Josephine Baker, Civil Rights Activist

In 1963, Josephine Baker spoke at the famous March on Washington. She was the only woman on the list of official speakers. By this time, 57-year-old Baker was an international star, had worked with the French Resistance during World War II, and been involved with the NAACP to support the Civil Rights Movement since the early 1950s. While wearing her Free French uniform emblazoned with her medal of the Légion d'honneur, she stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and introduced the "Negro Women for Civil Rights," acknowledging among others Rosa Parks and Daisy Bates.

After Martin Luther King Jr's assassination, his widow Coretta Scott King approached Baker in the Netherlands. She asked if Baker would take her husband's place as leader of the Civil Rights Movement. After many days of thinking it over, Baker declined, saying her children were "too young to lose their mother."

Tillie Anderson was a Swedish seamstress who became a professional cyclist in America and dominated the sport in the 1890s. She won all but seven of the 130 races she entered. Unfortunately, women's cycling races declined and eventually ceased to be a professional possibility. By 1902 there were no longer any women’s races. Anderson switched careers, becoming a Swedish masseuse for wealthy families in Chicago, and helping establish bike paths in Chicago in the 1930s.

Scandal Has Always Sold

Celebrities are well-known for having scandals. Sometimes scandals supercharge a celebrity, sometimes they destroy them. Mae West was an example of where a scandal was a springboard to greater fame and fortune.

In 1926, she put on a play called simply “Sex” where she played (surprise) a sex worker. Newspapers were outraged. Mae West was thrown in jail for indecency. But the play was packed and audiences loved her for her bawdiness and fresh, edgy humor. She later quipped she “climbed the ladder of success wrong by wrong” rather than rung by rung.

Using Dental Tartar to Reconstruct Diets from Japan's Edo Period

Samples of tartar from the teeth of 13 people who were buried in what is now eastern Tokyo in the latter half of the Edo Period, from 1603 to 1867 CE, were analyzed in a recent study. DNA from rice was identified in the tartar of eight of the individuals. The DNA of other foods, including daikon radish, the minty herb “shiso” perilla, green onion, Japanese chestnut, carrot, and pumpkin was also identified. The researchers noted that the DNA results match records describing these foods from the period.

Non-food items were also found. DNA from tobacco plants, which may have been smoked, was also found in the tartar. Slightly more obscure was resin from tropical lowland rainforest trees -- potentially a tooth powder? “The technique will make it possible to survey what each individual ate,” Rikai Sawafuji of the University of the Ryukyus said of the project. Such analysis could allow researchers to determine which foods were used as staples, and even which were an individual’s favorite foods, he added.

Beadnet dress from Egypt’s 4th Dynasty, during the reign of Pharaoh Khufu 2551–2528 BCE. It is the oldest surviving example of a dress in this style. And yes, it would have put the wearer’s body on display in a way that is barely acceptable at a burlesque by today’s standards.

The dress has been reassembled from approximately seven thousand beads (no record mentioned how long the reassembling took) found in an undisturbed burial of a female contemporary of Pharaoh Khufu. Although their string had disintegrated, a few beads still lay in their original pattern on and around the mummy, allowing modern archaeologists to accurately reconstruct what it had once looked like. The color of the beads has faded as well. But when it was first made, the beadnet was blue and blue green, to imitate the precious stones lapis lazuli and turquoise.

Mark Twain once entered a contest that offered $10 for the best original poem on the topic of spring, “no poem to be considered unless it should possess positive value.” He submitted this and took the prize.

Jerusalem circa 1000 BCE, in the united Kingdom of Israel

This reconstruction based on the archaeological record highlights how difficult, and important, getting water was at the top of a hill in of a dry subtropical climate.

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    By Lillian Audette

    This blog is a collection of the interesting, the weird, and sometimes the need-to-know about history, culled from around the internet. It has pictures, it has quotes, it occasionally has my own opinions on things. If you want to know more about anything posted, follow the link at the "source" on the bottom of each post. And if you really like my work, buy me a coffee or become a patron!

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