Category Archives: Time Machine

Happy New Year 1915!

GWT Time Machine

Happy 2015 everyone! The title is not a typo. Here is a clip from the magazine Current Events, from January 1, 1915. It talks about how to keep peace for 100 years, referring to the peace between Canada and the US after the War of 1812. 100 years later, our world can still use all the peace it can get. Here’s to a peaceful 2015.

New Years 2015

 

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5 Days After the Titanic Disaster

GWT Time Machine

It’s amazing the different historical context makes. When I looked at the April 20, 1912 edition of a news magazine called the Pathfinder (five days after the Titanic disaster), I expected to see a huge, full-page story. Instead, I found a small account of the accident sandwiched between a section about the rising popularity of Montessori schools and another about how the US is starting to grow its own camphor trees. There was no mention of casualties and merely says that rescue operations are ongoing. However, when you think of it, the magazine was probably written several days before, when the true details were still unknown. It’s a little chilling, reading it now.

copyright David Stewartcopyright David Stewart


Are Car Wheels Made of Paper? – Questions for 1915’s Google

GWT Time Machine

Do you remember a time before the Internet? Of course you don’t. Don’t lie. However, there was such a time when you had to look in an encyclopedia to find out something or just live with not knowing it. But then, there was also a time even further back when reference books were rare and many people would write into certain magazines with questions that would be answered in a regular column.

Now imagine this: you have things you want to Google. Pick just one question and write it down. Mail it to a magazine. Wait a month or two. Hope it gets picked out of the hundreds of others they receive and then gets published for the whole world to see (nothing NSFW). Things have hardly changed a bit!

The following are excerpts from a magazine called Current Events. All of these are from 1915, which for historical context means that World War I had just started but the US was still neutral. The questions may surprise you as much as the answers.

Time Machine 1915 Google

That is almost $18,000 per shot in today’s money. Apparently war has never been cheap.

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Well, that’s convenient. I think I’d rather . . . not be sued today.

Time Machine 1915 Google

Aww, that’s cute: 1.7 billion people. The world must have felt so empty back then.

Time Machine 1915 Google

This surprised me. The Supreme Court didn’t get its own building until 1935.

Time Machine 1915 Google

“We think paper wheels are not now used.” I think I’d feel better knowing for sure my wheels weren’t made of paper, no matter how much less jarring there was.

Time Machine 1915 Google

Back in 1915, the US was more the kids on the playground surrounding the fighters and yelling “Fight, fight, fight!”

Time Machine 1915 Google

Remember DC citizens: when you get that urge to vote, just go for a brisk run or do some yoga or something.

Time Machine 1915 Google

Ah, the good old days. For context, that is about the amount of oil the United States currently consumes in 10 days.

Time Machine 1915 Google

James Smith 3d, unlike his flat father and linear grandfather.

Time Machine 1915 Google

“I really want to be a citizen, honey. A little more arsenic in your tea?”

Time Machine 1915 Google

Methinks someone has a guilty conscience about cutting off President Woodrow Wilson on the highway.

I think we should annex Cuba right now. See how that turns out.

I think we should annex Cuba right now. See how that turns out.

Time Machine 1915 Google

I’m actually a little disappointed that by this point in history we don’t have supersupersupersupersupersupersuperdreadnaughts.

Time Machine 1915 Google

Ouch! Poet-laureate burn!


Welcome to the Green-Walled Time Machine!

GWT Time Machine

This is the first post in what will be a weekly segment here on the Green-Walled Tower. It will share selections from magazines ranging from 1908 to the 1930s and 40s and interesting insights into the culture and current events of the time. First though, let me give you a little history about how this all started.

About 17 years ago, my grandparents moved into a smaller house and were going to throw away two boxes of old magazines. I took them, although I had nowhere to put them. And so, they sat in my parents’ house for 17 years while I was in university, and then in Korea. They brought them to me a few weeks ago and I could finally look through them properly. The magazines are all ones my great-great-aunt collected over her lifetime. She was a school teacher and a devout Christian, so most of her magazines relate to teaching, Sunday School, or missions. Still, among the lesson plans and Sunday School stories (and in them too) were many fascinating details about life at the beginning of the 20th century. And now, without further ado…

Ads in Teacher Magazines

It appears that modern times are not alone in having ads crammed into every square inch. All magazines in the 19-teens and 20s seemed to have ads everywhere, especially in the teaching magazines. Here’s an example from the February, 1913 issue of Primary Plans:

ads in teacher magazines

What surprised me most were all the ads for other jobs. Most teachers today don’t get into it for the money, and it was even more so back then. The February 1913 issue of the Cambridge Tribune mentions in an article about raising teacher salaries that some teachers made about $800 a year (they also use the term “starvation wages”), which is about $18,600 today. So, it is not a shock that teachers would want to make a little extra money. What is surprising is the types and variety of jobs: watchmaking (if you’re a man), doing magic, sewing, organizing Lodges of the Owls, and even what looks suspiciously like spying, considering the phrase “reporting Information, Names, etc.”

Anything that says "Big Pay" has to be legit.

Anything that says BIG PAY has to be legit.

They even had for-profit schools back then, promising BIG PAY for people who wanted to pay them to help prepare for the civil service exam; i.e., to stop being a teacher.

Another surprising advertisement is the one right at the bottom, for Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup. It was a tonic whose principle ingredients were morphine and alcohol, and while that might seem par for the course for teachers, it was actually marketed for infants. Also, it was denounced by the American Medical Association two years before this magazine came out.

Morphine and alcohol: safe for infants since...never.

Morphine and alcohol: safe for infants since…never.

This Week’s Bonus Weirdness

A few pages over from the above advertisements was this tiny one, little more than half an inch high:

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Tell me, what do you think this ad is about? He is looking for subscriptions. Does that mean he wants you to buy subscriptions to magazines through him (with big savings) since he gets them at a discount? If so, it’s a strange thing for the magazine to print, since it would undercut their profits. Or does he want second-hand magazines, although if so, what does he mean by “big savings?” What do you think?


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