Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

American Sentiment and American Apathy

From September 24, 1916


American Sentiment and American Apathy: Until We Prove Our Resolution as Well as Our Reasonableness, Self-Congratulations Are Out of Order, Says Noted Author (PDF)

Then as now (at least to some extent), there was a fear among some that America’s values were going astray, that materialism and societal divisiveness were rampant while patriotism and tolerance were not. Author Agnes Repplier outlines that anxiety in this paragraph:

If the United States is a land where hatred dies, why are our industrial disputes settled by strikes to the accompaniment of violence? Are the soldiers who fire from trenches inspired by hatred, and the rioters who fire from curbstones inspired by brotherly love? How much blood has been spilled, how many “social war” crimes have been committed, how many workmen have been maimed, how much property has been destroyed in fifty years of strife between employers and employed! Is acquisitveness a nobler spur than patriotism? Is caste a stronger bond than country?

Just remember: 2016 is actually a relative calm period in American history.

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Written by Jesse

September 25th, 2016 at 3:38 pm

Posted in Life

One Auto For Each 25 Americans by January 1

From August 6, 1916

One Auto For Each

One Auto For Each 25 Americans by January 1: Remarkable Increase in Number of Cars Owned in This Country Will Soon Bring Total to 3,946,664, Valued at $2,000,000,000 (PDF)

These numbers have certainly skyrocketed in the past year. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, as of 2014 there were 260.3 million total registered highway vehicles. For cars specifically, as of 2006 (the most recent year for which statistics were available) there were 135.3 million registered passenger cars. That’s approximately one auto for every 2.2 or 2.3 Americans, a far more even ratio than the one auto for every 25 Americans back in 1916. And those numbers are likely to level even further as last year was the best year for auto sales in American history with 17.5 million, due largely to an improving economy and low gasoline prices.

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Written by Jesse

August 3rd, 2016 at 5:49 pm

Posted in Business,Life

Why Is the Birth Rate Constantly Declining?

From July 16, 1916:

Why Is The Birth Rate

Why Is the Birth Rate Constantly Declining?: Results of an Inquiry Conducted in England by National Council of Public Morals, Which Seeks to Regenerate the British Race (PDF)

In 1916, the United Kingdom’s population was approximately 34 million. By the time of the 2011 census, the U.K. population had increased to 63.2 million. Still, that increase was far less than that of the U.S. or the world at large over the past century, due in large part to Europe having some of the lowest birth rates in the world. That trend still holds today, with the U.K. having approximately 12.2 births per 1,000 population in 2014 — the U.S. had 13.4 births per 1,000.

What’s fascinating is that most of the reasons why the birth rate is deemed to be falling in 2016 are not major reasons for the same phenomenon in certain countries back in 1916. Increased education for women? Barely. Later ages for marriages and starting families? Not really. Abortion? That wasn’t legal in the U.K. until 1967, and for the most part wasn’t legal in the U.S. either until 1973.

It’s worth remembering that the U.K. population is approximately 65 million today and that it is far more industrialized that it was a century ago when reading this quote from Chairman Rev. Dean Inge back in 1916:

The Chairman added that, with regard to England, he did not think it desirable that the country should contain sixty, or seventy, or eighty millions of persons, entirely divorced from the land, employed in large towns in producing commodities under cheap conditions. “Is that,” the Chairman asked of the witness, J.A. Hobson, “a state of things which could possibly produce a satisfactory or healthy nation?”

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Written by Jesse

July 15th, 2016 at 5:04 pm

Posted in Life

Scientists Answer Hoke Smith’s Attack On Negroes

From September 24, 1911


SCIENTISTS ANSWER HOKE SMITH’S ATTACK ON NEGROES: Produce Figures to Show Him Not Well Posted on Conditions in His Own State — Professor Boas Tells of the Race’s Achievements in Africa. (PDF)

A rebuttal to this article from last week claiming that “the negro is the South’s drawback.”

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Written by David

September 19th, 2011 at 10:00 am

Posted in Debate,Life,Politics

College Professor Suggests A Cure For Lying

From September 3, 1911


COLLEGE PROFESSOR SUGGESTS A CURE FOR LYING: Rev. Robert Schwikeratch, Who Holds the Chair of History and Pedagogy at Holy Cross, Says the So-Called Confirmed Liar Can Be Cured by Patience and Sympathetic Interest. (PDF)

Eh, I don’t know how much credit I give to this cure. His first proposed solution to cure lying is to simply stop lying. He’s talking specifically about lying in front of your kids. If they don’t see you lie, they will be less likely to lie themselves. So that’s more prevention than cure. But what about people who are already liars? The reverend suggests remedies like treating liars with kindness, or reminding them to think before they speak, depending on the nature of the lie.

A more scientific approach to the problem of liars will be in next week’s issue.

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Written by David

August 30th, 2011 at 10:00 am

Posted in Life

The Neglected Possibilities Of City Roofs

From August 27, 1911


THE NEGLECTED POSSIBILITIES OF CITY ROOFS: Making the Best of Out-of-Door Life Is Slowly Being Learned — Comparatively Easy to Turn Roofs Into GArdens, Playgrounds and Concert Rooms. (PDF)

There have been a lot of articles about roof gardens in the New York Times over the last few years as the trend has finally caught on. But my favorite by far has to be a 2006 article about a Greenwich Village resident who built a whole front porch on his roof. Go check out the photos. Pretty nice.

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Written by David

August 26th, 2011 at 9:30 am

Pasteur Expert Sounds Warning Against Pet Dogs

From August 27, 1911


PASTEUR EXPERT SOUNDS WARNING AGAINST PET DOGS: Woman and Children Especially in Danger of Possible Hydrophobia Through Carelessly Fondling Household Pets — Tuberculosis, Scarlet Feber, and Other Diseases May Be Transmitted. (PDF)

Well, that’s a pretty scary headline. Turns out that the expert is pretty much just concerned about rabies (referred to as “hydrophobia” because one symptom of rabies is a fear of water). He does mention those other diseases, but, well, just read it yourself:

“Almost any of the contagious diseases may be conveyed by either dogs or cats, although dogs, because of their peculiar habits and their tendency to caress with their affectionate tongues the persons whom they love are much more dangerous than cats. Tuberculosis, scarlet fever, measles, diphtheria — all of these and many more diseases may be conveyed from dogs to humans in this way. I don’t wish to go on record as pronouncing that they are, to any large extent, but I do say that such transfer is a possibility…”

The Centers for Disease Control has a list of diseases you can get from dogs. But they also point out that pet ownership has health benefits.

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Written by David

August 24th, 2011 at 11:00 am

Posted in Life,Nature

How We Look To The Young Woman Back Of The Desk In The Library

From August 20, 1911


HOW WE LOOK TO THE YOUNG WOMAN BACK OF THE DESK IN THE LIBRARY: She Tells of the Queer Things We Do and the Queer Things We Say When We Go There to Get a Book. (PDF)

Ah, the librarian. In 2007 the Times noted that librarians are much hipper today than they used to be. Here’s a look at what the job was like for librarians in 1911.

She must have a sense of humor — it is absolutely necessary. She must not only see herself as others see her, she must see themselves as others see themselves.

She must be gently needleworkish with the old lady who wants a new pattern in drawn-work. She must be militantly suffragettish with the sister who wants to go to prison for the cause. She must be humble with the man who considers her a menial. She must try to act the part, since she cannot look it, when appealed to as a twenty-volume encyclopedia. She must feel a warm sympathy for all isms, she must of a working knowledge of all ologies.

She must never resent rudeness. Her prejudices, her personal tastes, her feelings must be hidden away. She must remember, always smilingly, that she is a servant of the public.


One of the most difficult demands to satisfy is the frequent request fo “a funny book.”

Now, if you have ever thought about it you know that there is no standard of funniness. Vague though it may be, we have a line above or below which a thing is god or bad as to plot, construction, style; but when it comes to the quality called humor, every man is a law unto himself. The book that one person says is “roaringly funny” another calls “deadly dull.”

A very nice person returns a book saying, “This is so funny we read it aloud, and I left the family still laughing.” Another man slams the same book down on your desk an hour after he has taken it home and cries in fiery tones, “Do you call this funny?” or “Don’t you know the difference between vulgarity and wit?” and goes out murmuring bits of the letter he is going to write the newspapers about gross misuse of the city’s money.”

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Written by David

August 18th, 2011 at 10:00 am

Are We All Going Crazy Because Of The City’s Noises?

From August 20, 1911


ARE WE ALL GOING CRAZY BECAUSE OF THE CITY’S NOISES? Doctor’s Include This Among Causes of Insanity — This City Said to be the Noisiest in the World — Most of the RAcket Is Needless and, All of It Is Injurious to Health. (PDF)

“In our railroad trains, for instance, we permit youths to pass backward and forward through the cars vociferously attracting attention to the wares they have for sale… Automobiles dash through our streets sounding their horns when there is no reason whatever for their doing so, while the machiens are permitted to disturb the public through the failure on the part of chauffeurs to silence the ‘mufflers.’ Church bells are rung without real need, street car gongs are sounded incessantly without occasion…”

Add to that milkmen and their noisy clanky bottles, kids playing in public, and bells on business doors. Is it the noise that makes people crazy? Or is it crazy to let every little noise get on your nerves?

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Written by David

August 16th, 2011 at 9:00 am

Posted in Life

A Modern Skyscraper Romance

From August 13, 1911


A MODERN SKYSCRAPER ROMANCE: It Was Rudely Shattered However, When the Heroine Talked. (PDF)

In New York, we see people live their lives through windows across streets or courtyards. A few weeks ago the magazine ran a heartwarming story about a couple whose lives were observed by a woman across the street. Here’s another tale of people interacting through windows across from each other, this time with a surprise ending rudely spoiled by the subhead.

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Written by David

August 8th, 2011 at 10:00 am

Posted in Life

Sure Sign Of Woman’s Emancipation In The Increased Size Of Her Shoes

From July 23, 1911


SURE SIGN OF WOMAN’S EMANCIPATION IN THE INCREASED SIZE OF HER SHOES: Because She Swims, Walks, Plays Golf and Tennis and Works for a Living, She Can No Longer Pose as Wasp-Waisted and Tiny-Footed. (PDF)

Shoe manufacturers don’t make small-sized shoes for women any more. They say women’s feet have grown bigger in the last fifteen or twenty years. Small feet, of course, are only comparative. A small foot for a woman twenty years ago was 2 or 2½. Now it is said that there are few if any 2 or 2½ feet of narrow width, say, AA or A.

All this was revealed at a fair that the shoe manufacturers of America held in Boston about a week ago. The leading manufacturers had exhibits there, and they had observed in turn that the demand for small-size shoes for women had been declining year by year until now it had practically passed out.

One had stopped making the small shoes for women altogether. Consulting his competitor at the fair, which is an annual event with the great manufacturers, he learned that his competitor was not making the old-time small sizes either. This led to a canvass and this astonishing fact was developed:

The average size of shoes that women wear to-day is 4 to 5, whereas the average size twenty years ago was 3 to 5. The No. 2 size in women’s shoes, not uncommon twenty years ago, and almost usual twenty years before that among fashionable ladies, had entirely disappeared.

According to a 2002 article in Slate, the average women’s shoe size had gone up to 5½ in the 1940s, a 6 in the ’60s, and a 7½ in the ’70s. In the ’80s it was 8 to 8½. The article says that “the best-selling sizes at Manolo Blahnik — the Holy Grail of the shoe-obsessed — are 7.5 to 8.”

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Written by David

July 22nd, 2011 at 10:30 am

Posted in Life,Recreation,Sports

When “Lost In New York” Was Too Well Acted

From July 23, 1911



When I first came to New York, I never really got lost except when I emerged from the subway disoriented. I didn’t yet know the landmarks that would tell me which way I’m facing. Oh, and I also got lost the first time I tried to simply cross Central Park. I didn’t yet know that there’s only one straight path in the whole park, and it didn’t go where I needed to go.

This article is the story of one man’s story after getting lost in New York on his first day here.

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Written by David

July 18th, 2011 at 4:26 pm

Posted in Life

How New York Looks From A Downtown Roof

From July 23, 1911



While it was still novel to look around from atop a tall building, here’s a description of what that was like back in 1911.

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Written by David

July 18th, 2011 at 9:30 am

Posted in Development,Life

For The Sightseer In New York: “There’s The Aquarium”

From July 16, 1911


FOR THE SIGHTSEER IN NEW YORK: “THERE’S THE AQUARIUM”: Some Interesting Features, Human and Piscine, to Be Found at the Battery Park Establishment on a Sunday Afternoon. (PDF)

Amusing look at the personalities of people and animals that one can find at the city’s aquarium back when it was still in Battery Park.

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Written by David

July 13th, 2011 at 10:00 am

Posted in Life,Nature,Recreation

“How I Broke The Liberty Bell” — By The Boy Who Broke It

From July 16, 1911


“HOW I BROKE THE LIBERTY BELL” — BY THE BOY WHO BROKE IT: He Is a Pretty Old Boy Now, Being 86 Years of Age — Says All the Histories Are Wrong, and Tells How He and Other Schoolboys Cracked the Famous Bell. (PDF)

You may think you know how the liberty bell cracked, having learned one of the generally accepted stories in school. Perhaps you heard that it cracked while tolling the funeral of Chief Justice John Marshall, or when it rang in honor of Henry Clay’s visit to Philadelphia. But you haven’t heard the real story.

Now, more than three-quarters of a century after the old bell was silenced, comes a man who declares that none of the more or less accepted versions of how it came to be cracked is correct: that his version alone is the true explanation of the incident. For more than fifty years, he declares, he as been reading in newspapers and elsewhere all the various conflicting stories of the accident, but, inasmuch as his has been an extremely busy life, he has never bothered his head overmuch about them until quite recently.

The short version: A bunch of kids were walking near the old State House when the janitor called out to them to come over and have some fun ringing the bell. They did, and it broke.

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Written by David

July 12th, 2011 at 9:51 am

Posted in Life

The American Student Acquiring A Uniform Face

From July 9, 1911


THE AMERICAN STUDENT ACQUIRING A UNIFORM FACE: Mayor Gaynor’s Statement to That Effect Starts a Discussion — A Distinct American College Type Being Developed, Unlike the European University Man (PDF)

The two faces in the middle of the page are composites of 25 boys and 25 girls, to create the “typical” student face. In modern times, this has been done digitally to interesting effects. I wonder if this is the earliest known example of such a composite.

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Written by David

July 7th, 2011 at 11:30 am

The Hold-Up Game As New York’s Tip-Hunting Cormorants Play It

From July 9, 1911


THE HOLD-UP GAME AS NEW YORK’S TIP-HUNTING CORMORANTS PLAY IT: How People in This City Are Forced to Spend Money for Needless and Worthless Services (PDF)

The squeegee man who washes your windshield and demands a tip is engaging in an old tradition.

“Have a light, Sir?”

It is a small boy, smutty-faced and keen-eyed, who says it as he steps up with a flaming match in hand — a light for your cigar or cigarette when you come through the theatre entrance.

No, the youngster is not interested personally in your comfort. In fact, he doesn’t care a rap whether you get the light or not — except that it comes from him. He expects a “tip” for his effort. It is simply one of the first steps in the “hold-up” game that runs riot in Manhattan.


One small urchin — he wasn’t over a dozen years old — told a Times reporter that he “pulled down” about $10 a week at the apparently simple match-lighting stunt.

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Written by David

July 6th, 2011 at 11:30 am

Posted in Business,Life

The Scandal Of Organized And Expensive Charity

From July 9, 1911


THE SCANDAL OF ORGANIZED AND EXPENSIVE CHARITY: High Salaries, Swollen Payrolls, Huge Expenses — Extravagance Steadily mounting — “It Costs Them $2 to Give Away $1,” Say the Poor. (PDF)

Today, organizations like GuideStar can help you determine if a charity you’re considering donating to is one that uses their money efficiently.

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Written by David

July 6th, 2011 at 10:00 am

Posted in Life,Politics

The Psychology Of The Typewriter Error

From July 9, 1911



An interesting look at typos from a time when typewriters were still relatively new.

The typist who composes as he operates has a threefold responsibility, for as the cells of ideation respond to the command of the will while thoughts are conceived, shaped, and transmitted, the fingers must be quick to transcribe and the vision sharp as well for punctuation and mechanical detail.

The three controls must be nicely balanced, for a laxness in muscle control results int he omission of letters, sometimes even of whole words, and spacing is obliterated, one word being run into another. A laxness of visual control results in a period being placed in the middle of a sentence in place of a comma or semicolon, or of the use of a small letter instead of a capital. The period being the emphatic stop is the one most often substituted for those of finer gradation.

I had three typos (that I noticed) when transcribing that excerpt. They were all letter transpositions.

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Written by David

July 5th, 2011 at 10:00 am

Posted in Life,Technology

Indians Have A Celebration Of Their Own July 4

From July 2, 1911


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