Lillian Wald and the Henry Street Settlement

Lillian Wald co-founded what would become the Henry Street Settlement House (its original name was Nurses’ Settlement) on this date in 1893 — which was also her 26th birthday. Wald, the daughter of immigrants from Germany, enjoyed a relatively affluent upbringing and, after training as a nurse, became the greatest champion of public health services in […]

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Isaac Rice’s Gambits

Isaac Rice, a music teacher, innovator in the game of chess, and businessman who developed the U.S. Navy’s first modern submarines and helped found the company today known as General Dynamics, was born in Bavaria on this date in 1850. He emigrated to the U.S. at age 6, studied music in Paris, returned to America as […]

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Helena Rubinstein

Helena Rubinstein, creator of a cosmetics empire was born in Krakow, Poland on this date in 1872. She emigrated to Australia in 1902 and began to develop “beauty creams” made with a lanolin base, which was hugely abundant in the sheep-rich country. Within a few years she had fashionable salons in Sydney and in London. […]

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Expelling Jews from Tel Aviv

Turkish police (some sources say Bedouin police) went from house to house in Tel Aviv on this date in 1914 and hurriedly forced many hundreds of Jews to board a ship, the Florio, in the port of Jaffa to sail into exile in Egypt. Many Palestinian Jews were from Russia, an enemy of Turkey during World War I, and were […]

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The Balfour Declaration

The Balfour Declaration, a letter from British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour to Lord Walter Rothschild, a British Zionist leader, was adopted by the British cabinet on this date in 1917, amid World War I. The Declaration, which would be dated November 2, 1917, expressed the support of “His Majesty’s Government” for “the establishment in Palestine of […]

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The Uncivil Servant: A Novel of Provincial Pettiness Amid War

by Mitchell Abidor Discussed in this essay: Blood Dark by Louis Guilloux, translated by Laura Marris. NYRB Classics, 2017, 514 pages.   LOUIS GUILLOUX’S brilliant 1935 novel, Blood Dark (Le Sang Noir), is a classic and mordant portrait of provincial life in an unnamed provincial town modeled on Guilloux’s hometown of Saint-Brieuc in Brittany. (In the photo at top, […]

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Jews in the Soviet-Polish War

The decisive Battle of Warsaw ended in an enormous defeat for the Soviet Red Army by the Polish armed forces on this date in 1920. Russian Jews had already been caught for a year in the middle of a war among warring Red and White Russian armies as well as Ukrainian and Polish forces, with some 100,000 Jews killed. The anti-Bolshevik White […]

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The British Mandate

The League of Nations confirmed the British Mandate for Palestine on this date in 1922, which had been established by Great Britain after World War I, when longstanding Ottoman Turkish control of Palestine proved to threaten British interests in India and Asia. The Mandate placed land stretching from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River — today’s Israel and […]

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American Resistance to World War I

by Bennett Muraskin Discussed in this essay: War against War: The American Fight for Peace, 1914-1918, by Michael Kazin. Simon and Schuster, 2017, 400 pages. THE UNITED STATES did not enter World War I until April 1917, over two and a half years after the war began. If the militaristic Theodore Roosevelt had won the presidency in 1912 (he came […]

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April 28: Hertha Ayrton, Inventor

British scientist and inventor Hertha Ayrton (Phoebe Sarah Marks), the first woman to be proposed for the fellowship of the Royal Society (in 1902), was born in Portsea, Hampshire, England, on this date in 1854. Ayrton was refused admission to the Society because, as a married woman, she had no legal status under British law. Four […]

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