Research Update 2: A History of the Passing Game in Pro Football

Pre-NFL (1880-1919)

While the roots of American Football can be traced back to the 17th century, the game as we know it today did not really begin to take shape until 1880. While the first game of intercollegiate “American Football” was famously played between Rutgers and Yale in 1869, it hardly resembled today’s game. Beginning in 1880, Walter Camp, the “Father of American Football” added stability to the game at annual intercollegiate rules conferences. He proposed that the number of players on the field at a time be reduced from 15 to 11 from each team. He also added the line of scrimmage and the snap from center to quarterback to add form and order to the game. In 1882 he proposed the first down and distance rules, originally requiring an offense to travel a minimum of five yards in three plays; a failure to do so would be a turnover.

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Queen Victoria: The Politician and Reformer

Great Britain during the nineteenth century served as the model for social change without the social and political upheaval typical of nineteenth century mainland Europe.  At the helm of this tempered change sat Queen Victoria, from 1837 to 1901.  During her reign, Britain underwent significant industrial and educational reforms, becoming the model of productivity and liberal capitalism in Europe.  The purpose of my research will be to examine the role of the Queen in such reforms through her correspondences with political leaders, as well as her personal journal entries, all of which are conveniently available at Swem Library.  Britain was, in fact, a constitutional monarchy with very limited powers granted to the monarch herself.  However, by investigating these correspondences I will attempt to understand to what extent the monarch actually played a role in these trajectory-changing industrial and educational reforms.  Such a study will provide further insight into the powers of the restricted British monarchy in the nineteenth century.

African-American Participation in the Italo-Ethiopian War: Blog Post 3 (Memoirs)

Over the past week, I’ve discovered a not-so-surprising fact about library research: is it is very easy to get sidetracked. Remember how I said that my next blog post would be summing up African-American reactions to the war? Well, before I began  to compile my notes on African-American reactions into a cohesive blog post, I decided to check the secondary source accounts against memoirs of individuals who were in Ethiopia at the time of the war. My goal in doing so was to evaluate how the efforts of African-Americans actually affected life during the war, as seen through the eyes of individuals on the ground. Unfortunately, my selection of sources available was not great, and I ended up just consulting three memoirs for this stage of the research: the two-volume memoirs of Emperor Haile Selassie I, the recollections of John H. Spenser, an American lawyer who served as an advisor to the Ethiopian emperor until the 1970s, and the somewhat unreliable memoir of Wynant Hubbard, a rather racist American war correspondent who remained in Ethiopia for some of the crisis.

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African-American Participation in the Italo-Ethiopian War: Blog Post 2

Last week and this week, once I finally settled on a topic for my research, I began constructing a timeline of the diplomatic and military events of the Italo-Ethiopian conflict. Most scholarship about the diplomatic and military aspects of the war date from the 1960s and 1970s, and are therefore considered “old” by historian standards, but I found them to nevertheless be good sources of information on the bare-bones facts of the conflict. To this end, I consulted the Italian Angelo del Boca’s (Ethiopian-sympathetic) account The Ethiopian War 1935-1941, the American Brice Harris’s United States and the Italo-Ethiopian Crisis and the Ethiopian Bahru Zewde’s A History of Modern Ethiopia: 1855-1991. I also consulted the secondary sources I had read previously, especially William S. Scott’s The Sons of Sheba’s Race. Furthermore, I corroborated my dates with two published memoirs: the two volumes of Emperor Haile Selassie I’s My Life and Ethiopia’s Progress and American international lawyer John H. Spencer’s Ethiopia at Bay.  I tried to include specific dates as much as possible in the timeline: once I enter my second stage of research next week analyzing African-American newspaper accounts, I will search for articles surrounding the dates of specific events such as Haile Selassie’s Christmas 1937 radio address.

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