The Vault
Historical Treasures, Oddities, And Delights

July 6 2015 5:46 PM

Interactive Map Catalogs a History of Collective Violence Against Black Communities

Here's a map put together by historian Liam Hogan, with help from five co-conspirators. Hogan and his group are trying to track past instances of what they call "collective punishment"—racial violence ("mob violence, riots, and pogroms") meant to terrorize black communities. 

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July 6 2015 11:20 AM

The BBC’s Hilarious 1948 Style Guidelines “On Matters of Taste”

Filmmaker Samantha Horley recently posted an image of this set of "Guidelines," which she found among her father's effects, on her Facebook page. Horley told me that her aunt worked at the BBC as a secretary in the 1960s and 1970s; she thinks the page originally came from her aunt's papers. 

July 1 2015 3:02 PM

The Atrocity Propaganda Ben Franklin Circulated to Sway Public Opinion in America’s Favor

Benjamin Franklin wrote and published this hoax "Supplement to the Boston Independent Chronicle" in 1782, hoping that it would end up in the hands of British newspaper editors, who might reprint articles from its pages. Through these manufactured tales of atrocities perpetrated by Native Americans at the behest of the British, Franklin looked to influence the mindset of the British public as he worked on negotiating the peace treaty that would formally end the conflict between Britain and the new United States. 

June 1 2015 11:27 AM

Can You Name These Famous Landmarks from Their Floor Plans?

Over on Brow Beat we’ve challenged you to name songs from their first second and paintings from small details. But can you identify famous landmarks just by looking at their blueprints? Give your spatial reasoning abilities a workout with our hard but fun architecture quiz.

May 29 2015 1:07 PM

Gorgeous Nature-Themed Stained-Glass Mosaics, Sold to Victorian Builders

In an 1886 catalog, the Belcher Mosaic Glass Company advertised stained-glass windows to late-19th-century homeowners and businesses. Belcher catered to Victorian tastes with these sample designs, leaning heavily on natural motifs. 

May 27 2015 2:35 PM

Advice For Late–19th-Century Rubes About To Visit Chicago

This list of advice for travelers to large cities was reprinted in a Chicago guidebook published in 1888. The list advises rural dwellers, used to life in a place less packed with people, on ways that they could avoid becoming a mark for con men or an annoyance to the more savvy city folk around them. 

May 22 2015 11:31 AM

“Caveat Emptor!”: The First Anti-Slavery Pamphlet Published in New England

Samuel Sewall, a prominent minister and magistrate, published this tract in Boston in 1700, responding to a public controversy over the status of Adam, an enslaved servant held by another magistrate, John Saffin. Saffin had promised Adam his freedom and then reneged on his pledge. Adam contested Saffin's actions in court, and the dispute went on for three years; Adam and his wife finally became free in 1703. 

May 20 2015 11:37 AM

A 16th-Century GIF Tour of the Inside of the Brain

German physician Georg Bartisch's book Ophthalmodouleia, That is the Service of the Eye, published in 1583, includes 91 wood cuts illustrating then-current principles of ophthamology. The Duke University Library's Tumblr recently featured this GIF made from one of the wood cuts, which tours the reader through the skull and brain using a series of flaps that simulate dissection. 

May 18 2015 12:04 PM

The Funny Found Poetry of Early-20th-Century Typeface Demos 

This collection of type specimen pages, published in 1910 by the Keystone Type Foundry of Philadelphia, demonstrates the appearance of the company's type when used to produce headlines of various sizes. In the foundry's choice of demonstration headlines, a strangely poetic vision of daily life in 1910 emerges. 

May 15 2015 1:44 PM

Luminous Lantern Slides of Blackfeet Tipis on the Prairies of Montana in the Early 20th Century

This group of lantern slides by photographer Walter McClintock depicts Blackfoot tipis in Montana, between 1896 and 1914. Many of the McClintock lantern slides have been digitized and are available through Yale's Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

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