Category Archives: 1910-1919

Year 23

1910: Encyclopaedia Britannica


Find it in Collins Library!

The 11th edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica is one of the best known, highest quality general encyclopedias ever published. It’s a little hard to imagine the significance this book set would have had from our vantage point of near-instant access to most general information and much specialist information, but it’s worth a try to get a sense of how important this type of work was.

This edition in particular is widely known because of the number of well-known scholars and thinkers who wrote articles, including Edmund Gosse (who you’ll see later in this blog series!), Algernon Charles Swinburne, John Muir, T.H. Huxley, Ernest Rutherford, and Bertrand Russell.

The  11th edition is very much a product of its time. For a window into the past, you can browse it in our collection, and online at Project Gutenberg Encyclopedia. Why the different name? Well, the 11th edition’s content is in the public domain, but the trademark of Britannica is still active; hence the name change when it went up online.

Year 24

1911: Woman’s Part in Government

Author/Editor: William Harvey Allen

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The suffrage movement was an important social issue in 1911, although women did not receive the vote universally in the United States until 1920.  This book, written by the Director of the Bureau of Municipal Research and National Training School for Public Service, indicates that, “it is not worth while discussing now what fraction of women want to vote.  Our task is as rapidly as possible to make all women capable of using the vote when they get it.”  In this same year, 1911, the National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage was organized, espousing the concern that woman suffrage would decrease women’s ability to effect social reforms.

The book is a fascinating look at citizenship and public perception.  It discusses budgets, graft, establishing libraries, inspecting payrolls, milk safety and presidential term limitations, among many other topics.

The Training School for Public Service was founded with a gift of $40,000 from Mrs. E.H. Harriman in the spring of 1911, who clearly believed the tenant in the outlined in the preface of the book, that “woman’s third part in government is that of direct, conscious influencer of public opinion and official action.”

Year 26

1913: Principia Mathematica

Author/Editor: Alfred North Whitehead & Bertrand Russell

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This book, by Alfred North Whitehead and Bertrand Russell, is one of the most important works in logic ever written. It attempted to show that all mathematics derives from logic.

The 3 volume masterwork used a notation that became hugely popular and led to the increased popularization of the field of mathematical logic and stimulated new investigations of connections between logic, metaphysics, and epistemology.

To find out more, check out the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy or the Principia Mathematic itself, either online or in our collection. Or, for an unconventional take on Russell’s work and life, try Logicomix.

Year 27

1914: Family Limitation

Author/Editor: Margaret Sanger

Find it online!

Margaret Sanger’s Family Limitation is a brief pamphlet that does just what it says on the packet—explain how to limit family size through birth control.  Controversial from its first writing, when opponents were troubled by the uncoupling of sex from reproduction (and perhaps by the discussion of sexuality at all) to the present, when Sanger’s views of eugenics and race trouble modern readers, Sanger’s work has had an undeniable impact on the 20th century. Besides reproductive health, Sanger’s other concern was free speech.

Family Limitation, then, is a particularly apt representation of that work as the brief, practical manual triggered 3 obscenity charges and a charge of “inciting murder and assassination”. Eventually the charges were dropped, but this was a first encounter with the courts. Sanger went on to face and foment several court cases, finally leading to one that rejected the Comstock law in 1936 and made it possible for doctors to supply birth control.

For any woman who has been able to control her own fertility, and any person who has benefited from that possibility for women, this is essential reading to see how the conversation around birth control has changed in the last century—and to see how some technologies remain essentially identical.

Year 28

1915: The Spell of Flanders

Author/Editor: Edward Neville Vose

Find it in Collins Library!

An outline of the history, legends and art of Belgium’s famous northern provinces, being the story of a twentieth century pilgrimage in a sixteenth century land just before the outbreak of the great war.

This first edition was published by the Page Co., in  Boston, 1918.The cover is what caught our eye has it has a gilt-stamped, colorful tableaux.  The original cost was $2.50 and this book was one in a series that focused on Europe.  According to the preface, this book is the record of a vacation tour in the beautiful Flemish towns of Northern Belgium being in May and ending in July.  The assassination of the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg at Sarajevo took place while the tour group was in Ghent and so this book profiles an era of civility and calm, prior to the devasations brought on by the Great War.

The book was reviewed in the New York Times on July 4, 1915,  and reference was made to the fact that this “modest” volume which started out as simply a travelogue, also serves to record art and architecture destroyed by the war.

Year 29

1916: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Author: James Joyce

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Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man was Joyce’s first novel, and chronicles the story of Stephen Dedalus’s awakening and development. This first novel was a place Joyce experimented with techniques he would bring to full fruition in Ulysses and Finnegan’s Wake. We’ve chosen it to mark 1916 because it is a in some ways a harbinger of things to come, and in all ways a fine work in itself.

Year 30

1917: Tacoma Washington, 1917. An epitome of its resources and its special attractions to tourists

Author/Editor: Tacoma Daily News

Find it in Collins Library!

Tacoma had an important role to play in 1917 when its lumber supplied shipyards and Camp Lewis was established (which later became Fort Lewis and then Joint Base Lewis McChord).  Clearly proud of its accomplishments, the City wanted to promote itself as a destination for the discerning traveler.

This volume is ripe with pictures of old Tacoma.  It includes pictures of the College of Puget Sound in its previous location, architectural gems still visible in the city, and illustration of industries of the time.  It refers to Mount Rainier as Mount Tacoma,

The book refers to Mount Rainier as Mount Tacoma, which illustrates a controversy over the name of the mountain, even though the United States Board on Geographic Names officially approved the name “Rainier” in 1890. As might be expected, the city of Tacoma was a proponent of the Mt. Tacoma version.

Year 31

1918: The Elements of Style

Author/Editor: William Strunk & E. B. White

Find it in Collins Library!

Strunk & White’s Elements of Style was written in 1918 for in-house use at Cornell, where E.B. White encountered it in composition class the following year. Years later, in 1957, White revised it for MacMillan, which created the now-iconic Strunk & White. Since 1957, many students have found themselves assigned the little book.

The little book was my introduction to the idea that there is such a thing as writing style. While I can’t claim to follow all the elements of style, I can claim to aspire to them. I’m always reminded of Strunk & White when I revise what I’ve written and am pained to omit needless words. In this paragraph, for example, I’ve only managed to dispose of four, but that’s four better than it might have been.

The Elements of Style has been criticized as excessively prescriptive and sometimes lacking in grammatical foundation. These are fair criticisms, but I think it has a lasting impact because, as Strunk noticed,

“the best writers sometimes disregard the rules of rhetoric. When they do so, however, the reader will usually find in that sentence some compensating merit, attained at the cost of the violation.”

When we know the rules, we can deploy them strategically.

Year 32

1919: The Anti-Slavery Crusade

Author/Editor: Jesse Macy

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Jesse Macy (June 21, 1842 – November 2, 1919) was an political scientist and historian. The Anti-Slavery Crusade is part of a series of fifty volumes called the Chronicles of America (available freely online).  Originally printed in 1918, the volumes were written by historians of the time about various aspects of American History. Since the copyright has expired, some of the volumes are freely available in electronic form. In 1923, Yale decided to create a series of films based on the books. Fifteen films were ultimately produced.