Monday, November 23, 2015

Thanksgiving Break

Monday, November 23, 2015
Harper's Bazar Thanksgiving 1895
Loretta & Susan report:

We in the U.S. celebrate Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday in November. Though we’ve been having Thanksgiving celebrations here since the 17th century, it took us a while to settle on the day, and it didn’t become a Federal Holiday until 1941.

To mark the occasion, the President pardons a turkey. The rest of us celebrate in our own way, often with family feasts. Usually, but not always, an unpardoned turkey holds the place of honor on the table.

The Two Nerdy History girls will this year, as we always do, take a break from blogging during Thanksgiving week, to spend time with our families. We’ll have plenty to be grateful for, including the loyal readers who aid and abet us in our historical nerdiness.

Whether or not you’re celebrating this week, we hope you, too, have a happy and festive week. We’ll look forward to your joining us again next Monday.

Image: Harper’s Bazar Thanksgiving Number 1895, courtesy Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

Clicking on the image will enlarge it.  Clicking on the caption will take you to the source, where you can learn more and enlarge images as needed.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Breakfast Links: Week of November 16, 2015

Saturday, November 21, 2015
It's time for Breakfast Links - our weekly round-up of fav links to other articles, images, blogs, and websites via Twitter.
• How suffragists used cookbooks as a recipe for subversion.
• The forgotten kaleidoscope craze of Victorian England.
• 350-year-old Italian collar seeks 350-year-old English dress for meaningful, short-term relationship.
• There once was a dildo in Nantucket....
• Can reading make you happier?
Image: Hats are a good indicator of an image's date and the status of the people; this London street-scene dates from about 1902.
• How the ballpoint pen killed cursive.
• How Paul Revere's powerful image of the Boston Massacre was copied and reused repeatedly.
• The most popular boy's names in Tudor England.
• Lavish apartments for millionaires were fitted out like mansions in New York's now-lost Hotel Marguery.
• Over a million documents from the slavery era to be digitized and put online, helping African Americans learn more about lost ancestors.
Image: "Society despairs of the Modern Woman, 1915."
• The first surgeon to successfully perform a C-section was a woman disguised as a man.
• How women's history and civil rights came to the Smithsonian.
William Hogarth at St. Bartholomew's Hospital, 1733.
• The exotic taste of rice.
• Controlling a small world: doll houses and gender roles.
• A block of flats in London with its own air-raid shelter - now preserved.
Image: A fan with poppies for Armistice Day.
• Discovered: a lost short story by Edith Wharton, written in France during World War One.
• And also discovered: a previously unseen story and poem by Charlotte Bronte.
• A spicy history inside a round 19thc. wooden box.
Image: 1910 suffragette banner signed by 80 hunger-strikers.
• Spreading their wings: the post-WWII Wingfoot homes for returning GIs.
• A brief history of London crypts.
• Nine pronunciation arguments you can stop having.
• The death of the ruthless Empress Tzu-hsi, who ruled imperial China for nearly half a century.
Hungry for more? Follow us on Twitter @2nerdyhistgirls for fresh updates daily.
Above: At Breakfast by Laurits Andersen Ring. Private collection.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Friday Video: Paris in 1900

Friday, November 20, 2015

Isabella reporting,

This has been such a sorrowful week for the City of Lights. This short video, shot during the Exposition Universelle of 1900, captures a much different time, and a city and its people that were smiling and happy, confident and carefree. For the sake of Paris and the rest of the world, we hope those times return soon.

If you receive these posts via email, you may be seeing a black box or empty space where the video should be. Please click here to view the video.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Highway Robbery in Kent, 1811

Thursday, November 19, 2015
Dr Syntax Stopt by Highwaymen
Loretta reports:

The way this is written, the robbery seems to have been a relatively civilized encounter. The robber, for instance, did not shoot his victim upon learning he had an undesirable watch and insufficient money. And nobody bothered Mrs. Atkins.
     As Mr. and Mrs. Atkins, of Maidstone, were returning from London, on Thursday, Nov. 14, in their single horse chaise, just as they had reached the 15th mile-stone, corner of Birch Wood, about half past one o’clock in the afternoon, a man came out of a gap-way on the left-hand side of the road from London, and without saying a word, seized the horse by the head. Mr. Atkins immediately stood up in the chaise, and said he would not be robbed, and began to flog the man with his chaise-whip, in hopes of making him let go his horse’s head, upon which he drew his right hand from behind him and presented a horse-pistol. At that instant a companion of his (whom Mr. Atkins had not seen before) made his appearance, and going round the horse to Mr. Atkins’s side, demanded his money. Mr. A. finding his resistance useless, gave him four guineas; not satisfied with that, the robber said you have more. Mr. A. replied, yes, I have a little silver, and gave him to the amount of 10 s. The robber afterwards demanded his watch, which being in a tortoise-shell case, said he would be d—d if he would have, and repeatedly questioned him as to his having more money; but on Mr. A. assuring him he had not, he was suffered to proceed. The man who seized the horse never spoke a word all the time, but held the horse with his left hand and the pistol with his right; the other, who took the money, said, it was distress drove them to it. Neither of them attempted to rob Mrs. Atkins, nor did they say any thing to her. —La Belle Assemblée, Volume 2

Image: Thomas Rowlandson, "Dr. Syntax Stopt by Highwaymen," from The Tour of Dr. Syntax in Search of the Picturesque.

Clicking on the image will enlarge it.  Clicking on the caption will take you to the source, where you can learn more and enlarge images as needed.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Titillating 'Flannel Armour', 1793

Wednesday, November 18, 2015
Isabella reporting,

Loretta and I are great fans of the British caricaturists of the 1780s-1820s, including James Gillray, Thomas Rowlandson, George Cruikshank, and many others. When their prints are mocking fashionable pretensions, politicians, or the royal family, the "joke" is still apparent, even after two hundred years. But then there are some prints that are real head-scratchers to modern eyes.

This one by James Gillray falls into that category. What exactly is going on here? (As always, click on the image to enlarge it.) The ladies appear to be dressing the soldiers in strange, buff-colored costumes, and displaying a certain lascivious eagerness in the process, too. While bare-breasted women are often found in 18thc. satirical prints, here Gillray offers a bit of titillating male nudity. Like most men of the time, the soldiers wear no under-drawers, but simply tuck their long shirt-tails between their legs. These ladies would clearly have gotten an eyeful, and this being Gillray, we should believe their rosy cheeks are due more to excitement than embarrassment.

The title offers some hints: "FLANNEL ARMOUR; FEMALE PATRIOTISM, or Modern Heroes accoutred for the Wars," as does the satirical dedication "To the benevolent Ladies of Great Britain, who have so liberally supported the new system of Military Clothing."

A bit of research explains the rest of the history behind the print. France had declared war on Great Britain on February 1, 1793, launching a generation of warfare between the two countries that would not end until 1815. But when this print was published on November 18, 1793 (weird coincidence, I know!), no one knew that. Instead Britain was filled with patriotic fervor, and the usual certainty that this war would be swiftly and easily won.

As the soldiers drilled and the military began its preparations, British ladies also wanted to show their patriotism and make their own contribution to the war effort. (The lady in the front is already wearing a stylish red habit, sash, and plumed hat that imitates a soldier's uniform.) Wives, mothers, and sweethearts worried that the soldiers would suffer from the cold in the coming winter, and eagerly responded by stitching undergarments of warm winter flannel for the troops. The pointed flannel caps shown here must have been liners for the tall bearskin uniform caps of the time - see one hanging on the wall along with a red uniform coat.

The "flannel campaign" was lauded by politicians and newspapers, but found no favor at all with the soldiers. Companies that were presented with the flannel underclothes refused them outright. Not only did they not want to wear what they perceived as foolish and unnecessary garments, but they also wanted no part of the ladies' "charity", and apparently were quite blunt about it, too.

So the soldiers marched off without under-drawers, and the ladies were offended by their ingratitude, with both leaving caricaturists like Gillray with plenty of inspiration.

Above: Flannel Armour; Female Patriotism, by James Gillray, published by Hannah Humphrey, November 18, 1793. Walpole Library, Yale University.
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