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

19 December, 2014

Christmas Greetings from the Trenches

Embroidered silk postcards soldiers at the Western Front sent to their families back home, for Christmas. These kinds of embroidered postcards were very popular among soldiers of World War One, and were made in large numbers by French and Belgian women during the conflict. The Australian War Memorial collection holds over 600, which I intend to return to. The themes are mostly floral and/or patriotic, their reassuring prettiness belying the conditions lived by the men who sent them. 

These postcards are especially poignant this year--one hundred years since that first Christmas in the trenches. 

A postcard with the same pattern, but a non-Christmas greeting, can be seen hereSource

16 December, 2014

"Coming Attractions," Tinted

A couple months ago, Slate's wonderful history blog, The Vault, posted on the earliest "coming soon" advertisements on cinematic screens. These were hand-tinted lantern slides which would be projected before and between films. The post reproduces a number of these slides from an extensive collection held by the Cleveland Public Library. With my love of both hand-tinting and the 1920s, I was terrifically excited to discover this trend, and even more to discover the library's digitized collection of the slides exceeds 700. So I just had to share a few more, with many thanks to Rebecca Onion of The Vault. Some are for movies that are still known; others are delightfully obscure. All are very, very colourful. 

Cleveland Public Library

Orphans of the Storm (with Lilian Gish and her sister Dorothy), 1921. Source

Cleveland Public Library

Strictly Confidential, 1919. Source

Cleveland Public Library

The Runaway, with Clara Bow, 1926. Source

14 December, 2014

Australian Soldiers Playing in the Snow

Though it certainly does snow in Australia, and the country even has ski hills, the majority of Australians don't grow up with snow. Particularly in the days before long-distance travel was commonplace, a lot of Australians never even saw snow. So when Australian soldiers were posted abroad to places like Northern Europe, Canada, and Korea, they tended to have an awful lot of fun with it. 

Snowball-armed soldiers and their prizewinning kangaroo snowman at a Convalescent Camp in England, 1917. Source

Australian soldiers having a snowball fight at a camp in southern England, 1916. Source

Nurses and convalescent Australian soldiers have a snowball fight at a hospital in southern England, WWI. Source

11 December, 2014

Brilliant Luna Park at Night

Photographs of the fanciful nighttime illuminations at Luna Park, one of the two major early twentieth century amusement parks on on Coney Island, shortly after it opened in 1903. 

Library of Congress

New York Public Library

Library of Congress

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