Ruth St. Denis

10 March 2013

“I see dance being used as communication between body and soul, to express what is too deep to find for words.”

Ruth St. Denis in Radha. (ca. 1906)

Ruth St. Denis in Radha, ca. 1906 (Photo Credit: Denishawn Collection/The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts

Ruth St. Denis, along with her contemporary Isadora Duncan, is credited with founding the American dance movement, especially American modern dance. She was the first American dancer to appear in a full-length dance performance. Additionally, St. Denis was a pioneer in American sacred dance when she actively explored dance forms from diverse world religious and spiritual expression.

Ruth St. Denis in Black and Gold Nautch. (1916). Photo Credit: Danishawn

Ruth St. Denis in Black and Gold Nautch. (1916). Photo Credit: Denishawn Collection/The New York Public Library

Born Ruth Dennis on a farm in New Jersey, her father was an inventor and her mother was a physician who encouraged Ruth’s early interest in theater and dance. Her early training included formal and social dancing techniques, ballet lessons with Italian ballerina Maria Bonfante and skirt dancing.

In 1892 Ruth began her professional career in New York City. Initially she worked as a skirt dancer, a dance in which women dancers would manipulate long, layered skirts with their arms to create a motion of flowing fabric. Six years later, Ruth was noticed by David Belasco, a successful Broadway producer and director. He gave her the stage name “St. Denis” and hired her as a featured dancer in his company. With the dance company she toured around the United States and Europe and met diverse dancers and dance forms that would later inspire her solo dances.

She became very interested in the dancing techniques and emotions of Eastern cultures and created her own theory of dance based upon all of her early training, dancers she worked with and her reading on mythology and cultures. She left Belasco’s company in 1905 for a career as a solo artist.

In 1906, she shocked a New York audience with her portrayal in flowing robes and freestyle dance of Radha, an Indian goddess. “Radha” was her attempt at translating her understanding of Indian mythology and culture into dance form. At this point in her career, Ruth thought that Europe might offer her more. She spent three years traveled Europe performing her “translations” before returning to the United States where her dances were well-received.

Ruth St Denis in The Greek Veil Plastique. Used in vaudeville act. (1918). Photo Credit: Denishawn Collection/The New York Public Library

Ruth St Denis in The Greek Veil Plastique. Used in vaudeville act. (1918). Photo Credit: Denishawn Collection/The New York Public Library

In 1915 she, along with her husband and dancing partner Ted Shawn, founded the Denishawn School of Dancing in Los Angeles. The school was known for its influence on ballet and experimental modern dance. It became the training grounds for dancers including Martha Graham, Jack Cole, Charles Weideman, Lillian Powell, and Doris Humphreys. The school also had a touring dance troupe that traveled the country popularizing dance as a performing art.

In 1931, Denishawn disbanded and Ruth turned to religious dance, a lifelong interest, and performed in churches and synagogues. She founded Adelphi University’s dance program in 1938. It was one of the first dance departments in an American university. Additionally, she continued to teach and choreograph independently as well as with other artists.

Ruth died of a heart attack in 1968 at the age of 89. She left a lasting legacy on the American modern dance movement, not just with her interpretations of cultural-inspired dances, but also in fostering dance through her Denishawn School of Dance. Many of her students would later became pivotal figures in dance.

Video shows Ruth St. Denis in the ‘East Indian Nautch Dance’ (1932)

Sources
Ruth St. Denis Biography at University of Pittsburgh website
Ruth St. Denis: Her Life & Legacy at ruthstdenis.org
Dance Heritage Coalition
Jacob’s Pillow Dance

Selling Liberty Bonds, 1917

9 March 2013
Photo Credit: Denishawn Collection/The New York Public Library

Photo Credit: Denishawn Collection/The New York Public Library

Denishawn dancers selling Liberty Bonds, 1917.

Calf Pulling Boy in Sled, 1915

8 March 2013

Calf pulling boy in sled, ca. 1915. Having grown up on a farm, I am very familiar with people using many things to pull sleds. However, never a cow, or in this case, a calf….

“What’s in a name?” – Maryland

7 March 2013
Maryland's namesake - Henrietta Maria, Queen Consort of England, Studio of Anthony Van Dyck, 1632. Courtesy of Commission on Artistic Property, Maryland State Archives.

Maryland’s namesake – Henrietta Maria, Queen Consort of England, Studio of Anthony Van Dyck, 1632. Courtesy of Commission on Artistic Property, Maryland State Archives.

Maryland was named by King Charles I of England after he signed the 1632 charter establishing the colony. He named it in honor of his wife Queen Henrietta Maria, commonly known as Queen Mary.

Charlotte Lowe, History Fact-O-Pedia, New York: Skyhorse Publishing. 2011, 252.

President Nixon Welcomes Apollo 11 Astronauts, 1969

6 March 2013
Image Credit: NASA (S69-21365)

Image Credit: NASA (S69-21365)

“(July 24, 1969) President Richard M. Nixon was in the central Pacific recovery area to welcome the Apollo 11 astronauts aboard the USS Hornet, prime recovery ship for the historic Apollo 11 lunar landing mission. Already confined to the Mobile Quarantine Facility (MQF) are (left to right) Neil A. Armstrong, commander; Michael Collins, command module pilot; and Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot. Apollo 11 splashed down at 11:49 a.m. (CDT), July 24, 1969, about 812 nautical miles southwest of Hawaii and only 12 nautical miles from the USS Hornet.”

200 “Likes” and Counting!

5 March 2013

History By Zim’s Facebook page now has 200 “Likes”! 

Are you one of them?! 

If not, check it out!

Once History By Zim reaches 1,000,000 views (around 850,000 now), there will be a contest over on the Facebook page. I’m thinking the website will hit the million mark in the next month or two! Keep an eye out for it!

Acquired Tuba, Tank Battalion, Germany

4 March 2013
Photo Credit: England-Flickr

Photo Credit: England/Flickr

“Sergeant Crawls B. Adams, of Easley, SC, blows a newly acquired horn for an unappreciative audience in St. Barbara, Germany. He is with a tank destroyer battalion attached to the 90th Infantry Division. The audience is Corporal Charles Cole of Mechanicsburg, Illinois, of a field artillery group attached to the 90th Infantry Division.”

Woman Suffrage Parade of 1913

3 March 2013
The cover illustration for the official program of the Woman Suffrage Procession of 1913, which brought the issue of voting rights for women to the forefront of national discussion. Photo Credit: Library of Congress

The cover illustration for the official program of the Woman Suffrage Procession of 1913, which brought the issue of voting rights for women to the forefront of national discussion. (Library of Congress)

Lawyer Inez Milholland prepares to lead the Suffrage Parade, on March 3, 1913. (Library of Congress)

Lawyer Inez Milholland prepares to lead the Suffrage Parade. (Library of Congress)

One hundred years ago today, over 5,000 women marched down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. for universal women’s suffrage. Marching on March 3, 1913, one day before President Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration, women demanded the right to vote.  The Woman Suffrage Parade of 1913 was the first major national effort calling for a constitutional amendment.

It was organized by Alice Paul, who was born in New Jersey and earned an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. She traveled to England and became involved with the suffrage movement. Upon her return to the United States she joined the National American Woman Suffrage Association. The Washington parade was her first duty as part of the suffrage association. Paul later commented on why the parade was held the day before Wilson’s inauguration and how it all came about.

That was the only day you could have it if you were trying to impress the new President. The marchers came from all over the country at their own expense. We just sent letters everywhere, to every name we could find. And then we had a hospitality committee headed by Mrs. Harvey Wiley, the wife of the man who put through the first pure-food law in America. Mrs. Wiley canvassed all her friends in Washington and came up with a tremendous list of people who were willing to entertain the visiting marchers for a day or two. I mention these names to show what a wonderful group of people we had on our little committee.

When they went to obtain their police permit for the parade, the police tried to have the women march on Sixteenth Street, past the embassies instead. After the police chief was visited by a committee member’s mother, who happened to be the wife of a congressman, the group obtained authorization to use Pennsylvania Avenue.

Diagram of the Woman Suffrage Parade of 1913. Women marchers organized by country, state, occupation, and organization, led by Miss Inez Milholland and Mrs. Richard Coke Burleson, during the suffrage march, March 3, 1913, Washington, D.C. (Library of Congress)

Diagram of the Woman Suffrage Parade of 1913. Women marchers organized by country, state, occupation, and organization.(Library of Congress)

On Monday, March 3rd, more than 5,000 marchers descended on Washington D.C. for the parade. The parade included nine bands, four mounted brigades, 20 floats, and an allegorical performance near the Treasury Building. The marchers were separated into different categories. Leading the parade, wearing a crown and long white cape on top a white horse, was labor lawyer Inez Milholland. Women from countries that had already enfranchised women were first, along with officers in the National American Woman Suffrage Association. The “Pioneers”, women who have been working on suffrage for decades, came after. Celebration of working women followed the Pioneers section and included nurses, farmers, homemakers, doctors, college women and more. Other sections included the National Association of Colored Women, individual state delegations and male supporters.

The parade began late. There was a very large turnout, in part because many tourists came to see the inauguration the next day. The association was worried that the police were going to underestimate the parade’s audience and not make preparations. Committee member Mrs. John Rogers went to see her brother-in-law the night before about crowd issues. He just happened to be Henry L. Stimson, the Secretary of War. Secretary Stimson promised to send over the cavalry from Fort Myer if trouble should arise.

The parade appeared to have a good start; however Pennsylvania Avenue soon became chocked with thousands of spectators. At the same time a few blocks away, president-elect Wilson arrived at the railway station to very little fanfare. When they asked where everyone was, they were told everyone was “watching the suffrage parade.”

Mostly men, the spectators began to jostle and hurl insults at the parade members. With massive crowds, the parade could barely get past. Some women were tripped and assaulted while the police did little to stop it. One policeman even told some women that they should have stayed home where they belonged. Over one hundred marchers were hospitalized due to the injuries they received from the crowds.

It took six hours to go from the Capitol to Constitution Hall. Finally, Secretary Stimson was called and quickly sent over the troops to clear the way for the parade. It was reported that Helen Keller “was so exhausted and unnerved by the experience in attempting to reach a grandstand . . . that she was unable to speak later at Continental hall [sic].” The majority of the women finished the parade and the event continued as scheduled.

Crowd converging on marchers and blocking parade route during March 3, 1913, inaugural suffrage procession, Washington, D.C. (Library of Congress)

Crowd converging on marchers and blocking parade route during March 3, 1913, inaugural suffrage procession, Washington, D.C. (Library of Congress)

There was much furor over the mistreatment of the marchers and it became a major news story. It led to congressional hearings with more than 150 witnesses telling of their experiences and resulted in the firing of D.C.’s superintendent of police. While suffragists around the country were up in arms about the hostile crowds against the peaceful parade goers, Alice Paul remembers it differently in a 1974 interview.

The principal investigation was launched at the request of our women delegates from Washington, which was a suffrage state. These women were so indignant about the remarks from the crowd. And I remember that Congressman Kent was very aroused at the things that were shouted at his daughter, Elizabeth, who was riding on the California float, and he was among the first in Congress to demand an investigation into why the police hadn’t been better prepared. As I said, the police just didn’t take our little procession seriously. I don’t think it was anything intentional. We didn’t testify against the police, because we felt it was just a miscalculation on their part.

Whether it was a “miscalculation” or blatant indifference by the police, the Women’s Suffrage Parade of 1913 was just the start of using public protests as a tool to achieve universal rights. It would take another seven years, and many pickets and parades later, for Congress to pass the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920 giving women the right to vote.

Sources
Sheridan Harvey, “Marching for the Vote: Remembering the Woman Suffrage Parade of 1913″, American Women: A Library of Congress Guide for the Study of Women’s History and Culture in the United States, 2001.
Battle for Suffrage“, American Experience, PBS.
Robert S. Gallagher, “I was Arrested, Of Course…“, American Heritage, Vol. 25, Iss. 2 (February 1974).

In Their Words – Fay Wray

2 March 2013

[Zim's Note: Today is the 80th Anniversary of the premiere of King Kong. I thought this was a fitting tribute to the classic film.]

“Every time I’m in New York I say a little prayer when passing the Empire State Building. A good friend of mine died up there.”

- Fay Wray, actress who portrayed the original Ann Darrow in King Kong (1933). King Kong comes to love and protect Ann Darrow and famously carries her to the top of the Empire State Building.

Two days after her death at age 96 on August 8, 2004, the lights on the Empire State Building were extinguished for 15 minutes in her memory.

Charles Radbourn Giving the Finger, 1886

1 March 2013

Charles “Old Hoss” Radbourn (top left in the photo) was the first documented public figure photographed “giving the finger.”

Nicknamed “Old Hoss”, Radbourn was a pitcher who played 11 seasons in Major League Baseball. A butcher by trade, Radbourn made his MLB debut in 1880 with the Buffalo Bisons. He then played for the Providence Grays (1881–1885), Boston Beaneaters (1886–1889), Boston Red Stockings (1890) and Cincinnati Reds (1891). Baseball was not his only claim to fame. In a 1886 photograph of the Boston Beaneaters (Radbourn was their pitcher) and their rivals, the New York Giants, Radbourn was photographed extending his middle finger to the camera, the earliest known photograph of a public figure using this gesture.

Baseball pitcher Old Hoss Radbourn pictured giving the finger to cameraman, 1886. (Back row, far left). First known photograph of the gesture. Photo Credit: 19th Century Baseball

Baseball pitcher Old Hoss Radbourn pictured giving the finger to cameraman, 1886. (Back row, far left). First known photograph of the gesture. Photo Credit: 19th Century Baseball

Detail from 1886 Boston/New York team photo. The only pitcher in the history of major league baseball to win 60 games in a single season, Charles “Old Hoss” Radbourn extends his middle finger towards the camera. Photo Credit: 19th Century Baseball

Detail from 1886 Boston/New York team photo. The only pitcher in the history of major league baseball to win 60 games in a single season, Charles “Old Hoss” Radbourn extends his middle finger towards the camera. Photo Credit: 19th Century Baseball

Also of interest: Radbourn and “Charley Horse”

Information and Photographs via 19th Century Baseball

Assembling Dolls, Philadelphia, 1912

28 February 2013
Photo Credit: National Archives

Photo Credit: National Archives

“Women assembling dolls on a long worktable at the Shrenhat Toy Company, Philadelphia, Oct. 1912.”

First Crossword Puzzle

27 February 2013
The first crossword puzzle, created by Arthur Wynne, published in the New York World on December 21, 1913. (Source)

The first crossword puzzle, created by Arthur Wynne, published in the New York World on December 21, 1913. (Source)

On December 21, 1913, the first crossword puzzle appeared in newspapers. Now considered “the most popular and widespread word game in the world,” the puzzle was invented by British-born Arthur Wynne.

At nineteen, Wynne immigrated to the United States. He worked for various newspapers until he landed at the New York City-based New York World. His editor asked Wynne to create a new game for the Sunday “Fun” section. As a child, Wynne played a game called “Magic Squares.” Played in ancient Pompeii, the game’s goal was to arrange words that read the same way across and down. Wynne took the basic concept of “Magic Squares,” added a larger complex grid as well as gave the player clues to help solve it. He also pioneered the use of adding blank black squares to the puzzle

The first crossword puzzle was diamond-shaped and was initially called “word-cross.” It was a huge success with the newspaper’s readers. The name was soon changed to “crossword” after a typesetting error. Soon other newspapers were running the puzzles. Initially, the only major American daily to refuse to use the puzzle was the New York Times. The crossword finally found its way into the paper’s Sunday edition eighteen years after the puzzle’s introduction. It has since become a staple of the newspaper and just the word “crossword” seems to be synonymous with the New York Times.

Almost one hundred years later, Wynne’s invention proves to be more than a fad. Books of crossword puzzles can be found in stores. Puzzle applications can be downloaded onto cell phones. Perhaps more importantly to Wynne though would be the fact that the puzzle still dominates the “Fun” section of most major newspapers.

Sources
Inventor of the Week: The Crossword Puzzle,” Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Aug. 1997.
Eric Shackle, “The World’s First Crossword Puzzle,” fun-with-words.com, 2002.
Mary Bellis, “The History of Crossword Puzzles,” about.com.

Grand Canyon Naturalist Edwin McKee with Nuthatch, 1929

26 February 2013
Photo Credit: Grand Canyon NPS

Photo Credit: Grand Canyon NPS

Ranger naturalist Edwin McKee (in profile) with pygmy nuthatch bird in hand, circa 1929.

As the park’s naturalist, McKee changed the way tourists interacted with the Grand Canyon. By creating ranger talks, nature walks along the rim, interpretative signs and educational pamphlets, McKee helped to make the Grand Canyon the tourist destination is still is to this day. As a geologist, McKee published many important papers about the geological and  natural history of the canyon.

Liberation of Paris, 1944

25 February 2013

“On August 25, 1944, crowds of people line the Champs Elysees to watch the Allied soldiers ride into Paris through the Arc de Triomphe in tanks, half tracks and on and motorcycles. A large sign on the right side of the street reads, “Vive de Gaulle.” On the left, another reads, “De Gaulle au pouvoir.” French General Charles de Gaulle organized the “Free French Forces” in England during World War II and later became President of France.”

In Their Words – Ayn Rand

25 February 2013
Ayn Rand

Photo via Good Reads

“Learn to value yourself, which means: fight for your happiness.”

- Ayn Rand, Russian-American writer and philosopher

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