September 27, 2021

A Tale of Two Viruses: Historical Negationism in the Historical Community

I have taken a step back from all things historical, not only because of Covid-19 but also because of the alarming frequency in which history is being used maliciously, especially among the historical community. I thought that they of all people would know the harms of historical negationism and how important it is to prevent the spread of it.

Historical Negationism is a kind of illegitimate historical revisionism (typically done by non-historians) created to support a particular political or ideological agenda. It's has been heavily featured in the past 5 years in fake news, memes, and on social media. 

These might look familiar:

Click Here and Here to read why this is not true. 

Click Here to read why this is not okay.

News Flash:

They are also just the tip of the iceberg of the rampant historical negationism that is occurring.  Holocaust denial, "Lost Cause" Rhetoric, and "Clean Wehrmacht" myths are prevalent examples of historical negationism and how harmful historical negationism is. 

When I first saw these misconstrued historical "facts" I assumed it was a limitation of the medium. Memes can't fit a lot of text, so the whole story would never fit. My first instinct was to try and combat misinformation. Surely people wanted to know the truth and would not want to knowingly share harmful misinformation. I was wrong. 

Throughout the 16 years that I've been blogging, there has been a shift in information pathways. In college, professors would badger us that we, as future historians, would not have the issue of piecing together what happened using scant fragments but would be overloaded with primary sources. We were being trained for an entirely new problem in history: How to sift through and find truth and relevance in the overload of records left behind. This is the way I approach information.
What I thought was an information sorting problem is actually part of a much bigger propaganda campaign designed to confuse, cause chaos, and promote malicious causes.  Researchers have dubbed this "The Firehose of Falsehood Propaganda Model". This model uses large amounts of repetitive information to take advantage of the human subconscious, most notably, the Illusory Truth Effect, and the Continued Influence Effect
The Illusory Truth Effect - The more times you hear or see something repeated it is easier for your brain to process and thus prefer that information making it seem more credible. 

The Continued Influence Effect- What people hear first has a lasting influence on how people think about a subject, even if the first information they heard has been debunked. 
Memes are a great medium for historical negationism because they are inherently meant to be repeated often. 

"18th-century women caught on fire on a regular basis, due to working around fires in long skirts." "George Washington had wooden teeth." "Quilts helped slaves escape on the Underground Railroad." As historians, we get frustrated that these myths won't die. Historical myths are the Continued Influence Effect and the Illusory Truth Effect at work. Should you repeat myths to debunk them? That is still up for debate. Ultimately, these myths don't hurt people and our time should be focused on stopping history from being used maliciously.   

What Living Historians Can Do To Help

Share Responsibly. 

You do not have time to fact-check everything you share. Make an effort to fact-check things that make you upset and things that can impact people's lives. I don't expect anyone to fact-check cute cat stories but you should fact-check anything that might be using history with a social or political agenda to see if the entirety of the occurrence is present. If you don't have time to check, it's better to just not share it. 

- Share the Real Story. 

If you see historical negationism, take some time to share the real story. Remember, the Illusory Truth effect works both ways. There is evidence that you should not repeat falsehoods unnecessarily but can mention them when debunking.  

-Report to the platform.

If you see something harmful, report it. No, this is not censorship, this is moderation. If you see something harmful at historically themed events, it should be reported to the event organizers.        

-Teach Real History. Many of us get monomaniacal with clothing and small details that we often forget to teach the history and culture part of history. This is where having nonpersonal interpretation can be helpful and necessary. You may not get a chance to tell spectators the whole story but posters, pamphlets, displays, and books can help give the proper context for what people see at historically themed events. Your information can be the information that sticks which allows people the ability to think more critically about new information they encounter about a topic. 

- Teach Critical Thinking in History- Many people have a poor understanding of history and historiography. Be sure to let people see how history is formed and why critical thinking and legitimate revisionism in history are important. These teachings can prevent the Illusory Truth Effect.         

- Include Reminders- Studies show that a simple reminder that all of the information that a person will be encountering should be taken with a grain of salt is effective at minimizing the Illusory Truth Effect, even if the reminder is given a few days in advance. Historically themed events should come with a disclaimer that contextualizes who the people are that are presenting information to the public and where this information comes from. 

As a living historian, it's your job to tell spectators about yourself. Are you a trained historian, public historian, research assistant, or someone who is very interested in history? All are welcome and valuable but that information should be offered upfront.  

Thank you for reading to the end. If you think this post is useful, please share! 

January 24, 2021

World War 1 Turkish Bazlama

Turkish World War 1 Recipes

Concealment was impossible; besides, we were in our usual trouble for water. The only inhabitant seemed to be an old woman, who came out of the tent to find out why the children had run back...
 For some minutes the Circassian (for we thought she must be one) stood talking to the two envoys at the door of her tent. Then she signaled us to approach, and invited the whole party inside her abode. Here she offered the equivalent in the East of a chair — namely, a seat on the mats which covered the earthen floor. The amiable old dame next produced a large circular tray, which she set in our midst, and on which she placed some wafer-like chupatties and a couple of bowls of the inevitable " yourt." 

Never did simple meal taste so sweet, but the amount provided served only to whet the appetite of the eight hungry travellers. It was gently suggested that we should like a little more ; we told her we would pay for everything we had. At the same time we produced some of our mugs as likely to provide a method of eating the " yourt " more in keeping with our hunger...Not a thing, however, would our hostess sell : neither flour, wheat, cheese, goat, nor fowls. We asked her to make us some more chupatties, but without avail. No money would tempt her — she was evidently not a Turk, — even the offer of a little tea could not work the oracle. Her hospitality — and it was true hospitality that she had shown to us — was limited to what we might eat on the premises. From what we could gather from her rather peculiar Turkish, the old lady seemed afraid to sell us anything without her husband's consent. It was impossible not to admire her steadfast- ness, and as we left we presented her with three silver medjidies (worth altogether about twelve shillings). On this she relaxed to the extent of allowing us to take three eggs that she had. 

 We tried to find out how far we were from the sea ; but she seemed hardly to know of its existence, so cut off had she been all her life in her mountain fastness. She directed us, however, to some other tents farther down one of the valleys, and said we might be able to buy some food there; so thither we now wended our way. There was a well outside the tent, but it was dry at the time and was being deepened. A few drops of water which she had given us within had come from some distant stream, she said. "Yourt," however, is a wonderful thirst - quencher, so lack of water did not cause any worry for the time being.  

-Maurice Andrew Brackereid Johnston, 1919  

I was inspired to make this after reading 450 Miles to Freedom by Maurice Andrew Brackenreed Johnston, an Indian born soldier in the British army during WWI. In the book, Johnston details his account of his escape from a Turkish POW camp along with 7 other officers. He details eating Chupattis as part of their foraged food but he was likely eating Bazlama, a Turkish version of pita that includes yogurt. It is pronounced "baz-luh-ma." 

This recipe is really good. We ended up eating some of it fresh and the next day we ate it with falafel and tzatziki. Next time I make it, I might add some garlic and herbs. You can store them overnight in ziplock bags at room temperature or freeze them. 

Turkish Bazlama


- 4 Cups Flour
- 3/4 Cup Water
- 3/4 Cup Plain Yogurt
- 1 Tablespoon Dry Yeast
- 2 teaspoons Salt
- 1 Tablespoon Sugar
- 1 Tablespoon Oil

- Butter for coating
- Parsley for garnishing 


Mix the yeast with the lukewarm water. Combine flour, yogurt, salt, sugar, oil, and yeast water until a soft ball of dough is formed. Coat the dough in oil and cover the bowl with a warm cloth for about an hour.

Cut into 4-6 pieces and roll into balls. Let the balls sit, covered with a cloth for 10-15 mins. 

Roll the balls out on a lightly floured surface.

Preheat in a cast iron pan on medium to high heat until you see bubbles forming, flip and cook for about 30 more seconds. (Don't grease the pan.) 

Rub with a bit of butter and top with parsley. Eat fresh with some yogurt.    

December 21, 2020

Apple Sauce Candy Recipe | World War 2 Era


The weather outside is frightful. No really, we just got that pandemic blizzard. I tried to find something fun to do inside and stumbled upon this candy recipe in the December 1941 issue of Woman's Day Magazine. I liked that it's candy made from real fruit instead of the flavorings we're used to. 

These ended up being the consistency of fruit snacks and had a similar taste. I was hoping they'd be a bit spicy, but it's a very tasty but mild flavor.  


World War 2 Era Apple Sauce Candy


- 3 Cups Apple Sauce, Unsweetened
- 2 Cups Sugar
- Powdered Sugar. 
- 1/4 Pound Red Cinnamon Imperials (4 ounces)


Cook apple sauce, sugar, and cinnamon candies in a heavy saucepan on medium heat, until thick, about an hour. Let cool about 15 minutes. Prepare a cookie sheet with wax paper. Pour the candy onto the cookie sheet, let it cool and use a spoon to flatten it to 1/4 and inch thick. Let stand overnight to dry. Once dry, cut into shapes and dip in powdered sugar. Let dry one more night on powdered sugar. Keep stored in a tin.  

Tips: Mine wasn't fully dry after one night, but I couldn't stop due to time constraints. If I was to make this again, I would plan it out to have at least 2 days of drying before cutting. I would also use more candies. These would be very fun as holiday cake decorations.  

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December 8, 2020

Simplifying Bagels | Vintage Jewish Bagel Recipe (1921)

This recipe is from the Settlement Cook Book (1921). Written by progressive reformer, Elizabeth Black Kander, the book was so popular, it went through 35 editions from 1901 to 1940.  

Kander, was the daughter of Jewish, English and Bavarian immigrants.  She was a  member of many charity organizations, such as the Ladies Relief Sewing Society, the National Council of Jewish Women, and founded the Settlement House in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  

The Settlement House was part of the Settlement Movement which was a philanthropic response to Nativism, racism, and calls for restrictive immigration policies in the early 20th century. Followers of the movement lived and worked among the poor with an aim to reform society by working for better labor standards, education, living conditions, and healthcare. The Settlement House provided Eastern European immigrants, classes on English, sewing, and cooking. The Settlement Cook book was used in their cooking classes and also raised money to fund their mission. 

The earlier editions of the cook book were focused on helping immigrants assimilate and contained many Eastern European recipes, but specifically Jewish and Kosher recipes were added in later editions including holiday recipes. 

I was interested in trying this recipe because "bagel pretzel rolls" intrigued me. I always thought making bagels was too hard but it ended up being easy and it cost less that a $1 for 12 bagels. Seeing the process done in the home and not in a bagel shop really demystifies the process. 


Vintage Jewish Bagel Recipe 


- 1 cup warm Milk 
- 1 Yeast Cake or 1 Tablespoon of Yeast 
- 1/4 Cup Butter, melted but cool
- 1 Egg, seperated 
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons Sugar 
- 3 3/4 Cups Flour 
- 1/2 teaspoon Salt 


Stir the sugar into the warm milk . Pour yeast on top of the warm milk, let sit a minute and stir in.  Pour Flour, yeast, egg white, butter, and salt into a mixing bowl. Mix until it is too hard to mix with a spoon then use hands. Knead for about 6 minutes. Place in a greased bowl and let rise, covered for 1 hour. Punch the dough down, cut it in two. Set aside half covered. Cut the other half into 6 pieces and roll into bagel shapes. Seal with water and place on a greased baking pan.

 For the cinnamon version, roll out the other half of the dough, coat the dough with water and sprinkle with a mixture of 2 Tablespoons of sugar and 1 Tablespoon of Cinnamon. Cut into 6 pieces an roll into bagel shapes and put on a greased cookie sheet. 

Preheat your oven to 375 F.

Bring a large, shallow pot of water to just below simmering. Put your bagels in a few at a time and cook for 20 seconds. Flip them over and cook another 20 seconds. Remove to a greased cookie pan. Lightly brush the bagels with a mixture of egg yolk and water. Add your toppings ( I used poppy seeds and almonds on top of the cinnamon ones as the recipes called for). Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.  

For those asking where I got my tray, it's this one painted.


This is an early version of The Settlement Cook Book:

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November 11, 2020

Civil War Cider Cake Recipe

Clifton, Va
Sept. 18, 1864

[79th Regiment, New York Infantry] Dear Mother;
Punch would find rare pickings in the army. The everyday jokes and incidents of campaign life are rich enough. The other day in a cavalry charge the enemy broke and a rebel soldier was chased into a fence corner whence he could not escape. "I surrender! I surrender!" he cried to the pursuing trooper. "What do you think of the old flag now!" replied the soldier aiming a cut at him. The men in the ranks get off many a good thing. It is curious to see what a zest some of them take in man hunting, skirmishing, scouting and the like. They are as much pleased when they bring down an opponent as a successful sportsman with his bird. Everything has remained in its usual quiet since I last wrote. We have a most beautiful little camp for Headquarters, and are quite comfortable. I have gone to the length of building a stable for my horses, and if we don't move soon shall think about building a chimney for my tent. We have plenty of grapes peaches and apples and I found some sweet cider a few days ago. So you see we are very well off, as fare as physical comfort goes. General Grant, U. S. is here, which looks like action. Probably to see what is doing and whether any force can be spared to reinforce his army at Petersburg. As for McClellan, he will make a worse failure as a politician than as a soldier. I think his army strength is all gone. Few are left of his old army and they have changed in their feelings towards him to some extent. Nowadays they are making everybody Brevent Major General.

Tit-Bits (Boston) 1864

Civil War Cider Cake Recipe


- 5 Cups Flour
- 3 Cups Sugar
- 1 Cup Butter (2 Sticks)
- 5 Eggs
- 2 teaspoons Baking Soda (2 Tablespoons Baking Powder) 
- 2 Cups Cider 
- Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Cloves, Ginger (To Taste) 


Preheat your oven to 350°F. Cream 1 cup of butter with 3 cups of sugar. Beat in your eggs. Dissolve the baking soda in the cider and add to the mixture. Pour the liquid ingredients on the dry ingredients and spice to taste. Bake in a greased pan until a toothpick comes out clean (30-60 minutes.)   

This recipe makes enough for two 8 inch cake pans. 

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