An Illustrated Descent Into a "White Slave Hell" in 1910 Chicago
These illustrations are taken from a 418-page 1910 book, The White Slave Hell, or with Christ at Midnight in the Slums of Chicago. Written by Frederick Martin Lehman, a German-born Midwestern pastor, the book combines florid testimony from the minister’s fact-finding missions to the red light districts of Chicago, sermons on temperance, hand-wringing poems, and first-hand stories from madams and prostitutes.
The Journey to the California Gold Rush Was No Joke. This Map Was a Prospector's Friend.
This 1849 map, printed by Ensign & Thayer, a New York firm, offered advice to prospectors bound for the California gold fields during the rush of 1848-1864. A half-million people flooded into the territory during these years, and many were woefully under-provisioned and ill-informed. Authors both credible and fraudulent stepped into the breach, publishing advice books for prospective miners, complete with maps, packing lists, and guides to telling real gold from the fool’s variety.
Illustrations From An 18th-Century Frenchman's Completely Made-Up Book About Taiwan
Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal is the most famous satire in the English language. Yet few remember the man Swift credited with inspiring his darkly ironic plan for solving poverty by feeding Irish babies to the upper classes. Swift claimed that “a Native of the Island of Formosa” (a former name for present-day Taiwan) had regaled him with tales of children who were “put to Death,” then sold “to Persons of Quality, as a prime Dainty.”
Photo Album Documents 1915 Road Trip Along the New Los Angeles Aqueduct
This photo album, made by Angelenos Julius Goodwin Oliver and William Henry Frick, illustrates a road trip that the two curious citizens undertook to observe the Los Angeles Aqueduct in 1915. The Aqueduct was opened on November 5, 1913, and the magazine Boom: A Journal of California has dedicated its fall issue to the centennial; the photo album, which is held in the Huntington Library, is the topic of a piece by Boom’s Annie Powers.
How the Government Monitored Life on a 1920s Reservation
These 1922 documents assess the living situations of Chippewa families living on the Lac du Flambeau reservation in Wisconsin. Compiled by the Lac du Flambeau superintendent, J.W. Balmer, the sheets were submitted to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs in Washington as part of a larger report.
The Creepy, Beautiful "Blood Book" Made By A Scrapbooking Victorian Gentleman
The decoupaged pages of this scrapbook are covered with carefully cut-out engravings, quotations from Scripture, and religious exhortations. Each page has been finished with red India ink, painted in droplets so that the engravings appear to be dripping blood. (Hence, the colloquial nickname for the volume: "The Blood Book.") The writer Evelyn Waugh, who collected Victoriana, bought this book to add to his library around 1950. It survives for our examination because it’s been preserved, along with the rest of Waugh’s papers and books, at the Harry Ransom Center.
In a Snarky Letter, John Adams Assesses George Washington's "Talents"
In this 1807 letter to friend and Philadelphia physician Benjamin Rush, John Adams made a harsh and sometimes hilarious estimation of George Washington’s “talents.”
The WWII Maps That Told Japanese Soldiers About Air-Raid Damage to Their Cities
These maps of Japanese cities were published in December 1945 by the Records Department of Japan’s First Demobilization Ministry. The National Archives of Japan, which hosts a digital collection of the 138 air-raid damage maps, writes that the documents were meant to inform soldiers returning from service in the recently ended war about the status of their homes: “The first question asked by repatriating military personnel and civilian employees of the military landing on Japanese shores was generally about air-raid damage.” Often, the maps were displayed on troop transport ships.
Test Your Kids' Knowledge Against the Well-Informed Children of 1930
This test ran in Parents (then The Parents’ Magazine) in November, 1930. Written by philosopher and professor Walter Pitkin, the quiz offered parents a way to see just how much information their offspring had absorbed.
Chilling Cold War-Era Billboard Slogans, Drafted For Use After An Attack on the US
Deputy Administrator Lewis E. Berry, of the Office of Civil and Defense Mobilization, drafted this 1960 list of billboard slogans for possible use before and after an attack on the United States. (The list was unearthed in the National Archives by the proprietors of the CONELRAD Cold War history blog.)