Little Bits of History

July 12

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 12, 2017

1943: The Battle of Prokhorovka is fought. The location is about 55 miles southeast of Kursk in the Soviet Union. During World War II, Kursk was part of what the Germans called the Eastern Front. The Axis powers and Finland stood against the Soviets, Poland, and other Allies as battles raged through the Northern, Southern, Central, and Eastern Europe. The Russians called it the Great Patriotic War. On this day, one of the largest tank battles in military history took place as a battle inside the greater Battle of Kursk. Prokhorovka was a tactical victory for Germany and an operational victory for the Soviets. Beginning in April 1943, the Germans began to amass for Operation Citadel with the prime objective of surrounding and destroying Soviet troops in Kursk.

A week earlier, the Wehrmacht launched its offensive. The tanks of the 4th Panzer Army with the Army Detachment Kempf attacked the Soviet defenses of the Voronezh Front. The Germans were slowing advancing and then the Soviets launched their own counteroffensive, Operation Kutuzov. Coming from divergent directions, tanks rumbled across the open spaces. Germans were led by Hermann Hoth while the Soviets were led by Nikoklai Vatutin. The Germans had three Panzer divisions in the battle while the Soviets had seven tank corps and three rifle corps. That meant the Germans had 290 tanks and assault guns while the Soviets had about 610 tanks and self-propelled guns.

At 5.45 AM, reports came into the German headquarters notifying them of the sound of many tank engines as the Soviets got ready for an attack. Around 6.50 AM, the Germans were able to move forward and move Soviet infantry out of the way. Moving slowly forward, the Soviets began an artillery barrage at 8 AM and as the last shell fell around 8.30 the call came out for the 5th Guards Tank Army to begin their advance. The 500 behemoths moved forward with about 430 tanks in the first wave and 70 in the second and encountered two waves of Panzers. The Soviet tanks were moving downhill and carried the 9th Guards Airborne Division on their hulls. The Germans, exhausted from a week of fighting, were not ready for the engagement.

Both sides had air support with the Soviets flying 893 sorties to the German’s 654. At the end of the day, the Germans still held Hill 252.2 but were exhausted by the effort. While they were in a position to outflank the Soviets, they were unable to actually do so because of the efforts already expended. The Germans had 68-80 tanks and assault guns destroyed or damaged while the Soviets lost 300-400 tanks and self propelled guns, either totally destroyed or damaged. The Germans reported 842 soldiers killed, wounded or missing while Soviet records were not as precise. They may have lost as many as 5,500 men for the day. The larger Battle of Kursk, fought between July 5 and August 23, 1943 ended in a decisive Soviet victory.

If the tanks succeed, then victory follows. – Heinz Guderian

Tanks being deployed far forward is an indication of offensive action; tanks in depth is an indication of defensive action. – Norman Schwarzkopf

Tanks come in two forms: the dangerous, deadly kind and the ‘liberating’ kind. – Robert Fisk

The children of the world, what they want and what they need are health clinics and schools, not tanks or armed helicopters or fighter jets. – Óscar Arias


Big History

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 12, 2015
Book of Chronicles)

Book of Chronicles

July 12, 1493: Liber Chronicarum (Book of Chronicles) is published in Latin. The book is also known by its German name, Die Schedelsche Weltchronik (Schedel’s World History) to honor its author. We know it in English as the Nuremberg Chronicles, honoring the city where it was published. It was written my Hartmann Schedel and illustrated by Michael Wolgemut and Wilhelm Pleydenwurff. It is one of the best documented incunabulum ever written. An incunable is a printed book, pamphlet, or broadside which came out in Europe before 1501. The arbitrary date for the inclusion was decided upon for no particular reason as books published after 1501 are physically the same. There are around 30,000 books today which fall into the category of incunabulum.

Two merchants in Nuremberg commissioned the Latin version of the Chronicles. They also commissioned George Alt to translate the work into German and that work was completed soon after the Latin version appeared. Both books were printed by Anton Koberger. There were a number of contracts issued between the patrons and the various people involved in creating the books and they have been collected and bound together into their own book which is stored in the Nuremberg City Archives. The first contract was entered into in December 1491 and it was with the illustrators who were in charge of design layout, production of the woodcuts used for printing, and even this long ago – guard against piracy. The next contract was with the printers and the patrons were contracted to advance 1,000 gulden to buy supplies for printing and cover early distribution costs.

Schedel was a doctor, humanist, and avid book collector. His personal library contained 370 manuscripts and 670 printed books. He used passages from classical and medieval works from his own library when writing Chronicle. The book itself is an illustrated history which studied the tale of humanity as it was described in the Bible. It also includes histories of some important Western cities. About 90% of the text is pieced together from works by other authors in the humanities, sciences, philosophy, and theology. Only about 10% of the work is Schedel’s original work. He borrowed most from Supplementum Chronicarum, a book written by Jacob Philip Foresti from Bergamo. The Augustinian monk’s work was first printed in 1483 as a supplement to the universal chronicle and it was several volumes long.

There were about 1,400 to 1,500 editions printed in Latin and about 700 to 1,000 versions printed in German. In 1509, a document showed that 539 Latin versions and 60 German version were not sold. About 400 Latin and 300 German version have survived intact into our time. Some of the books have been colored with varying degrees of success. Some of the coloring was added much later and some copies of the books were broken up and sold for individual page sales as prints or hand colored watercolors.

The magic is only in what books say, how they stitched the patches of the universe together into one garment for us. – Ray Bradbury

It is much simpler to buy books than to read them and easier to read them than to absorb their contents. – William Osler

All the historical books which contain no lies are extremely tedious. – Anatole France

What we find in books is like the fire in our hearths. We fetch it from our neighbors, we kindle it at home, we communicate it to others, and it becomes the property of all. – Voltaire

Also on this day: Magic Screen – In 1960, Etch-A-Sketch arrived in stores.
Miners – In 1917, the Bisbee Deportation took place.
Money Issues – In 1933, the US passed her first minimum wage law.
Whoops – In 1979, Disco Demolition Night was a fiasco.
Moors Murders – In 1963, Pauline Reade was killed.

Moors Murders

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 12, 2014
Ian Brady and Myra Hindley

Ian Brady and Myra Hindley

July 12, 1963: Pauline Reade never arrives at the British Railways Club in Gorton. The 16-year-old was on her way to a dance. Instead, Ian Brady and Myra Hindley saw her walking down the road. Hindley recognized her as a friend of her younger sister, Maureen. Reade got into Hindley’s van and was asked if she would help search for a missing item out on Saddleworth Moor. The women went together and when the van stopped, Brady pulled up behind them on his motorcycle. Brady took Reade out to the moor alone and Hindley waited at the van. About 30 minutes later he returned to van and took Hindley to the spot where Reade lay dying with her clothes in disarray and her throat slit. Brady’s plan to “commit the perfect murder” seemed to be working. On their way home, they passed Joan Reade who was searching for her missing daughter.

Brady was born in 1938 and Hindley in 1942. The two committed five murders between this date and October 1965. The victims were all children between the ages of 10 and 17. Pauline Reade was the first with John Kilbride, Keith Bennett, Lesley Ann Downey, and Edward Evans following. At least four of the children were sexually assaulted. The murders were known as the Moors murders because the recovered bodies were found buried in the Saddleworth Moor. When police came to the Brady-Hindley residence on October 7, 1965, they found the trussed up dead body of the last victim hidden in a closet upstairs. Brady implicated Hindley’s brother-in-law in the murder, but denied Hindley’s involvement. During the investigation, evidence led police to suspect that Brady and Hindley might be responsible for other missing children.

They couple was charged with three murders and a trial took place in April 1966. The known victims were Evans, Downey, and Kilbride. Mr. Justice Fenton Atkinson presided over the fourteen day trial. Brady was questioned for over eight hours and Hindley for six. Both denied intent to kill but the jury found them guilty after two hours of deliberation. Brady was guilty of all three deaths while Hindley was guilty of two. They were given life sentences, the only punishment permitted by law. The judge berated the two criminals before handing down his sentence.

In 1985, Brady confessed to killing both Reade and Bennett which had been suspected by police since both missing children had lived near Brady at the time of their disappearance. Four of the bodies have been recovered with the reluctant help of the perpetrators. Bennett’s body still remains missing. Hindley made several attempts to be freed from prison, claiming she was reformed and would not be a harm to anyone. These were ignored and she died in prison in 2002 at the age of 60. Brady was declared criminally insane in 1985 and has been confined at the high-security Ashworth Hospital since then. He has made it clear that he is a danger and should never be released. He has also asked to be allowed to die. He remains incarcerated at the age of 76.

Murder is always a mistake – one should never do anything one cannot talk about after dinner. –  Oscar Wilde

Maybe this is why so many serial killers work in pairs. It’s nice not to feel alone in a world full of victims or enemies. – Chuck Palahniuk

Murderers, in general, are people who are consistent, people who are obsessed with one idea and nothing else. – Ugo Betti

Murder will out, this my conclusion. – Geoffrey Chaucer

Also on this day: Magic Screen – In 1960, Etch-A-Sketch arrives in stores.
Miners – In 1917, the Bisbee Deportation took place.
Money Issues – In 1933, the US passed her first minimum wage law.
Whoops – In 1979, Disco Demolition Night was a fiasco.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 12, 2013
Bisbee Deportation

Bisbee Deportation

July 12, 1917: The Bisbee Deportation takes place. The Phelps Dodge Corporation owned several mines in Arizona. The Bisbee mine produced copper. At the mine, like many others owned by the company, miners had much to complain about. Mines were unsafe, pay was low, and living conditions were abysmal. There was rampant discrimination against Mexican American workers and Caucasian supervisors were routinely abusive. During the winter of 1915-16, a four-month strike elsewhere in Arizona stirred up unrest throughout the state. The International Union of Mine, Mill, and Smelt Workers didn’t do much to help the miners.

Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) began signing up members. Over 1,000 men signed up with Local 800, only 400 paying dues. Phelps Dodge was the largest employer in Bisbee, then with a population of about 8,000. In May 1917, Local 800 presented the company with a list of demands. All demands were refused. On June 26, the miners went on strike at all the mines in Bisbee, not just those owned by Phelps Dodge.

Cochise County Sheriff Harry Wheeler asked for federal aid to break the strike. It was refused. Wheeler deputized men from Douglas, a nearby town. He and his armed posse began arresting IWW union members at 4 AM. As they rounded the men up, they were held at the Post Office. Eventually they had ≈ 2,000 miners and also any men who could not defend themselves against a posse gone wild. At 7 AM they were marched two miles to a baseball field while Wheeler drove next to the line, armed with a machine gun. Men were given the chance to denounce the IWW and return immediately to work – but only if they were not members of the union.

The remaining 1,286 men were forced at gunpoint into 23 cattle cars. Some of the cars were filled with inches-deep manure. None of the detainees had been given any water since their early morning arrests even though the temperatures were in the mid-90s. The train left Bisbee with the men packed into the cattle cars and armed guards making sure they did not escape. Finally, at 3 AM the next morning, the train stopped at Hermanas, New Mexico 195 miles away and released nearly 1,300 penniless men. During the Bisbee Deportation, Phelps Dodge executives had seized telephone and telegraph operations. In 1918, 21 company executives were arrested by federal order but all were released. It was found that no federal laws were violated. The state never pressed any charges so no one was ever punished.

“How it could have happened in a civilized country I’ll never know. This is the only country it could have happened in. As far as we’re concerned, we’re still on strike!” – Fred Watson, one of the men deported

“The essence of trade unionism is social uplift. The labor movement has been the haven for the dispossessed, the despised, the neglected, the downtrodden, the poor.” – A. Phillip Randolph

“With all their faults, trade unions have done more for humanity than any other organization of men that ever existed. They have done more for decency, for honesty, for education, for the betterment of the race, for the developing of character in men, than any other association of men.” – Clarence Darrow

“Let the workers organize. Let the toilers assemble. Let their crystallized voice proclaim their injustices and demand their privileges. Let all thoughtful citizens sustain them, for the future of Labor is the future of America.” – John L. Lewis

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update: Copper mining dates to about 7000 BC where evidence of cold hammering techniques were found in modern day Anatolia as well as Serbia. The ability to smelt copper gave us first the Copper Age which led to the Bronze Age. We don’t know if the technique was developed independently during this time or if there was some long-distance trading which brought the technique to others. In order to get our ancestors from the Neolithic Age to the Bronze Age, copper had to be smelted and then mixed with tin to form the bronze. Most copper ores contain just a small amount of copper which must be separated and concentrated. Today, most of the copper ore contains less than 0.6% copper. The ore is ground to make small bits and then the part containing copper is removed. The steps that follow are dependent on what type of ore was mined. 

Also on this day: Magic Screen – In 1960, Etch-A-Sketch arrives in stores.
Money Issues – In 1933, the US passed her first minimum wage law.
Whoops – In 1979, Disco Demolition Night was a fiasco.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 12, 2012

July 12, 1979: Disco Demolition Night ends badly. The promotional event took place at Comiskey Park in Chicago, Illinois. The Chicago White Sox were hosting a doubleheader against the Detroit Tigers. A May 2 game between the two teams had been rained out. The doubleheader, called a twi-night (where the first game was played earlier in the day and the second game starting before 5 PM so both games could be seen for the price of a single ticket) was held on a Thursday. It was the first of a four-game weekend series between Chicago and Detroit.


Chicago disc jockey Steve Dahl had been fired after the radio station he worked at went from rock to an all-disco format. Dahl was hired at another album-oriented rock station and began disparaging disco, going so far as to create a mock organization called, “The Insane Coho Lips Anti-Disco Army.” He and his radio partner, Garry Meier planned a Disco Demolition Night to be held between the two baseball games. Mike Veeck, son of then-owner of the White Sox, Bill Veeck, helped the men plan the event. Dahl’s new radio station, WLUP at 97.9 FM allowed fans to bring a disco album to destroy in exchange for an admission fee of 98¢ (the station’s dial number).

Crowds for a Thursday game were about 6,000 and the promoters were hoping to double that figure. Instead, about 90,000 people tried to enter the 52,000 seat stadium. People were milling about the stadium and the roads leading in were blocked by traffic. The first game was played, although authorities now say there was a strong smell of marijuana present. Between the two games, a bin set in center field with all the disco records was brought out and Dahl set off explosives to destroy the hated music.

It not only destroyed the music, but tore up the outfield and even started a small fire. Dahl exited the field and immediately, thousands of fans streamed in. Some started other fires, some tore up more of the field, and even the bases were stolen. The police were called in to quell the riot. Six people reported minor injuries and another 36 were arrested. The second game was called and eventually was forfeited to the Tigers, the last American League game to have to forfeit due to rioting from the fans. The last game in the National League to end this way was in August 1995. Mike Veeck was blacklisted from Major League Baseball. Dahl continues to work as a DJ and write for the Chicago Tribune, as well. Disco’s demise was hastened by the event.

The second that first guy shimmied down the outfield wall, I knew my life was over! – Mike Veeck

Disco dancing is just the steady thump of a giant moron knocking in an endless nail. – Clive James

Disco deserved a better name, a beautiful name because it was a beautiful art form. It made the consumer beautiful. The consumer was the star. – Barry White

I feel the same way about disco as I do about herpes. – Hunter S. Thompson

Also on this day:

Magic Screen – In 1960, Etch-A-Sketch arrives in stores.
Miners – In 1917, the Bisbee Deportation took place.
Money Issues – In 1933, the US passed her first minimum wage law.

Money Issues

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 12, 2011

Minimum wages in the US across time

July 12, 1933: The US Congress passes the first minimum wage law for America. The law made it mandatory that US workers make at least thirty-three cents per hour. Workers’ rights were first brought to attention in Victoria, Australia in 1824 when the Factories Act provided the creation of a wages board. It was not a universal minimum wage, but rather set basic wages within six industries, all noted for paying low wages. This first act was a trial and the experiment was to last four years. The board was renewed in 1900 and made a permanent fixture in 1904. By that time, wages for 150 different industries were being monitored. It was however, a local phenomenon and in 1902 other areas of Australia also created boards.

New Zealand enacted the first national minimum wage laws in 1824 and unlike Victoria, these were enforced by compulsory arbitration. In 1907, the British sent Ernest Aves out to investigate both Australia’s and New Zealand’s laws. His report sent back to Winston Churchill was positive and Churchill introduced the Trade Boards Act on March 24, 1909 and it passed and went into effect in 1910.  In the US, some states started to enact wage laws as early as 1912 but they were more protective laws and did not cover everyone. They only protected women and children and were later ruled illegal.

On this day, the National Industrial Recovery Act set a standard for pay, but in 1935 Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States brought the idea before the Supreme Court who declared the law unconstitutional. After this, the minimum wage was abolished. However, Congress again passed a law in 1938, the Fair Labor Standards Act. This law ensured workers made twenty-five cents per hour ($3.77 in 2010 dollars). The highest purchasing power of the minimum wage in the US was in 1968 when the bar was set at $1.60 per hour or $9.86 in 2010 dollars.

National minimum wages are not posted throughout the world. In fact, only 18 out of 27 member states of the European Union have a national law. Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Switzerland, German, Austria, Italy, and Cyprus have no laws but depend on employers or trade unions to set wages. In the US, most states also have their own minimum wages laws. Only South Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana do not. Sixteen states have a minimum wage that is set higher than the national wage of $7.25.

“I don’t pay good wages because I have a lot of money; I have a lot of money because I pay good wages.” – Robert Bosch

“If workmen are denied any increase in real wages and they can look forward only to a better standard of living through reduction of prices, progress for them is terribly slow, and they become impatient and dissatisfied.” – Charles E. Wilson

“It is not the employer who pays the wages. Employers only handle the money. It is the customer who pays the wages.” – Henry Ford

“Men who do things without being told draw the most wages.” – Rodney Dangerfield

Also on this day:
Magic Screen – In 1960, Etch-A-Sketch arrives in stores.
Miners – In 1917, the Bisbee Deportation took place.

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Magic Screen

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 12, 2010

Etch A Sketch

July 12, 1960: The first Etch-A-Sketch goes on sale. Back in the late 1950s Arthur Granjean brought his invention called “L’Ecran Magique,” or the magic screen, to the International Toy Fair in Nuremburg, Germany. At first, the Ohio Art Company wasn’t interested, but on second look they decided to bring the toy to America and rename it the Etch A Sketch.

The response was fantastic! In fact, Ohio Art thought they would continue to manufacture the toy until noon of Christmas Eve 1960. Instead, they have kept on making them and added other variations to their product line for over forty years.

The Ohio Art Company also has other lines of toys. Their K’s Kids line has soft toys for the youngest children. They are learning/educational toys created to entertain safely as well as to teach new learners a variety of tasks. The Athletic Baby line has toys to engage babies and toddlers physically.

Etch A Sketch now comes in different sizes: classic, travel, pocket, mini, and even digital. They also have a product that adds sounds – 50 different sounds – as you operate the knobs that draw the pictures. Over the years, Ohio Art has tried different colors of casings, but red seems to be preferred by customers. However, the pocket size comes in red, glitter colors and even a glow-in-the-dark version.

The red plastic casing holds a screen that is coated with a mixture of aluminum powder and plastic beads. There are two knobs, one controlling horizontal movement and the other vertical movement. As the stylus moves in response to the knob’s turning, it scrapes the screen, leaving the line. The toy truly is magic.

Bonus link: For some amazing pictures using the toy, see Kevin E. Davis’s artwork.

“Art is making something out of nothing and selling it.” – Frank Zappa

“Art is never finished, only abandoned.” – Leonardo da Vinci

“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” – Scott Adams

“One reassuring thing about modern art is that things can’t be as bad as they are painted.” – unknown

Also on this day, in 1917 miners are deported from Bisbee, Arizona.