Why Did Helen Keller Become a Socialist?

Helen Keller in 1907

Helen Keller (1880–1967) is best known for her triumph over blindness, deafness, and muteness. Rescued from the isolation of her afflictions as a young girl by the Perkins Institute for the Blind teacher Anne Sullivan, Keller learned to understand a basic form of sign language and learned to “feel” and imitate the sound of the human voice. With a world of comprehension and communication opened to her, Keller excelled, graduating cum laude from Radcliffe College, eventually writing books about her life and education under Sullivan, appearing in motion pictures to demonstrate her communication methods, and campaigning for the deaf and blind around the world.

For all of this fame, however, not many know that Keller was also a prominent figure in the American socialist movement: a champion of the working class against industrial oppression, a consistent foe of militarism and imperialism, and a crusader for a better society.

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Why did Operation Market Garden in 1944 fail?


82nd Airborne dropped during Operation Market

Operation Market Garden, launched in September 1944, was an unsuccessful Allied offensive mainly, fought in the Netherlands. It was the largest airborne operation in history up to that time. The operation was a daring one and it was the brainchild of the British General Bernard Montgomery. His intended the airborne offensive to allow the allies to break into the German heartland and to end the war, quickly. However, this was not the case, the allied offensive was to prove to be a costly failure and may have even delayed their victory in Europe. This article will discuss the reasons for the failure of the operation and they will be Montgomery’s over-optimistic planning, poor strategy, poor leadership, German resistance and the terrain.

The Allies had landed in Normandy on the 6th of June 1944. After establishing several beach heads in Normandy, the Allies managed to push forward into the Normandy countryside.[1] The Germans initially managed to slow the Allies advance, however, a brilliant piece of Allied strategy, resulted in the encirclement of a large part of the Nazi army, in the Falaise Pocket. The combined Anglo-American divisions inflicted huge losses on the Germans. The German army was forced into a headlong retreat. Paris was soon retaken by the Allies.[2] The Nazi army was practically forced out of France and retreated towards Alsace-Lorraine and Belgium. It seemed to many that the Allies were on the verge of invading German and some even spoke optimistically of ending the war by Christmas.

However, in truth, the Allied successes had brought its own problems. The Allies supply lines were overstretched and this was slowing down the Americans and British in particular, the shortage of oil meant that Patton’s armored divisions had to halt their advance. This was to prove crucial and it allowed the Germans to regroup in the west, when it appeared that they would disintegrate, leading to the end of the war.[3]

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When did Men Start Wearing Pants?

Scythian archer wearing pants from 500 BCE

Why did humans start wearing pants? To answer this question it’s important to understand two things – first, what were the earliest forms of clothing and how did they evolve into pants and secondly, why did a need for pants develop? It is also helpful to define what is meant by pants – specifically a bifurcated garment for the bottom half of the body which covers from waist to the lower leg. This definition helps to differentiate from the earlier leggings which were often pieces of cloth or skins which were wrapped around the legs and then tied on with straps. Leggings were comprised of two separate garments. Ötzil the Ice Man, perhaps the most famous archaeological find of prehistoric human remains from the northern regions, was found wearing leggings.

From archaeological evidence, it is known that the earliest types of clothing were wrap skirts or aprons for both genders. The oldest known woven example is a fragment made from woven reeds found in Armenia and dating from approximately 2900 BCE. While this is just a fragment the construction hints to what the complete style would have looked like with a waistband woven in the opposite direction from the skirt. This is likely stylistically based off of earlier versions made from hides which do not survive to the modern day. Even earlier examples were of so-called string skirts which were comprised of a waistband with strings or pieces of grass hanging down – these skirts often tied like an apron and depictions can be found in art dating back nearly 20,000 years. In the present day this style is still seen in southeast Asian and other countries, for example, the sarong, a traditionally unisex garment. In colder climates, these could be paired with the previously mentioned leggings and a T-shaped tunic. These are all very simple garment that requires limited construction and materials. [1]

The development of pants came alongside the domestication of horses and served as an indicator of class and profession. People who rode horses needed to have a way of protecting their legs and remaining clothed as a simple wrap garment would not remain on the body. Some early variants involved using the same single pieces of cloth and tying it through the legs to create trousers. Horses were initially domesticated in Central Asia sometime between 3500 and 3000 BCE. Horses were a signifier of prestige, and in many cultures horses and the equipment used in riding them or in using them to drive chariots were included in the tombs of the elite. In these earliest horse riding cultures then trousers, as a form of clothing connected to horses, also served as a sign of prestige. [2]

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How did Public Sanitation Develop?

Communal latrines for soldiers built along Hadrian’s Wall

With the beginning of settled life, a new problem arose as people began to live in one place throughout the year. That problem was public sanitation. With increased population, the need to adequately remove human waste and maintain relatively clean water supplies became an increasing challenge. By prehistory, this challenge was addressed in societies, with increasing sophistication as cities grew and became more complex.

Sanitation is evident in the earliest settled societies. In the Indus Valley, Mesopotamia, and Iran, evidence exists for the use of sewers and clay pipes for removing human waste. With ceramics being present in societies by 7500-7000 BCE, this technology became utilized for making clay pipes could safely transport waste. By the Neolithic in the Near East in the 7th and 6th millennia, vertical shafts were used for waste disposal and wells had begun to be utilized within villages for getting freshwater [1].

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How did the game of golf emerge?

Painting from 1615 showing an early version of golf.

The game of golf today is globally popular and watched by millions on television. The origins of the sport may go back to ancient periods, but most historians trace the definitive beginning of the sport to Medieval Scotland and/or the Netherlands. However, it was in the 19th century that the sport emerged as both a modern one and started to become a global phenomenon.

The origins of golf are not universally agreed upon and there are disputes on when exactly the ancestors of the game emerged. There are records of a Roman game called Paganica that comprised of a ball stuffed with feathers and hit with wooden sticks. While the game is very different from today’s golf, the sort of Roman game may have inspired later Medieval memory and reemergence of a similar game that then led to golf. Other similar games may include the Chinese game of Chuiwan, which also involved a stick and players tried to sink a ball into holes. There were sets of up to 10 clubs, with balls made of wood and holes spread across an area, where the holes each had different degrees of difficulty. The depictions also suggest there was a tee or place to hit the ball toward a given hole.[1]

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Who integrated the NBA?

Chuck Cooper from Duquesne University 


Soon after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball another professional sports league integrated extraordinarily quickly – the newly formed NBA. But there were still no African-American players in the league when the owners convened for a player draft on April 25, 1950. In the second round, with the 14th pick of the draft, Boston Celtics owner Walter Brown picked Chuck Cooper who had earned All-American honors at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. Startled, a fellow owner blurted out, “Walter, don’t you know he’s a colored boy?” Brown responed, “I don’t care if he’s striped, plaid or polka dot.”[2] Race relations had advanced so far in the three years since Robinson’s baseball debut that the Boston papers did not even see the need to include Cooper’s race in its covering of the draft.

In the ninth round of the 1950 draft the Washington Capitols selected Earl Lloyd from West Virginia State University and in the next round Washington added guard Harold Hunter from North Carolina College to the roster. The next day Hunter signed a contract to become the first official black player in the National Basketball Association. [3]

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How did universities develop?

Raphael School of Athens

Universities today are a key component for modern states and economies, where the professional classes and academic research are fostered. We often rate societies by their abilities to produce scientific achievement and develop economic success where universities play a critical role in this. However, the history of universities was very different and these institutions were first relatively parochial and only in recent times have they become pervasive.

Early institutions of higher learning existed long before universities were established. These early institutions conducted research and taught pupils, similar to our ideas of universities today. Early recordings from Egypt and Mesopotamia suggest there were not only scholars who conducted research but also these scholars likely taught and were affiliated with institutions of learning. The Ashurbanipal Library at Nineveh and Library at Sippar were collections of knowledge that likely also had students and teachers associated with them that taught a select group of individuals who not only learned the complex written languages of their day but also began to study and apply their knowledge. [1]

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