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Archive for Then & Now

"Share Your Story" Prompt Leads to Historical Find


Walter J. Lord, a native of Irving, Texas, who will soon be celebrating his 82nd birthday, recently submitted to the AMERICAN EXPERIENCE "Share Your Story" feature. In response to the question "Who is the Greatest Civil War General?" he attached a scanned image of a yellowed piece of paper with Appomattox Court House, Va printed across the top and an official looking seal on the left. "What can you tell me about this pass?" Lord wrote. "Is it real?"

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Is History Always Worth Preserving?


While viewing a photography exhibit at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts last April, I came upon a photograph of a dilapidated building with a faded sign that read "Young's Grocery and Meat Market." Although the building didn't look like anything unique to a ghost town, it was the plaque next to the print that shed light on the disturbing past of the building: The former Bryant's Grocery, Money, Mississippi, June 1994


A Look Back at Apollo 8 and the Race to the Moon


Early this morning the American Space Shuttle program ended. When the Atlantis shuttle landed at Florida's Kennedy Space Center, it brought to a close 30 years of American innovation and leadership in space exploration. When I look back on the Space program, one particular initiative comes to mind -- the Apollo program. Apollo is known for its many success and failures, particularly Apollo 1 and Apollo 13 but it was Apollo 8 that instilled faith that the United States might actually reach the moon.

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Did We Cause the Flood?


Heavy snow and rain this past winter and spring have led to massive flooding of the Mississippi River Valley in 2011, devastating populated areas along the river's path and causing millions of dollars in damage. Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, and Tennessee are just a few states that have been affected by the flooding, displacing thousands of people across the South and Midwest. Over the past several weeks, the Army Corps of Engineers has destroyed levees along the Mississippi River to direct excess water away from more densely populated areas and into flood lands.

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How the Pride Parade Became Tradition


Over the past 42 years annual gay pride parades have become tradition in dozens of cities worldwide. They have evolved from radical marches into festive parades with elaborate floats and notable participants including politicians and well-known entertainers. In most cities, the parades are part of a larger celebration known as Pride week, typically filled with events celebrating the diversity of LGBT communities such as Pride Idol, film festivals, dance parties, and "best dressed in drag" contests. The annual celebrations have become a pivotal way of celebrating LGBT history and diversity. This year on June 26th, New York City will be celebrating its 42nd gay pride march with an estimated 500,000 participants.


Last Surviving Stage Assistant to Harry Houdini Passes Away at Age 103


Dorothy Young, the last surviving stage assistant to famed illusionist Harry Houdini and accomplished dancer, passed away Sunday at her retirement home in Tinton Falls, New Jersey. The entertainer was 103.

The news of Young's passing strangely coincides with the 137th birthday of her employer, Harry Houdini.

Born Erik Weisz in Budapest, Hungary, Harry Houdini, a legendary name in magic, became an international sensation after accomplishing incredible feats as an illusionist and escape artist extraordinaire. In the AMERICAN EXPERIENCE documentary Houdini, old photographs, film clips and a breadth of interviews give an in depth look into the life of the master magician. Houdini died in 1926 from a widespread infection from an appendix burst. He was 52 years old.