Friday, January 28, 2022

Schools, New England and beyond

TL;DR -- Education has been of prime concern from the earliest days of New England. Boston Latin School and Harvard date from the 1630s. Technology and its growing impact will put even more emphasis on education. So, both will be recurring themes. A brief look considered how quickly colleges were instituted as new areas were developed. Using only a few states, we can see that the march of admission of States associates well with the establishment of the educational focus in its regions. 

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We have had posts related to the long reach of New England, in particular the eastern part, starting with Essex County for obvious reasons. Too, we have an interest in technology and its influence on people, including research related to acquisition of sufficient information and knowledge in order to have some semblance of control so as to foster the American experience. Harvard has figured heavily as we can watch its evolution through history along with that of the U.S. as a whole. For balance, we have started to consider MIT, as well, from its 1865 inception. 

Over the past couple of years, we have dived into the western movement, keeping in mind the New England connections, time frames, and the various paths taken across the wide expanse. That research got us looking at the expansion of technology's impact, both before and after the appearance of the railroad. The major part of the U.S. obtained after colonies expanded was partitioned by efforts of both a technical and cultural natured coordinated out of St. Louis, MO. Too, we looked at the early partitionings related to New Spain, New France and others. 

One aspect of New England was the emphasis on education. Two schools were early, being established in the 1630s: Boston Latin School (1635) and Harvard (1636). According to one survey, the next college in Massachusetts was established in 1784 (Becker of Worcester). On the other hand, William and Mary of Virginia started in 1693. 

In this posts, we are starting to look at education, at a higher level, over the span of the 400 years. Having looked at the very early starts, the following table considers a few of the U.S. States which are of special pertinence to the topic. Namely, we look at these by order of the admission of the State to the Union. Too, there are links to two reports: Top Universities, List of Universities from University Review

For each of these, we provide the year of admission, name of the State, number of ranked universities, the university, year the university started, and where it is. 

After this brief look at higher ed, we can consider education as a whole, Massachusetts was early in emphasizing its importance. Cities were to have Latin schools. Two are still in existence, Boston (1635) and Roxbury (1645). That habit continued as States were developed and joined the Union. 


We mustn't forget The New England Primer

Remarks: Modified: 01/28/2022

01/28/2022 -- 

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Charles Chauncy

TL;DR -- We pick up one more President from the early years. In 1665, Harvard graduated its first American Indian. There are other topics of interest from the early times that we will look at further. As we go forward, we will bring in MIT, for balance, as we consider the scholarly side of things. 

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This post is about the 14th of a series of unknown length. As such, it continues a theme related to the history of the U.S. as it might be seen through Harvard's history and as we focus on New England's influence from its beginnings, principally the northern realm. The topic of the post is change from the former technology focus which seems to drive the modern viewpoints more than does others. Seems is apropos, as there are plenty other views just as true. In fact, our getting a proper balance on technology will come from a broader scope in scholarship and in normal life. 

With respect to Harvard, these posts figure centrally: History of Harvard, Heads of Harvard (Wikipedia), History of the Presidency (Harvard), Catalogues of Harvard (Hathi Trust, mainly for the classes, years and graduates) and several posts in this blog concerning specifics of Presidents, their times, lives, and families. Of the last group of posts, we have picked interesting Presidents due to finding them instrumental to some point that we were researching. The first one was James Bryant Conant who had been mentioned in a New Yorker article. 

Today's post came from a search on American Indians and Harvard. We found a Harvard Gazette article that mentioned the first American Indians graduate whose graduation was in 1665. As well, there was mention of the Charter of 1650. Henry Dunster was President, then, the 1st. In 1665, we find Charles Chauncy. He has a WikiTree profile and a pedigree that we will look at further (Magna Carta - WikiTree: Chauncey-8). This somewhat motivates us to look further at the lineage of some of the others, mainly, with respect to tying U.S. particularities, in its early stages, back across the waters. After all, many who came here left descendants who have trouble, now, closing gaps left 400 years ago. 

We have had several posts on American Indian issues with respect to Essex Count, New England and the U.S. as a whole. With respect to institutions, MIT's School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences will be added to the list of research topics. We have been following several American Indians sites via the internet. 

Here is an example article of note.

Note: earlier, we converted all references of Native Americans to American Indians. Our use in this post follows the use in the articles that are provided as reference. We will use the terms interchangeably. 

Remarks: Modified: 04/07/2022

03/14/2022 -- The wander though the hall of the Heads of Harvard has been quite interesting. We will summarize at some point about the varied cultural and societal aspects that come up. For instance, Chauncey (WikiTree pedigree: Chaucey-8)is on the list of Gateway Ancestors who represent descendants of aristocracy who came over here. In short, many of these are cousins of Prince William and Prince Harry, and others. Another tale, related to Harvard, is that (one of) the Cottons told some cats who wanted to come over with privileges that, no, come here and be like everyone else. Lose your pedigree. How would Harvard handle that now? 

04/07/2022 -- Changed most Native Americans mentions to American Indians. 

Monday, January 17, 2022

Samuel Webber

TL;DR -- Samuel Webber was a student at Harvard during the time of the Revolution. His term as President was in the period right after the split was accomplished and before the War of 1812. Those crucial times, 250 years ago, will be getting more scrutiny using new methods allowed by computing. That is, history can be made more relevant through personalization. 

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Continuing the look at the History of Harvard (ours) through the Heads of Harvard (Wikipedia), we next consider Samuel Webber (Harvard, Wikipedia, WikiTree: Webber-762) who distinguished himself as a Mathematics Professor at Harvard prior to his short time as President. During his time, the secular spirit was rising and changing the character of Harvard. That topic has always had our interest which we will follow more closely now, given that we can identify family names to go with the discussions. One of Samuel's specialties was surveying which we have an interest in, for several reasons, such as Gardner surveying (early 1600s) and the carving of the west of the U.S. But, we want, as well, to get into changes with respect to mathematics during those times of turmoil, albeit more brainy than brawny. 

Born in Essex County, MA, Samuel moved with his family to New Hampshire. He attended Harvard as class of 1784. So his time matches up with the events of 250 years ago. There will be lots to look at. For instance, the Wikipedia bio does not agree with that of Harvard and WikiTree. Too, Webber is in our large extended family. Samuel was on of the Presidents of Harvard with little genealogical information available. 

His son married the daughter of a Loyalist. Great. So was Count Rumford whose money came in later. 

Remarks: Modified: 02/18/2022

01/17/2022 --

Friday, January 14, 2022

Four-masted barque rounding Cape Horn

TL;DR -- Captain Johnson filmed his voyage, as a young seaman, rounding Cape Horn in a barque. That was 1928. He narrated the film in 1980. The film has so much to discuss. It's clearly an example of something that could be used to talk sides of several issues. Young people using their muscle and brains? Yes, 'meta' verse as some paragon? Hah. Seafaring has some appeal beyond normal. But, that work of keeping the ship going represents lots and lots of work done prior to now, being done now, and to be done (robots? silly, to the max). Oh yes, phenomenal notions and thoughts of existential aspects are very much to be brought forth. 

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Of late, we were in a landlubber mode which can be the natural bent of the soldier. Albeit, the U.S. Army once exulted in having more watercraft than the U.S. Navy and more aircraft than the U.S. Air Force. But, we had a good reason for our focus: the Great Interior of the U.S which was carved for over a century. There have been many posts on this theme where we can use Sam Dunn's look as a basis. 

As said, we would get back to the seafaring mode (say whaling, Gardner Jonah) as that was one way of New England. Salem, MA, like other coastal towns, excelled in shipping (John Lowell Gardner, I) and shipbuilding (Shipwrighting, USS Merrimack). Shipping companies had lots of vessels as the article on John Lowell Gardners shows. Some of these were barques which were highly efficient, in speed and capacity. We looked into that a little while researching the owners of the barque Bostonian that wrecked off the coast of Oregon in 1850. It had left Boston the year before, got to San Francisco, ventured over to New Zealand and was going north from San Francisco to deliver supplies to miners. The owner, Henry D. Gardiner was a descendant of George Gardiner of Rhode Island, however his two wives were descendants of Thomas Gardner of Salem. In our research, we look for those associations, including Gardner, Essex County, Massachusetts or New England. Lots of research still to do. 

There have been many written reports on sailing and ventures thereby as well as problems, such as that of the Essex out of Nantucket. But, film/video is recent. As well, many renditions are fictional, made later. Or, they are something similar. 

Today, we found this which is phenomenally apropos for several reasons. The film was of a voyage of a Four Masted Barque rounding Cape Horn (via Mystic Seaport Museum, Inc.) that was filmed by a young sailor in 1928. He later narrated the film in 1980. The file starts in the North Sea. The narrator talks about specifics of the work of managing a large vessel such as this. He talks of the physical labor involved. Notice, not complains, describes. This was before hydraulic assists and other modern conveniences. 

As the old guy says, why sign up for such misery? Well, the thrills and the joys of sailing. We could add doing such over a large ocean with sun rises and sets. Plus, no voyage would ever be the same as another. To, the demanding work had to be satisfying; as the narrator said, you did what you had to do to keep the ship healthy.  

If can this wasn't heard: in bad weather, four on and four off. Too, notice no gloves or safety equipment. One learned to be careful. Also, there are several copies of this film in museums. He gave a talk in London to insurance people. One remark that he heard was that dozens of other vessels would not have made it through the voyage. 

The film is so rich of memes (not stupid computer-based thingees, no real life) that we could talk forever, almost, about how this could be used to bridge the real world and that of the pretend, even if it supposedly augments the world of today's pampered lives. 

Remarks: Modified: 01/15/2022

01/15/2022 -- Add links to the Mystic Seaport Museum and a post on Capt. Edmund Gardner, the Gardner Jonah. 

Monday, January 10, 2022

Weymouth, MA

 TL;DR -- The Plymouth and Mayflower time went. There was a year off. Now, we have Weymouth (1622) where we can look at the times, the events and the people. Celebratory affairs will be muted, for a while. Gloucester is next. This year, though, we can consider what the Weymouth experience meant as well as get the facts together. 

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Weymouth Town Hall
We first noted the upcoming 400ths on our webpage: Recent 400th Anniversaries. Then, we have mentioned them occasionally over the years from 2013 when we had a list of things to do. Many of these tasks were done. Two years ago, the advent of a pandemic dampened much of the planning. Plymouth's lookback was in 2020 and had an interesting set of events scheduled including a trip before the fact where descendants visited sites of interest to the Pilgrims and their lives. Weymouth (1622) was next, in 2022. Then, Gloucester has the 2023 date

In a review last April, we included a graphic that showed the towns of Massachusetts and their date of origins in which we see a long list of celebrations pending. Right now, there are restrictions in place which inhibit some activity. We can still take a research mode and learn about these towns as their day arrives. 

Along that line, we have some pointers to material that is of interest. 

The first attempt at Weymouth did not take. It was not long after Winthrop's arrival before there were immigrants from England in the area, again. 

There will be plenty of things to look at. The house, still standing, where Abigail Adams was born was built by Samuel Torrey (WikiTree: Torrey-93; FindAGrave). As one reviews early occupants, one sees family connections like there are in Essex and other counties of Massachusetts. 

Also, we can look at cousin links, such as John Quincy Adams' connection to Grizzly Adams

Remarks: Modified: 01/14/2022

01/14/2022 -- Add link to Wessagusset Colony. Also, this way, bring in Grizzly Adams (about whom was a TV series) who was cousin of John Adams, the spouse of Abigail Adams. 

Friday, January 7, 2022

Boston Brahmins

 TL;DR -- So, Brahmins of Boston and Harvard intertwine, many ways. We have used the concept a couple of times. Looking at A(bbot) Lawrence Lowell brings the notion to the fore. But, we use another example of an organization that is about as old. 

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This is long overdue. Of course, Boston Brahmins is a known topic in the Northeast of the U.S. Not sure of elsewhere in the U.S. Prior to the work of TGS, Inc (org), the subject may have been addressed a time or two. But, looking at the history of Harvard (our view, across a multitude of families) brings it to the forefront. The Heads are the current focus with the latest one being A(bbot) Lawrence Lowell, in particular his change from the 'Gold Coast' coast mode that had been started during Eliot's (who was a Brahmin, too) term. 

So far, there have been only three posts mentioning the subject. One of these was the post on Lowell (prior to this one). Let's look at the other two. 
  • Magazines (5 May 2017) -- The Atlantic was exulting about their beginnings, at the time. And, as it says, a group in New England met and got the magazine started. These were Brahmins, for the most part. Later, the magazine left to go to D.C. which verges on the south. Our put is that they ought to have stayed in New England. Time will tell. We mentioned a few other magazines of the time, one of which was the Southern Literary Messenger (see Magazine: American museum). 
  • Paper trails (17 Jun 2021) -- Punned title, somewhat. The graphic shows U.S. Post Offices in operation at several decades over time. One can see the western expansion (the links discussed our usage) and more. Railroads are visible. Per usual, as we look at the west, New England is always an influence, whether Boston and its huge footprint or little Essex County, mother county of Salem, MA. 

Not to pick on the Brahmins, but they and Harvard represent the upper realms of New England. We look, as well, as the heart and backbone. One might look at how many Brahmins had representative property in the south. Many from the north went south and the west. 

BTW, we explain why we use western expansion rather than the hubristic westward expansion. 

Age of organization? Let's use the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massaschusetts. It is modeled on that of the Mother Country started by Henry VIII. And, it formed in MA in 1638. Our post ("Old" in New England) provides an overview. 

With respect to reality, we like to use this post: John Gardner and the Merrimack River

Currency of the notion? We do have one of Brahmin descent in the White House, now. 

Remarks: Modified: 01/07/2022

01/07/2022 --


Thursday, January 6, 2022

A(bbott) Lawrence Lowell

TL;DR -- A(bbott) Lawrence Lowell served as President of Harvard after Eliot and before Conant. He changed the focus to be more scholarly and collegial with decisions like having the dormitory experience cut out the 'Gold Coasting' that had become the New England way, say as we saw with Boston Brahminship. 

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We have been adding Heads of Harvard (Wikipedia) to our list (History of Harvard) while taking a brief look at each with respect to time and affiliations, such as family and connections to New England. Our research started with a recent President (James Bryant Conant) who followed Lowell, and we have done a few more. For each of those chosen so far, there was a motivation involved which we will document. 

A. Lawrence Lowell came to our attention due to his family ties. He has a large New England pedigree (Lowell- 642) according to the researchers at WikiTree. We will be checking that. However, we noticed, too, that not much has been written about Lowell. We have seen this of several Presidents.  

So, on looking further, we found that there is a page at the Harvard site titled "History of the Presidency" at which one can learn more about each person. Lowell helped move the culture such that a common spirit might develop. We learned that early classes were ranked by the social status of the family of the student. 

Lowell built dormitories and emphasized the need for students to live in these. Prior to that, how the student lived was, again, according to social status. One might say, the infamous 'Gold Coast' of the Boston Brahmins which had been encouraged by the prior President, Charles William Eliot. An example is the Adams House which became a dormitory - its website.  

Like the others, Lowell's time had its ups and downs. Example: Writing the Wrong (2005). Also, Lowell had accomplished siblings (Percival Lowell and Amy Lowell) and cousins (John Lowell Gardner). 

Remarks: Modified: 02/18/2022

01/07/2022 -- Doing, finally, a post on Boston Brahmins. Plus, Lowell paraphrased: every issue has a Harvard man on the wrong side. 

02/02/2022 -- Add 't' to Abbott. Put a link to the Wikipedia page. 

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Challenges of technology

TL;DR -- We have looked at the 400 years. At the 150th timeframe, we split. And, now are at a 250th stop and review time. We have been doing that. Rivers were (and are) important. There are other resources. Somehow, the American dream has become, arrive and start to take. Oh, the older families did? Not really. We can show thousands of families whose contribution has been similar. Oh yes, there have been those who exploited, mainly. Now, technology? Will it help get sustainable versus just add to the inequities? That might be one of the challenges. 

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Quora got our attention in that their approach does approximate scholarship, somewhat. Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, thereby has a constrained view. There are other sites that allow free flowing discussions. The genealogy sites are an example. 

Quora has had many threads on technology include artificial intelligence. Here is an example question that generated lots of viewpoints: 

Why is that with modern technology the US has not diverted surplus water from the Mississippi River to drought devasted California and other western states as was done through Aqueducts by the Romans thousands of years ago?

Most questions are not this long. And, there have been other questions of a similar nature. What got our attention was this map. We have shown many maps the past few years, but this one is related to views that can be formed using modern technology. 

Answer by E. Allwell

Another thing about Quora is its contributors. Erik Painter, native Californian, is an example and has good response to this question to which we provide a link. 

This question, as of today, had 44 answers. Some are quite brief. The two referenced here are thorough and not short. Another thing of the new media is the huge potential readership which can increase the number of views to an answer. Those add up: E. Allwell has over 25M views; Eric Painter has nearly 14M. 

An issue is, how good is an answer? We can assess that partly by looking at other answers by the person. But, the subject matters covered run the gamut. And, this is a phenomenon that goes across the web. We can look at the growth just like we looked at the coverage of the railroad over the interior of the U.S. 

There are automated means that read, parse, and present summaries. This related to AI or other means for handling text. It's never-ending in the sense that we have not seen a quiescence point ever. Not that such could not happen as we saw with airline traffic into the U.S. after 9/11 or even some of the recent flight issues related to decisions about the pandemic. 

Given the growing scope, there must be efforts put toward curating information. And, for the TGS, Inc., our interests cover more than genealogy. Too, the historic connections have been known for some time, hence we see the New England Historic Genealogical Society. One huge topic is culture and its association. 

Remarks: Modified: 01/04/2022

01/04/2022 --

Current challenge

TL;DR -- We have mentioned technology. The modern world is full of hyped situations, it seems, on a close observation. Somewhat exacerbated by the uncertainties of the times (COVID)? Even prior to the last two years, attention was attracted to claims that were motivated by computer prowess. Companies made choices along that line. There are opinions all around about how technology will influence the future. That will not abate and will be an important of daily decisions and discovery as we go forward. In a sense, it's obligatory to be informed. What does that mean? And, how might 400 years of experience contribute to the necessary reviews and alternative determinations? 

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Autodidacts? Anyone? Or, from another angle, the American experiment? Is its moment now? 

As the story goes, during a period of the plague, Newton spent his time of isolation to play with light beams and to think of falling apples. And, views changed. 

For the past two years, we have been diving into the basis of AI having heard the clamor that seemed non-ceasing. At the same time, we have been assaying the general basis of computing which is the main mode that enables AI's current dancing. But, people are important, too. 

The other day, we watched a video given last spring via Zoom for a conference held by the Stanford Law School on "Future Law." Alan Kay was the speaker. We did a post (Grand Challenge). Alan was at the famous Xerox PARC Lab and invented the Smalltalk language. Too, he has been a professor at California Universities and involved with AI (artificial intelligence). 

We have already pointed to the importance of technology and knowledge going forward. Can a private, small-dimensioned organization contribute to studies and analysis in a manner that brings benefit? That is a discussion that we will be having. In a manner, the plans for the TGS portal run along the lines mentioned by Alan with respect to a research platform. 

Again, with respect to AI needing to respect people, Alan mentioned that the current hype which relates to a particular form of is like the tail doing the wagging. Alan lists a few researchers who are (have been) working in other than the current mode. We could name a lot more. 

Be that as it may, the HBR has been contributing to the discussion for several years now. In 2019, they published a comment by a researcher who suggested that we quit calling every bit of progress AI. Their special issue for Winter 2021 is on the subject of How AI is Changing Work. The topics covered are: Competing with AI; Adopting AI; The future of jobs; Working with machines; Keeping AI from going wrong. For each of these, there is an executive summary. 

Earlier, we had a post titled "How Dumb is AI?" which was courtesy of the IEEE (formerly, Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers). IEEE has it fingers in every piece of technology. Earlier, electricity was the focus; now, computation is huge. Recently, we looked at the IEEE.org website and saw no reference to  AI. Today, there was one that pointed to a webinar scheduled for later in January. 

At the same time, another group involved with computing is the ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) which as been around about as long as has the computer. Their site has a few more hits on AI but not as many as there were a few months ago. However, their focus is largely research and not commercial exploitation. The ACM has sponsored a special interest group on AI for decades (SIGAI). 

The point of the post deals with technology as a whole of which computing will be a large part which inevitably leads to issues of intelligence, thereby giving life to artificial intelligence. Our next post (Challenges of technology) deals with the growing presence on the web of content which has been increasing since HTTP came on the scene. We looked at this due to the subject relating to our interest in the great interior of the U.S. which was populated over a long century of frontier experience. 

Remarks: Modified: 01/17/2022

01/04/2022 -- Stanford has a group that talks Singularity. We will look at that more closely. Not to be snarky, but to increase the philosophical view. Academia cannot do this. 

01/17/2022 -- Added newer image.