Category Archives: 1900-1909

Year 13

1900: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Author: L. Frank Baum

Find it in Collins Library!

Baum set out to write a fairy tale for children that was specifically American, not European.  His work became popular immediately and the characters, tropes and phrases that he created remain recognizable to most Americans today, even if they have not read the book.  Munchkins, the Tin Man, Scarecrow, and the Yellow Brick Road continue to form part of our common cultural vocabulary.

To learn more about this great book and author, visit the Library of Congress exhibit on Oz.

“The Tin Man.”
Poster for Fred R. Hamlin’s Musical Extravaganza,
The Wizard of Oz.
Cincinnati and New York:
U.S. Lithograph Company,
Russell Morgan Print, 1903.
Prints and Photographs Division (28)

Image from:

Year 14

1901: Harriet Tubman, the Moses of Her People

Author/Editor: Sarah Bradford

Find it in Collins Library!

Harriet, the Moses of her People is a biography of Harriet Tubman, the abolitionist and prominent figure in the Underground Railroad and the Civil War. This work was privately funded by the author, Sarah H. Bradford, and the proceeds went directly to Tubman. While Bradford has been said to use some poetic license in depicting Tubman’s strength, cleverness, and other characteristics, this work has been celebrated as a vivid description of the life of Harriet Tubman, and a primary source showing how she was represented in the years after the repeal of slavery.

Year 15

1902: The Hound of Baskervilles

Editor/Author: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Find it in Collins Library!

After having killed off the popular detective Sherlock Holmes and effectively ending the series, The Hound of the Baskervilles marks Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s return to the Holmes storyline. The story follows the characteristic Sherlock Holmes crime pattern, introducing several mysterious characters and seemingly ambiguous clues that Holmes, using his powers of observation and deduction, unravels to come to a dramatic conclusion.

Baskervilles is arguably Doyle’s most literary work. It is also one of the most well-known Sherlock Holmes mysteries, undoubtedly due to its many iterations on radio, television, and movies. One needs to think only of the Scooby Doo cartoons to see the influence of the Sherlock Holmes method of deductive reasoning based on a series of clues and the use of a monster to scare away those “pesky kids” who would try to solve the mystery!

Year 16

1903: History of Egypt

Author/Editor: G. Maspero

Find it in Collins Library!

This book caught our eye as it is part of a multi-volume set that stands out in the stacks due to the binding.  Bound in leather with gilt lettering, each volume in this series contains a colored photo lithographic frontispiece.  The small pyramid on the spine is a delightful design element.  1,000 copies of this publication were printed for England and American and Puget Sound has no.98.  The text and illustrations offer a snapshot of Egyptian culture depicting writing, painting, sculpture, as well as plans of the ancient cities and maps of historic sites and diagrams of tombs.  This text of this book is also available online through the Internet Archive and thanks to the Clermont Colleges Digital Library we can access a biography of one of the authors.

Year 17

1904: The History of the Standard Oil Company

Author/Editor: Ida M. Tarbell

Find it in Collins Library!

Image courtesy of Biography Resource Center

This book, by Ida M. Tarbell, was listed as No. 5 in a 1999 list by New York University of the top 100 works of 20th-century American journalism.  She is widely known as one of the best journalists of her time.  A graduate of Allegheny College, Tarbell’s work sets the standard for investigative journalism with her remarkable research and fact-checking still a benchmark in 2013.

This publication is one of the great examples of the muckrakers of journalism.  The term muckraker refers to reform-minded journalists who wrote largely for popular magazines, continued a tradition of investigative journalism.  McClure’s magazine supported the work of Tarbell and the Standard Oil reports were originally published in the McClure’s magazine.

Year 18

1905: The House of Mirth

Author/Editor: Edith Wharton

Find it in Collins Library!

Originally published as a serial run in Scribner’s Magazine from January through November 1905,  The House of Mirth was published on October 14, 1905, by Charles Scribner’s Son’s. The novel follows Lily Bart, a beautiful young woman on the hunt for a rich husband, as she experiences the social scene and eventually suffers from its harshness.  The book remained on the bestseller list for 1906 and sold over 140,000 copies. Critics applauded the book for providing insights into how even the privileged suffer in a male dominated society.

Wharton was the author of more than 40 volumes including novels, short stories, poetry and non-fiction. In 1923 she became the first woman to receive an honorary doctorate from Yale.

Learn more about her by visiting the  Edith Wharton Society website maintained by Washington State University.

Picture courtesy of the Edith Wharton Society website.

Year 19

1906: The Jungle

Author/Editor: Upton Sinclair

Find it in Collins Library!

Originally written to illustrate the life of a Lithuanian immigrant, Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle became more well-known for its depiction of the unsanitary and unsafe practices of the meatpacking industry. Descriptions of horrors such as workers falling into the grinding machines and being sold as lard resulted in public outcry for government intervention and regulation of food production. This work became associated with other works aimed to expose corruption or exploitation to the public and Sinclair became known as a “yellow journalist” or, as Theodore Roosevelt coined, a “muckraker”.

As a direct consequence of public pressure resulting from The Jungle, the United States government became involved in the regulation of the food industry and still is today.

Year 20

1907: Revised Charter of the City of Tacoma, Washington

Author/Editor: L. W. Roys

Find it in Collins Library!

The original charter of the City of Tacoma was framed and submitted in 1890.  This revision was compiled by the City Council in 1907.  It’s a fascinating political document about the early days of our fair city.  A time when the city was divided up into ‘Wards,’ and the focus of the charter was primarily on land development and street improvement.  It also gives an early glimpse into city government, spelling out the roles of the Mayor and the City Council.

And in case you’re interested, here’s the current Tacoma City Charter:

Effective June 1, 1953; Amended November 2, 2004.

Year 21

1908: Anne of Green Gables

Author: Lucy Maud Montgomery

Find it in Collins Library!

This classic novel is about an orphan girl named Anne Shirley who is adopted by siblings Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert of Prince Edward Island. Spirited Anne rocks the sleepy island community with her talkative and imaginative ways and is involved in several humorous misadventures, including dying her hair green, unintentionally getting her friend drunk, and nearly drowning while acting out a poem. Throughout all of her mishaps, Anne’s charm, wit, and good intentions endear her to her new family and friends, as well as readers all over the world.

Anne is a universally appealing character, as evidenced by the plethora of sequels, movies, television shows, and plays featuring her story. Although constantly reinterpreted, particularly when it comes to gender roles and values, Anne of Green Gables is a timeless story and, as author L.M. Montgomery put it, is a ”simple little tale.”

Year 22

1909: Martin Eden & Tono-Bungay

Martin Eden

Author/Editor: Jack London

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As a kid, Jack London was one of my favorite authors. I loved all the adventure stories he told. I read Martin Eden while in my teens. It was a bit more of an “adult-themed” story than I was used to from London, and contained some of the kind of political overtones social class themes that he was well-known for.


Author/Editor: H. G. Wells

Find it in Collins Library!

In this social novel written toward the end of the Edwardian era, a British man from the lower class works with his uncle to advertise and sell “Tono-Bungay”—in reality, a useless medicine—to the masses.  He and his family achieve great commercial success, but at what cost to their emotional and relational lives? H.G. Wells considered this work his “finest and most finished novel.”