This week: Memorial Day answers questions
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Projects and Pages for the end of May:

wounded white men in tents
Wounded men from the Civil War

MEMORIAL DAY: (Monday, May 30) - Memorial Day got started as a way to remember the many, many people who died during the Civil War. It's a good time to review the history of slavery in North America, and the invention of the cotton gin and the rise of cotton-growing and the early cotton mills in England. Then you can understand what led to the Civil War and how the African-Americans won their freedom. More Americans died in the Civil War than in all the wars since then - World War I, World War II, the Vietnam War, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

THALES: For the first time, on May 28th, 585 BC, the West Asian astronomer Thales of Miletus (in modern Turkey) succeeds in predicting a solar eclipse. Everyone's so impressed.

a public square with a hanging going on
The death of Savonarola

FIFTH CRUSADE: On May 24th, 1218 AD, the Fifth Crusade left Europe for Damascus. Like the Fourth Crusade, this one went first to Egypt, under the leadership of the Pope. Even though they made an alliance with the Seljuks, the Crusaders failed to capture Egypt, and eventually went home again.

SAVONAROLA: On May 23rd, 1498, the people of Florence, Italy burned their preacher Giovanni Savonarola at the stake. Savonarola tried to use religion to organize the people of Florence against the powerful Medici family and restore republican control, but when he failed a trial by fire, the people turned against him and back to the Medici.

TSAR ALEXANDER: On May 27, 1883, Tsar Alexander III was crowned. He freed the Russian serfs, and sold Alaska to the United States (without asking the Inuit who lived there).

WHAT TO DO THIS WEEK: Play the Inuit game of bones, or do some soap-carving the way Inuit artists carved whalebone.

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New pages this week:

PAIUTE AND CALIFORNIANS: New pages about the Native Americans of the West Coast - the many small tribes that lived in California, and the larger groups of the Paiute, in what is now Nevada, Utah, northern California and southern Oregon. Did you know that before the Spanish brought smallpox there, a third of all the Native people in what is now the United States lived in California?

New discoveries this week:

BRONZE AGE TRADE: Long before the Vikings were trading amber, slaves, and wool for Central Asian steel, apparently their Bronze Age ancestors about 1550 BC were already trading for Mediterranean copper to make bronze axes and knives. And for Phoenician and Egyptian glass beads, too. Now rock carvings from Sweden show petroglyphs of the ships, with the copper ingots - and in an art style common all across Asia and North Africa.

ANCIENT RECYCLING: A Late Roman shipwreck in the port of Caesarea in Israel turned out to be full of broken old bits of bronze, on their way to be melted down and recycled into new pieces.

ROMAN WOMEN: Coen van Galen argues that Roman women were more independent and powerful than most historians think, and more than many 20th century women: they often controlled their own property and ran their own families, even after being married.

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Seasonal food of the week:

PEANUTS: When Civil War soldiers, both North and South, were trying to feed themselves, they often had to resort to eating raw peanuts out of the fields, which they complained about all the time. South Americans, who were the first to farm peanuts, didn't usually eat them raw, and neither did Africans and Southeast Asians when peanuts became an important food there. Try some peanuts in Thai Lettuce Wraps, or Thai peanut noodles, or a delicious peanut stew with sweet potatoes.

Also check out our seasonal and budget recipes at

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Professor Carr

Karen Eva Carr, PhD.
Assoc. Professor Emerita, History
Portland State University

Professor Carr holds a B.A. with high honors from Cornell University in classics and archaeology, and her M.A. and PhD. from the University of Michigan in Classical Art and Archaeology. She has excavated in Scotland, Cyprus, Greece, Israel, and Tunisia, and she has been teaching history to university students for a very long time.

Professor Carr's PSU page

Help support! (formerly "History for Kids") is entirely supported by your generous donations and by our sponsors. Most donors give about $10. Can you give $10 today to keep this site running? Or give $50 to sponsor a page?

Now that the weather's nice, try some of these outdoor activities! How about bicycle polo, or archery for a Medieval Islam day? Or kite flying or making a compass for a day in Medieval China? How about making a shaduf for a day in Ancient Egypt? Holding an Ancient Greek Olympic Games or a medieval European tournament? Building a Native American wickiup?