Sep 30, 2009

Lansdale Sasscer

( SASSCER, Lansdale Ghiselin, a Representative from Maryland; born in Upper Marlboro, Prince Georges County, Md., September 30, 1893; attended the public schools, Central High School, Washington, D.C., and Tome School, Port Deposit, Md.; was graduated from Dickinson Law School, Carlisle, Pa., in 1914; was admitted to the bar the same year and commenced practice in Upper Marlboro, Md.; served during the First World War 1917-1919, being overseas for thirteen months as a first lieutenant in the Fifty-ninth Artillery; resumed the practice of law; member of the State senate 1922-1938, serving as president in 1935 and 1937; delegate to the Democratic National Conventions in 1924 and 1936; vice chairman of the committee on reorganization of the State government in 1939; elected as a Democrat to the Seventy-sixth Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Stephen W. Gambrill; reelected to the Seventy-seventh and to the five succeeding Congresses and served from February 3, 1939, to January 3, 1953; was not a candidate for renomination in 1952 but was unsuccessful for the nomination for United States Senator; resumed the practice of law; was a resident of Upper Marlboro, Md., until his death there on November 5, 1964; interment in Trinity Cemetery. Link

Photo: "Digges-Sasscer House, 14507 Elm Street, Upper Marlboro, Prince George's County, MD" (Library of Congress)

Sep 29, 2009

Le cochon danseur - el cerdo bailarín - dancing pig

"Les prouesses d'un cochon danseur habillé en petite fille. Corto francés de 1907, producido por Pathé, donde se aprecian las habilidades dancísticas de un cerdo... (?)"

Via boingboing

1907 - The cornerstone is laid at Washington National Cathedral in the U.S. capital

"Construction lasted 83 years." Continued

Photo: Library of Congress

Sep 28, 2009

William Safire's Finest Speech

(Gawker) - ... Here is the speech he drafted for Nixon to read in case the Apollo 11 Astronauts became stranded on the moon!
It is a wonderful piece of alternate universe American history, in which President Nixon had to explain to a nation that Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong were going to die on the moon. Continued

Vintage Hampton National Historic Site Garden Photo

(From the Smithsonian Institution's flickr photostream) - The elaborately planned boxwood garden was not laid out until 1810 and is typical of that period of gardening, a remarkable example of the revival of the intricately designed knot gardens of the 17th century. Each generation has cared for the old and added something of its own. (1930)

Falmanac, Nightening nominated for "The Mobbies"

Falmanac and Nightening are in the running for The Mobbies, The Baltimore Sun's competition for "Maryland's outstanding blogs." You can vote for best overall blog or by category. Nightening is listed under Photography and Falmanac is in the Misfits section, or you can just click on the widget in the sidebar. And if you don't like us, you can vote for one of the many other fine blogs nominated. Link

Photo: The Baltimore Sun

John Dos Passos

(Wikipedia) - John Roderigo Dos Passos (January 14, 1896 – September 28, 1970) was an American novelist and artist.
... Considered one of the Lost Generation writers, Dos Passos' first novel was published in 1920. Titled One Man's Initiation: 1917 it was followed by an antiwar story, Three Soldiers, which brought him considerable recognition. His 1925 novel about life in New York City, titled Manhattan Transfer, was a commercial success and introduced experimental stream-of-consciousness techniques into Dos Passos' method. Continued

Photo: John Dos Passos, self portrait.

Sep 27, 2009

"This is the first frock in all of Hampstead to have a triple-pleated mushroom collar"

(Slate) - Rather than ahistorically imagining early-19th-century life as an endless whirl of dances and arch repartee, Campion captures the narrowness of most people's social worlds at that time: Evenings are spent with family around the fire. Keats and Fanny's courtship takes place largely in the presence of others. Continued

Photo: John Keats, by William Hilton (Wikipedia).

National One-Hit Wonders Day

In honor of National One-Hit Wonders Day, The Daily Beast counts down Joan Osborne, The Big Bopper, and other singers that hit it big—and were never heard from again. Continued

On the Trail With Ken Burns

(The Daily Beast) - The Ken Burns Effect—the technique of slowly zooming in on a black and white photograph (usually accompanied by trumpet fanfare or an authoritative voice reading a diary entry from early America)—has become so culturally ingrained that an entire misfit corner of YouTube is now dedicated to aping it. These parodies include The Three Stooges, The Office, and LolCats. And while none can rival Burns’ actual, painstakingly researched historical documentaries, the 56-year-old filmmaker has a sense of humor about the mockery. “This is just my style!” he tells The Daily Beast. “I explored the interiors of photographs, and of course it's ripe for spoofing. Just as Cezanne painted the same mountain all his life, this is simply what I do.” Continued

Photo: My mom, climbing Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument in 1937. (They don't let you do that anymore.)

The Reading Life: Roy Blount, Gone Up North

(NYTBR) - “The large print giveth, and the small print taketh away,” Tom Waits sings on “Step Right Up.”
The large print in the new fall issue of The Oxford American heralds the results of the magazine’s poll of writers and scholars to determine “the best southern books of all time.” The winners? Best novel: William Faulkner’s “Absalom, Absalom” (1936). Best nonfiction book: James Agee and Walker Evans’s “Let Us Now Praise Famous Men” (1941). (Read all the results here and here.)
That’s cool - but it’s the small print in the new issue that caught me short. The Oxford American’s editor, Marc Smirnoff, writes in an editor’s note that Roy Blount Jr.’s consistently excellent column “Gone Off Up North,” which has appeared in the magazine for more than a decade, is no more. Continued

Photo: Walker Evans

Lancaster, Pennsylvania becomes the capital of the United States, but not for very long

(Wikipedia) - Originally called Hickory Town, the city was renamed after the English city of Lancaster by native John Wright. Its symbol, the red rose, is from the House of Lancaster. Lancaster was part of the 1681 Penn's Woods Charter of William Penn, and was laid out by James Hamilton in 1734. It was incorporated as a borough in 1742 and incorporated as a city in 1818. During the American Revolution, it was briefly the capital of the colonies on September 27, 1777, when the Continental Congress fled Philadelphia, which had been captured by the British. After meeting one day, they moved still farther away, to York, Pennsylvania. Continued

Photo: Mennonite farmer putting tobacco into his barn, near Lancaster, Pennsylvania, 1941 (Marion Post Wolcott/FSA/Library of Congress).

Garrett Island area reopened to public

(Baltimore Sun) - Part of Garrett Island is open to the public again. Suzanne Baird, the manager of the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, said Friday that public access has been restored to one-quarter acre of beach across from Perryville's municipal pier. Continued

Photo: Garrett Island, Canon EOS 20D & EF 70-200 mm f/2.8L IS lens (MDRails)

Sep 26, 2009

New Book About World War II Era Bainbridge Naval Football Team

(WoCCP) - Wilbur D. Jones, Jr., the author of “Football! Navy! War! How Military ‘Lend-Lease’ Players Saved the College Game and Helped Win World War II“ will speak about his new title and sign books at the Historical Society of Cecil County on Sunday, Oct. 4 at 1:00 p.m. While highlighting the Navy’s role in preserving the game and football’s impact on national morale and the war effort during the 1940s, it has a significant local angle. Continued

America, Captured in a Flash

(NYTimes) ... Sadness seems to trickle through the 83 photographs in his classic 1959 book, “The Americans,” his disturbed and mournful song-of-the-road portrait of a new homeland and the subject of a 50th-anniversary exhibition now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Once rejected for its pessimism, now sanctified for its political prescience, the book distills heartache, anger, fear, loneliness and occasional joy into a brew that has changed flavor with time but stayed potent. You may not know exactly what you’re imbibing when you pick up “The Americans” for the first time, or when you visit the Met show, but a few pictures in, and you’re hooked. Continued

Photo: Wikipedia

Northern extension of York County rail trail moving along

(InYork) - The groundwork for a section of the Heritage Rail Trail County Park northern extension is moving along quickly.
The York County Rail Trail Authority's current major project is phase two of the northern extension. The phase will include a new Emig Road bridge next to the current bridge and a continuation of the trail to Route 30, where a parking lot will be built. Continued

Photo: "Passenger train schedule of the Pennsylvania Railroad, on its Northern Central Railway line between Baltimore, Maryland and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania in 1955, showing both local commuter and long distance trains on the route" (JGHowes).

Sep 25, 2009

Inside the mind of William Jefferson Clinton

(Newsweek) - ... When he was in the mood or had time, Clinton would call Branch at his home in Baltimore, and Branch would drive down with two tape recorders, set them up on a table somewhere private in the White House, and start the conversation. Branch himself has never heard the tapes. After each session, he would turn them over to Clinton-who hid the cassettes in his sock drawer-while Branch would tape his own memories of their talks on the drive back home. The Clinton Tapes: Wrestling History With the President is the consequence. Continued


An Inside Look at Antiques Roadshow

(Collectors Weekly) - Ever wonder how Antiques Roadshow really works? How they pick who gets on TV? Whether the people on the show have fun? Whether the appraisers really know what they’re talking about?
As longtime fans, we’d always been curious about Roadshow. So when we were offered backstage passes for the show’s August 2009 taping in San Jose, and free reign to wander the set and talk to whomever we wanted, we jumped at the chance! Continued

Photo: Falmanac. Article via boingboing.

1913 Gettysburg reunion pictures at flickr

The good folks at the Library of Congress have posted some more photographs of the 1913 Gettysburg Reunion. You can see the latest batch on the front of its flickr page. Link

Sep 24, 2009

Book fest addresses hard times: Weekend includes a book swap, speakers and panel discussions – and it's all free

(Baltimore Sun) - It's hard out there for a book fan. In an economic recession, bibliophiles face a tough decision: to purchase or not to purchase. Books borrowed from libraries cost nothing, but you've got to give them back. Fortunately, it's time again for the Baltimore Book Festival. While many books are available for sale at the festival, the City Paper Book Swap tent affords readers an opportunity to unload unwanted tomes while acquiring new literary adventures for free. Continued

Photo: WPA (Library of Congress)

Mother of Reinvention: Chanel’s Life and Works Continue to Inspire Others

(NYTimes) ... Her seminal designs — from the little black dresses and “poor boy” jersey pullovers to the braid- trimmed bouclé collarless jackets and schoolgirl sailor blouses inspired by Colette — are routinely resurrected on fashion runways. Last week during the presentation of spring 2010 collections in New York, Tory Burch, Jason Wu and Donna Karan were among those re-adapting Chanel to modern tastes.
The look — slim, easy and devoid of embellishment — conveys a feeling of “youth and hopefulness,’” Professor Garelick suggested. It is also, she added, well adapted to an economic downturn. “It reflects austerity and speaks to great elegance without requiring lavish materials. It is a kind of fashionable way to establish financial restraint.” Continued

Photo: Colette

The bottle cap man

"The website for those that collect crowns commonly referred to as bottle caps. You will find this to be a fascinating hobby with a wide variety to select from. The Internet has brought many collectors together from all over the world. The bottle cap has always been an important item for bottlers as a great way to seal the bottle, but also served as a means of marketing the product. Remember the old soda machines that had bottles? What was the first thing you saw when you opened the door to grab your soda?" Link

Via boingboing

Sept. 24, 1979: First Online Service for Consumers Debuts

(Wired) - 1979: CompuServe begins offering a dial-up online information service to consumers.
The company known as Compu-Serve, and later CompuServe, opened its doors in 1969, providing dial-up computer timesharing to businesses. Over the next decade, it grew into a solid business providing corporations with online data. Continued

F. Scott Fitzgerald

It is in the thirties that we want friends. In the forties we know they won't save us any more than love did. - F. Scott Fitzgerald

(LoC) - Writer F. Scott Fitzgerald, best known for his classic American novel The Great Gatsby, was born on September 24, 1896 in St. Paul, Minnesota. Named for his distant cousin Francis Scott Key, author of the "The Star-Spangled Banner," Fitzgerald was descended, on his father's side, from a long line of Marylanders. His mother, Mary McQuillan, was the daughter of an Irish immigrant who made his fortune as a wholesale grocer in St. Paul. Continued

The faces of most American women over thirty are relief maps of petulant and bewildered unhappiness. - ibid

Photo: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Carl Van Vechten Collection

Sep 23, 2009

“A New Literary History of America”

(NYTimes) ... So how does one select which moments and artifacts from North America’s last 500 years deserve inclusion? ... Some were obvious: the Declaration of Independence, “Leaves of Grass,” Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address, “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” “The Great Gatsby.”
Others were obscure, unexpected or unlikely: how “canoe” may have become the first American Indian word to enter the European lexicon, the first potato chip, Charles Dickens’s “American Notes,” Levi Strauss’s blue jeans with rivets, Alcoholics Anonymous, the blues singer Mamie Smith, the atomic bomb dropping on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as the very literary history that was the subject of their meeting. Continued

Photo: Library of Congress

Seed catalogs from the Smithsonian

"The Smithsonian Institution Libraries have a unique trade catalog collection that includes about 10,000 seed and nursery catalogs dating from 1830 to the present. Many of the trade catalogs were part of the Burpee Collection donated to the Horticulture Services Division by Mrs. David Burpee in 1982. The collection includes both Burpee and their competitors' catalogs.
The real gems of the collection date from 1830 to the 1930s and are both beautiful and important multidisciplinary historical documents. The seed trade catalogs document the history of the seed and agricultural implement business in the United States, as well as provide a history of botany and plant research such as the introduction of plant varieties into the United States. Additionally, the seed trade catalogs are a window into the history of graphic arts in advertising, and a social history, through the text and illustrations, showing changing fashions in flowers and vegetables." Continued

Mary Church Terrell

(Wikipedia) - Mary Church Terrell (September 23, 1863 – July 24, 1954), daughter of two former slaves, was one of the first African-American women to earn a college degree. She became an activist who led several important associations and helped to work for civil rights and suffrage.
... Terrell lived to see the Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education, holding unconstitutional the segregation of schools by race. She died two months later at the age of 90, on July 24, 1954, a week before the NACW was to hold its annual meeting in Washington at her home in Annapolis, Maryland at Anne Arundel General Hospital. A short distance from her summer home in Highland Beach. Continued

Photo: NAACP via Wikipedia

10 people who'd of been on Dancing with the Stars if there had always been a Dancing with the Stars

1. Aaron Burr

2. George Pickett

3. Robert Todd Lincoln

4. Asia Booth

5. Aimee Semple McPherson

6. Charles Lindbergh

7. Zelda Fitzgerald

8. Margaret Truman

9. Evelyn Nesbit

10. Richard Nixon

Sep 22, 2009

And the big winner at the 2009 Emmy Awards is ... Charles Dickens!

(NYTimes) - ... The PBS presentation of the BBC Drama Productions adaptation of “Little Dorrit,” the sprawling Dickens tale featuring a 19th-century Ponzi scheme (one that predated Charles Ponzi), won seven Emmys this year, including three of those presented during Sunday night’s prime-time broadcast — the most of any show on television last year. Continued

BTW, the 1988 film version of "Little Dorrit" will be shown on Turner Classic Movies tomorrow (23rd) at noon. It's two parts and 6 hours long, but if you enjoy great cinematography, I'd suggest setting your TIVO to the highest quality regardless - it's beautiful. Both versions are excellent. The PBS/BBC version is a more complete rendition of the novel, the '88 movie version sticks to the main plot, but is well cast (why is Clennam so young in the PBS version?), and a joy to look at. Having said that, both are worth watching and score out, in my book, equally.

Photo: Wikipedia

Blogger search is broken

We have around 1,800 posts on Falmanac, which is a lot of history, but you won't find them using the blog's embedded search function. Says Blogger:

Searching from the navbar is currently returning incomplete data for some users. We're investigating our search functionality and will hopefully have a fix out shortly. As a workaround, you can use search operators on to search for content specifically on your blog. For KEYWORD KEYWORD - latest update on Sunday, July 26, 2009

They don't seem to be in much of a hurry to fix it, which is odd when you consider it's owned by Google. You can also use the "Tags," on the sidebar to locate things. Sorry about the inconvenience.

The Emancipation Proclamation

(LoC) - On September 22, 1862, partly in response to the heavy losses inflicted at the Battle of Antietam, President Abraham Lincoln issued a preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, threatening to free all the slaves in the states in rebellion if those states did not return to the Union by January 1, 1863. The extent of the Proclamation's practical effect has been debated, as it was legally binding only in territory not under Union control. In the short term, it amounted to no more than a statement of policy for the federal army as it moved into Southern territory.
In larger terms, however, Lincoln's decision to issue the Emancipation Proclamation was enormous. Continued

Photo: First Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation before the Cabinet, Alexander Hay Ritchie, engraver, copyright 1866 (Library of Congress).

Sep 21, 2009

"You're a humbug"

(Slate) ... Soon enough, the Wizard recovers from his mortification; he is proud to show off how he duped his guests. "Barnum was right when he declared that the American people love to be deceived," Baum once wrote of one of his heroes. Strikingly, even after the Wizard reveals his con, the Lion, the Tin Man, and the Scarecrow still ask for his aid. Like the quack he is, he obliges, stuffing the Scarecrow's head with pins. The Wizard, you might say, is America's first celebrity guru: an ur-Dr. Phil, using charisma and a screen to project authority and wisdom he doesn't truly have. Continued

Photo: Library of Congress

New History of Chestertown

(RoDP) - Chronological History of Chestertown, Maryland, 1900 – 1993 is a fascinating little title, which I’ve just added to my library. The work abstracts data from the minutes of the Chestertown Town Council and two local newspapers, the Enterprise and the Kent County News. It also includes a narrative chapter called shared memories from 1949 to 1955 and lots of photographs. Continued

Photos: 70's era views of "Rose Hill" in Chestertown, Maryland (Library of Congress).

Found: An Emblematic Cold Warrior

(NYTimes) - The author Neil Sheehan has the metabolism and work habits of an extremely patient bat. He stirs around midday, starts writing before dinner, but doesn’t really get airborne till midnight. He snatches some of his best and clearest thoughts around 4 a.m., after which, too wound up to sleep, he might go out and stroll around the neighborhood. He does this week after week, month after month, without hibernation. His previous book, “A Bright Shining Lie,” which won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award in 1989, took him 16 years to finish. His new one, “A Fiery Peace in a Cold War: Bernard Schriever and the Ultimate Weapon,” which comes out Tuesday, is a history of the arms race and of American efforts to create a nuclear stalemate with Russia. It took 15 years, so he’s getting faster, but not much. Continued

Photo: U.S. Air Force

George Read

(Wikipedia) - George Read (September 18, 1733 – September 21, 1798) was an American lawyer and politician from New Castle in New Castle County, Delaware. He was a signer of the Declaration of Independence, a Continental Congressman from Delaware, a delegate to the U.S. Constitutional Convention of 1787, President of Delaware, and a member of the Federalist Party, who served as U.S. Senate from Delaware and Chief Justice of Delaware.
Read was born in Cecil County, Maryland, near North East, the son of John and Mary Howell Read. John Read was a wealthy English resident of Dublin, Ireland who came to Maryland as a young man and was one of the founders of Charlestown, Maryland in Cecil County. Continued

Photo: Wikipedia

Sep 20, 2009

Navy's first ship in HdG?

(The Record) - ... A nonprofit organization has selected Havre de Grace as the shipyard to build a replica of the Andrew Doria, the Continental Navy vessel that flew the first American flag.
A sign placed at the future shipyard, about 100 yards away from the Lockhouse museum, was unveiled during a special ceremony Tuesday. The project, entirely funded by the organization, is expected to cost more than $8 million. It would be an impressive project. But ... Continued

Photo: Lockhouse Museum, Havre de Grace, Maryland (Falmanac).

Big day for museums, parks on Sept. 26

( - If you can’t get free admission to a museum, a park, or some sort of walking tour, music performance or a national park on Saturday, Sept. 26, then you’re just not trying. Smithsonian Magazine’s fifth Annual Museum Day and National Public Lands Day both fall on the same day this year, and that means entry fees are waived and special events are planned at museums, cultural attractions, historic sites and parks across the country. Continued

Photo: Display at the National Watch & Clock Museum, Columbia, PA (Falmanac).

The Walking Purchase

(Wikipedia) - The Walking Treaty or Walking Purchase is the name given to an agreement in 1737 between the Penn family, the proprietors of Pennsylvania and the Lenape (Delaware) tribe of American Indians.
William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania and a devout Quaker, made it a policy to deal fairly with the native tribes. As a result, the traditional mistrust between natives and settlers that existed in most other colonies was not as pronounced in Pennsylvania.
But by 1737, William Penn was long dead and his heirs and their agents were running the colony. Continued

Photo: Lappawinsoe, Delaware Chief, painted by Gustavus Hesselius (1735).

Sep 19, 2009

Sparks students celebrate old and not-so-old school buildings

(North County News) - Sparks Elementary School is throwing a party to celebrate 10 years of existence at its Belfast Road location and to honor the 100-year history of the stone building on Sparks Road that was destroyed in a 1995 fire.
The festivities are Oct. 3, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and include a visit from Joe Hairston, Baltimore County schools superintendent, as well as current and former students, teachers and administrators. Continued

Photos: Falmanac. We have more pictures of the old school building here.

The Almighty Oyster

See Window on Cecil County's Past for more information.

Battle of Shepherdstown

(Wikipedia) - The Battle of Shepherdstown, also known as the Battle of Boteler's Ford, took place September 19–20, 1862, in Jefferson County, Virginia (now West Virginia), at the end of the Maryland Campaign of the American Civil War.
After the Battle of Antietam, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia prepared to defend against a Federal assault that never came. After an improvised truce for both sides to recover and exchange their wounded, Lee's forces began withdrawing across the Potomac River on the evening of September 18 to return to Virginia. Lee left behind a rear guard of two infantry brigades and 45 guns under his chief of artillery, Brig. Gen. William N. Pendleton, to hold Boteler's Ford. Continued

Photo: "Ford near Shepherdstown, on the Potomac. Pickets firing across the river. Alfred R. Waud, artist, Sept. 1862." (Wikipedia/Library of Congress)

Trolley cars and all they represent live on at museum

(Baltimore Sun) - ... Wow! A fleet of gorgeously restored streetcars moved along the line. I watched as bicyclists and walkers broke into broad smiles when one of these venerable trolleys drove by. As if it didn't have enough cars from Baltimore, the museum has also taken in orphans from Philadelphia, including a fantastic green snow-sweeping car. Continued

Photos: MDRails

Yar! It's Talk Like a Pirate Day

Here's a glossary to get you started.

Sep 18, 2009

A look at historic Harford sanctuaries

(Aegis) - When the writing team of Henry Peden Jr. and Jack Shagena Jr. did research on their first four books in the Harford County’s Rural Heritage series, they were often asked, “Why don’t you do churches?” After the successful publication of books about blacksmiths, barns, spring houses and mills, they have just come out with their latest book, “Churches: An Illustrated History." Continued

Photos: Falmanac