Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Man Who Declared Himself Emperor of the US.

The Emperor of The US and The Protector of Mexico



Welcome to THIS IS AMERICA in VOA Special English. I'm Shirley Griffith. This week on our program, we answer a question from a listener in Brazil. Tino Therezo in Sao Paulo wants to know about Joshua Norton. Who is that? Oh, just the man who declared himself emperor of the United States. Here are Steve Ember and Robert Cohen with the story of Emperor Norton.

(MUSIC)

VOICE ONE:

The small city of Colma, California is just a few kilometers south of San Francisco. Many people visit the city each year to see the burial place of one very unusual man in Colma's Woodlawn Cemetery. These visitors come to see a memorial stone placed on his grave.

The writing on the stone says in large letters: Norton the First, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico.

VOICE TWO:

Anyone who has studied American history knows that the United States is a democracy. The president and other political leaders of the United States are elected to office by the citizens. There is no royal family, no king, and no emperor.

Yet, Joshua Abraham Norton declared himself to be Emperor of the United States on September seventeenth, eighteen fifty-nine.

He sent an announcement to the newspapers of San Francisco saying he was Emperor Norton the First of the United States and the Protector of Mexico. The newspapers did not publish it.

VOICE ONE:

Many people in San Francisco knew Joshua Norton. He was born in England in eighteen nineteen. He moved to San Francisco from South Africa. He arrived with a lot of money. He later lost all his money in a very bad financial deal. His many friends knew that this greatly affected him.

Joshua Norton no longer was the same man. Most of his friends believed the shock of losing all his money had taken away his ability to reason and to live in the real world. Poor Joshua Norton was not dangerous or violent, but he no longer knew what was real and what was only imaginary.

(MUSIC)

VOICE TWO:

Soon after he declared himself Emperor of the United States, Joshua Norton began wearing blue military clothing. A soldier at the Army base in San Francisco gave him gold colored buttons and gold cloth. It made his uniform seem as if it belonged to a general. Or perhaps a king. Or even an Emperor.

Emperor Norton the First soon became the best known man in San Francisco. He always wore his uniform and a tall hat. When people saw him they would show the respect given a king or emperor.

Emperor Norton usually did not have any money. But he did not need any. If Emperor Norton went to a restaurant, he was served a meal -- free. If he needed something little from a store, that was also freely given. Sometimes he paid with his own kind of money. It was paper money with his picture on it.

Some stores began placing a small sign in the store window. The sign said, "By Appointment to His Majesty, Emperor Norton the First." The sign meant the store or restaurant had been approved by the emperor of the United States. Stores with the signs noted that their business increased.

VOICE ONE:

Emperor Norton began sending royal orders -- called decrees -- to the newspapers of San Francisco. The newspapers began publishing them. Many people thought they were funny. Some bought the newspapers just to read about the latest decree from the emperor of the United States.

Many of the decrees, however, made people think. For example, Emperor Norton said that Governor Wise of Virginia was to be removed from office by royal decree. Emperor Norton said this was necessary because Governor Wise had ordered the death by hanging of John Brown. John Brown was a rebel who had tried to start a war to free slaves.

Emperor Norton's decree said John Brown had tried to capture the state of Virginia with only seventeen men. That was evidence, Emperor Norton said, that John Brown was mentally sick and should have been put in a hospital for treatment.

Emperor Norton said John Brown never should have been executed. Many people in San Francisco agreed with Emperor Norton. The execution of John Brown was one of the many issues that led to the American Civil War.

VOICE TWO:

Another Emperor Norton decree had to do with the name of the city. Some people often use a short name for city of San Francisco. They call it Frisco. Emperor Norton did not like this short name. He decreed that anyone found guilty of using the word Frisco must pay a penalty of twenty-five dollars. Even today many citizens of San Francisco warn visitors never to call the great city Frisco.

Perhaps Emperor Norton's most famous decree ordered the city government to build a bridge from the city of Oakland to a small island in San Francisco Bay. It said the bridge should extend from the little island to San Francisco.

City leaders did nothing about building the bridge. So Emperor Norton ordered them removed from office. Nothing happened, of course, to the city leaders or about the bridge.

Many years later, after Emperor Norton's death, a bridge was built extending from San Francisco to the city of Oakland. It was placed almost in the exact spot that Emperor Norton had decreed. It is called the Bay Bridge. Thousands of cars pass over it every day.

(MUSIC)

VOICE ONE:

San Francisco has always been home to many Chinese people. It still is today. One story about Emperor Norton involves the Chinese. In his time many people did not like Chinese people. One group of people organized an anti-Chinese committee. They believed too many Chinese lived in San Francisco. They decided to cause violence in the Chinese area of the city.

Many people knew about the committee's plans but no one did anything to stop the planned violence. One night members of the committee left a meeting and walked toward the area of the city where most of the Chinese lived. As they got close to the area, one man stood in the street blocking their way.

He said nothing. He did not move. His head was low on his chest and he seemed to be praying. The mob of troublemakers stopped. They looked at the old blue uniform with its gold colored buttons. They said nothing. They did nothing. Slowly, the mob turned and walked away. Emperor Norton had prevented the planned violence.

VOICE TWO:

One night, a new member of the San Francisco Police Department arrested Emperor Norton. The young policeman thought anyone who claimed to be the emperor of the United State might be a danger to the public. Very soon a judge and the chief of police arrived at the police station. The judge said. "The emperor has hurt no one that I know of." He quickly ordered the emperor freed and apologized for the mistake. From that time on, the San Francisco policemen showed respect to Joshua Norton by giving a military salute.

VOICE ONE:

On January eighth, eighteen eighty, Emperor Norton was walking along California Street inspecting his city as usual. People in the area saw him fall down. Several rushed to his aid. Moments later it was clear that Joshua Norton was dead.

The next day, the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper printed four words in French across the front of the paper. They were "LE ROI EST MORT." The King is Dead.

The newspaper reported the death of the city's most famous citizen. The report said that Joshua Norton had no real money -- not even enough to pay for his burial. Almost immediately, wealthy members of a San Francisco business group collected enough to pay for the funeral.

Businesses closed in San Francisco the day of the funeral. Newspapers reported that more ten thousand people attended the burial ceremony for Emperor Norton. One newspaper said that the world would be a much better place if all kings and emperors were as kind and honest as Joshua Norton.

(MUSIC)

ANNOUNCER:

Today, some stores and restaurants in San Francisco still have signs that say, "By Appointment to His Majesty, Emperor Norton the First." And each year in January, a group of people gather at Joshua Norton's grave to remember him. Then they gather at a nearby tavern to continue the remembrance.

These are local members of E Clampus Vitus, a historical society whose members like to have a good time. They do not want people in Frisco -- oops, make that San Francisco -- to forget the first and only emperor of the United States.

Our program was written by Paul Thompson and Nancy Steinbach. The narrators were Steve Ember and Robert Cohen. I'm Shirley Griffith. You can find transcripts, MP3s and podcasts of our programs at voaspecialenglish.com. We hope you join us again next week for THIS IS AMERICA in VOA Special English.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Difficult Life of Early English Settlers. VOA History Series.

Historic Jamestown, Early 1600s





VOICE ONE:

This is Rich Kleinfeldt.

VOICE TWO:

And this is Sarah Long with the MAKING OF A NATION, a VOA Special English program about the history of the United States. Today, we tell about the first permanent English settlements in North America.

(MUSIC)

VOICE ONE:

England was the first country to compete with Spain for claims in the New World, although it was too weak to do this openly at first. But Queen Elizabeth of England supported such explorations as early as the fifteen seventies.

Sir Humphrey Gilbert led the first English settlement efforts. He did not establish any lasting settlement. He died as he was returning to England.

Sir Walter Raleigh
Gilbert's half brother Sir Walter Raleigh continued his work. Raleigh sent a number of ships to explore the east coast of North America. He called the land Virginia to honor England's unmarried Queen Elizabeth.

In fifteen eighty-five, about one-hundred men settled on Roanoke Island, off the coast of the present day state of North Carolina. These settlers returned to England a year later. Another group went to Roanoke the next year. This group included a number of women and children. But the supply ships Raleigh sent to the colony failed to arrive. When help got there in fifteen-ninety, none of the settlers could be found.

History experts still are not sure what happened. Some research suggests that at least some of the settlers became part of the Indian tribe that lived in the area.

VOICE TWO:

One reason for the delay in getting supplies to Roanoke was the attack of the Spanish Navy against England in fifteen eighty-eight. King Phillip of Spain had decided to invade England. But the small English ships combined with a fierce storm defeated the huge Spanish fleet. As a result, Spain was no longer able to block English exploration.

England discovered that supporting colonies so far away was extremely costly. So Queen Elizabeth took no more action to do this. It was not until after her death in sixteen-oh-three that England began serious efforts to start colonies in America.

(MUSIC)

VOICE ONE:

In sixteen-oh-six, the new English King, James the First, gave two business groups permission to establish colonies in Virginia, the area claimed by England. Companies were organized to carry out the move.

Jamestown
The London Company sent one hundred settlers to Virginia in sixteen-oh-six. The group landed there in May, sixteen-oh-seven and founded Jamestown. It was the first permanent English colony in the new world.

The colony seemed about to fail from the start. The settlers did not plant their crops in time so they soon had no food. Their leaders lacked the farming and building skills needed to survive on the land. More than half the settlers died during the first winter.

VOICE TWO:

The businessmen controlling the colony from London knew nothing about living in such a wild place. They wanted the settlers to search for gold, and explore local rivers in hopes of finding a way to the East. One settler knew this was wrong. His name was Captain John Smith. He helped the colonists build houses and grow food by learning from the local Indians. Still, the Jamestown settlers continued to die each year from disease, lack of food and Indian attacks.

The London Company sent six thousand settlers to Virginia between sixteen-oh-six and sixteen twenty-two. More than four thousand died during that time.

(MUSIC)

VOICE ONE:

History experts say that all the settlers surely would have died without the help of the local Powhatan Indians. The Indians gave the settlers food. They taught them how to live in the forest. And the Powhatan Indians showed the settlers how to plant new crops and how to clear the land for building.

The settlers accepted the Indians' help. Then, however, the settlers took whatever else they wanted by force. In sixteen twenty-two, the local Indians attacked the settlers for interfering with Indian land. Three hundred forty settlers died. The colonists answered the attack by destroying the Indian tribes living along Virginia's coast.

The settlers recognized that they would have to grow their own food and survive on their own without help from England or anyone else. The Jamestown colony was clearly established by sixteen twenty-four. It was even beginning to earn money by growing and selling a new crop, tobacco.

VOICE TWO:

The other early English settlements in North America were much to the north of Virginia, in the present state of Massachusetts. The people who settled there left England for different reasons than those who settled in Jamestown. The Virginia settlers were looking for ways to earn money for English businesses. The settlers in Massachusetts were seeking religious freedom.

(MUSIC)

VOICE ONE:

King Henry The 8th
King Henry the Eighth of England had separated from the Roman Catholic Church. His daughter, Queen Elizabeth, established the Protestant religion in England. It was called the Church of England, or the Anglican Church. The Anglican Church, however, was similar to that of the Roman Catholic Church.

Not all Protestants liked this. Some wanted to leave the Anglican Church and form religious groups of their own. In sixteen-oh-six, members of one such group in the town of Scrooby did separate from the Anglican Church. About one hundred twenty-five people left England for Holland. They found problems there too, so they decided to move again...to the New World.

These people were called pilgrims, because that is the name given to people who travel for religious purposes.

VOICE TWO:

About thirty-five pilgrims were among the passengers on a ship called the Mayflower in sixteen twenty. It left England to go to Virginia. But the Mayflower never reached Virginia. Instead, it landed to the north, on Cape Cod Bay. The group decided to stay there instead of trying to find Jamestown.

The pilgrims and the others on the Mayflower saw a need for rules that would help them live together peacefully. They believed they were not under English control since they did not land in Virginia. So they wrote a plan of government, called the Mayflower Compact. It was the first such plan ever developed in the New World.

They elected a man called William Bradford as the first governor of their Plymouth Colony. We know about the first thirty years of the Plymouth Colony because William Bradford described it in his book, Of Plymouth Plantation.

As happened in Jamestown, about half the settlers in Plymouth died the first winter. The survivors were surprised to find an Indian who spoke English. His name was Squanto. He had been kidnapped by an English sea captain and had lived in England before returning to his people.

Squanto
The Pilgrims believed Squanto was sent to them from God. He made it possible for them to communicate with the native people. He showed them the best places to fish, what kind of crops to plant and how to grow them. He provided them with all kinds of information they needed to survive. The settlers invited the Indians to a feast in the month of November to celebrate their successes and to thank Squanto for his help. Americans remember that celebration every year when they observe the Thanksgiving holiday.

(MUSIC)

VOICE ONE:

Other English settlers began arriving in the area now called New England. One large group was called the Puritans. Like the pilgrims, the Puritans did not agree with the Anglican Church. But they did not want to separate from it. The Puritans wanted to change it to make it more holy. Their desire for this change made them unwelcome in England.

The first ship carrying Puritans left England for America in sixteen thirty. By the end of that summer, one thousand Puritans had landed in the northeastern part of the new country. The new English King, Charles, had given permission for them to settle the Massachusetts Bay area.

VOICE TWO:

The Puritan Exodus

The Puritans began leaving England in large groups. Between sixteen thirty and sixteen forty, twenty thousand sailed for New England. They risked their lives on the dangerous trip. They wanted to live among people who believed as they did, people who honored the rules of the Bible. Puritans believed that the Bible was the word of God.

The Puritans and other Europeans, however, found a very different people in the New World. They were America's native Indians. That will be our story next week.

(MUSIC)

VOICE ONE:

This MAKING OF A NATION program was written by Nancy Steinbach. This is Rich Kleinfeldt

VOICE TWO:

And this is Sarah Long. Join us again next week for another Voice of America Special English program about the history of the United States.

For more VOA articles on American History, Click Here!

COMPREHENSION CHECK

1. One of the problems the first permanent settlement at Jamestown in 1607 didn't have was ______________________ .
a: lack of building skills
b: lack of farming skills
c: lack of trees for building
d: lack of food

2. Mostly, the London Company wanted the settlers to ___________________ .
a: raise families
b: search for gold
c: become successful tobacco growers
d: conquer native Americans

3. Captain John Smith helped the settlers because he _________________ .
a: understood how to live in a wild place
b: had more money than the other settlers
c: learned building and farming skills from the Indians
d: had previously lived on Roanoke Island

4. The main difference between the settlers in Virginia and the settlers in Massachusetts was that the Virginia settlers were looking for ways to earn money while the Massachusetts settlers ___________________________ .
a: were former prisoners
b: were seeking religious freedom from Anglican domination
c: were seeking to establish a Catholic settlement
d: were artists and writers

5. The state of Virginia was named after __________________________ .
a: Queen Elizabeth who was not yet married
b: the wife of Sir Walter Raleigh whose name was Virginia
c: the novelist Virginia Woolf
d: the untouched land that reminded Sir Walter Raleigh of an unmarried young woman

6. Many settlers in the Plymouth colony died the first winter. Many more would have died, but a Native American named Squanto (Tisquantum) ______________________ .
a: taught them English
b: knew how to fight the Indians
c: showed them the best places to fish and how to raise corn
d: learned English from them

7. Spain could no longer block English exploration of the New World _____________________ .
a: after Sir Walter Raleigh's exploration of North America
b: after English colonists settled on Roanoke Island
c: after the death of Queen Elizabeth in 1603
d: after an English victory over the Spanish Navy in 1588

8. Unlike the Pilgrims who simply wanted religious freedom, the Puritans wanted ________________________ .
a: to succeed in business
b: to transform the Anglican church
c: to convert the Native Americans
d: to raise tobacco

9. The Puritans _______________________________________ .
a: settled in Massachusetts before the Pilgrims
b: settled in Virginia
c: believed that the Bible was the word of God
d: named Jamestown after King James

10. Settlers on Roanoke Island off the coast of North Carolina in 1586 __________________ .
a: returned to England one year later
b: were not found when supply ships finally reached them in 1590
c: developed a thriving community
d: were all slaughtered by Native Americans




Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Christmas in America During the 19th Century.




VOICE ONE:

I'm Steve Ember.

VOICE TWO:

And I'm Shirley Griffith with THE MAKING OF A NATION – American history in VOA Special English. Today we present a special program on Christmas traditions in the United States during the first half of the nineteenth century.

VOICE TWO:

A German postcard.
Christmas trees were
small in the 19th Century.
During this period, Christmas was a very different kind of holiday than it is today. There was no set way of celebrating the day, which was not yet an official holiday. Communities around the country honored the day in different ways. Some observed Christmas as an important Christian religious day honoring the birth of Jesus. Others celebrated the day with parties, music, drinking and eating. And, some communities did not celebrate the day at all.

VOICE ONE:

But, it was during this period that Americans began to reinvent the holiday by combining ancient Christmas traditions from different cultures with modern American influences. You can think about the historical people we have been talking about, Andrew Jackson, Martin van Buren and others, and the ways they too might have celebrated Christmas.

(MUSIC)

VOICE TWO:

Geoffrey Crayon and Guests
In eighteen nineteen, the popular American writer Washington Irving wrote a series of five essays published in a book called "The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent."

VOICE TWO:

The essays describe a wealthy British landowner who invites his farm workers into his home to celebrate Christmas. The landowner recreates a traditional Christmas as it would have been celebrated in the distant past. Irving praised this looking back to ancient traditions. He liked the idea of different levels of society coming together to enjoy a festive and peaceful holiday. Washington Irving seemed to express concern about the lack of such unifying Christmas traditions in modern America.

VOICE ONE:

Penne Restad wrote a book "Christmas in America: A History." It shows how Americans began to slowly shape Christmas into a unifying national holiday during the first half of the nineteenth century. She describes how Christmas had different meanings for Americans who came from different cultural and religious backgrounds. Many immigrants brought Christmas traditions from their own countries.

VOICE TWO:

Religion played a big role in how an American might celebrate the holiday. Calvinist Christians banned the celebration of Christmas. But groups such as Episcopalians and Moravians honored the day with religious services and seasonal decorations.

VOICE TWO:

By mid-century, Christian groups began to ignore their religious differences over the meaning of Christmas and honored the day in special ways.

(MUSIC)

VOICE ONE:

Christmas became an important time for families to celebrate at home. More and more Christian Americans also began to follow the European traditions of Christmas trees and giving gifts. Christians believed that the tree represented Jesus and was also a sign of new beginnings. German immigrants brought their tradition of putting lights, sweets and toys on the branches of evergreen trees placed in their homes.

VOICE TWO:

This tradition of setting up a Christmas tree soon spread to many American homes. So did the practice of giving people presents. As these traditions increased in popularity, the modern trade and business linked to Christmas also grew.

VOICE ONE:

Louisiana Snowless
Sleigh Ride
As Christmas became more popular, some states declared the day a state holiday. Louisiana was the first state to make the move in eighteen thirty-seven. By eighteen sixty, fourteen other states had followed. It was not until eighteen seventy that President Ulysses Grant made Christmas a federal holiday.

VOICE TWO:

Americans already knew old Christmas songs that came from England and other areas of Europe. But many new American Christmas songs started to become popular. For example, in eighteen forty-nine, a religious leader from Massachusetts wrote the words to "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear." The song "Jingle Bells" appeared seven years later. And, a year later, a religious leader in Williamsport, Pennsylvania wrote the song "We Three Kings of Orient Are."

(MUSIC)

VOICE ONE:

Santa, napping on the job
And of course, no discussion of Christmas would be complete without talking about of one of the holiday's most famous representations, Santa Claus.

VOICE ONE:

This character is based on the story of Saint Nicholas, a Christian holy person believed to have lived in the third century. Saint Nicholas became known as a protector of children. In his role as a Christmas hero, different cultures have given him different names. These include Sinterklaas, Kris Kringle and Father Christmas. But for most Americans his most popular name would become Santa Claus.

VOICE TWO:

In the nineteenth century, many Dutch immigrants living in the United States celebrated the feast of Saint Nicholas on December sixth. Saint Nicholas was especially important to New Yorkers because of their history as a Dutch colony. In eighteen-oh-nine, Washington Irving published his "History of New York." It lists Saint Nicholas as the patron saint of New Yorkers. He describes the saint wearing a low hat, large pants, and smoking a pipe. Does this description sound familiar?

VOICE ONE:

Clement Clarke Moore
In eighteen twenty-two, an American professor named Clement Clarke Moore wrote a poem that redefined the image of Saint Nicholas. It was called "Account of a Visit from Saint Nicholas." He did not expect it to be published. He wrote it as a Christmas present for his young children. In recent years, experts have questioned whether Moore actually wrote the poem.

VOICE ONE:

Some believe it was written by Henry Livingston, a map maker in New York who wrote and published funny poems in his spare time.

VOICE TWO:

But whoever wrote this classic poem, it has since become a favorite around the world. This poem combines the traditions of Santa Claus, seasonal decorations and gift-giving that have come to define Christmas in America. We leave you with Clement Clarke Moore's poem, popularly known as "'Twas the Night Before Christmas."

(MUSIC)

VOICE THREE:

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that Saint Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be Saint Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

"Now Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! On Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and Saint Nicholas, too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney Saint Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.

His eyes -- how they twinkled! His dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"

(MUSIC)

VOICE ONE:

Our program was written and produced by Dana Demange. Jim Tedder read the poem. I'm Steve Ember.

VOICE TWO:

And I'm Shirley Griffith. Transcripts, MP3s and podcasts of our programs are online at voaspecialenglish.com. Join us again next week for THE MAKING OF A NATION. And happy holidays from all of us in VOA Special English.

COMPREHENSION CHECK

1. Saint Nick says, "Now dash away, dash away, dash away all". Who is he talking to?
a: the people in the house
b: the man who is spying on him
c: the objects below
d: his eight reindeer

2. The new American Christmas song "Jingle Bells" was written in ____________.
a: 1849
b: 1856
c: 1870
d: 1860

3. Saint Nicholas, a Christian holy person from the 3rd Century AD is the basis for today's famous mythic figure: ____________________ .
a: Sinterklaas
b: Kris Kringle
c: Father Christmas
d: Santa Claus

4. Washington Irving, in "The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent" applauds a wealthy British landowner who _____________________ .
a: creates the first Christmas tree farm
b: gives his farm workers the day off
c: invites his farm workers into his home to celebrate a traditional Christmas
d: turns on electric Christmas lights to make his mansion look festive

5. In 1870, President _________________ made Christmas an official national holiday.
a: Ulysses Grant
b: Abraham Lincoln
c: Woodrow Wilson
d: Franklin Roosevelt

6. From this article, you can probably conclude that, in the 19th Century, Christmas was more ________________ it is today.
a: popular than
b: religious than
c: expensive than
d: important than

7. The tradition of putting up a Christmas tree with lights and decorations comes from immigrants from _________________ .
a: Spain
b: Italy
c: Germany
d: Ireland

8. "Twas the Night Before Christmas" was probably written by ____________________ .
a: Santa Claus
b: Michael Jackson
c: Clement Clarke Moore
d: Henry Livingstone

9. Penne Restad wrote a book called "Christmas in America: A History". In it, she tells how in the first half of the 19th Century ________________________ .
a: many immigrants brought Christmas traditions from their own countries
b: Americans decided Christmas shouldn't be a national holiday
c: Christmas had the same meaning for everyone, regardless of their backgrounds
d: Most Americans didn't celebrate Christmas

10. "The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow gave a lustre of mid-day to objects below" means that ______________________________________
a: the moon was not full so that objects outside were not clearly visible
b: snow covered everything so, even though there was a full moon, nothing could be seen
c: the combination of the full moon and the white snow made it seem like noon outside, so that it was easy to see anything on the lawn as though it were daytime
d: the strange light from the moon reflected by the snow made objects appear to be different from what they really were

'Twas the Night Before Christmas from Youtube:




Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Exploring the Art of Glass.

"The Sacred Heart of Healing" by Tim Tate



VOICE ONE:

I'm Barbara Klein.

VOICE TWO:

And I'm Steve Ember with EXPLORATIONS in VOA Special English. At the Smithsonian American Art Museum, you can see a large heart-shaped sculpture made of blown glass. The deep red colored heart is topped with a burning flame also made of glass. It is called the "Sacred Heart of Healing" and was made by the artist Tim Tate. How did he make this interesting glass form? Today we answer this question as we explore the art of making glass.

(MUSIC)

VOICE ONE:

Throughout history, people from cultures around the world have been making glass. People first found and used glass made by nature. For example, lightning can create tubes of glass when it strikes sand that has the right combination of minerals. Glass pieces produced by lightning are called fulgurites.

Obsidian is a kind of black glass formed when the heat of a volcano melts the silica material in sand. Ancient cultures broke off pieces of obsidian to make knives and weapons such as arrows. The ancient Aztec civilization in current day Mexico used obsidian for making hunting tools and jewelry. The Aztecs made extremely sharp knives and weapons from obsidian. This is one reason experts say they never developed the use of metal.

VOICE TWO:

Glass is considered a physical state of matter. It may look solid, but it is a liquid as well. This is because glass has the hardness of crystal materials while also having a disordered arrangement of molecules like a liquid.

The chemical quality of glass is what makes up its color. Impurities in glass such as iron can give it a green or brown color. Adding chemicals to the glass can give it different color intensities and effects. For example, adding copper to glass can make it blue, while adding tin can make it white.

(MUSIC)

VOICE ONE:

It is hard to say exactly when humans first started making glass. The Roman historian Pliny said that Phoenician sailors accidentally discovered how to make glass over three thousand years ago. The sailors landed on a beach and started a cooking fire near some containers of the mineral natron. The next day, they realized that the sand and natron under the fire had melted then cooled into glass. Other experts say glass making first started four to five thousand years ago in ancient Mesopotamia, present day Iraq and Syria.

VOICE TWO:

One of the earliest methods developed for making glass containers is called core-forming. A glassmaker places a rounded piece of clay material on the end of a long metal stick. Once the clay dries, the glassmaker dips the form in a container of hot liquid glass until it is covered. The artist can then add a second color of glass to make designs over the first layer of glass. Once the glass form cools completely, it is taken off the metal stick. The clay inside is carefully cut out to form a glass container.

VOICE ONE:

Another ancient method of making glass that is still used today is called casting. Casting involves making a clay form in which the shape of the glass container is carved. Then, the artist puts small pieces of glass material inside of the clay form. When it is cooked at a very high temperature, the glass pieces melt and take the shape of the clay form. Once the solid glass object cools, an artist uses special tools to carve an opening in the container.

(MUSIC)

VOICE TWO:

But it was another method of making glass --the blown glass method-- that changed the glass industry of the ancient world. It was first developed in the Roman Empire about two thousand years ago. This new technology made glass production faster and less costly. A glass container made by casting or core-forming could take a few days to make. With glass blowing, an artist could make many containers in a day.

VOICE ONE:

Glassblowing involves gathering hot liquid glass on the end of a metal pipe called a blowpipe. The glass reaches a temperature of about one thousand degrees Celsius. At this temperature, the glass is a bright orange color. The glassblower must turn the pipe constantly so that the thick liquid glass does not fall off the end. He or she then blows through the pipe so that the glass expands into a rounded bubble form. The blown piece of glass can be worked and formed to create many different kinds of shapes. To reshape the glass, it must be continually reheated to stay soft.

VOICE TWO:

In modern terms, the hot oven that the glassblower uses to quickly reheat the glass is called a "glory hole." The artist can shape the hot glass using metal tools such as jacks, tweezers and shears. Or, he or she can place the hot glass on a metal table called a marver to shape the form by rolling it back and forth. Watching an expert glassblower is an exciting experience. The artist moves as quickly and as gracefully as a dancer.

VOICE ONE:

An example of a glass work made in 1885 in Murano, Italy


In thirteenth century Italy, the government ordered glassblowers in Venice to move to the island of Murano. The aim was to reduce the threat of fires from the glassmakers' furnaces. It was also useful for the glassmakers to be together so that they could control the secrets of their trade. Each generation of glassmaker would pass along the secrets of the trade to the next generation.

Murano glass became famous around the world. It is still a center for glass production today. In fact, the Murano glassblowing tradition has been a major influence on one of the most famous American glass artists today, Dale Chihuly. Chihuly trained in Murano in the nineteen sixties. His electrically colorful and fluid glass works can be seen in museums around the world.

(MUSIC)

VOICE TWO:

The Washington Glass Studio is located near Washington, D.C., in Mount Rainier, Maryland. This is where the artist Tim Tate works and teaches. Here he tells about his "Sacred Heart of Healing" sculpture that we talked about earlier.

TIM TATE: "My name is Tim Tate and I am a glass sculptor. In the Smithsonian, there is a blown glass heart with a flame coming out of the top. The image in the flame is a hand and off of each fingertip are different natural healing techniques. The first heart I made was when my mother was extremely ill and after she passed away I made the heart larger. For me, it was a memory piece. For years afterwards I made these large sacred hearts. Some of them were clear with things inside, some were very colorful."

VOICE ONE:

Making these hearts is not easy. Tate works with a team of glass artists at a studio in the state of North Carolina.

Tim Tate is also the director of the Washington Glass School. He says he loves teaching glass skills to students because he learns so much from them. And, he likes to work near the other glass artists in the school because they can exchange ideas and methods.

Tate first became interested in glass by watching glassblowers as a young child. As an adult, he developed his love of glass making for very different reasons.

TIM TATE: "When I was just a small kid I went to Corning Glass works and watched the glass blowers there and was really mesmerized by that. And then, years ago when I first found out that I was HIV positive, my initial reason for doing glass was I wanted to leave one glass vase for my nephew and nieces to remember their uncle by. My initial reason was a sense of legacy.

"And then, I kept living and twenty-three years later, I am in many museums around the world. I just got good at it, because I knew I had to hurry because I was supposed to die."

VOICE TWO:
Tim Tate makes glass that is meant to be sculptural. He says the message in his work is usually about healing.

TIM TATE: "My messages in all of these is all about healing. Either healing ourselves, or society's healing, or healing through making art, or healing through viewing art. So, that's what my content tends to be about."

VOICE ONE:

Tim Tate also makes sculptures that he calls reliquaries. These works are made of clear blown glass containers with different objects inside. He has a big collection of interesting small objects such as maps, tools, game pieces, and dolls for putting inside the containers.

"Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand" by Tim Tate


One reliquary is called "Dice." It is filled with hundreds of small red cubes for playing games of chance. The surface of the container is covered with writing that has been cut into the glass. The message tells about different methods for guessing about the future. It says that good health can sometimes be a matter of luck.

Tim Tate is also working on a series of blown glass sculptures inside of which are small televisions playing videos. In these detailed works, the ancient art of glass meets the modern world of technology.

(MUSIC)

VOICE TWO:

This program was written and produced by Dana Demange. I'm Steve Ember.

VOICE ONE:

And I'm ­­­­­Barbara Klein. You can learn about other artists on our Web site, voaspecialenglish.com. Join us again next week for EXPLORATIONS in VOA Special English.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Textile Arts Around The World - From Voice of America.

"Variations on T" by B.J. Adams, Textile Artist



VOICE ONE:

I'm Doug Johnson.

VOICE TWO:

And I'm Faith Lapidus with EXPLORATIONS in VOA Special English. At craft shows and corporate headquarters across the United States, you might see works by the artist B.J. Adams. She makes extremely detailed wall coverings that often show flowers, trees, and hands made from thread.



Her work "Variations on H" is made up of different colors of finely made hands connected together to form a flowing cloth. How did Miz Adams make this work? Today we answer this question as we explore the world of textile art.

(MUSIC)

VOICE ONE:

For thousands of years, people have developed creative ways to produce textiles. A textile is a piece of cloth that has been formed by weaving, knitting, pressing or knotting together individual pieces of fiber. Yarn is a general term for long pieces of interlocked fibers. Yarn can be made from natural materials such as cotton, linen, silk and wool. Or it can be made from manufactured materials such as nylon, acrylic and polyester. The paints that give color to yarn are called dyes.

Many people today might not think much about the shirt, pants, or socks they are wearing. Manufacturing cloth is now a very low cost process. But this was not always the case.

VOICE TWO:

Until the nineteenth century, all cloth was made by hand. It took a great deal of time and effort to gather fibers from plants or animals to make into yarn which could then be made into cloth. Humans probably first made textiles to meet important needs. These include textiles for keeping warm, creating shelter, and holding goods. But cultures around the world also developed methods of making cloth that were artistic, creative, and beautiful.

Weaving is one way to produce cloth. A set of threads called the warp form the base of the cloth.Other threads called the weft are placed over and under the warp. The device used to weave together warp and weft threads is called a loom. If you look down at a piece of fabric as though it were a map, the warp threads would go in a north-south direction. The weft goes in an east-west direction.

VOICE ONE:

A tapestry is a special kind of weaving method in which the weft does not go continuously through the whole width of the fabric. A weaver uses the weft threads to create individual areas of color. The designs and images on the surface of a tapestry are woven into the cloth as opposed to being only on the surface of the cloth.

Some famous examples of wall tapestries were produced in Europe, starting around the fourteenth century. These include the seven Unicorn Tapestries that are part of the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.



These extraordinarily fine tapestries were made in the early sixteenth century.They were thought to have been designed in Paris and woven in Brussels, then part of the Netherlands.They are so detailed they look more like paintings than weavings. The textiles tell a story about a group of hunters and wealthy people searching for a magical creature.During this period, wealthy people used finely made tapestries to bring color and warmth to their large houses.

VOICE TWO:

Kilims are a kind of tapestry made across North Africa, the Middle East, Turkey and the Caucasus.



Kilims were often made by tribes that moved from place to place. Kilims were made to cover the floors of tents or to hold goods. In these nomadic cultures, women were usually the weavers. A mother would pass down weaving traditions to her daughter. Kilims are woven with many bright patterns and complex geometric forms. Each tribe or area has its own kilim traditions.

Another method for making floor coverings involves tying pieces of yarn onto the warp. Unlike kilims, these "pile" carpets are not flat, they are deep and soft because their surfaces are covered with the ends of thousands of pieces of yarn. These carpets are often called "Oriental" or "Persian" carpets. The National Gallery in Washington, D.C. has several fine examples of pile carpets from Iran. One red and gold carpet from the seventeenth century has complex patterns and animal designs.



VOICE ONE:

There are more methods for producing artistic textiles than we have time to discuss. For example, in the United States the tradition of making quilts has a long and rich history. Quilts are made by piecing together layers of cloth to make colorful coverings. The Amish religious group is well known for their inventive and bold quilt patterns.



There also many different ways to change the appearance of the surface of a textile. Embroidery work involves using colored yarn and a needle to create designs on the surface of cloth. One famous example of embroidery work is called the Bayeux Tapestry.



This eleventh century work is not actually a tapestry. It is a seventy meter long cloth covered in embroidery stitches.

The images sewn on the cloth tell about the events leading up to the Norman invasion of England in ten sixty-six. The work includes hundreds of soldiers, horses, boats, and weapons.

There are also many methods for coloring fabrics with dyes. In Indonesia, the batik method of dying fabric involves using wax to make complex patterns:



In Japan, the shibori method involves tieing cloth in different ways so that some areas of it receive the dye:



What kind of textile traditions exist where you live?

Mayan Weaving


(MUSIC)

VOICE TWO:

These textile traditions are ancient. Modern artists use these methods and others in creative and inventive ways to make new and exciting work. Artists who make art from textiles are often called fiber artists. We visited the studio of B.J. Adams in Washington, D.C. to see a fiber artist at work.

B. J. Adams uses a sewing machine and thread like a painter uses color. She guides the cloth she is working on so that the machine makes stitches and slowly colors the work. This is called free-motion embroidery.

B.J. ADAMS: "I started out with drawing and painting in school. And, I always made all my own clothes. And one time, in nineteen sixty, I started to see contemporary embroidery. And I'd never seen any embroidery except what the Girl Scouts show you. And it was so good and so interesting, I thought it was combining two things I love, art and sewing."

VOICE ONE:

Ms. Adams is always testing new ideas and methods. For example, she recently used heat transfers to copy images of paintings she made years ago onto cloth. Usually, she will cover the lines of her drawings using a straight stitch on her sewing machine. But for this series, she is experimenting with a zig-zag stitch that looks like a line made up of angles.

B.J. ADAMS: "I'm doing the whole thing in zig-zag. Just trying something new."

"Catching The Moment" - B.J. Adams


(SOUND)


VOICE TWO:

Many of her works are influenced by nature, trees, and flowers. Some have a dreamy, surreal look. Others are very realistic. One work shows a large embroidered white magnolia flower sewn onto a painted surface. It is so detailed that unless you look up close, you would think it was a painting.

B.J. ADAMS: "This is one from my drawings of the magnolia, which we have in our backyard. The magnolias die so quickly when you bring them in, so I had to draw it quickly before I started in on the stitching."

VOICE TWO:

Below the flower, Ms. Adams embroidered leaves in a range of colors to show how they change as they dry.

"Rebound"


B.J. ADAMS: "They started out this kind of dark kelly and then they go to yellow, green, and brown. It's called "Catching the Moment" because they die so quickly."

VOICE ONE:

Many works by B. J. Adams are abstract. This means there is no image, just an arrangement of forms and colors. One series is based on her time teaching in New Zealand. She used very dense stitches that are very close together to make flowing lines of bright colors.

B.J. ADAMS: "Now that one and this one are both results of bungee jumping in Queenstown. And that's called "Bungee Attitude" and that's called "Rebound."

VOICE TWO:

Other works are influenced by gallery shows that have a set theme.

B.J. ADAMS: "This one is "Variations on K", because this is the word kiss in every language, including sign language.



And it was made for a show that had the theme of kiss. And they required this size piece, so that was the one I created."

A detail of "Variation on H" by B.J. Adams



VOICE ONE:

Earlier, we discussed the work "Variations on H." It hangs on a window in her colorful studio. It is made up of about forty drawings of Ms. Adams' hands. She made each hand as an example to students while she was teaching a class on drawing using free-motion embroidery. She decided to piece together the hands into one work.

B.J. Adams sewed the drawings onto special fabric which melted away after she washed it. What is left is pure embroidery. This complex work honors the artist's most important tool, her hands. And, it gives a good example of the endless creative possibilities of fiber art.

(MUSIC)

VOICE TWO:

This program was written and produced by Dana Demange. I'm Faith Lapidus.

VOICE ONE:

And I'm ­­­­­Doug Johnson.You can see pictures of B. J. Adams' fiber art on our Web site, voaspecialenglish.com.Join us again next week for Explorations in VOA Special English.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Visiting Modern Wonders of The World - From Voice of America

The Sears Tower in Chicago, Illinois



VOICE ONE:

This is Faith Lapidus.

VOICE TWO:

And this is Steve Ember with EXPLORATIONS in VOA Special English. Today, we finish our series of programs about the Wonders of the World. In earlier programs, we told about ancient structures and beautiful natural places. Today we tell about modern structures that are Wonders of the World.

(MUSIC)

VOICE ONE:

Any list of modern wonders should include some of the buildings in the great cities of the world. An example in New York City is the Empire State Building. For many years, it was the tallest building in the world. Today, the Sears Tower in Chicago, Illinois and the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia are taller.

These buildings are important to any list. However, the modern wonders we have selected have changed history. They are important because they made life safer or easier or were useful to a great number of people. We begin with two similar structures in two very different parts of the world.

(MUSIC)

VOICE TWO:
The Suez Canal
More than three thousand years ago, an ancient king of Egypt ordered that a river be built to connect the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. This kind of man-made river is called a canal.

Ancient evidence shows the work was done and a canal was built. Experts believe it was possible for small boats of that time to travel from the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea. Some evidence shows the Nile River may have been used for part of the canal. However, the ancient people of Egypt did not keep this canal in use. As years passed, the sands of the great deserts of Egypt closed the small canal.

The Cape of Good Hope
As the centuries passed, many people thought it would be a good idea to rebuild the canal. The problem was the huge cost. But the cost could not be compared to the cost of a ship that had to sail from ports on the Atlantic Ocean to ports in Asia. Ships had to sail around the Cape of Good Hope, the most southern part of the continent of Africa.

VOICE ONE:

A French engineer planned and directed the modern canal connecting the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. His name was Ferdinand de Lesseps. Egyptian workers began building the canal in eighteen fifty-nine.

It was opened and named the Suez Canal during a ceremony on November seventeenth, eighteen sixty-nine. The Suez Canal is about one hundred sixty-three kilometers long and about sixty meters wide.

The Suez Canal has been closed several times because of war or political problems. Today, the Suez Canal is still important. Ships pay money to use the canal. That money is important to the economy of Egypt. The canal saves shipping companies a great deal of time and money because it is the fastest crossing from the Atlantic Ocean to the Indian Ocean.

VOICE TWO:

The Panama Canal
Our next Modern Wonder of the World is also a canal -- the Panama Canal. It connects the Atlantic Ocean with the Pacific Ocean. Before it was built, ships often had to spend several weeks traveling around Cape Horn at the end of South America. Many ships were lost in great storms in that dangerous area.

Spanish explorer Vasco Nunez de Balboa and his men were the first Europeans to travel through the thick jungles in Panama from the Atlantic Coast to the Pacific Coast. That was in fifteen thirteen. Panama quickly became a major shipping area for the Spanish. Their ships from the colonies in the Western Hemisphere and from Asia brought treasure to the Pacific Coast. The treasure was taken overland to the city of Portobelo on the Atlantic Side.

The idea of building a way to connect the two great oceans began with the Spanish explorers. They saw the need for a canal to speed up delivery of their cargo. However, it was impossible to build. The machines needed to build something as big as a canal did not exist.

VOICE ONE:

In eighteen seventy-nine, a French Company tried to build a canal across Panama. It failed. The company did not have enough money to complete the project. Also, thousands of men working on the project died of the disease Yellow Fever.

Cape Horn
In nineteen hundred, an American army doctor, Walter Reed, and his research team discovered that mosquito insects carried the virus that caused Yellow Fever. They worked on methods to destroy the mosquito population.This development helped make possible an American effort to build the Panama Canal. Panama and the United States signed treaties in nineteen-oh-three and work began on the canal. More than eighty thousand men worked on the huge effort. They made a canal about eighty kilometers long from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

On August fifteenth, nineteen fourteen, the ship S.S. Ancon became the first ship to sail through the new canal. Today, about thirteen thousand ships pass through the canal each year. That number represents about five percent of the world’s trade. Both the Suez and the Panama Canals are truly modern Wonders of the World. Both make it possible to safely move from one great ocean to another. And, both save huge amounts of time and money.

(MUSIC)

VOICE TWO:

The two great canals we have discussed connect oceans. Our next great Wonder of the World connects land.

A train enters the Eurotunnel on the French side
This connecting device is called the Channel Tunnel, or “Chunnel.” It connects the island that is Britain with France. It was one of the largest and most difficult construction projects ever attempted. It is a three-tunnel railroad from Calais, France to Folkestone, England. The tunnels are fifty kilometers long. They were built about forty-five meters below the earth under the English Channel. Two of the tunnels carry trains and one is used for repair work and emergencies.

VOICE ONE:

The idea of a tunnel connecting Britain with other nations of Europe was first proposed to the French Emperor Napoleon in the early eighteen hundreds. However it was never a serious idea. The technology to make such a tunnel did not exist. But people dreamed of such a tunnel. Crossing the English Channel by ship was often a terrible trip because of storms.

Three serious attempts were made to build the tunnel. The first two failed. Political differences between France and Britain stopped the first attempt. Financial problems stopped the second.

VOICE TWO:

Inside The Chunnel
The third and successful attempt to build the Chunnel began in nineteen eighty-seven after France and Britain signed an agreement. It took seven years to finish the work. To complete the tunnels, construction workers had to move more than seventeen million tons of earth. The cost was more than thirteen thousand million dollars. The Chunnel opened in nineteen ninety-four.

Today, the Chunnel is very busy. High-speed trains carry cars, trucks and passengers from Britain to France and back again. The trains are famous for their smooth, quiet ride. The money paid for the trip is slowly paying for the huge cost.

(MUSIC)

VOICE ONE:

Our last modern Wonder of the World has not yet been completed. It is perhaps the largest construction project ever attempted. It is the Three Gorges Dam Project in China’s Hubei Province. Some experts say it is the largest attempted construction project since the ancient Chinese built the Great Wall of China.

The Three Gorges Dam in December, 2004












The Three Gorges Dam is being built to produce power and control China’s Yangtze River. The Yangtze is the third longest river in the world. It is famous for the terrible floods it has caused. Some reports say more than one million people have been killed in Yangtze floods in the past one hundred years.

VOICE TWO:

The Three Gorges Dam will not be finished until two thousand nine. Work began in nineteen ninety-three. About two hundred fifty thousand workers are involved in the project. Experts say the huge dam will cost about twenty-five thousand million dollars. When finished it will be about one hundred eighty-one meters high.

The dam will create a huge lake about six hundred thirty-two square kilometers. Some critics say the dam will harm the environment and damage historical areas. More than one million people will have to be resettled before the dam is finished. The completed dam will produce large amounts of electric power. Chinese government officials say it will lead to increased economic development in cities near the dam. And China says the terrible floods caused by the Yangtze will be memories of the past.

(MUSIC)

VOICE ONE:

This program was written by Paul Thompson. It was produced by Mario Ritter. This is Faith Lapidus.

VOICE TWO:

And this is Steve Ember. Join us again next week for another EXPLORATIONS program in VOA Special English.

COMPREHENSION CHECK

1. One result of the Three Gorges Dam that is not a benefit will be ___________ .
a. no more floods
b. greater economic growth
c. resettlement of many people
d. greater electric power

2. The Suez Canal connects the Mediterranean with the _________ .
a. Nile River
b. Red Sea
c. Ethiopia
d. Indian Ocean

3. The early Spanish explorers wanted a canal in Panama, but they didn't have the _____________ .
a. courage
b. insect repellent
c. ships
d. technology

4. Before the Panama Canal, ships had to travel to _____________ before they could reach the Pacific Ocean.
a. Cape Horn
b. The Cape of Good Hope
c. The Suez Canal
d. Portobelo

5. According to Voice of America, a true Modern Wonder of the world should be _________ .
a. huge
b. expensive
c. useful
d. very difficult to build

6. The tunnel constructed under the English Channel is known as The ____________ .
a. Underground Railroad
b. Chunnel
c. Paris Express
d. Euro Pass

7. This tunnel connects Europe with ____________ .
a. England
b. Ireland
c. France
d. Egypt

8. Crossing the English Channel by ship can be dangerous because of frequent __________ .
a. attacks by pirates
b. railroad explosions
c. huge storms
d. giant fish

9. Another name for this selection could be "____________ ."
a. European Accomplishments
b. Modern Wonders of the 21st Century
c. Modern Structures That Benefit People
d. Canals of the Twentieth Century

10. This article is mainly about ______________ .
a. the Empire State Building
b. the tallest buildings in the world
c. great structures that change history
d. railroads that connect countries

Ride the train into the Chunnel:



Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Margaret Bourke-White: A Fearless News Photographer. She helped create the modern art of photojournalism.



VOICE ONE:

I'm Barbara Klein.

VOICE TWO:

And I'm Steve Ember with People in America in VOA Special English. Today we tell about photographer Margaret Bourke-White, one of the leading news reporters of the twentieth century.

(MUSIC)

VOICE ONE:

A young woman is sitting on her knees on top of a large metal statue. She is not in a park. She is outside an office building high above New York City. The young woman reached the statue by climbing through a window on the sixty-first floor. She wanted to get a better picture of the city below.

The woman is Margaret Bourke-White. She was one of the leading news reporters of the twentieth century. But she did not write the news. She told her stories with a camera. She was a fearless woman of great energy and skill. Her work took her from America's Midwest to the Soviet Union. From Europe during World War Two to India, South Africa and Korea. Through her work, she helped create the modern art of photojournalism.

A DC-4 plane over NYC in 1939
In some ways, Bourke-White was a woman ahead of her time. She often did things long before they became accepted in society. She was divorced. She worked in a world of influential men, and earned their praise and support. She wore trousers and colored her hair. Yet, in more important ways, she was a woman of and for her times. She became involved in the world around her and recorded it in pictures for the future.

(MUSIC)

VOICE TWO:

Margaret Bourke-White was born in New York City in nineteen-oh-four. When Margaret was very young, the family moved to New Jersey. Her mother, Minnie Bourke, worked on publications for the blind. Her father, Joseph White, was an engineer and designer in the printing industry. He also liked to take pictures. Their home was filled with his photographs. Soon young Margaret was helping him take and develop his photographs.

When she was eight years old, her father took her inside a factory to watch the manufacture of printing presses. In the foundry, she saw hot liquid iron being poured to make the machines. She remembered this for years to come.

Margaret attended several universities before completing her studies at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York in nineteen twenty-seven. She studied engineering, biology and photography. She married while she was still a student. But the marriage only lasted one year.

VOICE ONE:

Margaret took the name Bourke-White, the last names of her mother and father. In nineteen twenty-eight, she began working in the midwestern city of Cleveland, Ohio. It was then one of the centers of American industry. She became an industrial photographer at the Otis Steel Company. In the hot, noisy factories where steel was made, she saw beauty and a subject for her pictures.

She said: "Industry is alive. The beauty of industry lies in its truth and simpleness. Every line has a purpose, and so is beautiful. Whatever art will come out of this industrial age will come from the subjects of industry themselves…which are close to the heart of the people."

Throughout America and Europe, engineers and building designers found beauty in technology. Their machines and buildings had artistic forms. In New York, the Museum of Modern Art opened in nineteen twenty-nine. One of its goals was to study the use of art in industry. Bourke-White's photographic experiments began with the use of industry in art.

VOICE TWO:

Bourke-White's first pictures inside the steel factory in Cleveland were a failure. The difference between the bright burning metal and the black factory walls was too extreme for her camera. She could not solve the problem until she got new equipment and discovered new techniques of photography. Then she was able to capture the sharp difference between light and dark. The movement and power of machines. The importance of industry.

Sometimes her pictures made you feel you were looking down from a great height, or up from far below. Sometimes they led you directly into the heart of the activity.

VOICE ONE:

In New York, a wealthy and influential publisher named Henry Luce saw Bourke-White's pictures. Luce published a magazine called Time. He wanted to start a new magazine. It would be called Fortune, and would report about developments in industry. Luce sent a telegram to Bourke-White, asking her to come to New York immediately. She accepted a job as photographer for Fortune magazine. She worked there from nineteen twenty-nine to nineteen thirty-three.

(MUSIC)

"Fort Peck Dam, Montana" taken by Margaret Bourke-White in 1936



VOICE TWO:

Margaret Bourke-White told stories in pictures, one image at a time. She used each small image to tell part of the bigger story. The technique became known as the photographic essay. Other magazines and photographers used the technique. But Bourke-White – more than most photographers – had unusual chances to develop it.

VOICE ONE:

In the early nineteen thirties, she traveled to the Soviet Union three times. Later she wrote:

"Nothing invites me so much as a closed door. I cannot let my camera rest until I have opened that door. And I wanted to be first. I believed in machines as objects of beauty. So I felt the story of a nation trying to industrialize – almost overnight – was perfect for me."

VOICE TWO:

On her first trip to the Soviet Union, Bourke-White traveled on the Trans-Siberian Railway. She carried many cameras and examples of her work. When she arrived in Moscow, a Soviet official gave her a special travel permit, because he liked her industrial photographs. The permit ordered all Soviet citizens to help her while she was in the country.

Bourke-White spoke to groups of Soviet writers and photographers. They asked her about camera techniques, and also about her private life.

Russian Women in the Fields
After one gathering, several men surrounded her and talked for a long time. They spoke Russian. Not knowing the language, Bourke-White smiled in agreement at each man as he spoke. Only later did she learn that she had agreed to marry each one of them. Her assistant explained the mistake and said to the men: "Miss Bourke-White loves nothing but her camera."

VOICE ONE:

By the end of the trip, Margaret Bourke-White had traveled eight thousand kilometers throughout the Soviet Union. She took hundreds of pictures, and published some of them in her first book, "Eyes on Russia." She returned the next year to prepare for a series of stories for the New York Times newspaper. And she went back a third time to make an educational movie for the Kodak film company.

Bourke-White visited Soviet cities, farms and factories. She took pictures of workers using machines. She took pictures of peasant women, village children, and even the mother of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin.



She took pictures of the country's largest bridge, and the world's largest dam. She used her skill in mixing darkness and light to create works of art. She returned home with more than three thousand photographs – the first western documentary on the Soviet Union.

(MUSIC)

VOICE TWO:

Margaret Bourke-White had seen a great deal for someone not yet thirty years old. But in nineteen thirty-four, she saw something that would change her idea of the world. Fortune magazine sent her on a trip through the central part of the United States. She was told to photograph farmers – from America's northern border with Canada to its southern border with Mexico.



Some of the farmers were victims of a terrible shortage of rain, and of their own poor farming methods. The good soil had turned to dust. And the wind blew the dust over everything. It got into machines and stopped them. It chased the farmers from their land, although they had nowhere else to go.

VOICE ONE:

Bourke-White had never given much thought to human suffering. After her trip, she had a difficult time forgetting. She decided to use her skills to show all parts of life. She would continue taking industrial pictures of happy, healthy people enjoying their shiny new cars.

Philadelphia High Society


But she would tell a different story in her photographic essays.

Under one picture she wrote: "While machines are making great progress in automobile factories, the workers might be under-paid. Pictures can be beautiful. But they must tell facts, too." We will continue the story of photographer Margaret Bourke-White next week.

(MUSIC)

VOICE TWO:

This program was written by Shelley Gollust. It was produced by Lawan Davis. Our studio engineer was Tom Verba. I'm Steve Ember.

VOICE ONE:

And I'm Barbara Klein. Join us again next week for People in America in VOA Special English.

COMPREHENSION CHECK:

1.Margaret Bourke-White climbed onto a large metal statue in an office building high above New York City because she wanted _________ .
a: to get a better view
b: to do something dangerous
c: to get a better picture
d: to earn a reputation as a courageous woman

2. Margaret Bourke-White was introduced to photography by ___________ .
a: her father
b: her mother
c: a teacher
d: studying photographs

3. This famous woman believed in ______________ .
a: having a good husband
b: wearing stylish and feminine clothing
c: learning to be a good wife
d: becoming involved with the world

4. One image from her childhood that stood out in her mind was ____________ .
a: the beautiful garden in her back yard
b: hot liquid iron being poured in molds to make machinery
c: her mother teaching a blind child how to read braille
d: a bomb exploding in Moscow

5.Margaret Bourke-White was inspired by the truth and simplicity of ____________ .
a: the human face
b: the landscapes of nature
c: industry
d: skyscrapers

6.Her photographs in a factory in Cleveland weren't good because ___________ .
a: they weren't popular with the public
b: she took the pictures too quickly
c: the pictures were out of focus
d: the contrast between light and dark was too extreme

7.Margaret Bourke-White's photos of the sufferings of farmers led to more photographs documenting _________________ .
a: the problems of labor
b: the country's growing wealth
c: the progress of industry
d: the poor working methods of most farmers

8.From 1929 to 1933, Bourke-White worked as a photographer for _____________ .
a: Fortune Magazine
b: Time Magazine
c: Life Magazine
d: Reader's Digest

9. Another name for this article could be " _________________ ."
a: Black and White Photography
b: The Early Career of a Pioneer Photojournalist
c: Margaret Bourke-White's College Years
d: Photojournalism in the Twentieth Century

10. This article is mainly about ________________ .
a: Margaret Bourke-White's pictures in the Soviet Union and in Mexico
b: Margaret Bourke-White's diverse and powerful photojournalism
c: Margaret Bourke-Whites influences in childhood and in college
d: Photojournalism: the early days

Margaret Bourke-White, Part Two

Margaret Bourke-White: Youtube Essay: