11 Reasons Why You Should Read “Over The Top” for Armistice Day


This year for Armistice Day,

why not read a WWI memoir

by a real war hero?


Empey snip book
The man himself!

Arthur Guy Empey was an American soldier who served in the British Army during World War I and wrote a best-selling memoir about his experiences. Over The Top sold over a quarter million copies upon its release in 1917 and went on to top bestseller lists for the rest of the war years. It did so well, in fact, that not only did Empey’s book become one of the best war memoirs of its time, but it spawned a multitude of further careers for Empey as a lecturer, author, actor, director, songwriter and film producer.

empey book 1 actual fighting
Book ad for “Over the Top” from the Chicago Tribune, with review quote emphasizing how Empey’s book covers “actual fighting.”
empey book 2 WENT
Book ad for “Over the Top” from the Chicago Tribune, with a reviewer saying the book is great for new soldiers and “their folks.”
empey book 3 dunno
The reviewer in this book ad says Empey’s book is “simple and unpretentious.”


While largely forgotten today, Empey’s book was considered one of the “best remembered of World War I books” as recently as 1945, and there is still much to recommend it as both a good read and for its unique insight into the war experience of the common solider. If you’re looking to do historical research on soldier’s daily life during WWI, Empey’s book is an excellent and entertaining place to start.


Here are ELEVEN reasons why you should read Guy Empey’s Over the Top on Armistice Day:


It was written on “the bleeding edge” of history,

which is rare for most war memoirs

Unlike most WWI memoirs, Over the Top was written—and published—during the Great War itself. This explains why many of the place names are redacted, why it offers some unique insights into America’s reaction to the early parts of the war. It’s unusual among war memoirs, as well, since most of them are written well after the war is over. Empey was in a unique position, however, to do what he did. Like many other Americans at the time, Empey was extremely angry when the Germans sunk the passenger liner RMS Lusitania in 1915. Unlike them, though, he was so mad that he chose to go to London and sign up with the British, rather than wait for America to join the war itself. England was in such dire need that they took him on without complaint, and he went on to serve honorably as an infantry man, a machine gunner, and a bomber, receiving medals for valor in battle until he was discharged due to war wounds. When he was forced to leave the service, Empey dedicated the rest of his wartime efforts to drumming up American support for the war while the war was still being fought.



Despite serving in the British Army,

Empey’s book was used as American war propaganda

After his distinguished service in the British Army, the U.S. War Department ended up using Empey’s popular book to encourage Americans to join the Army, buy Liberty Bonds, and stir up general enthusiasm for going to war. Empey was a terrific speaker with a forceful personality, and his honest, direct talk about the war both encouraged men to fight without sugarcoating the whole experience, making him a boon to recruitment and the war effort in general. Empey was happy to participate in this way, as he wrote in Over the Top that he hoped his book would “bring Tommy Atkins” (the slang name for a Tommy, or a common British solider) “closer to the doorstep of Uncle Sam,” and that “Uncle Sam” and “John Bull,” the personification of England, would help one another with the war going forward. As N. P. Dawson notes in “The Good Soldier”: a Selection of Soldiers’ Letters, 1914-1918, Empey’s book was many Americans’ first initiation into the war, and as such he was personally responsible “for a lot of Americans taking a chance at it, and going ‘over the top,’ if not actually, at least with their money and flaming sympathies.”



Empey himself was a compelling speaker whose “magnetic” presence

and down-to-earth nature added to the weight of his words

Fanny Butcher, a Tribune book reviewer, seemed to adore Empey as well as his book. They felt his book was “such a downright unembellished record, so truly simple and honest, that I wondered whether the man who wrote it was an artist great enough to tell only the truth or a simple hearted person who sees only the facts of life…a good soldier who by accident had written a big book.”1 When they finally meet him in person, they describe an approachable, down-to-earth everyman—one who might be moreso than the  common soldier, if this writer’s description is any indication:

“When I talked to him I realized that I had been right…he is that composite of artist and matter of fact, everyday person…he is an artist in life…You know that he’d be cheerful and slangy and swear if he wants to and smoke a lot of cigarettes and be forceful and have square, stubby hands and not be moony and sentimental about being shot or complain about the rain or night sentry duty. You know that he wouldn’t talk about his wounds or have a bracelet made for his wife of pieces of shrapnel that they took from his body (that seems to be a favorite gift with the returning soldier). You know that he’d be common, in the nice sense of the word. But what you wouldn’t know until you talked to him is that he is gentle and fine and idealistic underneath all that matter-of-factness.”2

Empey was also a “surprisingly riveting speaker,” according to Ron Soodalter at Historynet.com, with “a trick of standing with one foot on the seat of a chair in the middle of a stage, as if he were on the edge of a frontline trench, while he described combat to his listeners. The jagged red scar on his cheek, faint but still perceptible, was evidence of what he had experienced.” A Tribune review of one of Empey’s wartime lectures backs this up, citing not only his performance but the enthusiasm he was capable of drumming up for the war itself:

“A lusty young joker is Empey. Also a mimic. Also a spellbinder and a tip-top showman, stage managing himself with consummate skill. His table and chairs become a trench, his swagger stick now a rifle, now a bayonet. While his uniform, his bomb, his gas mask, and his trench slang are realities, he takes off Tommy and Sandy and Pat with the precision of a finished actor. The audience roars. It cheers. It rocks the house. It has the time of its life….It is the enthusiasm for the war. A lot of sound gospel comes out of Empey’s talk, and every word of that gospel brings a thundering, tempestuous response…Crack the surface, as Empey does, and [war] enthusiasm flames up volcanic. It is tremendous. If ever there was a popular war, a war understood, a war for which Americans cared, it is this war…”3



It’s darkly funny, mostly thanks to the bleak humor of English trench life

Empey’s memoir offers many moments of irreverent black humor, something British troops excelled at while stuck in the trenches. Take, for example, his description of “trench pudding,” a “delicacy” that Tommies sometimes made out of desperation:

is made from broken biscuits, condensed milk, jam—a little water added, slightly flavored with mud—put into a canteen and cooked…this mess is stirred up in a tin and allowed to simmer over the flames…until Tommy decides that it has reached a sufficient (glue-like) consistency…after it has cooled off he tries to eat it. Generally one or two Tommies in a section have cast-iron stomachs and the tin is soon emptied. Once I tasted trench pudding, but only once.”

Somewhat gruesomely, dead bodies were also a source of humor for bored battle-hardened troops. When Empey served as part of a machine gunner group, they took over part of a German trench for their gun and used “a black leather boot”—the foot of a dead German—as a place to hang ammunition. When they lost the foot in a blast of artillery, Empey said he “missed that foot dreadfully…as if I had suddenly lost a chum.” His gunner crew also regularly talked to the corpses sticking up on their side of the line. But this kind of behavior was par for the course: “to civilians this must seem dreadful, but out here, one gets so used to awful sights, that it makes no impression. In passing a butcher shop, you are not shocked by seeing a dead turkey hanging from a hook, well, in France, a dead body is looked upon from the same angle.” Empey also took pains to describe many aspects of daily life for soldiers, some of which were inadvertently funny and sad, such as how soldiers from all ranks would go on a “shirt hunt” together looking for that elusive yet ever-present trench friend, the “cootie,” also known as lice: “It is a common sight to see eight or ten soldiers sitting under a tree with their shirts over their knees…at night…you can see the Tommies grouped around a candle, trying, in its dim light, to rid their underwear of the vermin.”



It’s actually a rather emotional memoir given the time period

During a time when men were taught to limit their expressions of feelings, Empey’s book was notable in that he admitted to being deeply affected by the horrors he saw on the battlefield. He also vividly describes his first time going “over the top” in Chapter 11, admitting that he was “sick and faint” at the idea of going up “the Ladders of Death” and into the fray.

This type of direct, emotional language was uncommon at the time even for Americans. According to Doyle and Walker, authors of Trench Talk, it was much more common—particularly for the British soldiers Empey served with—to dance around such topics, and much of the trench slang that Tommies and Doughboys used obliquely references “death, fear and having to attack,” creating many words to describe such things rather than referring to them directly, almost as if “the breakdown of language to adequately describe the physicality of the killing of so many thousands of young men is to be compensated for by a wealth of language for everything surrounding it.”4 In contrast, Empey’s direct language was fresh and bracing at the time, and reviewers claimed it was one of the best parts of his book.



He describes the violence of war without glorifying it

Empey was ahead of his time in being realistic about the physical costs and horrors of war as well. While he doesn’t skimp on the gory details, he doesn’t glorify the violence, either. His book is full of simple, to the point descriptions like this one: “I rubbed the mud from my face, and an awful sight met my gaze—his head was smashed to a pulp, and his steel helmet was full of brains and blood.” He pulls no punches when he describes the odor of the dead bodies that littered the battlefield, either:

the odor from a dug-up, decomposed human body has an effect which is hard to describe. It first produces a nauseating feeling, which, especially after eating, causes vomiting. This relives you temporarily, but soon a weakening sensation follows, which leaves you limp as a dish-rag. Your spirits are at their lowest ebb and you feel a sort of hopeless helplessness and a mad desire to escape it all, to get to the open fields and the perfume of the flowers in Blighty. There is a sharp, prickling sensation in the nostrils, which reminds one of breathing coal gas through a radiator in the floor, and you want to sneeze, but cannot. This was the effect on me, surmounted by the vague horror of the awfulness of the thing and an ever-recurring reflection that, perhaps I, sooner or later, would be in such a state and be brought to light by the blow of a pick in the hands of some Tommy on a digging party.”

These descriptions would have been a helpful preview for potential soldiers, even if they paled in the face of reality.



It has some ridiculous stories

One in particular that was often cited by reviewers: a cowardly soldier named “Lloyd” saves his entire troop at the last minute through a dramatic act of suicidal bravery with a machine gun nest. Empey insisted to reviewers and lecture attendees that the story was true, despite how fantastical it might sound. He said he knew the man named Lloyd, that “the psychology of the coward was true as I wrote it,” and that he did in fact die within the time period he gave, for “they found him with the blood still running from his wounds, and blood hardens on wounds almost immediately.”5 Whether true or not, though, it’s a really fun story, and you can find the beginning here—it’s long, but worth it! 🙂



There’s a movie!

Empey over the top movie
The Vitagraph movie poster for Over the Top (1918)

Empey’s book and lecture circuit were so popular during the war that Over the Top (1918) was eventually turned into a movie by the same name thanks to the good folks at Vitagraph Studios, starring and directed by Empey himself. While Empey wasn’t a film professional by any means, critics praised both the film and his acting. One Tribune reviewer found that Empey’s performance “[rang] true from start to finish,” with “no four-flush nor any suggestion of braggadocio” that one might expect from an amateur.6 None was needed, though, as his “face and body are scarred from the ravages of boche bullets” and “the man who has played a role in the world battle need never fear that he will not ‘get across’ on the screen.”7 Otherwise, the reviewer felt the movie had “punch, action, and a hero who is a real hero,” and audiences seemed to agree, as it performed very well at the box office.8 The movie rights were considered a real scoop for Vitagraph as well, since by that point Empey was highly sought after. By the time the contract was signed, according to Dramatic Mirror of Motion Pictures and The Stage, he’d sold over 250,000 copies of Over the Top in six months, spoke at packed lecture halls all over the country, and had sold over 1 million dollars worth of Liberty bonds thanks to his “magnetic personality.

Empey movie and lecture
This ad features both Empey’s lectures (top) and movie (bottom). Photo Source: Chicago Tribune Archives

The film did so well that Empey went on to found his own production company, called Guy Empey Pictures Corp. or Guy Empey Productions. He went on to write, direct, and star in a number of other silent films, including The Undercurrent (1919), a drama featuring the Red Scare and Oil (1920), a comedy about a cab driver. He also provided the story upon which Troopers Three (1930), a Pre-Code comedy about the U.S. Cavalry, was based. Starring Rex Lease, it’s available to watch for free on YouTube via Part I and Part II.

Unfortunately, Over the Top (1918) is one of the many silent films which has been lost to history, but there are a few stills floating around. This one comes from eBay and seems to show trench fighting:

This random still from Over the Top (1918) was recently sold on eBay.

There’s also a nice film still over at Historynet. Looks to me like Empey himself is on the left:

This film still from “Over the Top” comes from Historynet. 



The WWI slang is terrific!

Empey’s memoir is peppered throughout with actual trench lingo, most of which he forces the reader to learn via context, rather than explain it as he goes. For those who don’t want to figure it out themselves, though, there’s a small dictionary in the back of the book, called Tommy’s Dictionary of the Trenches, which was published separately as well. The slang, as one reviewer puts it, makes it feel even more real: “it’s slangy and frank and doesn’t pretend to be a piece of literature, just a record of one man’s life in the trenches…a man who never says die nor gets sentimental nor forgets his personal and private cuss words.”9 As Emily Brewer points out in Tommy, Doughboy, Fritz, trench slang was a coping mechanism which allowed soldiers to trivialize “the horror witnessed on a daily basis” that was “necessary for maintaining morale,” and helped them describe new weapons and experiences, such as new kinds of artillery fire.10 It also allowed soldiers to bond as a group: they were “proud of their secret language…[which] set them apart from civilians–they had seen and lived through things that those back home could not possibly hope to comprehend.”11



He wrote a sequel!

Empey first call and over the top ad

First Call: Guideposts to Berlin (G. P. Putnam & Sons, 1918) , which Empey described as a sort of guidebook for “telling the solider what he’s up against, what to do when he finds himself wounded and lying in no man’s land, how to ask for bread” and so on, was seen as a practical sequel to Over The Top.12 Full of “pages rich with information” where “the dullest facts take on color,” it includes tons of interesting tidbits, such as the fact that “a commonly used method of conveying information by airplanes is by bursts of fire from the machine gun” via Morse code.13 It even includes a small English-to-German dictionary in the back, with fun phrases like “if you attempt to run away, I will shoot you.” So, if you’re looking for another excellent window into daily life for American Doughboys, First Call is worth checking out as well.



Empey established a fascist paramilitary group called the Hollywood Hussars

Empey’s life took some strange turns as his fame and his Hollywood career faded during the late 1920s. After writing wartime sheet music during the height of his fame with such catchy titles as “Your Lips are No Man’s Land but Mine” and “Liberty Statue is Looking Right At You,” Empey turned to writing war stories for pulp magazines, including sci-fi, churning out at least 30 during his lifetime.14 After 1930 or so, though, it seems the last notable thing he did was found—I kid you not—an anti-Communist paramilitary cavalry militia called the Hollywood Hussars, which contained folks like Gary Cooper! William Randolph Hearst later insisted that he approached Gary Cooper to start the group with other “he-man film actors” and they were meant to “advertise the charms of a fascist organization to the American public,” while outwardly declaring themselves to be “uphold[ing] and protect[ing] the the principles and ideals of true Americanism.” Either way, it’s a rather strange end to the meteoric rise and fall of Empey’s career.



Where can I read Over the Top? You can purchase the book on Amazon here, but why do that when you can read it for FREE here at HathiTrust Digital Library?

Where can I read First Call? The full text of Empey’s “sequel” can be found here at Hathitrust Digital Library as well, or get a 2010 reprint here at Amazon.

Where can I read more about Empey? This article over at HistoryNet is pretty good, and it has way more pictures than my post, plus some information not mentioned here.



Works Cited (any item that has been hyper-linked will not be cited here):
1 Butcher, Fanny. “TABLOID BOOK REVIEW.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Jul 29, 1917. https://www.proquest.com/historical-newspapers/tabloid-book-review/docview/174267663/se-2?accountid=3688
2 Ibid.
3 “EMPEY’S AUDIENCE.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Oct 13, 1917. https://www.proquest.com/historical-newspapers/empeys-audience/docview/174277273/se-2?accountid=3688
4 Doyle, Peter, and Julian Walker. 2012. Trench talk: words of the First World War. Stroud, Gloucestershire: The History Press. P 8-9.
5 Butcher, Fanny. “TABLOID BOOK REVIEW.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Jul 29, 1917. 
6 Tinee, Mae. “Real Punch in “Over the Top” by Guy Empey.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), May 27, 1918. https://www.proquest.com/historical-newspapers/real-punch-over-top-guy-empey/docview/174348163/se-2?accountid=3688
7 Ibid.
8 Ibid.
9 Butcher, Fanny. “TABLOID BOOK REVIEW.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Jul 29, 1917. 
10 Brewer, Emily. 2014. Tommy, Doughboy, Fritz: soldier slang of World War I. Stroud: Amberley.
11 Ibid.
12 Butcher, Fanny. “TABLOID BOOK REVIEW.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Jul 29, 1917. 
13 Butcher, Fanny. “Arthur Empey’s New War Book; Gossip.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Mar 02, 1918. https://www.proquest.com/historical-newspapers/arthur-empeys-new-war-book-gossip/docview/174302073/se-2?accountid=3688
14“Obituary 3 — no Title.” Chicago Tribune (1963-1996), Feb 26, 1963. https://www.proquest.com/historical-newspapers/obituary-3-no-title/docview/182617000/se-2?accountid=3688
Image Citations (linked items will not be listed):
Photo of Arthur Guy Empey: Empey, Arthur Guy. Over the Top. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1917.
Series of Empey Book Ads: “Display Ad 5 — no Title.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Jul 07, 1917. https://www.proquest.com/historical-newspapers/display-ad-5-no-title/docview/174236798/se-2?accountid=3688
First Call Ad: “Display Ad 9 — no Title.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Mar 02, 1918. https://www.proquest.com/historical-newspapers/display-ad-9-no-title/docview/174360710/se-2?accountid=3688
Empey Movie and Lecture Ad: “Display Ad 9 — no Title.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Jun 25, 1918. https://www.proquest.com/historical-newspapers/display-ad-9-no-title/docview/174368956/se-2?accountid=3688
Posted in book reviews, primary source review, resource spotlight, WWI | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Pieces of Al: Capone Memorabilia Up for Auction This October While Florida Home May Get Torn Down

Various photos available for sale at the Capone estate auction.

Al Capone’s been going to pieces lately

In Sacramento, California, Capone’s granddaughters have announced they are selling off many of their grandfather’s personal items from his Florida home at 93 Palm Beach in Miami Beach, in part due to fears of encroaching California wildfires.

Diane Capone, one of Capone’s three granddaughters, lives in Auburn, CA, which is currently near one of the major wildfires devastating California. A fire in Diane’s home would put a majority of the collection at risk, so Diane and her sisters decided it was time to sell. “It was a tremendous relief for the memorabilia to be removed because there’s no way we could save it…all,” Diane told The Washington Post. The fires are so bad this year that they can smell smoke from their porch. “This is the second summer we’ve had our suitcases packed in case we were going to be evacuated, and we knew there was no way we could save these things that belonged to our grandparents.” Something, then, had to be done with the memorabilia fast. Besides the fires, the sisters aren’t getting any younger, either. Diane, the oldest, is 77, and the three of them wanted to make sure they could still provide the proper context and stories for each item before they’re turned over to collectors and museums.

Diane Capone holds a copy of a photograph of her father, Albert “Sonny” Capone as a young boy and her grandfather Al Capone, one of the many items up for auction. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

The auction will be held by Witherell’s, a respected Sacramento auction house. Brian Withrell, the house’s director, is a frequent appraiser on PBS’ Antiques Roadshow. According to him, Al’s memorabilia will be the largest auction of Al’s personal item ever, as well as one of the largest mob-related auctions in general. The last auction of Al’s stuff was in 1992. The auction will be held LIVE online by Withrell’s on October 8th, 2021, so anyone with an internet connection can attend.

According to the Chicago Tribune, starting bids on items range from as low as $100 to as high as $50,000—so if you have at least one hundred dollars, you too could own a piece of Al! Personally, that seems surprisingly affordable for a major auction like this.


The auction, which is entitled “A Century of Notoriety: The Estate of Al Capone,” features around 174 items that relate to Capone’s life, most of which are from the late 1920s. Here are a few of the collection’s most interesting highlights:

Al Capone’s “favorite gun,” known as “Sweetheart,” which Diane claims was only used by Al in self-defense.

“Sweetheart,” supposedly Al’s “favorite gun,” was used “only used in self-defense,” Diane claims—if it was ever used at all. Either way, the starting bid is $50,000.

This monogramed watch is one of the many diamond-studded items up for auction.

A diamond encrusted monogramed watch, with an estimated worth of $25,000-$50,000. The auction features many other diamond encrusted items as well, all marked with the initials “AC”, including a pocket knife, a match holder, a belt buckle, and many more. These kind of extravagant items help prove that rather than sock his money away as some legends claim, Al liked to spend his money, and spend big—an aspect of his life that was heavily evidenced at his trial as well.

This hand colored and gilt framed photo of Al with his only child, Sonny, helps to show Al’s softer side.

Various family photos, including this framed photo of Al with his only child, Sonny, are a large part of the auction as well, and help to show a softer side of Al—the devoted, loving man that his family knew and loved.

A handwritten letter from Al to his son, Sonny, while he was in Alcatraz.

A personal letter from Al to his son Sonny is particularly insightful. “Over and over and over again, he refers to my dad as ‘son of my heart’ and that’s not the language or the words of a man who is hard-hearted,” Diane Capone told CBS News. “Those are the words of a man that is a very devoted father and that is the part of the story that we wanted to tell.”

This odd German/Swiss humidifier set (for storing and smoking cigars in style) is one of the odder pieces up for auction.

While the majority of items are expected to go to private collectors, museums may bid as well. Currently one of the most famous Al-related item which can be seen in a museum is the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre brick wall at the Las Vegas Mob Museum. The Chicago History Museum can’t afford to bid, but it’s hopeful that any collectors who purchase these items might donate them to the museum. “We do have people who who step forward and acquire material like this and then donate it to the museum because they know that what should happen to important historic local artifacts is they should end up in a public institution so people can have access to them,” said John Russick, senior VP of the Chicago History museum. Personally, I hope someone does, as it’s surprising to think that they don’t have a personal item of Al’s, seeing how important he is to Chicago’s Prohibition history.


Capone with his three granddaughters, one of whom is Diane Capone.

While the flashy diamond-encrusted items and guns represent Al’s larger-than-life public persona, it’s the multitude of family photos up for auction which his granddaughters hope will display a very different side of Al—the one they hope more people will keep in mind when they discuss their grandfather.

Diane, who can still remember her grandfather, recalls a generous and caring man who loved his family very deeply. She recalls him reading to her, playing with her, and taking her on walks in her grandmother’s garden when she was a toddler, holding onto his finger with her tiny hand. The strongest memory she has of Al, however, is when he died: “The day that he died we were taken, my older sister and me, upstairs to his bedroom and my father lifted us up to the bed so we could kiss him. I remember Papa looking at me and he just said, ‘I love you, baby girl.’ That is a memory that has been with me since I was 3 years old and I will never forget it as long as I live.”

The contradiction between these two sides of Al—the flamboyant kingpin who oversaw a blood-soaked Chicago crime syndicate and the loving family man—is something his descendants still contend with today. In her memoir Uncle Al Capone: The Untold Story From Inside His Family, Dierdre Mae Capone, granddaughter of Ralph Capone and Al’s grand niece, describes in vivid detail how Al’s legacy affected her and her family, from other children shunning her in childhood for being a “mobster’s daughter” to Chicago employers firing her as soon as they discovered her heritage—and she also tries to reconcile the loving family man she knew with the legendary criminal. Diane felt this legacy as well, as did her father, Sonny Capone, Al’s only child. In an interview with Yahoo! News, Diane says her father “gave us little suits of armor so we were able to handle” the insults and misconceptions which came from being part of the “tremendous chasm” between Al’s public and private lives. As she told The Washington Post, “how is it possible that a man who was so loving and so generous and so devoted could have been capable of some of these things that were alleged? I don’t know how to reconcile it, but I suppose I’ll have to wait until get to heaven, and I can find out then.”

In response to her experiences, and to correct what she saw as the “grossly inaccurate” picture most people have of her grandparents, Diane wrote Al Capone: Stories My Grandmother Told Me. In a similar vein to Dierdre’s memoir, it contains many personal family stories about Al, particularly those relayed by Mae Capone, Al’s wife. Diane is working on a second book as well, called The Capone Girls, which explains what happened to the family after Al died and how his legacy affected them. Both authors hope their books, just like the collection their family is now sharing with the world, will show people the softer, human side of Big Al.

Want more photo’s of Al’s stuff? Try this Chicago Sun Times article, this Chicago Tribune article, or visit the online auction itself at Witherell’s website. And if you’re thinking of buying a piece of Al for yourself, you may want to consult the memorabilia buying guide at My Al Capone Museum. The owner of the site is a collector and has a lot of advice for those looking to buy, especially regarding fakes/questionable items. Witherell’s, however, has taken great pains to make sure the provenance of their items in this auction are unimpeachable, and have included signed statements from Capone’s granddaughters with each item, so there’s no need to worry about their authenticity.


Unfortunately, just as his legacy is being cast in a different light, Al’s historic Florida residence may be about to disappear.

Al Capone’s Florida home at 93 Palm Avenue in Miami Beach, where he lived and eventually died in 1947, had been on the market for quite a while until this summer, when it was purchased for $10.57 million by a pair of developers. New owners Todd Glaser and Nelson Gonzalez plan to demolish it to make way for a “two-story modern spec home with 8 bedrooms, 8 bathrooms, a Jacuzzi, spa and more.” They then plan to resell the property once the new house is built for $45 million.

A shot of Al’s home at 93 Palm Beach, Miami Beach, FL

The current property is “a piece of crap,” says owner/developer Todd Glaser, and “a disgrace to Miami Beach”—partially due to the fact that it has “flood damage and standing water,” but mostly thanks to Al’s notorious reputation. Glaser says Al’s connection to Miami Beach is “not something to celebrate”, putting Glaser in line with how many Chicagoans have felt about the possibility of Capone’s Chicago home being turned into a museum. He considers it akin to preserving “Confederate statutes,” and that it would become a “divisive symbol” for the community. He also thinks it’s not worth saving due to it’s age: “it’s not worthy of being saved because it’s lived its life. The house is 100 years old,” he told The New York Times. The home was restored to its former glory, however, in 2014 by architecture firm MB America, and as these pictures attest, it doesn’t look as if it’s deteriorated too much in that time.

Here are some pictures of the house. Does this look like a “piece of crap” to you, dear readers? 😉

Al’s “piece of crap” home features this elegant pool, which he had installed during his residency.
Diane Capone can recall many hours sitting on these porches with her grandmother Mae Capone.

The city of Miami Beach, however, may feel differently. The city is currently toying with idea of giving it a historic designation, and local historians are all for it. “[Al] wasn’t a saint by any means…but, at the same time, we think his home is a part of the history of our city: the good, the bad and the ugly. And we don’t think it should be torn down and replaced with a McMansion.” Quote from Daniel Ciraldo, director of the Miami Design Preservation League, a non-profit devoted to preserving significant structures in the city. And Capone’s story isn’t the only one his home is telling, says Ciraldo. It also displays “the pioneering spirit of the early developers and the citizens of this town.” “Do we just want this story to be just in a book on the shelf, or do we want to preserve this living, breathing structure that connects us to so many parts of our history?” Ciraldo asked in an interview with the Miami New Times.

Glaser has offered to sell the place as-is for $16.9 million, extensive water damage included, but it’s unlikely that non-profits like Miami Design will be able to produce that much to purchase the home, much less repair it to the point of becoming a historic site or museum.

Oh yes, “piece of crap” is definitely how I’d describe this place :p. These photos are from a 2019 Elle Decor article, back when the property was still on the market.

A public meeting with Miami Beach Historic Preservation Board supposedly occurred on September 15th, 2021 which allowed local residents to voice their opinions, but I have been unable to find the results of this meeting. Prior to the meeting, the Board seemed to consider the home worthy of preserving thanks to meeting “multiple criteria” for preservation, three of which at least must be met in order for it to be considered for preservation. To begin with, 93 Palm “embodies the distinctive characteristics of the historical period,” such as the Spanish stucco and arches and the Art Deco interiors. It also is associated “with events that have made a significant contribution to the history of the city, the county, state or nation.” Al’s house was well-known during his life, and even his naysayers must admit that he was an important part of Prohibition history, and had an impact on Miami’s criminal history as well during his residence. Al’s fame also guarantees the last criterion, an “association with the lives of persons significant in the city’s past history.” While Al wasn’t part of Miami’s history for his whole life, he certainly made an impact, and the rest of the country was well aware of his residence there, and how he managed to control his Chicago empire even from sunny Florida. As the Miami Herald argues, Al is indeed emblematic of the gambling, booze-soaked Miami Beach history during the 1920s, “a bloody, greedy era” which exists whether Floridians want to acknowledge it or not.

As a result, the Board feels the demolition of the home would be “a substantial loss to the social, cultural and environmental heritage of our community,” and may designate it as a place of historic interest. If they do, that may make it harder for the developers to go ahead with their plans to bulldoze. If you’re interested in adding your voice to this issue but don’t live in Florida, there is an online petition at Change.org which you can sign.

Glaser currently claims he has “tremendous” local support for not preserving Al’s home, saying that it does not “deserve remembrance,” and that he is afraid—along with many of the neighboring residents which he’s talked to—that if preserved, the home will turn into some kind of “godawful tourist trap.” Local residents during the 1920s, 30s, and 40s would have agreed: none of them wanted Al living near them, either.

Florida was Capone’s last stop on his nationwide tour for a new home. The city was one of many he’d perused after declaring to reporters in 1927 that he planned to “abandon…the bootlegger’s trade…[and] abandon…Chicago,” claiming he was “sick of the job” and wanted out of the business entirely (Bergreen, 261-262). Al’s sudden need to get out of the trade probably wasn’t helped by the fact that police chief O’Connor had declared he would arrest him the second he stepped foot back in Chicago. Unfortunately for Al, the local police were waiting for him everywhere he went. Los Angeles’ chief of police James E. Davis told him that he was “not wanted here” and gave him twelve hours to leave the city (265). In Joliet, IL, he was met by “six policemen fixing him in the sights of their shotguns” (Ibid).

By January 1928, though, he’d set his sights on Miami and was determined not to be run out of town. To that effect, then, he went straight to Leslie Quigg, Miami’s chief of police: “Let’s lay the cards on the table. You know who I am and where I come from. I just want to ask a question. Do I stay or must I get out?” He had already been “hounded,” he said, “when somebody heard I was in town. All I have to say is that I’m orderly. Talk about Chicago gang stuff is just bunk.” Declaring that “I am going to build or buy a home here and I hope many of my friends will join me…I will even join your rotary club,” Al dug in his heels and asked around about property (265). He was immediately swarmed with offers—the Miami real estate boom didn’t care who he was—but the city’s elected officials pushed back, declaring they’d never allow it (Ibid). Eventually, Capone had a sit-down with them and said he wasn’t leaving, so Miami mayor J. Newton Lummis convinced Capone to get a home in nearby Miami Beach instead—and he agreed to help him (269). Apparently, Lummis figured that if Al was buying real estate, he should be the one to help facilitate it, especially if he got a cut of the sale, so he had his son, Parker Henderson, buy the property using Al’s money, then transfer the property deed to Mae, Al’s wife. That way, there was supposedly no paper trail leading to Al. Henderson was young, impressionable man who was attracted to the gangster life, and he was thrilled when Al gave him a diamond studded belt buckle and was equally happy to help him purchase a home (271).

Al found the home ideal for his purposes, as it was easily defended thanks to its island location while still having a strong “millionaire” (271). Capone’s home was fortified with cars full of guards, high walls, lots of flat ground with no trees or cover for enemies to hide in, and “every precaution taken to see that the gang chieftain can enjoy himself in safety” and “luxurious comfort.” Aside from adding the 30 x 60 foot pool, a rock fish pond full of tropical fish, a pool cabana, an extra dock, and thicker concrete walls, Capone also built a gatehouse with a telephone to screen visitors. The fact that the home had been previously owned by another fellow who’d made his fortune in liquor may have made it attractive to Capone as well. Originally built for Clarence M. Busch of Anheauser-Busch fame in 1922 by architect W. F. Brown, the home already had an association with the liquor trade.

His neighbors, though, didn’t appreciate Capone’s guards. Nearby homeowners complained that they regularly saw “men walking around the Capone grounds with pistols in their pockets or strapped to their hips,” that he harbored “dangerous” people from Chicago, and that they didn’t “want to live…among gangsters.” Al was often forced to beef up his security, however, especially when things got hot in Chicago. Al was in Florida when the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre went down, and after that, his crime life and family life started to intersect to the point where he “created a spectacle everywhere he went,” whether he wanted to or not (287).

Initially, such complaints about Al fell on deaf ears. During the 1920s, Miami Beach was still developing as a community, and after the real estate boom fizzled out, it desperately needed “support from men with deep pockets” (270). Locals couldn’t afford to be choosy about who moved in, much less who wanted to be a part of the local social scene, as at that time society was “whatever people said it was”—so Capone couldn’t be fully excluded no matter what (Ibid).

Sources conflict, however, on just how much Al wanted to be a part of that society.

Laurence Bergreen, author of Capone: The Man and the Era, insists that both Mae and Al desperately wanted social acceptance from their fellow Miamians. Mae decorated the Palm home “with a vengeance,” going on a “furious spending spree” which favored French styles and lots of silver and gold, items Bergreen called “devoid of taste, reeking of money…the kind of opulent décor that the wife of any newly rich magnate might be expected to purchase,” with the ultimate hope to ingratiate them into the local social scene: “to the extent that respectability could be bought, Mae did so” (283). Mae also tried to actively manage their public image, says Bergreen. She was known for being overly generous when she was afraid she’d offended someone, and once paid a neighbor with a $1000 bill for a $500 long distance telephone bill (284). The Capones never got the social acceptance they craved, though, because Al’s “career as a racketeer made ordinary human relationships all but impossible” no matter how much money he threw around (288).

Author Johnathan Eig disagrees, however. “He and Mae did not try to become part of the upper crust,” says Eig in Get Capone (Eig, 134). It was “a sign of Capone’s humble roots that he…didn’t imagine that he belonged, suddenly, in high society,” and thus made no real attempt to enter it, instead using his giant patios and his pool to entertain visiting friends and associates from Chicago (Ibid). A 1929 Tribune article claims Capone was “a gracious and affable host, anxious only to please those who accepted his hospitality” and not a “troublesome neighbor,” whom many, “if they did not know him by reputation…would simply set him down as a quiet man with rather curious tastes” and a penchant for keeping guards around.

A handful of newspaper articles—plus some trial testimony—indicates that Al may have tried, at least initially, to horn his way into local social circles. In May 1930 Capone held a banquet for fifty hand-selected “prominent residents,” complete with “hand-graved invitations,” and designed to encourage “good-will” among the locals. When local residents later attempted to have Al’s home padlocked (more on that in a minute), many witnesses testified to attending lavish parties that he threw at his Palm Beach home. Another witness, R. R. Burdine, president of the largest department store in Miami, claimed that he’d been approached by Al’s men, who suggested he “sponsor” Al’s entry into Miami society by hosting a party where Al could meet the local elite. Though he admitted talking to Capone whenever he entered his store, Burdine didn’t agree to host the party, claiming that, “I knew I could not count Capone among my friends, who would not have stood for it. If I did I would be severely criticized,” and blamed for helping to foster elements in Miami Beach there were “dangerous to society.”

Whether Al wanted social acceptance or not, though, it was becoming increasing clear that Miami’s prominent citizens didn’t want him around. As soon as they found out he was moving in, prominent Floridians moved to stop him. “Al Capone must get out,” trumpeted a 1928 Chicago Tribune article writing from Miami Beach. “This was the ultimatum delivered to city and country law enforcement…by a delegation of Palm Island residents who said they would not countenance the Chicago gang leader as a resident of Palm Island. Spurred to action by reports that Capone had acquired an expensive home…which he was remodeling into a permanent Miami headquarters.” When their declaration didn’t work, locals decided they could get Al arrested on Volstead violations instead, and encouraged Miami police to raid his home. When Al went out of town in March of 1930, policemen raided his Florida estate and found “eight stacks of whiskey and champagne and other wines” in a locked room upstairs.

Merely finding liquor in one’s home wasn’t enough, of course, to violate the Volstead Act, so locals went on to sue Al and attempted to lock him out of his own home. Concerned citizens approached Miami state attorney Vernon Hawthorne, asking him to permanently padlock Al’s estate, claiming it was a “public nuisance” and “the scene of repeated liquor violations,” and attracted all manner of “law violators” and other undesirables. The trial that ensued led to a lot of testimony about boozy parties, local corruption, and citizen’s general anger at having their local community overrun with visiting gangsters. Burdine, the department store owner, apparently attended at least one of Al’s parties, where he claimed he saw “plenty of liquor.” “It was very nice,” he testified; “Some drank Scotch, but champagne was served continuously. I saw a sink literally loaded with champagne, and it looked very attractive.” Burdine went on to roundly condemn Al and his ilk: “He is what we call a gangster. I think he is dangerous to society and the world at large…a man who kills when it is necessary, who carries his point with whatever weapon is at hand, who takes the law into his own hands, has no respect for law or decent society, who makes his own laws. He thinks nothing of human life or its sanctity.”

Burdine neglected to mention, however, that the reason he was there was that he’d been asked to attend the party on behalf of Miami’s finance community to convince Al to donate a $1,000 check to the community chest, which he happily accepted—until irate local citizens forced him to return it. It was clear that Al had some fingers in local politics already—especially given his connection with the mayor—and on June 13th, the state suddenly dropped the case against Al, and Al’s lawyer had it successfully dismissed. After that, no further attempts were made to forcibly remove Al from Palm Beach, though locals continued to complain, and Al lived out the rest of his days there until his death in 1947.

Al’s Florida home was also part of his downfall. Al’s attempt to hide his paper trail through Henderson didn’t work as well as he thought, and the purchase of 92 Palm Beach became a key part of Al’s 1931 trial. The monetary transaction of $80,000 in Western Union money orders used to purchase the home was traced directly from his gang headquarters in Chicago to Miami. The funds were sent under the alias Albert Costa, and Henderson flipped testified to the whole scheme, and it became another piece of evidence in the trial, more proof of Al’s lavish, untaxed spending. Whether they could trace the money or not, though, the house itself “proved that he enjoyed substantial income” to the IRS (Bergreen, 272-273).

The home is still a source of pleasant memories for Al’s family. Diane Capone and her sisters can recall spending many lovely summer afternoons there in the late 1940s with their grandmother Mae, who continued to live there until 1952. Mae moved into the guest house permanently and left the rest of the house alone, save for the large patios, which were used for massive family dinners. She refused to sleep in the master bedroom. When asked why, Mae said “I had such happy times there with Papa and he’s not there any more and I don’t want to go into that room any more.” The scent of gardenias still immediately transports Diane back to the time she spent there with Mae. While the pending demolition isn’t exactly welcome, Diane knows she’ll never lose her family memories: “That beautiful place, that paradise, will always be there in my heart.”

In the end, Miami’s citizens never managed to successfully remove Al from Miami Beach, and it’s possible they won’t be able to do so again. Whatever happens, though, Big Al’s legend will live on in Florida’s history no matter what. Maybe they should just make peace with it this time around…


Interested in learning more about Al’s time in Miami? Try this four part series from the Miami History blog: part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4. Part 1 in particular includes more about 93 Palm Beach.


Works Cited:

Bergreen, Laurence. Capone: The man and the era. 1994. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster.

Eig, Jonathan. 2010. Get Capone: the secret plot that captured America’s most wanted gangster. New York: Simon & Schuster.

“AL CAPONE CALLS ON MIAMI CHIEF; FINDS SANCTUARY: CICERO CHIEF TIRED OF GANG TALK, HE SAYS.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963), Jan 11, 1928. https://www-proquest-com.glenviewpl.idm.oclc.org/historical-newspapers/al-capone-calls-on-miami-chief-finds-sanctuary/docview/180881198/se-2?accountid=3688

Kinsley, Philip. “EXPOSE CAPONE’S GOLD FLOW: HIGH SPENDING OF GANG CHIEF SHOWN IN COURT WIRING OF FUNDS TO FLORIDA TOLD. FLOW OF CAPONE RICHES TOLD AT TRIAL GOVERNMENT’S EVIDENCE REVEALS FLOW OF GOLD TO AL CAPONE AT MIAMI.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963), Oct 10, 1931. https://www-proquest-com.glenviewpl.idm.oclc.org/historical-newspapers/expose-capones-gold-flow/docview/181233252/se-2?accountid=3688

“Capone’s Fortified Florida Palace Awaits Chieftain: A Guarded Mansion.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963), Mar 16, 1930. https://www-proquest-com.glenviewpl.idm.oclc.org/historical-newspapers/capones-fortified-florida-palace-awaits-chieftain/docview/181050015/se-2?accountid=3688

“CAPONE ESTATE IS ARMED CAMP, WITNESS AVERS: FLORIDA SEEKS TO PADLOCK GANGSTER’S HOME.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963), Jun 12, 1930. https://www-proquest-com.glenviewpl.idm.oclc.org/historical-newspapers/capone-estate-is-armed-camp-witness-avers/docview/181140738/se-2?accountid=3688

“Capone Opens Florida Manor to the Gentry.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963), Feb 19, 1929. https://www-proquest-com.glenviewpl.idm.oclc.org/historical-newspapers/capone-opens-florida-manor-gentry/docview/180963030/se-2?accountid=3688

“DISMISS CAPONE CHARGE AGAINST MIAMI OFFICERS: GANG CHIEF PLANS SOCIAL DEBUT TONIGHT.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963), May 28, 1930. https://www-proquest-com.glenviewpl.idm.oclc.org/historical-newspapers/dismiss-capone-charge-against-miami-officers/docview/181108053/se-2?accountid=3688

“Capone Wine Wasted on Miami Society.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963), Jun 13, 1930. https://www-proquest-com.glenviewpl.idm.oclc.org/historical-newspapers/capone-wine-wasted-on-miami-society/docview/181139843/se-2?accountid=3688

“MIAMI NEIGHBORS ASK OFFICIALS TO DRIVE OUT CAPONE.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963), May 26, 1928. https://www-proquest-com.glenviewpl.idm.oclc.org/historical-newspapers/miami-neighbors-ask-officials-drive-out-capone/docview/180902677/se-2?accountid=3688

“FLORIDA RAIDS CAPONE’S RUM; SIX ARRESTED: GANG CHIEF’S WHEREABOUTS STILL A MYSTERY.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963), Mar 21, 1930. https://www-proquest-com.glenviewpl.idm.oclc.org/historical-newspapers/florida-raids-capones-rum-six-arrested/docview/181096074/se-2?accountid=3688

“FLORIDA SUES TO OUST CAPONE; FIGHT HIM HERE: CHICAGOANS ACT TO CURB HIS UNION POWER.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963), Apr 23, 1930. https://www-proquest-com.glenviewpl.idm.oclc.org/historical-newspapers/florida-sues-oust-capone-fight-him-here/docview/181091924/se-2?accountid=3688

“MIAMI TO KNOW TODAY IF CAPONE GOES OR STAYS: CITIZEN OR HOODLUM? COURT TO RULE.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963), Jun 14, 1930. https://www-proquest-com.glenviewpl.idm.oclc.org/historical-newspapers/miami-know-today-if-capone-goes-stays/docview/181112789/se-2?accountid=3688

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“A tremendous exhilaration”: Domestic American Nursing During the 1918 Spanish Flu

Nurses march in Chicago to encourage volunteers to work at local hospitals. Photo Source: Library of Congress

1918 was a harrowing and exciting time to be a nurse in America. Despite the massive casualties and suffering, many nurses saw the Spanish Flu as one of the most positive experiences of their lives, allowing them to reach new heights professionally, personally, and within society as a whole.

Thanks to the Great War, when the Spanish Flu reached American shores, there was a major shortage of trained nurses across the country. Due to this, the government forced to ask for volunteers. This ad from the Chicago Tribune is one example of many that could be found in newspapers everywhere:

Image Source: Chicago Tribune Archives

While this ad doesn’t appeal directly to women, the audience is assumed to be women during this time period. During the Progressive Era, just as the many decades before, women were seen as having innate “feminine traits of purity and domesticity,” which made them “ideal” for activities like nursing, given their “natural” abilities to care for others, cook, offer emotional support and so on.1 As a result, much like caring for children, nursing seemed another task at which any woman would excel, regardless of training or temperament. So when the government put out the call, any and all women were encouraged to sign up.

Women who took up nursing in 1918, however, found a great deal more to the job than a way to exercise “feminine traits.” Many nurses found pride and purpose in their work, often more than they had in their entire lives. For mid-to-upper class privileged white women who were often cut off from the harsher realities of the world, their nursing experience was especially transformative. One nurse saw it as “the most immediately satisfactory experience” of her life, feeling “a certain tremendous exhilaration” and pride in her work that she had never felt before.2 Even providing basic practical care to patients—such as washing out wounds and changing bedding—was enough to give them a strong sense of accomplishment and pride. Many felt that “their ministrations had contributed in a meaningful way to their patient’s well-being” whether their patient lived through the flu or not.3 They saw themselves — as did the general public and the medical establishment — as uniquely vital to the process of medicine, for while the doctor “plants the seed of health,” it is the nurse who “makes it grow.”4

Nursing, then, was a way for women to feel capable, independent and important in a way that society had not allowed them to do on such a scale before. Women were actively encouraged to see themselves this way, too, thanks to ads like this one, which showed women as capable and strong while also displaying “feminine” traits:

This is a small part of a larger ad, which is quoted below. Photo Source: Chicago Tribune Archives

This is part of the ad’s text:

“Women are mending men! Over black, shell-torn roads women are driving ambulances. Women stretcher bearers carry the precious burdens from the battlefields. Great hospitals, staffed by skillful and merciful women, receive them. Women surgeons, women nurses, women orderlies minister to them…From last to first, from first to last, women are at work. No task is too heavy for their slim fingers. They are salvaging the backwash of the war. Are you asking, ‘what can I do?’ There is work for every one of us. No woman but must feel: Here is my woman’s work. We have given the men for this war. We can save our men from its breaking!” 5

Women were also encouraged to enter the nursing field as a part of the general war effort. In newspapers and daily life, the public often compared nurses and doctors to men on the front lines. The Spanish Flu was seen as an “enemy” that needed to be “fought.” The flu was “the civilian’s equivalent of the soldier’s fight”, with doctors and nurses at the helm.6 This partial article from the Waukegan’s Daily Sun, entitled “What a Nurse Can do for U.S.,” encapsulates a lot of this warlike imagery, while also bolstering traditional views of women as natural caretakers who would doubtless feel “fulfilled” in engaging in such work:

Photo Source: Access Newspaper Database
Photo Source: Access Newspaper Database
Photo Source: Access Newspaper Database

Nursing was advertise as a way for women to obtain career advancement as well. This period recruiting poster offers “unlimited opportunities” for those who take up the profession, encouraging them to go beyond their initial training with free graduate classes:

Photo Source: Library of Congress

Yet while nursing opened many new doors to women, there were limits to how far those opportunities went. As Nancy Bristow points out in American Pandemic: the lost worlds of the 1918 influenza epidemic, the public “expected doctors to perform as men and nurses as women.”7 Thus, doctors—who were always assumed to be male, thanks to them edging out women doctors during the early 1900s—were praised for their skill and expertise, while nurses “did not require skill, only a woman’s dedication,” with many of them “commended for their quiet and self-sacrificing commitment to duty.”8 Even so, the widespread and devastating nature of the Spanish Flu emphasized how important nursing was during a public health crisis, and professional nurses seized on the opportunity to expand and legitimize their professional status, opening new training schools, creating widespread nursing standards, and forming professional organizations, seeking to turn nursing into a skilled, respected profession rather than something which simply required “dedication.”

Black nurses and doctors pose for a group photo. Photo Source: Library of Congress

White nurses weren’t the only group to take initiative during this time, however. African American nurses received a particular boost during the epidemic as well. Many nurses “recognized an opening in the epidemic” as a “chance to prove their value to a nation too busy…to enforce racial restrictions.”9 Prior to the epidemic, African American nurses who tried to join the war effort were refused, with the Red Cross only accepting 30 of over 33,000 applicants who initially applied.10 Within their own communities, however, African American nurses were both well-received and highly respected as heroes, providing access to care that many people couldn’t receive at hospitals due to widespread racism. African American doctors were also seen as heroes within their communities, and they saw the same “opportunities for both service and advancement” as their nurse counterparts.11 Doctors were also not just integral to the health of their underserved communities, but were seen as community leaders as well, casting themselves in “the role of ‘race men’ fighting for the reputation of their people against the forces of prejudice,” which allowed them to find something positive in the face of the disease.12

This ad encouraged women to become a nurse, citing it as a “respected vocation.” Photo Source: CDC Archives

The positive and uplifting experiences of white nurses during the epidemic, however, were in stark contrast to their white doctor counterparts. While this was partly due to differences in their roles—doctors were supposed to provide cures and healing while nurses provided comfort and aftercare—there were also gender norms at play. Being a doctor in 1918 was a largely male profession, as women had been steadily squeezed out of the system for years even after they’d earned the right to be there. And since doctors were mostly male, they brought a masculine idea of what it meant to practice medicine—and what it meant to fail.

While doctors were part of the “army” fighting influenza, it was generally acknowledged by both themselves and the public at large that they were unable to do much to stop or cure the Spanish flu. This was particularly galling a medical community who by 1918 saw themselves as having “conquered” many major diseases, or at least make them manageable through emphasizing sanitary conditions and educating the public about health practices. Many doctors had even “begun to imagine a world free of infectious disease, a world in which their labors could protect Americans, indeed citizens of the world, from plagues that had hounded earlier generations.”13

Doctors and nurses worked together to heal patients, but they each interpreted those experiences very differently. Photo Source: The Guardian

Their utter failure in the face of the Spanish Flu left many doctors despairing, angry and helpless. These negative feelings are palpable in their accounts of the disease. It was the Army doctors who often noted “bodies stacked like cordwood” in the tents in American military bases, or how men would “turn blue” and die choking on their own lungs within hours of contracting the disease. As men, doctors saw themselves as having to “do” something for the sick or take action in some way, but the nature of the flu offered no way to do that beyond palliative care, turning the flu into an “emasculating” experience for many — the exact opposite of that of their female nurse counterparts.14

This mix of emotions is echoed today in healthcare worker’s experience with Covid-19, especially during the surges at the beginning and the height of the pandemic. While the pandemic has clearly demonstrated the value of both doctors and nurses, both have reported feeling equally helpless in the face of the disease, which for much of its course could only be given palliative care. The experience has been demoralizing and brutal, and the emotional and physical costs are a real struggle that will affect these professionals for a lifetime.

Articles like this one from the journal Nursing is full of examples of today’s nurses struggling to deal with Covid-19 day in and day out. As one interviewee notes, “Nurses are never going to be the same again. Everything we learn in nursing school is about support and comfort; COVID-19 took that away. We are supposed to minimize…the time we spend with our patients. Families are not allowed to come to the hospital. The isolation is stark. Imagine dying surrounded by people gowned, gloved, masked, and holding a cell phone in a hazard bag. What could be more terrifying?”15

Like their modern counterparts, nurses and doctors in 1918 also felt the suffering and loss of their patients very deeply—however, they were much less likely to publicly admit these feelings, no matter how strongly they were affected by them. Nurses in particular were under particular stress, as they had to balance intense patient care with the constant risk to their own physical and emotional health, since their exposure was greater than doctors. Nursing an influenza patient was a grueling task, even if one only took into account the “practical work” of the job such as changing bedding, rather than the training and knowledge required to constantly monitor the patient’s condition, nor the emotional toll of seeing patients they’d worked so hard to save die in spite of it all. Take for example this part of a volunteer nurse’s letter to a friend describing the “practical” nursing they were asked to do as untrained volunteers and how it impacted them, even after only being present for ten days:

“…we worked from seven in the morning until seven at night, with only a short time for luncheon and dinner. Believe me, we were always glad when night came because we sure did get tired. We had the actual Practical nursing to do—just like the other nurses had…Our chief duties were to give medicines to the patients, take temperature, fix ice packs, feed them at ‘eating time,’ rub their back or chest with camphorated sweet oil, make egg-nogs, and a whole string of other things I can’t begin to name. I liked the work just fine, but it was too hard, not being used to it. Then when I was in the Officer’s barracks, four of the officers of whom I had charge, died. Two of them were married and called out for their wife nearly all the time. It was sure pitiful to see them die. I was right in the wards alone with them each time, and Oh! The first one that died sure unnerved me—I had to go to the nurses’ quarters to cry it out. The other three were not so bad…Orderlies carried the dead soldiers out on stretchers at the rate of two every three hours for the first two days [we] were there.”16

On top of all this work, nurses were expected to present and act—through propaganda as well as in real life—as “calming devices” for the populace, who looked to them for strength in the light of doctors’ terrifying failure to stop the disease, casting them as tireless “angels of mercy” willing to sacrifice their own wellbeing for the sake of everyone else.17 As a result, many nurses ended up with what today we would recognize as PTSD, with many being removed from active duty due to “the stress and strain of service,” stress which included nightmares, insomnia, depression, severe headaches, and other indications of psychological and emotional trauma.18

Just as with shellshock after WWI, these kinds of narratives were repressed and glossed over by the public’s eagerness to move past the Spanish Flu once it ended. Unfortunately, this kind of narrative removes space for and acknowledgement of grief and encourages people to “get over it” as fast as possible and get back to “normal.” This cultural preference for an optimistic narrative in the aftermath of tragedies—which Bristow points out is endemic throughout American culture—drowns out people’s legitimate grief and “seems to include a corollary, the expectation that everyone can and should heal from trauma and tragedy, the sooner the better,” even from significant personal trauma such as PTSD.19 This “neglects entirely the reality of their circumstances and can make their persistent pain appear ‘abnormal’ even ‘pathalogical,’…[with] little room for their own narratives of loss.”20

One hopes that when the Covid-19 pandemic finally ends in America and around the world, today’s healthcare professionals will be given the space and time to tell their stories, get help in processing their feelings, and will have their grief, pain, and sacrifice recognized in a meaningful way, so that we all may honor their sacrifice properly.


Works Cited:

1. Bristow, Nancy K. 2017. American Pandemic: the lost worlds of the 1918 influenza epidemic. 59.

2. Ibid. 132

3. Ibid. 134

4. Ibid.169

5. “Display Ad 7 — no Title.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Oct 24, 1918. https://www-proquest-com.glenviewpl.idm.oclc.org/historical-newspapers/display-ad-7-no-title/docview/174467127/se-2?accountid=3688

6. Bristow. 78

7. Ibid. 139

8. Ibid.

9. Ibid.

10. Ibid. 134

11. Ibid.

12. Ibid.

13. Ibid. 35

14. Ibid. 137

15. Mancuso, Lisa BSN, RN, PCCN, CCRN, CLCP, LNCC Nursing during the COVID-19 pandemic, Nursing: January 2021 – Volume 51 – Issue 1 – p 42-44 website: https://journals.lww.com/nursing/Fulltext/2021/01000/Nursing_during_the_COVID_19_pandemic.11.aspx doi: 10.1097/01.NURSE.0000724360.49363.81

16. Author Unknown. 1918, October 17. Letter from nurse to her friend at the Haskell Indian Nations University, Kansas, Bureau of Indian Affairs. Retrieved from National Archives at Kansas City: https://www.archives.gov/exhibits/influenza-epidemic/records/volunteer-nurse-letter.pdf

17. Gordon O., et al. 2020. “Learning from the past? Spanish influenza and the lessons for Covid-19.” Nursing Times [online]; 116: 10, 27-31. Website: https://www.nursingtimes.net/clinical-archive/wellbeing-for-nurses/learning-from-the-past-spanish-influenza-and-the-lessons-for-covid-19-21-09-2020/

18. Ibid.

19. Bristow. 195

20. Ibid.


Photographic Citations, In Order of Appearance:

1. Nurses parade, Chicago. United States Illinois Chicago, 1918. [July] Photograph. https://www.loc.gov/item/2017679280/.

2.”Display Ad 6 — no Title.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Oct 16, 1918. https://www-proquest-com.glenviewpl.idm.oclc.org/historical-newspapers/display-ad-6-no-title/docview/174480146/se-2?accountid=3688

3.”Display Ad 7 — no Title.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Oct 24, 1918. https://www-proquest-com.glenviewpl.idm.oclc.org/historical-newspapers/display-ad-7-no-title/docview/174467127/se-2?accountid=3688)

4.Author unknown. “What a Nurse Can do for U.S.” The Daily Sun, Waukegan, Ill. August 16, 1918. 7.

5.Be a Trained Nurse. United States New York, 1917. [or 1918] Photograph. https://www.loc.gov/item/00650746/

7.Negro Red Cross Canteen, Meridian, Mississippi. This canteen unit, with the aid of the men in group, voluntarily undertook the establishement of a center for the wounded of their race in the storm of , and at Lincoln School, Meridian, not only nursed, but fed and clothed scores of the storm-victims. Their leader, Nettie Majors, is not included in the group as she answered the first call for Red Cross help and with a group of white workers from the Lauderdale County Chapter A.R.C. went to Philadelphia to give needed aid there. In addition to the splendid work at Lincoln Center, the members of this Red Cross Unit of negro women served in many capacities at the Matty Herse Charity Hospital in Meridian. United States Mississippi Meridian, 1920. Photograph. https://www.loc.gov/item/2017677027/

8.”Be a Nurse.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD): https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic-resources/1918-commemoration/historical-images.htm

9.Honigsbaum, Mark. “Nurses fell like ninepins’: death and bravery in the 1918 flu pandemic.” The Guardian. April 5th, 2020. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/05/nurses-fell-like-ninepins-death-and-bravery-in-the-1918-flu-pandemic

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A New Year and a New Blog Update Too

Happy New Year, dear readers—and what a year it’s been. Somehow, we’ve managed to make it through an entire year of pandemic insanity…and we might have to push through another one, as the pandemic doesn’t seem to have an end in sight.

Thanks to the general insanity of last year, you may have noticed that this blog hasn’t been updating as frequently as it used to. While I generally prefer not to talk about myself on this blog, I figured I owed you all some kind of explanation. Some big things happened, too, so I figured I’d let you know about that as well.

Things that happened this past year and a half that have forced me to put my blog on hold, more or less:


I was offered a book contract, which failed: In late summer of 2019, I was offered a book contract for my novel—the same one which inspired this blog, actually. This was extremely exciting, and I started making plans to revamp everything and refocus my content back to true crime. Unfortunately, before I could sign anything, the contract fell through in early 2020. The experience was both extremely exciting and extremely depressing, and I’ve been struggling with my writing ever since.

My job got really insane: So, as my bio on here says, I work for a public library. During 2020, as the virus gained major ground in my state, my job…changed. Not only did everything about my job change, but for most of the pandemic, rather than working from home, I’ve been forced to work with the virus-laden public face to face every day for hours—many of whom still won’t wear face masks. Since my medical issues put me at greater risk of dying from Covid-19, the whole situation has personally been very stressful. It doesn’t help, either, that my department lost over half our staff this year while our workload increased—literally, my boss actually calculated it out—by 500%. My boss refused to hire any replacements as well. While I’m grateful to still have a job in this crazy time, it’s been physically and emotionally draining, and all I really do now is collapse on the couch when I get home…which hasn’t been great for my writing output.

My grandma died: The day after Christmas, my grandmother died rather suddenly from Covid-19. Though she’d been diagnosed a few months ago with terminal throat cancer, she was supposed to have three to six months left to live, and I had planned to go see her in January once I got my vacation time back. Needless to say, that won’t be happening. The whole thing was pretty awful, and I’m still upset about it, honestly.


Suffice it to say, with everything that’s been going on, I’ve struggled to find the energy to write in general. However, I’d like to keep this blog from dying…I’m just not sure how regularly I’ll be able to post going forward.

Thanks, though, for all of you who continue to stop by and read this blog. Just knowing that there are still folks out there who read what I write on here helps a lot. Hopefully, you’ll all stick around for this year, too.

Happy new year, folks.

May 2021 be better for all of us.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

The Quarantine Poem That Wasn’t Written During the Spanish Flu—And One That Was

It’s been attributed to authors in the 1800s, or to the Spanish Flu of 1918-1919, but none of that is true. Here’s the real story.


In case you haven’t been on social media in the past few months, you may have missed something that’s been making the internet rounds.

The social media posts usually go something like this.

There’s usually an image of an Edwardian or Victorian couple, or sometimes one from the Spanish Flu with face masks, like these ladies:


Then there’s some text, something like: “This poem was written in 1896 (or 1918, or 1919) but it’s SO relevant today. I can’t believe it!” or “How timeless!” and so on. The author, if they’re cited at all, is listed as Grace Ramsay/Kathleen O’Meara or Kitty O’Meara, or sometimes as “anonymous.”

Then comes the actual poem, which goes like this:


Now don’t get me wrong, it’s a nice poem. I like it, though I’m not a great judge of poetry. But this poem wasn’t written by long dead authors in 1918 or 1869. It was posted on Facebook on March 13, 2020 and was written by Catherine “Kitty” O’Meara, a retired teacher from Madison, Wisconsin, in direct response to the Covid-19 pandemic lock down.

Kitty describes her inspiration for the poem in an interview with Oprah Magazine:

“I was anxious for the past few months. I knew this was coming and couldn’t be of service…I was getting kind of sad. There was nothing I could do. I couldn’t help my friends. I was very worried about them. My husband said: ‘Write. Just write again.’ I kind of just sat down and wrote it…I saw the maps of receding pollution over China and Europe. I thought, ‘There you go. There’s something of blessing in all suffering.’ And I thought with my passionate love for the Earth, maybe that’s one good thing.”

Just days after posting on Facebook, Kitty’s poem went viral, and ever since then folks have been sharing it everywhere as a form of commentary on our current times.

The reality of the stituation—who Kitty O’Meara really is and the actual context of her poem—are easily verifiable with a simple Google search. Yet, many of the social media posts that share the poem insist it was written during the Spanish Flu, or in 1869, or cite another author entirely as the source. The error became so common that there’s even a Snopes page dedicated to it, and Reuters had to fact-check it as well. Even when her poem was read aloud on MSNBC, says Kitty, it was said to have been written in 1890. She found this bewildering: “I give up,” she said in an interview with Deseret News. “Don’t journalists fact-check anything anymore?

So why has Kitty’s poem been given this false historical context?

Part of it may be confusing her with another author who has a very similar name. Kathleen O’Meara, who wrote under the pseudonym Grace Ramsay, was an author and journalist during the late Victorian era who was well-known for her biographies of famous Catholics. Her supposedly best work, The Bells of the Sanctuary (1871), is a series of biographies about famous Catholics and was very well received during her time. Given the similarities between their names, and the time period O’Meara wrote (the 1860s-1890s), it makes sense that people would confuse the two of them and peg Kitty’s poem with an 1869 date.

What about the Spanish Flu references, though?

Personally, I think it comes from an urge to connect to the past. As people look for reassurance that we will survive this global pandemic, they really only have one major and relatively recent historical event to fall back on: the Spanish Flu. It makes sense, then, that someone might want to believe that this poem came from that time, and that people back then felt much as we do now about their experiences—even if none of them lived through a lock down quite like ours.

If you want to find actual literature that addresses the Spanish Flu from 1918, however, you’re mostly out of luck. That’s because there’s a reason that the Spanish Flu didn’t really become part of the national conversation until Alfred W. Crosby’s landmark 1997 book, The Forgotten Pandemic. Following so closely on the heels of WWI, the pandemic was rolled up into the horrors of war, something people wanted to forget as quickly as possible and move on. As a result, there are very few examples of it in art and literature of the time, save for everyday items like ordinary people’s personal letters, diaries or newspaper articles.

There are shadows, though, if you know where to look.

Literature professor Elizabeth Outka cites such classics as T.S. Elliot’s poem The Wasteland, Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, and the stories of H. P. Lovecraft as all containing themes and imagery from the pandemic, whether they address it directly or not. Themes about death, grief, the fragility of the body, physical transformation, disintegration and loss are all related to the pandemic.

If you’re looking for something written specifically about the Spanish Flu itself, however, there’s really one option: the novel Pale Horse, Pale Rider (1937) by Katherine Anne Porter.

Inspired by her personal experiences with the Spanish Flu—a soldier she dated died from it, after he’d nursed her through her own illness—it is a hallucinatory combination of wartime propaganda and surreal experiences with illness. After surviving the flu, the main character, Miranda, feels disconnected from life, her body, and history, a sentiment that was echoed by the author herself in a 1936 interview about Pale Rider: “[The flu] simply divided my life, cut across it like that. So that everything before that was just getting ready, and after that I was in some strange way altered.” If you’re looking for a piece of literature to connect to today, Pale Rider may be a good bet.

As for poetry, though, there’s less of that around, at least that I could find. While Professor Outka cites The Wasteland as related to the Spanish Flu, I could only really find one poem that addressed it directly and was written during the time it was happening. In the course of researching this post, I came across a poem by Joe Bogle, African American man from Knoxville, Tennessee, whose work appeared in the Knoxville Journal & Tribune in 1918. Here it is:

 The Spanish Flu

“Listen here, children,” said Deacon Brown,

“There’s something new just struck this town

And it’s among the white and the colored, too

And I think they call it the Spanish Flu.”

They say it starts right in your head:

You begin to sneeze and your eyes turn red.

You then have a tight feeling in your chest,

And you cough at night and you just can’t rest.

Your head feels dizzy when you are on your feet;

You go to your table and you just can’t eat.

And if this ever happens to you,

You can just say you got the Spanish Flu.

Now, I got a brother and his name is John,

And he went to buy a Liberty Bond.

And he stopped to hear the big band play,

Upon the corner of Church and Gay.

But when he heard about the Flu–

It tickled me and would tickle you–

He bought his bond and went away:

Said he’d hear the band some other day.

But just as he got down on Vine,

He began to stagger like he was blind.

And a doctor who was passing by

Said, “What is the matter with this country guy?”

But as soon as he asked John a question or two,

He said, “Good night, you got the Spanish Flu.”

—Joe Bogle


No matter who wrote it or when, though, Kitty O’Meara’s Covid-19 inspired poem, “And People Stayed Home” speaks to our time, and is worth reading or hearing in its own right. Below you will find a couple of readings of this poem, if you’re so inclined. Enjoy! 🙂

This one has music:

And this one has more of a New Age vibe to it:


What about you, Dear Readers? Are there any books or poetry that are helping you get through these strange times? Personally, I find myself not being able to read very much, as focusing is hard. What are you guys reading these days?

Posted in 1918 Spanish Flu | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

How to Make A Face Mask, 1918 Style

st clair facemask

This April the CDC issued at statement that encouraged all Americans, regardless of their Covid-19 status, to wear a cloth face mask when out in public. One hundred and two years ago, Americans were doing the same thing—they were sporting a “new, simple, cheap and successful device” to protect themselves from the Spanish Flu: the cloth face mask.1

While the idea of using masks to ward off disease wasn’t exactly new, in 1918, face masks had only recently been proven to prevent disease.

Just eight years earlier in 1910, a new strain of bubonic plague originating in marmots  broke out across Northern China. Highly infectious and extremely deadly, it killed within a day or two of producing symptoms. Desperate to try to locate the source of the infections and stop its spread, the Chinese Imperial Court called in doctors from all over the world. One of them was Lien-teh Wu, a young doctor fresh from medical school, who was eventually put in charge of public health for the epidemic.

dr wu china 1910 plague

Dr. Lien teh-Wu, the man who would go on to modernize China’s health care system in 1912. Photo Source: Memories of Dr. Lein teh-Wu, Plague Fighter, which is available online from Areca Books

After discovering via autopsy that the new plague was spread through the air rather than fleas as had other iterations, Wu created a new mask to use around his sick patients. Loosely based off Western surgical masks of the 1870s, Wu’s mask was a “hardier” mass of cotton and gauze tied securely to the face with some extra layers of cloth on top for extra filtration. They were cheap, easy to produce, and effective. Unlike surgical masks, which are still primarily used today to prevent a surgeon from coughing or spitting into open wounds as they work, Wu’s masks were worn to reduce the spread between the sick and the healthy—something they did remarkably well, especially in combination with his new quarantine techniques.

Not everyone was receptive to Wu’s ideas, however. Thanks to the open racism of the time, many non-Asian doctors questioned its effectiveness. This often led to needless death, as this famous story sum up from historian Christos Lynteris about an interaction between Dr. Wu and a French doctor demonstrates:

He’s confronted by a famous old hand in the region, a French doctor [Gérald Mesny] . . . and Wu explains to the French doctor his theory that plague is pneumonic and airborne,” Lynteris says. “And the French guy humiliates him . . . and in very racist terms says, ‘What can we expect from a Chinaman?’ And to prove this point, [Mesny] goes and attends the sick in a plague hospital without wearing Wu’s mask, and he dies in two days with plague.”

Despite these doubts, Wu’s mask proved itself time and again in the field, and by 1911 they were being handed out to both healthcare workers and the general public alike across Manchuria, helping to stop the spread of the new plague.

When the Spanish Flu hit the world eight years later, healthcare professionals around the world turned to Wu’s face masks for inspiration in creating their own designs.


Initially, cloth face masks were only deemed necessary for healthcare workers and the sick. Only nurses, those nursing the sick, and the sick people themselves were encouraged to wear them. “The sick person and [their] attendants should wear face masks,” instructed Dr. W. A. Evans on one of his many articles on how to treat the Spanish Flu.2  “The nurse should wear a face mask when waiting on the patient” and “the mask should be sterilized by boiling daily.”3 “The wearing of face masks by nurses and other hospital attendants should be made compulsory in hospitals and by all who are directly exposed to the disease,” recommended the American Public Health Association of Chicago, including barbers and dentists and any others “whose work compels them to bring their faces close to the faces of others.”4

Eventually, the use of masks was recommended for the public as well. Across the country, it became illegal not to wear one, and people could be denied service, arrested, or fined if they did not comply.

san fran must wear masks

An ordinance in San Francisco forced the public to wear face masks, with severe penalties if they refused. Photo Source: this CNN article

Their usefulness regarding the general public, however, was debatable even back in 1918. Some doctors thought they helped significantly, while others were more doubtful. One of their biggest proponents in Chicago was the city’s former health commissioner, Dr. A. R. Reynolds. He trumpeted the usefulness of masks in the Tribune, declaring that they would allow an immediate return to normalcy:

“…if the general public can be made to use [masks], there will be no need to restrict public assemblages or impede in any way the usual habits of the public…prudence demands that everybody should wear the mask in crowded rooms, on windy days, or when engaged in dusty occupations.”5

Instilling that kind false confidence, however, is a dangerous thing to do, and the doctors of 1918 took pains to point that out as well. Dr. W. A. Evans, the Chicago Tribune’s health contributor from 1913 to 1933, was less enthusiastic about the public using masks:

“The wearing of face masks as a means of preventing influenza is on trial. It seems to offer something as a means of prevention for nurses and hospital attendants. The proof that it is effective as a measure employed by men on the street is poor at best. Nevertheless, any trial given the method should be a fair one. The wearing of improperly made masks that are wet and soiled or masks that are improperly placed does not constitute a fair trial.”6

A face mask, Dr. Evans noted further, was only worth it if used it correctly—and not many people were doing that. In one article, he described meeting a man on the street from Fort Wayne, Indiana who was not using his mask correctly:

“A while ago I met a man who had just come from Fort Wayne…he stopped and showed me the face mask he had worn while in Fort Wayne. It was soiled and wadded. He said he had carried it in his pocket and that whenever he went into a building he held it in front of his face. That illustrates how not to wear a face mask.”7

Towards the end of the epidemic, healthcare professionals had backed off from encouraging the public to use masks, saying they were less effective than previously thought. The American Public Health Association of Chicago did not recommend them for general public:

“The general wearing of masks in the streets and elsewhere the committee did not advice. The principal reason lay in the certainty that most of the masks worn would be improperly made or improperly adjusted;” yet, they added, “There is no reason why any individual who wishes to wear a face mask as a means of self-protection should not do so.”8

When he looked back at the epidemic in 1920, Dr. Evans deemed them worthless, largely thanks to people not using them correctly:

“Some communities passed ordinances requiring that every person wear masks all the time. Other communities encouraged the use of masks but did not require it. At the end of the first wave there was a general agreement that the measure had proved ineffective. Unquestionably a part of the failure was due to bad faith on the part of the people. They wore masks when on the street or when under observation but took them off when they got inside the house. Some wore masks in a slipshod fashion. Some called any excuse a mask. Some wore masks after the masks had become dirty and wet. California communities gave the mask the best tryout,” he noted, but in the end if the mask didn’t fit right or was made out of the wrong materials, at best it reduced the number of bacteria by “one half,” and this was “not enough to warrant the compulsory use of masks by all the population.”9

The debate over public mask use is still going on today. While the CDC now officially recommends it, the World Health Organization sees them as only one step in a larger process, as this publication from April 6th, 2020 explains:

Wearing a medical mask is one of the prevention measures that can limit the spread of certain respiratory viral diseases, including Covid-19. However, the use of a mask alone is insufficient to provide an adequate level of protection, and other measures should be adopted. Whether to not masks are used, maximum compliance with hand hygiene and other IPC measures is critical to prevent human-to-human transmission of Covid-19.”

Dr. Deborah Birx, the Coronavirus Response Coordinator for President Trump, cautions against looking at masks as some sort of cure-all as well. At a White House press briefing in April, she said:

The most important thing is the social distancing and washing your hands. And we don’t want people to get an artificial sense of protection, because they’re behind a mask.  Because if they’re touching things — remember, your eyes are not in the masks.  So if you’re touching things and then touching your eyes, you’re exposing yourself in the same way….we don’t want people to feel like, ‘Oh, I’m wearing a mask.  I’m protected and I’m protecting others.’  You may be protecting others, but don’t get a false sense of security that that mask is protecting you exclusively from getting infected, because there are other ways that you can get infected because of the number of asymptomatic and mild cases that are out there.”


So cloth face masks won’t protect you from Covid-19, just like they didn’t protect the public from Spanish Flu—but that doesn’t actually mean they’re useless. Besides providing at least some basic protection from large respiratory droplets, face masks can also increase the “psychological resiliency” of wearers in a stressful time, increasing feelings of safety and control, while also acting as signs of solidarity, as they’ve done in Asian countries which embraced them socially years ago.

It helps, too, to remember that we’re dealing with a different disease. Unlike the Spanish Flu of 1918, Covid-19 can present asymptomatically, so it’s possible to be sick without knowing it and spread it to others. Therefore, it behooves all of us, in the interest of protecting those who might die from it, to act as if we’re already infected. Ultimately, then, you’re not wearing a face mask to prevent YOU from getting sick—you’re wearing one to prevent OTHERS from getting sick. In that light, a homemade face mask is better than nothing when it comes to Covid-19, so we might as well all get on the bandwagon.

So, bring on the 1918 models! 🙂



Face masks in 1918 were a bit different than the ones that the CDC is suggesting we make now. Different materials, different styles, and different sizes were all possibilities. Here are a few of the more common models of 1918:



how to make face mask isntructions from epidemics_clipped

This mask design can be found on page 19 of Epidemics: How to Meet Them by Louis A. Hansen. Photo Source: Hathitrust Digital Library


It’s your standard rectangle with fabric ties, more or less. Smaller and squarer than today’s CDC guidelines (it’s shorter by a few inches on both sides), it also calls for a marker to distinguish the outside-facing part of the mask from the inside one, so you don’t accidentally put the wrong side against your face. This particular page with mask directions comes from Epidemics: How to Meet Them by Louis A. Hansen, which was published for free in 1919 to help educate the general public about the spread of infectious diseases. One of the materials it asks for—“butter cloth”—is probably butter muslin, a finer grade of cheesecloth which is closer to a pillow case in terms of weave. However, another medical study on face masks at the time—Dr. George Weaver’s Droplet Infection And Its Prevention By The Face Mask (1919)—deemed butter cloth unsuitable, seeing as most of it was treated to be “nonabsorbent,” didn’t have “as fine a mesh as is desirable,” and was difficult to obtain in large quantities.




This particular style, which covers the entire lower half of the face, comes from Droplet Infection and its Prevention by the Face Mask by Dr. George H. Weaver. Full of lots of fun charts on expectorating disease particles, it also has face mask instructions. Dr. Weaver’s masks are different from the previous rectangle since they include diagonal corners on each end. This means the whole lower part of the face is covered while reducing “traction on the chin” and “not drawing on the nose and lips,” which was increased user comfort.

expectoration chart droplets

A chart showing how much of a particular bacteria is spread via different actions, from whistling to puffing. Photo Source: this page of Droplet Infections



man trolley no service for you

The man without a mask in this picture is being told by the trolley conductor that he can’t ride without one. Notice how both men are wearing a very similar masks—and how one of them doesn’t even have his tied on properly. Photo Source: this Wikimedia file


When the public were encouraged to wear masks by city officials in Chicago, they were either told to make them themselves or to obtain mass-produced ones. This description of a mass-produced mask comes from the Tribune:

“It is made of four thicknesses of plain unmedicated gauze, about four inches wide and six inches long, with a small tape or string sewed to each corner. It is just large enough to cover the mouth and nostrils, with allowance for shrinkage, and it is tied to the back of the head with the four strings. It freely admits the air in breathing and prevents the escape of droplets in expiration, cough, or sneezing.”10

A longer description of a proper face mask, which includes mass-produced “frames” to clip material on to, comes from a different Tribune article which calls for “butter cloth,” gauze, and mesh but cautions against using too many “non-absorbent” materials11:

how to keep well_face masks_desc

Photo Source: Chicago Tribune Archives



germ screen dr st clair

Photo Source: Chicago Tribune Archives


This particular mask shape was attributed to Dr. C. St. Clair Drake, the Illinois state health director during the Spanish Flu. Unlike the other models, it’s a diagonally set square.

Surprisingly, this shape may be the most effective compared to the others. According to a study in the Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology, the shape of a cloth mask actually matters when it comes to protecting its user. In a study about air pollution, scientists tested three popular Indian cloth masks—the kind you can buy from street vendors to protect against air pollution, as well as a standard surgical mask—to see if they could block common air pollution particles like diesel fumes. While none of the cloth masks performed particularly well compared to modern plastic materials found in medical masks, only one of the cloth masks—the one which was formed to fit a user’s face—actually protected the user from air pollution. The worst ones, they noted, were “simple rectangles with loops to connect behind the ear.” The lack of “sufficient fit” from that shape allowed “the leakage of a significant fraction of particles”—something you don’t want when you’re trying to prevent those particles from leaving or getting near your mouth and nose.



The most ridiculous alternative to a cloth face mask that I found while researching this post was actually an advertisement. Here it is in all its glory, for maximum impact:

kolynos gas mask ad for post

Hardly the first ad I came across for Kolynos, but certainly one of the more dramatic ones. Photo Source: Chicago Tribune Archives

In case it isn’t immediately apparent, Kolynos Liquid is NOT a cleaning product like bleach—it’s a brand of mouthwash.

Established in 1908, Kolynos offered a range of oral care products that were quite popular throughout the 1930s and 1940s. While it disappeared from U.S. markets sometime in the early 1960s, it lived on in Latin America and Eastern Europe, where it was quite popular—until it became a subsidiary of Colgate in 1995, which subsequently killed their competition.

Kolynos your toothbrush is a weapon ad title

Kloynos really got into this idea with their advertising, as you’ll see. Photo Source: Chicago Tribune Archives

Kolynos toothpaste box vintage

A vintage box of Kolynos toothpaste. Photo Source: Pinterest

In a strange echo of Alex Jones’ Covid-19 toothpaste scandal, Kolynos advertisers were quick to claim their products prevented Spanish Flu. Since many doctors were promoting keeping mouths clean to combat influenza, many of Kolynos’ ads stressed using their product at least three times a day to “sanitize” one’s mouth and throat of disease: “Kolynos Dental Cream will give you clean teeth, a clean mouth, and a clean throat. This sanitary cleanliness endures for several hours and greatly diminishes the danger of infection.”12

Most ridiculous of all, though, these same ads also recommended applying “at the first sign of a cold…a small amount of dental cream—about half the size of a pea—in the entrance of each nostril, when retiring, and several times a day.”13 Cotton balls soaked in toothpaste or mouthwash were deemed particularly effective, thanks to the “filtering” action, as this Kloynos ad explains:

Kolynos ad with pea sized filtering action

Photo Source: Chicago Tribune Archives

So did soaking cotton balls in toothpaste and shoving them up your nose really prevent the Spanish Flu? I’ll let you guys make the call on that one… 😉


So, Dear Readers, where to begin with creating your own mask?

While you could always try making one of the 1918 models, the internet is chock full of guides for more modern face masks, many of which are larger than the 1918 models and thus offer more coverage. Here are a few links to get you started if you’re looking for some ideas:

The official CDC guidelines, which include both sew and no-sew options.

This Smithsonian article showcases a few different videos on how to make masks and further explains the face mask debate.

This New York Times article offers some decent guidelines.

Wired offers some different mask options as well.

Good Housekeeping offers some different instructions and material recommendations.

Time magazine has three different methods for you to try.

CNN has a bunch of animated GIFs with coffee filters that are kind of fun.

While it’s hard to scientifically determine which fabrics are best to make masks from, the New York Times recommends quilting fabric, batik fabric, or other dense weaves. So doesSew Can She, which also offers different mask-making instructions depending on your skill level.

And of course, there’s always the official video guidelines from the CDC.

What about you, Dear Readers? Have you made a mask yet? If not, good luck on your mask-making adventure, and stay safe! 🙂


Works Cited:
Please note: These links only work if you have access to Proquest,
1. Reynolds, A. R. “REYNOLDS CALLS FACE MASK BEST EPIDEMIC CHECK: DISEASE CONTRACTED ONLY THROUGH NOSE OR THE MOUTH, HE SAYS.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Oct 18, 1918. https://search-proquest-com.glenviewpl.idm.oclc.org/docview/174464163?accountid=3688
2. Evans, Dr. W. A. “How to Keep Well: SPANISH INFLUENZA.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Oct 10, 1918. https://search-proquest-com.glenviewpl.idm.oclc.org/docview/174408724?accountid=3688
3. Evans, Dr. W. A. “How to Keep Well: NURSING A “FLU” CASE.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Dec 27, 1918. https://search-proquest-com.glenviewpl.idm.oclc.org/docview/174471176?accountid=3688
4. Evans, Dr. W. A. “How to Keep Well: FAILED TO KNOCK OUT ‘FLU.’” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Dec 29, 1918. https://search-proquest-com.glenviewpl.idm.oclc.org/docview/174428234?accountid=3688
6. Evans, Dr. W. A. “HOW to Keep Well: FACE MASKS.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Dec 26, 1918. https://search-proquest-com.glenviewpl.idm.oclc.org/docview/174407060?accountid=3688
7. Ibid.
8. Evans, Dr. W. A. “How to Keep Well: FAILED TO KNOCK OUT ‘FLU.’”
9. Evans, Dr. W. A. “How to Keep Well: FACE MASKS AND CONTAGION.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Feb 11, 1920. https://search-proquest-com.glenviewpl.idm.oclc.org/docview/174576134?accountid=3688
11. Evans, Dr. W. A. “HOW to Keep Well: FACE MASKS.”
12. “Display Ad 6 — no Title.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Oct 18, 1918. https://search-proquest-com.glenviewpl.idm.oclc.org/docview/174463010?accountid=3688
13. “Display Ad 6 — no Title.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Oct 29, 1918. https://search-proquest-com.glenviewpl.idm.oclc.org/docview/174457149?accountid=3688
Posted in 1918 Spanish Flu, today in history, vintage how-to | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Lifting the Lid” Too Fast: Reopening During the 1918 Pandemic After Shutdowns Led to More Death

dont worry Dr Roberston

Yeah, no…


Chicago’s first brush with the Spanish flu came via the Great Lakes Naval Station. Home to the United States’ Navy only boot camp, the Great Lakes Naval Station churned out roughly 125,000 American sailors during the Great War—and it was still training 50,000 of them when the “Spanish flu,” or “the influenza, as the papers called it, began spreading among its recruits in early September of 1918.1

Victory at Great Lakes

Sailors stand in a “victory” formation in 1918 at the Great Lakes Naval Station. Photo Source: Wikimedia commons

But there was no need to worry, right?

After all, the “greatest precautionary measures” were being taken, assured the Chicago Tribune, with all men given “daily nose and throat sprays” to combat infection, as well as isolating the sick.2 By September 20th an “increasing prevalence” of influenza was at the Station—as well as the neighboring north shore Chicago suburbs.3 Yet only two days later, in an attempt to quell “sensational rumors that had reached Chicago,” Station Capt. W. A. Moffett allowed “worried relatives and friends of the sailors” to visit their sick loved ones—and take the bug back with them to Chicago.4 After all, anyone who got sick would hardly have a problem. “[Flu] for the average man…is not a great hazard provided he will coddle himself while aching and for a few days thereafter,” reassured Tribune health consultant Dr. W. A. Evans. “The threatened oncoming of an epidemic need not disturb our equanimity.”5

Dr. W. A. Evans was wrong, of course. The Spanish Flu was much deadlier than previous forms of influenza, and by September of 1918 it was at the height of its deadly march across America. September 19th saw Boston, New York, Norfolk, Philadelphia, and Camp Dix in New Jersey—one of the first hot spots for the disease—reporting rising numbers of new cases and deaths daily.

Outside Chicago, the northern suburbs began to take the brunt of things. Fort Sheridan in Lake Forest saw a spike of 120 cases in a day on September 24th, and entire villages like Waukegan shut down completely, with theaters, public halls and schools shuttered as everyone stayed home.6 By September 26th, the state of Illinois’ director of public health, Dr. C. St. Clair Drake, called for “immediate” reports of influenza across the state, as well as “strict isolation” for any carriers—-all while insisting that the battle against the epidemic was “being fought to a standstill” with a “speedy victory ensured.”7

Other Tribune articles echoed this lackadaisical response, repeatedly downplaying the seriousness of the disease despite the rising statistics. “Forty, fifty, or even as many sixty out of every 100 persons in Chicago will be victims of influenza during the next few months,” predicted medical experts at a public health conference, but “the victim of influenza alone has a better than 99 out of 100 chances to recover,” and that “everything possible will be done to check the infection and care for the afflicted.”8 On October 2nd, officials announced a statewide shortage of doctors, nurses, hospital beds and medical equipment in Illinois. “A great many of the hospitals are hard hit,” admitted state officials at another public health conference, lacking beds and trained staff—many of whom were falling ill and dying as they tried to save their patients.9

john_dill_robertson pic

Dr. John Dill Roberston, he of the soft pedal. Photo Source: this excellent Circulating Now article on Chicago’s response to the ‘flu

Yet the very next day, Chicago’s Health Commissioner Dr. Robertson attempted to “put a gentle soft pedal” on the alarming information the state had been presenting: “I think it will all blow over in as far as Chicago is concerned in six weeks,” Dr. Robertson reassured anxious Chicagoans in a phrase eerily reminiscent of Trump.10 “…I believe that the high intelligence of the Chicago people will cause them to follow the directions of the health department and others on how to keep themselves free from infection. And, if they do, there is every likelihood that the number of deaths will not be many more than in the normal year” of influenza cases.11

Quite the contrast to Mayor Lightfoot, isn’t he? :p

The hemming and hawing from local authorities continued even when the disease hit Chicago in earnest. Estimates after the first week of the first pandemic wave were “between 40,000 to 60,000” cases, with a 1,323 new cases cited within 24 hours, as well as 101 deaths in a day—but this still wasn’t seen as cause for alarm by city officials.12 In fact, within the next two days, health commissioners claimed it was “on the wane,” with only 479 new cases and 45 deaths the following day.13 “Favorable weather” was cited as a reason, though the public was encouraged to “not relax vigilance.”14

By mid-October, however, city officials finally changed their tune and the city began to shut down in earnest. Descriptions of Chicago at this time, such as in this article from October 16th, are eerily similar to all the photos of a silent downtown that have flooded our social media feed these days:

“Chicago’s loop district last night was lightless, theatreless, and danceless. At 9 o’clock the streets looked the way they usually do about the time the owl cars start running.

The sidewalks were clear. Private automobiles were scarce and taxicabs were idle. The big restaurants were half deserted. The hotel lobbies wore their early morning look.

Only one species of activity attracted attention. That was the washing down of the streets by the fire department. The streams from the big hose swept the day’s accumulation of dust and rubbish to the gutters before the eyes of watchful little groups.

‘The absence of people from the streets is a good sign,’ said Health Commissioner Roberston.”15

This response was in line with strict orders from the Illinois emergency commission which had been formed to oversee the state’s response to the epidemic. Just a few days beforehand, the state had issued an order barring against all forms of “public dancing,” which was seen as particularly unsafe due to “the close contact between dancers, the exercise of the dance and the frequent chilling of the body that is apt to follow.”16 Funeral attendance was also limited to “immediate relatives and close friends.”17 Theaters, movie theaters, and dance halls weren’t all that the state government wanted to shut down, however. Skating rinks “and all other places of public amusement” were to be shut down as well.18

Business owners in Chicago didn’t like the sound of that, of course. If all places of “public amusement” were to shutter, did that mean that restaurants, saloons, cafes, clubs, pool halls, bowling alleys, museums, parades, athletic events, conventions, political meetings and ice cream parlors had to follow suit?19 And what about the “financial losses” these shutdowns would incur?20 When city officials met to discuss the state mandate, they had a five hour meeting which “adjourned without having taken any definite action”—but not due to the businessmen.21

It was the church.

Just like now, churches were a major source of emotional and social support for Chicagoans. How, did the city’s religious leaders ask, could they deny people such comfort in these troubled times? City officials caved, while requesting that church leaders at least attempt to “minimize the danger of their services.”22 Chicago’s church leaders seemed to take this to heart, and as the crisis worsened, many religious services were voluntarily cancelled, with congregation sizes shrinking from one half to one third.23 Many church leaders pleaded to keep them open no matter how bad things got, though, citing them as good for the community’s health. “The authorities ought to urge the people to go to church, because church attendance is a strengthener of the morale,” said Rev. Gilbert Wilson of the New First Congressional Church of Chicago.24 Today’s Americans seem to agree with him, as many people continue to violate stay at home orders across the country to attend church gatherings, such as these people in Florida and these people in New Orleans.

Churches weren’t the only places seen as essential during this time, however. True to form, the city allowed saloons, pool rooms, bowling alleys, cafes, restaurants, and other places of public amusement to stay open throughout the epidemic, so long as they prevented “crowding” and kept their places well ventilated (fresh air was seen as a cure-all at the time).25 Crowds were further discouraged by banning all music and entertainment, sporting events, and basically anything amusing.26 It didn’t stop the crowds, however. A raid at a saloon on West Van Buren Street found men standing “two deep” at the bar, with fifteen men sleeping in the back rooms, using whiskey and beer barrels for beds.27 Clearly, these folks weren’t taking the shutdown orders very seriously.

Not everywhere was like Chicago, though. Other communities—such as the hard-hit northern suburbs—got even stricter, shutting down all public places entirely. For example, in the suburb of Lake Forest, which saw a large outbreak among Fort Sheridan army recruits, “there people are not even permitted to gather in little groups on the sidewalk. The police disperse them as soon as they gather,” noted Dr. Robertson disdainfully at another of his endless press conferences.I Oak Park, another northern suburb, saw “improvement” in as little as twenty four hours regarding their situation.28

So maybe there’s something to all this quarantine stuff, eh? 😉

One thing city officials felt very different about during the epidemic, though, was schooling. While today’s children are distance learning from the comfort of their own home, in 1918, Chicago children were still attending classes in person. That’s because city officials saw schools as a safer place for children to be—a place where they could be controlled and monitored for signs of disease at all times. They were also seen as less likely to get the disease, and more likely to survive it as well, so it mattered less if they got it. In his daily health column for the Tribune, Dr. W. A. Evans explains the decision, which he saw as worth doing:

“First, that the disease was not unduly prevalent among school children…this age period should have suffered about the worst of all, since they were young, unused to withstanding pneumonia infection and in close contact daily in the schoolroom…[yet] studying the mortality rate…we find the disease…was a little less than average bad…Second, it was thought that children would be safer if they were in school, looked over by teachers, nurses, and school physicians…it was deemed to be the saner policy under city conditions.”29

the days of real sport_sick kid_ed cartoon

Not everyone was as cavalier towards children getting sick, as this editorial cartoon from the Tribune shows. Photo Source: Chicago Tribune Archives

The “conditions” seemed to be getting better as time went on. In October, newspapers were full of cautious optimism. By October 22nd , the Tribune claimed that the epidemic “may have reached its peak in Chicago…but everywhere there were warnings against reassuring the public so strongly that it will drop the guards it has put up against the epidemic.”30 The trend appeared to be statewide as well, with a 30-40% decrease in new cases across Illinois.31 All in all, this trend was taken to represent a “downward curve,” and as a result, by October 28th, the city was already announcing a weekly schedule for reopening across the city, which was as follows:

“Tuesday night will see music restored to the restaurants.

Wednesday night will see theaters, movies and other places of public congregation permitted to open…

Thursday will see the zone extended to the entire city south of Twelfth Street.

Friday will see the entire city open with the exception possibly of South Chicago.

Saturday night dancing will be permitted, and with this the last barrier to Chicago’s night life imposed by the influenza epidemic will have been lifted.”32

Interestingly, the Illinois influenza commission attached a rider of sorts on these plans: a 10 P.M. curfew.  “The last curtain must fall at the theater, the political meeting must adjourn, and the music in the café must stop at that hour,” noted the Tribune. “Performances and oratory may be begun earlier, but when 10 o’clock comes—GOOD NIGHT!”33 The curfew was instigated as a way to discourage folks from celebrating a premature end to the flu, and to encourage the public to “get plenty of sleep and maintain its vitality” as the epidemic went on.34 On November 4th, the city was declared “almost normal, and by November 10th, Dr. John Dill Robertson was back to declaring everything was fine.35 “We are practically out of the woods,” said Robertson at yet another press conference. “All bans are off. In a few days I am sure I shall again be justified in stating that Chicago is the healthiest city in the world.”36

He was wrong.

When December came, a second wave of infection hit, this one worse than the last—and that was on top of the losses in November. By Nov 18th, the Tribune observed, “between 300,000 and 350,000” people had died nationwide from the flu.37 That was more soldiers than had died from “all causes” in the Great War, “from the time the first unit landed in France until hostilities ceased.”38 The second wave of infection, while deemed “milder” by doctors, spread more rapidly than the first, with cases growing exponentially overnight. December 5th saw 273 new cases of influenza with 54 new cases of pneumonia,39 with a jump of 404 new cases of influenza and 89 cases of pneumonia the next—“nearly double” that of yesterday.40

These rising numbers worried even the unflappable Dr. John Dill Robertson. “We don’t expect as many deaths from the new cases as we had when the epidemic was at its height…the cases now seem milder, but there should be no let-down on the precautions.”41 By the end of December, America had seen 400,000 deaths in a matter of twelve weeks, from Sept. 1st through December 1st.42 The pandemic truly didn’t end until the summer of 1919, when “the monthly number of deaths…[fell] below the number for the same month of 1918.”43

In the end, roughly 50 million people died from the Spanish Flu worldwide, 8,500 of whom were Chicagoans. Despite all the unknowns in 1918, many of these deaths could likely have been prevented all the same if a more rigid shutdown—like that practiced by the suburban communities on the north shore—had been put in place by city officials. It didn’t help, either, that they were lifted so quickly. Normal, everyday activities and crowds were allowed within just a few days of the first wave. It was hardly surprising, then, that the virus came back with a vengeance.


So what can we take away from all of this today, Dear Readers? Don’t be so eager to get things “back to normal,” perhaps—-not until we’re sure we have a “lid” on this thing in the form of a vaccine, widespread testing and strict quarantine measures, or at the very least some kind of plan. Otherwise, “lifting the lid” on our stay-at-home orders too soon could seriously backfire.



Looking for more information about Chicago’s battle with the 1918 Spanish Flu? Try some of these other articles:

This article from Chicago Magazine gives a nice basic overview of the city’s response.

This article from Circulating Now, the U. S. National Library of Medicine’s magazine gives more info about Dr. Robertson and features posters from city health officials.

This article from the Chicago Public Library about other measures Chicago took to combat the flu.

This article about Chicago’s response comes from a digital archive of Spanish Flu material which is definitely worth a look!


Works Cited:
1. “GUARD SAILORS AT GREAT LAKES FROM INFLUENZA.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Sep 16, 1918. https://search.proquest.com/docview/174451790?accountid=3688
2. Ibid.https://search.proquest.com/docview/174451790?accountid=3688
3. “GRIP SHUTS OFF JACKIE LIBERTY AT GREAT LAKES: NAVAL CAMP UNDER STRICT ORDERS TO STAMP OUT SPANISH INFLUENZA.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Sep 20, 1918. https://search.proquest.com/docview/174435554?accountid=3688
4. “SAYS INFLUENZA AT GREAT LAKES IS NOT ALARMING: CAPT. MOFFETT CALMS RELATIVES OF SAILORS; ADMIT VISITORS TODAY.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Sep 22, 1918. https://search.proquest.com/docview/174436294?accountid=3688
5. Dr. W. A. Evans. “How to Keep Well: SPANISH INFLUENZA ON THE WAY?” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Aug 23, 1918. https://search-proquest-com.glenviewpl.idm.oclc.org/docview/174407698?accountid=3688
6. “120 NEW CASES OF INFLUENZA AT SHERIDAN IN DAY: NORTH SHORE TOWNS CLOSE SCHOOLS AND THEATERS AS PRECAUTION.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Sep 24, 1918. https://search.proquest.com/docview/174434233?accountid=3688
7. “STATE DEMANDS REPORT OF ALL NEW ‘FLU’ CASES: EPIDEMIC UNDER CONTROL, IS BELIEF; 77 DEATHS IN DAY AT GREAT LAKES.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Sep 26, 1918. https://search.proquest.com/docview/174436700?accountid=3688
8. “’FLU’ TO AFFECT HALF OF NATION, PHYSICIANS SAY: PREDICT “INFLUENZA YEAR,” BUT SEE NO CAUSE FOR PUBLIC ALARM.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Sep 30, 1918. https://search.proquest.com/docview/174432491?accountid=3688
9. “INFLUENZA CASES OVERTAX NURSES AND PHYSICIANS: HOSPITAL AIDS CONTRACT DISEASE; FORCES CAN’T MEET DEMANDS.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Oct 02, 1918. https://search.proquest.com/docview/174438457?accountid=3688
10. “DR. ROBERTSON PREDICTS SMALL INFLUENZA TOLL: ESTIMATES FRIGHTEN PUBLIC, HE THINKS; URGES ALL PRECAUTIONS.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Oct 03, 1918. https://search.proquest.com/docview/174436961?accountid=3688
11. Ibid.
12. “INFLUENZA CASES HERE ESTIMATED 40,000 TO 60,000: MAJORITY DECLARED LIGHT ATTACKS; NO CAUSE FOR ALARM.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Oct 06, 1918. https://search-proquest-com.glenviewpl.idm.oclc.org/docview/174471538?accountid=3688
13. “HEALTH OFFICERS FIND INFLUENZA EPIDEMIC-WANING: CITY AND STATE REPORTS DECREASE IN CASES AND DEATHS.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Oct 07, 1918. https://search-proquest-com.glenviewpl.idm.oclc.org/docview/174430863?accountid=3688
14. “INFLUENZA WAVE STILL RECEDING; WEATHER AIDS: EVANSTON ONLY PART OF CHICAGO TO CLOSE PUBLIC PLACES.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Oct 08, 1918. https://search-proquest-com.glenviewpl.idm.oclc.org/docview/174457843?accountid=3688
15. “INFLUENZA: HUNDREDS OF DEATHS AND THOUSANDS OF NEW CASES REPORTED IN MANY CITIES.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Oct 16, 1918. https://search-proquest-com.glenviewpl.idm.oclc.org/docview/174444686?accountid=3688
16. “PUBLIC DANCING BARRED IN FIGHT ON INFLUENZA: EMERGENCY COMMISSION ALSO LIMITS ATTENDANCE AT FUNERALS.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Oct 12, 1918. https://search-proquest-com.glenviewpl.idm.oclc.org/docview/174440770?accountid=3688
17. Ibid.
18. “INFLUENZA BOARD DEADLOCKED ON CLOSING ORDER: IF CHURCHES ARE SHUT, CLUBS, CABARETS AND SALOONS WILL SUSPEND.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Oct 16, 1918. https://search-proquest-com.glenviewpl.idm.oclc.org/docview/174444789?accountid=3688
19. Ibid.
20. “THEATERS AND MOVIES CLOSED BY ‘FLU’ ORDER: INFLUENZA ORDER SHUTS THEATERS, STARTING TODAY MOVIES AND LODGE MEETINGS CLOSED; SCHOOLS REMAIN OPEN.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Oct 15, 1918. https://search-proquest-com.glenviewpl.idm.oclc.org/docview/174417398?accountid=3688
22. “‘NONESSENTIAL’ CROWDS BARRED IN EPIDEMIC WAR: CHURCHES AND SALOONS EXEMPT; CONVENTIONS, ATHLETICS, PARTIES HIT. FREE DOCTOR.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Oct 17, 1918. https://search-proquest-com.glenviewpl.idm.oclc.org/docview/174443520?accountid=3688
23. Norton, W. B. “CHURCHES OPEN, BUT INFLUENZA REDUCES CROWDS: ALL MEETINGS PLANNED FOR THIS WEEK ARE CALLED OFF.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Oct 21, 1918. https://search-proquest-com.glenviewpl.idm.oclc.org/docview/174438165?accountid=3688
24. Norton, W. B. “CHURCHES OPEN, BUT INFLUENZA REDUCES CROWDS: ALL MEETINGS PLANNED FOR THIS WEEK ARE CALLED OFF.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Oct 21, 1918. https://search-proquest-com.glenviewpl.idm.oclc.org/docview/174438165?accountid=3688
26. “CABARETS CLOSE, OUTDOOR GAMES OFF, ‘FLU’ ORDER: BAN EXTENDED TO COVER ALL SORTS OF PUBLIC MEETING PLACES.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Oct 18, 1918. https://search-proquest-com.glenviewpl.idm.oclc.org/docview/174423629?accountid=3688
27. “SALOONS RAIDED, CROWDS TAKEN IN BATTLE ON ‘FLU’: WHOLE CITY WARNED TO WEAR MASKS AS CRISIS NEARS.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Oct 20, 1918. https://search-proquest-com.glenviewpl.idm.oclc.org/docview/174449562?accountid=3688
29. Dr. W. A. Evans. “How to Keep Well: SHOULD THE SCHOOLS BE CLOSED IN ORDER TO CONTROL INFLUENZA?” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Nov 19, 1918. https://search-proquest-com.glenviewpl.idm.oclc.org/docview/174423248?accountid=3688
30. “EPIDEMIC NEAR CREST, RELIEF SEEMS IN SIGHT: REPORTS INDICATE CRISIS THIS WEEK, BUT UTMOST CARE IS NECESSARY.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Oct 22, 1918. https://search-proquest-com.glenviewpl.idm.oclc.org/docview/174457699?accountid=3688
31. Ibid.
32. “FLU LID TO BE LIFTED IN CITY DAY BY DAY: GRADUAL REOPENING OF PUBLIC PLACES BEGINS TOMORROW.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Oct 28, 1918. https://search-proquest-com.glenviewpl.idm.oclc.org/docview/174445312?accountid=3688
33. “10 O’CLOCK LIMIT PUT ON SLOWLY RISING ‘FLU’ LID: AMUSEMENTS TO OPEN BY ZONES, STARTING ON NORTH SIDE.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Oct 29, 1918. https://search-proquest-com.glenviewpl.idm.oclc.org/docview/174433221?accountid=3688
34. Ibid.
35. “FLU CHECKED IN CITY AND STATE; LID TO BE RAISED: CHICAGO HAS RECORD OF LOW DEATH RATE FROM EPIDEMIC.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Nov 04, 1918. https://search-proquest-com.glenviewpl.idm.oclc.org/docview/174452756?accountid=3688
36. “ALL BANS OFF: CHICAGO HEALTHIEST CITY IN THE WORLD, SAYS ROBERTSON.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Nov 10, 1918. https://search-proquest-com.glenviewpl.idm.oclc.org/docview/174419616?accountid=3688
37. “FLU MORE DEADLY THAN WAR; 300,000 VICTIMS IN U. S. A.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Dec 05, 1918. https://search-proquest-com.glenviewpl.idm.oclc.org/docview/174467296?accountid=3688
38. “BATTLE SAFER: U. S. LOSSES IN WAR LESS THAN DEATHS DUE TO INFLUENZA.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Nov 18, 1918. https://search-proquest-com.glenviewpl.idm.oclc.org/docview/174424636?accountid=3688
39. “SHUT 4 MOVIES FOR VIOLATION OF ‘FLU’ ORDERS: ROBERTSON SAYS DANGER OF NEW EPIDEMIC IS GREATER.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Dec 05, 1918. https://search-proquest-com.glenviewpl.idm.oclc.org/docview/174409442?accountid=3688
40. “FLU GAINS: TWO MORE MOVIES SHUT AS SITUATION GROWS MORE SERIOUS.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Dec 06, 1918. https://search-proquest-com.glenviewpl.idm.oclc.org/docview/174452734?accountid=3688
42. Dr. W. A. Evans. “How to Keep Well: PLAGUES AND EPIDEMICS.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Feb 23, 1919. https://search-proquest-com.glenviewpl.idm.oclc.org/docview/174434835?accountid=3688
43. Dr. W. A. Evans. “How to Keep Well: YEAR AGO “FLU” RULED.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Oct 16, 1919. https://search-proquest-com.glenviewpl.idm.oclc.org/docview/174562810?accountid=3688
Posted in 1918 Spanish Flu, today in history | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Headlines From 1918 Flu Could Be Ours Today

Display ad 8_wash your hands_lifebuoy soap

This 1918 ad for soap which ran during the Spanish flu pandemic emphasizes proper hand washing. Source: Chicago Tribune Archives


Stay indoors. Isolate sick family members. Wear a mask, especially if you’re caring for a sick person. Wash your hands often, and don’t touch your mouth, nose, or face.

Sound familiar?

Covid-19 may be ravaging the world today, but 102 years ago in 1918, another deadly global pandemic was sweeping the world. Spanish Influenza—so-called because it was first openly reported there, rather than originating from Spain itself—ravaged the world over a terrifying two year period, killing millions of people and leaving the world particularly gutted in the wake of World War I.

Reading Chicago Tribune articles from 1918, I find it simultaneously comforting and disturbing prescient. They could easily be today’s headlines—minus the period wording, of course. Look and see if you can spot any Covid-19 related trends in these headlines from 1918:

SPANISH INFLUENZA: Epidemic Appears in Various Cities of the Country (Sept. 19)

GRIP SHUTS OFF JACKIE LIBERTY AT GREAT LAKES: Naval Camp Under Strict Orders to Stamp Out Spanish Influenza (Sept. 20)

SAYS INFLUENZA AT GREAT LAKES IS NOT ALARMING: Capt. Moffett Calms Relatives of Sailors; Admit Visitors Today (Sept. 22)

120 NEW CASES OF INFLUENZA AT SHERIDAN IN DAY: North Shore Towns Close Schools and Theaters as Precaution (Sept. 24)


STATE DEMANDS REPORT OF ALL NEW ‘FLU’ CASES: Epidemic Under Control, Is Belief; 77 Deaths in Day at Great Lakes (Sept. 26)

EPIDEMIC VICTIM: Evanston Girl, Settlement and Red Cross Worker, Dies of Pneumonia Following Spanish Influenza (Sept. 27)

200 PHYSICIANS CALLED TO FIGHT “FLU” EPIDEMIC: Request for State Action Comes from National Defense Official (Sept. 28)

‘FLU’ TO AFFECT HALF OF NATION, PHYSICIANS SAY: Predict Influenza Year But No Call for Alarm (Sept. 30)

INFLUENZA CASES OVERTAX NURSES AND PHYSICIANS: Hospital Aids Contract Disease; Forces Can’t Meet Demands (Oct. 2)

TURN GOLF CLUB INTO A HOSPITAL FOR INFLUENZA: Exmoor Meets Emergency in North Shore Epidemic; 54 Patients (Oct. 3)

NEED OF NURSES TO COMBAT ‘FLU’ GROWS URGENT: Red Cross Put in Charge of Work; Makes Plea for Volunteers (Oct. 4)

OFFICIALS MOVE TO CHECK “FLU” AT WASHINGTON: Try to Stop Gathering of People as Epidemic Grows (Oct. 16)

INFLUENZA: Hundreds of Deaths and Thousands of New Cases Reported in Many Cities (Oct. 16)

‘NONESSENTIAL’ CROWDS BARRED IN EPIDEMIC WAR: Churches and Saloons Exempt; Conventions, Athletics, Parties Hit (Oct. 17)

REYNOLDS CALLS FACE MASK BEST EPIDEMIC CHECK: Disease Contracted Only Through Nose or the Mouth, He Says (Oct. 18)

CABARETS CLOSE, OUTDOOR GAMES OFF, ‘FLU’ ORDER: Ban Extended to Cover All Sorts of Public Meeting Places (Oct. 18)

SOCIETY and Entertainments: Parties at Casino Continue Despite Influenza Ravages (Oct. 19)

ALL WHO PERIL HEALTH OF CITY TO BE ARRESTED: Alcock Orders Police to Enforce “Influenza” Rules Strictly (Oct. 19)

SALOONS RAIDED, CROWDS TAKEN IN BATTLE ON ‘FLU’: Whole City Warned to Wear Masks as Crisis Nears (Oct. 20)


‘FLU’ EPIDEMIC PASSING; DEATH RATE DECLINES: Restrictions on Public Gatherings to Be Maintained (Oct. 26)

LOOK OUT! “FLU” WILL LURK ABOUT FOUR MORE YEARS: Danger Until the Last Trace Goes, Warning of Doctors (Dec. 4)

WORKERS INSIST WOLF IS AT DOOR IF THEY FALL ILL: 72 Cents an Hour Wage Now Asked from Packers (Dec. 19)

INSURANCE LOSS FOR YEAR SETS NEW RECORDS: Government Action and Influenza the Chief Factors (Dec. 31)


Creepy, isn’t it? Yet, I think these headlines offer something else as well: a bit of hope. If the world can survive a global pandemic that killed roughly 50 million people with rudimentary drugs, lack of medical personnel, and an even greater lack of understanding regarding viruses, I’d like to think that our world has a chance of beating Covid-19 too.

So, for the next little while folks, I’ll be diverting this blog from my more usual programming to discuss the Spanish Flu and how to relates to our situation in 2020, with the hopes of bringing a bit of comfort and knowledge to you all.

Stay safe Dear Readers,

M. S.

Posted in 1918 Spanish Flu, today in history | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

1928 Children’s Book Recommendations From a Former Chicago Public Librarian, Just in Time for Christmas…

kid book ad 1928

A Christmas book ad from the 1928 edition of the Chicago Tribune.

Since my previous Christmas book recommendations were popular last year, I figured I’d try another one. This time around, however, we’re focusing on children’s books.


Today’s 1928 recommendations come from Agatha L. Shea, a former Supervisor of Children’s Services at the Chicago Public Library. While largely forgotten today, Agatha was known at the time for her pioneering work with revolutionary African American librarian Charlemae Hill Rollins to “develop new standards for children’s literature1 through encouraging libraries to stop buying books with racist caricatures and instead “look for books with accurate portraits of black people…in which black characters spoke as they do in real life…books that avoided unnecessary use of derogatory terms…and books with themes that did not stress socioeconomic class differences between white and black characters“,2 which helped change public attitudes towards African Americans in a positive manner.

Back in 1928, however, Shea had only been working with Rollins for a year (she joined the Chicago Public Library in 1927), and so her Christmas book suggestions for the Tribune are utterly lacking in controversy of any kind. They’re still fairly interesting, however, with an emphasis on action and adventure titles as well as classic literature. Here are the books she recommended for boys and girls in 1928, split into two age ranges:


For “Older Boys and Girls”:

Re-Issued Classics, or “Old Friends in New Attire”

“Old favorites in new and attractive dress” were all the rage in 1928, with many old classics getting nicely illustrated revamped editions.3 Shae cites a number of reissued classics from Dodd, Mead & Company, a pioneering New York publisher at the time who are famous for publishing Agatha Christie.


The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, illustrated by Mead Schaeffer

count of monte cristo 1920s v.jpg

Check out that moody cover illustration! Eye-catching, isn’t it? This copy’s been sold, unfortunately. Cover photo from Abe Books.

popular choice for adults that same year as well, this version for children is both abridged and illustrated, which Shea points out is terrific for struggling readers: “an edition which should prove popular with the boy or girl who has long waited to read the story but has found the older edition rather long and difficult.”4 The six full color gorgeous paintings by Mead Schaeffer don’t hurt, either.


While this piece is for a different story called The Black Buccaneer, it is a fine example of Mead Schaffer’s painterly illustration style, which makes fine use of dramatic lighting and texture. Source: Wikimedia Commons


Masterman Ready, or the Wreck of the Pacific by Captain Marryat, illustrated by John Rae

masterman ready 1912 ed cover

This 1912 edition gives a sneak peek at the illustrations as well. It’s on sale at Austin’s Antiquarian Books as well.

Considered one of the most popular children’s book of the 1800sMasterman Ready was written as a direct response to Johann Wyss’ The Swiss Family Robinson, which author Capt. Marryat felt was “too romantic.” In response, he wrote a tale of another family—the Seagraves—who get stranded on a dangerous desert island, but manage to survive thanks to the skills of veteran seamen Masterman Ready, who keeps them alive long enough to be rescued by another ship. The edition Shea mentions is part of the Louis Rhead Classics series, but was illustrated after Rhead’s death by John Rae, whose color and black and white illustrations are “worthy of that tradition in all respects.”5 If you want, you can read the entire thing here for free on Project Gutenburg, but be aware that it contains a lot of preaching, which modern readers may find off-putting. If you’re looking for a physical copy, there’s one for sale at Abe Books as well.


The White Company by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, illustrated by James Daugherty

white company daugherty cover

Mr. Daugherty’s “modernistic” illustrations didn’t appeal to everyone. This 1928 edition is for sale at Worthpoint.

While Doyle will always be remembered for Sherlock Holmes, he was also a prolific writer of historical fiction, and this was one of his favorite books. Set during the Hundred Years’ War, it follows a company of archers as they fight alongside Edward the Black Prince at the Battle of Najera. Unlike the beloved N. C. Wyeth edition (which is still in print today), the 1928 reissue is remarkable for its “modernistic” black and white illustrations by James Daugherty.6 You can also read the entirety of The White Company on Project Gutenberg for free, if you feel so inclined.


The Boys’ Ben-Hur, A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace

ben hur 1920s copy

This 1920s copy is on sale at Abe Books.

Another abridged classic of a popular American novel, Ben-Hur follows the adventures of Judah Ben-Hur, a Jewish prince, as he escapes Roman slavery to become a Charioteer. His attempts to get revenge for being enslaved by the Romans ends, however, when he witnesses the Crucifixion firsthand, and then converts to Christianity. According to Shea, this edition features “good paper, excellent, clear type, and good illustrations,” making it “a very attractive book” for boys.7 Today, the story is mostly remembered for the 1959 film starring Charlton Heston, as well as a forgettable 2016 remake.


Drums by James Boyd, illustrations by N. C. Wyeth

drums wyeth 1928 with sleeve

This 1928 signed copy is up for auction at Heritage Auctions.

“In this new illustrated edition it is no overstatement to say that a finer gift book could hardly be imagined,” says a period Tribune ad for Drums by James Boyd.8 Considered “a very fine tale of the American Revolution,” this historical novel follows the adventures of a young Johnny Fraser as he deals with divided loyalties during the revolution, and was extremely popular decades later as well.9 Shea recommends the book to “the boy who likes history and adventure particularly,” and apparently it still has appeal even today.10 Historian David McCullough cites Drums as one of the books that turned him on to history as a child.

wyeth drums ad 1928 pic

This 1928 Tribune ad for Drums describes it as a favorite of young readers.ADTAG


Heroes from Haklyut by Charles Finger, illustrated by Paul Honore

heroes inner page illo

This inner title page of the 1928 edition gives a sample of the “striking color woodcuts” found throughout. On sale at Amazon, among other places.

In a break from novels, this nonfiction title contains passages from the travel notes of Elizabethan travel writer Richard Haklyut, who was famous for promoting the colonization of North America through writing works like Divers Voyages Touching the Discoverie of America and The Principall Navigations, Voiages, Traffiques and Discoueries of the English NationThis abridged collection of his work contains “striking color woodcuts and imaginative line drawings,” which presumably liven up a story that might otherwise be dry for kids, though apparently it’s been “sanitized” for them as well.11

Shea, however, describes it in glowing tones:

“…the story of England’s voyagers and sea rovers from the almost legendary days of King Arthur to the soul-stirring days of the 15th and 16th centuries. It is a book which leaves one dreaming of bleak, storm-ridden seas, of ships sailing gayly into the unknown, and of men who were unafraid.”12

Today, Richard’s contributions are remembered in the name of an English historical society which is dedicated to preserving travel writings from the past.


The Rose and the Ring by William Makepeace Thackeray, illustrated by J. H. Tinker

1928 edition rose and ring

This original 1928 edition features a sample illustration on the cover. For sale at Biblio.com

Originally published in 1855, this satiric fantasy by Thackeray of Vanity Fair fame revolves around the mythical kingdom of Paflagonia and four young cousins who are set to inherit it, plus a fairy called Blackstick who causes lots of trouble for them all. Written as a sort of a satirical fairy-tale that critiques the monarchy, it was considered suitable for children as well as adults, though it might go over a lot of children’s heads today. If you’re interested, there is a fun little review of it over at Vintage Novels as well.


Boy’s Trader Horn by Alfred Aloysious Horn

trader horn flyleaf inner

This inner flyleaf of the 1928 edition features a map of Africa. On sale at Abe Books.

Another abridged version of a popular adult title, The Boy’s Trader Horn is a memoir of a British ivory trader Alfred Aloysious Horn’s experiences in Africa that’s been adapted for children. A lively tale of adventure meant for “the boy who longs for strange tales and stranger sights,”13 it follows the narrator as he “journeys into jungles teaming with buffalo, gorillas, and man-eating leopards, frees slaves, meets Cecil Rhodes (founder of Rhodesia) and liberates a princess from captivity.” Folks on Goodreads say it’s a lively and entertaining read which captures an Africa that’s very different from today.

It was eventually turned into an MGM movie as well. Apparently, it deviates quite a lot from the actual memoir, but was very influential in movie history. Not only was it the first talkie made by MGM, but also the first Hollywood movie to be shot on location in another part of the world, with its actors contracting deadly diseases and fending off wild animals on set. The general flavor comes through with these movie posters:


Robin Hood, a “new interpretation” by Edith Heal and Phillip Schuyler Allen of the University of Chicago

robin hood 1928 kids

This 1928 edition with a faded color cover is on sale at Abe Books

Perhaps the most interesting of the bunch, this 1928 edition features a unique retelling of the Robin Hood legend, thanks to the efforts of the University of Chicago. Phillip Schuyler Allen was a professor of Germanic languages at the University of Chicago who worked with Ms. Heal to offer a different vision of Robin Hood, who is:

“…not the merry, dauntless leader, outlawed by the inadvertent killing of the king’s deer, but a Saxon patriot whose idols are Thomas Beckett and Hereward, whose liege lady is the Virgin Mary, and whose avowed purpose in gathering together the loyal band in Lincoln green is to save his people from the hated Norman yoke. Going back to the sources for her material, the author has not feared to reject the more popular but no more authentic story of Robin’s origin, and by doing so has presented us with a hero, like, but strangely unlike the one we knew.”14

Though this is a very different idea of Robin from what we are accustomed to, according to folks on Goodreads, it’s well worth a read for fans of the Robin Hood legend.


For The “Small Folk”: Books for Younger Children

Davy and the Goblin by Charles E. Carryl

davy goblin cvr

This 1928 edition is on sale at Etsy. Check out all that color!

Essentially the first official piece of Lewis Carroll fan fiction, Davy and the Goblin follows Davy, a young boy, who falls asleep in front of the fireplace after reading Alice and Wonderland. In his dreams, a goblin appears in his fireplace and takes him away on a “believing journey” to a magical land where he meets many famous literary and folktale characters, including Sinbad the sailor and Robinson Crusoe.

The 1886 edition, with lovely illustrations by Edmund Birckhend Bensell, is available online for free through the New York Public Library’s internet archives.


The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving, illustrated by Arthur Rackham

Irving’s tale comes to life with gorgeous paintings by master illustrator Arthur Rackham. While the 1928 edition features less illustrations than previous versions (there are eight of them), they are no less charming. Shea says the artist’s “fantastic images” have always appealed to her, and they seem “particularly appropriate for this book.”15

Here are some sample illustrations. More can be found here at David Brass Rare Books, which is also selling a 1928 copy:

witch rackham 1

A witch from Sleepy Hollow. Source: David Brass Rare Books

flyleaf rahakm 2.jpg

The gorgeous inner flyleaf for Sleepy Hollow. Source: David Brass Rare Books

ichaod rakham 3

Ichabod and his lady friend. Source: David Brass Rare Books


The Bastable Children by Edith Nesbit

bastable 3 cover

This is actually a 1929 edition on sale at Abe Books

Considered a bargain buy, this particular edition contains three books in one: The Treasure Seekers, The Would Be Goods, and The New Treasure Seekers. While the books focus on English characters, Shea felt that since the stories featured “real children with the problems and joys of universal childhood,” it should “appeal to all young readers” regardless of origin.16


Have you read any of these these books, dear readers? What did you think of them? Do you think kids would still enjoy them today? Please comment below, and happy holidays and best wishes to you all! 😀

A Merry Christmas - Volumes of Good Wishes - Books and Holly


Works Cited:
1 Mills, Claudia. 2014. Ethics and Children”s Literature (Ashgate Studies in Childhood, 1700 to the Present). Ashgate Publishing Group. Pg. 46. Accessed 9/23/19 here at Google Books.
2 Miller, Marilyn Lea. 2003. Pioneers and leaders in library services to youth: a biographical dictionary. Westport, Conn: Libraries Unlimited. Pg. 201. Accessed 9/23/19 here at Google Books.
3 Shea, Agatha L. “Many Juvenile Books on Hand for Yule Season: Old Favorites in New and Attractive Dress.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963), Dec 08, 1928. https://search.proquest.com/docview/180994790?accountid=3688.
4 Ibid.
5 Ibid
6 Ibid
7 Ibid
8 “Display Ad 13 — no Title.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963), Dec 15, 1928. https://search.proquest.com/docview/181001747?accountid=3688.
9 Shea, Agatha L. “Many Juvenile Books on Hand for Yule Season: Old Favorites in New and Attractive Dress.”
10 Ibid.
11 Ibid.
12 Ibid.
13 Ibid.
14 Ibid.
15 Ibid.
16 Ibid.
Posted in book list, book reviews, holiday post | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Hallowe’en How-To: Tell The Future at Your Vintage Halloween Party

good fortune witch_card

One hundred years ago, Halloween was about…love? ❤


Maidens their fate may tell on this Hallowe’en.

Of him they love so well learn on this Hallowe’en.

Learn what his trade may be,

If he’ll be true to thee.

Maybe his face they’ll see, this mystic Hallowe’en.

Haste where candles burn, this mystic Hallowe’en.

Come, try thou every charm,

Bravely face each alarm.

Fair maid ne’er came to harm, on a mystic Hallowe’en.

–partial poem from The Complete Hallowe’en Book, circa 1915.1


Who will you marry, and when? What will be the occupation of your future spouse? Will you be rich or poorWill they remain faithful, or leave you for someone else? Or will you remain alone forever?

These were the kinds of questions that young people of the past spent Halloween night desperately trying to answer—and if any of you dear readers try some of these fortune-telling games tonight, you may learn your own romantic fate as well! 😉

halloween marriage girl

This 1910s or 1920s postcard indicates how much Halloween rituals were still about love and matchmaking. Photo source: cardcow.com



Instead of candy, costumes, ghosts and goblins, back in the 19th and early 20th centuries, Halloween was really about one thing: love! ❤

Specifically, if you were a young person, it was about finding out who you were destined to marry. A short story by early romance writer Laura Jean Libbey from 1901, which appeared in the Chicago Tribune, captured this attitude towards Halloween rather well, particularly regarding young women:

“…Halloween, night of all nights, when goblin witches and all things uncanny step slowly forth, when the darkness of night gathers, and hold high revelry under the light of the moon, which hides her face now and then to laugh. Even the stars wink an eye, the waves dance, and the winds whistle gleefully to see the elves of the air flirting with audaciously with Cupid. This is love’s own night, the night maidens challenge Cupid, to find out if there is to be marriage for them within the next twelvemonth, or still another year of waiting for the hero who is to crown their hearts with love’s jeweled diadem and clasp their hands in wedded bliss. This is the night of all nights when youths and maidens take their fling of mirth and fun, just as their grandparents and grandmamas did when they were young, and eyes strive to peep into the mysteries of the future.”2

While it might seem odd today to think of Halloween as full of swooning lovers, this is less surprising when one takes into account the early history of Halloween in America, as well as its previous associations in Europe.

When Halloween arrived in the Colonies, it combined with earlier harvest traditions in ways that emphasized romantic fortune-telling above all else. For example, one popular Colonial tradition during fall was a “play party,” a non-denominational event for farming communities where people got together to have fun and enjoy the fruits of the harvest.3 Such gatherings were a rare opportunities for young folks from far-flung communities to look for a husband or wife. As a result, fortune-telling games like apple bobbing were a popular part of these festivities, where “whoever could snag an apple from a big bucket full of water, hands tied behind the back, would be wed soonest.”4

This association, however, really began in Europe. As Lisa Morton notes in Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween, “marriage was probably the most important event in the life of a rural, pre-industrial young person,” and to that effect, many other earlier European holidays—like May Day—also involved fortune-telling games that could predict marriage.5 Over time, however, these traditions ended up migrating to Halloween. In Scotland, fortune-telling games were already a well-established part of the holiday by at least 1785, when the Scottish poet Robert Burns refers to a number of divination practices, such as burning nuts, throwing yarn and pulling kale in his poem “Hallowe’en.”6 The mystical divination aspect of Halloween, however, is even older than that. According to Lesley Bannatyne in Halloween: An American Holiday, An American History, divination ultimately began as a “Celtic practice” thanks to Druids foretelling the future during Samhain using animal entrails and natural omens.7 Thus, many “quaint” Halloween divination practices involve the elements—fire, water, wind and earth—as well as common sources for them, such as hearth fires, running water, candles, wells, apples and nuts.8

Whatever their origins, in America, the Victorian age reinforced the holiday’s association with young lovers. In America, Halloween was deliberately “subdued, to be made safe for…adults and children” in keeping with ideals of middle class Victorian morality, especially regarding courting; romantic fortune-telling games were a fun way to tantalize young men and women while still keeping things relatively chaste.9 This attitude was reinforced by mass-market publications like Ladies Home Journal, where Halloween was turned into a holiday of “delicious mystery” that was “primarily known for its divination games.”10 Victorian dime novels particularly loved employing these games as plot devices, with many a heroine finding themselves eating “apples at midnight on Halloween while looking into a mirror for the face of a future husband” or following “balls of unwound yarn to dark barns and cellars” only to “fall helplessly into the arms of some gallant hero” who was destined to be their husband.11 A multitude of new “historic” divination games were invented during the Victorian age as well, as “old Halloween rites were given new twists and those twists spawned new games.”12

By the early 1900s, these party games were still going strong. This is very clear when one looks at Halloween postcards from the time period, many of which refer to or depict various fortune-telling activities. Take a look at these examples from Cardcow.com:

girl cat fortune postcard_snap apple

This little girl is playing a variant of “snap-apple,” another popular Halloween game that was similar to apple bobbing. Photo source: cardcow.com

Alll Hallow's Eve.

Another popular American game was turnip or cabbage pulls, where young couples would pull up vegetables from a field at midnight on Halloween to predict aspects of their future mate. This game comes from Ireland and Scotland, where the vegetable was usually a stalk of kale or cabbage stolen from a neighbor’s garden. Photo source: cardcow.com

Woman With Pumpkin And Candle Stares In Mirror To See Her Beau

This girl is performing a mirror test with a candle, another popular divination game—and the man to her left is doing his best to tip the scales in his favor. Photo source: cardcow.com

apple peel throw card

This card comes with instructions for how to perform the apple peel test, as well as your likely outcome (hope hers doesn’t involve the creepy man next to her!). Photo source: Cardcow.com


Divination games imported directly from Ireland and Scotland, such as the “three luggies,” or three bowls test, were also very popular. As David J. Skal notes in Death Makes a Holiday, “countless [post]cards [of the 1900s] show young women performing…a divination game involving three bowls, or ‘luggies,’ one empty, one containing clear water, and the last containing foul or soapy water, or simply dirt. A blindfolded player would approach the bowls and dip her fingers into one. The clear water represented a virginal mate, the cloudy water or dirt represented ‘damaged goods,’ and the empty bowl the barren fate of a spinster or bachelor”.13 This would be done three times in a row in order to determine the final outcome of the test.14

Such meanings, however, are subject to interpretation—as are the contents of each bowl, which has many different variations, each with a different meaning. Bannatyne, for instance, says the clouded water foretells widowhood, and she also offers a pioneer variant on the game, with bowls full of apples (standing for good luck, wealth, or love), nuts (no change in luck), or soot (sickness and loss of love).15 Hostess guides from the time period offer different interpretations as well. Dame Curtsey’s Book of Novel Entertainments for Every Day in the Year (1911), for example, says the bowls should be filled with water, milk, and nothing. If she touched water she will marry a bachelor, milk a widower, and if her hand comes up empty, she is “fated to remain single.”16 Another American version features bowls of earth, water, a ring, and a rag. The earth meant divorce, water a journey across the ocean, the ring a trip to the altar, and the rag no marriage at all.17

scotish luggie bowl card

A woman preparing to test her luck with the fateful luggie bowls. Source: cardcow.com

Interestingly, variations of the Three Luggies test were being performed as late as the 1940s in America. During WWII, a wartime version of this game consisted of blindfolded girls selecting one of seven bowls, each filled with a different item connected to the military: “red cloth…indicated they would marry an army man and a blue cloth, a sailor.”18 Another version had bowls “filled with red, white and blue-colored water and named for different branches of the armed services; thus a girl might discover the military affiliation of her future beloved.”19

Regardless of their origins, these fortune-telling games were enjoyed by Jazz Age party goers as well. For example Doris Blake, Chicago Tribune reporter, offered a long list of many of the games just mentioned—the same list she’d been offering, more or less, since 1910. This was because they livened up a party considerably in spite of their age. Even the Bogie Book, those ubiquitous party planning books of the 1920s, agrees: “although a few new and untried games may be interspersed on Hallowe’en, the old ones that have been handed down are the very life of the celebration and must never be omitted“.20 Besides, “no Hallowe’en party is considered a success unless all have bobbed for apples, each girl has walked down stairs backwards mirror in hand to catch a glimpse of her future husband, walnut shell boats have sailed in a tub of water, and apple parings flung over the left shoulder have formed a letter as they fall to the floor.”21

So, if you’re looking to add unique to your Halloween party this year, dear readers, why not get together with some of your friends at the Witching Hour and try your hands at some of these tests and games?



Apples and nuts, particularly chestnuts and walnuts, were popular divination tools during Halloween. While both were obviously “plentiful at harvest time,” there may be other reasons for their popularity as well.22U To this day, many sources cite the possibly fictional Roman festival of Pomona as another reason for this particular association. Considered the goddess of orchards, seeds and the harvest, Romans supposedly sacrificed apples and nuts to Pomona on November 1st, and this festival may have combined with Druidic Samhain rituals in England to “give later generations the charms and omens that come from nuts and apples which are made trial of at Hallowe’en.”23 Just as popular, nuts were also an important part of divination rituals. In Scotland and northern England, nut games were such an important part of the celebrations that the evening was known as “Nut Crack Night.”24

Whether or not ancient Rome was involved, however, these games are still pretty fun. So why not grab a few apples and try them yourself, dear readers…if you dare! 😉



apple paring test

Witch Dressed in Red With Flying Bats

Image source: Cardcow.com

As you peel your apple, there a number of rhymes you can recite as well. This one comes from John Gay’s 1714 poem The Shepard’s Week:

“I pare this pippin round and round again,

My sweetheart’s name to flourish on the plain;

I fling the unbroken paring o’er my head,

My sweetheart’s letter on the ground is read.”25

This one comes from Diane Arkin’s book Halloween: Romantic Art and Customs of Yesteryear:

By this magic paring I wish to discover,

The first letter of the name of my true lover.

Three times around with movement slow,

Then upon the floor lie low;

Show me, if you know the same,

The letter of my true love’s name.26

If no letter can be determined from the peeling, then it is assumed that the inquirer will not marry—however, a “bright girl” could usually make out any letter she chose, if she was clever enough, and thus use the test to her advantage.27



walnut boat test

walnut boat test pt 2



apple eat test 1920

There are quite a lot of variants on what the number of seeds mean, but here a few different interpretations from various poems:

One seed means “a journey,” “an enemy,” or “you’ll get a letter”

Two seeds mean wealth, “a new friend,” an early marriage, or “you’re going to break”

Three seeds mean true love, “your luck is going to mend,” a legacy, or “you’ll hear some good news”

Four seeds mean health, “a short sickness,” great wealth or “a ride you soon will take”

Five seeds mean a quarrel, “new clothes,” a sea voyage, or “you will be disappointed”

Six seeds mean “a pleasant journey,” “great fame as a orator or singer,” or “you’ll meet a friend”

Seven seeds mean marriage, “a lovers’ quarrel,” “possession of an item most desired,” or “a surprise”

Eight seeds mean “a new name,” “twice you’ll wed,” or “some money you will spend”

Nine seeds mean travel, “a long life before you’re dead,” or “there’s pleasure coming”

Ten seeds mean a ring, “you’ll be happy,” or “you’ll have something to wear”

Eleven seeds mean a fortune, “riches galore,” or “you will take a trip”

Twelve seeds mean four children, or “some good luck you will share”

Thirteen seeds mean honor, or “you’ll have a fright”

Fourteen seeds mean “a good name” or “your future days are bright”

Fifteen seeds mean “political fame.”28



Halloween Nuts

A visual sum-up of the nut test, where the actions of your nuts foretell your future relationship. Photo source: cardcow.com 

A popular old game that stretches back to at least the early 1700s, this test can be performed with either walnuts or chestnuts.

burning nuts better



Apple seeds, if applied to the face, can determine the steadfastness of your lover:

apple seed test 1920

For a variation on this game, you can recite this verse as you apply each seed:

“Pippin, pippin, I stick thee there

That thou is true thou mayest declare.”29



raisin test 1920



Suspend a series of apples from the ceiling with string or ribbon, tying the string to the stems. Blindfold all players and have them bite at the apples. The first who successfully bites an apple—something which is much harder than it looks—will “be the first to marry.”30

For a more daring variant, try this little number from the early 1900s. According to a 1907 edition of Harper’s Bazaar, this particular game was loads of fun, especially when “the candle flame brushed noses and chins in the sauciest manner”31:

“The apple and candle game is another favorite sport. From the ceiling a strong cord is suspended and is tied to the center of a stick about two feet long. To one end of this stick an apple is fastened; to the other end a lighted candle. The string is set in motion, and contestants try to catch the apple with their teeth [with hands bound behind their back]…[if you want to be safer,] instead of a candle, a bag of some thin material, filled with flour, may be substituted…three attempts to catch the fruit, with failure each time, is a fatal blow to all hopes of a speedy marriage.”32

apple bobbing trib

Apple bobbing was another fun pastime that could be used to predict future sweethearts. Either initials were carved into the back of the apples or small tags with names were attached to the stems. Whoever you drew from the bucket was destined to be your love. If done as a group, whoever got the first apple would marry within the year. If the apple was caught on the first attempt, then the lover was seen as true, while more slippery apples were seen as fickle lovers or no worth pursuit from the bobber.



Besides fruits and nuts, various everyday objects could also be turned into fortune-telling tools. Bowls, water, eggs, needles, candles, and plates all feature in these easy tests to help men and women find their true loves.



needle test



ring and goblet test



jump candle 1920



threading needle game


This test from Ireland was popular throughout the Midwest after it was brought over by Irish immigrants:

“Lie down on your back by a well on Halloween and hold a mirror over your head so that you can see a reflection of the bottom of the well. If you are to marry, the picture of your future marriage partner will appear in the mirror.”33



four saucers variant

1927 partiers with div tests

1920s party guests ready to play the Four Saucers game, a variant on the more traditional Luggie Bowls.



For this test, one needs a barn or cellar and a ball of yarn. The person throws the ball into the barn or down the cellar stairs so it unravels, all while holding onto the other end of the string. Then the person begins rolling it up until it catches on something. When it does, one is supposed to ask “Who holds?” Either the wind will whisper the name of your future spouse, or their spectre will appear behind you to wind up the ball.34

Alternatively, one could throw the ball of yarn and repeat one of these chants as they wound it up:

I wind, I wind, my true love to find

The color of his hair, the clothes he will wear

The day he is married to me.35


Whoever will my husband be

Come wind this ball behind of me.36



In Scotland, Ireland, and England, this test was done with kale, leeks, or cabbages. Romantics would go out hand in hand to pull vegetables from the garden at midnight while blindfolded; the attributes of the selected vegetable would determine aspects of your future mate. How easily or difficult the stalk was to pull indicated how easily your mate would be to win. After that, the shape and condition of the vegetable denoted various aspects: a full, green head symbolized an attractive mate, while a closed white stalk was old or stingy; dirt on the roots meant wealth while clean roots meant poverty; the flavor of the plant, whether sharp, sweet, or “insipid” foretold your mate’s disposition, and the shape, whether tall, stout, bold or graceful, denoted the mate’s “physical build.”37



rose test doris blake masquerade.jpeg



pumpkin alphabet doris pumpkin ghosts

bowl scrying image trib

A group gathers around for what is probably an egg white or molten lead test. During the test, hot lead or egg whites are poured into a bowl of cold water, and the shapes made by the material as it hardens are interpreted to determine the future.


halloween ring cake fortune

This 1910s postcard refers to another form of fortune cake: bake a wedding ring into a cake, and whoever gets the slice with the ring is destined to marry within the year. Photo source: cardcow.com


Halloween night, when the spirit world comes closer to ours than any other point in the year, is also supposed to be great for prophetic visions or dreams. In this section, mirrors, candles, cake and trinkets to put under your pillow are sure to induce visions of love…



There are a wide variety of mirror tests, many of which also involve candles. Here are a few:

Round and round, O stars so fair!

Ye travel, search out everywhere.

I pray you, sweet stars, now show to me,

This night, who my future husband will be!39

Whoever she meets or runs into while walking backwards will be her future husband.

  • Stand in front of a mirror at midnight in a candlelit room and eat an apple. If your lover loves you back, their spurt will appear in the mirror and ask for the last bite.40
  • Walk backwards down the cellar or basement stairs while holding a mirror. Behind you, in the glass, you should “catch the features of your [future] mate.”41


“Tightly pack a bowl with flour and insert a ring vertically into some part. When the bowl is full, invert it onto a plate and invite fortune-seekers to cut a thin slice from the mound using a sharp knife. The guest whose slice contains the ring will be the first to marry.”42



There were a wide variety of ways to induce dreams of your future spouse on Halloween night. Here are a few ideas:

  • Place bay leaves under your pillow at night if you’re a man, or rosemary if you’re a woman, and you will dream of your future lover.43
  • Remove the yolk from a hard boiled egg, fill the cavity with salt, and eat it before going to bed without drinking any water. You will dream that your future lover will bring you water.44
  • Make small pills of grated walnuts, hazelnuts, nutmeg, butter and sugar and eat them before bed, and you will learn your future husband’s occupation. If you dream of gold, he will be rich; of noise, he will be a tradesman; of thunderstorms, he will be a traveler.45
  • Rub each of your bedposts with a piece of lemon, and your lover should appear to you at night in a dream to bring you two lemons.46
  • Before going to bed on Halloween night, place a glass of water on your nightstand and add a sliver of wood to it while repeating this rhyme: “Husband mine that is to be, come tonight and rescue me.” During the night if you dream of falling from a bridge into a river, your future mate will come and rescue you in your dream.47
  • “Write the names of three sweethearts on slips of paper and put them beneath your pillow. If you dream of one of those named, you can be assured that person cares for you. If his is the name you draw out first in the morning, he will be the one you marry.”48

Walk out the front door backwards at the stroke of midnight on Halloween and pick three blades of grass. Wrap them in orange paper and tuck them under your pillow, thus ensuring whatever you dream that night will come true.49

pills for dreams bw illos

This recipe for “dream pills” comes from a 1915 Chicago Tribune article, but there are many variations.

Alternative interpretations for the dream pills are: pleasant dreams mean you’ll marry a gentleman, difficult dreams mean you’ll marry a laborer, and dreams of storms mean you’ll marry a ne’er-do-well or a rogue.50

future husband candle test

This young couple is performing a mirror test…which this fellow is obviously influencing to his advantage. Image source: Cardcow.com


Looking to add even more games and fortunes to your vintage Halloween party? Then try Halloween Happenings (1921) by Lettie Van Derveer. It’s full of even more fortune-telling games and tests and is suitable for any Roaring Twenties Halloween party, although most of the games require some assembly beforehand on the part of the host, particularly in writing out all the fortunes. Many of the games appear to have been invented for the sake of the book as well, so they’re definitely examples of period activities.

Another possibility is the “Games of Fate” section of Hallowe’en Festivities (1903) by Stanley Schell (1903). While this resource is technically older than the Roaring Twenties, many of the games I’ve listed here are described in it as well, plus many more.


So what about you, dear readers? Will you try any of these games tonight? If so, dear readers, I’d love to know what the fates foretold for you, so please come back and share in the Comments! And whatever you do this year, dear readers, I hope you have…

…a Happy Halloween! 😀

boy happy halloween


Works Cited Within Text:
1. Arkins, Diane C. Halloween: Romantic Art and Customs of Yesteryear. Gretna: Pelican Pub, 2000. 11.
2. Libbey, Laura Jean. “All Halloween is Love’s Own Eve.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Oct 31, 1910. https://search.proquest.com/docview/173564143?accountid=3688.
3. Bannatyne, Lesley Pratt. Halloween: An American Holiday, And American History. New York, NY: Facts on File, 1990. 53.
4. Bannatyne, Halloween, 56.
5. Morton, Lisa. Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween. London, UK: Reaktion Books, 2012.  37.
6. Ibid.
7. Bannatyne, Halloween, 71.
8. Bannatyne, 72.
9. Bannatyne, 105.
10. Bannatyne, 107.
11. Bannatyne 114
12. Bannatyne,115.
13. Skal, David J. Death Makes a Holiday: A Cultural History of Halloween. New York : Bloomsbury, 2002. 39.
14. Paull, Marion. Creating Your Vintage Hallowe’en: The Folklore, Traditions, and Some Crafty Makes. New York, NY: CICO Books, 2014. 118.
15. Bannatyne, 57.
16. Glover, Ellye Howell, 1868-. “Dame Curtsey’s” Book of Novel Entertainments for Every Day In the Year. 7th ed. Chicago: A. C. McClurg & co., 1911. 98.
17. Paull, Vintage Hallowe’en, 118.
18. Bannatyne, 131.
19. Morton, Trick or Treat, 65-66.
20. Dennison Manufacturing Company. The Bogie Book. 1922. 12.
21. Dennison Manufacturing Company. The Bogie Book. 1923. 35.
22. Bannatyne, 57.
23. Kelley, Ruth Edna. The Book of Hallowe’en. Boston: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard co, 1919. 26.
24. Bannatyne, 57.
25. Morton, 55.
26. Arkins, 24.
27. Ibid.
28. Arkins, 27-29.
29. Bannatyne, 72.
30. Arkins, 22
31. Arkins, 23.
32. “SPELLS for ALL HALOWEEN.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Oct 26, 1902. https://search.proquest.com/docview/173111478?accountid=3688.
33. Bannatyne, 75.
34. Paull, 113.
35. Bannatyne, 75.
36. Bannatyne, 72.
37. Arkins, 41.
38. Kelley, 162.
39. Ibid.
40. Schell, Stanley. Hallowe’en Festivities. New York: Edgar S. Werner Pub. & Company, 1903. 52.
41. Blain, Mary E., 1872-. Games for All Occasions. Chicago: Brewer, Barse & co, 1909. 23.
42. Arkins, 61.
43. Paull, 117.
44. Ibid.
45. Ibid.
46. Arkins, 53.
47. Arkins, 54.
48. Ibid.
49. Ibid.
50. Arkins, 57.

Please note: The tests pictured in this post, as well as the black and white illustrations, are taken from the following Chicago Tribune articles, in no particular order:
Blake, Doris. “Love Superstitions for Hallowe’en.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Oct 24, 1915. https://search.proquest.com/docview/173969438?accountid=3688.
Blake, Doris. “Hallowe’en Superstitions.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Oct 22, 1922. https://search.proquest.com/docview/174950181?accountid=3688.
Blake, Doris. “Hallowe’en Lore.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963), Oct 28, 1928. https://search.proquest.com/docview/180954597?accountid=3688.
Blake, Doris. “HALLOW-E’EN LORE.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922), Oct 24, 1920. https://search.proquest.com/docview/174749541?accountid=3688.
Blake, Doris. “Halloween Superstitions: They’re Not to be Taken Seriously, but They Provide a Lot of Fun for a Party.” Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963), Oct 30, 1927. https://search.proquest.com/docview/180814682?accountid=3688.




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