Why The Negro is Always in Debt (1913)

Why The Negro is Always in Debt (1913)

I was flipping through articles in the Frank Leslie’s Weekly collection over at Accessible Archives and I spotted this promotion for an upcoming issue:

WHY THE NEGRO IS ALWAYS IN DEBT. There is a reason why the colored man can never quite catch up with the world. The harder he works the deeper in debt he becomes; but this is not altogether his fault. He is being held to them by cold schemers who take the unfairest advantage of him. How much do you think they charge him for a dining table if he buys it on installments? The article, “How the Colored Brother in the South is Divorced from his Coin” by J. R. Hornaday, will tell you.

I decided I needed to track it down and read it.  The actual article with illustrations by “Zim” is quite long so the version below is abridged.   The J.R. Hornaday’s full article appeared in the January 23, 1913 issue. (more…)

Margaret Sanger: Woman Rebel

Margaret Sanger: Woman Rebel

Margaret Sanger, birth control crusader, feminist and reformer, was one of the most controversial and compelling figures of the 20th century. The first volume of “The Selected Papers of Margaret Sanger,” titled “The Woman Rebel, 1900-1928,” documents the critical phases and influences of an American feminist icon and offers rare glimpses into her working-class childhood, burgeoning feminism, spiritual and scientific interests, sexual explorations, and diverse roles as wife, mother, nurse, journalist, radical socialist and activist.

In spite of the some perceived negative aspects of her determination to be a martyr for the birth control movement, Sanger was a positive social force in testing and denouncing the Comstock law. The law, named for Anthony Comstock, a postal inspector who had lobbied Congress to forbid the distribution of obscene materials throughout the United States, equated birth control and sex education with obscenity. (more…)

Radio: The Homosexual in Our Society (1958)

Radio: The Homosexual in Our Society (1958)

This 1958 recording is the earliest known radio show episode that openly discussed homosexuality. The show is in the form of a panel featuring:

  • The Host/Moderator: Elsa Knight Thompson – The Public Affairs Director of KPFA (Founded in 1949 by Lewis Hill, a pacifist, poet, and journalist, KPFA was the first community supported radio station in the USA.)
  • The Gay: Hal Call – The editor of the Mattachine Society’s newsletter, the Mattachine Review. After graduating Call worked for several news outlets, including the Kansas City Star. In August 1952, while working for the Star, Call was arrested for “lewd conduct” and paid an $800 bribe to have the charges dismissed. Call resigned his job and he and his lover Jack moved to San Francisco. Call died in San Francisco on December 18, 2000, at the age of 83.
  • The Doctor: Dr. Blanche BakerDr. Blanche Baker – A psychologist noted for her then-rarely-shared belief that homosexuality was not an abnormality nor an illness. Few activists were so universally loved within the West Coast homophile movement as San Francisco psychologist Blanche M. Baker. In the 1950s and 1960s, the American Psychiatric Association listed homosexuality as a mental illness that could be cured or managed by psychotherapy treatments. While many therapists quietly dismissed this in practice, Dr. Blanche Baker put her career on the line by publicly challenging the designation.
  • The Civilian: Lee Galey – The mother of a gay man, Galey recounts her shock at first learning her son is gay and her eventual embrace of her son’s sexuality.

The host focused many of her questions on the idea of a conflict between the society and the individual, as well as whether the root of homosexuality is a product of biology or environment. Elsa Knight Thompson seems more interested in the origins of homosexuality than anyone else on the show.

Elsa Knight Thompson also seems convinced that there may be some kind special artistic talents that go hand in hand with homosexuality. Doctor Baker and Hal Call both confirmed that in their experience “the homosexual is, on the average, more talented” but that may not be a just evaluation because of the very small number of openly gay people they know. But Hal thinks the difference is that gay men may have more of an opportunity to be creative as a young man because he is not tied down in a job with dependents at a young age.

What I find rather heart warming about this whole discussion is the way most of the panel doesn’t really give a crap WHY people are gay. Hall Call also explains his theory about “gay mannerisms.”

25 Times Helen Rowland Nailed It!

25 Times Helen Rowland Nailed It!

1. Men and Fools

It takes one woman twenty years to make a man of her son and another woman twenty minutes to make a fool of him.

-Helen Rowland

2. Caught!

The discovery of rice-powder on his coat-lapel makes a college-boy swagger, a bachelor blush, and a married man tremble.

-Helen Rowland

3. Love is...

Love is misery sweetened with imagination, salted with tears, spiced with doubt, flavored with novelty, and swallowed with your eyes shut.

-Helen Rowland

4. Fickle Men

Somehow, the moment a man has surrendered the key of his heart to a woman, he begins to think about changing the lock.

-Helen Rowland

5 Safety First

A bachelor’s idea of “safety first” consists in getting tangled up with a lot of women in order to avoid getting tied up to one.

-Helen Rowland

6. Adam's Rib

It seems so unreasonable of man to expect a woman to think straight, walk straight, or talk straight, considering that she was made from his rib the crookedest bone in his body.

-Helen Rowland

7. Personal Liberty

If married couples would show as much respect for one another’s personal liberty, habits and preferences as they do for one another’s toothbrushes, love’s young dream would not so often turn into a nightmare. It is the Siamese twin existence they impose on themselves that drives them to distraction or destruction.

-Helen Rowland

8. Gilded Facts

Love is just a glittering illusion with which we gild the hard, cold facts of life until all the world seems bright and shining!

-Helen Rowland

9. Differences

When a woman doesn’t marry it is usually because she has never met the man with whom she could be perfectly happy; but when a man remains single it is usually because he has never met the woman without whom he could not be perfectly happy.

-Helen Rowland

10. Solomon's Alibis

Solomon was the only man who ever had six hundred and ninety-nine alibis when one of his wives detected the fragrance of another woman’s sachet on his coat lapel.

-Helen Rowland

11. Human Brakes

A man is like a motor-car which always balks on the trolley-tracks and runs at top speed down hill; a wife is the human brake that prevents him from going to destruction.

-Helen Rowland

12. Platonic Love

Plato has lured more men into matrimony than Cupid. A man can see an arrow coming and dodge it, but platonic friendship strikes him in the back.

-Helen Rowland

13. The Conjugal Pillow

He that telleth a secret unto a married man may prepare himself for a lot of free advertising; for, lo, the conjugal pillow is the root of all gossip.

-Helen Rowland

14. Metamorphosis

A grub may become a butterfly, but the man who marries a butterfly, expecting to turn her into a grub, should remember that nature never works that way.

-Helen Rowland

15. Sarcasm

Many a man who is too tenderhearted to pour salt on an oyster will pour sarcasm all over his wife’s vanity and then wonder why she always shrivels up in her shell at the sight of him.

-Helen Rowland

16. Staying Put

A man who strays for love of a woman may sometimes be reclaimed; but the man who strays for love of amusement or love or novelty will never “stay put” for any girl.

-Helen Rowland

17. Sugar and Salt

A wise woman puts a grain of sugar into everything she says to a man and takes a grain of salt with everything he says to her.

-Helen Rowland

18. Paralysis

When a man hesitates to propose to a girl he is never quite sure whether it is the fear of being “turned down” or the fear of being “taken up” which paralyzes him.

-Helen Rowland

19. Marriage in Moderation

One or two marriages, like one or two drinks, may not have any visible effect upon you. But don’t make it a custom.

-Helen Rowland

20. The Marriage Habit

A woman marries the first time, you know, for love, the second time for companionship, the third time for a support and the rest of the time just from habit.

-Helen Rowland

21. Flattery

The satisfaction in flattering a man consists in the fact that, whether you lay it on thick or thin, rough or smooth, a little of it is always bound to stick.

-Helen Rowland

22. Expectations

Pshaw! It is no more reasonable to expect a man to love you tomorrow because he loves you today, than it is to assume that the sun will be shining tomorrow because the weather is pleasant today.

-Helen Rowland

23. A Darwinism Joke

When a woman looks at a man in evening dress, she sometimes can’t help wondering why he wants to blazon his ancestry to the world by wearing a coat with a long tail to it.

-Helen Rowland

24. Deeper Emotions

The shallower a man’s love, the more it bubbles over into eloquence. When his emotions go deep, words stick in his throat, and have to be hauled out of him with a derrick.

-Helen Rowland

25. Superior Intelligence

It is difficult for a man to reconcile a girl’s absorbing interest in picture-hats, pearl powder, and Paquin models with real brains; but somehow his own enthusiasm for baseball and golf never seems to him incompatible with superior intelligence.

-Helen Rowland

Helen RowlandMany of these epigrams are familiar to English speakers the world over. They were collected in Helen Rowland’s 1922 book, A Guide to men: Being encore reflections of a bachelor girl.  

Rowland was an American journalist and humorist born in Washington D.C. in 1890. For many years she wrote a column in the New York World newspaper called Reflections of a Bachelor Girl. She is often confused with Helen Rowland (later Helene Daniels), a radio singer and recording artist of the 1930s. She died at age 60 in Nashville, North Carolina.

The Internet Archive also contains digital copies of a few of her other books and compilations including The Sayings of Mrs. Solomon; being the confessions of the seven hundredth wife as revealed to Helen Rowland, The Widow, and The Rubáiyát of a Bachelor.

The video below is a LibriVox public domain recording of the reading of A Guide to Men: Being Encore Reflections of a Bachelor Girl.

25,000 Lomax Manuscript Pages Online

25,000 Lomax Manuscript Pages Online

Today the American Folklife Center announced the online publication of the Lomax Family manuscripts. This project begins today, with access to 25,000 pages created primarily by Alan Lomax during the 1940s and 1950s on the LOC website here.

After 1942, when Congress cut off the Library of Congress’s funding for folk song collecting, Lomax continued to collect independently in Britain, Ireland, the Caribbean, Italy, and Spain, as well as the United States, using the latest recording technology, assembling an enormous collection of American and international culture. In March 2004 the material captured and produced without Library of Congress funding was acquired by the Library, which ‘brings the entire seventy years of Alan Lomax’s work together under one roof at the Library of Congress, where it has found a permanent home.’

God moves on the water

Lightnin’ Washington (vocalist), John A. and Alan Lomax, recordists. Lightnin’ Washington was an African American prisoner in the prison hospital at Darrington State Farm, Texas in 1935 when this was recorded.


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