History with its flickering lamp stumbles along the trail of the past, trying to reconstruct its scenes, to revive its echoes, and kindle with pale gleams the passion of former days. ~Winston Churchill

24 April, 2014

The Great Ferris Wheel

I've always found it just crazy that they (ie,  George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr. and the folks who liked his idea) decided to build the first Ferris Wheel, they didn't stop to test small-scale versions of the idea or anything. No, they tried the idea of a giant spinning wheel by building it 264 feet tall with 36 40-seat cars. It blows my find that this actually had a happy ending. 

Photographs from the Ferris wheel's start and its happily ever after. 


Library of Congress

That original, at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. Source




State Library and Archives Florida

Taos, New Mexico, ca. 1945. Source




State Library of Queensland

A Ferris wheel in Brisbane, Australia, ca. 1918. Source

21 April, 2014

Postcards from America, Part Two

Continuing our postcard journey through the United States, thanks to the collections of the Boston Public Library. Nebraska to Wyoming!


Boston Public Library





Boston Public Library

This little Nevada town... is Las Vegas. Source




Boston Public Library


20 April, 2014

Exhibition: Curious Anarchy

In my day job I'm a master's student of Photographic Preservation and Collections Management at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada (though I generally change that full title to a simple "degree in Working With Photographs."). My master's class has been working on the creation of an exhibition of photographs (entitled Curious Anarchy) from the private collection of a local curator, and it's amazing. A crazy variety of really, really cool stuff. 

While the exhibition itself, of course, is in Toronto, my group and I have worked on a website containing images of all the images included, plus lots more from the collection, so it can be explored by people all over the world (like you folks!). There's also a blog, which I've (unsurprisingly) been in charge of. New posts are going to be coming out from next week all through May (the month of the exhibition), talking more about various objects from the collection. I'm writing about half myself, with the rest written by my very interesting, intelligent, and wonderful colleagues. I'm also the boss of the exhibition's Twitter and Facebook, which feature great objects from the collection on a regular basis. So really the conclusion is inescapable-- if you like The Passion of Former Days, you will like Curious Anarchy!!

Have a look, and have fun!

Laura Margaret Ramsey, 2014

Curious Anarchy






18 April, 2014

Postcards from America, Part One

I recently discovered the Boston Public Library on Flickr, and it was instant love. They have over 90,000 images in 380 sets, from photographs to posters to trade cards to produce crate labels. Though they're not on the Flickr Commons, most if not all of their images are available to share under an attribution Creative Commons license. I am very excited to explore, and if anyone on the Boston Public Library team ever happens to read this, thank you!

One of the highlights of the collection (at least in my eyes) is a collection of over 25,000 postcards from the United States in the 1930s and 1940s. These are proofs of postcards that were sold by the Boston-based Tichnor company. Every state (at the time) is represented, although some are represented much better than others. As well as a wide variety of views there are huge numbers of advertising postcards depicting roadside motels, diners, and other businesses; total old-school Americana. I plan on sharing some of these fellows in the future, but I thought I'd start a journey through the collection with a journey through the states. For this post and the next, I've picked one card from each state (with no deep thought; just ones I think are great). Hawaii and Alaska, of course, weren't states at the time; there is a single postcard of Alaska but it's just a map so I skipped it. For some reason Minnesota and Kansas are hardly represented at all; there are a few business-related cards but none of the nice view cards every other state has. So sorry, Minnesotans and folks from Kansas (Kansasians?)--no offense is intended by the cards I chose! 

These are in alphabetical order. For each state I've linked to the corrosponding state set on Flickr, so you can have a look at the rest of the ones you like-- some states have over a thousand!


Boston Public Library





Boston Public Library





Boston Public Library


15 April, 2014

Magic Splendour of Electric Blaze

A variety of terrific sterographs depicting the illuminations at the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis, published bey several different stereo companies. Like the buildings created for the Chicago World's Fair in 1893, the St. Louis Fair's buildings were not designed to last more than a year or two. All but one of these buildings were demolished shortly after the event ended.

By the way, if you can free-view (look at stereos the right way to get the 3-D effect without a viewer) or would like to try (it's like magic eye)-- these really are just incredible in stereo. 


Library of Congress

The Festival Hall. Source




Library of Congress

Another view of the Festival Hall. Source




Library of Congress

Palaces of Electricity and Machinery. Source

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