Historical Treasures, Oddities, And Delights

April 24 2014 12:30 PM

19th-Century Maps Tracking Major Diseases Across the United States

In a group of five maps published in 1874, Dr. Sidney H. Carney, then Associate Medical Director for the New York Life Insurance Company, used data from the company’s files to represent incidences of disease in the eastern United States. The charts show prevalence of malaria, pneumonia, rheumatism, typhoid fever, and phthisis (an archaic term for tuberculosis).

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April 23 2014 9:30 AM

Memo Evaluating Possible Screenwriters for Gone With the Wind Is Frank on the Subject of Faulkner

This undated memo, drafted for producer David O. Selznick, lists writers who might be up to the job of adapting Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind as a screenplay.

April 22 2014 2:30 PM

Striking Photos of Early 20th-Century Baseball Players in Motion

William M. Vander Weyde, a photographer working in New York, made these images of baseball players mid-swing, -run, -hit, or -throw in 1904.

April 21 2014 9:00 AM

A Peek Inside the Mother-Daughter Collaboration That Brought Us the Little House Series

In this letter, Rose Wilder Lane responds to her mother, Laura Ingalls Wilder, regarding the first draft of what was to become By the Shores of Silver Lake, the fifth in the Little House on the Prairie series.

April 18 2014 11:00 AM

Mapping the Intensity of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake

These maps come from an atlas that accompanied the 1908 scientific report attempting to explain the causes and effects of the San Francisco earthquake, titled The California Earthquake of April 18, 1906: Report of the State Earthquake Investigation Committee. The two maps use the data that the commission collected to represent the earthquake’s intensity geographically.

April 17 2014 11:45 AM

A 19th-Century Flowchart Helps You Ask Good Geographical Questions

Aloisius Edouard Camille Gaultier, a French Catholic priest working as a tutor in England in the late eighteenth century, created this chart to aid students in shaping geographical questions. This chart, which is a basic decision tree, shows what kinds of queries should be grouped together (questions about political status, for example, all flow in one “branch”), and offers a simple hierarchy of types of geographical information.

April 16 2014 2:42 PM

Beautiful Photo Portraits of People Doing Their Jobs on the Streets of Late 19th-Century New York

Alice Austen took these street photographs in 1896, hoping to capture the kinds of people you might see out and about in Manhattan. They’re part of an album that Austen titled “Street Types of New York.”

April 15 2014 12:00 PM

FDR's Forgotten Instructions for a Simple Funeral and Burial

In December, 1937, Franklin Roosevelt wrote out instructions for his funeral and burial. The four-page document, kept folded in an envelope in Roosevelt’s personal safe in his bedroom at the White House, was discovered only after his burial on April 15, 1945.

April 14 2014 12:45 PM

The Lincoln Assassination, as Seen Through the Pages of a D.C. Police Blotter

This Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department blotter for the night of April 14, 1865 records the news of the Lincoln assassination in the bottom right-hand entry.

April 11 2014 11:45 AM

Pretty Environmental Propaganda Posters from 1980s China

The great site ChinesePosters.net offers deep thematic coverage of Chinese propaganda posters from the collections of the International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam. The images below are from their collection of environmental posters of the 1970s and 1980s.