the brown smudge he had created. Although the discovery was made last year, it was only revealed recently. The word was found through the use of digital imaging technology and other scientific tests. The camera also revealed erased text and fingerprints from the Founding Fathers who handled the document. France called it a “spine-tingling” find.

France stated: "This has been a very exciting development".

The rough draft includes other corrections made by the committee (Including Benjamin Franklin and John Adams) on Jefferson’s work – a lined through word here, notes in the margin, smaller writing in the spaces between the lines… all the work of an editorial committee.

But the smudge is different – corrected by the man who made it, before it went before the committee. Oddly enough, the sentence did not make it into the final version of the Declaration of Independence.

There is now a debate being generated among historians as to whether it was a Freudian slip by a man who had been born under the rule of an English monarchy, or if it was taken from a draft of Virginia’s constitution, which includes the word “subjects” – or any of a number of other possible reasons.

According to Librarian of Congress James Billington:
“It shows the progress of his mind. This was a decisive moment. We recovered a magic moment that was otherwise lost to history.”
What does this show us? How about… we are human and make mistakes???

Of course, this inspired me to read the original draft to compare it to the final draft – just out of an interest as to what other changes might have been edited in, as well as trying to find other ‘smears’. While I have neither the original document nor the scientific equipment for analyzing it, I can ‘suppose’….


AOL News
The Huffington Press
Library of Congress (Look at page three of the draft document)
Yahoo News


Library of Congress
Yahoo News Slideshow

Monday, July 12, 2010

County-Level Migration Map

How cool is this???? A migration map based on 2008 IRS information that highlights the number of people moving into or moving from any county in the United States.

Red lines on the map show movement from one county to another (the map even shows the county they go to) while black lines show movement into the county.

You can enlarge the map to focus on a specific area – although then you lose the complete US perspective. The width of the lines of migration (the black and red lines) indicates number of migrants – wider means more people moving.

Hovering over one of the lines of migration that lead to a county of your choice with your mouse shows the number of individuals moving into or from the county, as well as the per capita income for each group.

You can even ‘share’ the map showing migration patterns by clicking the ‘share’ button.

This could be an interesting tool to see migration patterns, especially when you look at the Northeast, major Midwestern cities, and Los Angeles. The information on this map could lead to interesting discussions on why people move, where they move, and the effect on the culture, economy, and politics of where they move from and move to.

Think of the possibilities!!!

. Many thanks to Forbes for hosting the site and to Matt Rosenberg who publishes the blog for this fantastic site.


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Jaywalking Independence Interview

July 4th has passed, but one wonders just how much Americans know of the origins of that rather significant date of history.

There is a lot of hoopla going on today concerning creative thinking, group work, and numerous other strategies in education, but there are some basic facts that every student should know and be responsible for.

The origin our our nation, our freedoms, our basic rights is something that falls under the category 'you should know this'.
Jay Leno's "Jaywalking" - where he interviews citizens on a topic, asking them factual based questions - the answers to which are readily evident to the audience - often leads to funny, often embarrassing replies. Of course, seldom are all of the interviewee's (especially those who answer the questions correct) shown, for what would be the humor in that - and Jay Leno is a successful comedian.

Here is a clip from YouTube showing the "Jaywalking" for some July 4th questions. Interesting, humorous, embarrassing. I can't help but wonder how our students would do....


Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Independence Day

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States of America:
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
— That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,...
What an inspirational document - one every American should read and ponder at least annually - yes, reading and discussing even the list of grievences as well. That document, the Declaration of Independence, is in the news today on this, it's 234th birthday.

Some sites of interest:

The Declaration set to song, as published in the LA Times.
An interesting commentary by Stephen Henderson at the Detroit Free Press.
A comparison of the original draft, reported copy, and final copy at the US site.
And, of course, the wonderful primary resources available at the Library of Congress.
Happy birthday to the Declaration of Independence and all that it stands for. May we as a people study it, embrace it, and try to understand it.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Fifty Books that Changed the World

Our friends at the US History blog recently posted a listing of “Fifty Books That Changed The World”.

People find lists fascinating, and I found the list interesting – hence the sharing of it with you. The books are listed on the Online Education Database.

There is no information on the site about how they chose the books. However, they did state:
“For centuries, books have been written in an attempt to share knowledge, inspiration, and discoveries. Sometimes those books make such an impact that they change the way the world thinks about things. The following books have done just that by providing readers an education in politics and government, literature, society, academic subjects such as science and math, and religion.”
The Fifty Books That Changed The World” is categorized – grouped under such headings as Politics and Government; Literature; Society; Science, Math, and Geography; and Religion.

Each of the book titles is followed by a brief summary of the book, and is linked to another website that might contain a review of the book, notes on the book, or even the book itself. The resources go from Paine’s Common Sense to Guerilla Warfare by Che Guevara to the Christian Bible.

An interesting site to look at, and – perhaps – to see how many of the “Fifty Books That Changed The World” you have read. While I have read parts of most of them, I have only completely read 19. Guess I’ll have to crack open my copy of Guerilla Warfare!

Photo from Flickr

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Kon-Tiki Sets Sail - 63 Years Ago

April 28, 1947: Thor Heyerdahl and a crew of five set sail on a raft made of balsa wood to prove a point: peoples from South America could have originally settled Polynesia. He had published his theory earlier, but it had received scant acknowledgement in the scientific community, which felt that balsa – the wood available to build ships in the South America hundreds of years earlier – would only float for two weeks.

Heyerdahl and his crew of four Norwegians and one Swede, went to the Ecuadorian forest to cut down balsa trees, hauled them to the Peruvian coast, and built the Kon-Tiki, which was modeled after rafts that had been common in Peru when the Spanish first arrived in Peru hundreds of years earlier. The Kon-Tiki was named after a legendary pre-Incan sun-king, who ruled the land, and then migrated westward across the sea.

They set sail from Callao Harbor, Peru, on a difficult journey – the raft was not easy to maneuver, it could only sail in trade winds and drift with the current. The adventure took 101 days, covering 4,300 miles, and ended when the Kon-Tiki made landfall on a coral reef near the uninhabited Polynesian island of Raroia.

An Academy Award winning documentary was made of the voyage, and can be viewed on YouTube here. The crew was made up of Norwegians Thor Heyerdahl, Herman Watzinger, Torstein Raby, Knut Haugland, Erik Esselberg, and Swede Bengt Danielsson. Knut Haugland was the last of the original crew of the Kon-Tiki to pass away – on December 25, 2009, at the age of 92.

Heyerdahl also authored Kon Tiki: Across the Pacific By Raft, a best selling story of the journey.

As we celebrate the sixty-third anniversary of the beginning of the journey of the Kon-Tiki, we realize that we have new adventures taking place now. With the advent of these new adventures, such as the journey of the Jewel of Muscat (a replica of a 9th century Arab merchant) or of the Talisker Bounty (recreating the voyage of Captain Bligh after he was set adrift through the mutiny on the Bounty), it does well to remind ourselves of the brave sailors who expand the horizons of human knowledge and endurance through their efforts.

All to often we might look at an event, such as the journey of the Kon-Tiki, and say something like "men like that don't exist any more" - but we find in the news today that they do.

The potential of engaging the students in discussions of these voyages in the classroom is enormous, bringing in math, science, geography, history, sociology, psychology – and much more. These are things our kids need to be exposed to in order to have a better appreciation of the historiography that surrounds us all, and it’s interrelatedness with other academic endeavors.


Kon Tiki at sea: Wikipedia
Photo of Thor Heyerdahl: Great Dreams
The Kon Tiki on the open waters: Yachtpals
Crew of the Kon Tiki: Kon Tiki Museum
Map of the route of the Kon Tiki : Kon Tiki Museum

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Bounty and the Jewel

In trying to keep you up-to-date in the continuing voyage of the Jewel of Muscat: She reached the second port in her trip after a nine-day voyage. On April 19 she docked at Galle, Sri Lanka – and planned on a five-day stay to re-provision and replace a mast that was damaged in storms encountered on the voyage from India. If all goes well, she will set sail on her longest stretch of the open-water voyage this weekend. Be sure to check the daily voyage log entries for updates.

Her next port of call will be at Georgetown, on Pinang Island, Malaysia – a trip of over 1500 miles.

BBC news put up some pictures from the trip. More can be found on the Jewel’s website, where they also have an educator’s link, allowing you or your class to ask a question… and much more.

The BBC also announced an upcoming attempt by some adventurers to replicate the epic journey of Captain Bligh and his loyal crewmembers, who were put adrift after the famed Mutiny on the Bounty in 1789. A crew of four will be sailing in an open boat from Tonga to West Timor without using modern navigational aids, hoping to make the trip in seven weeks. A replica of the Bounty is based in Florida.

Often castigated for creating the conditions that caused the infamous mutiny, Bligh’s navigational skills and capabilities are often overlooked. He, and eighteen loyal crewmen, were put adrift in the South Pacific in a 45-foot open longboat – and through his skill as a navigator guided the open boat to a British outpost in then Timor (now West Timor) on a 47-day, 4400-mile voyage. They survived by catching fish from the sea and rainwater from the sky.

The voyage recreating Bligh’s incredible journey will have far less members than the original – 4 to Bligh’s 18. The boat (the Talisker Bounty) they are using is also smaller – at 25 feet it is almost half the size of Bligh’s vessel. However, to add to the authenticity of the voyage, the crew is planning on taking approximately the same amount of provisions that Bligh had.

Their supplies include 150 pounds of ship biscuits, 16 pounds of pork, six quarts of rum, six bottles of wine and 28 gallons of water.

The crew – originator of the idea Don McIntyre, David Bryce, David Wilkinson, and Chris Wilde - hope to start the voyage from near the site of the mutiny around April 28th – commemorating the 221st anniversary of the mutiny.

While the journey has been done twice before by other adventurers, the avowed purpose of this trip is, according to the Times Online, to “recreate the hardships suffered by Bligh and his crew of 18 to the letter.”

Hopefully they wont encounter the hostile natives that killed one of Bligh’s crew, or prevented their landing on other islands for provisions.

Both of these adventures are ones that our Social Studies teachers, no matter which discipline they teach – might want to follow during class. It should certainly open up the opportunity for some discussion and thoughts among the students, no matter what their ages - as well as provide opportunities to study geography, human nature, history... and much more.


Jewel in Sri Lanka
The Multinational Crew of the Jewel
The Taliskar Bounty
Captain Bligh
1790 illustration of Bligh and loyal crewmembers being set adrift
Map of Bligh’s voyage


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Viking deaths

In June 2009, a group of 51 decapitated skulls were found in Dorset, U.K., suring the construction of a new road.

No, this is not a modern serial killer mystery… but it is a mystery none-the-less.

The skulls were of young men, and originally believed to have been buried there almost two millennia ago. Who were they? Why the mass burial – of skulls?

A U.K. news article from the Guardian stated:
“Archaeologists have called the discovery extraordinary, saying it could be evidence of a disaster, a mass execution, a battle or possibly an epidemic.”
Now, nine months later, more information is in – giving us a look at what happened, who was involved, and when the event occurred.

In March 2010, a BBC article provided many, but not all of the answers. The article stated that:

"Analysis of teeth from 10 of the men revealed they had grown up in countries with a colder climate than Britain's.”
After doing a number of scientific studies, the final thought is that the men were from Scandinavia. Based on their ages – most were in their teens and twenties, with a few in their thirties – they were very likely part of Viking raiding parties who were terrorizing the Anglo-Saxons in England. The final conclusion:

“Archaeologists from Oxford believe the men were probably executed by local Anglo Saxons in front of an audience sometime between AD 910 and AD 1030.”
While the scientific investigation is not yet complete, at least there is now a reasonable explanation as to the who, how, when, and why of the skeletal remains.

The site will have notoriety for an additional reason: According to the BBC,

“The mass grave is one of the largest examples of executed foreigners buried in one spot."

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Jewel of Muscat Sets Sail for Sri Lanka

As those of you who read this blog know, I’m very excited about the journey of the Jewel of Muscat. Their website is well-organized and has a special educator’s page. I

The Jewel of Muscat came out of dry-dock and set sail for Sri Lanka on Saturday, April 10. That means that you have the opportunity to follow the adventures of this 9th century Arab merchant ship replica as it sails for its next port. The site has many photos, a daily log, and more – and would be useful in practically any Social Studies classroom. The photo is from the Jewel of Muscat website.

From today's log:

"Jewel of Muscat is making excellent progress on her second leg to Sri Lanka
with strong winds helping her make good speeds of up to 6 knots and more."

This is a seldom-experienced event – similar to the Kon Tiki journey fifty years ago – and if you get your students involved, it is a journey that could create memories that will last their entire lives.

Go to the website – check it out daily – and use your LCD projectors to keep the students posted on the journey.

War of 1812 Website

I don’t think you can fully realize the scope of history that New York has until you read the New York History Blog. It is an excellent source for updates on the status of history in New York, history related events, and much more.

A short time ago it had an entry on a War of 1812 website. I would encourage our Social Studies teachers to look at the site and see what is there that they might use to enhance their studies of this era of history. The site has a virtual digital collection of items to show the students (the picture is from that site); resources for teachers; and much more.

Again – a good site to incorporate into your studies. Thank you, New York History blog.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

AMERICA: The Story of US!

Thanks to an alert from Eric Langhorst from the Speaking of History blog for the following:

The HISTORY Channel is providing a free DVD of its show, “AMERICA: The Story of US!” to schools whose principal fills out the form located here. The form is an online form. One DVD per school.

The HISTORY Channel provides the following summary of the show:

America The Story of Us is an epic 12-hour television event that tells the extraordinary story of how America was invented. With highly realistic CGI animation, dramatic recreations and thoughtful insights from some of America's most respected artists, business leaders, academics and intellectuals, it is the first television event in nearly 40 years to present a comprehensive telling of America's history. Elaborate, ambitious and cinematic, America The Story of Us will take you into the moments when Americans harnessed technology to advance human progress, from the rigors of linking the continent by transcontinental railroad--theinternet of its day--to triumphing over vertical space through the construction of steel structured buildings to putting a man on the moon. It is an intensive look at the people, places and things that have shaped our nation, and the tough and thrilling adventure that is America's 400-year history.

Also from the HISTORY CHANNEL site:

School principals, register for your school's free AMERICA The Story of US DVD!* America The Story of US — premiering on HISTORY™ April 25 at 9pm/8c — is a six week event that provides a fascinating look at the stories of the people, events, and innovations that forged our nation. It will provide you with an unprecedented opportunity to bring our nation’s;s history to life for your students. This 12-hour series will be supported by educational materials tied to curriculum standards and is copyright cleared for Fair Use in the classroom by instructors or pupils in the course of face-to-face teaching activities.

* HISTORY is offering America The Story of US on DVD to every school in the United States. School must be an accredited public, private or home school, for grades K-12 and college. In order to receive your school's DVD, your school principal (grades K-12) or Dean of Students (college) should fill out the request form below. HISTORY strictly limits one request per school. DVD requests must be made prior to July 1, 2010. DVD's will be mailed around August 2010 and free shipping is included in this offer.
I would encourage you to share this information (and link) with your principal and get be eligible to receive the free DVD this fall.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Journey of the Jewel of Muscat

Thanks to the heads up from the Medieval News blog, I got all excited about a historic cruise that is taking place now – and is accessible on the Internet!

The Jewel of Muscat is a replica of a 9th century Arab trading vessel. The crew is sailing from Port Sultan Qaboos into the Oman Sea, down through the Arabian Sea, along the western coast of India, around Sri Lanka, across the Bay of Bengal, and through the Straits of Malacca to Singapore. It is currently off of the coast of India.

The Jewel of Muscat website is FASCINATING!!!!! It contains a log of the journey, pictures, maps, the story of the ship, a 3D image of the ship, and much more. I’d encourage our teachers to check out the Jewel of Muscat website, and follow the journey with their students.

A sample of the information shared on the site: today’s journal entry….

13th March 2010
The winds have picked up but are now blowing in the wrong direction forcing Jewel down to a crawl as she approaches Cochin.
The ship design is based on a number of resources, including the Belitung Wreck – which was discovered in 1998.

Using this website in the classroom on a regular basis could lead to increased knowledge of geography, history, economics, and the adventurist human spirit.

YouTube has an interesting summary here.

Sort of reminds me of the voyages of the Kon Tiki, the Ra, and the Icelander.


Medieval News blog


Monday, March 1, 2010

Women's History Month

March 1 marks the beginning of Women’s History Month, an annual celebration and recognition of the contributions of women to civilization and history – and pointing to the needs of the future.

The theme for this year’s Women’s History Month is “Writing Women Back Into History”, a theme designed to recognize the diverse accomplishment of women throughout history.

Women’s History Month is a time to celebrate how far women have come – and what contributions have been made that were overlooked in generations of history texts and teachings.

How much do you know about women’s history? Try the quiz on Biography – or better yet, project it in class onto the screen and have your class take the quiz.

Some other resources:

Library of Congress has a site with a number of specific topics, as well as lesson plans for use in the classroom.

The history of Women’s History Month can be found here.

The National Women’s History Project provides information and resources.

Time Magazine has a Time for Kids special section for Women’s History Month, including games, a quiz, and information.

There are many, many other resources. The above is just a sampling. Google ‘Women’s History Month” and you’ll see 26 million links.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Death of a Quiet Hero: Miep Gies

Miep Gies passed away last month. Who was Miep Gies? Perhaps an exceptional lesson for our students to learn from.


Time: the early 1940s.
Place: Holland
Situation: Conquered by Nazi Germany in 1940, Holland was an occupied land. An order came down from the military: arrest and deport the Jews and other undesirables.

Your decision: You know of a Jewish family. Do you turn them in? Or do you try to help them avoid the order – and risk imprisonment and/or death if you are discovered?

That was a decision a young Dutch girl named Miep Gies had to make. Her decision affected not only the family she chose to support, but also revealed to the world the courage of individuals in the face of adversity and the horrors of the Nazi regime.

Gies was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1909, under her maiden name of Hermine Santruschitz. Following World War I, she was one of many malnourished children from Austria and Hungary that were invited to spend several months in the Netherlands to recuperate from the effects of the Great War. Her Dutch foster parents offered her a permanent home, and Gies was able to move to Amsterdam, where she grew to adulthood.

She was hired as an office assistant by a man named Otto Frank in 1933. As another war moved closer, Gies saw Austria annexed by the Germans, Poland invaded, and finally, on May 10, 1940, Holland occupied by the Nazis. She felt first-hand the bias of the Nazis when she applied for a marriage certificate – and had to prove her Aryan, non-Jewish heritage. She was able to do this with the help of family members, and on July 16, 1941, married Jan Gies.

Jan Gies became a member of the resistance, and became active in hiding those individuals wanted by the Nazi invaders. Miep Gies helped him, which provided her the experience to agree to provide supplies and support for Otto Franks, his family, and four of his friends when they went into hiding in the Annex.

After the Annex was discovered and the Franks were arrested, Gies visited the Annex one more time – and picked up the papers that had been the diary of the young Anne Frank. She preserved the diary until after the war, and upon learning of the death of Otto Frank’s wife and two daughters, sought him out to return the diary to him.

The impact of that diary kept by a teenage girl has resonated around the world during the last 60 plus years. Millions of people around the world are aware of who Anne Frank was – and have read her diary. Over 25 million copies of the diary have been published since 1947, in 54 languages. Few are aware of the role that Miep Gies had in trying to provide and protect Anne and her family, and then preserving the Diary of Anne Frank so that posterity would know what happened at the Annex from July 5, 1942 to August 4, 1944.

Miep Gies passed away January 11, 2010, at the age of one hundred. As Gies said repeatedly over the years, “I just did what I could to help.” It would be a worthwhile effort of Social Studies teachers to bring the acts of this courageous and compassionate woman to the attention of their students and to discuss the choices each person makes when tyranny threatens civilization.


Anne Frank Museum
BBC News
Jewish Virtual Library
Miep Gies: Her Own Story
New York Daily News
Times Online


Miep Gies in early 1930s, Miep Gies: Her Own Story
Miep and Jan Gies, wedding day, 1941, Anne Frank Museum
The Diary of Anne Frank, Jeff Werner

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Teaching American History Grant at the Old Courthouse

Our Teaching American History grant crew had the distinct pleasure of having their second colloquium at the old Citrus County Courthouse, which was built in 1912 and is a National Historic Preservation Site.

The 35 members of the TAH grant spent February 4 & 5 learning teaching strategies specific to the social studies, and excellent in-depth historical presentations on the American Revolution and it's European connections, as well as the influence of the Revolution on France and England.

The group, along with Kathy Thompson, our Old Courthouse resource officer and our three presenters - Robby Brown, Anthony Fitzpatrick, and Dr. Patricia Behre - enlighened, educated, and motivated our teachers on this era of history, expanding their horizons, and encouraging them to carry the knowledge and strategies back to the classroom.

This Federal grant provides funding to provide in-depth knowledge on American history and additional instructional strategies to K-12 teachers throughout the nation.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Where in the United States

My wife pointed me toward a site that allows you (or your students) to populate a map of the United States with information showing the states an individual has visited. The site is called Douwe Osinga's Projects, and the process is really simple - point and click. I filled out mine - not quite sure how I missed travelling to North Dakota - maybe next year. Hummm - perhaps I'll send my daughter to college there - that ought to create a visit!

visited 43 states (86%)
Create your own visited map of The United States

You can also do the same with a map of the world, or of India. A pretty cool site with potential for both personal and classroom use.