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30, October 2014

Disability Awareness

Because October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, my son told me about a program at his school yesterday in which they discussed how people with disabilities work and live, and the students learned disability etiquette. They watched a video about a man with cerebral palsy who creates art on a typewriter.

Left: Colleen and Max Starkloff in 2005.


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30, October 2014

A Ring of Mourning, A Memory of Love

As Halloween approaches, we prepare to celebrate with costumes, parties, and trick-or-treating. However, at one time, Halloween was a time for remembering the deceased. According to Peter Tokofsky, associate adjunct professor in folklore and mythology at the University of California at Los Angeles, "The earliest trace (of Halloween) is the Celtic festival, Samhain, which was the Celtic New Year. It was the day of the dead, and they believed the souls of the deceased would be available" (as quoted in the Daily Bruin on October 31, 1997). Read more »

27, October 2014

Keeping 1875 St. Louis in Order

When I was asked to take the lead on the upcoming exhibit A Walk in 1875 St. Louis, I immediately was thrilled at the idea of basing an exhibit around one of my favorite maps, Compton & Dry’s “Pictorial St. Louis.” “Pictorial St. Louis” was published as a book, with 110 separate map plates that could be pieced together into a single grand view. Read more »

24, October 2014

Utopia Exhibit Attracts Muench Descendants Nationwide

“Great event!” “Amazing!” “A life-changing experience.” These were some of the comments heard on September 6 and 7, 2014, during the opening weekend of the Utopia exhibition at the German–American Heritage Museum in Washington DC. “It's larger than the museum itself!” exclaimed museum curator Petra Shuermann when the Utopia delivery truck first pulled up in front of the museum. The museum is housed in the former townhouse of German immigrant-merchant John Hockemeyer. Read more »

22, October 2014

The Louisiana Purchase and the Changes It Wrought

When I was a kid learning about the Louisiana Purchase in school, I learned the basic framework of the story—in 1803, President Thomas Jefferson bought the Louisiana Territory from France, nearly doubling the size of the United States. And, from what I learned, the Louisiana Purchase was undoubtedly a good thing: It gave the United States access to the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains, granted the United States control of the Missouri, and gave Americans millions of acres of land to settle. Read more »

16, October 2014

Early St. Louis and the Transfer of Power

Imagine if someone came to you right now, in your neighborhood, and told you the place where you live had just been sold to another country. That might sound like a strange scenario, but take a second and really consider the question. How would you react? Would you be angry? Sad? Worried about how your life might change? A mix of all of the above? Read more »

13, October 2014

WWI Artifacts and Memories: Piano Man in France

On March 17, 1918, Charles Atkinson Bull, a well-known St. Louis gospel singer, religious worker, and piano salesman, departed for France. Carrying with him a portable Estey pump organ, Bull joined the 25,925 YMCA volunteers serving overseas and in America. The YMCA provided entertainment, support, and religious services to men of the United States and their allies during World War I. Read more »

10, October 2014

Civil War Love Letters: October 10, 1864

Since writing his last letter, James was moved to a prison in Columbia, South Carolina. At the end of September 1864, due to the spread of yellow fever among prisoners at Charleston and the movements of Union general William T. Sherman’s Army, Confederate authorities decided to move prisoners to Columbia. Approximately 1,400 Union officer prisoners were moved from Charleston to Columbia, including James. He arrived at the new prison camp on October 6, 1864. Read more »

8, October 2014

The Louisiana Purchase and the Rise of Dueling in St. Louis

If you’ve lived in St. Louis long enough, you’ve probably heard a little bit about the history of dueling in this city. More than likely, you’ve heard the story of Thomas Hart Benton, the Missouri senator who killed a man during a duel in 1817. You’ve probably also heard of Bloody Island, a sandbar in the Mississippi River where duelists traveled to draw pistols, take their paces, and fire at one another. By 1826, dueling was such a defining feature of St. Louis that the Reverend Timothy Flint wrote dueling was “one species of barbarism that is but too common [in St. Read more »

3, October 2014

The Art of Hair Work in the 1800s

How do you grieve? Most people cry, but how else does death impact our lives? Eventually, many of us fall into silence; we avoid speaking the name of a loved one or sorting out their belongings for fear of arousing paralyzing emotions. To succeed at this, modern mourning rituals are quick and finite. But 150 years ago, most of American society experienced the opposite. In a world surrounded by danger, disease, and high-infant mortality, people were well acquainted with death. Read more »