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Tag Archives: Historical Figure

Business Histories

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If you’ve ever been curious as to when the first this-or-that happened, and perhaps led to an invention or an industry, then look no further than the gem of a site that I just came across!  Just click on the image below to go to the website, and enjoy!  There, you’ll find the following categories:

Accountancy; advertising; agribusiness; agricultural machinery; aircraft; airlines; arts; automotive (A-G) & (H-W); banking; beverages; biotechnology; broadcasting; business services; chemicals; computers; conglomerates; construction; consumer (non-cyclical); containers; defence; drugs;  electronics;  engineering;  entertainment; family business; fashion & beauty; financial services; food 1 & 2; food service; footwear; forest products; gaming; gas; healthcare; high technology; home furnishings; hospitality; household appliances; industrial equipment; information technology; insurance;  internet; jewellery; law; leisure; machine tools; manufacturing; media;  metals; mining; nonprofit; office equipment; oil; oil service; paper & packaging; publishing to 1900, from 1900, A-L & M-Z; railroads; real estate; regions (A-M) & (N-Z); retail; rubber; savings & loans; securities; shipbuilding; shipping; sports; steel and iron; telecommunications; textiles; tobacco; tourism; toys; transport; utilities; waste disposal; weapons; whaling; blacks in business; kids & business; women in business; and scandal & fraud.

 

Spiral Clock Face

The Immortality of Henrietta Lacks

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Henrietta Lacks, Immortal HeLa CellsBorn in 1920 as Loretta Pleasant, when her mother died giving birth to her 10th child and the father could not support the family, the children were divided among relatives to be raised.  Loretta, who became known as Henrietta, was sent to live with her grandfather, Tommy Lacks, who lived in a two-storey log cabin (former slave quarters) on the tobacco plantation of her white great-grandfather.  After having five children with her first cousin, whom she married after their first two children were born, she died at the age of 31 of cervix cancer.

What is most remarkable about her life is something she never knew:  During the diagnosis of her cancer, done at Johns Hopkins (the only hospital near her home that would treat black patients), her doctor, George Gey, was given samples of her cervix.  Before this time, any cells cultured from other cells would die within days.  Dr Gey discovered that her cells were remarkably durable, and prolific.  A selection of her cells was isolated and cultured (without her knowledge) into the immortal cell line that became known as HeLa Cells; they are still in use today, being the first human cells to be cloned successfully, in 1955.

HeLa cells are so prolific that if they land in a petri dish, they will take over; they have been used to create the vaccine against Polio, in research for AIDS, gene mapping, cancers and countless other projects; to date, scientists have grown over 50 million metric tonnes of her cells*, and there are nearly 11,000 patents involving these cells*.  Her name should be known, and as the godmother of biotechnology, her history deserves to be undusted!

For a fascinating book on this topic, see The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot.

*For a more detailed article in the New York Times, click on the photo.

The Eighty-Dollar Champion

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I just came across this story, and knew it was a piece of history that needed to be “undusted”!  The Eighty-Dollar Champion, having inspired both two books and a film, was a white plow horse on the way to the slaughterhouse at the end of an unsuccessful auction.  Harry De Leyer, a Dutch immigrant to New York who fled the Nazi invasion of his home country, was running late to the auction due to a flat tire along the way.  When he got there, he and the white horse looked at each other through the slats of the slaughterhouse truck, and he knew that horse was special.  He bought the horse with the last eighty dollars he had, and the rest is, as they say, history.  Together, they broke into the world run by the wealthy elite owning thoroughbreds, and went on to beat all odds and all competitors.  To see a short trailer for the film, please click on the image below of Snowman and Harry.

Snowman, the Eighty-Dollar Champion - Credit, LIFE Magazine

Also, please check out Elizabeth Lett’s best-selling book, “The Eighty-Dollar Champion:  Snowman, The Horse That Inspired a Nation“, and click on her name to see her sharing the history of her book!

Famous Last Words: Karl Marx

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“Go on, get out – last words are for fools who haven’t said enough.” To his housekeeper, who urged him to tell her his last words so she could write them down for posterity.

Karl Marx, revolutionary, d. 1883

Everyone has last words; Karl Marx blew his last opportunity to go down in history with something intelligent…

Karl Marx, 1875.  Image Credit:  Wikipedia

Karl Marx, 1875. Image Credit: Wikipedia

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