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History

Laurel Thatcher Ulrich is the author of many books, and she coined the phrase "Well behaved women seldom make history." She's a feminist historian who is the 300th Anniversary University Professor at Harvard University, where she teaches courses in American history and women’s studies.

Thatcher Ulrich is in Rochester for an event titled “Curiosities: History in Odd Things” at the University of Rochester's Rush Rhees Library. But first, she's our guest on Connections.

Historian and author Walter Stahr has written a new book about President Lincoln's Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton. You may remember Stahr from his remarkable book on William Henry Seward, and you may remember Edwin Stanton because of what he did after President Lincoln was assassinated in 1865. As Lincoln lay dying, Stanton got to work: he issued orders to protect other leaders and initiated a search for the assassin.

In Stanton: Lincoln's War Secretary, Stahr describes the complex relationship between Stanton and Seward -- one of trust and suspicion -- and the complex reputation held by Stanton. Was Stanton an aggressive opportunist using tragedy to empower himself? Or was he a progressive problem solver looking to resolve conflicts? Among other things, he was known to press for equal pay and status for African Americans in the Union Army. 

Stahr will be in Auburn next week to discuss Stanton's life during the Civil War and how it relates to political discourse today, but first, he joins us on Connections. Our guests:

Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church has a prominent place in Rochester's African American and civil rights history -- one that has been celebrated for 190 years.

Founded in 1827 by an escaped slave, it was a shelter on the Underground Railroad for hundreds of escaped slaves being led to freedom by Harriet Tubman. It was also the spiritual home of Frederick Douglass, who edited and printed the North Star in its basement. Susan B. Anthony also visited the church, giving her last ever public address to its members.

Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church is gearing up for a black tie soirée to celebrate it's 190th anniversary. We talk to organizers of the event about the church's history and why it still has an important role in civil rights advocacy today. In studio:

  • Carmen Allen, head of Memorial AME Zion Church's Community Outreach Ministry, and member of the church's 190th Anniversary Committee
  • Rashid Smith, preacher's steward at Memorial AME Zion Church, and member of the church's 190th Anniversary Committee
  • Delores Radney, chair of special events for the 190th Anniversary celebration, and member of the church's 190th Anniversary Committee

How often do you use the Erie Canal? Do you visit for recreation? Do you use it to transport massive tanks for beer fermentation? Okay, maybe not the latter. But hey: it's the Erie Canal Bicentennial, which gives us a good reason to do two things.

First, we have a frank discussion about the future of the canal -- who will use it, and how. Second, we explore the history. Wrapped up in this bicentennial is a series of events, which we also discuss. Our guests:

  • Brian Stratton, director of the NYS Canal Corporation
  • Beth Teall, chair of Cornhill Navigation
  • Scott Winner, executive director of the Fairport Perinton Partnership for a Better Community
  • Heidi McPherson, president of the College at Brockport

When NPR tweeted the entire Declaration of Independence, a small but vocal set of Twitter users thoughts it was offensive. They didn't know what they were reading, and thought it was an anti-Trump screed.

So what are we teaching kids about the Declaration of Independence and American history? And why do immigrants fare so much better than American citizens on naturalization tests? We explore these questions with our guests:

  • Evvy Fanning, local high school English teacher
  • Samuel Bovard, 7th and 8th grade ESOL/ELA teacher in the Rochester City School District
  • Kevin Meuwissen, associate professor of teaching and curriculum, social studies education scholar, and director of teacher education for the Warner School of Education at the University of Rochester
  • Michael Oberg, distinguished professor of history at SUNY Geneseo

We preview the return of the PBS show, Home Fires, with a discussion about how World War II impacted families and individual communities. We listen to some music from the time, hear about local history, and a World War II veteran shares his story. Our guests:

  • Peter DuPre, World War II veteran
  • Dr. Carolyn Vacca, Monroe County historian and associate professor and chair of the History Department at St. John Fisher College
  • Michael Lasser, host of WXXI’s “Fascinatin’ Rhythm”
  • Danielle Abramson Swartz, WXXI's director of station events and special projects

For all of ways we use the term "Epicurean," here's something strange: the original works of Epicurus himself have never been found. It's only through letters and quotations that we glimpse his work. But what if a library on a seaside villa contains the lost works of Epicurus -- and dozens of others?

When Mount Vesuvius buried Pompeii in 79 AD, it also buried Herculaneum. That seaside estate contained a library of many scrolls, and the volcanic ash preserved the scrolls... in a manner of speaking. They look like lumps of coal, but top scientists are desperate to find a way to either unspool them without destroying them, or to use new technology to peer inside. What might we find? How could we do it? What other ancient texts are begging to be read, if we can only figure out how? Our guests:

  • Brent Seales, professor and chair of the Department of Computer Science, and director of the Center for Visualization and Virtual Environments at the University of Kentucky
  • Roger Easton, professor of imaging science and director of the Laboratory for Imaging of Historical Artifacts at the Rochester Institute of Technology
  • Greg Heyworth, associate professor of English and Textual Science and director of the Lazarus Project at the University of Rochester

This week marks 240 years since General George Washington made two daring decisions that all but saved the American side's cause in the Revolutionary War. Washington had been humiliated in 1776, in a series of defeats while trying to defend New York. His closest advisor thought he was indecisive, a failure. His second in command was plotting to gain the lead role in the war. But instead of give in to infighting, Washington learned from his mistakes, and launched a surprise attack on Trenton during a ferocious winter storm. Then he led a second shocking victory at Princeton, even riding into the line of fire himself.

We discuss the drama of these events, their significance... and why Washington is deified as a perfect being, instead of being considered in his totality. Our guests:

  • Dr. Michael Oberg, distinguished professor of history at SUNY Geneseo
  • Dr. David MacGregor, professor of history and international studies at St. John Fisher College

Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson did not know who Harriet Tubman was, according to the New Yorker magazine. But he's not alone: polls show that many Americans don't know much about Tubman. Why is that?

Moreover, are we failing in teaching parts of our American history? Fox News' Bill O'Reilly recently stressed that while slaves did help build the White House, as First Lady Michelle Obama mentioned in her convention speech, the slaves were well fed and had good lodging. Why would O'Reilly emphasize a part of the slave experience that appears to massage the rough edges? Our guests discuss it:

  • Geraldine Copes-Daniels, great grandniece of Harriet Tubman
  • Catherine Clinton, chair of the American History Department at the University of Texas in San Antonio, and international research professor of history at Queen’s University Belfast
  • Benjamin Lawrance, professor of international studies and director of international and global studies at the Rochester Institute of Technology
  • Maggie Moore-Holley, Harriet Tubman re-enactor

How should we teach about Columbus and his expeditions? It's the week of Columbus Day, and several American cities (led by Seattle) are abandoning the official holiday in lieu of various forms of diversity appreciation. What about here? Columbus exploited and killed the people he encountered; why do so many school children have such a rosy view? We talk about this with our guests:

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