How accurate is PBS’s Mercy Street?; Confessions of Emmett Till’s accuser; A personal thank you to Mary Tyler Moore.


I promised to stay away from Trump topics for the rest of the week, and even though he did (not surprisingly) wind up doing even crazier things before the week ended, I am going to stick to my promise!

Today, the Journal of the Civil War Era’s blog, Muster, features a review of the first episode of PBS’s Mercy Street, and the author is yours truly! I’ll be posting reviews of the other episodes here on History Headlines, but in my review for Muster I make it clear where I hope the series is heading in the second season, because there is some exciting potential for delving into important issues involving race and emancipation.

By far the most interesting history news today is word that an historian was able to track down the woman that made the allegations that led to the infamous murder of Emmett Till. You’ll see news stories about this in many places, but don’t miss this story in Vanity Fair that reveals how the author of a new book about the case tracked her down, and got a confession. Seriously, don’t miss this one.

This week we lost another bonafide cultural icon with this passing of Mary Tyler Moore. There have been lots of articles and tributes that point out the groundbreaking nature of her two most famous roles, Laura Petrie and Mary Richards. I found this one from The Guardian to be particularly good, although it fails to note that her role on the Dick Van Dyke show did more than just provide a housewife who was the equal of her husband. In an age when housewives were ridiculously always depicted on TV as wearing dresses or skirts while they worked, Moore insisted that real women did not do that and forced producers to let her wear Capri slacks instead. How fetching was she in those pants?2e067188d93b298c90553164fe5f0014.jpg

Of course her big impact came with her own show as Mary Richards, and we know how the role helped change people’s perceptions of single women and their lives both in and out of the workplace. On a personal note, I grew up in a 1970s home with a divorced mother, and I can honestly say that the show helped me as a young child to not see anything unusual or shameful about my mom’s marital status and work career. Of course Mary Richards was not a single mother, but her show’s success led to other shows, like Alice, or One Day at a Time, which did feature single moms. Thus, those shows made my life seem normal.  Generations of children before me would not be able to say that, given the types of families that dominated TV in the 50s and 60s . So thank you, Mary Tyler Moore, for breaking the mold.


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