Author Archives: InThePastLane

About InThePastLane

Dr. Edward T. O’Donnell is a professional historian, author, and speaker. He earned his Ph.D. in American History from Columbia University. He is an Associate Professor of History at Holy Cross College in Worcester, MA. Learn more at www.EdwardTODonnell.com He is the author of several books, including (as co-author) the new U.S. History college-level textbook, Visions of America: A History of the United States, 2nd edition (Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2012), Ship Ablaze: The Tragedy of the Steamboat General Slocum (Random House, 2003) and the forthcoming Talisman of a Lost Hope: Henry George, American Workers, and the Republican Crisis of the Gilded Age (Columbia University Press, 2013). His scholarly articles have appeared in the Public Historian, Journal of Urban History, and the Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era. O’Donnell is also active in the field of public history. He has curated several major museum exhibits on American history and appeared in several historical documentaries. He has provided historical insight and commentary for PBS, the History Channel, the Discovery Channel, and National Public Radio. Since 2002 O’Donnell has made hundreds of teacher professional development presentations, including content lectures, pedagogy workshops, and walking tours, for the Teaching American History program in 26 states, including New York, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, Virginia, Florida, California, Wyoming, Iowa, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin. Learn more at www.EdwardTODonnell.com or follow him on Twitter at @InThePastLane

ITPL Ep 024 I Want You poster

Episode 024 The Path to War: The US and World War I


This week we mark the 100th anniversary of the US entry into The Great War, or what we’ve come to know as World War I. The US declaration of war in April 1917 marked a decisive turning subscribe-buttonpoint in American history, as for the first time the US engaged in a European war. This decision marked a decisive break with the nation’s longstanding tradition of isolationism when it came to European affairs. But at the outset of the war in 1914, that spirit of isolationism was running high in the US. Reflecting this view, President Woodrow Wilson announced that the US would remain neutral. But over the course of the next three years, many events transpired that gradually moved a majority of Americans to accept US involvement in WWI as inevitable. To help us understand this crucial period in US history from 1914-1917, this episode has two segments.
1) First, I provide a brief overview of the isolationist tradition in US history and how it changed by 1917. To illustrate this transition, I look at two hit songs from the period. In 1915, the top song in the US was explicitly anti-war: “I Didn’t Raise My Boy to be A Soldier.” But two years later, the #1 song in the US was “Over There!,” a rousing patriotic ditty extolling America’s commitment to military victory in WWI penned by the famed songwriter George M. Cohan.

2) Second, I talk to historian Michael S. Neiberg about his new book, The Path to War: How the First World War Created Modern America. It’s a close examination of the years between 1914 – when WW1 began in Europe – and 1917, when the US finally chose to enter the conflict. It’s a fascinating and largely forgotten period in American history.

About
Michael S. Neibergwebsite
Michael S. Neiberg, The Path to War: How the First World War Created Modern America
Further Reading

Michael S. Neiberg, The Path to War: How the First World War Created Modern America (Oxford, 2016)

Christopher Capozzola, Uncle Sam Wants You: World War I and the Making of the Modern American Citizen (Oxford, 2008)

Justus D. Doenecke, Nothing Less Than War: A New History of America’s Entry into World War I (Kentucky, 2014)

Jennifer D. Keene, World War I: The American Soldier Experience (Bison, 2011)

David M. Kennedy, Over Here: The First World War and American Society (Oxford, 1989)

Robert H. Zieger, America’s Great War: World War I and the American   Experience (Rowan & Littlefield, 2000)

PBS, The American Experience, The Great War

Music for This Episode

Jay Graham, ITPL Intro (JayGMusic.com)

Kevin McCleod, “Impact Moderato” (Free Music Archive)

Lee Rosevere, “Going Home” (Free Music Archive)

Jon Luc Hefferman, “A Storm At Eilean Mor” (Free Music Archive)

The Bell, “I Am History” (Free Music Archive)

Morton Harvey sings “I Didn’t Raise My Boy To Be A Soldier” 1915

Billy Murray sings “Over There!”  by George M. Cohan 1917

Production Credits

Executive Producer: Lulu Spencer

Associate Producer: Devyn McHugh

Technical Advisors: Holly Hunt and Jesse Anderson

Podcasting Consultant: Darrell Darnell of Pro Podcast Solutions

Photographer: John Buckingham

Graphic Designer: Maggie Cellucci

Website by: ERI Design

Legal services: Tippecanoe and Tyler Too

Social Media management: The Pony Express

Risk Assessment: Little Big Horn Associates

Growth strategies: 54 40 or Fight

© Snoring Beagle International, 2017

Wash-Ham

Episode 023 Alexander Hamilton: The Man, The Myth, and, Yes, The Musical!

subscribe-buttonIn this episode of ITPL, we focus on Alexander Hamilton. You may have noticed that Hamilton has become the hottest Founder in recent years – and it’s all due to the smash Broadway hit, “Hamilton: The Musical.”
So here’s the lineup:
1. First, I provide a brief backgrounder on the remarkable life of Alexander Hamilton. 2. Second, I sit down with historian Stephen F. Knott to discuss his book, Washington and Hamilton: The Alliance that Forged America (Sourcebooks, 2015). He and his co-author Tony Williams argue that the relationship between Washington and Hamilton had a major impact on the outcome of the American Revolution and the subsequent creation of the American republic.
3. Finally, I drop by the one permanent site in Manhattan that’s dedicated to the nation’s first Secretary of the Treasury. It’s the Hamilton Grange in Harlem. I speak with National Park Service ranger Liam Strain about the site’s history and how “Hamilton: The Musical” has dramatically increased visitor traffic at the site. You can find show notes for this episode and more information about the podcast at www.InThePastLane.com
In The Past Lane is a production of Snoring Beagle International, Ltd.

About Stephen F. Knottwebsite

About the Hamilton Grangewebsite

Further Reading

ITPL Ep 023 Knott book coverStephen F. Knott and Tony Williams, Washington and Hamilton: The Alliance that Forged America (Sourcebooks, 2015)

Ronald Chernow, Alexander Hamilton (Penguin, 2004)

Joseph J. Ellis, The Quartet: Orchestrating the Second American Revolution, 1783-1789 (2015)

Thomas Fleming, The Great Divide: The Conflict between Washington and Jefferson that Defined a Nation (2015)

Joanne B. Freeman, Affairs of Honor: National Politics in the New Republic

Robert Middlekauff, The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution, 1763-1789 (2005)

Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter, Hamilton: The Revolution (2016)

John Sedgwick, War of Two: Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, and the Duel that Stunned the Nation (2015)

The historic home of Alexander Hamilton, "The Grange," in Harlem, NYC.

The historic home of Alexander Hamilton, “The Grange,” in Harlem, NYC.

Jim Beckerman, “Hamilton Tourist Sites in New Jersey Ride the Wave of the Hit Musical,” Associated Press, Jun 12, 2016

Linda Flanagan, “How Teachers Are Using ‘Hamilton’ the Musical in the Classroom,” KQED.org

Valerie Strauss, “The unusual way Broadway’s ‘Hamilton’ is teaching U.S. history to kids,” Washington Post, June 28, 2016

Music for This Episode

Jay Graham, ITPL Intro (JayGMusic.com)

Kevin McCleod, “Impact Moderato” (Free Music Archive)

Doctor Turtle, “Often Outmumbled Never Outpunned” (Free Music Archive)

Lee Rosevere, “Going Home” (Free Music Archive)

The Bell, ”On The Street,” (Free Music Archive)

The Bell, “I Am History” (Free Music Archive)

Production Credits

Executive Producer: Lulu Spencer

Associate Producer, Devyn McHugh

Technical Advisors: Holly Hunt and Jesse Anderson

Podcasting Consultant: Darrell Darnell of Pro Podcast Solutions

Photographer: John Buckingham

Graphic Designer: Maggie Cellucci

Website by: ERI Design

Legal services: Tippecanoe and Tyler Too

Social Media management: The Pony Express

Risk Assessment: Little Big Horn Associates

Growth strategies: 54 40 or Fight

© Snoring Beagle International, 2017

mass incarceration

Episode 022 The History of Mass Incarceration in the US, Part 2


Why are so many Americans in prison? Right now, there are 2.3 million Americans held in US prisons. That’s a HUGE number, relative to the overall US population. The US makes up just 5% of the world’s population, but we hold 25% of the world’s prison population. Put another way, 1 in 4 people held in prison around the world is an American citizen. And a disproportionate number of these inmates are people of color, mostly African American and Latino. Furthermore, this phenomenon of mass incarceration is a relatively recent one. In 1970 the incarceration rate in the US was roughly 150 people per 100,000. In 2017 it’s well over 700 people per 100,000! How did we get here? What happened around 1970 that sent us down this path?
To answer these questions, I speak with historian Elizabeth Hinton, author of the book, From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America (Harvard University Press). She’ll help us see the key public policy decisions regarding crime and criminal justice — and the assumptions about race and poverty that shaped them — that caused the US prison population to explode after 1970.

Elizabeth Hinton, From the War on Poverty to the War on CrimeAbout Elizabeth Hinton

website

Further Reading

Elizabeth Hinton, From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America (Harvard University Press)

Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (2010)

Todd R. Clear and Natasha A. Frost, The Punishment Imperative: The Rise and Failure of Mass Incarceration in America (2013)

Jonathan Simon, Mass Incarceration on Trial: A Remarkable Court Decision and the Future of Prisons in America (2014)

Carimah Townes, “The True Cost of Mass Incarceration Exceeds $1 Trillion,” Sept 12, 2016 www.ThinkProgress.org

Peter Wagner and Bernadette Rabuy, “Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2016,” March 14, 2016 www.PrisonPolicy.org

Michelle Ye Hee Lee, “Yes, U.S. locks people up at a higher rate than any other country,” Washington Post, July 7, 2015

mass incarceration graphMusic for this Episode

Jay Graham, ITPL Intro (JayGMusic.com)

Kevin McCleod, “Impact Moderato” (Free Music Archive)

The Womb, “I Hope It Hurts” (Free Music Archive)

Hyson, Signals (Free Music Archive)

Philipp Weigl, “Even When We Fall” (Free Music Archive)

The Bell, “I Am History” (Free Music Archive)

Production Credits

Executive Producer: Lulu Spencer

Associate Producer, Devyn McHugh

Technical Advisors: Holly Hunt and Jesse Anderson

Podcasting Consultant: Darrell Darnell of Pro Podcast Solutions

Photographer: John Buckingham

Graphic Designer: Maggie Cellucci

Website by: ERI Design

Legal services: Tippecanoe and Tyler Too

Social Media management: The Pony Express

Risk Assessment: Little Big Horn Associates

Growth strategies: 54 40 or Fight

Snoring Beagle International, Ltd

Eastern State Penitentiary

Episode 021 The History of Mass Incarceration in the US, Part 1


subscribe-buttonHow did it come to pass that in the United States that we imprison more people than any nation in the world? That’s right – the US comprises 5% of the world’s population, but it holds 25% of the world’s prison population. That’s more people in US prisons than Russia, China, Iran — you name it. How did it come to pass that we’ve put 2.3 million of our fellow Americans in prisons?  Well, in this first of a two-part exploration of the origins of mass incarceration, I visit the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, PA. It’s a famous prison built in the 1820s that closed in the 1970s and then later was turned into a museum. I take a tour of this fascinating institution with staff guide Lauren Bennett. I took A LOT of photographs so you’ll want to check them out below. And keep in mind, this is part 1 of a deep dive into the history of prisons and criminal justice in American history. In part 2, I speak with historian Elizabeth Hinton about her book, From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America (Harvard University Press). You won’t want to miss it!

Eastern State - prisons-todayFurther Reading

Scott Christianson, With Liberty for Some: 500 Years of Imprisonment in America (1998)

John DuMond, Under the Wall: The True Story of the 1945 Tunnel Escape from Eastern State Penitentiary (2014)

Norman Bruce Johnston, Eastern State Penitentiary: Crucible of Good Intentions (1994)

Paul Kahan, Eastern State Penitentiary: A History (2008)

Mark E. Kann, Punishment, Prisons, and Patriarchy: Liberty and Power in the Early American Republic (2005)

Rebecca M. McLennan, The Crisis of Imprisonment: Protest, Politics, and the Making of the American Penal State, 1776-1941 (2008)

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The Big Graph showing the explosion of the US prison population since the 1970s, part of the exhibition, “Prisons Today: Questions in the Age of Mass Incarceration,” at Eastern State Penitentiary, 2016

Eastern State Penitentiary

Website http://www.easternstate.org/

Prisons Today, an exhibition on mass incarceration at the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, PA http://www.easternstate.org/prisons-today

The Big Graph http://www.easternstate.org/visit/regular-season/history-artist-installations/big-graph

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Panel from the exhibition, “Prisons Today: Questions in the Age of Mass Incarceration,” at Eastern State Penitentiary, 2016

Music for this Episode

Jay Graham, ITPL Intro (courtesy, JayGMusic.com)

Kevin McCleod, “Impact Moderato” (Free Music Archive)

Lee Rosevere, Going Home (Free Music Archive)

Philipp Weigl, Even When We Fall (Free Music Archive)

Jason Shaw, “Acoustic Meditation” (Free Music Archive)

The Bell, “I Am History” (Free Music Archive)

An aerial view of Eastern State Penitentiary, ca. 1954

An aerial view of Eastern State Penitentiary, ca. 1954

View down one of Eastern State Penitentiary's cell blocks, 2016

View down one of Eastern State Penitentiary’s cell blocks, 2016

Production Credits

Executive Producer: Lulu Spencer

Associate Producer, Devyn McHugh

Technical Advisors: Holly Hunt and Jesse Anderson

Podcasting Consultant: Darrell Darnell of Pro Podcast Solutions

Photographer: John Buckingham

Graphic Designer: Maggie Cellucci

Website by: ERI Design

Legal services: Tippecanoe and Tyler Too

Social Media management: The Pony Express

Risk Assessment: Little Big Horn Associates

Growth strategies: 54 40 or Fight

Snoring Beagle International, Ltd

Typical solitary cell at Eastern State Penitentiary, 2016

Typical solitary cell at Eastern State Penitentiary, now a ruin. Note: the skylight was the only source of light for inmates (2016)

 

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The view from the center of the “wagon wheel” – from which all the cell blocks radiate – at Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, PA

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View down a cell block at Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, PA (2016)

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As the numbers of prisoners grew at Eastern State Penitentiary, prison officials added a second level to several of the cell blocks.

View down one of Eastern State Penitentiary's cell blocks, 2016

View down one of Eastern State Penitentiary’s cell blocks, 2016

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Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, PA (2016)

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Single cell (now a ruin), Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, PA (2016)

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Remains of a medical facility, now a ruin, Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, PA (2016)

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Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, PA (2016)

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Prison yard, Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, PA (2016)

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Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, PA (2016)

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Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, PA (2016)

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Contemporary exhibition at Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, PA (2016) – “Prisons Today: Questions in the Age of Mass Incarceration”

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The Big Graph, showing the explosion of incarceration since 1970. NOTE: The small orange bar is 1970; the tall one is 2010. Contemporary exhibition at Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, PA (2016) – “Prisons Today: Questions in the Age of Mass Incarceration”

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The graph shows how exceptional the US is when it comes to incarceration. Today the US imprisons 730 people per 100,000 of its population. In the European Union the average is about 150/100,000. Contemporary exhibition at Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, PA (2016) – “Prisons Today: Questions in the Age of Mass Incarceration”

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Contemporary exhibition at Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, PA (2016) – “Prisons Today: Questions in the Age of Mass Incarceration”

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Contemporary exhibition at Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, PA (2016) – “Prisons Today: Questions in the Age of Mass Incarceration”

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One of the MANY thought-provoking questions posed at the exhibition at Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, PA (2016) – “Prisons Today: Questions in the Age of Mass Incarceration”

Mercy Street Rewind - MansionHouse_LOC - title card

Mercy Street Rewind with Megan Kate Nelson – We Review Each Episode from Season 2

subscribe-buttonMercy Street Rewind is a special feature of In the Past Lane, the podcast about history and why it matters. Historian Megan Kate Nelson (Senior Civil War Correspondent for ITPL) sits down with Edward T. O’Donnell (Historian-at-Large and host of ITPL) to break down each episode of the PBS historical drama, “Mercy Street.” We offer insightful and often humorous analysis of the show, its characters, and the stories it tells — all from the perspective of historians, with Megan’s sharp cultural critic analysis as an added plus. Spoiler alert: we recommend you watch each episode before listening to our take.
Scroll down to find each episode. [Looking for Season 1 episodes? Click here]

Mercy Street Rewind, Season 2 Extra – a conversation with co-creator David Zabel

Mercy Street Rewind, Season 2, Episode 1: “A Balm in Gilead”

Mercy Street Rewind, Season 2, Episode 2: “The House Guest”

Mercy Street Rewind, Season 2, Episode 3: “One Equal Temper”

Mercy Street Rewind, Season 2, Episode 4: “Southern Mercy”

Mercy Street Rewind, Season 2, Episode 5: “Unknown Soldier”

Mercy Street Rewind, Season 2, Episode 6: “House of Bondage”