Gift Guide: Women in History

This gift guide is all about women in history. The original nasty women who continue to inspire us today.

A Cool Tee from Design By Humans

I love these shirts from Design by Humans! I chose to feature a Frida Kahlo shirt, a shirt with iconic women throughout history, and a shirt featuring great women of science. They’re all available in multiple colors and styles, including shirts for men and kids, so head on over and grab one!

A Cool Tee from an Etsy Seller

I’m a long-time fan of Etsy and these tees are the coolest! There’s the Founding Mothers tee, the Harriet Tubman “Courage” shirt, and last but not least, Rosa Parks’ mugshot shirt.

A ‘Women in History’ Print

These prints slay me. I love them so much. Each features a group of iconic women from history. From Cleopatra to Sally Ride, so many amazing women are represented! You can snag Women in History I, II, or III at Satrun Twins’ Art Shop. (They even offer all three for $45!)

A Mug From The Unemployed Philosophers Guild

Have a Brontë or Austen fan on your gift list? They’ll love these mugs! The Brontë mug features quotes from the works of the Brontë sisters while the Jane Austen mug features quotes from, you guessed it, Jane Austen’s work.

An Enamel Pin from The Unemployed Philosophers Guild

I featured a few pins from The Unemployed Philosophers Guild in my art history gift guide and I had to include a few here! Choose from Frida Kahlo and a monkey, Margaret Sanger and a birth control pack, and Jane Austen and books. At around $15, they’re perfect for a secret Santa or stocking stuffer!

A Candle from Werther and Gray

I’ve professed my love for Werther and Gray before but I’m going to do it again! Their “History & Nostalgia” line of candles includes Cleopatra, The Virgin Queen, and Suffragette. They have some Black Friday/Cyber Monday specials going on so be sure to check them out before ordering!

A Good Book

If the person you’re shopping for loves to read, they’ll love one of these! I recommend Bad Girls Throughout History by Ann Shen, When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present by Gail Collins, and Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World by Rachel Ignotofsky.

A Shirt from Historical Dream

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I’ve talked about this company and this shirt before but I love it so much, I’m gonna keep talking about it! Historical Dream is a woman-owned company that creates super cool clothing and jewelry featuring images of people of color. In this pic, I’m wearing the Elizabeth Keckley dolman t-shirt (legit the most comfortable shirt I own.) Be sure to check out the entire shop!


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Gift Guide: Art Lovers

Full disclosure: this post contains affiliate links.

Have someone on your gift list that loves art? Check out these gifts that are sure to please! Most are under $30 so they’ll please your wallet, too!

First, check out a membership to their local art museum. Memberships to my state art museum start at $50 for the year (more than $30 but hear me out) and give members one free ticket to all ticketed exhibits, one free ticket to their summer movies, discounted admission to concerts, and much more. In addition to giving a gift that truly keeps on giving, you’re also helping to support the museum! If you’re not keen on purchasing a membership, check out the museum’s gift shop. Many museums are stepping up their gift shop game and carry some truly cool stuff!

Looking to give something and/or spend a little less? I got you.

Artist Enamel Pins from Unemployed Philosophers Guild

 

Enamel pins had a bit of a moment recently and honestly, I think these are the coolest! You get Dalí and a melting clock, Van Gogh and an ear, or Warhol and a soup can. Each set is $15.99, making them perfect for your secret Santa or stuffing in someone’s stocking.

Art Mugs from Unemployed Philosophers Guild

 

The “Brief History of Art” mug features a millennium of artwork and the Frida Khalo mug is the most colorful, cheerful thing you could ever want to put your coffee or tea into! They also have this disappearing ear Van Gogh mug, which I have an earlier version of. This one is much cooler because when you pour hot liquid in, the bandage appears!

Something From Niaski

I am obsessed with this Etsy shop that asks, “What if your favorite artists were cats?” Well, if they were, you’d get figures like Henri Catisse, Frida Catlo, and Kitty Stardust. The artist, Nia Gould, has created enamel pins, prints, totes, and even little sculptures depicting famous artists as cats. It’s all wonderful and if you have an art lover who is also a cat lover on your shopping list, head over there and consider them taken care of. (Pictured above: Frida Catlo print, Henri Catisse tote, and Wassily Catdinsky print.)

Werther and Gray Candles

 

I am so excited to have found this company! Werther and Gray is a small company out of Wilmington, Delaware and they create candles inspired by history, art, and literature. I purchased Starry Night and Gardens of Versailles for myself and I can attest that they are wonderful!

Small Artist Portraits from The Toddbot Shop

I love these little drawings! They’re from adriantoddzilla (AKA The Toddbot Shop) on Etsy. If his style looks familiar to you, it’s because he is the creator of, and artist for, some popular comics and he was also a contributor to Nickelodeon Magazine (which is why it looked familiar to me!) These little prints are 4×6 (inches) and are just $10. In addition to Mark Rothko and Keith Haring, there is also a Van Gogh portrait and plenty of pop culture prints!

Art History Coloring Books from MaddieStratton

Do you have a coloring book-lover in your life? We all do. But does your coloring book-lover also happen to be an art history nerd? If so, this is for you them. Choose from a coloring book featuring self-portraits by women artists (top) or a good, old-fashioned art history smorgasbord (bottom). Either way, you’re supporting an independent artist and giving your loved one something they’ll be able to enjoy all year long!

A Cool Art History Tee

There are a lot of art history-themed shirts on the internet. A lot. I’m only sharing these four, though, because I think they’re really cool. The Andy shirt is from Total Major. The Marriage of Arnolfini shirt is from Indiscriminate Design. The Picasso tee is from Echolyla and the Creation of Adam crop top (which I can only dream of being cool enough to pull off) is from Vagabondary.


Fun Socks from Chatty Feet

Funky socks are always fun and Chatty Feet sells art history inspired socks like these Mondrian and Picasso pairs. They also have Warhol, Frida Kahlo, and Van Gogh socks as well as a four-pack of art socks ready for gift-giving. They’re based in England so if you’re not in Europe, make sure you order in plenty of time!


Art & Meow by Elly Liyana (on Threadless)

This design, which is available on all of the products above and many more, combines two of my favorite things: cats and art history! I’ve ordered many shirts from Threadless as gifts for my husband and have always been happy with the quality. Because the design is available on everything from tees to prints to phone cases, you can pick something to fit your giftee and your budget!

A Pin or Socks from Pin Museum

When I came across Pin Museum, I was a little upset. It’s such a cool idea and I was mad someone else thought of it! They have art history and museum inspired enamel pins and they just released a line of art socks! These are some of my favorites: the Seurat pin, the Creation of Adam pins, and Scream socks.

 


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Gift Guide: All-American (History) Gifts

Full disclosure: this post contains affiliate links. 

If you’re looking for some all-American (history) gifts, I got you. Below you’ll find the coolest gifts for the US history buff on your list! Prices vary from around $10 to $80 but the vast majority of the items are under $30. Check them out and let me know if you snagged any of them!

First off, let me suggest a membership or trip to your/their local history museum! Museum memberships often have more perks than free or discounted membership, such as a discount in the museum shop and/or restaurant, discounts on museum events, and invitations to members-only events, among other things! If a museum membership is out of your budget or you’re not sure if they’d use it year-round, gift them tickets or a gift card or visit the museum with them one day.

If you’d like to give something they can unwrap, here are some ideas…

Presidential Candles from JD and Kate Industries

Ever wanted to smell a Founding Father or just a regular ol’ president? JD and Kate Industries has your back. They have candles with scents like George Washington (whiskey and cherry, which sounds heavenly), Aaron Burr (“gunsmoke drifting low in the Weehawken dawn”), and Ronald Reagan (jelly bean scented, with little wax jelly beans on top!) You can also snag Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Rutherford B. Hayes.

 Constitution and Declaration of Independence Glasses from Uncommon Goods

Your giftee can sip their whiskey, or whatever their drink of choice is, from these super cool rocks glasses! They’re sold individually so you can buy one or both (or multiples of each!) Snag the Constitution glass here and the Declaration of Independence glass here. They pair well with these coasters.

A Mug from Unemployed Philosopher’s Guild

I love mugs and Unemployed Philosopher’s Guild has the coolest mugs around. Above you can see their Supreme Court mug, in which you pour the hot beverage of your choice and watch the losers disappear! I also chose their Presidential Slogan mug and the Ben Franklin electrici-tea mug. Get it? Because there’s a notch to hold the string of your tea bag? Ba dum tsss(PS: You can get 15% off with the code Marx)

A Cool Shirt

There are a ton of history tees out there but these are the ones I’d be thrilled to receive! The Harriet Tubman tee is from Captial Fam on Etsy. There’s the FDR New Deal shirt from Unemployed Philosopher’s Guild. And last but not least, the Elizabeth Keckley shirt from Historical Dream. They have Lizzie’s image on a variety of tops, including sweatshirts! They also have other great American leaders like Frederick Douglass, Chief Sitting Bull, and Harriet Tubman. (Also, I’ll take this Hamilton shirt in a small, please and thank you.)

Historic Home Decor

I love art prints and how easy the internet has made finding cool ones! If you have a Civil War buff on your gift list, they’ll probably love this “History of the Civil War” print (the design is available on a variety of products so you can actually pick something else for them if you don’t think they’d be into a print!) This print of Philadelphia’s city hall will appeal to the history lover, the Philadelphia lover, and the architecture nerd on your list! And last but not least, I love these quote prints! This one features a quote by First Lady and UN Ambassador, Eleanor Roosevelt. The shop has other historic quotes, too!

A Cool Historic Enamel Pin

These little pins are perfect as a stocking stuffer, an under-$20 gift for your Secret Santa, or as a small add-on to another gift! The Underground Railroad lantern pin is by Radical Dreams Pins on Etsy. They have other cool pins that aren’t necessarily history-related as well as a lot of cool history patches. The Sojourner Truth pin is from Reformed School. Again, they have lots of really cool pins (I’ll take a Stevie Wonder and a Marvin Gaye, thanks.) Last but not least, Rosie the Riveter from Unemployed Philosopher’s Guild! You get her and her speech bubble. Or here’s another version of a Rosie the Riveter pin!


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The Best Books About Charles Manson

I’ve been interested in the Manson Family since I learned about the Tate/LaBianca murders as a teenager. It’s a story that, were it fiction, it’d probably be criticized as being too outlandish.

A wannabe rock star/convict/con-man arrives in San Francisco right after the Summer of Love and amasses a harem of young, impressionable women (whom he uses to amass male followers) by convincing them he is enlightened, the Son of Man (Manson). They move around California, staying with Beach Boy Dennis Wilson for a while and finally, settling in the remains of an old Western movie set. He preaches the idea of a race war, which, I’m sure, in the late 1960s didn’t seem so far-fetched. His version of this war, however, was out there. And unbelievably racist. The black man would be victorious but would be too dumb to know how to rule so they’d turn the reins over to Charlie and The Family, the only white people to survive the war. (They’d survive by hiding out in a hole in the ground in the California desert, naturally).

Did he actually believe this? Or was it a way to control his followers? Your guess is as good as mine.

Manson Family

Members of the Manson Family, including Sandra Good, Ruth Ann Moorehouse, Squeaky Fromme, and Catherine Share. Image via Crime Museum.

Obviously, that’s just the tip of the iceberg when you’re talking about Charles Manson. But at this point, it already defies logic. At least nine people would go on to die at his hand, even if he did not directly murder them: Gary Hinman, Steven Parent, Sharon Tate, Abigail Folger, Jay Sebring, Wojciech Frykowski, Leno LaBianca, Rosemary LaBianca, and Donald “Shorty” Shea.

I could write a month’s worth of posts about him, The Family, the victims, the murders, and their impact and still not cover it all. Instead, I’ve compiled a list of books, podcasts, and documentaries to explain it all better than I ever could. This post contains affiliate links.

Restless Souls: The Sharon Tate Family’s Account of Stardom, the Manson Murders, and a Crusade for Justice by Brie Tate and Alisa Statman
Brie Tate is Sharon Tate’s niece and although she never met her aunt, she still lives with the reverberations of the murders. When the perpetrator(s) is larger than life, it’s important to remember the victims. Because Sharon was once engaged to Jay Sebring, and they remained close friends, Tate talks about how losing Sharon and Jay impacted her family.

Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi
This is the quintessential book on the case, written by the deputy DA and chief prosecutor. It focuses heavily on the investigation and trial.

The Family by Ed Sanders
The Family is a look at the everyday life of The Family and the counterculture in California at that time. Even though there are a lot of unsubstantiated stories in the book (Sanders is upfront about them), it gives you a good insight into the late 60s, southern California counterculture scene.

Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson by Jeff Guinn
This is the Manson biography. It chronicles his life and puts The Family into context.

My Life with Charles Manson by Paul Watkins
This book has been out of print for 30+ years so it’s difficult to get a copy but you can read it online here. Paul Watkins was Manson’s #2 for a short time and after realizing Manson’s ideology didn’t mesh with his anymore, he left to join another guru. He testified against Manson in the Tate/LaBianca trials and wrote this book in 1979. It’s a really interesting look into Manson’s inner circle and what drew people to him.

Member of the Family by Dianne Lake
In compiling this list, I discovered that Dianne Lake wrote a book about her time with Charlie and the Family. I immediately bought it and finished it in just a few days. Dianne “Snake” Lake was one of Charlie’s first followers, a 14-year-old whose parents tuned in, turned on, dropped out, and no longer felt like Dianne needed guidance. This is such a good book. Dianne’s story shows how and why it was so easy for people to fall for Manson and how his followers felt they had to stay, even when they became scared for their lives. I especially enjoyed reading about her life after the Family and how she was able to create a family of her own with her late husband and children.

Will You Die For Me? by Tex Watson
Read the PDF here. Tex Watson was present and participated in the Tate/LaBianca murders, fled home to Texas where he fought extradition, and was tried (and convicted) separately. This is an interesting read if only because he was so involved in the murders and Manson trusted him so much.

You Must Remember Manson
I’ve written about this podcast before but I’ll write about it again, now and forever. If you haven’t listened to it, please do.

Manson
The History Channel did this docudrama several years ago and, despite being from the History Channel, it’s actually good! It features interviews with Manson girl Catherine “Gypsy” Share and an extremely rare interview with Linda Kasabian, among others. Linda was present the night of the Tate murders but didn’t participate and tried to stop the killers. She testified against The Family and has essentially gone into hiding since the trial. The docudrama format makes it feel like a movie while you’re hearing the words of the people who were there.

Manson (1972)
Made just two years after the trial, this features a lot of interviews with Family members on Spahn Ranch. Look for Squeaky Fromme, who would later go to prison for the attempted assassination of President Ford, waxing poetic about guns and Charlie’s innocence.

What Did Holocaust Survivors Do After Liberation? Part Two: Immigration, Children, and Choosing to Stay

This post is part one of a series of posts adapted from a research paper that I wrote during my sophomore year of undergrad. This is not meant to be an exhaustive look at postwar Europe but it’s meant to provide insight into the conditions Jewish Holocaust survivors faced and their actions following liberation. For part one, about DP camps, please click here.

Postwar Destruction

Postwar destruction, southern Germany. Image via my family archives.

Survivors in DP camps worked to locate surviving family members, pouring over lists of survivors posted at the camps and published in camp newspapers. Jewish Organizations were instrumental with this method, compiling lists of survivors on carbon paper so several copies could be made at once. When someone left the town or camp, they took copies and distributed them on their journey. UNRRA (United Nations Relief & Rehabilitation Administration) also helped reunite families as they kept records survivors could search. In addition, a word of mouth telegraph system had been developed to carry messages across international borders since mail and phone usage was reserved for military use only.

Landsberg DP Camp Chart

A handwritten chart listing children by nationality at Landsberg DP camp. Image via USHMM.

Many survivors spent the first months and years after liberation trying to obtain the paperwork and permissions needed to immigrate and by 1952, over 80,000 Jewish DPs had immigrated to the United States. While the US was popular with survivors, it was the second choice. In an April 1945 poll of 138,320 DPs in all three occupation zones, 118,570 (almost 85%) said the country they’d most like to immigrate to was Palestine. It was viewed as the promised land where a Jewish state could be developed but the British government (who controlled Palestine at this time) banned Jewish immigration to Palestine, a policy that was met with much resentment.

DPs Protesting British Immigration Policy

A group of displaced persons in Landsberg DP camp protesting Britain’s immigration policy to Palestine. Image via USHMM.

Lucille Eichengreen’s first choice was Palestine but after finding out the only way she could get there was by marrying her cousin, she decided to immigrate to the US. Lucille, who spent time living and working in a British DP camp, was lucky enough to have British troops escort her from Germany to Brussels, Belgium and then put her on a train to Paris. Once she arrived in Paris, she immediately went to

lucille eichengreen

Lucille in 2006. Image via Der Spiegel.

the American embassy to begin the immigration process. She had friends in New York who sent an affidavit for her but that wasn’t nearly enough. Lucille also needed a health certificate, a current passport, a second affidavit, and $600 for passage to New York City. This seems like standard travel procedure and, except for the affidavits, it is. But being a Holocaust survivor, Lucille had no identification. Upon arrival at any concentration camp, victims were stripped of their belongings, paperwork included. Because of this, virtually no survivors had identification. She was nervous about obtaining a health certificate as she, like many others, had contracted TB during her time in concentration camps. She was of Polish descent but was born and raised in Germany, therefore, the Polish embassy refused her request multiple times. Lucille stood in line at the American and Polish embassies every day to see what progress had been made on her requests. After over eight weeks, Lucille finally had the paperwork necessary to immigrate to the US. The second affidavit came from her uncle in San Francisco and the $600 from another uncle in Palestine. She finally made it to California in 1949. Today she is 92 years old.

Even traveling from country to country within Europe wasn’t a feat. If a survivor chose to leave a DP camp to immigrate, they faced rigorous laws no matter what occupation zone they happened to be in or where they wanted to go. Primo Levi wrote about Starye Dorogi’s “open camp” status, saying, “Although the camp was neither guarded nor fenced, the distant frontiers were, and strongly so.” Many left the camp, and many returned because borders could not be crossed. It was almost out of the question without passports, birth certificates, or being escorted by Allied troops.

While the majority of survivors wanted to leave Europe as quickly as possible, a small number of survivors chose to stay in Germany. This was a decision that most Jews and Jewish organizations looked down upon, to say the least. How could anyone stay in the country that killed over six million Jews, nearly wiping them out of Europe completely? The answers to that question are varied. Some chose to stay with family members who were too sick to immigrate, some were too sick themselves, some married German spouses, some managed to rebuild their life in Germany, and, most noble of all, some wanted to rebuild Jewish culture in Germany. After all, if all Jews left, the Nazi dream of a judenrein (“cleansed of Jews”) Germany would have come to fruition.

Rebuilding Jewish communities was, as you might guess, difficult. After liberation, some towns had a Jewish population of 50 or less. It is difficult to rebuild Jewish life with no Jews. Furthermore, synagogues were not turned over to Jewish organizations and rabbis couldn’t be convinced to come to Germany. In fact, the Jewish community in Berlin didn’t have a rabbi until 1947, two years after liberation. Smaller communities had an even harder time finding and keeping a rabbi for more than a few weeks or months. As previously mentioned, those that stayed in Germany were met with hostility from fellow Jews. “Let them wait in their beloved Fatherland until their throats are slit too,” sounds like a quote from a member of the Third Reich but in fact, it’s from a “well-known German Zionist.” It was thought that if a person stayed in Germany, it must have been for material reasons. Why was it so difficult to believe that some stayed to rebuild their culture? It’s understandable that Jews did not want to stay in the country that brought them so much heartache the isolation Jews in Germany faced after the war did little to help those that chose to stay.

Young Buchenwald Survivor

A young Buchenwald survivor with a British soldier. Image via USHMM.

Postwar Europe was difficult for adults to navigate but children had a much harder time. Not many children survived the Holocaust since anyone deemed unable to work (usually children, the elderly, and the sick) were among the first to be killed upon arrival to a camp. In July 1945, the Institute of Jewish Affairs took a census of survivors in  Germany and Austria. The census included 25,000 Jewish survivors, almost 90% of whom were between 16 and 45. Only 3.6% were under 16.

Young Buchenwald Survivors

A group of young Buchenwald survivors, dressed in clothes made from German uniforms. Image via USHMM.

For the most part, children had the option to stay in a DP camp or go to an orphanage or hostel. Judith Hemmendinger studied a group of 90 child survivors of Buchenwald during their time in a Paris hostel. The children, all boys, were from Poland, Hungary, and Rumania. They took great pleasure in things we don’t even think about. Hemmendinger wrote that the boys took a train into town every week to have their pictures taken and loved to look at photos of themselves. They hadn’t seen a photo of themselves or even looked in a mirror in years so you can see how this would be very special for them. The boys also hid food in their bedrooms. Many survivors developed the habit of hoarding food as they still felt like it could be taken away at any minute. This prompted the director of the hostel to leave the kitchen open for the boys. They could have whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted.

Children in the Bindermichl DP camp

Children in the Bindermichl DP camp in Austria, 1947. Image via USHMM.

Like all survivors, the boys frequently checked survivor lists, hoping to see familiar names. Some refused to say the Kaddish, the prayer for the dead, because they were so hopeful that someone from their family survived. Others were sure no one survived and said the prayer. When the hostel closed in 1947, Hemmendinger said they had “regained their former identity, their physical strength, sensitiveness, and interest in life.” A small number of the boys went to Israel and a much larger number located relatives in the US and immigrated to be with them. The younger ones who had attended school in Paris for the first time stayed in Paris.

Thomas Buergenthal, a child survivor of Auschwitz, has a unique story. After liberation, Thomas, who was 11 at the time, spent time as the “mascot” for a division of the Polish army. His time with the army was short lived as a Polish soldier recognized that Thomas was Jewish (and that the army was no place for a child) and took him to an orphanage in Otwock, Poland.

Thomas Buergenthal

Thomas, approximately six months after liberation, with the soldier who took him to the orphanage. Image via USHMM.

Buergenthal wrote that he was treated “very well” in the orphanage and when a doctor diagnosed him as underweight, he enjoyed hearty meals and treats like ice cream. He wasn’t sure if he was actually an orphan, though. He watched his father die in Auschwitz but didn’t know his mother’s fate. Other children did have one or both of their parents. Those children were temporarily in the orphanage while their parent(s) rebuilt their life or were still in another country. Those that were unsure if they had surviving family members were often offered to be adopted by Jewish camp survivors. According to Buergenthal, everyone declined.

Being so young and growing up in ghettos and concentration camps, he couldn’t read or write. While still in the orphanage, he, along with the other children, attended a nearby school where he began his education. During his time in the orphanage, arrangements were made for children that were orphans to be illegally moved to Palestine. Shortly before he was to leave, his mother found and wrote him. Due to the strict border controls and unreliable mail service, it took over four months for Thomas and his mother to be reunited. The two of them went on to live in Germany until 1951 when they immigrated to the US. He went on to law school, focusing on human rights law. In 2000, he was elected the American judge at the International Court of Justice in The Hague. He served on several committees dedicated to human rights and retired as emeriti faculty from the George Washington University School of Law.

When I wrote the paper that I adapted these posts from way back in 2012, I was met with lots of, “huh…I never thought about what happened after liberation.” I hope that these posts can shed a little light on the situation. As I stated at the beginning of both of these posts, this isn’t an exhaustive look at this topic by any stretch of the imagination. For more information, please check out my sources below and explore the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s resources online.


Sources (contains affiliate links)

After the Holocaust: Rebuilding Jewish Lives in Postwar Germany by Michael Brenner
The Reawakening by Primo Levi
Among the Survivors of the Holocaust by Irving Heymont
From Ashes to Life by Lucille Eichengreen
Before – During – After by Siegfried Halbreich
A Lucky Child by Thomas Buergenthal

“The Children of Buchenwald: After Liberation and Now” by Judith Hemmendinger