Black veils and broken hearts: mourning in the Civil War

About 620,000 soldiers died in the American Civil War. Of these, about 360,000 were Union soldiers and 260,000 were Confederates. Not all of them were killed in combat; in fact considerably more than half in both armies perished from disease. But that did not make any difference to the lot of the loved ones they… Read More

Blue jeans

The fabric used to make jeans originates from Genoa in Italy, a town which is called ‘Gênes’ in French, and this is therefore believed to be the origin of the name. Jean was a sturdy cotton cloth, first produced in the sixteenth century, which became an important textile for working-class people in Northern Italy. But… Read More

The cowboy hat

The cowboy hat nowadays is an instantly recognisable piece of apparel. High-crowned and wide-brimmed, it is associated with Old West lore and worn by country-western singers and people involved with rodeos as well as anyone who does ranching work or likes to look as if they did. But as with so many things associated with… Read More

Hispanic influence on the vocabulary of the Old West

The Hispanic legacy in ranching, cattle driving and the Old West in general is readily apparent in many of its words and terms. The word ranch is familiar to everyone these days as a word for a large stock-farm and herding establishment. This meaning only emerged in the early 1830’s and its origin, strangely, is… Read More

Beads and beadwork of Native Americans

Beading is one of the most characteristic and enduring art forms of Native Americans. Unfortunately since the 1960’s it has been imitated in oriental factories and imported very cheaply, almost completely drowning out high quality native beadwork. The Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990 goes a long way to remedying this, making it a… Read More