Entries by Brian Halpin

Maps and…sex?

  Apropos the post from a couple of days back, here is an interesting map. (Do you like maps? I like maps.) This 1870 “Map of Predominating Sex”, based on US census data, is like 150-year-old social analytics. The darker the shaded area, the greater the disparity between the reported male and female populations of […]

Dressing-up as a Princess

  We all have things we hate. Not things like “which way to hang toilet paper”. Real hates.  Because “hate” is, after all, a strong word.  Or at least it used to be. We’ll leave aside war and violence for now.  Those are pretty much universally cited “hates”. Harming and belittling children, reckless disregard for […]

Revisiting the Other 9/11

  The human imagination, while boundless, also seems to prefer a world with boundaries. Religious fanatics are “over there”.  Massacres are perpetrated by external enemies. Wild-West pioneers were “white”, Indians were “red”, and slaves were “black” – right?  Boundaries. The investigation of history, and American ethnic history in particular, requires us to accept that such […]

They Worked the Mines

Sometimes a flawlessly written song gets a flawless performance. Patty Loveless, a Kentucky girl, has tinkered with the lyrics a little bit in her cover version – the original songwriter’s words are somewhat more immediately personal and autobiographical. First released in 1997 by singer-songwriter Darrell Scott (who is also a sublimely gifted and much-in-demand session […]

Before We Were White: Naming Names, The Slaveholders, Part 1

  We are currently living through hyper-tribalistic times. I will go out on a limb, and say I do not expect certain tribes to follow this blog, ever – however much I wish they would. Yet no tribe is immune from what might be called “the allure of truthiness”. Whether leftist, conservative, liberal, red, blue, […]

Before We Were White: Naming Names, Part 1

  This is as good a day as any to re-iterate and to clarify the aim of this page/podcast. There are many excellent Facebook groups and online resources dealing with the history and genealogy of various communities who are now commonly referred-to as “people of color” – whether of indigenous, African, or other ancestry, free […]

Malagasy Mountain Folks?

  It is simple human nature to see what we are expecting to see.  Atheists or Buddhists do not tend to see the face of Jesus in the patterns on burnt toast – we are all conditioned by the culture around us. This tendency carries-over into our understanding of American history.  We see what our […]

The Melungeons

  Much of my interest in the hidden multi-ethnic past of America stems from a strange discovery made many years ago. While doing research on my first “official” genealogy, I began to notice an unfamiliar word being applied to ancestors on both sides of my family tree. “Melungeon”. This came as a major surprise. While […]

The Underground River: Case 1, Will Geer, actor

  As a child growing-up in small-town Missouri, weekends spent “out in the country” visiting grandparents were special treats. Saturdays were spent fishing, climbing cherry trees, chasing grasshoppers and lightning bugs, or just sitting on an old rail fence beside the smokehouse, talking to “Bessie”, the ancient, blind, retired milk cow. Sundays always began with […]

The Hollywood Scrub

  Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker were ripped to death in a hail of automatic rifle and shotgun fire on a dusty road in Louisiana in May of 1934. Their bloody end was befitting the wider American sense of mythic justice still common today – “live by the sword, die by the sword”, or “an […]