Posts Tagged ‘1920s’

A Flat World, 1922

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

The caption from the 1922 newspaper reads:

Wilbur Glenn Voliva, leader of the religious sect with headquarters at Zion City, Ill, says the earth is flat and that shortly he will prove it by taking a ship and sailing around the outer crust of the earth.  Voliva proposes to captain a ship called the “Zion” and will start on a point at the sixty-fifth meridian and keep going to the starting point.  He says the earth is flat as a pancake and the point we call the North Pole is the center of the earth and there is no South Pole, and that the sixty-fifth meridian is near the rim of the earth.  The photograph shows Voliva (seated) explaining the map to his personal attendant in his office at Zion City.

Zion City was founded by John Dowie after spending a time faith-healing at the Chicago World’s Fair.   Established as a true theocracy, Zion City was meant to attract the sorts of people that would help move their body of faith into a new utopia.

Guys like Wilbur Voliva, who came to Zion City at its inception and became a powerful leader in town, turning the utopian company-town into an economic powerhouse by adding fig bars to its manufacturing business.

The Flat Earth isn’t a new concept, but even in Columbus’ time few actually thought the Earth was flat – it has largely been the domain of crackpots and religious truthers, people more willing to accept the ideas in their head than the truth that was so obviously around them.  Voliva was just one of many, most notably the Square Earth Theory out of Hot Springs, SD,  with the North Pole in the center and an enormous ice wall around the circumference.

In 1931, Voliva was still pushing his flat-earth concept, even though people in airplanes had circumnavigated it in such a way as to eliminate any doubt.  His attempt to sail around the…platter?…doesn’t seem to still be on his docket, though.  Wilbur lived until 1942, unable to prove that the earth was flat.

The Amsterdam Fortune, 1920s

Sunday, December 8th, 2013

Norwegian immigrants in the 1920s saw their chance at financial independence: an Amsterdam bank ran ads in newspapers looking for descendants of Elizabeth Sabo, a Manx woman who ended up in Norway after a ill-fated cow milking expedition.

The Amsterdam Fortune was her brother’s, bequeathed to the 6th generation of her offspring, to be paid on New Year’s Day 1927 who whatever heirs can be found.   Hundreds of hopeful immigrants paid $10 each to retain a lawyer to collect their $3,000,000 each, but nothing ever came of it.   If the internet had been around back then, they would already know that the rule was — as it is now — if a stranger asks for money to claim an inheritance, it’s probably a scam.

Little Columbus, 1920

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

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What might appear to be a Bugsy Malone version of 1492: Conquest of Paradise is actually from the encyclopedic series Public School Methods, a 1920 handbook for teaching gradeschool.  The vignette is called “Columbus at the Court of Spain”,  which shows Columbus demonstrating a globe to Ferdinand and Isabella, while Isabella, in return,  is offering her jewels to finance the trip.  The book recommends that young children learn through pantomime, as using words may prove too difficult.  Alas, dressing children up as historical figures has given way to rote learning today.

Oh, and the sword?  Somebody in the Little Columbus’ family must be a Knight of Pythias.

Farmyard Wagon, 1920s.

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

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Two children, playing with a wagon in the farmyard, 1920s. From this set.

Trip Around The North Sea, 1927.

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

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In the 1920s, the American Farm Bureau Federation toured northern Europe; this was the map of their travels. From The Bureau Farmer, September, 1927.

Blonde Outdoors, 1920s.

Monday, May 4th, 2009

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Blonde baby, enjoying the outdoors, near what appears to be a Model T. 1920s. From this set.

Puppy and bucket, 1920s.

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009


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Apartment building, 1920s.

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009


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Car parked in front of a large lodge. Appears 1920s.

Family Photo, 1930s.

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009

A family posing for a photo in front of a house. Appears 1930s (See comments). More of this group here.

Boy And Pine, 1920s.

Monday, January 26th, 2009

Boy standing next to a small pine tree, 1920s.