Jonathan Burdick Profile picture
U.S. History teacher. I write things for the @ErieReader. I also play around with @RustDirt.
4 Oct 20
Since The Good Lord Bird premieres tonight, it’s probably a good day for a John Brown thread. First, this will likely be an enjoyable, well-done show and I’m glad Brown is getting some mainstream attention — but the real John Brown was not an impulsive, raving, crazy person.
I enjoyed the book, but it is historical fiction. The main character of Little Onion is fictional & the story is satirical in nature. It’s portrayal of Brown is not meant to be historically accurate (and almost certainly is influenced by the Lost Cause caricature of John Brown).
John Brown was a deeply serious and committed abolitionist who made the abolition of slavery he and his family’s personal crusade. He made calculated, rather than impulsive decisions. Of course, he sometimes miscalculated.
Read 12 tweets
7 Sep 20
Here is my annual Labor Day reminder that you should by this book, whether you live in #EriePA or simply want a comprehensive and engaging look at rustbelt labor history. ImageImage
A few other recommendations: The Story of the California Grape Strike, which focuses on the organizing of Dolores Huerta and Caesar Chavez in 1965. #LaborHistory Image
This masterwork by @ErikLoomis is also required reading (and one you should pass on). #LaborHistory Image
Read 8 tweets
30 Aug 20
Local candidate Greg Hayes is fear-mongering & fueling paranoia over a locally-organized peaceful march set for 1pm in Edinboro. He’s liking comments about people saying they’ll show up with guns, while others are saying NRA members need deputized. This is extremely irresposible. ImageImageImageImage
There’s no reason to believe this afternoon march won’t be peaceful. Other than what happened at night after the peaceful protest downtown on 5/30, dozens of peaceful local demonstrations have happened. Meanwhile, a guy with this profile pic is provoking freely on Hayes’s post. ImageImageImage
People are spreading fear about “busing people in” (some claiming without evidence that it happened in the middle of the night last) and not only does Hayes not push back on the claim, he responds, “we will not put up with this!” Image
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31 May 20
Things are escalating significantly in downtown #EriePA.
I left before it escalated to this. This is from a current livestream in downtown #EriePA at Perry Square.

#GeorgeFloyd #GeorgeFloydProtests ImageImageImage
Raw footage of the chaos in downtown #EriePA earlier tonight from a livestream:

#GeorgeFloyd #GeorgeFloydProtests #Erie #protests
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21 May 20
My latest in the @ErieReader tells a story that took place 55 years ago in #EriePA. In 1965, just a day after Dr. King was arrested for the first time in Selma, Hammermill executives stood alongside Gov. Wallace announcing the opening of a new plant.…
This led for calls for a boycott of Hammermill products by @repjohnlewis and @snccdigital and led to two days of protests at the Erie headquarters, organized by SNCC, the @NationalSCLC, @NAACP, and students from @oberlincollege & @penn_state.

(@civilrightsorg @NCRMuseum)
Dozens of activists were arrested during the protests outside of Hammermill. Many were college students from @ObieLib and @penn_state. Image
Read 6 tweets
13 May 20
I mean, sure, I have issues with the portrayal of Brown here (the book is good, but historical fiction — and it should be noted that Brown was taken seriously and even respected by his adversaries), but I’m just excited that John Brown is about to get some serious attention.
Also, while I know that I’ll enjoy this, this isn’t at all the character in or tone of my dream John Brown project.

So with that said, since Daniel Day-Lewis probably won’t come out of retirement, give me a call, Michael Shannon.
Frederick Douglass on Brown during his trial: “One of the most painful incidents connected with the name of this old hero is the attempt to prove him insane ... which seeks to rob him of his true character and dim the glory of his deeds...“…
Read 4 tweets
12 May 20
I mean, this “interview” is clearly propaganda, but this outright & deliberate lie by McConnell is especially infuriating.

I decided to read through the entire pandemic playbook left by the Obama Administration tonight (because I’m a normal human being):…
It’s extremely detailed and centralizes and delegates authority very clearly. Also: “[T]he American public will look to the U.S. Government for action when multi-state or other significant public health events occur.” ImageImageImageImage
Hey, remember when most of us had never heard the term “social distancing before?” Good times.

Here it’s called a “critical component of early response,” along with other community mitigation measures. Image
Read 4 tweets
21 Apr 20
As the adage often goes: history may not repeat, but it does echo. From this 1912 report by Erie’s Board of Health, we see a general overview of the city’s various epidemics from the previous year. #pandemic #epidemic #EriePA Image
On the second page of the report though, secretary of the board C.E. Welsh demonstrated the otherness often ascribed to Italian and Polish immigrants during this time, blaming them directly (and not their conditions) for the spread of scarlet fever. Image
In the late-19th/early-20th centuries, millions of Italian & Polish immigrants came to the US. Many settled in Erie. During these decades, they were often represented as the “other,” ostracized & villainized by many—perhaps most famously in the later 1920 Sacco & Vanzetti trial.
Read 4 tweets
16 Apr 20
Had a great chat with @TomEScott who explains how they’re getting The Wonders back together for a live-streamed That Thing You Do! watch party tomorrow (7pm EST) in a tribute to Adam Schlesinger & in support of the @MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund. #EriePA…
Learn more about Adam Schlesinger’s life and career here:…
And learn more about the @MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund here:…
Read 5 tweets
10 Apr 20
Wow. And as of today, 10 of the 14 remaining journalists at @ThePlainDealer (who I wrote about just today) were laid off. That leaves only FOUR reporters at the iconic Cleveland newspaper.

Read 5 tweets
27 Mar 20
Now that we’re locked out of our libraries and archives, how are we doing history?

Digital archives.

It’s something you can do too.… #EriePA
Here’s an example of my process for deciding what to research and write about. If I don’t already have an idea, I simply explore. I look through old newspapers and magazines. I explore archives. I leaf through books like Isaac Moorhead’s... and sometimes something stands out: ImageImage
A deadly duel in #EriePA! On 3rd and Sassafras?! This initial intrigue always leads me to a few questions: whose account am I reading & is it reliable? Who are these people? Is there a story there worth telling to readers today?

I examine the details and start prodding around.
Read 8 tweets
22 Mar 20
Paul Newman, who always was the best of us, is trending for some reason. I’m here for it. Image
Paul Newman, in a 2002 interview promoting (the criminally underrated) Road to Perdition, was asked if charity was his responsibility as a celebrity. Newman donated millions of dollars during his lifetime &, of course, Newman’s Own has raised $500m for charity.

He had thoughts: Image
Paul Newman was also on the list of Richard Nixon’s enemies compiled in 1971 and publicly revealed during the Watergate hearings in 1973.

“Being on President Nixon's enemies list was the highest single honor I've ever received,” he quipped in 2006.
Read 5 tweets
19 Mar 20
I had some thoughts in the @ErieReader.…
When we talk about the importance of competence, expertise, leadership, and yes, even organized bureaucracy in times of crisis, I can't help but to think back to this must-read article from @ForeignPolicy from TWO MONTHS ago. #CoronaCrisis #coronavirus…
From two YEARS ago: "Not only will CDC be forced to narrow its countries of operations, but the U.S. also stands to lose vital information about epidemic threats garnered on the ground through trusted relationships, real-time surveillance, and research."…
Read 4 tweets
19 Mar 20
Here are a few helpful and educational videos, if you're interested in trying to understand a bit of the history and science being pandemics.

A 2012 @TED_ED video: "How pandemics spread."

An August 2019 @TED_ED video: "How do viruses jump from animals to humans?"

As we work to develop a vaccine, here is a video to help understand how vaccines work:

Read 7 tweets
14 Mar 20
Many have read about Philadelphia's failures during the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. I looked through old newspapers to see how it was being reported on.

This is from September 19, 1918: "Doctor Krusen said there was no occasion for alarm over the spread of the disease downtown."
The massive Liberty Loan parade was not cancelled and still took place on September 28. The incubation period was 1-3 days, so no surprise: within days of the parade, influenza cases exploded throughout the city.

As a result, 12,000 people died in Philly.

Twelve. Thousand.
On its deadliest day, 759 people died from it in Philadelphia. Not only could hospitals not keep up, neither could undertakers would were literally piling up bodies. In one instance, a brewery was used to store 500 bodies.

Many cities learned from Philly's deadly mistakes.
Read 11 tweets
13 Feb 20
Tomorrow is the day we make our historical Valentine’s Day cards in class. If you’re looking to swoon somebody on Friday, I’ve got you covered. Here are some samples that I created, sure to inspire some romance in your lives.

#ValentinesDay #AlexanderHamilton Image
Ida Tarbell will rake all of that muck away between you and your significant other. #IdaTarbell #ValentinesDay Image
If you’re looking for something a little more contemporary and casual, I’ve got you covered also. #BernieSanders #ValentinesDay Image
Read 6 tweets
22 Jan 20
“Upon one of them being dragged out by the heels, the other two sprang up and made furious battle ... In a few moments Mr. Swigart has his bowels cut out.”

This is from the October 21, 1837 issue of The Columbia Democrat out of Bloomsburg, PA. #undergroundrailroad #slavery Image
The story initially ran in the The Franklin Repository and was picked up in a few other papers such as the Philadelphia Nationa Gazette, but I’m yet to find a follow up story or any other information about this. I did find where Swigert was buried in Mercersburg. Image
As horrific as Swigert’s death, I find myself wondering more about the fear experienced by the three men escaping enslavement and the terror and ensuing desperate fight for their own lives after one of them was pulled out from their hiding spot by his heels.
Read 5 tweets
20 Jan 20
The Erie Observer, #EriePA’s anti-Lincoln, anti-abolition newspaper before & during the Civil War became Erie’s anti-Radical Reconstruction, anti-14th Am. paper after. These views weren’t fringe: the Observer had comparable circulation to the Gazette, Erie’s Republican weekly. Image
This is all they had to say concerning the death of Thaddeus Stevens, the Pennsylvania representative who helped lead Radical Reconstruction and secured support for President Johnson’s impeachment. Image
Thaddeus Stevens was a constant target of the Observer’s before his death. He was also no stranger to Erie, both representing PA.

When Erie Congressman James Thompson conspired with future Confederate leader Howell Cobb to pass the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, Stevens was livid.
Read 10 tweets
10 Jan 20
I’m a member of the @ErieArtMuseum. I hope to continue to be, but I certainly won’t model to my boys that it’s okay to support a place that permits a hostile work environment for women.

We need to know more, including who knew what and when. #EriePA…
A statement from the Erie Art Museum. #EriePA Image
Questions still remain that need to be addressed:

1) Why were the young woman’s allegations not taken seriously?

2) If the director asking a young intern to come over to his home alone didn’t break policy, were there discussions on updating policy? If not, why?

Read 6 tweets
6 Jan 20
Way behind on the #HATM conversation tonight, but earlier, I was reading about Queen Mary’s thoughts on the movement.

Obviously, she did nothing publicly, but her private writings describe the suffragettes as “horrid.” I also found incidents like this that involved the Queen. Image
This led me to a BBC article on women who organized to oppose the movement and quoted historian Kathy Atherton on how we can contextualize why many women would oppose granting themselves the right to vote. #HATM Image
In the U.S. movement, I was stunned when I first learned in college that muckraker Ida Tarbell opposed suffrage. Here’s an essay from a professor at @alleghenycol on how discovering this initially led to “anger, & yes, a sense of betrayal” for her. #HATM…
Read 4 tweets
20 Dec 19
I read this a few days ago. It made me angry. It popped into my head again today, seeing @ETNoneill work her tail off to keep us informed, ALL DAY, on the sudden closure of the Erie Coke plant — & she’s been covering the events leading up to this for MONTHS. #EriePA #journalism
I think about the amazing work done by @ETNpalattella, who follows stories as the build for literally years. He’s relentlessly and brilliantly kept us informed on sexual abuse within the Erie Diocese for nearly twenty years.

I’m constantly amazed by his reporting.
I could tag every single @GoErie journalist with a story reminding everybody of how lucky we are to have them, but it’s past my bedtime.

The reality is that ETN does important work each & every day, digging deep and uncovering local stories that otherwise would go unreported.
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