The Historical Spectator.

History as seen by the people who lived through it.


Prayers for the Unhappy Deluded Americans

On December 13, 1776, all the churches of England were directed to offer prayers for the success of His Majesty George III against his rebellious subjects in America. Here are two of the prayers that were directed to be offered in the Anglican liturgies on that day.

The Future of Photography,
Seen from 1850

In January of 1850 or 1851 (by a printer’s error, both dates appear), a maga­zine with the ambitious title The Photo­graphic Art-Journal was launched, featuring a frontis­piece engraving (there was no good way to repro­duce a photo­graph directly) of the already-famous Mathew Brady. In the intro­ductory essay, the editor, H. H. Snelling, laments that pho­tography has been purely mechanical for most prac­titioners, but he pre­dicts that the future will bring a mature under­standing of pho­tography as art.

Art for Art’s Sake Kills Civilization

Dr. Wilbur F. Crafts was one of the most influential men in the history of American culture. His New York Times obituary remembered that “To the general public Dr. Crafts was of course, best known for his attacks on popular amusements. Screen vampires, close dancing, ‘joy rides,’ which he said ‘often proved a ride of lifelong shame and woe’; Sunday baseball, cigarettes were a few of the objects of his tireless reforming zeal.” Shadowland was a trendy magazine with pretensions to up-to-date taste, as expressed in reviews of modernist literature and semi-nude portraits of movie stars. It was a everything Dr. Crafts deplored and a frequent target of his ire, so the editor invited him to write his opinions as an article.

Big Interests Plan Television Theatres

With the exception of the flying machine, no inven­tion was ever so breathlessly antici­pated as tele­vision. Every­one knew it was coming, and every­one knew it would change the world. But how? This article, pub­lished in 1930, suggests that tele­vision will be made to pay its way by becoming another attrac­tion in theaters.

Kinds of Photoplays to Avoid

In 1915, a book of instructions for the novice writer of mov­ing-picture plays included this helpful advice on catering to the taste of the moviegoing public.

The Coming Scarcity of Draft Horses

We’ll always need good draft horses, says a Canadian agricultural expert writing in 1921. Motorized farm equipment will never be of more than limited utility, and the horse will always have the economic advantage. It therefore behooves breeders to invest in the future by keeping up a good stock in the expectation of rising prices.

Slaves of the Baker

Slavery in the Roman Empire took many forms. Some slaves were domes­tics who were as good as part of the family, and might look for­ward to earning or being given their freedom by grate­ful masters. But many were indus­trial slaves, and their lives were miserable and short.

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