The Blackfoot Indians

6a00e0099229e888330147e0f2647d970b-500wi More than 1,400 Walter McClintock glass lantern slides at the Yale Collection of Western Americana, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

“Pittsburgh native Walter McClintock graduated from Yale in 1891. In 1896 he traveled west as a photographer for a federal commission investigating national forests. McClintock became friends with the expedition’s Blackfoot Indian scout, William Jackson or Siksikakoan. When the commission completed its field work, Jackson introduced McClintock to the Blackfoot community of northwestern Montana. Over the next twenty years, supported by the Blackfoot elder Mad Wolf, McClintock made several thousand photographs of the Blackfoot, their homelands, their material culture, and their ceremonies. Like his contemporary, the photographer Edward Curtis, McClintock believed that Indian communities were undergoing swift, dramatic transformations that might obliterate their traditional culture. He sought to create a record of a life-way that might disappear. He wrote books, mounted photographic exhibitions, and delivered numerous public lectures about the Blackfoot.”

Below some pictures of their homes.

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Horse-Drawn Public Transportation

“For a hundred years, from the early 1800s to the early 1900s, Europe and America had cities of at least a million people that ran on a massive, sophisticated network of carriages and streetcars. By 1880, according to historian John H. White, Jr., US cities had 415 horse-drawn railways running, with 18,000 cars on 3,000 miles of track, carrying 1.2 billion passengers a year. Most of these lines continued decades into the age of electricity and coal, simply because the horses worked better than any other option.” Read: Horse-drawn public tranportation. Thanks, Johan. Previously: Bring back the horses.

Chronological and Thematic Database on the History of Information and Media

Coptic bookbinding From Cave Paintings to the Internet is “designed to help you follow the development of information and media, and attitudes about them, from the beginning of records to the present. Containing annotated references to discoveries, developments of a social, scientific, theoretical  or technological  nature, as well as references to physical books, documents, artifacts, art works, and to websites and other digital media, it arranges, both chronologically and thematically, selected historical examples and recent developments of the methods used to record, distribute, exchange, organize, store, and search information. The database is designed to allow you to approach the topics in a wide variety of ways.”

Illustration: coptic bookbinding.

Via Achille van den Branden.

The Wonders of Industry (1873-1877)

the wonders of industry

“Les merveilles de l’industrie, ou description des principales industries modernes”, Louis Figuier (1873-1877). The 4-volume book is in French, but the engravings are indeed wonderful: Part 1 (750 pages), Part 2 (736 pages), Part 3 (687 pages) & Part 4 (744 pages). A sample of the illustrations of part one and four can be found here and here. Below: salt mines in Wieliska, Poland (extra large illustration). Related: Three thousand pages of 19th century technology.

Grinding the Wind: the Treadwheel Fan

grinding the wind the treadwheel fanI wrote about prison treadmills before. They were invented in England in 1817 by Sir William Cubit, who observed prisoners lying around in idleness and put himself to the task of “reforming offenders by teaching them habits of industry”.

Forty-four prisons in England adopted it as a form of hard labour that could also grind grain or pump water.

Prison treadwheel 2However, as it turns out, in at least one jail prisoners were only “grinding the wind”: they were walking a treadwheel that was connected to a giant fan built on the courtyard. By this apparatus the resistance necessary for rendering the tread-wheel hard labour was obtained.

The system is explained in “The criminal prisons of London and scenes of Prison Life” (1862), written by Henry Mayhew & John Binny. Starting on page 299, they describe the method of “hard labour”, and the technologies used for it: the treadwheel, crank labour & the shot drill. Great reading.

Harnessing the Sun: the History of Solar Energy

Printing a journal by solar energy The Archdruid Report discusses some early applications of solar energy by Augustin Mouchot (late 1800s) and Frank Schuman (early 1900s). An overview of historical experiments and applications of solar energy can be found here and here.