Posts Tagged ‘1910s’

Esperanto in the US, 1910

Sunday, August 11th, 2013

The 6th World Congress of Esperanto, held in Washington D.C. in August 1910, had reached its peak with an address by the language’s creator, Ludwig Zamenhof, on August 15th. Entitled “Lando de Libereco,” Zamenhof complimented the United States for being a land without tribe or church, a place of freedom and cooperation. A full English translation is here. Zamenhof and about 300 of his fellow Esperantists had come to the U.S. in hopes of reaching the ‘melting pot’ of American society, which in many ways resembled the construction of Esperanto. As such, 1910 was one of the ‘peaks’ in Esperanto interest in the U.S., reaching as far as North Dakota that year.

Zamenhof’s address describes the U.S. as a world power several years before WWI proved it, and his hope that America could help provide a foothold in making an international language was in the right place but unsuccessful. Much the opposite happened: the combination of the 19th century British Empire and the U.S.’ world domination in the 20th century only further established English as the lingua franca for international correspondence.

Zamenhof’s interest in leveling the world language playing field got him nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize numerous times, and he reached serious contention also in 1910, losing out to the International Peace Bureau. Probably a good sign, Hitler described Esperanto in Mein Kampf as yet another of the ways the Jewish people (Zamnehof was Jewish) were setting themselves up for world domination, and the Nazi expansion further prosecuted Esperanto speakers. Those World Wars also disrupted the schedule of Esperanto World Congresses, and further weakened the spread of Esperanto. It received a bit of resurgence in the 1960s and 1970s, with the world-positive hippie movement and the infamous Shatner movie Incubus.


Despite the fading non-academic interest in Esperanto in the U.S., the United States branch of the language is still doing its best to spread the good word, but it finds itself awash in a flood of other constructed languages. Esperanto is the honorable great-grandfather of the modern Conlang community, a group of people who have been developing and spreading their own manufactured languages. While the Esperantists of the early 20th century had to spread printed text and schedule their conventions around the world, the internet has created a means for new languages to disperse around the world without the same limitations Esperanto experienced. In a sense, now Esperanto is but one drop in a pool of creative and innovative manufactured languages — practically the opposite of Zamenhof’s intentions. The Late Rev. Glen Proechel was a fluent Esperantist who dabbled in Klingon — in the early nineties Proechel worked on the Klingon Bible translation, wrote primers on speaking Klingon, and  ran a Klingon Language Camp in Red Lake Falls, MN (see a sample newsletter here), further blurring the line between what constitutes a “real” language. The Klingon camp may not be operating any longer, but the World Congress of Esperanto is still running, and in 2014 will be held in Buenos Aires Argentina.

The Rusk Auto-House, 1915

Saturday, March 23rd, 2013

One of the things my Wifey likes about me is that I geek out over weird things.  A few summers ago, while we were cruising rummage sales around Fargo, I started to geek out over a small building in an alley in the older section of town.  Yes, I’m a garage nerd, but for one particular one: The Rusk Auto-House was a solution to the fact that houses built before automobiles were common weren’t built with garages, or even planning on a garage on the property.   Fargo Cornice had the machinery and the know-how to build almost anything out of pressed steel.  In the early 1900s they saw this new market made up of  new car owners, and the Rusk Auto-House filled their need for automobile storage.   Amazingly, many still survive, still in the back yards of hundred-year-old houses.  One was once on the Register of Historic Places, and I’ve got photos of a couple more I’ve run across since I first posted the Auto-House page here; and, I didn’t even know there was a restored one over in North Fargo!  The advertisement above was a 1/2 page ad that appeared in the Fargo Forum in 1915, while an auto show was going on in town.  $139 in 1914 dollars is about $3,200 in 2013 dollars — and that’s about what it’ll cost you to get a steel garage today.

WWI Poem, 1948

Saturday, November 12th, 2011

Just a thought

And just to think -

A slap of ink, embroiled the world

in War! A fleet of ships through “U” boats slink -

A Kaiser is no more.

I tried to find a source for this little, not-quite-rhyming poem, that was near the end of my great-grandfather’s WWI memoir,  but I came up empty.  Turns out that, besides surviving mustard gas and coming back to North Dakota to make a family, he also had a little bit of poet in him.    I had a short day at work, so I used my free time on Veteran’s Day to transcribe his entire memoir, which is linked just above.

Bemidji At Night, 1916.

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

Click for full image

Bemidji, Minnesota: home of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox, but the giant pair were still twenty years away when this postcard was mailed in 1916. In the 1910s, it was still a community on the grow, trying to develop roads and railroad access. A new depot was built a few years earlier than when this postcard was mailed and railway passengers were probably one of the main customers of such mementos of midwest travels. Cameras of the time were not particularly efficient at night, so this photo was probably a daytime photo that was underexposed and colored to make it look like ‘night’. In the 1910s, Either Third street has changed significantly, or the view is from a different spot: Google Maps doesn’t help.

Meeting With A Buffalo, 1910s.

Friday, May 8th, 2009

Click for full image

“A Terrible Meeting With A Buffalo”, from The Book of Knowledge, 1910s. Caption text here.

Jack’s Wonderful House, 1910s.

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

Click for full image

A whimsical interpretation of the human body as a house, with Jack’s study at the top, and various windows and doors for sensory input to enter through. From a series of articles in The Book of Knowledge, 1910s. The articles may be an adaptation of this book, although I was unable to find any direct one-for-one quotes in The Book of Knowledge.

Submarine Point-Of-View, 1910s.

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

Click for full image

My impression of a submarine’s visual acuity was similar to a telescope: Square-jawed 1950s movie stars peering into a binocular-like apparatus suspended from the ceiling, ordering torpedoes to be fired. During and prior to WWI, submarines were just coming into their own, and would soon be the secret weapon to turn a war’s direction. The periscope, according to the image above, operated quite differently than my memories of mid-20th-century naval war movies. A bowl-shaped mirror was lifted, at the top of a tube, above the surface of the ocean. It reflected light down the viewing tube, projecting it, a’la camera obscura, on to a white tabletop for review by the captain and his officers. The bowl-shape projects the distended, distorted view seen in the image above. While this afforded an instant, at-a-glance view of the submarine’s surroundings, it did not provide the rangefinding, weapon-aiming, or navigation facilities that a modern sub enjoys. From The Book of Knowledge, published in the 1910s.

Forests, Deserts, and Prairies, 1910s.

Monday, April 13th, 2009

Click for full image

From The Children’s Encyclopedia, published in the 1910s, and designed by “G.F. Morrell”. This illustrated map, ignoring political boundaries and man-made roads or railways, is pieced together from several smaller maps, depicting the various environments of the world. The caption of the maps engages in some scare-mongering, comparing the expanding deserts as proof our planet is moving towards being as arid as the moon, but it also describes deforestation as “a disastrous thing for a country,” recognizing that removal of trees and grasses can result in loss of topsoil and a collapse of the food-creating industries.

Steam-Powered Space-Ships, 1918.

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

Click for full image

If these amazing craft could actually reach the impressive speed of two miles per minute (120mph), how long would it take to reach the sun? Over fifty years, or so says the margin notes in the original. I have never seen such a wonderful portmanteau of craft-shapes compiled into a single speculative spacecraft: the body is like that of a steamship, front-weighted like an airplane, with airelons and control surfaces both fore (like the Wright flyer) and aft (like most airplanes) — and not only did the artist theorize a single spacefaring airship, he or she put together several designs of varying shape, including a space-faring zeppelin in the distance. It also appears that the “wing-like” surfaces were not functional, as you’d expect for a spacecraft: if you look closely, there are observation decks and tiny people at the edges. My use of the word “Steam-powered” is purely an assumption based on the time period; the features that look like smokestacks are supports for the wings; I cannot see any outward evidence of the ship’s power source. Based on calculations of time-periods, this was published around 1918 or 1919, so I assume the painting was done shortly before. (Want wallpaper of this image? here’s normal and widescreen.) From Our Wonder World.

The Beautiful Land of Sound, 1900s.

Friday, March 20th, 2009

Click for full image

An illustration of “The Beautiful Land of Sound”, from the Children’s Encyclopedia, 1900s. The Encyclopedia used a theme of fairies and goblins in its music education sections.