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The Industrial Revolution in America created a consumer economy, shifting traditional wealth and power away from the long standing blue-blood families and towards the capitalist magnate and a developing new middle class. The idea of the “self-made” American was clearly at odds with the traditional aristocratic and elitist mores of the past centuries. Yet at the same time, […]

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The card catalog was a library stalwart for almost 200 years. The earliest use of a card system for inventory control is credited to France where rare confiscated books were distributed to various repositories around Paris for safe keeping. Upon distribution, a card was created with basic bibliographic information to be held at the “Paris Bureau de Bibliographie”. […]

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Up Up and Away

  Barthélemy Faujas-de-St.-Fond (1741-1819) was a lawyer, naturalist, and geologist, with an ardent interest in the prospect of ballooning and the experiments being conducted by the Montgolfier brothers. While St. Fond made significant contributions in the study of volcanic activity, he is now mostly remembered as the first to document and publish an account of the Montgolfiers’ balloons, presenting details of […]

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Invigorated by the crisp, bracing air, you skate, ski, snowshoe, toboggan, sleigh ride, tramp – whatever your fancy may dictate.  The 1920s is considered the dawn of winter sports tourism, driven in-part, or at least complemented by the first Winter Olympics in 1924. The Boston & Maine Railroad identified a new commercial opportunity and led the charge for the development […]

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Owen Jones (1809-1874), an architect and designer, became one of the foremost authorities on design theory and historical ornamentation and patterns. He was a major contributor to modern color theory, and his doctrine on patterns and ornament are still considered relevant to scholars and historians today. After predictable tours of the great European cities, he turned his attention to the East for Ancient Greek […]

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Somewhere around 100,000 German Jews served in the German Army during World War I, with about 18,000 awarded the Iron Cross. During the war, German Jews requested the appointment of field rabbis to serve as military chaplains for the Jewish soldiers and personnel at the frontline. This request was granted by the Kaiser, growing from 6 rabbis to 30 […]

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“Hen Fever”, as it became known during the Victorian Age, was an unprecedented obsession with owning, breeding, and showing the finest chickens in the world. The genesis of the poultry fancier owes much to Queen Victoria and her royal menagerie. In 1842, she acquired exotic chickens from China, and whatever the Queen did, the public would soon […]

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The Wreck of the Kite

Merchant sailor John Lee Scott was a shipwreck survivor of the Kite and endured a subsequent imprisonment by the Chinese during the Opium War. The Kite was a British brig providing supplies to the British fleet when it capsized near the Chusan islands. As survivors of the wreckage washed up near the port of Ningpo, they were captured by the […]

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For much of the early history the United States, wilderness was viewed as an adversary, something to tame and control for civilization to flourish. The evolutionary concept of wilderness as a cherished resource, something of great worth and benefit to citizens took many decades, only gaining momentum by the end of the 19th century. Some of the leading individuals who were […]

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The Comstock Act of 1873 inhibited publication, frank discussion, and dissenting attitudes toward sexuality, religion, marriage. One of its most outspoken adversaries was the physician and freethinker, Dr. Edward Bliss Foote, who challenged all obscenity legislation in Congress, state legislatures, and courts and also offered support to defendants in free speech cases. He campaigned against obscenity prosecutions, promoted […]

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