History in the Making Vol.3, No.1 is now live on our website!
This issue contains seven outstanding essays from undergraduate, honours, and postgraduate history students from across Australia.
The essays demonstrate the rich variety of research being undertaken by students of history, with essays examining subject matter as diverse as the United States Bill of Rights, homosexuality in the Third Reich, Cold War science fiction television, and the role of Australian feminist studies in contemporary academic scholarship.
Shirley Temple Black passed away this week, and the media has commemorated the former child-star and US ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia.
The Vault (Slate’s History Blog) has been one of the only voices to remind us that Shirley Temple’s early performances in the short-film series Baby Burlesks are “Really hard to watch“. The 1933 episode Kid in Africa depicts a 4 year old Shirley in a sexy outfit (challenging the idea that the sexualisation of children is a 21st century phenomenon), playing the role of a white overseer commanding black workers doing heavy labor in a jungle setting. It was supposed to be cute.
The Baby Burlesks were shorts, played before the main attraction. They satirized popular movies: What Price Glory?,The Front Page, The Covered Wagon. The joke was that the actors were all under the age of 5. Historian John Kasson writes of the Burlesks: “The intended humor of these shorts, which seems exceedingly strained to modern viewers, rests on the difference between adult knowledge, desires, motives, and pleasures, and childhood innocence.”
This short film and the Baby Burlesks series is an interesting window into US depression-era culture.
The UK’s National Media Museum has digitized a collection of the Spirit Photographs of William Hope, one of the most well-known spiritualists and practitioners of spirit photography in early 20th century England. The classic spirit photograph captured the likeness of a living person or people, and the eerie spirits who accompanied them. These ‘spirits’ were created by multiple exposure techniques. All of Hopes’s photographs uploaded to Flickr Commons are dated 1920.
The image below is a very typical example of a Hope spirit photograph; a sitter and a spirit are posed in front of a dark background. The curator’s notes say that the reverse of the photograph reads “Why is the child always pushing to the front?’ and ‘Do we get messages from the higher spirits?” – possibly questions that the sitter had for her ghost.
The image below is the only example of a mourning photograph in the online Hope collection; it depicts a woman and her son standing by their deceased husband and father, whose ‘ghost’ is also visible.
This unique spirit photograph a couple pose by their car, which is occupied by the ghost of the dead son.
We invite you to explore Flickr Commons and share the good stuff you discover.
Vanity Fair cover, January 1914
2014 marks the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. The History in the Making collective is committed to sharing with our readers the most interesting and most relevant centenary-related content.
This week we liked the Guardian‘s article about the cultural and political climate in Britain in January 1914. The author, journalist Elizabeth Day, asks “did those people waking up on this day in January 100 years ago actually believe Britain was teetering on the brink of war? And what kind of world greeted them when they bade farewell to the old year?”.
Day recognises that
“it was a time of considerable social change. In 1913, the Trade Union Act was passed and union membership was growing rapidly. A wave of strike action had led to “the great unrest” and, by January 1914, Britain was witnessing the rise of a mass labour movement. In America, on this day 100 years ago, the Ford Motor Company announced the introduction of a daily minimum wage of $5 for an eight-hour workday.”
The Women suffrage movement was also in force.
“The suffragette Emily Davison had been killed throwing herself in front of the King’s horse at the Derby in June 1913. By December, Sylvia Pankhurst was claiming in a speech that “we will make the cabinet ministers shake in their shoes until they are afraid for their very lives”.
However, Day argues that despite the rise of a more radical politics, for most people living in Britain, war certainly did not seem inevitable in the first weeks of the new year. As the Vanity Fair cover for the first issue of 1914 reminds us, for many everyday life went on as normal.
This beautiful colour illustration was created as an advertisement for the Pacific Coast Trunk Store in San Francisco circa 1880, and was recently uploaded to the California Historical Society’s Flickr Photostream.
Surely this ad campaign attempted to show just how much stuff a late nineteenth-century traveller could cream into a Pacific Coast suitcase; a bottle of whiskey and a hip-flask, cigars as well as a pipe and tobacco, breath mints, soap, a tooth brush and toothpaste, a comb and a shaving brush, photographs, an Émile Zola novel and an 1883 almanac. Maybe tha’s a set of pajamas in the bottom left hand corner?
You can check out more of the good stuff that the CHS has digitized here http://www.flickr.com/photos/chs_commons/
Late last year the British Library uploaded onto Flickr over one million high-quality scanned images images from its rich collections. As The Appendix explained, the images are in the public domain, free for people around the world to peruse and reproduce to their hearts content.
You can spend hours and hours looking through this treasure chest of historical illustrations and prints (we have!). The fantastic illustrations from Francis Grundy’s Australian children’s book “The Demon McGuire” published in Sydney in 1885 is one of the most exciting set of images that HiTM has discovered so far.
The Oxford Companion to Australian Literature describes the book as ‘a verse story… about an enormous demon who roams around Sydney causing havoc in his wake”. The Demon is a metaphor for a great wind or a storm. This villain “is finally exiled to the Moon by Father Christmas and Father Time” (The Oxford Companion to Australian Children’s Literature, 196).
Why do we like these illustrations so much? Well, first off it is one of the oldest examples of illustrated Australian children’s literature. In addition, the giant, ugly protagonist is very amusing, and you can catch glimpses of real Sydney architecture and landscapes in some scenes. For example, Government House and Sydney Harbour are visible in the title page below;
(compare the illustrated turrets above to this contemporary photograph of government house)
It’s not surprising that a book written in a port-city had strong maritime themes: several of the drawings (like the one above) depict the demon destroying ships in port.
Other illustrations show the demon threatening children, or at least terrifying them by his proximity (including a group hanging out on the roofs of their homes), which is befitting of a book that targeted a young audience.
Unfortunately the British Library Flickr project only scans images, so you cannot read the full story online. The good news is that there are four copies in Australia between the National Library, and the State Libraries of NSW, Victoria and South Australia.