Invitation to join: SPUG

January 1, 2010

On November 15, 1912, Mrs. August Wilson launched the Society for the Prevention of Useless Giving (SPUG) at an anniversary dinner for the Working Girls’ Vacation Fund. She encouraged all members to sport SPUG buttons through the Christmas season.

The Times printed the text of the SPUG membership card after Theodore Roosevelt enrolled in the populist cause in December:

Text of the membership card of the Society for the Prevention of Useless Giving, reprinted in the New York Times

More on the launch:


the Berlin Candy Bomber

December 3, 2009

I wish I knew why I find all things Cold War Americana so fascinating. At any rate, it’s a science and tech history extravaganza.

Operation Little Vittles” airdropped candy to children in West Berlin during the Berlin airlifts. The deliveries were the brainchild of Lt. Gail S. Halvorsen, who scattered candy tied to scraps of cloth and handkerchiefs. Nicknamed “Uncle Wiggly Wings2, the “Chocolate Flyer” and the “Berlin Candy Bomber” Halvorsen soon began receiving thousands of pounds of candy and handkerchiefs collected by American school children. By 1959, he’d sent out 250,000 parachuting sweets.

Also, fantastic NPR story goes back to Town Meeting of the Air archives on ‘single national health service.’

Better than yesterday

August 31, 2009

It has finally started cooling down in New York City, but to contribute some perspective on the past few weeks, you can look to the New York Times of July 1, 1901.

city a furnaceAfter exhaustively listing the hour by hour temperature changes and breezes throughout the day, the reporter notes that at least some improvement had been marked over the day before.noticeable

For other cheerful reading, I suggest perusing “The Streets of Midsummer” from July of 1852.

Aaron Burr, born in Newark, tied with Jefferson for the presidency in 1800, tried for treason, but best-known for shooting founding father, Alexander Hamilton in the Heights of Weehauken, New Jersey in a duel on July 11, 1804.  Burr wrote the letter reproduced here on July 14.


The Burr-Hamilton duel followed poorly received comments made at a dinner party–and of course published in the Albany Register as reported by an upcountry clergyman. More on the dueler’s pistols and intentions here.