Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Old Postcard Wednesday--1912 New Year (and time capsule of events that year!)

While studying this beautiful embossed postcard celebrating good wishes for 1912, and after reading the written greeting (that reads uncannily like a modern-day message),  I found myself wondering what was happening in the world 100 years ago. I have selected a smattering of information from that time and hope you enjoy the ride in the time machine!

Jan 1 - Sun Yat-Sen forms the Republic of China.

Sun Yat-sen was the leader of China's republican revolution. He did much to inspire and organize the movement that overthrew the Manchu dynasty in 1911—a family of rulers that reigned over China for nearly three hundred years. Through the Kuomintang Party he paved the way for the eventual reunification of the country. [Source: - click link above for full bio]

Jan 8 - The African National Congress is founded.
The African National Congress, currently South Africa's ruling party, endured a rough ride from its formation in 1912 to its current position of power. . .
   In 1911, one-year after the formation of the British colony known as the Union of South Africa, Pixley ka Isaka Seme addressed the diminishing rights for blacks in the country, urging the people to form one national organisation, united against oppression.
As a consequence, tribal Chiefs and heads of religious groups gathered in Bloemfontein in January 1912, forming the African National Congress, an organisation designed to promote the rights and freedoms of the African people...  [Photo Source: - click link in text above for article.
Text Source: essortment - click here above for full ANC history]

Jan 18 -  English explorer Robert F Scott & his expedition reach South Pole, only to discover that Roald Amundsen had gotten there before

Feb 8 - 1st eastbound US transcontinental flight lands in Jacksonville, Fla
Feb 14 - Arizona was admitted to the Union as the 48th state

Mar 1 - Capt. Albert Berry makes 1st parachute jump from an airplane
The idea of parachutes had been around a long time, with the original credit going to either the Chinese or to Leonardo da Vinci, but the first man to ever jump out of an airplane with a parachute was U.S. Army Captain Albert Berry.  He jumped from a biplane at about 1500 feet over Jefferson Barracks, near St. Louis, Missouri, on March 1, 1912. Though some people believe that a man named Grant Morton parachuted from a plane in 1911 off the coast of California, the skydiving community (and in 2003, the U.S. government's Centennial of Flight Commission) commonly gives credit for the first airplane jump to Albert Berry.  Berry's pilot was Tony Jannus, a pioneering aviator who died in a crash in Russia in 1916. [Source: Who2 Biographies]

Mar 27 - 1st Japanese cherry blossom trees planted in Washington D.C. - 
(First Lady) Helen Herron Taft and the Viscountess Chinda, wife of the Japanese Ambassador, planted two Yoshino cherry trees on the northern bank of the Tidal Basin, about 125 feet south of what is now Independence Avenue, SW.  At the conclusion of the ceremony, the first lady presented a bouquet of "American Beauty" roses to Viscountess Chinda. Washington's renowned National Cherry Blossom Festival grew from this simple ceremony, witnessed by just a few persons. These two original trees still stand several hundred yards west of the John Paul Jones Memorial, located at the terminus of 17th Street, SW. Situated near the bases of the trees is a large bronze plaque which commemorates the occasion. [Source:]

Mar 29th - Capt Robert Scott, storm-bound in a tent near South Pole, makes last entry in his diary "the end cannot be far"

Apr 9th - Ulster 1912 by Rudyard Kipling first published in the Morning Post April 9th 1912, and reprinted in the same newspaper in November 1921 (without Kipling's permission). The heading is from Isaiah 59,6.
For historical background, see essay here.

A poem by Rudyard Kipling about the events in Ireland during 1912. 
Kipling was showing his support for the Ulster Unionist cause during the Home Rule crisis.

Apr 15th - Titanic sinks at 2:27 AM off Newfoundland as band plays on

Apr 17th - 1st unofficial gold record (Al Jolson's "Ragging The Baby To Sleep")
Listen below:

May 5th - Soviet Communist Party newspaper Pravda begins publishing (4/22 OS)
May 7th - Columbia University approves plans for awarding the Pulitzer Prize in several categories The award is established by Joseph Pulitzer

May 29th - 15 young women fired by Curtis Publishing for dancing "Turkey Trot" during their lunch break
(Note: No film exists of that particular event, so we must zip ahead to 1965 for this demonstration by Little Eva.....)

Jun 4th - Massachusetts passes 1st US minimum wage law

Jun 7th - St Pius X encyclical "On Indians of South America"
To the Archbishops and Bishops of Latin America. . .

Being greatly moved by the deplorable condition of the Indians in Lower America, our illustrious predecessor Benedict XIV pleaded their cause, as you are aware, in most weighty words, in his letter "Immensa Pastorum," given on December 22, 1741; and since we also have to deplore in many places almost the same things that he then lamented, we most earnestly recall those letters of his to your memory. . .. . .Nevertheless, though much has thus been done for the Indians, there is much more that still remains to be done. And, indeed, when we consider the crimes and outrages still committed against them, our heart is filled with horror, and we are moved to great compassion for its most unhappy race. For what can be so cruel and so barbarous as to scourge men and brand them with hot iron, often for most trivial causes, often for a mere lust of cruelty; or, having suddenly overthrown them, to slay hundreds or thousands in one unceasing massacre; or to waste villages and districts and slaughter the inhabitants, so that some tribes, as we understand, have become extinct in these last few years?  

Jul 15th - British National Health Insurance Act goes into effect
Britain was not the first country to provide insured benefits. Germany had provided compulsory national insurance against sickness from 1884. After visiting Germany in 1908, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, David Lloyd George said in his 1909 Budget Speech, that the United Kingdom should aim to be "putting ourselves in this field on a level with Germany; We should not emulate them only in armaments." In 1908 David Lloyd George, the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Liberal government led by Herbert Asquith proposed the 1911 National Insurance Act. This measure gave the British working classes the first contributory system of insurance against illness and unemployment. [Source: Wikipedia]

Aug 7th - Progressive (Bull Moose) Party nominates Theodore Roosevelt for pres
Aug 24th - Territory of Alaska organizes
Aug 25th - 1st time an aircraft recovers from a spin
Aug 25th - The Kuomintang, the Chinese nationalist party, is founded.

Sep 3rd - World's 1st cannery opens in England to supply food to the navy
Sep 23rd - 1st Mack Sennett "Keystone Comedy" movie released

Sep 27th - W C Handy publishes "Memphis Blues" -- 1st Blues Song

Oct 8th - Montenegro declares war on Turkey, beginning 1st Balkan War
Oct 17th - Bulgaria, Greece & Serbia declares war on Turkey
Oct 18th - Beginning of 1st Balkan War
Oct 18th - Italo-Turkish war ends
Oct 19th - Tripoli (Libya) passes from Turkish to Italian control

Nov 5th - Arizona, Kansas & Wisconsin vote for female suffrage
Nov 5th - Woodrow Wilson (D) defeats Theodore Roosevelt (Prog) & Pres Taft (R)

Nov 12th - Robert Scott's diary & dead body found in Antarctica

'These rough notes and our dead bodies'

Images of Robert Scott's attempt to be the first to reach the South Pole, 1910-1913. Part of a new exhibition at Cambridge University. Some of these photographs have never been shown to the public before. [Source: see gallery 'These rough notes and our dead bodies'.]

Nov 18th - Albania declares independence from Turkey

Dec 3rd - Turkey, Serbia, Montenegro, Greece & Bulgaria sign weapons pact
Dec 3rd - First Balkan War: The Naval Battle of Elli takes place.
Dec 7th - Bust of Queen Nefertete found in El-Amarna, Egypt
Dec 16th - Austria-Hungary engage in conflict with Serbia 

Dec 28th - The first municipally owned streetcars take to the streets in San Francisco, California.
(Prior history: 1892 April - First electric streetcars with overhead wires began running in San Francisco;
1906 April 18 - San Francisco's Great Earthquake damages the cable cars, allowing United Railroads (URR) to convert much of the city to streetcar service.)

[Photo via Bing Images: Fillmore Street north, as a truck is stuck trying to climb the hill, streetcar in background, 1912.]



Dee Newman said...

Lydia, as a history buff this was fun. Thanks for posting and doing all the background Googling.

Hattie said...

What a great New Year's post. I wonder how much of this an average person would have been aware of at the time.
The postcard is striking, as you say. The writing is very readable and looks like the Palmer I was taught in school.

Amber Lee said...

Illuminating! I would love to go to that exhibition at Cambridge; I've wanted to go to Antarctica ever since I read Troubling a Star by Madelein L'Engle.

Interesting about the plea for the indigenous of Latin America! I will have to look more into that. Thanks :)

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

What a fantastic postcard to start 2012 and your time machine sent me spinning on my own path

Firstly - if you are interested in Chinese history I can recommend "Wild Swans" the book by Jung Chang - which follows three generations of her family from Grandmother (Imperial China - geisha's, footbinding), Mother (revolutionary China, Chairman Mau, little red books) and herself (post revolution) - I read it before going there in 2000

Memphis Blues - as a big fan of blues music I was interested to hear this. It's interesting that you can still hear the basic themes here that would go on to form the music. It also got me thinking about Robert Johnson, who of course wouldn't record for another 20 years and would (after his death) inspire the likes of Clapton

Finally - I've been interested in Captain Scott ever since I saw a drama on ITV as a kid which starred Martin Shaw (best known for a cop drama called The Professionals) and Sylvester McCoy (who went on to be the 7th Doctor Who) as the man who gallantly "went outside"

If you happen to know if Scott's journals are publically available i'd be interested in reading them someday

Excellent post :)

kj said...

this is fascinating, lydia. the first street car....

have you read snowflower and the secret fan? i'll bet you have. china. it's a great read.

the postcard is precious. my father would be born two years later....

with love

Lydia said...

Dee Newman~ It was my pleasure!

Hattie~ Good point about whether the general populace would have been aware of much of these events. Their brains couldn't have been as cluttered with facts and trivia as ours today.

Amber Lee~ Of course you would be interested in that plea, as you know that part of the world and its people. I have not read that book, but I admire her writing...

Pixies~ Thanks. It is interesting how quite a few comments are coming through mentioning books that related in some way. No, I am not familiar with Wild Swans, and it sounds marvelous. I love sweeping sagas like that, especially when they are true.
Memphis Blues was a familiar song when I heard it at youtube, but I am not placing Robert Johnson...his inspiring Clapton intrigues me. I like the Blues, too!
You have mentioned your interest in Scott and I thought of you when I found that Columbia site. I looked at the gallery only, but did not dig deeper. Did you? I wonder if Columbia has the diary...

kj~ No, I have not read that. Am not familiar with it, either. So here goes an tour (although I have five books stacked at the ready for next reads).
And my mother would be born three years later.... What a world they grew up in.

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

oh wow - you should definately look up Robert Johnson. Often described as the father of the blues

He wrote Crossroads which was a big hit for Cream, as well as Malted Milk which Clapton recorded solo, was murdered via a poisoned bottle of whisky (thought to be from a jealous husband), has been linked with myths after his death about having sold his soul to the devil to obtain his skills (these are mostly believed to be untrue and do not originate from the time of his life)

mythopolis said...

Amazing to think how much the world changes in a span of 100 years. Scary, even! And to think some people live a lifespan of 100. As for Robert Scott, I think his diaries can be found and read. British Library, for one, has an on-line reading site for many kinds of literature - including these diaries.

Mama Zen said...

This is fascinating!

naomi dagen bloom said...

What a potpourri of amazing stuff. We were in Silverton for another New Year's Day and I wondered if you might show up at the gathering. Have a new, improved 2012.

Lydia said...

Pixies~ Wow! With a background story like that you'd think I'd know him! Am going to go read/hear more...

mythopolis~ I hope Pixies reads your comment about the diaries.
Scary, even, indeed how much changed in the last 100 years. Can you imagine living 100 years? Would you want to? I just am not sure...

Mama Zen~ Glad you think so and always happy to see you. :)

naomi~ Yes, let's all have a new, improved year! I am sorry to have missed you, although I have been really out-of-the-loop and have no idea what event you may have attended...unless you were at that Murder Mystery event on New Year's Eve at the Oregon Garden. Let me know what's going on in my town next year, won't you? ;)

susan said...

This is a pretty amazing piece of work and most educational too.

Happy 12th Night.

goatman said...

Very nice.
Thanks for posting this.

Lydia said...

susan~ It was my pleasure to put it together. I get a lot out of my nights spent in working on old postcard posts...enjoy it very much.
I will be honest: on my way to see what 12th Night is! It sounds so mysterious and intriguing. I will have read about it before the hour has passed...thanks.

goatman~ So glad you like it, and it was my delight to post it. :)



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