Random Thoughts: Change, Primary Sources & Other Stuff

Ignorance is Bliss

Posted on: October 21, 2011

Alexander Graham Bell's Induction Device
What’s the connection between the phrase ignorance is bliss, Alexander Graham Bell’s induction device, the insanity plea, an apparatus used to treat polio patients, and the assassination of President James Garfield?  What son of a famous American was present at both Garfield’s assassination attempt and President McKinley’s?   It’s all in Candice Millard’s  incredibly fascinating and very readable book Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President.

When I read historical fiction or  non-fiction like Destiny of the Republic, I have fun discovering more about the supporting facts and the primary sources the author used for research.  Millard relied extensively on resources held in collections at the Library of Congress, The Smithsonian, the Alexander Graham Bell papers, Garfield’s Ohio library (the first presidential library! ) and many more.   Notes , primary source illustrations and bibliographic information comprise 25% of the book!

I do Solemnly Swear: The Inauguration of James Garfield
Life and Death in the White House
Map of Washington DC and Photos relating to the Assassination

Learn how to use primary sources like these! Teaching with Primary Sources, Digital Media Literacy in the Content Areas


1 Response to "Ignorance is Bliss"

Reblogged this on Washington DC History Resources and commented:
More background on President James A. Garfield.

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