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Diana Parsell Writer

Diana Parsell Writer

Diana Parsell Writer

Scidmore as National Geographic Female Explorer

Tourists at Muir Glacier, 1880s

Eliza Scidmore is known largely for her role as the earliest visionary of Washington’s cherry trees. She was also an intrepid traveler. And the National Geographic Society considers her its first female explorer. The Geographic recently spotlighted some of its pioneering women on its blog. I kicked off the series with an article on Eliza…

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In St. Louis, Intrepid Women on the Frontier

Brochure Women Writers of Frotier

I had never been to St. Louis until this fall. Funny I should have missed it, as I attended grad school in journalism at the University of Missouri in Columbia. Mizzou classmates and I used to pile into a car and go eat catfish at a tin-ceiling hotel in Booneville. We drove to Kansas City…

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Pilgrims at Japan’s Koyasan, Long After Scidmore

  Today, Buddhists and other pilgrims flock to the sacred site of Koyasan, a mountainous area of temples in southeastern Japan. The New York Times ran an article about it in the Oct. 22 travel section. Eliza Scidmore wrote about Koyasan in 1907 for National Geographic. It’s interesting to see the different takes on the same place…

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My Book Proposal Wins Hazel Rowley Prize

BIO Hazel Rowley Award winner 2017

I’m grateful to the International Biographers Organization (BIO) for giving me its 2017 Hazel Rowley Prize. I received the award, for the best proposal for a first biography, on May 20 at BIO’s conference in Boston. BIO began around the time I started my book project. The group has been a terrific resource, especially to a…

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With Japanese TV in ‘Hunt’ for Cherry Blossoms

Cherry blossom show filming in Potomac Park, Japanese "Mystery Hunter" TV crew

Japan’s TBS network devoted a recent episode of its “Mystery Hunter” series to cherry blossoms. A TV crew filmed me last month discussing Eliza Scidmore’s role in bringing cherry trees to Washington, D.C. The episode aired in Japan two days ago, on March 18. What a hard-working bunch the crew was. They arrived in Washington…

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When Will D.C.’s Cherry Blossoms Open?

Cherry Blossoms and Jefferson Memorial

Our weirdly warm winter in Washington means the cherry blossoms could bloom much earlier than expected. The National Park Service initially gave April 4 as the expected peak date. Now, we could see them well before that. There are many varieties, however, so the blooming dates will vary somewhat. The Washington Post produced a nice…

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‘Railway Man’ a Contrast to Scidmore POW Book

My husband and I recently watched “The Railway Man,” starring Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman. It’s emotionally powerful, and interesting as well in light of my biography of Eliza Scidmore. Her last book was As the Hague Ordains. Written as a thinly disguised novel, it looked at POW conditions in Japan in 1905 during the Russo-Japanese…

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‘She Persisted’ in Giving Us Cherry Trees

Hand-colored photo Eliza Scidmore from "Eliza's Cherry Trees"

Thanks, Andrea Zimmerman, for giving a nod to Eliza Scidmore as a woman who “persisted.” The Internet meme “she persisted” caught fire this month after a remark on the floor of the U.S. Congress. Sen. Elizabeth Warren opposed the nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions as U.S. attorney general by attempting to read a letter from…

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‘Drain the Swamp’ Gave Us Cherry Trees

Dredging in Washington river 1891

Donald Trump rode a populist wave to the White House promising to “drain the swamp” in Washington. Politicians have used the phrase for decades. Famously, President Ronald Reagan made it a catchphrase of his vow to reduce the federal bureaucracy. The “swamp” really did exist in Eliza Scidmore‘s day. Literally — but not quite. Many…

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Eliza Scidmore Inspires Wall Art in D.C.

Eliza Scidmore Artwork Carlyle Hotel

“Eliza and the Emperor.” That’s the title of an Eliza Scidmore-inspired mixed-media canvas produced last year for the Carlyle Hotel in Washington by artist Anna Rose Soevik. Soevik, who studied painting in London, lives and works near Washington. She likes big canvases and has done art installations at offices, bookshops, and galleries in Washington and several…

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