Can I give you a hand with your cigar?

15 February 2013
Photo Credit: Liljenquist Family Collection (Library of Congress)

Photo Credit: Liljenquist Family Collection (Library of Congress)

Two unidentified soldiers in Union uniforms holding cigars in each others’ mouths, photographed between 1861 to 1865. The uniform of the solider on the right has blue chevrons which would rank him as an Infantry Sergeant.

First President Photograph

15 February 2013
James Knox Polk, three-quarter length portrait, three-quarters to the right, seated. Photo Credit: Mathew Brady/Library of Congress

James Knox Polk, three-quarter length portrait, three-quarters to the right, seated. Photo Credit: Mathew Brady/Library of Congress

James K. Polk, the 11th President of the United States, was the first president to be photographed while in office. The daguerreotype was taken by famous photographer Matthew Brady in New York City on February 14, 1849. Polk was also the first president to be extensively photographed during his presidency.

White House History

Valentine’s Day By the Numbers

14 February 2013

Valentine's Day by the numbers

Valentine’s Day By the Numbers. (2013). The History Channel website. Retrieved February 13, 2013.

Valentine School Dance, 1956

13 February 2013
Photo Credit: Library of Virginia

Photo Credit: Adolph B. Rice Studio/Library of Virginia

The photo is of a Valentine’s dance at a Virginia school on February 15, 1956. Sometimes there is nothing better than one of those school dances where kids are looking everywhere but at their partners, the gap between partners could actually fit a whole other person and the ladies man of the class is dancing with a broom…

World War I Gas Masks

12 February 2013

Photo Credit: “The Literary Digest History of the World War”, volume V, p. 55./Online

Photographed are the various gas masks employed on the Western Front during the First World War. The photo quality is not the best but it does shows how varied, and creepy, some of the masks were made.

Oldest Valentine

11 February 2013
Poem from Charles, Duke of Orleans to his wife in 1415.

Poem from Charles, Duke of Orleans to his wife in 1415. Photo Credit: BBC

The oldest existing Valentine card is believed to be housed in the manuscript collection of the British Library. In 1415, Charles, duke of Orléans, gave his wife a valentine while being held prisoner in the Tower of London.  The French nobleman was wounded and captured at the Battle of Agincourt during the Hundred Year’s War.  The valentine poem that Charles writes to his wife while in prison was not the typical happy-go-lucky valentine that we may be use to. Instead, the note was of somber yearning.

Je suis desja d’amour tanné
Ma tres doulce Valentinée…

I am already sick of love
My very gentle Valentine…

The duchess died before the poem could reach her. Over the duke’s 25 year imprisonment, he wrote his wife 60 love poems that are often said to have been the first “valentines.”

[Zim’s Side Note: The Battle of Agincourt was the centerpiece of William Shakespeare’s Henry V. Charles, duke of Orléans appears in the classic play as well.]

BBC
History of Valentine’s Day

“Blizzard”

10 February 2013
Photo Credit: Brooklyn Museum/Brooklyn Public Library

Blizzard of March 1888 in Brooklyn, New York. Photo Credit: Breading G. Way/Brooklyn Museum/Brooklyn Public Library

Definition: According to the National Weather Service, a blizzard is called if wintry conditions last for a period of 3 hours or more with winds reaching 35 miles an hour or greater, reducing visibility to less than 1/4 mile.

Origins: The word “blizzard” is relatively new in describing winter storms. In the 1870’s, an Iowan newspaper was considered the first to use “blizzard” to describe a snowstorm. Originally, blizzard was used to depict cannon shots or a volley of musket fire. By the 1880’s, blizzard became a common word across the country during the wintry months.

National Weather Service
Chris Dolce,
“Where Did That Weather Word Come From?” The Weather Channel.

In Their Words – George Washington Carver

10 February 2013
George_Washington_Carver

Photograph taken by Frances Benjamin Johnston in 1906. Photo Credit: Library of Congress

“When you do the common things in life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world.”

- George Washington Carver, an American scientist, botanist and inventor.

White House Snowball Fight

9 February 2013
Photo Credit: Cecil Stoughton/LBJ Presidential Library

Photo Credit: Cecil Stoughton/LBJ Presidential Library

First daughter Lynda Johnson and friend Warrie Lynn Smith throw snowballs on the White House Lawn on February 11, 1964.

Snow Rabbit, 1978

8 February 2013
Snow Rabbitt

Photo Credit: Chip Clark/Smithsonian Institute

“Visitors building a snow rabbit on The Mall with the Smithsonian Institution Building in the background, March 1978.”

Baking Slapjacks, 1874

7 February 2013
William Henry Jackson/

William Henry Jackson/George Eastman House Collection

“John, the Cook, baking slapjacks,” 1874. This photo is a great example of everyday life on a geological survey of the American West.

Photographed by William Henry Jackson, a geological surveyor photographer and an American West explorer. He served in the Union Army during the Civil War and present during in the Battle of Gettysburg, but saw no action. After the war, he traveled throughout the west sketching and photographing the landscape and, in the summer of 1969, the new Union Pacific Railroad construction. His photographs of the latter caught Ferdinand Hayden’s attention. Hayden was organizing a geologic survey of the Yellowstone area (at that time it was unknown land). Hayden asked Jackson to come with the expedition and he agreed. Jackson’s photographs of Yellowstone helped to convince Congress to name the park as the first national park in 1872. This made Jackson the first photographer to successfully capture Yellowstone’s sights on film. From 1870-1878, Jackson accompanied other geological surveys conducted by Hayden of the west and southwest.

Library of Congress
Scotts Bluff National Monument and Oregon Trail Museum Foundation

Cowboy Round-up, Oregon, ca. 1912

6 February 2013
Photo Credit: Walter S. Bowman/University of Washington Libraries

Photo Credit: Walter S. Bowman/University of Washington Libraries

Cowboy Jason Stanley performing a riding trick at the Round-Up, Pendleton, Oregon, ca. 1912. Caption on image: Jason Stanley in the Drunken Ride. Let ‘Er Buck, Or. Copyright By W.S. Bowman No. 311.

Gothic Architecture

5 February 2013
The Notre Dame de Paris in Paris, France, is perhaps the most famous example of Gothic Architecture, 2007. (Source)

The Notre Dame de Paris in Paris, France, is perhaps the most famous example of Gothic Architecture, 2007. (Source)

Nave of Reims Gothic Cathedral (France) looking west. (Vassil; Source)

Nave of Reims Gothic Cathedral (France) looking west. (Vassil/Source)

Gothic architecture arose in Western Europe from the 12th to 15th century. Marked by groined vaulting, pointed arches and the flying buttress, Gothic is one of the most familiar and utilized styles in Europe’s notable cathedrals, abbeys and churches. It was also used outside of religious structures in castles and town halls.

Evolved from Romanesque architecture, Gothic design, at a glance, bares little resemblance to its predecessor. Simple construction, heavy walls and rounded “Romanesque” arches dominated European architecture in the 10th and 11th centuries under Romanesque architecture. Whereas Gothic structures used rich ornamentation while the buildings themselves seem lighter and taller than anything before. However, Gothic utilized  vaulting and arches, albeit pointed instead of round, as did the Romanesque buildings but in a more intricate way. Overall, Gothic architecture is considered far “busier” than Romanesque even though there are fundamental similarities.

The pointed arches were more than decoration. They redistributed weight and allowed structures to be taller with slender columns. Additionally this paved the way for buildings to have more decorative stain glass windows and gave the interior an airier feel. As with other architectural styles, Gothic design varied based on its location in Europe.

  • French Gothic was dominated by flying buttresses, heavy ornamentation and the introduction of the rose window. One of the most famous cathedrals in the world was built in Paris between 1163 and 1250 – Notre Dame de Paris.
Reims Cathedral in Reims, France is a good example of French Gothic incorporating the rose window (located in the center of the cathedral). (Source)

Reims Cathedral in Reims, France is a good example of French Gothic incorporating the rose window (located in the center of the cathedral). (Source)

  • English Gothic was slower than France Gothic in incorporating elaborate ornamentation but did eventually. Lasting from the late 13th to early 16th centuries, English Gothic featured the iconic flying buttresses with more slender columns and high, stained-glass window, to name a few. The early-English Gothic style can be seen all around the country, but the Salisbury Cathedral in Salisbury, England is a great example. For famously, the Westminster Abbey in London was created in early 16th century with late-Gothic being the main design influence.
The early English Gothic style is best seen in the Salisbury Cathedral located Salisbury, England. The cathedral has the tallest church spire in the United Kingdom. (Source)

The early English Gothic style is seen in the Salisbury Cathedral located Salisbury, England. The cathedral has the tallest church spire in the United Kingdom. (Source)

  • In Italy and Germany, it was important for them to try and keep their architectural autonomy. However, they liked the idea of Gothic vaulting which allowed for higher ceilings and grander space. They took it a little further than the French and English architects, by also raising the side aisles to the same height as the main nave (the central area leading to the high altar or the main body of the church). The Cologne Cathedral in Cologne, Germany is a great example of the German Gothic style with its side aisles raised to almost be the same height as the main nave. During World War II, Cologne was heavily bombed by Allied Forces and the Cologne Cathedral withheld 70 hits but did not collapse. It has been said that Allied aircraft purposely did not destroy the cathedral in the later years of the war because the high twin spires could be used easily as a navigational landmark.
Cologne Cathedral in Germany show how German architects interpreted the Gothic style with raised aisle columns along with the nave. The cathedral is the largest Gothic church in Northern Europe and has the second-tallest spires and largest facade of any church in the world.

Cologne Cathedral in Germany shows how German architects interpreted the Gothic style with raised aisle columns along with the second-tallest spires and largest facade of any church in the world. Additionally, it is the cathedral is the largest Gothic church in Northern Europe. (Source)

Cologne Cathedral stands undamaged while entire area surrounding it is completely devastated. Railroad station and Hohenzollern Bridge lie damaged to the north and east of the cathedral. Germany, April 24, 1945. (National Archives)

Cologne Cathedral stands undamaged while entire area surrounding it is completely devastated. Railroad station and Hohenzollern Bridge lie damaged to the north and east of the cathedral. Germany, April 24, 1945. (National Archives)

By the 15th century the Renaissance style began to flourish in Italy. Gothic architecture gave way to this new architectural design that emphasized classic style and artistic prestige through patronage. In the mid-1700’s, the movement – Gothic Revival (also known as Neo-Gothic or Victorian Gothic) started in England and its popularity grew quickly into the early 19th century. The movement also spread into the United States. Gothic Revival declined sharply in the early to mid-20th century, but it can still be seen in some structures to this day.

Sources
A Digital Archive of Architecture
Victoria and Albert Museum
Sarah Cunliffe, Sara Hunter & Jean Loussier, eds.,  Architecture: A Spotter’s Guide, New York: Metro Books, 2010, 68-75.

Keep Out!, 1945

4 February 2013

Photo Credit: World War II Database

Corporal Luther E. Boger of Concord, N.C., 82nd Airborne Division, reads a warning sign in the street of Cologne, Germany on April 4, 1945. In the background there is a Thompson submachine gun and Panther tank wreck. The building behind the wreck is the Cologne Cathedral. It has been said that the cathedral was not destroyed because it’s tall spires could be used by Allied aircrafts for navigational purposes. This street leads to the Rhine River. From March 6-7th, 1945, Allied troops captured Cologne’s western part while the Germans still had a stronghold on the eastern shore of the Rhine River.

FDR & Wheelchair

3 February 2013

Photo by Margaret Suckley. Courtesy of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, Hyde Park, New York.

“Franklin D. Roosevelt, Fala and Ruthie Bie [a friend's granddaughter] at Hill Top Cottage in Hyde Park, N.Y. The better of two extant photos of FDR in a wheel chair.”

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