Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Popular Music in 1905 - Listen!

Early Gramophone
1905 was an exciting time in the world of American popular music, with new inventions and new styles rapidly changing rules and tastes.

The first gramophone, playing 78 rpm records, was introduced by Emile Berliner in 1887. This machine was a big improvement on Edison's wax cylinder phonograph, since it could play almost four minutes of music.

When the sheet music for After the Ball was published in 1892, it sold a million copies, and this phenomenon is often credited as being the beginning of American commercial "popular music". Billboard Magazine started publishing charts of music sales in 1894.

The sheet music for Scott Joplin's Maple Leaf Rag was published in 1899 and become another million-copy seller--the first piece of instrumental music to achieve this status. The Cakewalk, a syncopated couples' dance, and the first black dance to be adopted by white audiences, became wildly popular in 1900.

Emile Berliner founded the record label Victor Talking Machines in 1901, the same year that the first 88-key player piano was built by Melville Clark.

Meanwhile, improvizational brass bands, and ragtime and honky-tonk blues piano players, were establishing themselves in the streets and clubs of New Orleans in the first decade of the century.

Give My Regards to Broadway Sheet MusicAmerican vaudeville was evolving into the American musical revue and the great American musical theatre. George M. Cohan introduced his first Broadway musical in 1901, and in late 1905 he was putting the finishing touches on Forty Five Minutes from Broadway, which would open on January 1, 1906. Flo Ziegfeld would debut his Follies in 1907.

The "barbershop" quartet was just becoming popular; Sweet Adeline was first recorded by a quartet in 1904.

Irving Berlin was a saloon busker in the Bowery in 1905; he would go on to write Alexander's Ragtime Band in 1911.

In 1900, most Americans who were interested in popular music were interested in buying sheet music, and playing/singing at home. By 1910, Americans wanted to dance! In 1905, both trends were alive.

So what were the top charters in 1905? Here are a few you might still remember; all of these were listed in the Billboard top singles of 1905.

Billy MurrayClick here to hear a 1906 recording of Billy Murray singing Give My Regards to Broadway, from George M. Cohan's 1904 musical Little Johnny Jones. NOTE: You'll have to click once more when you get to the website; this was the only one of all the songs in this post where I couldn't make the "embed" code work.

Click here to hear a 1905 recording of Arthur Collins singing Nobody, with music by Bert Williams and lyrics by Alex Rogers.

Click here to hear a 1912 recording of Billy Murray singing Erie Canal (Low Bridge, Everybody Down) by Thomas Allen. Around 1905, mule-powered barge traffic had converted to steam power and diesel was about to take over.

Click here to hear a 1906 recording of Billy Murray singing In My Merry Oldsmobile by Gus Edwards and Vincent Bryan.

Click here to hear a 1906 recording of Byron G. Harlan singing Wait 'Til the Sun Shines Nellie with music by Harry Von Tilzer and lyrics by Andrew B. Sterling. (Harlan often recorded and performed with Arthur Collins.)

Illustration Credits and References

Helpful data on the origins of various forms of American music can be found on Piero Scaruffi's website. He's authored a number of books on American music, including A History of Popular Music and A History of Jazz Music.

Information on the history of New Orleans music was found at carnaval.com/no/

Wonderful images from the early years of American music can be found here.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Boston Suffrage Parade - May 2, 1914

British Suffrage Poster, Artists' Suffrage League, 1914NOTE: This event took place a few years off my target dates, but many of the women who marched in Boston in 1914 were already active in the woman suffrage movement, or other social movements, in 1905. What an amazing day this must have been for all involved!

On Saturday, May 2, 1914, American women from all across the country participated in a well-coordinated set of suffrage parades and meetings. A visit to Washington, DC was planned for the following Saturday, May 9, so that the various groups could present to Congress their petitions in support of a Federal suffrage amendment.

Boston was the location for one of the largest parades (and the first suffrage parade that had ever been held in Massachusetts). Various estimates put the number of marchers at somewhere between 9,000-15,000, and the number of spectators at 200,000-300,000. The crowd had been building all day--pouring into the city on trolleys and trains, carrying blankets and picnic lunches, and camping out on Back Bay doorsteps and on the Common until they took up their places all along the parade route by 4 p.m.

Suffrage Poster, World War I era, by Evelyn Rumsey CaryChief Marshal Frances Curtis led the parade on horseback along with eight mounted aides. The mile-long parade was a sea of white dresses adorned with yellow jonquils, narcissus, paper roses, badges and ribbons. Over 800 policemen had been assigned to keep order at the parade, and streetcars were diverted from the parade route.

At 5 p.m., down Beacon Street from Massachusetts Avenue they came, well-known suffragists and college girls, elaborate floats, 13 bands, two hundred automobiles, and contingents of male supporters. The temperature was in the low sixties, and the weather sunny and breezy; the women marched with a noted seriousness of purpose.

They passed in review before Governor Walsh and Lt. Governor Barry, who stood at attention in top hats and overcoats on the State House on Beacon Hill, under the gleaming gold dome. (Former mayor "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald, John F. Kennedy's grandfather, was also present on the State House steps.) They then passed before Mayor and Mrs. Curley who awaited them in front of City Hall.

The parade marchers then looped around the business district, and returned to conclude at the Tremont Temple.

Suffrage Poster, New York, 1917The opening division of the parade included well-known suffragists--both local and national. Alice Stone Blackwell, daughter of well-known abolitionist and suffragist Lucy Stone, and a prominent suffragist in her own right, was one of the leaders.

Local artist and Smith College graduate Blanche Ames, who had worked since 1903 providing beautiful illustrations for her husband's seven-volume study of orchids, marched with the parade committee. (Her husband was Harvard botany professor Oakes Ames who also marched in the parade--but in a different division.) In 1915, Blanche would produce a widely noted series of suffrage cartoons, and the following year, in 1916, she would go on to co-found the Massachusetts Birth Control League.

Thirty ushers marched wearing red and white striped gowns, and blue caps and shoulder capes. Representatives of countries where women already had the vote (or at least partial suffrage) marched in their national costumes; according to the Boston Sunday Globe, the "Finnish and Galician peasants" marched "with their hair unbound and floating free."

The second division included women from 80 Massachusetts cities and towns. The women from Concord and Lexington were accompanied by "Spirit of '76" musicians. Fifty Brookline women rode on horseback. One contingent of women carried a banner that read: "It takes a woman to make a flag."

The third division was headed by the Junior Suffrage League, led by Louis Brandeis' daughter Elizabeth, who would start on the the path to her long and illustrious career in economics and labor law as a Radcliffe student that September. (Her father would be named to the Supreme Court while she was still in college.) Self-supporting women came next, and then the professional women starting with stenographers and business women, then architects and artists, doctors and dentists, lawyers, musicians, nurses, teachers, writers, and actresses. Doctors and lawyers wore caps and gowns.

Suffragette Madonna, Anti-suffrage Postcard, 1909 "Self-supporting women" included Margaret "Maggie" Foley, an outspoken Irish Catholic who'd joined the Hat Trimmers' Union, started organizing women workers in a hat factory, become a well-known labor organizer, and and had started working for the Massachusetts Woman Suffrage Association in 1906. She was known as "The Grand Heckler", and the applause that greeted her appearance, as she stood in the middle of a touring car, holding an immense red rose in her left hand and waving a white scarf with her right, was thunderous. (The red rose was the symbol of the anti-suffragists; she was clearly taunting them!)

Artists marching included sculptor Anne Whitney, whose statue of Sam Adams adorns Statuary Hall at at the Capitol Building in Washington. Anne was 93, and still active in the arts. She had been a well-known abolitionist in the pre-Civil War era, and, like many women abolitionists, had turned her attention to freedom for women after the War. (She would die less than eight months later, leaving $1,000 in her will to Alice Stone Blackwell "for use in the suffrage movement.")

Lawyers included Alice Parker Lesser, who had been admitted to the bar in Massachusetts in 1890--the first year women were allowed entry; click here to read a previous post on what Alice was doing in 1905.

Writers were accompanied by Charlotte Payne-Townshend, George Bernard Shaw's wife.

The fourth division included clubs, unions, and associations, the Massachusetts Men's League for Woman Suffrage, the College Men's Suffrage League (including 500 male Harvard students), college faculty members (women and men) in caps and gowns, and undergraduate women from Mount Holyoke, Radcliffe, Simmons, Smith, Wellesley, MIT, Tufts, and Boston University. (The last three were coeducational by this time; BU had been the first university in the U.S. to open all of its programs to women.)

The sun set at 6:45 p.m., but still the marchers came; it was past 7 by the time the parade wrapped up. Then many of the marchers headed to the Tremont Temple for sandwiches and a program of speakers and ceremonies.

The write-up in the next day's Boston Sunday Globe, entitled "Women Give Great Parade" was the front-page story. The sub-heads tell it all: "Nearly 12,000 in Striking Appeal for Ballot." "Earnest Marchers Win Favor with Surging Crowds." "Finish at Tremont Temple Rally in Spirit of Exaltation."

Illustration Credits and References

Much of the information in this post comes from the May 3, 1914 front-page story in the Boston Sunday Globe. Photographs accompanied the article but the scan quality was very poor, and I couldn't find other photographs online from the Boston event. I've therefore illustrated with suffrage posters from the era.

The first illustration is a British poster from the Artists' Suffrage League, circa 1914.

The second is an American World War One era poster designed by Evelyn Rumsey Cary, a Buffalo, NY artist.

The third is a poster from a 1917 New York suffrage campaign.

The final illustration is a postcard entitled "Suffragette Madonna" from 1909--it was used by the anti-suffrage folks, who believed (among other things) that woman suffrage would somehow "feminize" men.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Sarah Choate Sears and John Singer Sargent

Portrait of Sarah Choate Sears by John Singer SargentPortrait of Sarah Choate Sears by John Singer Sargent, 1889.

I continue to explore women artists; today's post is about Sarah Choate Sears, a wealthy Boston woman, with money on both sides of the family. (On her engagement to Joshua Montgomery Sears at the age of 19 (1877), she received a diamond necklace from him as an engagement gift which had a purported value at the time of $50,000!)

Sarah was a collector and patron of the arts, but also a talented watercolorist and photographer. She had studied with Dennis Miller Bunker at the Cowles Art School, taken private lessons with various Boston artists, and attended the Boston MFA School for several years. She had won prizes for her watercolor portraits at the Chicago World's Fair in 1893, and at the 1900 Paris Exposition.

Photograph of Helen Sears by Sarah Choate SearsPortrait of Helen Sears by Sarah Choate Sears, 1895.

She had taken up photography in the 1890s, and used her camera for the same subjects as her watercolor painting--portraits and still lifes. She had produced photo portraits of many Bostonians, including a series of photographs of her daughter, Helen, who had been born in 1889.

Sarah was one of the founders of the Society of Arts and Crafts in Boston in 1897, and had shown her photographic work in exhibitions there, as well as at the Boston Camera Club. In the early years of the 20th century, her photographs were exhibited in London and Paris, and in 1904 she was invited to be a fellow in Alfred Stieglitz's Photo-Secession group in New York. (Stieglitz himself owned her photo portrait of Julia Ward Howe.) The stage was set for her to establish herself as one of the most outstanding American photographers of the era, but her husband died after a debilitating illness in June of 1905. Having to take over responsibilities for his estate, and with a daughter still at home, she gave up artistic photography (though she continued to produce portraits of family and friends).

Portrait of Helen Sears by Mary CassattPortrait of Helen Sears by Mary Cassatt, 1907.

She and Helen moved to Paris later in 1905. Sarah had been a long-time friend of Mary Cassatt, who gave Sarah a set of pastels (now owned by the Boston Museum of Fine Arts), and urged her to take up that genre. Sarah did so, and began to create bold, modernist pastels and watercolors of flowers, which she would exhibit well into the 1920s.

Sarah Choate Sears and John Singer Sargent

Photograph of John Singer Sargent by Sarah Choate SearsSarah Sears had most likely met the painter in Boston in the late 1880s. In 1889, he painted her portrait (shown at the beginning of this post), and in 1890 she returned the favor with the photographic portrait of him shown above.

Portrait of Helen Sears by John Singer SargentIn 1895 Sargent painted Sarah's daughter, Helen, in a very similar pose to the one Helen had struck in her mother's photographic portrait the same year, shown above. When Sarah sent Sargent a copy of the photo, he replied:

Many thanks for sending me the photographs. The new one of Helen has a wonderfully fine expression and makes me feel like returning to Boston and puffing my umbrella through my portrait. But how can an unfortunate painter hope to rival a photograph by a mother? Absolute truth combined with absolute feeling. [1]

Charcoal of Helen Sears by John Singer SargentIn 1912, Sargent produced a charcoal sketch of the 23-year-old Helen.


[1] Letter from John Singer Sargent dated August 7, 1895 and quoted in Erica E. Hirshler's A Studio of Her Own: Women Artists in Boston 1870-1940, Boston: MFA Publications, 2001.

Much of the information about Sarah Sears that appears in this post was also provided in the Hirshler book referenced above. I saw the exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts in 2001 which was the book's companion and inspiration and bought the book there--little knowing I would return to this period with such interest 8 years later!!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Kodak Girl

Kodak Girl in Holland, 1905 adKodak Girl in Japan, 1905 adIn 1888, George Eastman had developed the Kodak camera, designed to be both affordable and easy to use. And in 1893, at the Chicago World's Fair, he had introduced the "Kodak Girl" as the icon of the new camera's ad campaign.[1]

The Kodak Girl was young, pretty, energetic--an independent, outdoorsy single girl. (Eastman purportedly borrowed the name and concept from the popular "Gibson Girl" illustrations.) The two ads that accompany this post were from the 1905 campaign, and show the Kodak Girl(s) traveling in Holland and Japan.

Japan was an area of particular interest in the US in 1905 due to the emergence of Japan as a world power with its victory in the Russo-Japanese War. And Boston was no exception! From May 1-4, Isabella Stewart Gardner held a huge Japanese bazaar at Fenway Court, as part of a fundraiser for the Sharon Home for Consumptives. And on June 17, 1905, the closing day of the Country Club’s 24th annual race meeting, Mrs. Gardner “wore a handsome gown of black silk, strapped at the shoulders over a yoke of white lace” and was accompanied by “two Japanese gentlemen” in costume.

Illustration Credits and References

[1] The Kodak Girl image would survive until at least 1972, when Cybill Shepherd modeled for the campaign.

I found the two ad images in Advertising Ephemera Collection - Database #A0160, Emergence of Advertising On-Line Project, John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History, Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library

The Holland ad was drawn by Edward Penfield, and the Japan ad by C. Allan Gilbert.

The quotes describing Mrs. Gardner's wardrobe and companions on June 17th appeared in the Boston Globe on June 18, 1905.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Amy M. Sacker, Artist

Amy M. Sacker book cover for Under the Lilacs, AlcottIn a recent post, I wrote about the Boston 1905 census data on working women. In this and some future posts, I will focus on specific working women from that year.

My first subject is an artist named Amy M. Sacker. She was born in Boston in 1872 and studied at the School at the Museum of Fine Arts (which was then located in the basement of the Museum, in its Copley Square location).

Amy M. Sacker book cover for The Little Colonel's Christmas Vacation, JohnstonShe won numerous prizes for her work at the School, and upon graduation began teaching decorative design at the Cowles Art School. When that school closed in 1900, Amy put plans in place to found her own school (The Miss Amy M. Sacker School of Design and Interior Decoration) the following year. She remained affiliated with the school for another 40 years. One measure of her school's appeal is the huge number of society weddings, announced in the pages of The New York Times and other newspapers, that listed the bride as a graduate of Sacker!

When the Society of Arts and Crafts was founded in Boston, Amy showed her book covers, bookplates, and illustrations at their first exhibit in 1897 (what is believed to be the first professional crafts exhibit in the U.S.). She remained affiliated with the SAC throughout her career. (The SAC is still active to this day, with a gallery on Newbury Street in Boston.)

Amy M. Sacker book cover for The Breath of the Gods, McCallAmy was a prolific book cover designer in the golden age of book cover design--the late 1890s and the first decade of the 20th century (after which paper jackets largely superseded the cloth covered bindings as a design element). She designed thousands of book covers during her career, and in 1905 she was designing for Little, Brown and L.C. Page in Boston (though she would move to Houghton Mifflin in 1907). Among her 1905 designs are the book covers shown throughout this post. Amy executed the popular floral designs of the Arts and Crafts movement, as well as heraldic designs, but she was one of the first to put figurative designs on book covers, as in two of these examples.

In 1905, her studio/school were located at 8 Beacon Street in Boston.

In addition to her school, and her book design work, she was also teaching at Simmons College in Boston by 1911, traveling to Europe to study, and creating pieces for exhibits.

She exhibited her work throughout her life; this photo shows her at an exhibit of her portrait work in 1949, when she was 77 years old!Amy M. Sacker portrait exhibit in 1949
Illustration Credits and References

All of the illustrations in this post, and much of the information about Amy Sacker, are courtesy of Mark Schumacher's terrific treasure trove on the website of the library of the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, which includes biographical information researched by Anne O'Donnell.

Amy Sacker's designed The Breath of the Gods and Under the Lilacs for Little Brown; and The Little Colonel's Christmas Vacation for L. C. Page.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Postscript: Bell and Keller

In a previous post I wrote of a letter from Alexander Graham Bell to Helen Keller in April, 1905. I recently discovered a copy of the actual letter in the Library of Congress collection of the Alexander Graham Bell Family Papers, and wanted to share it with you!

1905 Letter from Alexander Graham Bell to Helen Kelleer

Saturday, July 4, 2009

The Diary: July 4, 1905

Long Pond, Brewster, HarwichCynthia had returned from Boston to Cape Cod on June 17 to get the house ready for her parents (who were still at sea). She'd had a busy few weeks unpacking, airing out the house, washing and ironing curtains, and baking beans. There had been a graduation to attend on June 30, and she'd stayed up all night talking to Ben after the reception.

Here is her entry for July 4th, which sounds just like an entry that could have been made today! (Long Pond is the largest pond on the Cape, covering over 740 acres and split between the towns of Brewster and Harwich.)

Went up to Long Pond on picnic. Stayed and saw fireworks at night.

On July 5th, she would make the following entry:

Ben very cool to me now.

Not sure what happened between the pre-dawn hours of July 1, and four days later....

Illustration Credits and References

Photo courtesy of the Long Pond Watershed Association website.