The First Modern Organizational Chart Is a Thing of Beauty
With this 1855 chart, Daniel McCallum, general superintendent of the New York and Erie Railroad, tried to define an organizational structure that would allow management of a business that was becoming unwieldy in its size. The document is generally recognized to be the first formal organizational chart.
Historian Caitlin Rosenthal, writing in the McKinsey Quarterly, points out that the chart was a way for McCallum to get a handle on a complex system made more confusing by the new availability of data from the use of the telegraph (invented in 1844). Information about problems down the track was important to have—it could help prevent train wrecks and further delays—but the New York and Erie’s personnel didn’t have a good sense of who was in charge of managing this data and putting it into action.
Dramatic Art Deco Illustrations of the Phobias of Modern Life
This group of illustrations are five of twenty-four that made up John Vassos’ 1931 book Phobia. The work, published as a limited-edition art book, was a labor of love. In it, Vassos developed his elongated Art Deco visual style, while advancing a critique of modern urban life.
A Beautiful, False 19th-Century Pedigree for George Washington
James Phillippe, a British genealogist working in London, presented this genealogical chart of George Washington’s lineage to Ulysses S. Grant in 1873. Phillippe hoped to curry favor with the president, and to establish his bona fides as a researcher.
An Eccentric Millionaire's 1875 Pork Map of the United States
All the Violent Shows on TV in Chicago, One Day in 1954
This chart was used in Senate hearings on television and violence held in October 1954. It shows a day’s television programming in Chicago, and highlights in red the programs with plots centering on crime and criminals. (Here’s another chart using the same color-coding to illustrate programs aired in Washington, D.C., during a sample week.)
1919 Map of New York City's Manufacturers Shows a Bygone Industrial Landscape
This map, printed by the Merchants’ Association of New York in 1922, shows industrial activity in the city, as reported to the 1919 Census of Manufactures. The map was meant as a promotional tool—beige areas represent areas “available for industrial development”—and to boost the city’s profile in the larger business community.
How Londoners Died in One Plague-Ridden Week in 1665
In 16th- and 17th-century London, in response to recurrent epidemics of bubonic plague, authorities instituted the tradition of publishing a bill of mortality each week. The “Great Plague of London,” which hit the city in the summer of 1665, is estimated to have killed between 75,000 and 100,000 Londoners (out of a total population of about 460,000). This page represents the death tally of all city parishes for the week of Aug. 15-22, 1665, when the plague had infected 96 of the 130 parishes reporting.
In Suggestions for Victorious Bus Boycotters, MLK's Powerful Turn Toward Nonviolence
This document, drafted by the Montgomery Improvement Association, advised victorious bus boycotters on best practices for riding the newly integrated city bus system.
Photos of Contemporary Workers With Ancient Artifacts From the Earliest Histories of Their Jobs
These portraits depict present-day workers alongside ancient Middle Eastern artifacts that date from the very beginnings of their professions. Commissioned by the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago, they’re taken by photographer Jason Reblando. Reblando made the images using a tintype process, which lends them a patina of age.
Gen. Patton's 1943 Memo Accusing Mental Casualties of Cowardice
A number of U.S. military officers doubted the legitimacy of mental casualties during World War II. Some presumed that soldiers who claimed to have suffered nervous breakdowns on the battlefield were malingering to avoid serving in harm's way. Nothing reflected that attitude more than this order from Gen. George S. Patton to all commanders in the Seventh Army, then stationed in Italy, on Aug. 5, 1943.