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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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 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: 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: “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: 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: 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