Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

Family of Fifteen, All Living, Oldest Seventeen

 

Francois Gannaz of Sallanches, France had fathered 15 living children under the age of 18. So the Institute of France bestowed on him half of the Etienne Lamy Prize, which was worth 10,000 francs or about $2,000 in 1917, equivalent to about $36,500 today. That’s right, a monetary prize for having the most children.

Perhaps even more impressively (in a manner of speaking), Gannaz’s wife had her first child at age 26, unlike most families that large where the woman usually has her first child as a teenager. Her most recent child as of the article’s publication was born when she was 43.

Their names were Pierre, Clovis, Alcide, Lucien, Fernand, Louis, Lucie, Léonie, Marie, Alice, Francois, Marie, Luc, Gabriel, and Jean Baptiste.

The Guinness World Record for the most children born to one woman is 69 by a Mrs. Vassilyeva of Russia in the 1700s, with 16 pairs of twins, seven sets of triplets, and four sets of quadruplets. It’s much more difficult to ascertain which man has fathered the most children — in all likelihood it was a man with multiple wives from centuries (or millennia?) past, before paternity testing existing.

Family of Fifteen, All Living, Oldest Seventeen: French Father Wins Prize for His Record-Breaking Brood — All Born Healthy and Have Been So Ever Since (PDF)

From Sunday, November 18, 1917

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Written by Jesse

November 17th, 2017 at 12:01 pm

Posted in Life

Servants and War Saving in the Home

 

When the government is asking you to save money but your servant keeps spending, what to do? We all have problems in life.

During World War I, the government encouraged personal frugality in order to ensure as much money as possible went towards the war effort. Said the wife of a prominent and wealthy New York lawyer:

“Let them [servants] feel that they are as big factors in the nation’s plan of conservation as you yourself or any one else. Let them understand that it isn’t some little personal idea of yours to save money for yourself, but that the nation’s needs demand it.”

And she had some thoughts on certain types of servants in particular:

“The colored servants, frequently characterized as wasteful and thriftless, she says, have a kindred feeling with the American mistress, because they, too, are native Americans. They are apt to help her better than any others at this time.”

A nice sentiment?

Servants and War Saving in the Home: A New York Woman’s Plain Statement of Economy Problems Faced Nowadays in the Kitchen and Pantry of an Unpretentious Family (PDF)

From Sunday, October 28, 1917

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October 26th, 2017 at 12:01 pm

Posted in Life

Entirely New Social Life in Washington

America’s entering of World War I impacted the social scene in Washington:

“There will be no formal dinner for the Cabinet officers and their wives at the White House this year. That affair, as well as the three other important dinners and the four receptions ordinarily given in the course of the three Winter months, is removed from the White House social calendar for the coming season.”

Well, we all have to make sacrifices in life.

Interestingly, this same phenomenon has not seemed to occur in 21st century Washington. Despite 9/11 and the war launched in its aftermath, the 2002 White House Correspondents Dinner — the crown jewel event of the D.C. social scene — continued unabated, with Drew Carey and President George W. Bush both performing standup comedy routines.

Entirely New Social Life in Washington: Formal Dinners and Official Receptions Abandoned — Strangers Heartily Welcomed in Circles Which Were Once Too Exclusive to Penetrate (PDF)

From Sunday, October 21, 1917

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October 19th, 2017 at 1:40 pm

Posted in Life,Recreation

Immigration Tide May Turn from West to East

 

As this 1917 article correctly predicted, many European immigrants to the U.S. later moved back to Europe after the conclusion of World War I. By some estimates, that number was almost one-third of European immigrants to America. However, “relatively few” German-Americans returned back to Germany.

Immigration Tide May Turn From West to East: Millions of Our Foreign-Born Citizens Planning to Return to Europe After the War, Says Commissioner Frederic C. Howe (PDF)

From Sunday, October 14, 1917

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Written by Jesse

October 13th, 2017 at 3:31 pm

Posted in Development,Life,War

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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September 14th, 2017 at 5:36 pm

Posted in Development,Life

Systematic Selection of Cooks for New Army

Once the draft was instituted for World War I in May 1917, the number of men in the American armed forces increased dramatically, prompting a comparably large percentage rise that you might not have even thought of: chefs.

It was said, without exaggeration, that “the honor of the profession was at stake.”

“M. Auguste Gay, chef of the Yale Club, and President of the Chefs de Cuisine, presided and told the men that the honor of the profession was at stake, that the crux of the situation was in their hands. He explained at length what an ill-fed army meant, how the health of the soldiers could not be trusted to raw recruits, who had never come nearer the kitchen than to inquire whether dinner was ready.”

The modern-day MRE — Meal Ready to Eat — consumed by American military personnel was not introduced in its modern-day form until 1963.

Systematic Selection of Cooks for New Army: Under Leadership of a New York Hotel Proprietor They Are Being Put Through Searching Tests by Competent City Chefs (PDF)

From Sunday, August 26, 1917

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August 23rd, 2017 at 11:25 am

Posted in Life,War

“Are You Uhmuricun or American?”

Why is there so much slang, mispronunciation, and similar linguistic issues among native-born Americans? The writer Clarence Stratton suggests here that the fault lies in democracy itself:

“Our speech suffers because our wrongly interpreted democratic idea makes common people intolerant of anything like authority in everyday matters. The German acknowledges a standard of usage and pronunciation indicated by Hanoverian. In France and Spain academies determine currency and meaning, and the people recognize their decisions. Italians will quote to you the proverb that settles all linguistic standards for them.”

And to anybody in the modern-day red states who believes the New York Times is elitist and looks down on them, this passage from 100 years ago proves this is nothing new:

“The Southerner departs furthest from the norm of good American speech with his drawling utterance, his radical change of accepted sounds, and his entire disregard of certain letters.”

“Are You Uhmuricun or American?” — Language in United States Seems to Educator a Mass of Sounds Which Are Not Worthy of Being Considered Speech at All (PDF)

From Sunday, July 22, 1917

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July 20th, 2017 at 7:31 am

Posted in Humor,Life

Professor Blames Beer for German Outrages

What was causing German atrocities during World War I? Harvard geology professor Reginald Aldworth Daly suggested a largely-unheralded factor may have been alcohol:

“The Germanic peoples are the only great group who feed alcohol to the babies or very young children of middle and upper classes. Just at the time of life when the nervous system should be specially protected against all poisons, vast numbers of German children are kept mildly charged with alcohol. If the baby has not already been prenatally damaged because of the beer drunk by his mother, he still runs the risk of poisoning from the alcohol-bearing milk of a drinking mother or wetnurse. The child grows to manhood, drinking alcohol and continually handicapped in his development of cerebral, and therefore moral, control.”

Daly concludes with a quote from von Moltke: “Beer is a far more dangerous enemy to Germany than all the armies of France.”

According to statistics from the World Health Organization, Germany today still ranks among the biggest alcohol-consuming nations in the world, with an average 11.4 liters of alcohol consumed per capita, for citizens age 15 or older. The global average is 6.4. The U.S. number is 9.3. Highest in the world is Lithuania at 18.2.

Professor Blames Beer for German Outrages: Cumulative Effect of “Mildly Alcoholic State” on the Minds of Men Who Have Imbibed National Drink Since Babyhood (PDF)

From Sunday, July 1, 1917

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Written by Jesse

July 2nd, 2017 at 3:14 pm

Posted in Health,Life,War

Man’s Labor the Best, British Committee Decides; Woman Handicapped

As men entered World War I, women were called upon to perform traditionally male roles involving more physical labor and brawn. The British Health of Munition Workers Committee found:

“that, compared with man, woman has less strength, less endurance; that she can undergo neither such long hours nor such long periods of labor; that she cannot stand the strain of night work; that her body, physiologically different from man’s, is subject to ‘certain ailments and forms of physical disability’ that are ‘readily caused or at least accentuated’ by various forms of body activity, and that these ailments are ‘far-reaching in effect’; that the lifting and carrying of heavy weights, ‘all sudden, violent, or physically unsuitable movements in the operating of machines,’ and prolonged standing, are ‘highly provocative causes of trouble to women and girls.'”

Anybody who still claims that men have more stamina and women need more “days off” should read the news this week. Ivanka Trump had to fill in for her father at an event that he dropped out from citing “exhaustion.”

Man’s Labor the Best, British Committee Decides; Woman Handicapped: The Frailer Sex Lacks Nothing in Patriotism, But Needs More “Days Off” — Endurance in Munition Plants (PDF)

From Sunday, May 27, 1917

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May 25th, 2017 at 3:59 pm

Posted in Business,Life

Making Vice Unattractive in Soldiers’ Camps

A new Federal Commission on Training Camp Activities was created shortly after the outset of American involvement in World War I, in hopes of preventing sin and vice among soldiers such as excessive drinking and prostitution. Among the attempted solutions: all soldiers were required to participate in sports and physical exercises, and soldiers were paired with homes and families that they could visit when on leave in the city. No word on whether prostitution was completely banished, but given that it still goes on in the military today (though perhaps at a lesser rate?), it clearly wasn’t 100 percent successful.

Making Vice Unattractive in Soldiers’ Camps: Federal Commission Just Appointed to Solve Vital Problem of Healthful Recreation for Young Men of Our New Armies (PDF)

From Sunday, May 20, 1917

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May 18th, 2017 at 4:17 pm

Posted in Life,War

Real Democracy’s Need Is Discipline of Youth

Why was everything going to hell in 1917? Ralph Philip Boas, Associate Professor of English at Whitman College, suggested a large measure of blame should be placed on young people:

The danger of democracy is never that it will be too stern, too rigid, too intellectual, too conservative. No, the danger of democracy is that it will be too easygoing, too soft, too emotional, too fickle.

The weaknesses of democracy show nowhere more clearly than in its attitude in America. Our country is the paradise of youth; here we think only of our duties toward our children, never of our children’s duties toward us. An American works himself to death for his children — happy not in their respect and their love, but in their success. Everything is done for the American youth.

Look at his education. Schooling is free from the kindergarten through the university. The State taxes itself willingly that its boys and girls may have the best education which it can give them. And what does it ask in return? A sense of responsibility? A sense of gratitude? Service in the army? Service in civil life? No. It asks nothing in return.

It is pathetically proud of the advantages its youth enjoy, never once realizing this fundamental danger: If you train up young people to be soft and luxurious, to expect everything as a right and to give nothing in return, to absorb unthinkingly all the advantages of civilization without adding anything to those advantages, are you training up young people who can help in the great decisions of a democracy?

No.

Of course, this has been an age-old complaint — indeed, Aristophanes was complaining about “kids these days” back in 419 BC. And the same youth who Boas criticized in 1917 went on to become the adults who would lament the rise of rock ‘n’ roll a few decades later.

As Dick van Dyke asked in Bye Bye Birdie, ‘What’s the Matter With Kids Today?”

Real Democracy’s Need Is Discipline of Youth: A Land Where Responsibility Harmonizes with Freedom, Not a Mere Paradise for Children Without Sense of Obligation (PDF)

From Sunday, May 6, 1917

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Written by Jesse

May 3rd, 2017 at 1:26 pm

Posted in Education,Life,Politics

Individual’s Day Is Over, Says Geo. W. Perkins

This passage written by George Walbridge Perkins, then Chairman of the New York City Mayor’s Food Supply Commission, could just as easily have been written today — if not even more applicable today, considering the massive technological changes brought about by the Internet, smartphones, email, automation, and more:

We are just entering a new electrical world, where everything is done, as it were, on the instant.

Our fathers had none of the modern machinery with which social and business intercourse is now carried on. Their sons are wrestling with the problem of how to use these new methods of intercommunication and still adhere to the laws, the precedents, and the book learning of their fathers.

This is our great problem. It is a difficult, complicated problem, and is causing a struggle of titanic proportions — a struggle to throw off in a night, as it were, the precedents of an Old World for the realities of a new.

Precedent makes cowards of us all. But the educator, the scientist, and the inventor have left us no choice. We must adjust our thought and action to new conditions.

The changes of the last twenty-five years, socially, industrially, and economically, have been great, yet I believe they are infinitesimal compared to the changes that are coming.

As for the headline’s prediction that the “individual’s day is over,” that prediction did not turn out true. As my 2011 Washington Post article noted, the first 10 songs to reach #1 on the Billboard music sales chart were by eight groups and only two individuals, while as of the column’s publication, the 10 most recent #1 songs were by an almost-reversed nine individuals and only one group.

Individual’s Day Is Over, Says Geo. W. Perkins: And the Process of Curtailing His Privileges in Favor of the Community Is Still Only in Its Infancy, According to Him (PDF)

Published Sunday, April 1, 1917

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Written by Jesse

April 7th, 2017 at 2:56 pm

Posted in Life

The Harvard Slouch: Four Out of Every Five Harvard Freshmen Stand in a Faulty Posture, Says Boston Physician

In preparation for the imminent onset of World War I, 746 incoming Harvard students were trained in physical fitness for possible military service. A solid 25.9 percent of them failed in all four elements of good posture, while only 6.7 percent met all four elements.

This was a real thing. Apparently almost 20 percent had feet in such poor condition that it would keep them from serving in war.

Meanwhile, the article’s claim that “A Harvard entering class may be taken as typical of many thousands of American young men” is dubious at best, especially if The Social Network is any indication.

The Harvard Slouch: Four Out of Every Five Harvard Freshmen Stand in a Faulty Posture, Says Boston Physician (PDF)

From Sunday, March 18, 1917

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March 28th, 2017 at 7:01 am

Posted in Life

Your Pet Cat May Have to Have a License Soon

This is notable for being by far the most “clickbait” style headline the New York Times Sunday Magazine ever featured on this blog. This is perhaps the only headline yet featured that would be written word-for-word the exact same way today.

A New York state bill was debated in 1917 that would license all pet cats and kill all others in the state. (The verb used in the article is the even more horrific “destroyed.”) The reason was not due to visceral hatred of the cute kittens, but for economic purposes:

“The high cost of living is largely due to the fact that not enough foodstuff is produced by the farmers; the shortage of crop is, in turn, partly due to the ravages of insects, and the only effective check on the insects is the birds. But the birds are destroyed by the cats. Every link in this chain between the cat and the cost of food is backed up and proved by scientific demonstration and statistics and the totals all along the line are enormous.

“For example, Frank M. Chapman of the American Museum of Natural History figures that there are at least 25,000,000 cats in the United States, and the country’s annual loss in crops from the depredations of insects alone is estimated at $1,200,000,000.

The license fee for a pet cat would have been 50 cents and 25 cents for each subsequent reissue.

Shockingly, the most common argument against the bill — and in favor of cats — was not from animal lovers or PETA (which would not be founded until 1980), but “The one argument most frequently heard in behalf of the cat is that it kills rats and mice.”

Did the bill pass? While I found that in the same year of 1917 New York state began requiring dogs to be licensed, I was unable to determine whether cats were too. If anybody knows the answer, please comment below.

Your Pet Cat May Have to Have a License Soon: Otherwise It Will Be Killed as a Public Nuisance If Bill Now Before Legislature Passes — An Effort to Protect Birds and Crops (PDF)

From Sunday, March 11, 1917

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March 16th, 2017 at 7:40 am

Efficiency Test of Domestic Standards for Every Housekeeper

There was a discrepancy of 60,000 more housekeeper jobs than people to fill the positions, as of 1917, because many women found the position undesirable.  Thetta Quay Franks, author of the book The Margin of Happiness: Practical Studies in Household Efficiency, came up with a series of questions for the head of the household to ask their housekeeper, to ensure the housekeeper was happy and comfortable in their employment. Among them were questions related to fair wages, vacation time, whether the female head of the household assisted with the work, whether a daily schedule of work as provided, and whether employees received different food than the family.

Today, the housekeeper isn’t nearly as common a position as it was back then. Then again, those holding the position can still exert a strong influence: just listen to the new popular podcast Missing Richard Simmons and listen to the influence of Teresa Reveles, Simmons’s housekeeper of 27 years who may or may not be abusing the fitness trainer and holding him hostage in his own home.

Efficiency Test of Domestic Standards for Every Housekeeper: Put Yourself in Place of Your Cook and Get Her Point of View, Says Mrs. Thetta Quay Franks (PDF)

From Sunday, March 11, 1917

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March 15th, 2017 at 7:40 am

Posted in Life

“U.S. Dry Within Ten Years”

'U.S. Dry Within Ten Years'

When this article was published in January 1917, 23 of the then-48 states banned liquor. That included four states adopting such a measure two months prior on Election Day alone: Michigan, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Montana. It was clear which way momentum was swinging. But the idea that the U.S. would be dry within the decade was underestimating just how much momentum was swinging, as the 18th Amendment was was passed a mere two years after this article in January 1919, with the amendment taking effect in January 1920.

However, it became the only constitutional amendment ever repealed 13 years later in December 1933. Now Americans are free to consume alcohol once again, as will be proven — for better or for worse — on Super Bowl Sunday in a few weeks… and more imminently on Inauguration Day Friday.

“U.S. Dry Within Ten Years”: So Say Prohibitionists After Webb-Kenyon Decision – Liquor Dealers Say It Will React in Their Favor (PDF)

From Sunday, January 14, 1917

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January 15th, 2017 at 7:16 pm

Popular Catchwords Are a National Menace

popular-catchwords-are-a-national-menace

Back in 1916, Mary Watts lamented what she saw as the pervasive influence of New York City dictating the thoughts of those in Cincinnati suburb Walnut Hills and elsewhere:

“These people who think they are thinking,” she said, “do not make up their own phrases or originate their own ideas. They think in catchwords.”

“What are some of these catchwords?” The Times man asked.

“Well,” she replied, “‘the relation of capital and labor’ is one. And ‘the child in the house’ is another. And then there is that very popular catchword ‘social consciousness.’ But out here in the Middle West we aren’t so much bothered with social consciousness as you are in the East.”

“Now and then we make desperate attempts to be Eastern and cosmopolitan, and all the rest of it. We try hard to get up a bohemian atmosphere among our writers and painters — we try to do this even out here, in Cincinnati. But we haven’t enough writers to form a separate class.”

There was a time when New York City had a great influence on the rest of the country, despite a 2016 election cycle where the candidate New York City voted for at a greater margin than in almost any other location got crushed and there was something of a public revolt against the media and journalism industries headquartered out of Manhattan.

Popular Catchwords Are a National Menace: Mary S. Watts Laments “Social Consciousness,” Deliberate Bohemianism, and Influence of New York on Rest of Country (PDF)

From January 7, 1917

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January 4th, 2017 at 7:26 am

Posted in Life,Literature

Birth Rate Declining Among College Men

birth-rate-declining-among-college-men

Even today, the gap between fertility rates between those with and without college degrees is statistically significant. The big difference between now and then is that the “college-educated” constitutes women as well, with women starting in 2015 attaining more college degrees than men.

Birth Rate Declining Among College Men: Statistics for Harvard and Yale Show Steady Decrease in Number of Graduates’ Children and More Childless Marriages (PDF)

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December 15th, 2016 at 7:12 am

George C. Boldt’s Life a Continuous Romance

george-c-boldts-life-a-continuous-romance

Ah, the days when “the most famous hotel man in the world” didn’t inherit the business from his father, but achieved his status through grit and determination after starting in the kitchen.

George C. Boldt’s Life a Continuous Romance: Reminiscences of Waldorf-Astoria’s Proprietor, Who Rose from the Kitchen to be the Most Famous Hotel Man in the World (PDF)

From December 10, 1916

 

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December 7th, 2016 at 10:34 pm

Posted in Business,Life

Indian No Longer Called a Vanishing Race

From October 29, 1916

indian-no-longer-called-a-vanishing-race

Indian No Longer Called a Vanishing Race: Educational Campaign Among the Red Men Has Raised Birth Rate and Lowered Death Rate – Reservations Self-Supporting (PDF)

Back in 1916 even a publication as respected as the New York Times had no problem calling the demographic “red men.” Even Disney would do so with the Peter Pan song “What Makes the Red Man Red?” in 1953, and Washington’s NFL team still uses a variant on that name to this day.

According to the 1916 article, the improvements in Native American birth rate and health came about over the previous three years in large part due to the health education campaign of Cato Sells, Commissioner of the Bureau of Indian Affairs from 1913-1921, which today is an agency housed within the U.S. Department of the Interior.

After a period in which the population was shrinking, in 1916 the total number of births in the group was 6,092 compared to 4,570 deaths. The total “Indian population” at the time was 209,221. Those trends must have continued, because today the total American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) alone population is 2.9 million, or about 0.9 percent of the U.S. population, according to the National Congress of American Indians.

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Written by Jesse

October 28th, 2016 at 2:18 pm

Posted in Life,Science