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The Camp Fire Girls and the Appropriation of Native American Culture

By Marianne Lyons, VI Form

The Camp Fire Girls and the Appropriation of Native American Culture

American camping associations are iconic. The camping movement from its inception and in all its forms has shaped American culture. In fact, I have had the privilege of attending Wyonegonic Camps in Denmark, Maine for the past ten years. 

This past year as a counselor, I had the opportunity to pass down traditions directly to my campers. As part of this, I once took my cabin to my camp’s cramped museum, which holds the artifacts of Wyonegonic’s 120-year history. My campers humored me by asking questions about the different songs and pictures that covered the walls.

One of my campers paused as her hand hovered over a blurry, black and white picture. She called me over, and I studied the image. It was dated 1919 and showed a small white girl in Native American traditional dress. I paused. I thought hard about what to do and what to say next. Native American dress, lore, and appropriation are integral to the long history of the American camping movement. I didn’t know how to summarize and convey that history to my wide-eyed ten-year-old camper, but I knew I had to explain. I called my cabin over to the picture and opened up a conversation. I covered why this photograph might be offensive and encouraged the girls to share their perspectives. This conversation wasn’t easy, but it was important for my campers to understand the complexities of our shared history. 


The Evolution of Jane Austen

By Sydni Williams, VI Form

The Evolution of Jane Austen

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”1

Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, upplaga (ex pbk ed.). ed. (New York: Penguin Books, 2009).

This opening line from Jane Austen’s most famous novel, Pride and Prejudice, is a summation of the time period in which Austen lived and wrote. The quote proves that, in eighteenth century England, an economically stable, unmarried man should pursue an agreeable, unmarried woman to acquire as a wife. After courtship, proposals, and financial negotiations with the woman’s father, a man and woman would be married through a process devoid of love. From the perspective of an eighteenth-century woman, Pride and Prejudice’s opening line demonstrates that a woman’s marital status decided her economic security and quality of life. Women had little to no opportunity to advance in society, beyond the man they married. Therefore, proposals, marriage negotiations, and weddings were an important landmark in the lives of many women; the landmark that decided their future. 

Jane Austen, living among the eighteenth-century gentry, witnessed these events in her everyday life and wrote novels about this world: about marriage, love, hate, family, relationships, and humanity. Unlike many women of her time, Austen never married and spent her life dedicated to a writing career. Austen’s stories have transcended centuries, influenced the film industry, and remained on bookshelves and in classrooms. Although Austen’s “universally acknowledged truth” may no longer be true after the women’s rights movement, Austen and her novels have somehow remained relevant. 

There is not much information existing on Austen’s personal life. Historians, biographers, and writers have theorized about her sexuality, gender identity, political views, and career goals. For almost a century after her death, Austen’s family members rewrote her life in biographies, profiting off of her successes. When remembering Jane, they manipulated her image to fit into society’s standards of a spinster, creating “Aunt Jane,” a caricature of Austen since used in many accounts and biographies. As a result of this image, Austen was an ideal conservative icon used in support of marriage. 


The American Eugenics Movement and its Influence on Nazi Germany

By Caroline Sullivan, VI Form

The American Eugenics Movement and its Influence on Nazi Germany

It’s the early 1930s. A young woman, twenty years old, is out to lunch with her mother when all of the sudden she feels sharp stomach pains tearing through her abdomen. She dismisses them as merely an upset stomach, but they grow worse. Her driver rushes her to a hospital. When she arrives at the hospital, the doctors barely examine her before diagnosing her with appendicitis. They inform her that she must undergo emergency surgery to remove her appendix before it ruptures. However, upon waking up from the surgery she notices that something was different. All around her, doctors were whispering and acting suspiciously. New doctors, ones that she had never seen before, were coming in to observe her as if she was a sort of experiment. Confused, the girl begins searching for answers as to what had happened during surgery. She listened and overheard the doctors calling her offensive names such as “dumb,” “feebleminded,” and “idiot.” Finally, she connected the dots. While in surgery, the doctors had sterilized her, stripping her of her right to have children. 

It’s 1958, and the parents of a four-year-old child admit their son, Mark, to a mental hospital for Cerebral Palsy. His mother goes to the hospital every Wednesday to visit, but one week the hospital tells her she cannot come anymore. A few days later, the family receives a devastating call: their six-year-old boy has passed away. Upon requesting further information about his death, the hospital refuses to share anything. It even fails to provide a death certificate when the family asks for one. The family is destroyed, his parents lost a child, and his three sisters lost their little brother. Even worse, they struggle to find closure as the hospital gave them so little information about his death. Their quest for answers finally gets results decades later when the government declassifies records from the state hospital. The family is horrified to learn that their, innocent, six-year-old child died an excruciatingly painful death from radiation poisoning at the state hospital.

These two stories have more in common than their raw horror. They did not occur in some far away totalitarian country overseas. Instead, they took place within the United States, under the jurisdiction of the U.S. government. These tragedies occurred in the very country that idealizes its democracy, grounded in the ideal of freedom. These procedures were legal under the U.S. justice system, a system created to promote liberty. Instead, The Constitution allowed states to deprive the most vulnerable members of society of liberty under a program called eugenics. 


Ely Speech by Yunxuan (Coco) Chen, IV Form, Eli Prize Winner (20-21 School Year)

The Ely Prize is presented to the student who gave the best speech in the III Form Global Seminar Public Speaking Competition each spring.

An Analysis of the US Electoral System

By Steven Yang, IV Form

An Analysis of the US Electoral System

The US’ system for electing its leaders has not changed since its inception. Briefly summarized, candidates usually adhere to one of the main two parties, Republicans or Democrats. Each party holds its elections (primaries) to have a single nominee. Then, candidates get a number of votes for winning the popular vote in each state. The candidate who reaches 270 electoral votes wins.

In recent elections, this electoral college has been controversial, as it has not produced the same result as the popular vote in two of the last six elections (Beckwith, 2019; Levy, 2019). Many argue, especially on the liberal side, that the electoral college should not be utilized in future elections.

However, a quieter yet equally important issue is that voters are misled by a combination of misinformation, party polarization, partisan-motivated reasoning, and an illusion of understanding, contributing to an inaccurate portrayal of opinions.


20th Century Psychiatric Hospitals and the Lasting Impacts of Deinstitutionalization

By Skylar Davis, VI Form

20th Century Psychiatric Hospitals and the Lasting Impacts of Deinstitutionalization

Editor’s Note: This paper was completed as a part of the History Research Fellowship, a one-semester course available to sixth form students.

I. Introduction

Few institutions evoke greater horror than the “insane asylums” of the 19th and 20th centuries. Given the stigmatizing media portrayals of such hospitals, most people believe that they had uniformly poor living conditions, practiced barbaric treatments, and employed abusive staff. As a consequence, society now views historic asylums as torturous and inhumane places. This image, however, hides a more complex truth about the value of state mental hospitals.

Prior to the asylum era, the only hospitals in America were general hospitals. During the early 18th century, most individuals diagnosed with mental illnesses lived at home under their families’ care. At the time, communities were reasonably tolerant of individuals who exhibited mild symptoms of mental illness. Those deemed violent and disorderly were sent to either public almshouses or private hospitals, depending on their family’s finances, for professional medical care. This was the beginning of institutionalized mental health care.


The Portrayal of Russian Military Intervention in Ukraine (2014-current) in Russian Media Outlets

By Yevheniia Dubrova, VI Form

The Portrayal of Russian Military Intervention in Ukraine (2014-current) in Russian Media Outlets

Editor’s Note: This paper was completed as a part of the History Research Fellowship, a one-semester course available to sixth form students.

  1. Introduction

On April 13, 2014, following the Russian occupation of Crimea, pro-Russian activists seized the City Council building in Makiivka, located in the Donetsk region of Eastern Ukraine. They proclaimed the area part of a newly formed proto-state, the Donetsk People’s Republic. Almost immediately, the Republic’s government restricted public access to all Ukrainian and international TV channels and print media. As Dmytro Tkachenko, an adviser at Ukraine’s Ministry of Information Policy, noted, “Russia [was] doing everything it [could] to cut those people off.” Controlling TV towers in the two regions allowed the separatists to broadcast their propaganda, exaggerating Ukraine’s failures and glorifying their self-declared government. From that day forward, the population of occupied Donbas, including Makiivka, received all of their news solely from local Republican or state-owned Russian media outlets. 

I remember that day clearly because it marked the beginning of the aggressive attitudes of pro-Russian supporters, who constituted the vast majority of people in my hometown of Makiivka, towards those supporting Ukraine and its reunification with the region. Never before had I witnessed the propaganda machine working so effectively and disinformation campaigns executed so brilliantly. Russia’s state-controlled media outlets unanimously denied the presence of Russian troops in the region and stated that it was ultra-nationalist Ukrainian government financed by Western politicians who started the war in Donbas for its own benefit. Branding the Ukrainian government a “fascist junta,” the Kremlin portrayed it and the Ukrainian state as “purveyors of fascism, xenophobia,” and violent racism. The horrifying tales of the violence of Ukrainian soldiers that appeared in the news, such as the infamous story about the public crucifixion of a three-year-old boy in Slovyansk, removed any traces of sympathy from the local population towards Ukraine, its government, and its army.


Decades of Deceit: Bernie Madoff’s Effect on SEC Regulation

By Blake Gattuso, VI Form

Decades of Deceit: Bernie Madoff’s Effect on SEC Regulation

Editor’s Note: This paper was completed as a part of the History Research Fellowship, a one-semester course available to sixth form students.

Seventeen billion dollars lost. Decades of deceit. Bernie Madoff’s fraud forever changed the lives of thousands and impacted the lives of millions.

“It’s a proprietary strategy, I can’t go into great detail,” said Bernie Madoff when he was asked to explain how he made such strong and consistent returns for his investors. This quote from his 2001 interview with Barron’s Magazine held true. Madoff would never go into “great detail” on this topic with anyone. Madoff did not tell investors about the strategy. Not even the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) examiners would get “great detail” about Madoff’s multibillion-dollar hedge fund. For more than thirty years, Madoff ran this scheme. And for more than thirty years, Madoff never went into “great detail” with anyone because his hedge fund was a sixty-five billion-dollar Ponzi scheme, not the top-performing hedge fund which it claimed to be.

Trusted capital markets are fundamental to the functioning of the American economy. Stock markets are places where companies raise capital from investors who buy corporate shares. Without these markets, it would be difficult, if not impossible, for the American economy to efficiently allocate capital to productive uses represented in many American, world-leading companies, such as Apple, Google, General Motors, and Boeing. If investors lose faith in these markets and see them as fraudulent, the American economy will suffer.