Thursday-Friday, August 31-September 1, 1961: Soviet nuclear testing

* August 31: Citing the Berlin crisis and France's nuclear testing, the Soviet Union announces to the world that it is ending its three-year moratorium on testing and will detonate a nuclear weapon the next day. (Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev had informed the Soviet nuclear community on July 10 of his decision.)

* September 1: A 16-kiloton device is detonated at the Semipalatinsk Test Site in central Asia.

Time magazine cover from September 8.

* "Early record on text moratoriums" (from Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 1986): @
* Excerpt from "The Nuclear Express: A Political History of the Bomb and is Proliferation": @
* Excerpt from "President Kennedy: Profile of Power": @
* atomicarchive.com: @
* Semipalatinsk website: @


Wednesday, August 30, 1961: Integration of Atlanta schools

Nine black students begin classes at four high schools (Grady, Murphy, Brown and Northside) scattered across Atlanta, Georgia. The transition is without incident, unlike integration in New Orleans (November 1960; go here for entry) or the University of Georgia (January 1961; go here). But in terms of sheer numbers, integration in Atlanta would progress very slowly for the next few years. As the 1961 school year began, other Southern cities were also experiencing trouble-free integration -- Dallas and Galveston, Texas; Fort Lauderdale, Florida; and Little Rock, Arkansas.

Note about the photo: Murphy High School has a Civil War marker outside the building's front entrance. It reads: AN UNEXPECTED CLASH / July 22, 1864. The attack by Walker's & Bate's divs. (Hardee's A.C.) [Confederate symbol] struck the two brigades, Mersy's & Rice's, of Sweeny's 16th A.C. div. [Union symbol] enroute to support the 17th in E. Atlanta. Walker's troops came up Sugar Cr. valley from the S.; Bate's from the high ground eastward. Sweeny's men hastily formed defensively -- Rice facing E., Mercy S., the apex of the lines atop the hill where Laird's 14th Ohio Battery was posted and where Murphy High School stands. Blodgett's Missouri Battery H was at Rice's center, facing E. Though greatly outnumbered, Sweeny managed to hold the position, thereby foiling Hardee's thrust at the Federal rear. (Photo from Atlanta History Center.)

* Short summary from Atlanta magazine: @
* "Atlanta Public Schools Desegregate" (segment from WABE-FM, Atlanta): @
* Audio of President Kennedy's August 30 press conference: @
* "Prepared for Peace" (Time magazine, August 25): @
* "Southern Milestones" (Time magazine, September 8): @
* "With the Police on an Integration Job" (Life magazine, September 15): @
* Atlanta Public Schools timeline (through 1999): @
* More about the Sibley Commission (from New Georgia Encyclopedia) : @
* "Atlanta in the Civil Rights Movement, 1960-65" (from Atlanta Regional Council for Higher Education): @
* Excerpt from "Courage to Dissent: Atlanta and the Long History of the Civil Rights Movement": @


Monday-Wednesday, August 28-30, 1961: Peace Corps

Background: Earlier entries on the Peace Corps, from October 14, 1960 and March 1, 1961.

Monday, August 28: President Kennedy hosts ceremony for the first group of Peace Corps volunteers. (Audio: @; video: @)

Tuesday, August 29: The volunteers leave for the African nations of Ghana and Tanganyika. (Left, members of Ghana I, before leaving Washington.)

Wednesday, August 30: Volunteers arrive.

* Timeline (from www.peacecorps.gov): @
* Founding Documents of the Peace Corps" (from National Archives): @
* Peace Corps News (Vol. 1, No. 1, June 1961): @
* First-person account of leaving for Ghana: @
* Peace Corps Ghana: @


August: LSD-sex study

"The Use of L.S.D. 25 (D-Lysergic Acid Diethylamide) in the Treatment of the Sexual Perversions" is published in the Canadian Psychiatric Association Journal.


"A large room was provided, furnished with a comfortable couch, two arm-chairs, table and chair, radiogram -- with a selection of classical, light opera, musical comedy and dance music -- together with books of photographs such as 'The Family of Man.' "

"... it was felt desirable to ensure the efficacy of the drug by giving a large dose. Patients arrived at the department from the ward, having had a light breakfast at 8:00 a.m. and were immediately given 200 microgrammes of L.S.D. 25 in a glass of water."

"We feel that success is possible when (a) the patient is of above average intelligence, and (b) the patient genuinely wishes to be rid of the perversion."

* Complete text: @
* The Albert Hofmann Collection: LSD & Psilocybin References: @
* "Psycholytic and Psychedelic Therapy Research: A Complete International Biography": @
* More about LSD from U.S. National Library of Medicine: @
* Erowid LSD (Acid) Vault: @


Wednesday, August 23, 1961: Gravity assist

Michael Minovitch, a graduate student at UCLA working at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory for the summer, presents a technical paper titled "A Method for Determining Interplanetary Free-Fall Reconnaissance Trajectories." In it he describes how a planet's gravity can be used to propel or "slingshot" a spacecraft past other planets and into deeper space. (The first spacecraft to employ the maneuver was Mariner 10 in 1973. The more famous Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 were launched in 1977; at left are their paths.)

* More about Minovitch: @
* Minovitch's website: @
* "A Method for Determining Interplanetary Free-Fall Reconnaissance Trajectories" (PDF): @
* "A Gravity Assist Primer" (from Jet Propulsion Laboratory): @
* "The Voyage of Mariner 10" (from NASA): @
* "Mariner 10 to Venus and Mercury" (from JPL): @
* "Voyager -- The Interstellar Mission": (from JPL): @
* Excerpt from "Voyager: Seeking Newer Worlds in the Third Great Age of Discovery": @
* Excerpt from "Ambassadors from Earth: Pioneering Explorations with Unmanned Spacecraft": @


Friday, August 18, 1961: Timothy Leary on 'How To Change Behavior'

Harvard psychology professor Timothy Leary delivers a lecture at the International Congress of Applied Psychology in Copenhagen, Denmark. The lecture, "How To Change Behavior," talks about changing behavior through changing (expanding) consciousness and the role of psilocybin in achieving such a state.

* Text of lecture: @
* Blog post from August 9, 1960 (when Leary first ingested psilocybin mushrooms): @
* The Psychedelic Library: @


August 1961: Berlin Wall (a photo timeline)

* Saturday, August 12, 1961: East German leader Walter Ulbricht signs the order authorizing the closing of the border with West Germany. On that day, a wife passes her son to her husband, who is standing in West Berlin. (Original caption and photo sequence: @)

* August 13: At 2 a.m. local time, the wall begins as a barbed-wire fence. (BBC story: @; account in The Guardian newspaper: @)

* August 14: Brandenburg Gate is closed. In this photo from late August, West Berlin police look across the East-West border. (Short history of Brandenburg Gate: @)

* August 15: East German soldier Conrad Schumann defects to the West by hopping over the barbed wire (More on Schumann: @ ; footage of defection: @)

* August 17: The United States, Britain and France issue their first formal protest to the Soviet Union. At left, the front page of the Bild Zeitung newspaper from August 16. The headline reads, "The West does NOTHING!" (August 17 protest by U.S. and Soviet reply the following day: @)

* August 18: The barbed-wire barrier is augmented by concrete blocks. (Facts and figures, including layout of fortications: @)

* August 20: From Stars and Stripes: "West Berliners cheer as a 1,500-man U.S. Army convoy from the 1st Battle Group rolls past the ruins of the Kaiser Wilhelm Church. The troops were sent to join the 11,000-man garrison already in the beleaguered city by President John F. Kennedy in a show of solidarity." (The convoy went 110 miles through East German territory, starting near Mannheim and traveling along the autobahn.)

* August 22: The first death, as Ida Seikmann dies from injuries suffered when she jumped from her third-floor apartment window. The photo is of a monument put up in her honor. (More on Seikmann: @ and @)

* August 24: G√ľnter Liftin is shot dead while trying to escape East Berlin by swimming across the Spree Canal. (More on Liftin: @)

* August 26: All crossing points closed for West Berlin citizens. From The New York Times: "The East Germans began issuing permits for West Berliners to visit East Berlin at two West Berlin stations of the Communist-operated elevated railway. The permits were handed out at the ticket offices until West Berlin police told the Communists to close them. ... The Allied commandants supported the action of the West Berlin city authorities. It was understood that the action would create hardships for some West Berliners, but the authorities decided to accept this rather than permit the East Germans to get in a thin wedge of sovereignty on West Berlin territory."

Berlin Wall resources

-- Websites
* Berlin Wall Memorial: @
* www.berlin.de: @
* www.chronik-der-mauer.de: @
* www.berlin-life.com: @
* www.dailysoft.com: @
* German Historical Museum, Berlin: @
* Cold War International History Project: @
* "A Concrete Curtain: The Life and Death of the Berlin Wall": @
* "Berlin Wall: Past & Present": @
* NATO: @
* Britain's National Archives: @
* Cold War Museum timeline: @

-- Books
* "The Berlin Wall: A World Divided, 1961-1989": @
* "Kennedy and the Berlin Wall": @
* "Berlin 1961": @ (author's website)

-- Life magazine
* August 25: @
* September 1: @
* September 8: @

-- Photos
* Before and after, from Spiegel Online: @
* From The Guardian newspaper: @
* From The Independent newspaper: @
* From boston.com: @
* From pmgtg.com: @

-- Videos
From archive.org:
* August 31 newsreel: @
* Comparison of life newsreel: @
* 1962 film from U.S. Information Agency: @
* U.S. Army footage, September (silent): @
* U.S. Air Force footage, August and December (silent): @

From Critical Past:
* Events after World War II: @
* Background: @
* "Berlin 1961": @
* "Halt Refugees: Reds Tighten Border Control": @
* "Border Crisis: Allies Protest Pact Violation": @
* "Berlin Drama: East Germans Jump to Freedom": @

From British Pathe:
* "Berlin Crisis": @
* "Berlin Tension": @
* "Berlin Wall of Shame": @
* "Ever Ready in Berlin": @
* "Berlin Wall": @

From The Guardian:
* First of five short films, with links to others: @


Saturday, August 12, 1961: 'The Phantom Tollbooth'

Norton Juster's "The Phantom Tollbooth" is published. Ostensibly a children's book, it tells of a young boy named Milo and his journey through a magical kingdom, all described in rich wordplay.

* Summary and analysis (from www.sparknotes.com): @
* Interviews with Juster, from 2001 -- Salon: @ and The Purple Crayon: @
* Essay by author Michael Chabon (2011, from The New York Review of Books): @
* Infographics (from www.janavendno.com): @


Thursday, August 10, 1961: Herbicides in Vietnam

Aerial spraying of herbicides is first tested in the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam). It is the beginning of what would become a much larger U.S. effort, code-named Operation Ranch Hand, that would officially start in January 1962. Its aim: to clear away trees and other vegetation that provided cover for North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces, and to destroy enemy food supplies.

* "Operation Ranch Hand: The Air Force and Herbicides in Southeast Asia, 1961-1971" (Office of Air Force History, 1982): @
* "Ranch Hand" (Air Force magazine, 2000): @
* "The Herbicidal Warfare in Vietnam, 1961-1971" (Agent Orange & Dioxin Committee, Vietnam Veterans of America): @
* "The extent and patterns of usage of Agent Orange and other herbicides in Vietnam" (Nature magazine, 2003): @
* "Characterizing Exposure of Veterans to Agent Orange and Other Herbicides Used in Vietnam: Interim Findings and Recommendations" (Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, 2003): @
* More links (from website on air operations in Vietnam): @


Monday, August 7, 1961: Milgram experiment

Stanley Milgram, an assistant professor of psychology at Yale University, begins his now-famous experiment to explore the question: How much pain would you inflict on another person if you were ordered to do so?

Milgram pursued the research in light of the trial of Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi Germany official who had said he was only following orders when he helped orchestrate the Holocaust. (Search site for "Eichmann" for posts on his abduction, trial, verdict and hanging.)

"Stark authority was pitted against the subjects' strongest moral imperatives against hurting others, and, with the subjects' ears ringing with the screams of the victims, authority won more often that not," Milgram wrote later.

Summary from The Guardian newspaper, 2004 (@):

A subject, greeted by a scientist in a white lab coat, was given the role of "teacher." Introduced to a "learner," the teacher watched the learner strapped into a chair with an electrode attached to his or her wrist. Seated behind a screen in front of a large electroshock machine, the teacher read out a list of words and the learner replied with pre-learned corresponding words.

If the learner's response was wrong, the teacher was to apply an electric shock to the learner by pressing one of 30 switches, labeled from "slight shock" through to "danger: severe shock." For each incorrect response the teacher was told to increase the voltage, resulting in grunts, screams and then silence from the learner.

In fact, the learner was an actor; the teacher was the real subject of this experiment. When the learner's screams and pleadings reached a certain intensity, the teacher often asked whether he or she should continue, or might refuse to carry one. This was the crucial moment: the scientists now insisted that the session should continue.

Before the experiment began, psychologists predicted that only one in a thousand would administer the strongest shocks. In fact, during the first round of experiments, using Yale undergraduates, 60% were fully obedient and took the sessions to their conclusion. Subsequent experiments achieved similar results, with no significant differences between males and females.

(Note: I used August 7 as the starting point, as referenced in "The Man Who Shocked The World," linked below.)

* Study as published in Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology (October, 1963): @ 
* Milgram's "Obedience" documentary (video, 1965): @
* Summary (from www.holah.co.uk): @
* Summary (from www.explorable.com): @
* Summary (from www.simplypsychology.org): @
* Summary (www.paulgraham.com): @
* "The Making of an (in)famous experiment" (British Psychological Society): @
* "Obedience to Authority" (Milgram, 1974): @
* "Obedience to Authority: Current Perspectives on the Milgram Paradigm" (edited by Thomas Blass, 1999): @
* "The Man Who Shocked The World: The Life and Legacy of Stanley Milgram" (Blass, 2004): @
* www.stanleymilgram.com (Blass' site): @
* "Decades Later, Still Asking: Would I Pull That Switch?" (New York Times, 2008): @ 

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