Theodor Seuss Geisel and his perspective on the war

Dr. Seuss Went to War: A Catalog of Political Cartoons.https://library.ucsd.edu/speccoll/dswenttowar/. Created by Richard H. Minear, The University of California,https://library.ucsd.edu/speccoll/dswenttowar/. Reviewed Apr. 2019.

Trench warfare, Pacific battles, and enslaved populace are common themes when one thinks about WWII. Often Overlooked are other areas influential to the thoughts and emotions associated with the war. Much of these emotionswere incubated on the backs of visual propaganda. The most widely known examples of propaganda are those used by the Germans in portraying allied forces in a negative light. Lesser knownare the war illustrations of Theodor Seuss Geisel, more commonly known as Dr. Seuss. A far stretch from Green Eggs and Ham, the collection of illustrations catalogued on Dr Seuss Went to Warare reminiscent of Geisel’s personal and emotional take on the war from 1941 till 1943, while working as chief editor cartoonist at the liberal-leaning, New York newspaper PM.

First, I’d like to address the layout of this site. The University of California at San Diego did an excellent job at cataloging the work of Geisel into relative sections so that viewers can go directly to the specific areas that interest them. Dr. Seuss historian, Richard H. Minear, reproduced two hundred of Geisel’s cartoons which he divided into seven sections. Sections are divided by year—1941 through 1943—and by people, places, issues, and battles. In his introduction, Minear mentions that the entire collection of Geisel’s work has been digitalized for this website. Text and background illustrations decorate the site in a style familiar to those who know Dr. Seuss. I assume this is to prepare visitors for the humor and joy that so many fans remember and love.

As part of the three sections making up 1941-1943, Minear separates each year into subcategories labeled for the twelve months of the year. One thing that isn’t very clearly explained is the absence of time, in the form of months, as some years are only represented by a few months, where others are represented by twelve months. This is questionable when understanding that, the PM news-paper was a daily news-paper which ran from 1940 to 1948. By this calculation, it is easy to see that the two hundred illustrations posted here do not make up three years’ worth of work by Geisel. Minear does not clarify a reason for these gaps in time. As a viewer, I can only speculate the lapses in time correlates with the more unfavorable periods of the United States involvement in the war.

The remaining tabs, particularly the people, places and issues tabs, each provide an assortment of flexibility. Regardless of your level of knowledge on WWII, any of these tabs would lead the viewer to comics which entertain.

Within each, the viewer will find well recognized topics such as: Douglas MacArthur, Adolf Hitler, German, Japan, Normandie, and Propaganda. Also included are lesser known topics such as: Lend-Lease Act, Syria, Iceland (In WWII? How surprising!), Frank Knox, and William O’Dwyer.

My personal favorites were the People and Places tabs. As mentioned above, topics under the people and places tabs are filled with names and places unheard of to the amateur historian. For those interested in both WWII and Dr. Seuss, this is the place to start when visiting this site. Another really impressive aspect of this site, from more of an academic perspective, was the inclusion of metadata for all 200 illustrations included. Some of the more prominent information found here includes: Title of (illustration), Creator, Publisher, and Date of Publication. Of those I checked, each even includes a pre-created citation to be used in bibliographies.

Overall, the compilation of work by Theodor Seuss Geisel that Richard H. Minear presents in this site, provides the viewer an alternate perspective on a war much discussed though often taught biasedly.

Much Needed Perspective

In recognition of the 183rd anniversary of the Siege and Battle of the Alamo, residents of San Antonio are reminded of what makes this city so popular. Lifelong residents of this city, are introduced and introduced again to the defending heroes who fought for our city’s emblematic historic site. In celebration of that heroism, historians for the Alamo recently provided San Antonio residents with an opportunity to view the Texas Revolution through a new lens, one based upon new evidence and research. 

For this panel, Alamo historians brought together three individual perspectives on the familiar story of the Alamo. Dr. Miguel Soto, Ph.D., Professor of Mexican History at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, reimagines the story of the Alamo from the perception of the Mexican Army. Dr. Andrew Torget, Associate Professor of History at the University of North Texas, examines the story of the Alamo while emphasizing the connection between the Texas Revolution and the forthcoming Civil War, while Dr. Gregg Dimmick, a medical doctor who is an avid Alamo enthusiast provided a layman’s but still well-versed perspective.

Most intriguing among the things mentioned by these speakers were the ideas of looking past the traditional perspective of history, an idea growing among historians today. In particular, I found the theories of Dr. Torget most interesting. His connection of the Texas Revolution with the Civil War was highlighted by a discussion of por-slavery feeling among early settlers of the Texas Republic. Torget discusses this topic in-depth in this book, Seeds of Empire: Cotton, Slavery, and the Transformation of the Texas Borderlands, 1800-1850

In an age where differences in interpretation and opinion are not popular, voices which parallel Dr. Soto, Dr. Torget, and Dr. Gregg are much needed. It is my opinion that an absence or unwillingness to acknowledge the opinions of other historians of varied levels, disables us as enthusiasts from fully producing a complete history.  

Refusing to Forget

John Cadena

Refusing to Forget. https://refusingtoforget.org. Created by Sonia Hernandez, Trinidad Gonzales, John Moran Gonzalez, Benjamin Johnson, and Monica Munoz Martinez, Reviewed Feb. 2019.

Refusing to Forget is a digital platform documenting one of the most prolific, racist, and genocidal times in the history of America. This platform brings to light the deliberate behavior of the Texas Rangers along with other early settlers along the Texas Mexico border, and how they all but decimated the Mexican population. During a time when most of the land north of the border was occupied and controlled by white men in the area, South Texas, specifically along the border, was owned and controlled primarily by the Mexican population. In an attempt to gain control over this land, Refusing to Forget records how the Texas Rangers as well as the local population, began to brutally murder Mexican nationals in the area. Only after significant pleading to government officials and the mass exodus of others were members of this community able to regain a sense of constraint over the behaviors of which were occurring.      

In remembrance of this massacre, Refusing to Forget has collaborated with the Texas State Bullock Museum in Austin Texas to produce an exhibit displaying personal artifact belonging to Mexicans involved in this bloody part of America’s history. Here, visitors to the site are able to preview the exhibition as well as view a short film of the exhibit and events which they represent.     

As part of this effort, Refusing to Forget dedicates a part of this site to bring awareness to the efforts to create historical makers to remember these events. To date, several have been approved though only one in Cameron County has been erected. Of the areas of focus on this site, I particularly enjoyed coming across this one. As a native of Texas, I can say with a level of certainty that Texans pay more attention to their monuments than they do the occasional history presentation. For this reason, it brings me a renewed level of comfort to know this history is being remembered in this way.     

In reviewing this site, specifically, when reviewing the section titled “Conference,” I was reminded of how relevant this project is even today, as this section discussed a recent conference on this topic. Unfortunately for me, this conference had just past a few weeks prior. Without a doubt, this is an area of study I plan to follow and with luck will attend the next conference. 

For the more technological visitor, Refusing to Forget offers a few other options to utilize in learning about this critical part of history. Under the “Media” tab, viewers have the choice of listening to the podcast The Borderlands War 1915-1920 or watching the documentary Border Bandits. Both incredibly informative in telling this story of discriminative actions by the Texas Rangers towards Mexicans in south Texas. For those interested, Refusing to Forget also offers plenty of resources for visitors to read on this topic. In coming across this section, it surprised me because I didn’t expect there to be so many materials available. It is of great importance that in a time when racial discrimination is returning to this country, sites like this exist to remind Americans of where we have been?

Railroads and the Making of Modern America: Documenting the Railroad industry on the backs of the slave trade.

Railroads and the Making of Modern Americahttp://railroads.unl.edu. Created by William G. Thomas III, Richard Healey, Ian Cottingham, Leslie Working, Nathan B. Sanderson, Zach Bajaber, Karin Dalziel, Keith Nickum, Brian L. Pytlik Zillig, Laura Weakly, Trevor Munoz, Dan Becker, Catherine Biba, Luci Bolwer, Karin Callahan, Sarah Dieter, Paul Fajman, Marco Floreani, Amy Grant, Erin Johnson, John Kemp, Kurt E. Kinbacher, Miles Krumbach, Dan Larsen, Steve McGuire, Lundon Pinneo, Cris Rasmussen, Anastasia Smallcomb, Nic Swiercek, Michelle Tiedje, Rebecca Wingo, and Robert Voss, The University of Nebraska Lincoln, http://railroads.unl.edu/about/index.php. Reviewed Jan. 2019.

It is said it takes a team to build a mountain. In reviewing Railroads and the Making of Modern America, a digital history project maintained through the University of Nebraska Lincoln. On a macro-level, Rail Roads and the Making of Modern America can be defined as a digital exhibit/tool, covering the socioeconomic, political, and cultural impact of the rail road between Nebraska and America’s slave trade. In discussing this topic, Rail Roads does a great job at maintaining a neutral point of view in providing objective content on the matter. At a more defined micro-level, you really begin to see the immense depth of this project. When visiting the site, a simple scroll of your mouse pad begins your journey as samples of content interchange on an automated slideshow.

Complimenting the automated slideshow, the home page, provides for the viewer easy access tabs concentrating on individual areas of this site. Tabs labeled “Data”, “Search”, “Topic”, and “Home” make it utterly impossible to get lost while navigating. I began maneuvering through this site simply by taking a quick glance at what each area had to offer. On a quick glance, I came across things photos, map, letters, reports, and contracts, mostly in relation to a specific rail road company or slave owner. In addition to these items were also more general documents specific to a region or route taken. Not isolated to any one area, these documents could be found within each area of study. An area not given much attention, was the adaptations for those with special needs or abilities. While each area of study contained an assortment of available content, individuals with special needs or abilities will need to find alternate aid to assist in viewing this site as no options are available for the filtering of these needs.

Aside from this, the content of this project is well organized and displayed. In general, the material housed here could benefit high school and college students in search of primary sources on this topic. Outside of classrooms, this source also has the potential to be useful for genealogy, with its capability to search for railroad employees. 

In reflection, the digital media pieces which stood out to me more than others as having the most potential included, an interactive map which allows the viewer to scroll through to a given event and connects it to an interactive calendar, so the viewer can connect an event. Another fascinating section documented the purchase of slaves to include surnames and quantities of slaves. Another area I particularly enjoyed was an element which use the rail road information to show an example of Spatio-Temporal Correlation Technology. For this example, you are given the option to view the map used from the view of elevation, population, or rail roads. For each of these, this example gives the viewer the option to scroll from 1869 to 1887 and literally watch the rail road system grow across the state of Nebraska. Finally, in what would be everyone’s favorite, Rail Roads and the Making of America has added to this collect several podcasts which allow for additional insight into some of the more detailed pieces to this story. As a bird’s eye view it is fascinating to watch the impact of the railroad in real time.

In conclusion, the work compiled for Railroads And The Making of Modern America is but a mere example of the heights digital history can go. In an age filled with up and coming tech savvy students, the need to maintain a higher level of engagement become more of a necessity. Railroads And The Making of Modern America does that perfectly.   

Brothers in Rhyme: Fat Pat, Big Hawk, and the Screwed Up Click

In being part of the public history program at St. Mary’s, I have found myself noticing things that I hadn’t ever noticed in the past. An example of this happened recently on an unexpected trip to Houston. Though honestly, I more than likely would have seen what I’m about to divulge regardless. Not wanting to get behind, I figured I would allow myself to take this trip and just set aside some time to do a little work at the University of Houston. Beginning the day, I wasn’t entirely sure how this plan was going to go, you see I have never actually been to the University of Houston, so I didn’t know how concerned I should be in parking my car. Considering I was planning to leave that evening, this was a great concern for me.

As I approached the University and began to look around at nearby buildings, it dawned me. I never checked where exactly the library was. Perplexed by this, I decided just to park at Cougar stadium, and do a quick search as to where I was going. Upon realizing that I wasn’t actually too far, I made my way to the nearest parking lot, only to discover a new problem. Situated in varies places in the parking lot, there were parking meter machines similar to the ones you would find around downtown San Antonio. I found myself excited by this, considering parking was a significant concern for me before making this trip. An excitement which quickly dissipated though, as I realized all the machines were broken.

A little flustered by all this, I finally decided just to make my way to the library. Finally, after a short walk I found my myself there though as I walked into the library, I immediately found myself with a feeling of uncertainty as I met eyes of the security guard at the top of the stairs leading up to the main level. As I came to the top of the stairs, uninterrupted, I saw it. Initially, I thought I was looking ahead at a book display, though upon a second glance I realized it was a mini-exhibit. Forgetting why I enter the library, I quickly made my way over to the built-in display cases along the far walls. As I began to get closer to the wall, I quickly became more and more confused. From a distance what I thought to be an exhibit turned out to be what I thought was a dedication of sorts to a rap artist.

Intrigued by this, I found myself in a daze trying to figure out what it was that I was looking at when suddenly I realized this case was duplicated by three or four others. Quickly I made my way to the far end to decipher this newly found mystery. As I stood there, I immediately realized that this, in fact, wasn’t a shrine but a fully produced exhibit as previously thought. Complete with artifacts and wall labels, fully assembled with attention given to so many of the areas I’d recently learned about in Professors Sternbergh’s class. It was fascinating to me as I stood there, everything seems so put together, it was so creative. Presented in a way I had only imagined appropriate for historical artifacts.

Not satisfied with my created assumption on this display, I immediately made my way to the circulation desk to inquire who was responsible for this. Considering it was a Sunday, it wasn’t surprising that I was met with a whole lot of shrugged shoulders. What I did get out of it though was an opportunity to leave my contact information for a follow up in the days that followed. Not expecting much to come of this, I was extremely delighted when a few days later I came to learn the name of the exhibit, “Brothers in Rhyme: Fat Pat, Big Hawk, and the Screwed Up Click”. It turns out, this exhibit, curated by librarians and archivists from the Special Collections, is a rotating semester exhibit, each drawn from the special collections at the University of Houston. The librarian informed me that more on this exhibit could be found at the University of Houston’s Special Collections website in the Houston Hip Hop Research Collection.

Never did I imagine to be directed to any Hip Hop Research Collection, so fascinating.

Did I just see what I think I just saw?

I was told by a mentor that a lot could be said about a place by visiting their cemetery. For a long time, this question of what I could learn has been one that had been on my mind. This idea, though intriguing for me, was difficult because I found myself struggling between my initial objection of inviting spirits near me and my curiosity as to what I’d discover. Wanting to overcome this fear, I thought it best to wait for an opportune time to plan my visit. Preferably during the day.

Not too long after I had decided on this, my opportune time presented itself, and I found myself on the grounds of the small-town cemetery of Loop, Tx. Satisfied for the moment with what I discovered there, with every intent to visit another, I left my curiosity with the souls of those I had visited. Since then, a year or so had passed, and my interest had subsided. Thanks in part to graduate school. Until about a month ago that is. A Tuesday to be exact.

On this day, I found myself driving back from an appointment when as I drove by a cemetery I’d driven by so many times before, I became distracted by the waving of flags in a breeze. Caught off guard for a moment, I began to scramble my brain trying to think about what memorial I had forgotten about when suddenly, I returned myself to reality just in time to focus on the sight of a Confederate flag. Amused for a moment at how fast I recognized this banner, I found myself questioning how much of current events played into me identifying these symbols so quickly.

Unable to contain myself, I immediately turned around. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, I was so attracted to these grounds I was about to disturb because it’s in the heart of the Eastside. As I made my way back around, I began to see more and more banners waving in the breeze, and I started to question why they were there? I began to go over all that I knew of these grounds. I knew that they were historical as well as that they are owned by the city, but I didn’t understand why I was seeing this.

Still a bit on ease about the whole spirit thing, I quickly did the sign of the cross, thanked those resting for allowing me to enter, asked for forgiveness, and entered. Not wanting to stay too long, I drove around for a minute, looking for an area mostly inhabited by these banners so as to maximize my search without walking around too much. I must say, what I found was absolutely fascinating to me. As I walked around, I learned that not only this the resting place of Confederate soldiers but also wives and children of Confederate soldiers. Distracted by all this, I must have forgotten about the fear I held in coming onto these grounds because by the time I knew it I was much further than I had hoped from my car.

Now pressed for time, I noticed off in the distance a historical marker that I knew would suffice my curiosity until I could make my way back to this fascinating place. As I read it, I found myself mixed with emotion. Wondering how this place existed in the heart of the East-side. Was it respect? Were these good confederate soldiers? Was that even a thing? Did those who laid here advocate for African Americans? Lost in thought, I found myself gazing at the sky pondering these thoughts when I saw it.

“These grounds are under surveillance, those seen damaging these sites will be prosecuted.

Cementville

Imagine for a moment San Antonio is the home to one of the early mini-metropolises in the area. An area consumed and operated under the lights of a twenty-four-hour hill country community. Complete with amenities such as convenient nearby shops, community pool, local clinic, community sports team, nearby schools, and an auditorium where one could hear engaging speeches by renowned speakers. Here some of the most engaging topics of the time would be discussed. These were some of the luxuries available to a select group of early San Antonio residents. Let it be noted that this was not a case of chance, but rather as a result of necessity.

Imagine not even the great depression could collapse this booming community. All right here in our own backyard. Why then are we not the economic purse of this state? How is it that this title has found its place in our sister city by the bayou? Simply put, because this particular community was a community of immigrants, created for the specific purpose of cheap labor.

Welcome to, Cementville, Texas. Founded in 1908 (1924), Cementville found its foundation strategically situated outside of what was then the city limits of San Antonio. Tasked with the responsibility of supplying a vast majority of San Antonio’s cement, it was essential to save on cost wherever an opportunity allowed. It was for this reason that the uninhabited land outside of the growing San Antonio city became the ideal place to cement such a massive workforce.

Consequently, this also isolated the immigrant workers who supplied the labor for this growing workforce, with the nearest transportation hub two miles away. Due to the isolation and the drive for economic profit, the company then known as San Antonio Portland Cement, now Alamo Cement, supplied for its workers everything they would ever need so never to have to leave or shut down.

This was the ideal solution for the progression of the city as well as the profit of the company. Although for the workers it seems to have been somewhat of a situation relative to legal slavery. While Portland Cement provided its workers living accommodations and provisions, both housing and stores were owned and operated by the Portland Cement Company, so that workers were merely recycling wages paid out for labor. Additionally, because a worker typically lived within the community with his family, if he was to get injured while on the job, he and his family were then homeless. Complete with many other amenities needed for day to day life, this tiny community flourished under this minimizing mentality well into the 1980’s before relocating further away from the city, minus their population.

So, what happened to this once thriving company community? Well as time passed and San Antonio’s expanding roads grew, the need to isolate workers became less critical. So, what became of the land that provided so much for Portland cement, San Antonio’s immigrant population, and of San Antonio itself? Today it is simply known as the Quarry Market.

Meme

Dr. Lindsey Passenger Wieck, “teenage grad school attitude(s)”, September 13, 2018.

Dr. Gilberto Hinojosa

For as long as I can remember, there have been a number of things consistent for me that fed my hunger for learning more about my family’s history. One of those things has been the ties that my family has to San Antonio. While little is known by those still living, one thing that has been repeated by many is that our links to this city are concrete enough that we have seen some of the expansion of San Antonio. As I moved into college and came upon a more in-depth knowledge of some of the founding years of San Antonio, it excited me to expand on areas I thought pertained to my story. More specifically, this accrued for me in the spring of 2015 when I took a class titled “Tejano Texas” with Dr. Gilberto Hinojosa at Incarnate Word University.

For years I had heard of the many accolades of Dr. Hinojosa. Currently Professor Emeritus, stories of his time at UIW commonly filled a room when discussing the early years at UIW. For me, it was intriguing to hear these stories because as a kid, my formative years were very selectively filled with a Latino figure in which to emulate. In learning of Dr. Hinojosa leading up to enrolling for his class, I found many similarities in our upbringing. As a result of this, I was able to see what was possible for a Latino who didn’t necessarily have the odds in his favor. It was during his class that significant pieces of Latino history were brought to my attention, reigniting a fire in me that I didn’t know remained. Additionally, a constructive pride for this university I had found myself was cementing itself as I was only one semester away from being able to say I was a college graduate.

Fast forward now to the spring of 2017. As I assume is common for all graduates, from time to time I found myself back at UIW. Exact to every other trip I made, before leaving campus I always make it a point to stop by the offices of old professors to say hello. Being a professor Emeritus, it isn’t always easy to find Dr. Hinojosa but, on this day, he happened to be in his office. As he has always done, upon seeing me, as I approached he invited me into his office for a seat. It was during this conversation in between jokes and family updates that he began to talk to me about a project he was starting. He mentioned it was similar to another project a colleague of his was producing, a Dr. Gerald Poyo. He explained to me it was going to be a photographic exhibit on the history of the sisters of charity of the Incarnate Word. He revealed to me that while he was still in the planning phase, he planned to reach out to the students of the university for input regarding what they sought in memorializing their university

Excited by this idea I immediately informed him of my willingness to assist on this project in any way possible, assuming he was open to allowing me. This may have been the plan all along because he immediately agreed and expressed that he would communicate with me as needed. As time Passed and the semester came to an end, I actually began to worry as I wasn’t hearing from Dr. Hinojosa. Concerned that maybe I might have been misled, I sent Dr. Hinojosa an email reaffirming my interest in his project. Too much excitement, this email was returned with an invitation for pecan pie and coffee. Thru the end of the spring semester and into the summer of 2018, these occasional meetings continued where we talked about his ideas over pecan pie and coffee. Realizing now that my role in all this was merely as an advisor of sorts, I took pride in knowing that he was acknowledging my ideas. For me, just to have the opportunity to work in some capacity with him was so rewarding. Little did I know, in working with him it would stir a new fire in me for Public history. As I move forward in my journey pursuing a degree at St. Mary’s, never will I forget the role Dr. Hinojosa played not only in my undergrad but in beginning my pursuit toward a graduate degree.