The segment, entitled “The Bullet That Fought America’s Secret Siberian War,” investigated the origins of a curious example of “shell art”: a WorldWar I vintage cartridge-cum-letter opener, which was inscribed with the words “Geo. V. Thompson, CO E 31st Inf., A.E.F. Siberia.” As the History Detective assigned to the case discovered, this piece of early-20th-century folk art had once belonged to a U.S. soldier, who was stationed with the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) in Siberia, during America’s brief and unsuccessful intervention in the Russian Civil War. Apparently, it was commissioned from a local artisan, who made his rubles selling souvenirs for American G.I.s eager to have an exotic memento of their stint of service in Siberia. On the PBS website, viewers can watch the full episode (duration: 17:42), download the transcript of the show, and even read letters that George Thompson sent home from Siberia.
Viewers of the “Siberian Bullet” episode, and anyone else interested in further exploring America’s “Secret Siberian War,” can also consult the “Americans in the Land of Lenin” digital collection. This collection contains over 400 black-and-white photographs from Duke University’s Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library, including images used in the History Detectives episode. The collection provides unique visual documentation not only about U.S. involvement in the Russian Civil War, but also about daily life during war-time in an ethnically and religiously diverse region on the border of three major 20th-century powers (Russia, Japan, and China). A YouTube video (duration: 2:44) and additional information about Duke’s digital collection of AEF photos can be found in the Fall 2008 issue of Duke University Libraries Magazine, which includes a shorter version of an article eventually published as “‘A Dirty Place for Americans to Be’: Images of the Russian Civil War in Siberia from the Robert L. Eichelberger Collection at Duke University Libraries,” Slavic & East European Information Resources, 10 (2009): 29–44.
At this time of year, we here at Duke Digital Collections always like to celebrate the mothers who have been such major influences on us: Marge Simpson … Carol Brady … Clair Huxtable … the mother of all those melon-headed children in The Family Circus …. Oh, also our own mothers. The time of year we are referring to is, of course, Cinco de Mayo. ¡Cinco de Mayo! Also Mother’s Day, which we are also big fans of, although we would like it better if we associated it with half-price margarita pitchers. Let’s take a moment to recognize some of the outstanding moms in our digital collections with the first annual Duke Digital Collections Mother of the Year Awards!
The “You Are Getting Sleepy … Very Sleepy” Award
Sometimes even the most devoted mother has days when every minute the children are still up is like a knife through her soul worrisome because the little darlings need their rest. Back in the days before C-SPAN was invented, parents often eased their kids off to dreamland as early as 4 p.m. by gathering the whole family around the ole seed catalog. Interestingly, at this photo shoot the boy on the left fell backwards off the ottoman immediately after this photo was taken and woke up 3 days later. These days, parents get the same results by having the kids play a few minutes of Wii Seed Catalog after dinner.
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