American History · Detroit/Michigan · history

New Decade, New Goals, and Anniversaries

2020! We have entered into a new decade and it feels like a clean slate. What will happen in the next ten years? How will we change in the next ten years and what will we accomplish? I find it interesting to ponder these questions.

In 2019, I am most proud of the amount of traveling I did. I traveled overseas to Europe for the first time and was able to experience much of the history I read about first hand. I traveled to the west coast of the United States for the first time as well. I already have booked a trip to Scotland with a friend for 2020 and hope to explore even more! The cover photo is a picture of me taken in Zurich, Switzerland.

Returning to the present, I am proud of the work I did on the historynavigator blog in 2019. My goal was to become more consistent and create a post every month. Though I missed two months (one of those months was consumed with my travels to Europe and the other was just laziness), I was still more consistent than 2018. This year I hope to do better and make all 12 months. It is definitely difficult to find the time to do the research and even just figure out topics with work, life, and changes happening. This year, I want to make time to think of these things in advance and start my reading in advance. Is there any topics that you would be interested in me researching ?

During my research for topics this month, I looked into what was turning 100 years old this year and how the world has changed since the previous ’20s. It is very interesting to see how the world has changed.

August 18,1920 is an important date in American history as this was the day the 19th amendment was finally passed. This amendment granted women the right to vote in elections. Protesters had been fighting for this right for a century. 1848 is the date that Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott started the Seneca Falls Convention and created a national movement for women’s suffrage, but prior to that date there had been separate local movements ran by women and allies. Without these strong women, we may not have the rights we enjoy today and they should not be taken for granted. I hope to write more about this story as the anniversary draws closer.

Image result for 19th amendment

Image result for 19th amendment

January 16, 1920 the League of Nations was formed. After the destruction of World War I, it was proposed by President Wilson (in his “Fourteen Points”) that an organization should be created to assist in negotiating and solving conflicts before they dissolved into warfare. 48 nations had joined by this time (it is interesting that despite this being Wilson’s idea, the United States never joined). As we know today, the League was not a success and World War II happened anyway. The League was weak and could not enforce its own mandates. Yet, I think it was important because of the steps it took to bring the world closer and to try and solve conflicts in a different way. It was a precursor to today’s United Nations.

Image result for league of nations
Despite the President being the biggest advocate of the League, this cartoon shows that the League was missing a vital piece with the USA not joining.

I knew about the previous two anniversaries, but this next one I had no idea about. I think it is extremely interesting that 1920 was the birth of mass media. Radio did exist prior to the 1920s, but it was not popular with the public. Those who used it were engineers, the military, and those who made it a hobby. The average person did not see its usefulness and thought the novelty would die out. This changed when on November 2, 1920 the radio station KDKA in Pittsburgh broadcast the results of the 1920 presidential election.  Listeners could hear live that Republican senator Warren G. Harding had beat the Democrat candidate, Governor James M. Cox in a landslide victory. They did not have to wait for their newspapers to come out the next day. After this broadcast, radio was no longer a “novelty”. Within four years, 600 commercial radio stations were formed nationwide. Radio sales exploded as everyone had to have one in their homes. With the creation of mass media, music, news, sports, celebrities, stories, etc could be transmitted to all parts of the nation. Everyone in the nation could be on the same page and share in the same things. Living in the 2020s, I could not imagine a world where information was not at your fingertips. This was revolutionary.

Image result for KDKA radio 1920

Image result for KDKA radio 1920

A bit of local history to add on to the previous paragraph, it was actually in August of 1920 that WWJ in Detroit, Michigan formed. It was the first government licensed radio station (different from commercial) and is believed to be the first radio station to broadcast news. They would not receive their commercial license until 1921. KDKA holds the honor of the first commercially licensed station. WWJ was not the first mass media example as it was listened to by a limited local audience, but it is still very interesting that another part of history began in Detroit.

I am keeping this one short and sweet while I prepare for more material! If there are any requests I am happy to look into them. I am looking forward to this new clean slate and for another year with historynavigator blog!



A Brief History Of WWJ,_1920



American History · Detroit/Michigan · history

Woodward Avenue: The Backbone of Detroit

Woodward Avenue is one of America’s most iconic roads. The road 27 miles that connects Detroit River to Pontiac, Michigan and was once the main way to connect the suburbs to the main city. What makes it so special?

It is the home for many firsts in America: the first paved road, the first four way stoplight, possibly the first ice cream soda mixed by Sanders, and the first road where a ticket for street racing was written (March 1895). In 1963, thousands marched and listened to Martin Luther King, Jr gave a precursor to his “I have a Dream” speech. It is the home to the famous “Dream Cruise” where thousands of classic cars owners come to cruise, socialize, and show off their vehicles. It is also just an important part of Detroit culture; it is a landmark. The road was also important to the auto industry. The auto industry grew up and expanded on this road. It truly is the spine of Detroit.

Continue reading “Woodward Avenue: The Backbone of Detroit”

American History · Detroit/Michigan · history

Code Word: “Midnight”

“Midnight” was the code word for one of the final stops of the Underground Railroad. By the time the former slaves arrived at “Midnight” they must have been filled with a sense of relief after surviving miles and miles of dangerous travel. Dawn was right around the corner. At this time, the country was teeming slave catchers. After the 1793 Fugitive Slave Act, a new popular profession was created. This law gave the slaveholders the ability to seek out and have their runaways returned. The law of 1850 expanded this and allowed the capture of fugitives slaves anywhere in United States held territory. It did not matter if the fugitive was north of the Ohio River border (1787 Northwest Ordinance prohibited slavery north of the Ohio River), they could still be caught and returned. If they made it to Midnight (though not danger free) they were just a few miles and a ferry ride from freedom. Have you guessed where this was?

Image result for detroit underground railroad
Gateway to Freedom Monument, Detroit, Michigan

Continue reading “Code Word: “Midnight””

American History · Detroit/Michigan · history · Uncategorized

War Against the High Cost of Living: The Story of Mary Zuk and the Women of Hamtramck

I am sure many people have never heard of the fierce Polish-American woman Mary Zuk, but her story and those who followed her needs to be shared. Mary Zuk led an entirely female run meat strike in Hamtramck, Michigan during the Great Depression. The Polish-American women of this Detroit community fought to keep their families fed and would not take no for an answer. This meat strike was so significant that the women took it to the meat packer companies in Chicago and to the federal government in Washington D.C.

The city of Detroit had one of the largest Polish-American populations in the country at this time.

Continue reading “War Against the High Cost of Living: The Story of Mary Zuk and the Women of Hamtramck”