The Truth About Prohibition and Murder

The Truth About Prohibition and Murder

Through the years a variety of laws were passed in Nebraska to limit the sale of alcoholic beverages. But until the second decade of the 20th century, these laws fell short of complete prohibition.

Initially the prohibitionists pushed for a “county option” to permit individual counties —- as opposed to cities and towns — to declare themselves wet or dry. This allowed the prohibitionists to drum up support among rural residents far from towns who would not be directly effected the way business owners who served or sold liquor in towns were. In the end, that bill was defeated by the anti-prohibition forces.

Nationwide both sides used hyperbole, heavily biased statistics, and ominous rhetoric to promote their position, but this ad that ran in the The Alliance Herald in Box Butte County, Nebraska on October 19, 1916 takes the cake. (more…)

Should Girls All Dress Alike?

Should Girls All Dress Alike?

The question: Should Students Have to Wear School Uniforms? is alive and well in America today.  The adoption of uniforms by public schools is on the rise in many parts of the United States.

Schools with a student body consisting of 50% or more non-white kids are four times more likely to require uniform dress than schools with a minority base of 20-49% and twenty-four times more likely than a school with a white student population of 81-95%.

By 2008, 22 states had laws in place allowing local schools to decide on the issue of uniforms for students.

Early in 1913 this question was being debated in the city of Seattle, Washington – but only for girls.

Dress School Girls All Alike?

Shall Seattle put its high school girls a uniform dress?

Miss Ruth Shank thinks her simple dress should be adopted by all high school girls.

Miss Ruth Shank thinks her simple dress should be adopted by all high school girls.

A retiring the school board recently proposed it. The Federated women’s club has taken the matter up in discussion. Teachers in the schools favor the idea. Mothers have varying opinions.

In our grandmothers day it was not actually understood that the matter of dress might have a good deal of effect on the work of a high school girl or that it in any way affected her morals. Neither was understood that adenoids, removable by a simple and almost painless operation, made a dunce of a really smart child, or that scientific ventilation facilitated the work of students.

Ruth Shank, a pupil at Lincoln high school, is a disciple of simplicity in dress.

“I believe,” she said, “high school girls are trying to be more simple in their dress. They don’t wear loud or flashy clothes any more. But I think they should be even more simple. A uniform dress might be just the thing.”

An investigation in the New York schools have revealed the fact that many pupils are retarded to their studies because of petty jealousies aroused in matters of dress. Boys too, they say, pay too much attention to gaily the dressed girls.

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The Peak and Decline of Spelling Reform

The Peak and Decline of Spelling Reform

Carnegie Support

The New York Times, March 12, 1906

With the new financial support of Andrew Carnegie and the ongoing support by leading scholars (see: The Rise of the Spelling Reform Movement), the movement made some immediate gains.

The formation of the Simplified Spelling Board was announced on March 11, 1906. Andrew Carnegie provided virtually all of the initial funding for the New York City based organization. The New York Times described Carnegie’s support as being based on his believe that “English might be made the world language of the future” and “an influence leading to universal peace”, but that this role was obstructed by its “contradictory and difficult spelling”. His financial support included a commitment of $15,000 per year for five years. That would be a commitment of over $350,000 a year in 2010 dollars.

The Board

The inaugural board of the Board was a diverse and well-respected set of luminaries. Among the early board members were:

Chancellor Andrews of the University of Nebraska, Justice Brewer of the United States Supreme Court, President Butler of Columbia University, O. C. Blackmer of Chicago, Andrew Carnegie, Mark Twain, Dr. Melvil Dewey (of Dewey Decimal Fame), Dr. Isaac K. Funk, editor and publisher of The Standard Dictionary; Lyman J. Gage, ex-Secretary of the Treasury; Richard Watson Gilder, editor of The Century Magazine; Dr. William T. Harris, United States Commissioner of Education and editor of Webster’s International Dictionary; Prof. George Hempel of the University of Michigan, Col. Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Henry Holt, Prof. William James of Harvard, President Jordan of Leland Stanford University, Prof. Thomas R. Lounsbury of Yale, Prof. Francis A. March of Lafayette, Prof. Brander Matthews of Columbia, Dr. Benjamin E. Smith, editor, and Dr. Charles P. G. Scott, etymological editor, of The Century Dictionary; President H. H. Seedley of the Iowa State Normal School, Cedar Falls; Col. Charles E. Sprague, President of the Union Dime Savings Institution; Prof. Calvin Thomas of Columbia, Dr. William Hayes Ward, editor of The Independent, and President Woodward of the Carnegie Institution of Washington. (more…)

The Rise of the Spelling Reform Movement

The Rise of the Spelling Reform Movement

By the end of the 19th Century a movement was taking root in America with the goal of simplifying the spelling of English words through the adoption of standardized rules like those used in many other languages.  The adoption of shorter and easier spellings has been an ongoing part of the spread of English around the world. Nobody in the 19th Century would have demanded that their children be taught to read and spell exclusively in the spelling and grammatical styles of Chaucer or Shakespeare. However, when American intellectuals and industrialists tried to speed up the evolution of the English language along the path it had been on for 800 years, they discovered that many people in the United States and the United Kingdom were deeply attached to the bizarre and idiosyncratic aspects of our common tongue.

Early Spelling Reformers

As early as 1554 John Hart wrote a book on the “unreasonable writing of our English tongue”, and 15 years later he published “An Orthographic” containing his proposals for the improvement of English spelling.

Sir John ChekeIn the meantime, Sir John Cheke (1557) and Sir Thomas Smith (1568), both secretaries of state of Edward VI, advocated radical reforms in spelling. Smith proposed an alphabet consisting of 37 characters. William Bullokar (1580) also suggested an alphabet of 37 characters; Dr. Gill, a celebrated master of St. Paul’s School in London, suggested a 40 letter alphebet in 1619; and in 1633, Bishop Wilkins proposed yet another with 37 symbols.

James Howell, in his “Grammar” (1662), urged a number of simplifications in spelling, some of which such as honor for honour, logic for logique, sin for sinne, war for warre, bodily for bodilie, bear for beare, wit for witt, and their analogs are now in general usage; while others bel for bell, tru for true, etc. are still regarded by many as radical innovations.

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