Towse: views from the hill

February 10, 2009

The Past Times Book of Diaries

Filed under: history,writing — Towse @ 10:10 pm

Feb 10th.

The Ceremony was very imposing, and fine and simple, and I think ought to make an everlasting impression on everyone who promises at the altar to keep what he or she promises. Dearest Albert repeated everything very distinctly. I felts so happy when the ring was put on, and by Albert. As soon as the Service was over, the procession returned as it came, with the exception that my beloved Albert led me out. The applause was very great, in the Colour Court as we came through: Lord Melbourne, good man was very much affected during the Ceremony and at the applause. We all returned to the Throne-room, where the Signing of the Register took place: it was first signed by the Archbishop, then by Albert and me, and all the Royal Family, and by: The Lord Chancellor, the Lord President, the Lord Privy Seal, the Duke of Norfolk (as Earl Marshal), the Archbishop of York, and Lord Melbourne. We then went into the Closet, and the Royal Family waited with me there till the ladies had got into their carriages. I gave all the Train-bearers as a brooch a small eagle of turquoies. I then returned to Buckingham Palace alone with Albert: they cheered us really most warmly and heartily; the crowd was immense; and the Hall at Buckingham Palace was full of people; they cheered us again and again. The great Drawing-room and Throne-room were full of people of rank, and numbers of children were there. Lord Melbourne and Lord Clarendon, who had arrived, stood at the door of the Throne-room as we came in. I went and sat on the sofa in my dressing-room with Albert; and we talked together there from 10 m to 2 till 20m. p. 2.

Queen Victoria, 1840
Etching illustrations of the wedding and the procession accompany the entry.

And thus ends the entry for 10 February.

Just received a pkg in the mail from Auntie K who sent a book bought at the Friends of the Library book sale called THE PAST TIMES BOOK OF DIARIES, which works you through each day of the year with an entry from someone’s past diary. One hundred diarists. Four hundred years. Eye witness accounts of history (see 10 Feb) and private entries.

Famous folk (QVic, Katherine Mansfield, Beatrix Potter, Samuel Pepys) and some less famous (to me) folk (Ralph Josselin, Francis Kilvert, F.E. Witts), who may be well-known names to those with more depth than I can claim.

That’s what the Goog is for.

Ralph Josselin “was the vicar of Earls Colne in Essex from 1641 until his death in 1683. He is celebrated for his remarkable diary rivalling that of Samuel Pepys which records intimate details of everyday farming life, family and kinship in a small, isolated rural community.” [Wikipedia]

Francis Kilvert “is best known as the author of voluminous diaries describing rural life. After his death from peritonitis, his diaries were edited and censored, possibly by his widow.” [Wikipedia]

F.E. Witts, author of The diary of a Cotswold parson : Reverend F.E. Witts, 1783-1854. [WorldCat] [no Wikipedia entry. Shocking! I know!]

Thanks, Auntie K!

February 7, 2009

A daily diary of Depression-era life, told on Twitter

Filed under: history — Tags: — Towse @ 10:02 pm

A daily diary of Depression-era life, told on Twitter : The Social Path

Interesting use of Twitter.

[via Biz Stone’s twitterfeed]

February 2, 2009

Warren Ellis — War Haunted

Filed under: history,mashup,photographs — Towse @ 2:09 am

Warren Ellis — War Haunted

Warren Ellis writes: These are, I’m told, the work of one Sergei Larenkov, and they are wonderful. He’s reshot WW2-era photographs in the present day, from their original perspectives, and then faded the original in.

Ellis tells you a bit about the images (and shows some).

The photos are ‘shopped photos taken during the Siege of Leningrad mashed up with the identical scene from modern St. Petersburg. The edges of buildings and trims and fences match up. Marvelous dissonance.

See more.

[via Sour Grapes' Google Reader]

January 25, 2009


Filed under: California,history — Towse @ 12:12 am

On this date in 1848, James W. Marshall — constructing a mill on property belonging to Johann A. Sutter near Coloma, California — discovered gold.

My, how things changed.

Some of his nibs forebears came out here to set up shop in San Francisco, selling picks and shovels and pans to folks heading up to the hills to search for gold. Made a pretty penny in the hardware business, they did.

They were johnny-come-lately, but their offspring married into a family whose forebears arrived in 1776.

January 20, 2009

US Presidents – George Washington to Barack Obama

Filed under: election2008,history,people,video — Towse @ 8:43 am

US Presidents – George Washington to Barack Obama

44 US Presidents from George Washington to Barack Obama morphed to the music Boléro by Ravel

Must admit that I don’t really know what each and every president looked like.

James K Polk was a surprise. He had a sly grin look about him. Reminded me of Baryshnikov somehow. Also reminded me of the They Might Be Giants song.

James Monroe I couldn’t’ve picked out of a crowd.

And then there were the “He’s on the $xxx bill” presidents.

John Tyler. Had I ever seen a picture of him that wasn’t in a heads-of-all-the-presidents poster?

Grover Cleveland looked like a well-fed beermeister.


gekko talked about the smiling/not-smiling aspect of the morph. I was more fascinated by the facial hair. Chester Arthur. Whoa.

[hattip to gekko, who posted this link on Usenet but I’m using a link to her blog instead of a link to that post.]

January 18, 2009

Times change, thanks be.

Filed under: history,San Francisco — Towse @ 8:56 pm

On my way to looking for something else, I found the following …

Authorities pulled the liquor license of the Black Cat (710 Montgomery — the Bohemian Bar in Kerouac’s On the Road) in 1949. Why? Because it attracted (nay, in truth catered to) gay men.

Sol Stoumen, the straight owner, took the case all the way to state Supreme Court, which ruled in 1951 that a business couldn’t be shut down just because homosexuals gathered there.

But, backing up a bit, earlier the Superior Court and the Court of Appeals had sided against Stoumen. In fact Superior Court Judge Robert L. McWilliams wrote in his decision:

It would be a sorry commentary on the law as well as on the morals of the community to find that persons holding liquor licenses could permit their premises to be used month after month as meeting places for persons of known homosexual tendencies. … An occasional fortuitous meeting of such persons at restaurants for the innocent purpose mentioned is one thing. But for a proprietor of a restaurant knowlingly to permit his premises to be regularly used “as a meeting place” by persons of the type mentioned with all of the potentialities for evil and immorality drawing out of such meetings is, in my opinion, conduct of an entirely different nature.


January 15, 2009

This day in history. January 14, 1954

Filed under: history,people — Tags: , — Towse @ 12:27 am

Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio married at San Francisco’s City Hall and returned to North Beach for wedding photographs on the steps of Sts. Peter & Paul Church.

They could not be married in the church because DiMaggio was considered still married by the Roman Catholic church, which did not recognize his civil divorce from his first wife.

The DiMaggio-Monroe marriage lasted nine months.

Today you can see a photo of DiMaggio and first wife Dorothy Arnold displayed inside the church, but there can be seen no hide nor hair, no mention of the civil divorce nor of Monroe.

December 21, 2008

‘Bush Shoe’ Gives Firm a Footing in the Market []

Filed under: culture,history — Tags: — Towse @ 3:49 am

‘Bush Shoe’ Gives Firm a Footing in the Market

Published: December 20, 2008

ISTANBUL — When a pair of black leather oxfords hurled at President Bush in Baghdad produced a gasp heard around the world, a Turkish cobbler had a different reaction: They were his shoes.

“We have been producing that specific style, which I personally designed, for 10 years, so I couldn’t have missed it, no way,” said Ramazan Baydan, a shoemaker in Istanbul. “As a shoemaker, you understand.”


… orders for Mr. Baydan’s shoes, formerly known as Ducati Model 271 and since renamed “The Bush Shoe,” have poured in from around the world.

15K pairs for Iraq
95K pairs for Europe
18K pairs for USA

Five thousand posters advertising the shoes, on their way to the Middle East and Turkey, proclaim “Goodbye Bush, Welcome Democracy”” in Turkish, English and Arabic.


Ah. Capitalism at its finest.

December 18, 2008

Clinton foundation donors

Filed under: history,politics,URL — Towse @ 7:11 pm

The Clinton Foundation has released its donor list on its Web site.

And /ahem/ the site seems overwhelmed by the interest. (I got a timeout each time I tried. Couldn’t get through.)

NYTimes article to get you through the wait. And one from Huffington Post.

Airbrushing History — American Style and the Internet Archives (Thanks! Brewster Kahle!)

Filed under: history,URL,webstuff — Towse @ 6:44 pm

Airbrushing History — American Style by Scott Althaus and Kalev Leetaru. University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign


Legacies are in the air as President Bush prepares to leave the White House. How future historians will judge the president remains to be seen, but one thing is certain: future historians won’t have all the facts needed to make that judgment. One legacy at risk of being forgotten is the way the Bush White House has quietly deleted or modified key documents in the public record that are maintained under its direct control.

Remember the “Coalition of the Willing” that sided with the United States during the 2003 invasion of Iraq? If you search the White House web site today you’ll find a press release dated March 27, 2003 listing 49 countries forming the coalition. A key piece of evidence in the historical record, but also a troubling one. It is an impostor.

And although there were only 45 coalition members on the eve of the Iraq invasion, later deletions and revisions to key documents make it seem that there were always 49.

The Bush White House seems to have systematically airbrushed parts of the official record regarding its own history. How extensively White House documents have been rewritten is anyone’s guess, but in the case of the coalition list, the evidence is clear that extensive revision of the historical record has occurred.


I remember reading about this a few weeks ago (end of November) and I thought, hm. interesting, but, this isn’t the first time this has happened.

There was a fairly well-documented instance back when Enron was crashing, where the bio for the Honorable Thomas E. White, Secretary of
the Army, was revised to elide a couple paragraphs about all the wonderful things he had done at Enron to “From 1990 to 2001, Mr. White was employed by Enron Corporation and held various senior executive positions.”

Seems folks would learn that you can’t change history in these days of archives without someone poking around and finding out, but … no.

As always, these little glimmers of change are brought to you thanks to Brewster Kahle, whose Internet Archive not only stashes away the original of versions later changed, but also offers up such gems as

The Grateful Dead Live at Winterland 17 Jun 1975

Warren Zevon Live at The Main Point 20 Jun 1976

Betty Boop Betty Boop for President — 1932

India Travel film, India (c1930)

San Francisco San Francisco (1939) from the Prelinger Archives

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