Historical Treasures, Oddities, And Delights

Dec. 3 2014 12:15 PM

Map Shows Where the Juvenile Delinquents Lived in Depression-Era D.C.

This 1936 map of Washington, D.C. pinpoints residencies that had produced kids recently designated “juvenile delinquents.” The data for the map came from the District of Columbia’s Juvenile Court. The red marks on the map, which look similar from afar, are shaped differently: Stars mean “white girls”; squares are for “white boys”; circles indicate “colored girls”; and triangles denote “colored boys.”

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Dec. 1 2014 12:46 PM

How to Employ Women in Government Jobs: Postwar Advice Drawn From the American Experience

At the end of World War II, writes archivist David Langbart on the National Archives’ Text Message blog, a British committee charged with looking into the practice of barring married women from serving in the UK’s civil service wrote to ask the American Civil Service Commission its opinion on the matter. This document contains replies from Lucille Foster McMillin, then the acting president of the Commission.

Nov. 28 2014 9:23 AM

A 17th-Century Argument for the Many Virtues of Coffee, Chocolate, and Tea

In this 1690 broadside advertisement, London merchant Samuel Price deployed rumor and vivid anecdote to advance the medical case for drinking coffee, chocolate, and tea. Forty years after the opening of the first coffeehouses in London, Price, who had “really and truly prepared and compounded” coffee and chocolate for sale, circulated this text that argued that people should drink these beverages at home, and often.


Nov. 26 2014 11:53 AM

A Beautiful Depression-Era Route Map Makes Transcontinental Bus Travel Look Glamorous

A 1935 promotional map for Pacific Greyhound shows the long reach of the bus company, when its regular schedules were combined with routes of regional affiliates. Printed a few decades after the founding of the company that would become Greyhound, the map shows how quickly Americans took to the idea of interstate bus service.

Nov. 25 2014 12:32 PM

How Railroads Advertised for Homesteaders to Settle in Indian Territory 

As 19th-century homesteaders moved west, the lands in present-day Oklahoma where eastern tribes had been resettled after removal earlier in the century came under threat of settlement. This flier, printed on behalf of the Kansas City, Lawrence, & Southern Railroad in anticipation of the opening of unassigned lands in the state’s “Indian Territory,” shows how railroads whipped prospective emigrants into an anticipatory frenzy. “The rush will be great, and early comers will have every advantage,” the flier warns.

Nov. 21 2014 12:30 PM

Peep Inside a Newspaper's Bustling Headquarters, Circa 1922

In this cutaway drawing of the interior of the Washington Evening Star’s building, printed in that paper in 1922, the physical layout of the paper’s office is visible to the reader, with editorial offices, technical plant, and employee resources (library, a top-floor cafeteria) all included. The Star’s building also housed several outside agencies, and their offices are shown, as well.

Nov. 21 2014 9:48 AM

Delicately Hand-Tinted Postcards Show How Early 20th-Century Tourists Viewed Japan 

These hand-tinted Japanese postcards are part of a new exhibit on the history of tourism in Asia at the Smithsonian’s Sackler Galley, titled “The Traveler’s Eye.” The postcards, produced in the early 20th century as Western visits to Japan increased in volume, show off the skills of Japan’s photo colorists.


Nov. 19 2014 12:36 PM

Beautiful, Terrible Watercolors of a 19th-Century Whale Hunt, Found in a Ship’s Logbook 

After exhausting the fisheries around New England, 19th-century whaling ships needed to go farther afield, taking years-long journeys to distant oceans to find their prey. “These extended trips offered more leisure time,” the curators of a new exhibition of whaling artwork at the Providence Public Library write, “and many whalemen chose to fill that time in artistic pursuits.”

Nov. 18 2014 12:58 PM

A WWII Ration Book Issued to FDR

This ration book, issued to President Franklin Roosevelt, can be found in the President’s papers at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum. The Roosevelts adhered to mandatory rationing along with other voluntary wartime homefront initiatives, like planting a Victory garden and installing blackout curtains on the White House. The standard ration book includes coupons for staples like flour, wheat, sugar, and meat.

Nov. 14 2014 1:22 PM

Gently Sexy Boudoir Stereographs for Use in Victorian Parlors

These mildly provocative stereographs were marketed for parlor use in the late 19th century. Used with a stereoscope, the side-by-side images would render in 3D. (If you happen to have a pair of 3D glasses, you can use them while looking at the stereographs’ page on the Library Company’s website, to mimic the effect.)