Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Person Spotlight: Carter G Woodson

To better understand why we celebrate Black History Month, learn a little about Carter G Woodson, the man commonly known as "The Father of Black History".
Image Courtesy of Ancella Bickley Collection, West Virginia State Archives

 Woodson was born in 1875 in Virginia, he worked hard at academics and completed high school in just two years. He then attended Berea College in Kentucky and then worked for the U.S. government as an education superintendent in the Philippines. Woodson returned to the United States and earned his bachelor’s and master’s from the University of Chicago and went on to receive a doctorate from Harvard University in 1912—becoming the second African American to earn a Ph.D. from the prestigious institution, after W.E.B. Du Bois. 

 After finishing his education, Woodson dedicated himself to the field of African-American history, working to make sure that the subject was taught in schools and studied by scholars. For his efforts, Woodson is often called the "Father of Black History." He penned several books but is perhaps most known for the publication of Mis-Education of the Negro (1933). Mis-Education—with its focus on the Western indoctrination system and African-American self-empowerment—is a particularly noted work and has become regularly course adopted by college institutions.


Monday, February 16, 2015

It's a bird! It's a plane! It's a...Japanese balloon bomb?

Japanese fire balloon of mulberry paper reinflated at Moffett Field, CA after it had been shot down by a Navy aircraft January 10, 1945
Photo credit: US Army

Just a few months ago, a couple of forestry workers in British Columbia came across a 70 year old inactive Japanese balloon bomb.

Balloon bombs? Yup, they're exactly what they sound like. Balloons made to carry bombs.

Also known as "fire balloons", the Japanese used these as a weapon in World War II. A hydrogen balloon was attached to an antipersonnel bomb - one created specifically to harm humans. They were a cheap weapon designed to make use of the jet stream over the Pacific Ocean and drop those bombs on American and Canadian cities.

Because they solely relied on the wind blowing a certain direction, they were relatively ineffective as weapons, and most landed without harming anyone.

Several have been found from Alaska to Michigan over the years, but a piece of one that landed in Washington has found its way to Coe! It's part of the B.D. Silliman Collection in the archives; Silliman, an alumna of Coe who was an interrogator at the Nuremberg Trials.

Along with the piece of the balloon bomb are Hitler's medical records, interrogations of Nazis and German army insignia. If you're interested in viewing some of the collection, come on down to the archives!

Interested in a little more info about the balloons? This NPR article is a great read.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Happy Birthday, Grant Wood!

Fruits of Iowa: Boy Milking Cow, 1932
Grant Wood was born on this day in 1891 in Anamosa, and then moved to Cedar Rapids when he was ten. Specifically, he moved into the house at 318 14th St NE, which is across the street from Coe! 
 Photo Credit: Mound View Neighborhood Association
Photo Credit: Mound View Neighborhood Association

In high school, Wood befriended Cedar Rapids native artist and Marvin Cone, and the two were close throughout their lives. Wood taught painting at the University of Iowa School of Art while Cone taught here at Coe for over 40 years. 

You can view many of Wood's paintings (as well as Cone's) in the galleries on the first and second floor of the library! Click here to learn more about other paintings on Coe's campus!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015