History Declassified

In the early ’90s, the so-called “Iron Archives” of Russian political documents from the Cold War era opened up to historians, shedding light on the earliest days of Mao Zedong and Joseph Stalin’s diplomatic alliance.

But not all of the Russian documents were declassified at that time. The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars has launched a new digital archive containing recently declassified materials from some 100 different international collections, including a cable Mao sent to Commander Filippov (Stalin’s alias) eagerly detailing his plans to study Russia and complaining about his poor health.

Read more in the original posting from Open Culture.

The History of the World in 46 Lectures

From Open Culture…

When you dive into our collection of 700 Free Online Courses, you can begin an intellectual journey that can last for many months, if not years. The collection lets you drop into the classroom of leading universities (like Stanford, Harvard, MIT and Oxford) and essentially audit their courses for free. You get to be a fly on the wall and soak up whatever knowledge you want. All you need is an internet connection and some free time on your hands.

Today, we’re featuring two classes taught by Professor Richard Bulliet at Columbia University, which will teach you the history of the world in 46 lectures. The first course, History of the World to 1500 CE (available on YouTube and iTunes Video) takes you from prehistoric times to 1500, the cusp of early modernity. The origins of agriculture; the Greek, Roman and Persian empires; the rise of Islam and Christian medieval kingdoms; transformations in Asia; and the Maritime revolution — they’re all covered here. In the second course, History of the World Since 1500 CE (find on YouTube), Bulliet focuses on the rise of colonialism in the Americas and India; historical developments in China, Japan and Korea; the Industrial Revolution; the Ottoman Empire; the emergence of Social Darwinism; and various key moments in 20th century history.

Bulliet helped write the popular textbook The Earth and its Peoples: A Global History, and it serves as the main textbook for the course. Above, we’re starting you off with Lecture 2, which moves from the Origins of Agriculture to the First River – Valley Civilizations, circa 8000-1500 B.C.E. The first lecture deals with methodological issues that underpin the course.

Once you get the big picture with Professor Bulliet, you can find more History topics in our ever-growing collection of Free Online Courses.

(US) History Here App

“HISTORY Here is an interactive guide to thousands of historic locations across the United States. The easy-to-use interface, photos, video and dynamic maps bring history to life anywhere in the country. Whether you’re on vacation or just running errands, the app makes it simple and fun to get the facts on the history hidden all around you, including amazing architecture, museums, battlefields, monuments, famous homes and much more!”  The app is free, so give it a try!  Visit itunes for more info….

Canada’s History: Nature’s Past

Over the next few months, we will be featuring a six-part podcast series by Sean Kheraj, Assistant Professor in the Department of History at York University. Entitled Nature’s Past, the series discusses the role of climate in Canadian and global history. Future episodes will take a look at the Canadian Environmental Movement, Fisheries, Food Production, and the Tar Sands.

You will find Nature’s Past in our Online Exclusives section, and can listen to the first two episodes now: Global Warming and Aboriginal Health and Environments.

Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online

This year’s Governor General’s History Award for Popular Media, also known as the Pierre Berton Award, goes to the Dictionary of Canadian Biography/Dictionnaire biographique du Canada. The ongoing publishing project began in 1959 and is updated simultaneously in French and English editions. To date, it includes more than 8,400 biographies that are available online as well as in 15 print volumes.

The Dictionary of Canadian Biography currently receives over 1 million visitors per year at its website Biographi.ca.

NOVA Spark

Read the newsletter here.  Highlights below.


How did the ancient Egyptians move obelisks?
Watch as archaeologists test two theories that could explain how the ancient Egyptians raised massive obelisks into upright, steady positions without the technical advantages provided by modern machinery.
Video (5m 21s), Grades 3-12

How did the native people of Easter Island use levers?

Learn how archaeologists think the native people of Easter Island were able to move massive statues all the way from a cliff-top quarry to a coastal patch of land.
Video (4m 48s), Grades 3-12

Energy Transfer in a Trebuchet
Explore the physics behind the medieval throwing device called a trebuchet, which could throw heavy objects considerable distances.
Video (4m 17s), Grades 6-12