Hello *Again*


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Hi everyone! I’ve re-emerged and this time it’s in the very green state of Connecticut. If you don’t believe me, there is a picture below…although that isn’t really a picture of Connecticut but New York. Fooled you! However, they are so close that nobody up here even cares–most people dart between them as if it is NBD (no big deal). I’ve already begun to partake in some of this darting myself and it’s caused me to become de-sensitized to state border crossings. In Texas, whenever a state border was crossed, it was a BD (big deal) as it meant long hours of car traveling had been completed.

One exciting thing about being here is that everything is OLD. Why, just on my way to the train station I encountered a house built in 17…er–the 18th century. Hopefully, this means lots and lots of new HistoryHodgePodge material. So, STAY TUNED diligent HistoryHodgePodge followers.



A rare breed!


Some local greenery.

Deadly Molasses!



The cover of The Boston Post on January 16, 1919 announcing the tragedy. Courtesy of the Boston Public Library.

The cover of The Boston Post on January 16, 1919 announcing the tragedy. Courtesy of the Boston Public Library.

Ut Oh! It’s almost January and that means it’s almost time for the somber anniversary of the Boston Molasses Disaster which occurred on January 15, 1919 when a storage tank of molasses exploded in Boston. The disaster took the lives of 21 people and injured another 150. Here are some clippings from the event. More images can be found on the Boston Public Library’s Flickr page.

The wreckage! Courtesy of the Boston Public Library.

The wreckage! Courtesy of the Boston Public Library.

Grand Forks Herald (Grand Forks, ND). “Another Body is Found in Wreckage of Molasses Tank.” January 17, 1919, 1.
Macon Telegraph (Macon, GA). “Tank of Molasses Explodes, Killing Dozen Bostonians Released by Blast, Two Million Gallons of Sticky.” January 16, 1919, 1.
Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, PA). “12 Killed, 50 Injured When Molasses Tank Explodes in Boston Reservoir’s Top Flies in Air.” January 16, 1919, 1.
Pueblo Chieftain (Pueblo, CO). “Wise Court He Explains Cause of Fatal Explosion.” February 9, 1919.
Weekly Kansas City Star (Kansas City, MO). “Die in Molasses Explosion Thirty Persons Killed in Boston When Syrup Tanks Blew Up.” January 15, 1919, 1.

Hi again! …and my Natchez Trace Collection project


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Poor HistoryHodgePodge has been accumulating dust for the past two months–but don’t worry! This was only temporarily neglect because I’ve been working on this:

Presenting…The Natchez Trace Printed Materials web tool

What is this? This is a side project in which I built a Drupal website for a portion of the Natchez Trace Collection held at the Briscoe Center. It’s not an official tool for the Center; rather, it’s something I just made for the Digital Frontiers Conference.

Basically, the print materials (books, catalogs, pamphlets, newspapers etc.) within the Natchez Trace Collection (NTC) can only be found by searching the UT library catalog. When the NTC was being processed, these materials were considered better suited for a library so they were removed from the archival holdings, defined as their own sub-collection and shelved in the rare books library. Researchers who want to find a particular item have to consult the UT library catalog and sift through results from the library-wide holdings. Additionally, researchers who would like to browse the collection are unable to (it’s a closed stack library), so there’s no easy way to comprehend the scope of the collection or what’s inside. To help with this, I made this website/exploration tool. Although, again, it’s not being officially used or anything, I just want to show it off since I spent a lot of time on it and have finally gotten over being overly critical and self-conscious of it. I also thought it would be a handy topic for my stagnating blog.

I should also mention that it is not completely finished; ignore any Latin blurbs you find.

Q&A – Physical Culture Magazine


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Here are some interesting reader questions I’ve compiled from Physical Culture magazine. The magazine derives its name from a fitness movement that arose in the latter portion of the nineteenth century. Proponents of Physical Culture believed that exercise and health were essential to a person’s overall well being. As a result, many institutions developed “physical culture” programs which included the building of gymnasiums and creation of fitness routines. Additionally, individuals endeavored to incorporate better eating habits and physical activity into their daily lives. Physical Culture, edited by renown fitness guru Bernarr MacFadden, was one of the most popular publications promoting this new lifestyle.


McFadden, Bernarr. “General Question Department.” Physical Culture, February 1910, 202.
 ———. “General Question Department.” Physical Culture, August 1909, 180.
 ———. “General Question Department.” Physical Culture, July 1909, 86.
 ———. “General Question Department.” Physical Culture, November 1902, 113.
 ———. “GeneraL Question Department.” Physical Culture, January 1910, 95.
 “Question Department.” Physical Culture, December 1902, 189.
 “Question Department.” Physical Culture, November 1902, 113.

Hot Air Ballooning: the high-tech way to spy in 1861


A lithograph depicting the battle of Fair Oaks. Lowe’s balloon can be seen in the upper right. From the Library of Congress.

Forget cyber spying — back in the 1860s, balloon spying was all the rage. During the Civil War, the Union Army used several hot air balloons to spy on Rebel forces. Although the Civil War wasn’t the first time hot air balloons were used to gather intel on opposing forces, it was the first time that military balloon reconnaissance was paired with telegraph technology, enabling swift communication between balloonists and those stationed on the ground.

-Images from the Library of Congress.

The man to really get hot air balloon spying off the ground during the Civil War was Thaddeus S. C. Lowe. Lowe was an avid balloonist that hoped to one day cross the Atlantic Ocean via hot air balloon. In April of 1861, Lowe–usually referred to as Professor Lowe– made a well publicized, 1200 mile trip from Cincinnati, O.H. to Columbia, S.C. in a balloon. A month later, The Barre Gazette published a colorful first-hand account of the journey, detailing Lowe’s botched first attempt at landing and describing the terror and confusion felt by those who witnessed the descent of a strange floating orb in their town. (It really is a great article.)


ADVENTURES OF AN AERONAUT IN THE SOUTH – Professor Lowe describes the confusion and terror of onlookers as he landed his balloon in Spartanburg S.C. during his 1200 mile balloon journey. Published by The Barre Gazette on April 25, 1861.

By June of 1861 Professor Lowe’s balloon experimentation attracted the attention of governmental officials, and newspapers reported of a “temporary arrangement” between the Government and Professor. Lowe brought his balloon to Washington to perform a series of “balloon experiments” to test the viability of balloon reconnaissance. The experiments included equipping the balloon with a telegraph and telegrapher so Lowe might communicate his observations to the ground below. The following telegraph was sent from Professor Lowe to Abraham Lincoln during one of the balloon tests conducted on June 16, 1861.

Telegraph from Lowe to Lincoln

Telegraph from Lowe to Lincoln dated June 16, 1861.

In August of 1861 Lowe’s trial ascensions were proven so valuable to the government, that he was ordered to create a special balloon for army use. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the new balloon would measure 38 feet in diameter and 45 feet tall. Fifty women were employed to make the balloon in a period of ten days.

Two months later, in October of 1861, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that “the balloon is certainly a great annoyance to the Rebels, and they have fallen back…the Professor [Lowe] will be too much for them, as he is now in Philadelphia (by direction of the secretary of war) constructing four more balloons, which will be stationed at various points along the enemy’s lines.” That same month the Army Balloon Corps was founded and orders for the creation for more balloons were issued.

-Newspaper articles from the Philadelphia Inquirer describing the construction of Professor Lowe’s balloon and balloons subsequently constructed.

The Army Balloon Corps continued to serve the Union throughout the war but was disbanded in 1863, following Lowe’s resignation. It seems, judging from newspaper clippings like the one below, Lowe spent the rest of the war exhibiting his war balloons in various cities across the United States.


Advertisement published on Nov. 8, 1864 in the amusement section of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The Barre Gazette, 1861
Brady, Matthew B. Professor Lowe’s military balloon near Gaines Mill, Virginia. Photograph. June 1, 1862. Civil War Glass Negatives and Related Prints. Library of Congress, Washington, DC. Accessed July 2, 2013. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2012649020/.
Fair Oaks, Va. Prof. Thaddeus S. Lowe observing the battle from his balloon “Intrepid”. Photograph. May 31, 1862. Civil War Glass Negatives and Related Prints. Library of Congress, Washington, DC. Accessed July 2, 2013. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/cwp2003000067/PP/.
Fair Oaks, Virginia. Prof. Thaddeus S. Lowe replenishing balloon INTREPID from balloon CONSTITUTION. Photograph. May 1862. Civil War Glass Negatives and Prints. Library of Congress, Washington, DC. Accessed July 2, 2013. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/cwp2003004742/PP/.
Philadelphia Inquirer 1861-1865
Professor Lowe’s balloon “Eagle” in a storm. Illustration. c1861. Civil War. Library of Congress, Washington, DC. Accessed July 2, 2013. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2012647351/.
Prof. T. Lowe making a balloon ascension on a reconnoitring expedition to Vienna, Va. Photograph. 1861. Library of Congress, Washington, DC. Accessed July 2, 2013. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2004682054/.

The Telegraph Boys of the Civil War


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 [Earlier this month, the Christian Science Monitor reported that the world’s last telegram would be sent in less than a month (on July 15) from India. People everywhere, myself included, felt a twinge of sadness. However, it turns out this is not the world’s last telegram, and not even India’s. The only thing going away is the Indian national telecommunications company, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited. This article from Ars Technica explains more about it.]

The telegraph exemplified here alongside, the team press, the locomotive and the steamboat as a symbol of nineteenth century progress.

The telegraph, exemplified here alongside, the steam press, the locomotive and the steamboat as a symbol of nineteenth century progress. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

On January 6, 1838, the first telegram was successfully sent in the United States over two miles of wire near Morristown, New Jersey. Nearly 25 years later, by the outbreak of the Civil War, telegraph wires criss-crossed the continent, and the telegram had become an integral form of communication. Three commercial telegraph companies operated in the United States at this time: Western Union, American and Southwest. With the eruption of the Civil War, a dire need arose in Washington DC for secure communication lines, and all commercial telegraph lines surrounding the city were seized by the government. In April of 1861, the Military Telegraph Corps was formed with the purpose of keeping officials in Washington abreast of developments on the battlefield.

Of all the jobs in the Military Telegraph Corps, constructing telegraph lines on the battlefield was the most perilous. Teams of 15 to 150 young men–most of the military telegraphers were 16-22 years of age–would work together to construct the lines. First, a receiving station was set up at the army headquarters. A wagon would then head out, towards the action, functioning as a sending station.


Image published in Harper’s Weekly on January 24, 1863 accompanying the story, “The Military Telegraph.” Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

An article published in Harper’s Weekly from January 24, 1863 titled, “The Army Telegraph,” gives the following description:

The army signal-telegraph has been so far perfected that in a few hours quite a large force can be in constant connection with head-quarters. This, while a battle is progressing, is a great convenience. The wire used is a copper one insulated, raised on light poles, made expressly for the purpose, on convenient trees, or trailed along fences. The wire and the instrument can be easily carried in a cart, which as it proceeds unwinds the wire, and, when a connection is made, becomes the telegraph-office. Where the cart can not go the men carry the drum of wire by hand. In the picture (see above) the cart has come to a halt, and the signal-men are hastening along—some with the drum, while others with crow-bars make the holes for the poles, upon which it is rapidly raised. The machine is a simple one, worked by a handle, which is passed around a dial-plate marked with numerals and the alphabet. By stopping at the necessary letters a message is easily spelled out upon the instrument at the other end of the line, which repeats by a pointer every move on the dial-plate. The whole thing is so simple that any man able to read and write can work it with facility.


Members of the Military Telegraph Corps lay telegraph wires on a Civil War Battle Field in April 1864. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

In 1889, former military telegrapher William B. Wilson gave a speech before the United Service Club of Philadelphia. Although the speech was mostly about his interactions with President Lincoln, Wilson opened with this remembrance of his experience during the war:

A better-natured, more intelligent-looking or harder working band of young men did not exist in the army. They were ready and willing to go anywhere at a moment’s notice, and, if necessary, to work day and night without rest uncomplainingly. Oft times they were sent where the sky was the only protecting roof over their heads, a tree stump their only office, and the ground their downy couch. Provisioned with a handful of hard bread, a canteen of water, pipe, tobacco pouch and matches, they would open and work an office at the picket line, in order to keep the commanding general in instantaneous communication with his most advanced forces, or to herald the first approach of the enemy. When retreat became necessary it was their place to remain behind and to announce that the rear guard had passed the danger line between it and the pursuing foe. 

Constructing telegraph line in the field was a dangerous job. According to Wilson, only 300 of the 1200 boys who served as military telegraphers survived. Some died in battle while most died afterwards from wounds or imprisonment. By the war’s end 15,389 miles of telegraph line had been constructed which were eventually sold back to commercial companies.

Photos courtesy of the Library of Congress.

After the war, the young men who served in the U.S. Military Telegraph Corps were excluded from the military glory bestowed upon the enlisted: since those who served as military telegraphers were not soldiers, but rather civilians, they were not considered eligible for military honors or pensions, a fact that greatly disturbed many. “A hundred nameless graves throughout the battle-fields of the Union attest their devotion unto death to the sublime cause in which they were engaged,” Wilson lamented, “and yet the Government they loved and labored for never as much thanked them for their services.” It wasn’t until 1897 that President Cleveland authorized certificates of honorable mention to be bestowed upon the military telegraphers. However, an arrangement to provide the boys with pensions was never made.

“Army Telegraph.” Harper’s Weekly, January 23, 1863, 53-54.
Beatleton, VA. Group of military telegraph operators, headquarters, Army of the Potomac. Photograph. 1863. Selected Civil War Photographs, 1861-1865. Library of Congress, Washington, DC. Accessed June 26, 2013. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/cwp2003000212/PP/.
Campe of Military Telegraph Corps, Bealeton, Va., August 1863. Photograph. August 1863. Civil War Glass Negatives and Related Prints. Library of Congress, Washington, DC. Accessed June 26, 2013. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2013647871/.
David, Bates Homer. Lincoln in the Telegraph Office: Recollections of the United States Military Telegraph Corps During the Civil War. New York: Century Company, 1907.
Field Telegraph Station. Photograph. 1864. Civil War. Library of Congress, Washington, DC. Accessed June 26, 2013. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2011661060/.
O’Sullivan, Timothy H. Military Telegraph Construction Corps. Photograph. April 1864. Civil War Glass Negatives and Related Prints. Library of Congress, Washington, DC. Accessed June 26, 2013. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2012649236/.
Progress of the Century. Image. c1876. Popular Graphic Arts. Library of Congress, Washington, DC. Accessed June 26, 2013. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/90716345/
Wagon parked near a telegraph pole in foreground with a camp in the background. Photograph. c1865. Civil War Glass Negatives and Related Prints. Library of Congress, Washington, DC. Accessed June 26, 2013. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2012648030/.
Wilson, William B. A Glimpse of the United States Military Telegraph Corps and of Abraham Lincoln. Harrisburg, PA: Meyers Printing and Publishing House, 1889.

Galveston’s Horrific Hurricane of 1900

This map, made in 1891 depicts Galveston County with an inset illustrating details of Galveston city. From the Library of Congress.

This map, made in 1891, depicts Galveston County and geographic details of Galveston city. From the Library of Congress.

As mentioned in the previous post here on HistoryHodgePodge, Coney Island’s Galveston Flood thrill ride was inspired by the natural disaster that occurred in Galveston, Texas on September 8, 1900. The hurricane that struck the coastal city of 38,000 remains the deadliest natural disaster in American history. As many as 8,000 people died in the storm, although an exact count of those who perished will never be known. As an article in The Houston Post described,  “whole families were washed into the gulf and lost and their habitations blotted from the face of the earth, while hundreds of bodies found [were] disfigured beyond recognition.”

Within a day of the storm’s catastrophic landing, newspapers all over the country were (sometimes exaggeratedly) reporting the carnage inflicted upon Galveston. Here are a few from the days and weeks following the storm:

The storm was initially discovered on August 27 in the Atlantic Ocean. Within the subsequent week, it made its way towards Florida, in a northeasterly direction, as a tropical storm eventually amassing great strength as it entered the Gulf of Mexico. By the time the storm made landfall on Galveston Island, it had intensified into Category 4 Hurricane. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) has created the an interactive map depicting the storm’s path.

GalvestonIsolated The citizens of Galveston had no harbinger on September 8 that a storm of cataclysmic proportions was steadily approaching their city. In the issue of The Houston Daily Post released that morning, the storm failed to garner any mention save for a small article sandwiched in between an advertisement and the day’s “Important News” that made note of the storm and the damage sustained in New Orleans and Florida.

As the storm ravaged Galveston, all communication wires were severed. The following morning, September 9, The Houston Daily Post ran the article (see left) which ominously announced, “Galveston Isolated. Completely Cut off from Communication With the Outside. All Telegraph and Telephone Wires Are Down.”

The hopes of “no causalities” and “but little damaged” mentioned in the article were quickly decimated as Mr. James G. Timmons, one of the first survivors to flee Galveston, arrived in Houston around 8pm the following day and recounted his horrific tale (read below).


Mr. Timmons’ tale in the Dallas Morning News, September 10, 1900

By September 11th, more details slowly emerged about the state of the city as survivors fled and outsiders cautiously infiltrated the ruins. A correspondent for The Houston Post, who traveled to the scene, estimated a death toll of 1800 to 2000 and more comprehensive lists of the dead were published. The bodies which littered the rubble were too numerous to bury and were consequently piled onto barges and dumped into the sea. This massive article published by The Daily Picayune in New Orleans is a particularly gruesome account of the city in the days following the storm:

“The buildings were chocked with the bodies which began to decay, and the authorities were made to see there was no other course than to dispose of the corrupting remains as rapidly as possible…Upon these barges bodies were heaped ten deep…It is said that about 2500 bodies were taken out to sea and thrown off far from land…The air was stifling and the stench which arose spurred the authorities on to an even more radical step…Bonfires were built along the beach and throughout the city and on these fires bodies were cast for cremation. The odor of roasting flesh was all-pervading.” – The Daily Picayune

On September 13, The Houston Daily Post reported that a relief committee, formed under martial law, had begun “impressing men into service if necessary, issuing orders for rations only to those who worked or were unable to work.” An “imperative need for disinfectants” in the city arose as citizens found themselves surrounded by thousands of rotting corpses. Unable to bury so many dead in such a short time, bodies were loaded onto barges, taken out to sea and dumped. When the need for burial exceeded even these efforts, bonfires were built on the sea and piles of dead were cremated (see Daily Picayune article above). The need for swift crime control also arose; looting became a dire problem as robbers attempted to rob corpses of their jewelry. Soldiers were given orders to shoot anyone seen robbing the dead. In some cases, ears and fingers of the dead were hacked off by robbers unable to quickly remove the jewelry from the bloated bodies.

Images of the destruction:

According to the Texas Almanac, discovery of the dead continued at an average of 70 bodies per day for one month after the storm with the last body being recovered in Feb. 1901, five months later. To fend off future mass destruction, engineers devised a two part plan consisting of raising the elevation of the city by lifting structures and pumping in sand from the ocean bottom, and constructing a seawall 17 feet tall and 15 feet wide at the base.

Filling pumped in the streets of Galveston to raise the city's elevation. From Southern Methodist University, Central University Libraries, DeGolyer Library.

Filling pumped in the streets of Galveston to raise the city’s elevation. From Southern Methodist University, Central University Libraries, DeGolyer Library.

"Galveston's Great Sea Wall" from The American Review published in November 1903 about the seawall's construction.

“Galveston’s Great Sea Wall” from The American Review published in November 1903 about the seawall’s construction. Click for full article.

A 1902 map illustrating the proposed sea wall and elevation increase.

A 1902 map illustrating the proposed seawall and elevation increase.

It’s Summer, let’s go to Coney Island!


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Coney Island’s Dreamland before a fire destroyed it in 1911 – Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Whoo! The spring semester has ended! As far as I’m concerned, it’s officially summertime, and if it happened to be 1913 instead of 2013, I’d probably be visiting Coney Island.

Coney Island: A Brief History

A century ago, Coney Island was a rising star in the American entertainment circuit. The first establishments appeared on the peninsula in the early nineteenth century during which, Coney Island, situated at a comfortable distance from New York City, Plastic-family-460x276provided a respite from urban life for wealthier Americans. Slowly, as the decades drifted by, the seclusion of Coney Island began to attract much more than wealthy city-slickers; gamblers, prostitutes and other dodgy folk began hanging out, seeking the lurid recreation that could be had away from the city.

The end of the civil war brought further development to the peninsula as businessman tried to profit from the creation of a seaside resort. Encouraging this development was a changing American culture. Stuffy Victorian values were waning fast as America’s capitalist economy developed alongside a working class. These working class Americans sought entertainment and Coney Island delivered. Soon the peninsula was riddled with commercial amusements – theme parks, recreational piers, incubator babies were just a few things visitors could experience. Here are some interesting examples…

Elephantine Colossus (1885-1896)

Coney Island's Elephantine Colossus - Image courtesy of the Brooklyn Historical Society

Coney Island’s Elephantine Colossus – Image courtesy of the Brooklyn Historical Society

The Elephantine Colossus aka the Elephant Hotel, was a hotel complete with shops and an observation deck. Nearly 200 feet fall, the elephant was built by architect James Lafferty, who evidently had a soft spot for elephant-shaped architecture — he’s also responsible two other elephant-shaped structures, Lucy the Elephant in Atlantic City and Light of Asia in Cape May. The elephant caught fire in 1896.

Image illustrating several views of the elephant - Courtesy of the NYPL.

Image illustrating several views of the elephant – Courtesy of the NYPL.

"Coney Island's Big Elephant!" New York Times article from May 30, 1885 describing the Elephantine Colossus' debut.

“Coney Island’s Big Elephant!” New York Times article from May 30, 1885 describing the Elephantine Colossus’ debut.

"Coney's Elephant Burned!" New York Times article from September 28, 1896 reporting the elephant's fiery fate.

“Coney’s Elephant Burned!” New York Times article from September 28, 1896 reporting the elephant’s fiery fate.

Galveston Flood Thrill Ride (1904)

Advertisement for the Galveston Flood from the July 1904 issue of Broadway Weekly.

Advertisement for the Galveston Flood from the July 1904 issue of Broadway Weekly. Click to read full magazine.

In 1900 the coastal Texas town of Galveston was struck a hurricane. Nearly 8,000 of the 38,000 residents perished in the storm which became an inspiration for the Coney Island thrill ride, Galveston Flood which debuted for the 1904 season. The ride which Described by The Hampton Magazine as “astonishing in its artistic completeness,” the amusement employed advances in electric devices to create a more riveting experience. In February of 1904, Broadcast Weekly wrote of the ride and its creators, “In presenting their wonderful reproduction of the Galveston Flood, Adams & McKane Amusement Company, while showing in a most thrilling and intensifying manner the terrible destructive power of the elements, have eliminated all of those horrible and gruesome details of death.”

Another advertisement for the Galveston Flood featured in a Coney Island Souvenir book published in 1905. Click image to see the full guide.

Another advertisement for the Galveston Flood featured in a Coney Island Souvenir book published in 1905. Click image to see the full guide.

Dreamland (1904-1911)

Dreamland's majestic tower at night circa 1905 - Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Dreamland’s majestic tower at night circa 1905 – Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

As the 20th century dawned, Coney Island’s reputation as a destination of ill-repute continued to grow. In order to provide a respectable alternative to Coney Island’s ramshackle amusements (and to no doubt make money), ex-Senator William Reynolds created Dreamland. Modeled after architecture from world expositions, Dreamland was a rectangular metropolis, perched upon the ocean. White, picturesque buildings populated the park, in the center of which stood its iconic 375ft tower. One of the park’s most dazzling spectacles was its wide-spread use of electricity. According to an article from The Electrical magazine and Engineering Monthly, each night, “at the moment when darkness was setting in,” visitors experienced a “brilliant outburst of electrical illuminations.”

Entrance to Coney Island's Dreamland (1907) - Courtesy of Library of Congress.

Entrance to Coney Island’s Dreamland (1907) – Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Dreamland adorned the coast of Coney Island until 1911 when an electrical malfunction started a fire which spread quickly throughout the park, quickly destroying the buildings made only of thin wood, plaster and fiber hemp. The park was never rebuilt.

"The Coolest Resort on the Atlantic Coast"  - Advertisement for Dreamland from the July 1904 edition of Broadway Weekly. Click for full issue.

“The Coolest Resort on the Atlantic Coast” – Advertisement for Dreamland from the July 1904 edition of Broadway Weekly. Click for full issue.

Panoramic view of Dreamland after the 1911 fire - Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Panoramic view of Dreamland after the 1911 fire – Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

“Dreamland.” Advertisement. Broadway Weekly, July 28, 1904, 16.
Feilden, Theo. “The Story of the American Tour – Hudson River and Coney Island Trip.”    The Electrical Magazine, January 31, 1905.
Ferree, Barr. “The New Popular Resort Architecture.” Architects’ and Builders’ Magazine, August 1904, 499-513.
“The Galveston Flood.” Advertisement. Broadway Weekly, July 28, 1904, 18.
“The Galveston Flood – A Real Sensation.” Broadway Weekly, August 25, 1904, 17.
Jenks, George C. “The Stage and Its People.” Broadway Magazine, July 1905, 65-79.
Kasson, John E. Amusing the Million. New York, NY: Hill & Wang, 1978.
“Majestic Dreamland by the Deep Blue Ocean.” Broadway Weekly, July 28, 1904, 4-5.
Souvenir Guide to Coney Island. New York, NY: Megaphone Press Co., 1905.

A Trip to the Dentist…Two Centuries Ago


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This week I went to the dentist, and as I hopped out of the chair with minimal pain, I was very glad for the improvements that the past centuries have brought to dentistry, and wondered how my poor, cavity ridden mouth would have fared a few centuries ago…

Say ahhh!

Say ahhh!

Around the time of the American Revolution, not many dentists existed on the continent. Most people who had teeth, had crooked and discolored teeth while others had few teeth at all. A problematic tooth meant seeking out a doctor or a common barber who most likely fixed the issue by extraction.

The firsts dentists in America came from England or France, where dental schools could be found. These trained individuals taught others who then practiced dentistry themselves, and while there were many trained individuals, there were also many charlatans and quacks.

According to The Foundations of Professional Dentistry, some of the notable names in early American dentistry were Robert Woofendale and John Baker. Robert Woofendale was one of the first men to practice dentistry full time in the States – for most it was a side profession intended to bring in a little money here and there. John Baker was a dentist in Boston who, based on entries from George Washington’s ledger book, did some dental work for the first president. Newspaper clippings (see below) from the Massachusetts Gazette and Boston News-Letter for Baker appeared in 1768, notifying patients of his leave and informing them that they could consult Paul Revere for any help. Apparently, Paul Revere, the famous man who warned colonists of the approaching British at the beginning of the American Revolution, also practiced dentistry in his spare time.


Advertisement for John Baker’s services in New York from the May 5, 1768 issue of the New-York Journal.


From the September 8, 1768 issue of the Boston News-Letter instructing Baker’s patients to consult Paul Revere if they should find themselves with any loose teeth.


Advertisement placed in the Boston Gazette in 1770 for Paul Revere’s dental services.

The 1800s witnessed an increase in dental literature that not only facilitated the spread of knowledge, but also helped develop consistent practices across the profession. It wasn’t until 1840, however, that a dental school was established in Baltimore. Until this time, dental students continued to learn from dentists, in an apprentice-like manner.

Below is a smattering of interesting articles and advertisements from catalogs and journals related to the field of dentistry.


An article from an 1888 issue of The Scientific American about toothbrush technology.


Advertisement for the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery from the American Journal of Dental Science, 1897.


A typical dental chair from the turn of the century from “A catalogue of artificial teeth, dental materials, instruments, tools, etc.” published by C. Ash and Sons in 1880. Click on the image to see the full catalog.


New Improvement in Dental Rubber! This article also from C. Ash and Sons’ equipment catalog introduces a new type of dental rubber, material used to replicate gum tissue.


An early Listerine advert from the March 1897 issue of The American Journal of Dental Science. Listerine, which was invented in 1895, was the first over-the-counter mouthwash in the United States although that didn’t happen until 1914.


Early orthodontic work featured in The American Text-book of Prosthetic Dentistry from 1896. Click the image to view the full book.

American Journal of Dental Science 30 (1897).
Claudius Ash & Sons. A Catalogue of Artificial Teeth, Dental Materials, Instruments, Tools, Furniture, Etc. London, UK, 1880.
Lambert Pharmacal Company. “Listerine.” Advertisement. American Journal of Dental Science 30, no. 12 (April 1897).
“Open Up And Say “Aaaaaah.” Scholastic Scope 59.5 (2010): 14. Academic Search Complete. Web. 16 Apr. 2013.
Robinson, J. Ben. Foundations of Professional Dentistry. Baltimore, MD: Waverly
Press, 1940.
Taylor, J. A. History of Dentistry: A Practical Treatise for the Use of Dental
Students and Practitioners. Philadelphia, PA: Lea & Febiger, 1922.

Chewing Gum


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The Wrigley’s Man and Santa Anna. What do these guys have in common?

According to an article from Chemical & Engineering News (of all places), the average American chews 300 sticks of gum per year. However, gum has been around far longer than the United States; the ancient Greeks chewed a chewy tree sap they called “mastiche”, and in the Americas, the Mayans and Native Americans in the New England region also enjoyed their own region specific varieties of tree-sap.


1953 Wrigley’s Gum advertisement from Boy’s Life magazine.

The first attempt to produce gum in America occurred in the mid-1800s when a man named John Curtis attempted to sell small sticks of spruce-sap chewing gum. His “Maine Pure Spruce Gum” failed to be chewy enough to satisfy customers and the product never caught on. It wasn’t until Santa Anna (a Mexican political leader and the same Santa Anna that fought against Texas forces during the Texas Revolution) and an American inventor, Thomas Adams collided that chewing gum as we know it appeared. In 1869, a decrepit, aging Santa Anna was exiled in Staten Island, New York and planning to raise money to take over Mexico City. Santa Anna hoped to cash in on the booming rubber business and to fund his machinations by importing a specific type of rubber produced by the sapodilla tree, called chicle. Although chicle never worked out as a substitute for rubber, Thomas Adams discovered that heating up the substance and adding some sugar produced a delightful treat.

By the 1870s, Adams had created a gum manufacturing machine and his own company, Adams & Co. which produced the flavored gum called Blackjack. Soon other gum manufacturing companies such as Wrigley’s popped up. The event of WWII and the inclusion of gum in soliders’ ration packs increased the popularity of chewing gum world-wide. Unfortunately, for sapodilla trees, the demand for chewing gum exceeded what they could produce. Synthetic alternatives were subsequently created, and nowadays, Glee Gum remains the only chewing gum in the United States still containing chicle.


Dentyne advertisements from Life Magazine published in 1940.


“One of America’s GOOD Habits” – 1940 Beech-Nut Gum ad published in LIFE Magazine


Another Beech-Nut Gum advert, also from 1940.


Post WWII Leafmint Gum Advertisement from Confectioner’s Journal, 1945

Beech-Nut Gum. “Beech-Nut Gum.” Advertisement. LIFE Magazine, August 29, 1940.
———. “It’s So Good….So Long.” Advertisement. LIFE Magazine, July 1940, 62.
Burks, Raychelle. “Chewing Gum.” Chemical & Engineering News 85, no. 32 (August 6, 2007): 36.
Dentyne Gum. “I Just Saw My Dentist Flinch.” Advertisement. LIFE Magazine, July 1940, 34.
———. “My Dentist is a Great Guy.” Advertisement. LIFE Magazine, July 1940, 40.
Leaf Gum Company. “Leaf Mint Gum.” Advertisement. Confectioner’s Journal, November 1945, 50.
Wrigley’s Gum Company. “It’s Really Keen!” Advertisement. Boy’s Life, June 1953, 28.