Category Archives: American History

Beyond the Spectacle

native american

Native American in ink by wsilver

A new project between University of Kent and the University of East Anglia seeks to understand the role of the Native North American presence in Britain.

The project’s official website provides a great deal of information about the project, the research, and the potential impact that may come out of the findings.

From the About section:

“The main aim of the project is to generate an up-to-date picture of all forms of Native North American travel across the Atlantic, whether it resulted in return trips, onward movement into Europe, or even long-term residence in Britain. The project has an ambitious timeframe, covering the past five centuries, but its particular focus is on the last century and a half up to the present day, a period which has not fully been examined in any depth. In addition, the project will move away from the traditional focus on metropolitan centres, such as London, to examine how Native visitors travelled throughout Britain and established mutual relationships, economic exchanges, and cultural connections across the whole country.

Our objective is to look ‘beyond the spectacle’ in order to provide a more diverse and complete account of these fascinating interactions that includes Indigenous views. We aim to transform existing understandings of Native North American presence in Britain, offering fresh perspectives on a range of relevant issues such as colonialism, Indigenous identities, globalisation and the nature of ‘belonging’.”

If anyone has any information or is interested in learning more, please give the website a look and be in contact!

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Filed under American History, Online Resources

New Resource: American National Biography Online

by Don Allen

Being a part of the Norfolk Libraries network definitely has its advantages, and I wanted to take a quick second or three to highlight one of our newest: access to the American National Biography Online.

American National Biography Online

ANB has over “19,000 biographies of significant, influential or notorious figures from American history written by prominent scholars”. This number includes over 1600 biographies of people who were armed forces and intelligence personnel, from Henry Larcom Abbot (1831-1927) , a union soldier and engineer, to Elmo Russell Zumwalt Jr. (1920-2000), an admiral in the US Navy. (See what I did there? A-Z. Ha. I slay me.) Other categories include politics, law and crime, and sports.

It is available to anyone with a Norfolk Library card, either in the library or from a home computer or mobile device. I’ve had a browse through some of the biographies, and they are quite good. While most are relatively short, they are packed with information. Some, like the article on Abraham Lincoln, are longer, but still, when compared to a full book, get to the highlights pretty quickly. Any fan of American history will surely love this site, and I highly recommend it.

Access American National Biography Online from home using your Norfolk library card.  Enter NOR before the number when prompted (with no spaces).

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Filed under American Culture, American History, Online Resources

Book Review: Wonder Woman – Ambassador of Truth

By Danielle Prostrollo

“As lovely as Aphrodite—as wise as Athena—with the speed of Mercury and the strength of Hercules—she is known only as Wonder Woman, but who she is, or whence she came, nobody knows!”—All-Star Comics #8 (December 1941-January 1942)

wonderwoman

New in the collection at the Memorial Library is a new Wonder Woman compilation. The hardback details the history of the character and follows each of her incarnations – from her first appearance in Action Comics, the Lynda Carter’s TV series, multiple animated series, and the recent feature film as well as beautiful photograph and several inserts, reproductions of Amazonian ephemera, as well as interviews with people key to the story of Diana Prince.

This book will appeal to all readers – young and old, those new to the Wonder Woman story and those who have followed her for years. It is easy to take several passes through this book in short order, page through for the photographs, again for the interviews and footnotes, and a third time to take in the great written history. At 175 pages you’ll fly through the book as if it takes no time at all.

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Filed under American Culture, American History, Books, Memorial Library

Book Review: The Strip by Stefan Al

by Danielle Prostrollo

A new book to the library collection is The Strip by Stefan Al. Showcasing the history of the iconic American destination, breaking it down into eras, and delving deep into each casino and hotel’s story. There are photographs that show off each casino, increasingly taller, shinier, and extreme and Al’s writing put each of these casinos into the bigger context of Las Vegas history.

the strip

According to the Al, Las Vegas’ relationship with tourism began with a Wild West phase, resorts styled to look and feel like a frontier town before moving on to the post-War modernist. Innovations were made, such as placing a pool by the casino for leisurely lounging, only to be followed by leisurely gaming in the pool (as was the case at the Sands casino’s floating craps table). This transition was punctuated by the “Big Switch”, the multi-million dollar renovation of the Last Frontier resort into the New Frontier resort. The cowboy image was now in the rear view mirror and the space race was on.

Following this era of change the country, in a frenzy of atomic fever, leapt at the opportunity to partake in mushroom cloud-gazing. Las Vegas was in the right place for the public to make their pilgrimage for a chance to see atomic testing and the city did not waste that opportunity. Providing atomic cocktails and lunch menus, the resorts catered to their clientele. In the 1960s The Strip really started to gain height, with new casinos being built taller and taller. If there was any doubt that the frontier image of the dessert city was dead, this would certainly be it.

Building on the growth of the previous decades, the 1980s saw expansion into hyper-thematic resorts. Treasure Island, Excalibur, and the Luxor were all constructed during this “theme park”-like era. And from the extremes of giant castles and pirate ships, the strip pushed back toward the center focusing on equally enticing flights-of-fancy such as fake beaches, Venetian canals, and world landmarks. Taking the reader into present day, Al talks of the “star-chitect” trend. Recent casinos and resorts have relied on the name recognition of famous architects to bring notoriety and traffic to their destinations.

This book is a great read for anyone interested in American architecture, entertainment, or modern American history.

Find it at the Memorial Library or reserve it here

Check out some of our other recent book reviews here:

Unforgotten New York

Hope in the Dark

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Filed under American Culture, American History, American Travel, Books