Archive for September, 2017

Teaching Uncle Sam’s Fighters to Sing

The War Department (later renamed the Defense Department) in 1916 placed “song leaders” in the training camps for the military. Why?

“‘A songless army,’ says Major Gen. J. Franklin Bell, commander of Camp Upton, ‘would lack in the fighting spirit in proportion as it lacked responsiveness to music. There is no more potent force in developing unity in an army than in that of song.'”

We eventually won World War I, though it’s hard to say how much if anything song had to do with that. Still — from “cadence calls” that cadets sing out in time to their steps as they go on runs, to USO tours which bring popular music performers to entertain the troops overseas, music has always played a part in the U.S. military.

Teaching Uncle Sam’s Fighters to Sing: Organized Work Being Done Under Experienced Leaders in Camps All Over the Country — Difficulties of a Song Leader’s Job (PDF)

From Sunday, September 30, 1917

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Written by Jesse

September 30th, 2017 at 12:01 pm

Posted in Music,War

Enter America as Chief Fur Trader

World War I had unexpected effects on the fur market, not least because of… the invention of the submarine?!

“American buyers and American furs no longer play the parts they formerly did in England. The submarine is one of the chief reasons. It has caused a scarcity of ocean freight space and a big jump in war risk insurance on cargoes.”

Another factor was the plummeting number of materials (read: animals) brought into the U.S. from other nations.

“Another way in which the war has affected the fur situation has been to cut down the supplies of skins received from other countries… However, as a result of depleted supplies, prices have advanced sharply, particularly on skins of animals not native of this country…

“It has been ably aided by Fashion, which is figuratively crying for furs and still more furs. Proof that the women of the country are responding to the cry is seen in the fact that, despite the higher prices, the fur trade as a whole is enjoying one of the best seasons it has ever had.”

Today, animal skins are a $40 billion business — although according to Kopenhagen Fur, the global production of fur has dropped dramatically in recent years.

Enter America as Chief Fur Trader: Foreign Countries Formerly Ran the Business of Selling Pelts, but New York and St. Louis Are Now the Leading Markets (PDF)

From Sunday, September 30, 1917

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Written by Jesse

September 29th, 2017 at 12:01 pm

Posted in Business,Development

Artistic Instinct of Negroes Should Be Developed

This 1917 article lamented the lack of flourishing culture in the African-American community. The Harlem Renaissance would start a mere year later in 1918, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica. Led by such figures as Langston Hughes, Duke Ellington, and Richard Wright, the period would produce an explosion of literature, music, and art from the African-American community.

Artistic Instinct of Negroes Should Be Developed (PDF)

From Sunday, September 30, 2017

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Written by Jesse

September 28th, 2017 at 2:41 pm

Posted in Art,Development

Farmers Buy Forty Per Cent. of Motor Cars

The urban population has surged from 29.5 percent in 1880 to 46.3 percent in 1910. The Census Bureau estimates that cities contain 62.7 percent of the U.S. population today.

A major change in rural life came with the development and popularity of the car. In 1917, the top two states by number of cars per capita were Iowa and Nebraska, then as now major agricultural states. (Today those two states rank #5 and #10.) The top two today are Montana and Wyoming.

This article describes the transformative effect that the car had on rural life.

“There was the railroad. It was to intersect the country until no isolation would be left. Then came the telephone. It was to knit the countryside together by wire and long distance conversation and thus banish isolation. Next came rural mail delivery. It was to make the change by the delivery of daily papers at the farmer’s door, by establishing continuous touch with the city and the outside world.”

“No one hit upon the actual cause. The trouble with the farm was three miles an hour — three miles by horse and buggy or two by team and wagon. Even the best social ideas would not work at such a rate of moving about. The rate of three miles an hour limited the size of the community, set a bound on the number of people one would meet in the course of a lifetime. Twelve miles is a long drive by horse and buggy, and that was about the radius of the farm families’ social life; the actual neighborhood life was restricted to about four miles from home. Six miles was a good way to go to church; seven or eight miles would be attempted for a social party.”

Today, the trend might be going in reverse, as many Millennials are ditching cars altogether. Only about 60 percent of 18-year-olds have a driver’s license, down from 80 percent in the 1980s.

Farmers Buy Forty Per Cent. of Motor Cars: Country Existence Ameliorated by Speeding Up from Three to Twenty Miles an Hour — Tremendous Influence in Rural Social Life (PDF)

From Sunday, September 16, 1917

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Written by Jesse

September 14th, 2017 at 5:36 pm

Posted in Development,Life

The Case Against Suffrage

If you thought the people fighting for the women’s right to vote were all women and the people opposing it were all men, think again.

Some women didn’t want the right to vote at all, as shown in this 1917 article about the wife of the U.S. senator from New York who also led the National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage.

“But do we want the tactics of the female of the species to mold our policies of government, the spirit of our institutions, or the enforcement of our laws? I, for one, am very positive that we do not.”

Wadsworth also contended that even if she supported suffrage (which she didn’t), the timing of the initiative right in the middle of World War I was inopportune.

“They are forcing their pet issue upon an electorate that should have no other issues presented to it for decision than those growing out of the fearful life-and-death struggle of the world for democracy.”

Wadsworth also noted that the measure was being rejected by voters frequently in recent years:

“Did you know that since the close of 1912 the voters of thirteen States, including such big States as New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Missouri, have declared at the polls that they do not want woman suffrage; and that the voters of only two States, Nevada and Montana in 1914, have said that they want it?

Unfortunately for Wadsworth, the 19th Amendment guaranteeing a woman’s right to vote was added to the Constitution less than three years after this article was published.

Case Against Suffrage: Presented by Mrs. James W. Wadsworth, Jr., Leader of Women’s Organization Which Wants No Votes (PDF)

From Sunday, September 9, 1917

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Written by Jesse

September 10th, 2017 at 10:08 am

Posted in Politics