Video: FDR walks! Pa. museum gets very rare film

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In 1937, then-Washington Senators pitcher Jimmie DeShong, a Harrisburg native and a onetime Philadelphia Athletic, toted his 8mm home movie camera to the All Star Game.

He didn’t play that day but nonetheless he scored — with a very rare film of the clunky gait of the man who threw out the first pitch. DeShong’s daughter this month donated the film to the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. Continue reading

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1945 letter: U.S. medic tells parents about Dachau

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HaroldPorterLetterNationalArchivesImage courtesy of the National Archives.

“There is a rumor circulating which says that the war is over,” Pfc. Harold Porter wrote 69 years ago today. “But we’re not too excited about it because we know that it does not mean too much as far as our immediate situation is concerned.”

Porter’s “situation” is evident from the letterhead he used: Waffen-SS with a Dachau address — the camp commander’s stationary.

The Army medic sat down on May 7, 1945, to try to tell his parents in Michigan — the Rev. and Mrs. D.H. Porter —  how he was doing.  Continue reading

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Egyptian pyramids were built with water, study finds

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1880BCwallapainting

A wall painting from 1880 BC shows a figure standing at the front of a sled
and pouring water onto the sand. Image courtesy of Physical Review Letters.

The great Egyptian pyramids have made visitors scratch their heads for millennia: How did the builders move such huge stones into place? Continue reading

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Holy Grail found at last?

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CouldThisBeTheHolyGrail

It may sound like an April Fools prank, but it’s not.

“This is a very important discovery,” Margarita Torres, co-author of a new book, tells The Irish Times “because it helps solve a big puzzle.”

The discovery? The Holy Grail of holy grails — the cup revered by early Christians as the one used at the Last Supper. The Spanish historians traced the chalice to the Basilica of San Isidoro, a church in León, Spain. Continue reading

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Christian tattoo found on Nile mummy

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mummy-tattoo-British-Museum

A photograph (left) and an infra-red reflectography of a tattoo found on the mummified remains of a Sudanese woman. | Photo courtesy of the British Museum.

The British Museum has used CAT scans to examine eight Egyptian-era mummies, one of whom was a woman who died about AD 700. But researchers were able to discover with their eyes alone what the 20-to-35-year-old carried to protect her in life and death: a Christian tattoo. Continue reading

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A forgotten battle: 70th anniversary of Eniwetok

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Photo by George Strock | Courtesy of Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

Photo by George Strock | Courtesy of Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

On Feb. 17, 1944, the U.S. assault on a now-forgotten atoll in the Pacific begins. The battle for Eniwetok, a small northwest point of the Marshall Islands, forms part of the island-hopping strategy to overtake Japan. It’s north of Guadalcanal, won a year earlier, and due east of Guam, which would be retaken five months later.

Tiny Engebi island is key because it holds a Japanese airstrip that allows the enemy to refuel. After U.S. gunships pound the terrain, 15 Marines with the 22nd regiment and one photographer with Life magazine are the first ashore. George Strock is “actually … on the beach taking pictures of the initial assault and greeting the landing troops” as they arrive, reports Marine First Lt. John M. Popham of Brooklyn, a public relations officer. Continue reading

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Nazis’ secret biological weapon? The mosquito

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It carries a disease that has defeated armies for centuries, so it is perhaps not surprising that the Nazis tried to harness it for their own twisted purposes.

The existence of an offensive biological warfare research program in Nazi Germany has been confirmed, according to an article in Endeavour, a science journal. Continue reading

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Lincoln’s spin doctors: ‘Boys’ molded slain president’s legacy

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LincolnsSecretaries

In 1863, Lincoln’s private secretaries had their picture taken with “the Prest.” John Nicolay (left) and John Hay “helped invent the Lincoln we know today,” writes historian Joshua Zeitz. | Library of Congress photo

The elites didn’t get him.

Sen. James Grimes of Iowa, a fellow Republican, tut-tutted that the Lincoln administration was “a disgrace from the very beginning to every one who had any thing to do with bringing it into power.”

Charles Sumner, a leading abolitionist, grumbled that the nation needed “a president with brains — one who can make a plan and carry it out.” Continue reading

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