Transcription of the
"Time Was, Time Is"
David G. McCullough
given at the
transcription and footnotes by Larry M. Wilson,
done in the summer of 1996
the speech began, the audience heard several songs and were introduced to
several members who made special contributions for book preservation.
Additionally, some special guests in the audience that were introduced included
Associate Justice David H. Souter of the
Ralph Crandall, Director of NEHGS, introduced Mr. McCullough with the following:
It is my great pleasure to introduce our
speaker for the evening, Mr. David McCullough. Mr. McCullough was born in
Mr. McCullough is one of the most widely read and acclaimed historians of our time. His books include: The Johnstown Flood; The Great Bridge, the story of the building of the Brooklyn Bridge; The Path Between the Seas, an epic chronicle of the creation of the Panama Canal; Mornings on Horseback, the story of a young Theodore Roosevelt; Brave Companions, essays on heroic figures past and present; and, his monumental Truman, which won the Pulitzer Prize and remained forty-three weeks on the best seller list. Truman has sold over one million copies and is surely one of the most popular biographies of the twentieth century.
My family and I listened to the audio tape of
Truman as we were traveling to northern
Many of you, I know, have enjoyed Truman and his other marvelous books and have enjoyed listening and watching him as the host of "American Experience" and as the narrator of Ken Burn's "The Civil War".
Please join me in welcoming Mr. David McCullough.
David McCullough begins speaking:
Thank you, Ralph, very much. And I thank all of you, especially in the earlier introduction when you introduced those of my family who are here. I thought it was not only a compliment to me, it pleased me very greatly, but, of course, it was absolutely appropriate for this organization to include the family.
I want to tell you that nothing you just heard in that wonderful introduction, that very pleasing, flattering introduction of Mr. Crandall's, none of that would have happened, nor would I be standing here, if it were not for my partner, my editor-in-chief, my mission control, my X checker, my wife, Rosalee (Barnes) McCullough and I'd like to re-introduce her. [applause] The most vigorous applause, just now, came from our oldest daughter, Melissa, because she knows the truth in what I just said.
I was sitting here this evening looking at
this great banner [on the wall] behind me and thinking what wonderful words
I was also reminded by that wonderful version of the Grandfather's Clock about the expression "long, long ago". One of the rewards of being a writer is that you get to know other writers and one of the writers that I've admired both on the printed page and as a person is the Native American novelist, Scott Momaday. And Scott Momaday is a huge bear of a man with a wonderful voice and a great story teller, particularly with children. And once he was among a group of little children, first grade, second grade, kindergarten, all around him, sitting on the floor. Scott was right in the middle. And he started off by saying "I'm going to tell you a story of a time long, long ago when all of the animals could talk". And a little voice from the back said "Ah, those were the days!".
In a way, we are all brothers and sisters in spirit tonight because we are in the long, long ago, "Time Was, Time Is" business. We care about the reach of time and we care about all of those people who didn't happen to share our time on earth, but who were nonetheless just as real, just as alive, just as full of life and uncertainties as we are. We refuse to be provincial in time anymore than we would wish to be provincial in space. We understand that the great majority, as it used to be called, is part of the human experience, and that an interest in history, an interest in the past, is part of being alive -- it is an extension of life. And to deny one's self that extension would be like cutting yourself off from music, or art, or literature, or poetry, or food. It is part of life. And what could be more important, what could matter more to the heart, as well as to the mind and the spirit, than the family.
Now, I've been doing a little reading about
the Society and about genealogy and genealogists. And I must say, I was
surprised by some of what I read. And maybe this is information or material of
which you well know, but I didn't know it. Did you know, for example, that
and Jesse Helms
all have a traceable common kinship? Oh, you did know that! There also exists,
apparently, a traceable lineage from Jesse James and his brother, Frank,
to Mrs. Wallis Simpson,
the Duchess of
I've been told that your numbers exceed
16,000, nearly 17,000, and that 12,000 people visit the headquarters here every
year. 12,000 people! And that genealogy, except for coin collecting and stamp
collecting, is the major interest of more Americans than any other single
hobby. I have also been told that your membership includes people who are in
their teens and includes a gentleman who, I'm glad to say, in
I'm going to read a few things to you, not
very long, but I hope you'll take them as I do as a kind of text of what I have
to say tonight, and I have a lot I'd like to say, because I know I'm with my
brothers and sisters. You are almost all, without exception, amateurs. So am I.
So am I. I am not a trained historian. I was an English major in college. I
have no advanced degrees. I did not know how to do research when I first began.
And had I not run into a genealogist of extraordinary skill and experience, one
of your members, the head of the genealogical division of the New York Public
Library, Tim Beard, I would have been a lot slower at catching on to how one
goes about research. He really set me on the road. He set me on the "noble
to use the title of the book. Because he didn't put me down or put me in my
place because I admitted to him how much I didn't know about how to go about
what I wanted to do. I knew what I wanted to do, I wanted to tell the story of
the terrible disaster at
Do you know what the definition of the word "amateur" is? Look it up sometime. It doesn't mean somebody who doesn't really know how to do it because he isn't a professional. The first definition of the word "amateur" is "devotion to an interest". "Love". That's what you have. That's what I have. That's why the decibel level was so high in this room tonight. If you were all here because you were paid to be here, if you were here because you were attending an association for business purposes, it wouldn't be the same. You're here because you are really interested and you care about something that is exciting.
It's not just good that you feel that way, it's good for you. If you've ever read John le Carre's A Small Town in Germany, there's a wonderful scene in there, a wonderful passage, two or three pages, they're trying to check out who among the German business people of the time were in fact, Nazis. And they began to build a file on these people. And pretty soon they all get excited because they were on the hunt, they're on the chase. It's become a detective case. They're on the track. And what happens is that their interest, and we have all experienced the exhilaration of this, their interest accelerates the farther they go. Like gravity, it accelerates. That's what divides us from the cabbages.
I'm sure you've had the experience. I have it
all the time. People come up to me and say "where in the world do you get
all the information that's in your books" as if they've never gone to a
university or college or heard about a library. Incidentally, you are sitting
almost side by side with one of the five greatest libraries in the country,
which means it's one of the five greatest libraries in the world, the Boston
Public Library. The five great libraries in the country, are: The Library of
We think of what a paradox, what an awful juxtaposition it is, of the people in the south, who were good, decent people, kind to their family, adoring of their children and their parents, church-goers, Christians, devoted, who owned slaves. How could they do that? How could they have possibly have been that way? It's a very difficult question. And we have an awfully difficult time understanding it. But you may be sure, someday, they're going to be saying things like that about us. I don't know what it will be. I don't know, I don't. I think about it a lot. But you can be certain they might say: "how could they driven around in those big iron things that went 80 miles an hour and they killed each other by the thousands? How courageous they must have been!" I think they may wonder why in the world we're doing to the environment what we're doing. "What did those people think? What did they imagine they were doing dumping all of that into the atmosphere and into the water system, and into themselves?" We just had a wonderful dinner, filet mignon. If the statistics continue to go the way they are, it may someday be said "they used to eat meat! They were not only courageous, they were canine!".
But then, of course, there is so much that is the same, irrespective of the era. So much that is the same because of the common human denominator. They, too, were human beings. An onion smelled just like an onion, we may presume. And we have so much in common with them, including an extremely important point, that they didn't know, none of them, any more than we do, how it's all going to come out. They don't know what's going to happen next anymore than we do. And you must keep that in mind in understanding decisions that are made, or attitudes they had.
This was written in the sixteenth century in
If you read the Boston Globe this morning, which you probably haven't because there wasn't time, but if you did, you would see that, in the Boston Globe, everyday they have a column that says "This Day in History". I often wonder who assembles that. Do you know what the date is? July 14, Bastille Day. No mention of Bastille Day. Boy, what an audience, you all knew it!
"It was the best of times, it was the
worst of times". I would normally scorn any speaker who brought this into
the evening. But in view of what day it is and in view of what else Dickens
does in those first pages of The Tale of Two Cities. It isn't just these
great lines: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was
the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief,
it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season
of Darkness, it was the spring of hope". This is, of course, the
eighteenth century, the age of enlightenment. "it was the winter of
despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us". Then he
goes on. And how wonderful this writer, Dickens, was. "There were a king with
a large jaw and a queen with a plain face, on the throne of
Have you ever read E. M. Forster's wonderful book on the art of fiction. There's a great line in there about the difference between the sequence of events and a plot in a story. And he used this analogy: "if I tell you that the king died and then the queen died, that's a sequence of events. But if I tell you the king died and the queen died of grief, that's a story". And what you're doing in your work, you're not just getting facts, you're not getting just evidence, picking up pieces of the puzzle for the abstract completed picture of the puzzle. You're doing it because you're trying to get to the essence of life. The wonderful thing about the supposedly dead past is that every time you scratch the surface of it, you find life. And that's why you're here, that's why you're genealogists, because you're interested in people, the most interesting of all subjects, by far. And one of the reasons it's so interesting, maybe the most important reason, is that it is a mystery.
Dickens goes on: "In both countries it
was clearer than crystal to the lords of the State preserves of loaves and
fishes, that things in general were settled for ever". This is the way it
is, this is the way it'll always be. And of course, it will never always be.
It's always changing. Now, this concept, when you are working with history, you
are dealing with the two most fascinating of all subjects: people first, and
secondly, time. And it, too, is a mystery. What is it? What is the past? What
is the present? What is the future? I'm convinced that there is no such thing
as the past. I really mean that. There is no such thing as the past, it is only
somebody else's present. Those people who were here in
So the trick for historians, and biographers, and genealogists working on trying to puzzle out the story that genealogists work with, is to try and see what was the character of the time as a composite, a conglomerate, if you like geological terms. It isn't just granite, it isn't just silt, it's a conglomerate -- past, present, future, always, always. And its always changing, because life is always changing. And it's about life, that's what history is about, it's biographies of people and how they affect each other.
Now Dickens, to go back to this wonderful
genius, tells us this in the very first two pages of The Tale of Two Cities.
He's writing in the mid-nineteenth century about the eighteenth century. So
he's looking back in time. But he's also fixing you at a point where he's
telling you how the future is present at that moment too. And how's he do it?
Vividly. Memorably. "Under the guidance of her Christian pastors,"
he's talking about France, "she entertained herself, besides, with such
humane achievements as sentencing a youth to have his hands cut off, his tongue
torn out with pincers, and his body burned alive, because he had not kneeled down
in the rain to do honor to a dirty procession of monks which passed within his
view at a distance of some fifty or sixty yards. It is likely enough that,
rooted in the woods of France and Norway, there were growing trees, when that
sufferer was put to death, already marked by the Woodman, Fate, to come down
and be sawn into boards to make a certain movable framework with a sack and a
knife in it, terrible in history." The guillotine. "It is likely
enough that in the rough outhouses of some tillers of the heavy lands adjacent
The future is going on at the very point when
the glitter and the extravagance of
So the future is always there, under the surface. And it's always there in the lives of the people you work on. And the woodman and the farmer are much more likely to be your subjects than is likely to be Louis XVI. Well, maybe I don't know this audience very well!
We are raising a generation of young
Americans who are, to a very large extent, historically illiterate. We have a
very serious problem on our hands and I am as devoted as I can be to try and do
something about it. And I'm not just talking about youngsters who are growing
The problem is manifold, and the problem, is
to a very large extent, our fault. It's not the fault of the youngsters. They
are wonderful students at
And now the powers that be in Congress today
are talking about cutting off, and killing, the National Endowments of the
Humanities. I am so glad that we have one of our Congressmen here tonight. And
I'm not saying this to put him under the microscope or to stick the knife in
because we talked earlier and he agrees. And he's going to go down to
You know, there's such outright lying going on about the National Endowment of the Arts and the National Endowment of the Humanities. Just consider the brittle books program. I don't know how many of you know about it but the National Endowment is doing the most, by far, to microfilm those books, those records, those manuscripts, which are made with paper that is disintegrating, falling apart. There are some 660,000 books that will be persevered, will be recorded upon microfilm, because of the National Endowment of the Humanities program, within the next year or so. The wonderful generosity of the people whose names were announced tonight who have given money to help preserve books is admirable in the extreme but is a tiny drop in the bucket compared to the task ahead. There are three million books estimated that will all, all, fall apart, all disappear, in a fairly short time. And yet we are going to kill, some of them say, a government program, which will stop that. And equally important are the newspapers which are not going to be recorded and which will disintegrate and you know better than I of the value that the newspapers have, particularly of small town newspapers, which will the hardest hit of all.
They also talk about the National Endowment
of the Humanities and the National Endowment of the Arts as the province of the
elite, and of the effete. Let me just tell you of one vivid statistic: more
people go to the
Now, I think the answer to what we must do is
to begin early with these children in grade school, it has to start then. And
what better way would there be than to give them the experience of doing
research on their own about their own families. Because that's what they care
most about, that's what they love. How many of us in this room remember as a
child how we adored hearing our mother or our father talk about what it was
like when they were children. You couldn't hear enough of it. Or your
grandparents maybe even more so. When I taught at Cornell I ran an experiment
where I gave each student a photograph with the barest minimum information on
the caption "'American oil tanker being sunk off the coast of
We've got to bring, what we might call, the laboratory technique of teaching the humanities to the schools just as we have it in science. You only learn by doing and you all know that from your work in genealogy. That's how you learn, and, that's how you learn to love it. By doing it. You only learn to play the piano by playing the piano. You only learn to paint by painting. You only learn to investigate and then draw analysis and conclusions and release of the imagination by doing the digging.
One of my favorite of all books, one of the most insightful books that I know about the creative process is the Journal of the French painter, Delacroix. I urge you read it, it's superb. And he had some very interesting things to say about the difficulty in the craft of history and his admiration for those who practice it. But what he says about his own work, he said "what I demand is accuracy for the sake of imagination".
We have too many historians who are too busy talking to themselves, and themselves only, in their own language. We have too many historians who spend their careers writing about people, and events, or developments that they dislike. In some cases, hate. Presidents they hate. Transitions in society, old manners, mores, they hate. We have too many historians who can't write, [applause] and if they can, aren't interested in writing for anyone else other than other historians because that's the reward system that's build into our academic life. To have a book that, if you're a historian, a professional academic historian, and some, believe me, some of the very best we have, and some of the very best writers we have, are academic historians, if they were to have a book that should become popular, oh my goodness!, what a blow that could be to their career. You might not get tenure. I'm not kidding, this is true! And I don't think it's coincidental that many of the historians who have managed to reach people, readers, fellow citizens, are those who, like you, were amateurs, they are, to a large degree, lapsed journalists. Barbara Tuchman, Bruce Catton, William Manchester; it's a long list. And it's a school, if you will, that I can consider that I work in, and I think of people like Bruce Catton and Paul Horgan and others, and certainly Barbara Tuchman, as stars to steer by. They are my heroes because they had something they wanted to say, they had a story they wanted to tell, and they went out and did the spade work, did the digging, did the research, the interviews, all of that, the reading, the reading, the reading, and did it -- told the story. "Tell stories" Barbara Tuchman said when asked what is the secret to writing history that people want to read. "Tell stories". And that is what all of you are doing -- telling a story of what you're working on.
I'm sometimes asked what is my favorite book
of those I've written. And in a way, that's like asking which is your favorite
child -- it's an impossible question. But the true answer is always: the one
I'm working on, because that's the truth. I could say that The Johnstown
Flood was my favorite because it was the first. Or I could say that The
Path Between the Seas was my favorite because it was so difficult and
exhilarating and it was also the first book that sort of broke through to a
large audience. I could say it was the Great Bridge because I'm still
interested in the subject irrespective of the fact that I wrote it twenty five
years ago. The hold that that story and that symbol has on my imagination has
never diminished at all. I could say it was Mornings On Horseback
because it is the most personal of my books in that I was writing in a freer
form and I was trying to experiment more with form. Or I could say it was Truman
because it has reached by far the largest audience of anything I'd written. Or
I could say it was Brave Companions because I got a chance to write a
little bit about people in the twentieth century who would not normally ever be
written about by a historian or a biographer. But it is in Truman, and
in Mornings On Horseback, that I began to get the idea that, and I'm
trying to explain this, I haven't put it into words, and maybe never will, that
life doesn't just resonate after death, it resonates before birth. The Doppler
you know, when a train goes by, there's that sound afterward, and physicists
can explain it to you in very boring ways, but there's a sound before the train
arrives, we know. In Truman, I began with the grandparents coming up the
You have to go back into the progenitors and into the life of the times before the beginning of the life that you are working on, the birth of that, in order to get a sense, not just of the roots, but of the atmosphere. We are all, all of us, if you made a circle chart of each person where there are pie-shaped pieces, sometimes quite big, of the influence of other people which make up who we are, and often that influence is from people we never knew but who were in the family and whose story, whose values, whose sins, if you want, are part of us. So if you don't know the past, you don't know from whence you came, you don't know who you are. You don't know where you might be going.
Now imagine if you came into this room tonight and you sat down and all of a sudden you couldn't remember who you are. You don't know where you were born. You don't know who your mother was or who your father was or your grandparents. You don't know where you went to school or to college. You don't know what the worst thing that ever happened to you was or the best thing that ever happened to you was or the time you fell in love. You don't know any of that. If you look in the mirror, you still have the same color eyes, your shoe size is still the same. Your height is the same, you dress the same way. And everybody would say "well, that's him". But would you be you? No, you wouldn't be. Why not? Because you have no story. And if you have no story, I think you have no soul. So if we lose our story as a nation or as a society, we are losing our soul. You are the keepers of that story because the story is made up of many pieces and Presidents and generals and sports stars are such a small part of the whole as to almost not even be very important.
When I was working on the life of Theodore
Roosevelt, what I wanted to do, specifically, was a biography that didn't began
with his birth or end with his Presidency or his post-Presidential years or his
death. I wanted to take a slice out of the life to get the metamorphosis of
when it happened, when out of the cocoon came a very different human being than
that terrified, sick and peculiar little boy with the asthma in the house in
I think we're very lucky. I would pay to do what I do as a career. I would. You couldn't stop me. I think that we are so fortunate to be able to do this work and to have the benefit in this country of the superb library and archival facilities, particularly our public library system, which is one of the wonders of the world, and if you've ever tried to do research in a foreign country, you know what a unique and blessed people we are to have that system. But more than anything else, I think what gives one the biggest lift is to work with fellow spirits. It's the exhilaration that comes of talking shop, if you will, or of sharing discoveries, or passing on pieces of information that might help, and, the sense that we're really involved in good work. Good work.
I want to finish with an event that happened,
an experience that I had, I'll never forget, ever. Theodore Roosevelt's diary,
the diary he kept here when he was at Harvard, is on microfilm at the Houghton
Library and I was reading it and I came upon the date that his father died,
which was probably the most terrible thing that ever happened to him up until
that point, unquestionably one of the most terrible things that ever happened
his whole life, certainly most terrible thing that ever happened to him at that
point. And when I came to that diary entry there was, instead of the regular
entry, there was a big black splotch like a blot of a Rorschach test,
right over the whole thing. And I thought that just couldn't be coincidental.
He's done that, he's hiding something under there. He's said something there
that he doesn't want anybody to see. But I was looking at it on microfilm and
so I couldn't tell whether there was anything written under it. So I thought,
well, I'd better go down to
I am enormously honored to be your speaker on this wonderful anniversary. My family and I have loved being with you tonight. And on you go.
Sources Consulted by the Transcriber
Contemporary Authors, 1967-1996, Gale Research Co.,
New Revision Series, 1981-1996,
Gale Research Co.,
Guide to U.S. Elections, second edition, Congressional Quarterly, 1985,
Hitchcock, Hugh Wiley and Sadie, Stanley, The New Grove Dictionary of American Music, 1986, MacMillan Press Ltd., London, Grove's Dictionaries of Music Inc., New York
Frank N., Great Lives From History: Renaissance to 1900 Series,
Frank N., Great Lives From History: American Series, 1987,
The 1993 Information Please Almanac, Atlas
and Yearbook, 46th Edition, 1993, Houghton
McCullough, David G., The
McCullough, David G., The
McCullough, David G., The Path Between the Seas:
The Creation of the
McCullough, David G., Mornings on Horseback, 1982, Simon and
McCullough, David G., Brave Companions: Portraits
in History, 1991, Prentice Hall,
McCullough, David G., Truman, 1992, Simon and Schuster,
American Experience, a television series on the PBS network, it was hosted by David McCullough
Burns, Kenneth L., The Civil War, a Florentine Films production, distributed by PBS Video, a 1989 film by Ken Burns, narrated by David McCullough
Grandfather's Clock, 1875 song written by Henry Clay Work (1832-1884) which sold over 800,000 copies, a composer, this song was his best known of the over a dozen he wrote (Grove Dictionary volume 4 page 563). This song was sung to the audience before David McCullough began speaking this evening.
Presley, Elvis, 1935-1977,
Carter,"Jimmy" James Earl, 1924-, 39th U.S. President 1977-1981, Democrat, born in Plains, Georgia, served in the navy, studied nuclear physics, peanut farmer, governor of Georgia (Websters' page 206)
James, Jesse, 1847-1882, U.S. bank and train robber, born in Missouri, a leader, along with brother Frank, of the Quantrill raiders, a Confederate guerilla band in the Civil War, was killed by Bob Ford, an accomplice; Frank remained unconvicted and became a farmer (Webster's page 590)
Simpson, Wallis Warfield,
Ali, Muhammad, 1942-, born Cassius Marcellus Clay,
noble pursuit, a reference to the book A Noble Pursuit: The Sesquicentennial History of the New England Historic Genealogical Society by John A. Schutz, a trustee of NEHGS, this book was produced in honor of the sesquicentennial conference
le Carre, John, 1931-, pseudonym of David John Moore Cornwell, English author of many murder mysteries that have been adapted for television and movies, several awards from 1963 through 1988, wrote A Small Town in Germany (1970, Del Publishing Co., New York) (CANR volume 33 page 94)
Boston Tea Party, a protest against the British tea tax by colonists in Massachusetts, a valuable consignment of tea, belonging to the East India Co., and intended for sale in the American colonies, arrived in Boston Harbor aboard three ships from England, it was thrown overboard by a group of Bostonians, disguised as Indians, during the night of December 16, 1773 (Webster's page 154)
Old North Bridge, located a half mile from Concord Center, Massachusetts, on April 19, 1775, minutemen from Concord and surrounding towns fired "the shot heard 'round the world" signaling the start of the American Revolution, a statue and visitor center mark the site (Fodor's page 152)
Howe, Julia Ward, 1819-1910,
King, Martin Luther, 1929-1968, U.S. civil rights campaigner, black leader, Baptist minister, born in Atlanta the son of a Baptist minister, a brilliant and moving speaker, an advocate of non-violence, won 1964 Nobel Peace Prize, assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee (Webster's page 623)
Emerson, Ralph Waldo, 1803-1882,
Agassiz, Louis, 1807-1873, Swiss-born U.S. paleontologist and geologist, interests included zoology and Ice Age geology, came to U.S. in 1846, joined Harvard faculty, known as a conservative in his opposition to Charles Darwin (1809-1882) the English scientist who developed the modern theory of evolution and helped propose the principle of natural selection (Webster's page 18)
Guicciardini, Francesco, 1483-1540, Italian historian, lived in
Dickens, Charles, 1812-1870, English novelist, born in Portsea, Hampshire, England, wrote A Tale of Two Cities in 1859 (Webster's page 331)
Forster, Edward Morgan, 1879-1970, English novelist, concerned with the interplay of personality and the conflict between convention and instinct (Webster's page 427)
Jefferson, Thomas, 1743-1826, 3rd U.S. President, 1801-1809, born into a wealthy Virginia family, founder of the Democratic Republican party, principal author of the Declaration of Independence 1776, governor of Virginia 1779-1781, U.S. Vice-President 1797-1801 (Webster's page 596)
Adams, John, 1735-1826, 2nd U.S. President 1797-1801, born at Quincy, Massachusetts, U.S. Vice-President 1789-1797, member of the Continental Congress and signer of the Declaration of Independence (Webster's page 9)
Botticelli, Sandro, 1445-1510, Florentine painter of religious and mythological subjects, his real name was Filipepi but his elder brother's nickname, Botticelli "little barrel" was passed on to him, painted The Birth of Venus about 1482-1484 (Webster's page 155)
Victorian Age, a period of English architecture, furniture making, and decorative art between the mid and late nineteenth century in England, covering the reign of Queen Victoria 1837-1901, the style was often very ornate; it was also an era when increasing mass-production by machine threatened the existence of crafts and craft skills (Webster's page 1166)
Chaplin, "Charlie" Charles Spencer, 1889-1977, English-born U.S. film actor-director, made his reputation in silent films as a tramp with a smudge moustache, until sound films became common he was the best known and most popular film star of his day, starred in the film Modern Times in 1936 (Webster's page 225)
von Braun, Wernher, 1912-1977, German rocket engineer who developed German military missiles (V1 and V2) during World War II, later worked for NASA in the United States (Webster's page 1174)
Bohr, Niels Henrik David, 1885-1962, Danish physicist, founded the Institute of Theoretical Physics in Copenhagen, won a Nobel Prize in 1922 (Webster's page 149)
Louis XVI, 1754-1793, king of
Marshall, George Catlett, 1880-1959, U.S. General and diplomat, born in Pennsylvania, served in World War I, army chief of staff in World War II, secretary of state 1947-1949, secretary of defense 1950-1951, initiated the Marshall Plan in 1947, received Nobel Peace Prize in 1953 (Webster's page 714)
McCarthy, "Joe" Joseph Raymond, 1908-1957, U.S. Senator 1947-1957 from Wisconsin, lawyer, right-wing Republican politician whose unsubstantiated claim in 1950 that the State Department and the U.S. army had been infiltrated by Communists started a wave of anticommunist hysteria, wild accusations, and blacklists which continued until he was discredited in 1954, McCarthyism came to represent the practice of using innuendo and unsubstantiated accusations against political adversaries (Webster's page 688) (Election Guide page 606)
Beethoven, Ludwig van, 1770-1827, German composer and pianist, mastery of musical expression in every genre made him the dominant influence on nineteenth century music, he usually played his own piano pieces and conducted his orchestral works until he was hampered by deafness in 1801 (Webster's page 123)
Great Depression, a period of crisis in the world economy from 1929 through 1939, triggered by the Wall Street crash of October 29, 1929, in general it is an economic period of exceptionally low output and investment with high unemployment (Webster's page 325)
Tuchman, Barbara Wertheim, 1912-1989, U.S. historian, author, journalist, lecturer, Pulitzer Prizes in 1963 and 1972, known for her narrative histories (CA volume 127 page 461)
Catton, Charles Bruce, 1899-1978, journalist, author of historical works on the Civil War, Pulitzer Prize in 1954, National Book Award (CANR volume 7 page 108)
Horgan, Paul (George Vincent O'Shaughnessy), 1903-1995, historian, librarian, illustrator, educator and author, best known for award-winning histories of the American Southwest, two Pulitzer Prizes (CA volume 147 page 231)
Doppler, Christian Johann, 1803-1853, Austrian physicist, he described the change in observed frequency, or wavelength, of waves due to relative motion between the wave source and the observer, it is responsible for the perceived change in pitch of a siren or train whistle as it approaches and as it recedes, his description of the phenomenon is known as the Doppler Effect (Webster's page 345)
Roebling, John Augustus, 1806-1869, German-born U.S. civil engineer, born in the German state of the Confederation of the Rhine (became a part of Prussia in 1815), worked in the mid-nineteenth century when such talents were rare in the U.S., fully exploited the potentialities of the suspension bridge, placing the U.S. in the forefront of long-span, stable, heavy-load-bearing bridges for generations, worked for the Pennsylvania Railroad which needed bridges to transport coal across the country, his first project (1844) was to build a bridge across the Allegheny River at Pittsburgh, most noted for his magnificent design of the Brooklyn Bridge (Great Lives American Series volume 4 page 1940)
Potato Famine, started in 1845 in
Bingham, George Caleb, 1811-1879, U.S. painter, born near Charlottesville, Virginia, grew up in Missouri, studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in 1837, returned to Missouri, painted Fur Traders Descending the Missouri in 1845 (Webster's page 138)
Rorschach, Hermann, 1884-1922, Swiss psychiatrist, developed a psychological test for diagnosis involving the use of inkblots that subjects are asked to interpret and were used to help indicate personality type, degree of intelligence, and, emotional stability (Webster's page 961)