Historical

Rocket Science: Argonne's Questionable Experiment

I will admit that before this summer I knew little about Argonne.  For those of you who are like me, I will give a little background.  Argonne Laboratory was a research facility run as an extension of the University of Chicago to research the applications of nuclear energy.  Their files discuss ideas for numerous kinds of reactors, as well as more out of the box theories. 

Among them was one that called to mind the plot from a science fiction movie.  Perhaps this is why they say many of the biggest science fiction fans are historians!

While some of the theories were ones that were adopted such as the irradiation of food to prolong its shelf life and kill off bacteria or insects that might be hiding in it.  But this one is a little less mundane, just before President John F. Kennedy announced the national goal of putting a man on the moon, Argonne began theoretical plans for a nuclear power plant which would power a permanent space laboratory.

A lunar power plant.

By working together with astronomers and using visual observations and leading theories about the chemical make up of moon dust, the physicists at Argonne tried to ensure that the plant would be self-sufficient.  This means that it would have to be made entirely of metals which were present, again, in theory, on the moon and so could be mined and processed locally from the lab.

If this sounds familiar, it is probably because it has popped up in the news recently with both Japan and China announcing plans to begin to use the moon as a resource. 

 

This month an article I wrote for the National Archives was published in their newsletter.  For more information and the complete article, you can check out their website here.

For more information about Japan's announcement check out this article.

For more information about China's announcement check out this article.

For more information about Argonne's Lunar Plant, you can read the report about their research here.

Tara Cajacob

Hi, I'm Tara!  I am more than a huge fan of history, you might say I'm a little obsessed.  I would spend a Friday night in with a glass of local wine and a reference book any night of the week.   Learn more about me and my work here

Chicago Brewing History: You Be the Judge

Last week we talked about this case which I did some work with at the National Archives this summer.  To refresh your memory, Cooke Brewing Co. launched a new beer line at the World's Fair in Chicago in 1893, however, there was one caveat their labels looked an awful lot like another, well-established brewery's labels.

Here is the evidence, you decide if the labels were actually copied:

So, what do you think?  Was E&J right that Cooke's labels look suspiciously familiar?  Have you found any cool paper ephemera or labels in your research?  Share your take in the comments below!

Tara Cajacob

Hi, I'm Tara!  I am more than a huge fan of history, you might say I'm a little obsessed.  I would spend a Friday night in with a glass of local wine and a reference book any night of the week.   Learn more about me and my work here

Chicago Brewing History: The Case of the Duplicative Labels

For the past two months I have been spending a lot of time at the National Archives learning about their holdings and collections as well as archival techniques.  One of my favorites was this case between E&J Liquor who manufactured Bass's Pale Ale and Cooke Brewing Company.  The first thing that caught my eye was this snarky correspondence exchange between the two companies prior to the filing of the lawsuit. 

Cooke Brewing Company, like so many other companies, debuted their new beer in a display at the Chicago World's Fair in 1893.  Unfortunately, someone spotted the similarities between their labels and the widely distributed Bass's Pale Ale label, and notified E&J. 

The beautiful letterhead in this second letter immediately draws the eye, but my favorite part is the content: "Let me say to you that I, John S. Cooke, of the Cooke Brg. Co. have come to the conclusion that you are anything but a gentleman." 

Very. Heated.

Next week I will share some of the beautiful labels from this case.  You won't want to miss it!

Tara Cajacob

Hi, I'm Tara!  I am more than a huge fan of history, you might say I'm a little obsessed.  I would spend a Friday night in with a glass of local wine and a reference book any night of the week.   Learn more about me and my work here

6 Things I Learned Working At A Military Museum

sixthings.jpg

For the past several months I have been employed in a contract position with a military museum.  It was a wonderful experience and I took advantage of it by reading dozens of books from their library and asking questions every time I got the chance.   Working with the curatorial team allowed me the chance to not just read or hear about artifacts and their significance but to actually see and even touch some of them.  All that being said, here are six of the things that I was glad to have learned:

  1. During WWII the military hired prominent fashion designers to create women's uniforms to entice them to join the force.  
  2. This practice was clearly done by the time the 1970s rolled around, as evidenced by the presence of awful sea foam green dresses. 
  3. You can buy parts to repair almost anything from tanks to boots online.
  4. I learned that the walking stick that fellas in suits used in the early 1900s are called "Swagger Sticks" and that many people owned several of them. 
  5. At the end of WWII everything that the soldiers used was recycled and passed down to future soldiers. At the end of WWI, the world believed that there would never be another war -- that it was the "war to end all wars."  Because of this, soldiers were allowed to  take their equipment and uniforms home.  In the 1920s, one could find helmets used in households for anything from flower pots to utility buckets because they were easy to find and inexpensive.  Thus, WWI uniform parts in good condition are rare and highly sought after. 
  6. I never thought much about the origin of the expression treating something with "kid gloves."  But while cataloging a pair of "kid-skin gloves" I learned what it was.  The soft, velvety leather is so buttery smooth getting slapped with them wouldn't hurt a fly.

I'm sure there are many other lessons I learned, some less interesting than others.  I am so grateful for the opportunity to work at the Minnesota Military Museum and to have met the wonderful employees, volunteers and board members. 


Tara Cajacob

Hi, I'm Tara!  I am more than a huge fan of history, you might say I'm a little obsessed.  I would spend a Friday night in with a glass of local wine and a reference book any night of the week.   Learn more about me and my work here


January Blog Series Round-Up

In January we looked at the different housekeeping tips that were published throughout each decade of the Twentieth Century.  This is the series end round-up, if you will. 


Tara Cajacob

Hi, I'm Tara!  I am more than a huge fan of history, you might say I'm a little obsessed.  I would spend a Friday night in with a glass of local wine and a reference book any night of the week.   Learn more about me and my work here


Keeping House like an OLD Pro - 1951-1960

January is National Organization Month and also National Hobby Month, so I thought, why not combine the two and find  out what the latest fads in cleaning and organization have been throughout the past century.  This is part 6 and we'll be looking at the the 1950s, for part 1 covering the turn of the century click here , for part 2 covering 1911-1920 click here,  for part 3 about 1921-1930 click here, for part 4 covering 1931-1940 click here, or for part 5 covering 1941-1950 click here.

This is the last part of our series on cleaning and organizing tips from days past.  By the time the 1950s came, the United States was in an economic boom.  The 1950s marked the beginning of the suburbs, there were televisions in many homes and automobiles in most driveways.  In recognition of this change, here are some retro television ads for cleaning products from the 50s.  


Tara Cajacob

Hi, I'm Tara!  I am more than a huge fan of history, you might say I'm a little obsessed.  I would spend a Friday night in with a glass of local wine and a reference book any night of the week.   Learn more about me and my work here


Keeping House like an OLD Pro - 1941-1950

January is National Organization Month and also National Hobby Month, so I thought, why not combine the two and find  out what the latest fads in cleaning and organization have been throughout the past century.  This is part 5 and we'll be looking at the the WWII Era, for part 1 covering the turn of the century click here , for part 2 covering 1911-1920 click here, for part 3 about 1921-1930 here, or for part 4 discussing 1931-1940 click here.

World War II swept the United State radically changed the role of women, they were no longer primarily homemakers with the occasional job outside of the house.  Now they were their own breed of freedom fighters, saving the world by working in factories, growing victory gardens and patching old garments.  Yet another way that women in WWII were expected to rise to the call of duty was through caring for their own sick.  Today we will be revisiting a later issue of the Cornell Bulletin for Homemakers entitled "Home Care of The Sick"  published in 1943.  

HOME CARE OF THE SICK

ORDER

The sickroom should be kept neat at all times, with the dresser drawers and closet doors closed; window shades straigth and even; blankets folded and put away when not in use; soiled drinking glasses, used tissues , and the like removed; and medicines out of sight, in the dresser drawer.  

One must, however, guard against insisting on order to such an extent that the patient feels that he must lie absolutely still in bed to avoid disarraying the covers, or that he cannot have newspapers, magazines, or recreational materials on hand to use as his illness permits.  

CLEANING

The room should be cleaned once a day, preferably immediately after the bath and after the bed has been changed in the morning.  Rugs may be cleaned with a vacuum cleaner or carpet sweeper.  Wooden floors may be cleaned with oiled mops.  Dust cloths, a fresh one every day, should be oiled, or moistened with water.  

If the floor is covered from wall to wall by matting or carpet and if the absence of electricity makes the use of a vacuum cleaner impossible, the carpet will have to be swept with a broom in the following way: First soak several newspapers in water, wring them out very dry, tear them in small pieces, and sprinkle them over the carpet.  After about five minutes sweep the floor: little dust will be raised.  

For the full text of the Bulletin click here. 


Tara Cajacob

Hi, I'm Tara!  I am more than a huge fan of history, you might say I'm a little obsessed.  I would spend a Friday night in with a glass of local wine and a reference book any night of the week.   Learn more about me and my work here