Archive for June, 2011

Indians Have A Celebration Of Their Own July 4

From July 2, 1911

INDIANS HAVE A CELEBRATION OF THEIR OWN JULY 4

INDIANS HAVE A CELEBRATION OF THEIR OWN JULY 4: They Call It Give-Away Day Among the Dakotas and the Sioux Tribes, and They Give Presents to Those They Wish to Honor. (PDF)

At first I had some trouble finding information about Give-Away Day apart from this article. I did find general information about a Native American Give-Away tradition, including a blog post on the topic, and even a Christmas book called The Give-Away: A Christmas Story in the Native American Tradition. But as a July 4 tradition, I couldn’t find much. It sounded a little odd that Sioux and Dakota Indians just happened to celebrate the 4th of July. I suspected the article may have been mistaken.

Then I found a chapter from a textbook by the Montana Historical Society [pdf] which describes how agents of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs discouraged traditional ceremonies among the Native Americans. So instead, the Natives adopted their own versions of American holidays:

Even honest agents thought they were helping Indians by forcing them to abandon their traditional cultures and to adopt mainstream (majority) American culture. Agents pressured tribal members to change their social customs, dress in European-style clothing, live in rectangular houses, become Christian, send their children to school, and learn farming and ranching the Euro-American way.

Agents often outlawed Indian religious ceremonies like the Sun Dance. They discouraged give-away ceremonies, a traditional practice of honoring the Creator by giving away food, blankets, horses, and other forms of wealth. If people performed their traditional practices or religious rituals, they could lose their food rations or be arrested. They also were not allowed to leave their reservations without a pass…

Montana’s Indians knew they needed to learn new skills and find new ways to support themselves. But they refused to abandon their tribal identities and cultural traditions to survive.

They performed give-aways and held religious ceremonies in secret. They turned patriotic and religious holidays—like the Fourth of July and Easter—into celebrations of their own traditions.

In 1898 the tribes of the Flathead Reservation held their first Fourth of July pow-wow (an American Indian celebration). They staged parades, held contests, sang and drummed together, and danced traditional dances like the War Dance and the Snake Dance deep into the night. Indians on other reservations also held celebrations on July 4. The organizers assured the reservation agent that these gatherings were purely social, but they actually performed important religious and tribal ceremonies.

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Written by David

June 30th, 2011 at 10:00 am

Posted in Life,Religion

The Campaign To Curb The Moving Picture Evil In New York

From July 2, 1911

THE CAMPAIGN TO CURB THE MOVING PICTURE EVIL IN NEW YORK

THE CAMPAIGN TO CURB THE MOVING PICTURE EVIL IN NEW YORK: Organized Efforts to Censor Exhibitions Which Under Existing Conditions Are Harmful. (PDF)

In 1911, movies were gaining in popularity with all kinds of people. This created situations for grown men and little children to sit side by side in a darkened room, which probably didn’t happen very much before. Surely this is a reason to worry. A report “On the Condition of Moving Picture Shows in New York” was submitted to the Mayor. Superintendent Thomas D. Walsh described the matter this way:

“There is no objection to the moving-picture show as a means of entertainment. Properly conducted it is most instructive and entertaining. But the evil lies in the conditions under which so many are given — the dark room, filled with adults and children, absolutely without supervision, affording no protection against the evil-minded and depraved men who frequent such places and sit beside the innocent boys and girls without a question or suspicion until irreparable harm is done.

“The society last year prosecuted twenty-eight cases of crimes committed under these conditions and secured twenty convictions of men who lured children to their downfall. Numerous other cases of impairing the morals of children were prosecuted in the Court of Special Sessions.

The percentage of criminal cases arising from this evil has, during the first six months of 1911, leaped upward over 100 per cent. These figures are well to be considered by those who plead for moving pictures as only an innocent pastime.”

One proposed solution: leave the lights on.

A better proposed solution: encourage families to go to the movies together.

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Written by David

June 29th, 2011 at 10:30 am

Scientific Detective Would End Expert Testimony

From July 2, 1911

SCIENTIFIC DETECTIVE WOULD END EXPERT TESTIMONY

SCIENTIFIC DETECTIVE WOULD END EXPERT TESTIMONY: Head of Scotland Yard’s Bureau of Identification Urges Training of Sleuths — What Finger Print System and Blood Study Have Done. (PDF)

Fingerprints and blood are commonly gathered and tested in crime scenes today. But 100 years ago, this was new technology.

…if detectives were only trained scientifically, not merely in logic, so as to reconstruct a crime with proper attention paid to theory and fact, but also in chemistry, physics, and other sciences, there would be less need of expert testimony at criminal trials…

If the article interests you, definitely read Caleb Carr’s novel The Alienist, about a New York City murder investigation around the turn of the last century.

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Written by David

June 28th, 2011 at 10:00 am

Making Washington One Of World’s Beautiful Capitals

From July 2, 1911

MAKING WASHINGTON ONE OF WORLD'S BEAUTIFUL CAPITALS

MAKING WASHINGTON ONE OF WORLD’S BEAUTIFUL CAPITALS: L’Enfant’s Dream to Come True After a Century — With the Approval of the Plans for Three New Department Buildings, the Ten-Year-Old Plan for a Splendid Home for the Government Is Launched (PDF)

Pierre Charles L’Enfant was a French born American architect who designed the layout of Washington DC in the country’s early years. But, the article says, his “great work was hampered and thwarted for a century by the lack of appreciation for beauty in the Government.”

Ugly buildings, slums, and “even houses of ill-fame” lined the mall. In 1911, plans were approved to build some new government buildings in keeping with L’Enfant’s original vision.

Today, work is still being done to improve the mall and surrounding parks. You can see a list of ongoing projects under supervision of the National Parks Service.

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Written by David

June 27th, 2011 at 11:00 am

Posted in Development,Politics

The Giant Olympic A Luxurious Floating Hotel

From June 25, 1911

THE GIANT OLYMPIC A LUXURIOUS FLOATING HOTEL

THE GIANT OLYMPIC A LUXURIOUS FLOATING HOTEL: Swimming Pool, Turkish Baths, and Tennis Courts Part of the Equipment of the Wolrd’s Largest Liner — Marking a New Epoch in Ocean Travel. (PDF)

Of course, the Olympic wouldn’t become nearly as well known as her twin sister Titanic. Wikipedia has great details about Olympic‘s fate. She lead an interesting life, survived a mutiny, served in WWI (repainted in dazzle camouflage , and eventually retired in 1934.

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Written by David

June 24th, 2011 at 10:30 am

How To Celebrate “A Safe And Sane Fourth” — A Series Of Contrasts

From June 25, 1911

HOW TO CELEBRATE A SANE AND SAFE FOURTH -- A SERIES OF CONTRASTS

HOW TO CELEBRATE “A SAFE AND SANE FOURTH” — A SERIES OF CONTRASTS: The Sage Foundation Puts a Thrilling Drama of the Old-time Celebration in Moving Pictures. (PDF)

The Sage Foundation put together a movie explaining how to have fun on the Fourth of July without fireworks. Instead of lecturing about the dangers of fireworks, the movie is a “stirring drama” that still gets its message across.

Not always, when gay and frivolous youth flocks to the moving-picture show, can you say that it is going merely to pass an idle hour and watch some too-too thrilling drama of wild adventure. Sometimes the young people have their minds improved even as their pulses are stirred. And at any time now, if you happen to have inexpensive theatrical tastes and patronize the five and ten cent palaces, you are likely to see a fine new addition to the sort of thing the big firms advertise as educational drama, nothing less than a plea for a “safe and sane Fourth” staged in such fashion as to attract good folk who positively refuse to read circulars, pamphlets, or any pages of the magazines that aren’t fiction.

It is a good idea and well carried out. There is no prosy argument in favor of the abolition of the insidious cannon cracker and the fatal pin-wheel. There is a stirring drama of love and danger, with a moral attached so cleverly that the audience has swallowed it before the fact that they are being educated up to a new idea has come to cloud their enjoyment. It is an idea of the Sage foundation, and when last accounted for it was doing well over the whole moving-picture circuit.

The article goes on to describe the film. If you’re even thinking about playing with dangerous fireworks this year, you should really give the article a read.

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Written by David

June 24th, 2011 at 10:00 am

Posted in Life,Recreation

How Famous Persons Of History Made Their Wills

From June 25, 1911

HOW FAMOUS PERSONS OF HISTORY MADE THEIR WILLS

HOW FAMOUS PERSONS OF HISTORY MADE THEIR WILLS: Testamentary Documents of Queen Caroline, Lord Chesterfield, John Dryden, Lord Neslon, Shakespeare, Benjamin Franklin and Others Show Little Difference from the Wills of Less Noted Folk. (PDF)

Missing from this article is an examination of the last will and testament of Arthur Durham Muldoon.

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Written by David

June 23rd, 2011 at 9:30 am

Posted in Life

To Preserve The Home Of The Author Of “Little Women” As A Memorial

From June 25, 1911

TO PRESERVE THE HOME OF THE AUTHOR OF LITTLE WOMEN AS A MEMORIAL

TO PRESERVE THE HOME OF THE AUTHOR OF “LITTLE WOMEN” AS A MEMORIAL: “Orchard House,” Where Louisa M. Alcott Lived, Is to be Bought by Admirers of Her Books and Kept as a Literary Shrine. (PDF)

Orchard House is today a National Landmark, on the U.S. Register of Historic Places. You can visit the museum’s official website, and visit the house next time you’re in Concord, Massachusetts.

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Written by David

June 22nd, 2011 at 11:20 am

Posted in Literature

“Murderers I Have Met,” By Dr. Forbes L. Winslow

From June 25, 1911

MURDERERS I HAVE MET, BY DR. FORBES L. WINSLOW

“MURDERERS I HAVE MET,” BY DR. FORBES L. WINSLOW: Famous English Authority on Insanity Writes Interesting Recollections of Trials in Which He Took Part as an Expert, Including the Hannigan Case in New York. (PDF)

Forbes L. Winslow was a British psychiatrist who worked on cases including Jack the Ripper. Here, he reminisces about his career.

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Written by David

June 22nd, 2011 at 9:15 am

Posted in True Crime

Why Music May Be A Luxury Few Can Afford

From June 25, 1911

WHY MUSIC MAY BE A LUXURY FEW CAN AFFORD

WHY MUSIC MAY BE A LUXURY FEW CAN AFFORD: An Item in the High Cost of Living That Has Far Reaching Results (PDF)

Before MP3s, DRM, Compact Discs, and before the phonograph was very popular, people enjoyed live music in their homes. And that meant vocal lessons.

Time was when the middle-class dweller on Manhattan Island could take vocal lessons or send talented members of his family to the studio without fear of bankruptcy. But that good time is of the past. To-day the young man who would like to study vocal culture after office hours, hoping to follow in the footsteps of a Bispham, has scarcely the ghost of a chance.

I wonder how the average cost of voice lessons in 1911 compares to the average cost today, when I suspect the demand is much lower, and it’s more of a niche occupation.

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Written by David

June 21st, 2011 at 11:30 am

Millionaire To Make His Home On A 95-Foot Yacht

From June 25, 1911

MILLIONAIRE TO MAKE HIS HOME ON A 95-FOOT YACHT

MILLIONAIRE TO MAKE HIS HOME ON A 95-FOOT YACHT: James B. Hammond Is Building the Lounger II., According to His Own Notions, with a Garage and an Aquarium Aboard and State-rooms Artificially Cooled. (PDF)

Forget about the yacht for a moment. James B. Hammond was a millionaire who made his fortune with his invention, a typewriter you can read about at the Virtual Typewriter Museum.

This article describes Hammond as an eccentric millionaire. The yacht is just a small part of this profile.

“They call me eccentric,” he said, in a tone of deep disgust for those who said this, “but I really do not see why a man is not privileged to live his own life in his own way.”

Seated in a high adjustable chair in a big room, chiefly conspicuous for its view of the Hudson, Mr. Hammond was found in amiable companionship with his dog and his canary…

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Written by David

June 21st, 2011 at 10:00 am

Posted in Life,Technology

The Tale Of The Little Dancing Slipper Maker And His Wife

From June 25, 1911

THE TALE OF THE LITTLE DANCING SLIPPER MAKER AND HIS WIFE

THE TALE OF THE LITTLE DANCING SLIPPER MAKER AND HIS WIFE (PDF)

One of the little joys of living in a crowded city is the voyeuristic pleasure of seeing life in other people’s apartments through windows across from yours. This is a sweet story about one particular voyeur’s view. Here is how it begins:

They have gone away now, those neighbors of mine, the little shoe-maker who made the dancing slippers and his pretty wife. They never let me know. They never said good-bye, perhaps because we had never spoken, but one morning I looked out of my kitchen window and there was their flat below sad and empty, the windows staring up at me like hollow eyes.

They lived there a year across from me, and I rejoiced in them, and then to go away without telling me good-bye!

They had comforted me, too. Whenever I wearied of the wrangling of the court of a hundred windows, giving upon my den, I went into my kitchen and looked down at them for comfort.

He was anything but pretty, short, squat, nearly bald, almost misshapen; but she was pretty as a picture, standing in her kitchen by the tubs, peeling potatoes, getting some dainty morsel ready for the shoemaker to eat, standing there in her short ruffled skirt and her little pink kimono in her gem of a kitchen.

He sat in the little back room, the long narrow window of the bathroom between them. He sat at a table in a thin vest in the Summer time covered by his leather apron, in the Winter with a light coat on, sat there working all day long and sometimes into the night, sewing the dancing slippers, turning them, finishing them, and standing them in rows on the table before him so that I could sometimes see the toes, sometimes the whole slipper.

Graceful high-heeled satin and kid slippers of various shapes and sizes and colors, pink, light blue, light green, elephant’s breath, and mouse colored. Some were white, too.

Once I took pains to go to the front door of that building and there on a sign I read his name, under it in nice gilt letters:

“Dancing slippers.”

The story takes a turn, but I won’t spoil it for you. It’s a very sweet story.

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Written by David

June 20th, 2011 at 10:00 am

Posted in Life

Sir Hiram Maxim Exposes Spiritualistic Mediums

From June 18, 1911

SIR HIRAM MAXIM EXPOSES SPIRITUALISTIC MEDIUMS

SIR HIRAM MAXIM EXPOSES SPIRITUALISTIC MEDIUMS: Noted Inventor Proves Tomsons, Whom William T. Stead Exploited at Private Seances, Were Merely Clever Tricksters. (PDF)

A great story of debunking fraudsters:

Mr. and Mrs. Tomson were itinerant American music hall artists of comparatively mediocre ability, until taken under the protective wing of William T. Stead, the English editor and journalist. The Tomsons were performing in London when they were first brought to the attention of Mr. Stead by a fellow music hall juggler.

Their act was a fairly clever bit of trickery or sleight of hand, accompanied with all the necessary stage hand assistance. They claimed no mediumistic or supernatural powers for themselves during their early London season, but later they discovered that to be a “spookist” in gullible London meant an augmentation of their financial condition, and added a value to their stage career which in their wildest flights of ambition they had not dreamed of.

[…]

When Sir Hiram Maxim read that his friend William Stead was publicly announcing that he had seen and touched his dead son, Sir Hiram called on Mr. Stead. Their conversation was as follows:

Sir Hiram — Look here, Stead, those spookists are fooling you. You’re too trusting and sincere for those clever rascals.

Mr. Stead — But, Sir Hiram, they showed me my son. Don’t you think I would know Willie?

Sir Hiram — See here, Stead, old fellows like you and Sir Oliver Lodge and myself have no business pronouncing this kind of people genuine. We ought to pass that up to school boys who are full of tricks themselves, or to Americans like the Tomsons, who know more tricks in ten minutes than we do in eight generations…

Mr. Stead — I tell you I saw my son.

Sir Hiram — Swank! You are too honest to catch those tricksters.

Mr. Stead — Then suppose you try.

Sir Hiram — Done! And I’ll make a good job of it, too.

I’ll leave it to you to read how Hiram Maxim exposed the frauds on more than one occasion. Predictably, the Tomsins excuse was that “although the medium really had the power… she could not do so at all times, and sometimes had to ‘fake’ a séance.” This is the same kind of excuse given by so-called psychics today when they are found to be using trickery. See for example Uri Geller.

In this case, Hiram Maxim exposed the Tomsons as frauds enough times that they finally confessed they have never had any supernatural powers of any kind.

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Written by David

June 17th, 2011 at 9:30 am

New York’s Proposed New Subway System At A Glance

From June 18, 1911

NEW YORK'S PROPOSED NEW SUBWAY SYSTEM AT A GLANCE

NEW YORK’S PROPOSED NEW SUBWAY SYSTEM AT A GLANCE (PDF)

Time to update your subway maps.

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Written by David

June 16th, 2011 at 10:30 am

Posted in Development

What Is The Most Beautiful Spot In New York?

From June 18, 1911

WHAT IS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL SPOT IN NEW YORK?

WHAT IS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL SPOT IN NEW YORK? Well Known Artists Express Their Preferences and Show an Astonishing Lack of Unanimity, No Two Selecting the Same Place — But They Upset the Popular Opinion That Skyscrapers Are Ugly. (PDF)

What’s the most beautiful spot in New York City? Answers in this article from a variety of artists include The Ramble in Central Park, Madison Square Park, Broad Street in the financial district, and the Brooklyn Bridge.

What do you think is the city’s most beautiful spot?

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Written by David

June 15th, 2011 at 10:15 am

Church’s Alliance With Money Alienates The Masses

From June 18, 1911

CHURCH'S ALLIANCE WITH MONEY ALIENATES THE MASSES

CHURCH’S ALLIANCE WITH MONEY ALIENATES THE MASSES: Rev. John P. Peters, Rector of St. Michael’s Protestant Episcopal Church, Sounds a Warning Note Against the Power of Wealth in Religion. (PDF)

I don’t have time to write more comments on this article because I’m a brand new dad and need to focus on that for a bit. But please feel free to read the article and make your own comments.

2 comments

Written by David

June 14th, 2011 at 9:30 am

Posted in Politics,Religion

Paintings Bought For A Song, Sold For Fortunes

From June 18, 1911

PAINTINGS BOUGHT FOR A SONG, SOLD FOR FORTUNES

PAINTINGS BOUGHT FOR A SONG, SOLD FOR FORTUNES: Raeburn Latest to Make High Record — $125,000 Paid for What Cost But Little a Few Years Ago — Prices of Rembrandts, Hals, Corots, Troyons and Others Take Sudden Leaps. (PDF)

Henry Clay Frick’s art collection is one of the most celebrated collections of old master paintings in the world. It’s permanently on view today in the 5th Avenue mansion where Frick lived towards the end of his life. So it’s really fascinating to read this article about art sales where Frick is mentioned buying some of his paintings.

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Written by David

June 13th, 2011 at 9:15 am

Posted in Art

Centenary Of City Hall To Be Observed On July 4

From June 11, 1911

CENTENARY OF CITY HALL TO BE OBSERVED ON JULY 4

CENTENARY OF CITY HALL TO BE OBSERVED ON JULY 4: Descendants of Mayor De Witt Clinton and Other Officials of That Day Asked to Join in the Celebration — The Story of the Building. (PDF)

100 years ago, the city celebrated City Hall‘s 100th anniversary. But I can’t find any announcements of bicentennial celebrations planned for this year. So I propose that we all celebrate by riding the 6 train through the abandoned City Hall subway station.

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Written by David

June 10th, 2011 at 10:00 am

Posted in Development,Politics

There Is Too Much Waste In Our Educational System

From June 11, 1911

THERE IS TOO MUCH WASTE IN OUR EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM

THERE IS TOO MUCH WASTE IN OUR EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM: Business Principles of Factories Should Be Applied to It, Says Leonard P. Ayres, of the Sage Foundation. We Don’t Demand Definite Results and Don’t Know What We’re Aiming At. (PDF)

I don’t have time to write more comments on this article because I’m a brand new dad and need to focus on that for a bit. But please feel free to read the article and make your own comments.

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Written by David

June 9th, 2011 at 10:00 am

How The World Would Be To-Day “Had History Been Written Otherwise”

From June 11, 1911

HOW THE WORLD WOULD BE TO-DAY HAD HISTORY BEEN WRITTEN OTHERWISE

HOW THE WORLD WOULD BE TO-DAY “HAD HISTORY BEEN WRITTEN OTHERWISE”: A Pertinent Question That Suggests Various Possibilities in the Formation and Development of the United States. (PDF)

There’s a genre of fiction called Alternate History which examines other possible historic timelines like what might have happened if the South won the Civil War.

In this article, the Sunday Magazine looks at an alternate history where American states remained colonies of Great Britain, and the Fourth of July were known as Traitors’ Day. An article commemorating Traitors’ Day might start like this:

This date, the Fourth of July, recalls the Great Rebellion hatched on that day in 1776 from the egg of treason over which a band of unprincipled conspirators had so long been brooding. While the history of those evil days is familiar to every child, it is well for us, on this recurring date, to think upon the dangers that then menaced these colonies of his Majesty King George III., that we may more clearly appreciate the blessings of freedom and peace we now enjoy under the beneficent rule of our present beloved ruler, King George V…

History can show no more pitiably shameful spectacle than the figure of the aged Benjamin Franklin, whose early life had been so filled with worth and usefulness, standing in the felon’s dock at the Old Bailey, his white hairs bowed in dishonor, and his name attainted with treason, awaiting sentence that would swiftly rape him away before a sterner Judge.

Yet one even more shameful than Franklin! The traitor, Washington, the pet and protégé of the great Lord Fairfax, nurtured in his early manhood by the favors of nobility and the Crown, the wealthiest gentleman of his time in the colonies. He was sentenced to Tyburn and the hangman’s noose like a common felon, but, on account of his gross betrayal of Gen. Braddock, he was denied burial.

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Written by David

June 8th, 2011 at 10:38 am

Posted in Fiction,Politics