By April Stevens (W&M Managing Editor)
Wonders & Marvels is headed West! We have just kicked off our Adventures in the American West series exploring the American frontier as it expanded ever westward over time. To celebrate this series, Cabinet of Curiosities is also exploring American frontiers.
Ever Westward We Go
Let’s go back to the very beginning, before America was even America. Everyone has heard of Christopher Columbus, but what about Francisco Hernandez? He may not be a household name, but Hernandez made important discoveries traveling Mexico in the 1570s and documenting thousands of new species. Learn all about Hernandez’ contributions to science and how Galileo himself helped rescue these discoveries from obscurity in the University of Oklahoma’s new exhibit “Galileo’s World“.
When you imagine the American frontier, you don’t necessarily picture slaves. Yet, slavery was an important component of the frontier economy in places like Louisiana and Mississippi, which were once frontier states. In Slate’s fifth podcast from their History of American Slavery series, Jamelle Bouie and Rebecca Onion explore so of the important slave uprisings real and imagined.
East Meets West
Which animal do you associate with the American West? Maybe the buffalo. How about the camel? That’s right, the camel generally associated with Africa and the Middle East was once considered the solution to settling the west. In 1855 Congress approved allocating $30,000 for the purchase of camels “to be employed for military purposes.” Whatever happened to this now obviously ill-fated plan? Check out the Smithsonian’s article on this surprising frontier settlement strategy.
What did explorers and adventures eat on the frontier during the Gold Rush? Sushi! Not just a modern fad, the sushi was an increasingly popular import after the Gold Rush sent Americans westward to seek their fortunes. An Eccentric Culinary History gives us the whole story about sushi’s arrival and increased popularity in the United States and the Great Sushi Craze of 1905.
Ready to explore more of the West? Take a look at these other posts from the series: