April 23rd, 2010

newsy news news, history is gonna change, shockable current events

Identification of Ships in Early 18th Century

I have a sort of two pronged question and after a few days, I'm no closer to finding an answer.

Some background: I have characters trying to locate a specific ship that is docked at Kingston, Jamaica in 1717. Since the area was known for its ship traffic (nefarious and otherwise) I am assuming this could be a daunting task unless they (my characters) knew how ships were identified at the time. So the author (me) needs to know this. :-)

Thus:

1) How were passenger and trade ships identified in the early 18th century? (ca. 1720.) I know that flags were used to a degree (to state the nationality of a ship, for example, or in regards to pirates), but was that the only method of having a "name" or "number" displayed? Or were there actually signs on the ships or other identification marks like figure heads?

2) I know that records of passengers and the ships they traveled upon had records that go way back. Were there ever specific records of ships regarding which pier they were docked at? (i.e. "The Blue Mary" is anchored at Pier 5.)

Any help or guidance to these questions would be much appreciated!
robot rock

Relationships in Japan, 1996 and 1960s


Setting: Tokyo in 1996 and the mid 1960s
Searches: "Relationship culture" Japan, older man younger woman, woman living with men, variations on those with the appropriate dates

It's a bit of an awkward set of questions, really (for a challenge my friend set me) and I'm not entirely sure how to go about searching for it. I have two situations here-

1. A twenty year old woman in a relationship with a man in his early-mid thirties in mid 1960s Japan
As far as I can tell from the research I've done, there's nothing scandalous about the age difference but is there anything I need to take into account considering the time? I can't find anything about relationships for this period.

2. What would the reaction be to a woman in her early 20s living with two much older men (one being 35-45ish and the other at least 50) be in the late 90s? I know Japan's not really big on public displays of affection but she's very obviously not related to either of them. Would it just be shrugged off or would it be seen as really, really weird? I'm not even certain how some people would react to it here in the UK so I'm just checking.

Thanks! Sorry for the weird questions~
homosexual garden

Homosexuality during the Mexican-American War

Setting: 1847, a remote military outpost in the Sierra Nevadas

My character is a low-ranking soldier whose superiors suspect him of being gay because of his questionably close relationship with another (presumed dead) soldier. He actually is gay, but his superiors lack any kind of conclusive evidence. Unfortunately, they also really want to get rid of him for unrelated reasons.

What would the military of that time do to a (suspected) gay soldier? I know that the law preventing gays from openly serving in the military wasn't passed until 1916, but could his superiors have him dishonorably discharged at this point? Would there be a trial, or any attempt to gather stronger evidence than "Damn, those guys were really codependent, and also this guy we trust speculates that they are gay," before taking action? Would they have him shot? Would they just not care?

I've been Googling using the search terms "mexican-american war" "history" "homosexuality" "military" "1847" in a variety of combinations and no particular order. All I'm getting is more recent information (1990's mostly) and endless debates about whether "don't ask, don't tell" should be repealed. Oh, and ads for Midwestern gay bars. Help?