Photobook: Joseph Priestley’s Chemical Flask

Joseph Priestley’s chemical flask at the Smithsonian, Washington, D.C. I took this photo while on the first of my Thomas Jefferson history of ideas tours, 2015. Priestly discovered oxygen on this day, August 1, in 1774 (not 1775 as the placard says) and he became most famous for his discovery since he was the first to publish a description of it. It was, however, first discovered two years earlier by a Swedish chemist, Carl Wilhelm Scheele, independently.

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Photobook: John Muir National Historic Site in Martinez, CA, continued

John Muir’s bedroom at John Muir National Historic Site, Martinez, CA

Yesterday, I published a piece in honor of John Muir’s birthday. Muir was the great naturalist and writer who, perhaps more than any other single individual, awoke America’s consciousness to the sacredness and essential value of the unspoiled natural world. Here are a few more photos from my visit to his home at John Muir National Historic Site in Martinez, CA.

Enjoy!

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The Muir family home built by Dr. John Strentzel at John Muir National Historic Site, Martinez, CA

An orchard at John Muir National Historic Site, Martinez, CA. They are beautifully maintained and visitors may wander the orchards and eat the fruit at will.

Dr John Strentzel’s pomegranate trees in bloom at John Muir National Historic Site, Martinez, CA

Vicente Martinez Adobe, built in 1849, on the grounds at the John Muir National Historic Site, Martinez, CA

Vicente Martinez Adobe plaque at the John Muir National Historic Site, Martinez, CA

The living room of the big house, John Muir National Historic Site, Martinez, CA. Louie Muir was an expert piano player, having learned as part of her excellent education in lovely Benicia, just across the Carquinez Strait from Martinez

The kitchen at John Muir National Historic Site, Martinez, CA

Inside the bell tower of the big house at John Muir National Historic Site, Martinez, CA. From this tower, one has an excellent view of the surrounding orchards.

Photobook: Benjamin Franklin’s Grave in Old Town Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Benjamin Franklin‘s grave in Christ Church Burial Ground at Arch and 5th Streets, Old Town Philadelphia, PA. I took this photo while on the first of my Thomas Jefferson history of ideas tours, 2015. Franklin died on this day, April 17th, in 1790 here in Philadelphia. Scroll down for more…

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Photobook: Alexander Thomas Augusta, Highest Ranking Black Officer in the Civil War

‘Alexander Thomas Augusta was the highest-ranking black officer in the Union Army during the Civil War. He was also the first African American head of a hospital (Freedmen’s Hospital) and the first black professor of medicine (Howard University in Washington, D.C… On April 14, 1863, Augusta was commissioned (the first out of eight other black officers in the Civil War) as a major in the Union army and appointed head surgeon in the 7th U.S. Colored Infantry’ – Blackpast.org. I took this photo at the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore, while on my history of ideas travels following the life and work of Frederick Douglass last spring

Photobook: Portrait of James Boswell, National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh

James Boswell portrait in the National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, 2014 Amy Cools

James Boswell portrait in the National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland. Boswell’s diary of Samuel Johnson has been called the greatest biography in the English language. I visited this portrait during my journey to Edinburgh in 2014 following the life and ideas of David Hume, my favorite philosopher, if I had to name just one. Boswell sat at the bedside of the dying Hume and marveled at his composure in the face of suffering and death.

 

 

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Photobook: Concordia Sculpted Pedestal, College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Virgina

Concordia, sculpted pedestal of Lord Botetourt statue in front of the Christopher Wren building, College of William and Mary, photo by Amy Cools, 2015

Concordia, a beautifully sculpted vignette on the pedestal of Lord Botetourt’s statue in front of the Christopher Wren building at the College of William and Mary. Norborne Berkeley, the 4th Baron Botetourt, was the governor of the Virginia Colony from 1768 to 1770. The sculpture portrays two young women, one a European representing Britannia, one a Native American representing Virginia, holding olive branches of peace out to one another, mingling them together. I took this photo during my trip to Williamsburg following the life and ideas of Thomas Jefferson in Washington DC, Virginia, and Philadelphia in April of 2015.

Inscription on the other side of the Concordia pedestal

Another inscription on the Lord Botetourt pedestal

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Photobook: Raiment of the Sioux and Blackfoot People of the Great Plains

Blackfoot Beaded Dress, Kainai moccasins, and Sioux buckskin shirt, National Museum of Scotland

Blackfoot Beaded Dress, Kainai (Blood) moccasins, and Lakota Sioux buckskin shirt (back), National Museum of Scotland. I’ve spent the last several weeks learning about the Native Americans of the Great Plains for a humanities retreat. I’m still in the afterglow of this wonderful little interlude, and this morning, in thinking about what I learned, I remembered that I had seen these beautiful works of art about three years ago on a trip to Edinburgh, following the life and ideas of David Hume.

Blackfoot Beaded Dress and Kainai moccasins closeup, National Museum of Scotland

Blackfoot Beaded Dress and Kainai moccasins, closeup. The plaque reads: ‘…Blackfeet women [of Montana] wore dresses with striking beaded yokes and cut fringes, co-ordinated with belts, moccasins, and leggings. The v-shaped and square wool details near the hem represented the head and kidneys of the deer, as a mark of descent.’

Lakota Sioux ermine trimmed buckskin shirt, National Museum of Scotland

Human hair- and ermine-trimmed buckskin shirt, Northern Plains people (possibly Lakota Sioux) National Museum of Scotland. The plaque reads: ‘Warriors of the Plains: Men belonged to military societies. For warriors, success in battle and war honors increased their social and political prestige. Ceremonial shirts were worn as a privilege. Materials and decoration added to the shirt’s power, particularly human hair and fur. White weasel fur (ermine) added something of the weasel’s fierce character.’

Chief Wana'ata of the Yantonai Sioux painted and hair trimmed shirt with leggings, National Museum of Scotland

Chief Wana’ata of the Yanktonai Sioux painted and hair trimmed shirt with leggings, National Museum of Scotland. The plaque reads: ‘…Born in 1796, Wana’ata was promoted to Captain while serving with the British against the Americans in the War of 1812. He was named for his bravery – Wana’ata means “The Charger” or “He-Who-Leads-The-Charge”. These garments came to Scotland through William Laidlaw… a buffalo hunter and successful trader of Scots descent, who worked for the Columbian and American Fur Companies.’

Chief Wana'ata of the Yantonai Sioux painted and hair trimmed shirt, back, closeup, National Museum of Scotland

Chief Wana’ata of the Yanktonai Sioux painted and hair trimmed shirt, back, closeup, National Museum of Scotland

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