Stories from the past that help you make sense of the present.


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Search engines grew with the rise of the internet in the late 1990s, forming the foundation of the modern digital assistant. Learn more about the history of home speakers and voice technology with History and Google.



On #ThisDayinHistory 1863, at the dedication of a military cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, during the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln delivers one of the most memorable speeches in American history. In just 272 words, Lincoln brilliantly and movingly reminded a war-weary public why the Union had to fight, and win, the Civil War. The Battle of Gettysburg, fought some four months earlier, was the single bloodiest battle of the Civil War. Over the course of three days, more than 45,000 men were killed, injured, captured or went missing. The battle also proved to be the turning point of the war: General Robert E. Lee’s defeat and retreat from Gettysburg marked the last Confederate invasion of Northern territory and the beginning of the Southern army’s ultimate decline. Lincoln’s address lasted just two or three minutes. The speech reflected his redefined belief that the Civil War was not just a fight to save the Union, but a struggle for freedom and equality for all, an idea Lincoln had not championed in the years leading up to the war. This was his stirring conclusion: “The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”#GettysburgAddress #AbrahamLincoln #CivilWar #History #USHistory



On #ThisDayinHistory 1978, Peoples Temple founder Jim Jones compelled hundreds of his followers to commit mass murder-suicide at their agricultural commune in a remote part of the South American nation of Guyana. Many of Jones’ followers willingly ingested a poison-laced punch while others were forced to do so at gunpoint. The final death toll at Jonestown that day was over 900, and a third of those who perished were children. It has been sparked by the arrival of Congressman Leo Ryan with a group of journalists and other observers. At first the visit went well, but the next day, as Ryan’s delegation was about to leave, several Jonestown residents approached the group and asked them for passage out of Guyana. Jones became distressed at the defection of his followers, and one of Jones’ lieutenants attacked Ryan with a knife. The congressman escaped from the incident unharmed, but Jones then ordered Ryan and his companions ambushed and killed at the airstrip as they attempted to leave. The congressman and four others were murdered as they boarded their charter planes. Back in Jonestown, Jones commanded everyone to gather in the main pavilion and commit what he termed a “revolutionary act.” When Guyanese officials arrived at the Jonestown compound the next day, they found it carpeted with of bodies. Many people had perished with their arms around each other. A few residents managed to escape into the jungle as the suicides took place, while at least several dozen more Peoples Temple members, including several of Jones’ sons, survived because they were in another part of Guyana at the time. #jonestown #jonestownmassacre #cult



On #ThisDayinHistory 1958, the Kingston Trio’s “Tom Dooley” hits #1 on the Billboard pop chart. The song “Tom Dooley” was probably first sung sometime after May 1, 1868, when a North Carolina man named Tom Dula was hanged to death for the murder of his fiancée, Laura Foster. Thanks to extensive coverage in major newspapers like TheNew York Times, the trial of Mr. Dula made him something of a national cause celebre, and he proclaimed his innocence of the murder even as he stood on the gallows. It is not clear when or by whom the mournful murder ballad based on his story was written, but it was resurrected by the Kingston Trio in the late 1950s after hearing a fellow folk singer perform it in an audition at San Francisco’s Purple Onion club. #KingstonTrio #MusicHistory #FolkMusic #TomDooley #MurderBallads



Idlewild, Michigan was once known as “The Black Eden”—a resort where black writers, business people, physicians and entertainers spent their summers in a racially segregated country. In its earliest days, you could run into W.E.B. Du Bois; in its later years, you could catch an Aretha Franklin show. But it wasn’t the only such spot. Even before the Negro Motorist Green-Book came out in 1936, resorts had opened up all over the country catering to black vacationers. Starting in the late 19th century, Jim Crow laws in the south prevented black Americans from using the same accommodations and services as white people. Even though the same set of laws didn’t exist across the north, black people were still not welcome at many beaches, hotels and other facilities there. Thus, resorts that specifically catered to excluded black vacationers popped up in both the north and south. #USHistory #BlackHistory #Segregation #Vacation #Idlewild



Today's #TBTT (Throwback Travel Thursday) takes us to Wat Rong Khun, or the White Temple, one of over 33,000 Buddhist temples in Thailand. However, this one is a little...different. It was opened to visitors in 1997 and is more art exhibition than place of worship. The art in the complex is inspired by Buddhist beliefs and teachings, but it also focuses on modern society. There are sculptures of devils and the bridge to the entrance crosses over a sea of arms reaching out. Skulls, demons, and pop-cultural figures can be seen throughout. Murals depict swirling orange flames and demon faces, interspersed with Western idols such as Michael Jackson, Neo from The Matrix, Freddy Kruger, and a T-800 series Terminator. #WatRongKhun #WhiteTemple #Thailand #Travel



The building blocks of the modern smart speaker were first introduced in the 1960s. See how early innovations paved the way for today’s digital assistants with History and Google.



The phrase "the dogs of war" first entered the lexicon in Act 3 of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, and from scouts to messengers to war heroes, dogs have been on the battlefield throughout time. Today, these fearless and furry fighters wear their uniforms proudly as they protect and serve. This dog is serving a necessary wartime purpose, bringing levity to these french troops during #WWI. He's dressed up as a German soldier, complete with pipe and goggles. #dog #worldwar1 #History #dogsofwar



On #ThisDayinHistory 1982, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is dedicated in Washington after a weeklong national salute to Americans who served in the Vietnam War and a march to its site by thousands of veterans of the conflict. The long-awaited memorial was a simple V-shaped black-granite wall inscribed with the names of the 57,939 Americans who died in the conflict, arranged in order of death, not rank, as was common in other memorials. The designer of the memorial was Maya Lin, a 21-year-old Yale University architecture student who entered a nationwide competition to create a design for the monument. Many were initially opposed to Lin’s winning design, however, a remarkable shift in public opinion occurred in the months after the memorial’s dedication. Veterans and families of the dead walked the black reflective wall, seeking the names of their loved ones killed in the conflict. Once the name was located, visitors often made an etching or left a private offering, from notes and flowers to dog tags and cans of beer. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial soon became one of the most visited memorials in the nation’s capital. #VietnamWar #MayaLin #Memorial #NationalMall



Stan Lee, Marvel Comics legend, has died at the age of 95. The former Marvel publisher transformed the comic-book industry with his enduring creations and leaves behind a multibillion-dollar entertainment empire. "I'm no prophet, but I'm guessing that comic books will always be strong. I don't think anything can really beat the pure fun and pleasure of holding a magazine in your hand, reading the story on paper, being able to roll it up and put it in your pocket, reread again later, show it to a friend, carry it with you, toss it on a shelf, collect them, have a lot of magazines lined up and read them again as a series. I think young people have always loved that. I think they always will." #StanLee #Marvel #RIP #Repost @biography



Early computers were massive machines that performed like calculators. Today, digital assistants live in smart speakers, speak more than 20 languages and control connected devices in your home. Learn how the #GoogleAssistant and other digital assistants first developed with History and Google.



On #ThisDayinHistory 1954, Ellis Island, the gateway to America, shuts it doors after processing more than 12 million immigrants since opening in 1892. Today, an estimated 40 percent of all Americans can trace their roots through Ellis Island, located in New York Harbor off the New Jersey coast and named for merchant Samuel Ellis, who owned the land in the 1770s. On January 2, 1892, 15-year-old Annie Moore from Ireland, became the first person to pass through the newly opened Ellis Island, which President Benjamin Harrison designated as America’s first federal immigration center in 1890. Before that time, the processing of immigrants had been handled by individual states. Immigration to Ellis Island peaked between 1892 and 1924, and during the busiest year of operation, 1907, over 1 million people were processed at Ellis Island. With America’s entrance into World War I, immigration declined and Ellis Island was used as a detention center for suspected enemies. Following the war, Congress passed quota laws and the Immigration Act of 1924, which sharply reduced the number of newcomers allowed into the country and also enabled immigrants to be processed at U.S. consulates abroad. After 1924, Ellis Island switched from a processing center to serving other purposes, such as a detention and deportation center for illegal immigrants, a hospital for wounded soldiers during World War II and a Coast Guard training center. #EllisIsland #imigration #USHistory