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Community History Archives: This Week in History- May 27th – June 2nd

This week in history has brought us back in time to some of history’s myths and legends! From remembering icons of the civil rights movement to climbing Mount Everest and searching for yetis, this week in history has brought us unforgettable world changers. As always, not only will I be sharing my historical findings with you, but I will also be sharing some tips on how to better find them yourself!

(2000s – Present) Gone But Not Forgotten: Maya Angelou Passed Away, 2014

Maya Angelou was one of the world’s most celebrated poets and civil rights activists. Specializing in writing about black and women’s issues, Angelou has created timeless pieces that reflect the lives of black women in the civil rights era. She worked alongside Martin Luther King Jr and Malcolm X during the civil rights movement, and continued her activism through the rest of her life. 

Her most notable works include her autobiography, titled “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”, which tells the story of her experiences growing up a black woman, and the struggles that came with it. She published a total of seven autobiographies in her lifetime. Her achievements include three Grammys, one Tony, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and over fifty honorary degrees. 

Maya Angelou played a significant role in the civil rights movement and created classic literature in the movement that supported and brought attention to black women’s role in society at that time. Angelou passed away on May 28th, 2014, but her words continue to live on. 

Through the Grundy County Jewitt Norris Library Community History Archives (CHA), I found a piece that remembered her in the best way. In the Trenton Republic Times, published in Trenton, Missouri, on May 29th, 2014, a memorial piece to Maya Angelou was printed. They tell her story from childhood to adulthood, and speak of not only her success but who she was as a person. They perfectly describe her as a “woman of many identities” and share all her success in various industries to remember the impact she had on the world. 

(1980s – 2000s) Attacking Art: Via dei Georgofili Bombing, 1993

On May 27th, 1993, part of the Uffizi Museum in Florence, Italy, was destroyed. Members of the Mafia carried out an attack on the art museum using a car bomb parked near the museum. The explosion resulted in the deaths of five people and injured almost 50 more. Various parts of the building were damaged, including the museum’s gallery. Three different paintings in the gallery were damaged, but were able to be partially recovered afterwards. Initial reports of the incident had differing casualties. For example, on May 28th, 1993, on page two of the Moultrie Observer, they reported that there were six deaths and only 26 injuries. Numbers were eventually confirmed as more investigation was done on the attack. 

The Uffizi is over 500 years old and has served a variety of purposes, including housing offices and currently as a museum. The museum holds many notable works of art, featuring pieces from Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and more. For many travelers visiting Florence, this is a must-see attraction that provides great tourism for the area.

(1945 – 1980s) On Top of the World: First Climbers to Summit Everest, 1953

Mount Everest is the tallest mountain in the world, and climbing it has become a life goal of many climbers. The climb to the summit of Mt. Everest is an incredibly difficult journey that has cost many thousands of dollars, and even their lives. On May 29th, 1953, the top of the mountain was reached for the very first time. 

Mount Everest is located in the Himalayan Mountains. It reaches 29,032 feet in elevation, making it the tallest point in the entire world. The name “Mount Everest” translates to “holy mother”, a name that is accurate for its incredible beauty. 

The first people to reach the summit were Edmund Hillary (later Sir Edmund), and his Sherpa guide Tenzing Norgay. While they were the ones to reach the top, they were not the only travelers on their expedition. The team included 20 Sherpas, 10 Climbers, and over 300 porters. The Sherpas are the native people of the Everest mountain range and are known for their ability to endure high altitudes as well as their climbing skills. They act as guides for many climbers hoping to reach the summit of Mt. Everest. 

Hillary and Norgay were far from the first to attempt to summit the mountain. There was a race between many countries to have the first team reach the top, but none before them had been successful. The two weren’t even the first of their team to attempt the climb. Two other climbers attempted to reach the summit the day before, but only made it to the south summit before they decided they did not have the energy to continue further. 

Hillary and Norgay were the second pair to attempt the climb. They reached the south summit at around 9:00 AM, and continued for two and half more hours, finally reaching the top of Mt. Everest at 11:30 AM. Their feast was celebrated worldwide and they are still remembered as some of the best climbers in the world. 

An interesting piece I found covering this incredible moment was in the Amesbury Daily News published on June 16th, 1953. In an editorial piece on page one, they shared that Hillary had two life goals. The first was reaching the top of Mount Everest. But the second? Capturing one of the “snowmen” that reportedly lived on top of the Himalayas. From my understanding, these snowmen are essentially yetis. Hillary reportedly even saw photographs of their footprints from other Everest climbers. This piece has sparked my interest, and I will be doing a deeper dive into the subject to share soon.

(1914 – 1945) Under New Management: Neville Chamberlain becomes Prime Minister, 1937

Neville Chamberlain served as the British Prime Minister for almost three years. He stepped into the position of prime minister on May 28, 1937, and held the role until he resigned on May 10, 1940. He was succeeded by Winston Churchill, who played an enormous role in World War II. I found pieces covering his appointment in the Newark Evening News published in Newark, New Jersey on May 28th, 1937

Chamberlain served as prime minister in the very early stages of World War Two. He made pledges to defend Poland from German invasion, which led Britain into the war when the Nazi party attacked the nation. He also attended the Munich Conference, which allowed Germany to annex a part of Czechoslovakia. Apart from his actions in World War II, he also was responsible for the Coal Act of 1938 and the Holidays with Pay Act of 1938, which brought important improvements to those living in Britain. 

Chamberlain eventually resigned from his position as Prime Minister following his failure to properly lead the country through war times. He was met with immense pressure to resign, and did so to allow a better candidate to handle Britain’s role in the war. He did not completely leave the government following his resignation and continued leading the conservative party for a few months.

(1824 – 1914) Infamous Decisions: Indian Removal Act, 1830

On May 28, 1830, President Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act. Jackson is often referred to as the President of the Common Man, for his agenda of helping out the average person rather than the poor. One of his most infamous acts as president is the Indian Removal Act. 

The act served to exchange lands in the west for native lands that were within the territory of the current states. As a result, many Native Americans were forcibly kicked out of the lands they had been cultivating for generations and relocated out to the West. The act was met with a lot of resistance from Native Americans, and while a few decided to comply willingly, most of them met Jackson’s act with resistance. The government eventually forcibly removed them from their lands and made them travel west, an event widely known today as the Trail of Tears. 

This is where my weekly search tip comes into play. When looking in the CHA for pieces covering this event, I had to change what I was searching for to fit the time and how it would have been reported. The Trail of Tears wouldn’t have been called by that name when it was happening, so I wouldn’t be able to find what I was looking for by looking up that name. They also likely wouldn’t have used the term “Native Americans”, and more commonly referred to them as “Indians”. Instead, I looked for words like “Indian removal” and “Indian” and “relocation” to find the pieces from the time it happened. I also looked past the exact year when it happened, because the effects of the act were not immediate. Combining all these search methods, I was able to find something super interesting.

On December 9th, 1836, the Amesbury Daily News published the presidential speech of Martin Van Buren, where he spoke of the efforts to move Native Americans. He shared that they were being met with aggression and violence, and that such pushback had required the active employment of almost the entire military. Van Buren was vice president under Andrew Jackson, and upon his election to president, he continued what Jackson began, including removing Native Americans from their lands and relocating them out west. 

On July 24th, 1895, the Amesbury Daily News published a piece titled “Settlers Moving Out” and included the line “Redskins reported to be in fighting mood”. The article talked about how the Native Americans were fighting back against the non-native people coming onto the land that had been designated as their reservation to hunt. They were fighting to protect their lands from the rest of the general population, but this was turned on them. They were portrayed as violent and animalistic in the piece, which perfectly reflects the way native groups were viewed during this time. The damage of the Indian Removal Act continued to affect the lives of Native Americans even 65 years later, as this piece shows. 

This week in history taught me about some new history I hadn’t known. I always find it fascinating how you can follow history through the eyes of those living it by looking at the resources of the Community History Archives. Join me again next week to discover more of history’s hidden gems and timeless tales!

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