History

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: 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

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- 1900 to 1910

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.  We'll start with turn of the century cleaning techniques.

In the earliest part of the 20th century, the top 10 causes of death (as listed by the Physicians' Pocket Reference to the International List of Causes of Death, United States Bureau of the Census, 1916) were a horrifying list of communicable diseases including:

 

  1. Typhoid Fever
  2. Typhus Fever
  3. Malaria
  4. Small Pox
  5. Measles

 

The cover of the August 1908 Good Housekeeping Magazine.  

The cover of the August 1908 Good Housekeeping Magazine.  

With a growing understanding of disease and medicine occurring throughout the late 1800s, it is no wonder that it became a national obsession in the first decade of the 1900s to keep a pristine home.  By 1908, with the debut of the Good Housekeeping Research Institute and Seal of Approval it had become a household name, harpooned by the new national fascination by cleanliness and thrift.  

The December 1908 issue of Good Housekeeping featured an article called "First Lessons of Keeping House,"  by Grace H. Russell.  This edition explores the topic of "Soiled Clothes."  

Housekeeping would be an easy and relatively simple process if the washing and ironing could be eliminated from the routine, but it seems impossible to eliminate them.  But it is possible to systematize and organize the laundering in a way to make it much less burdensome and far less taxing than it is at present.

 A very good beginning for the system is to provide for every person in the home a laundry bag in which soiled clothing may be put from day to day.  Then when wash day comes, it is a very simple matter to gather up the laundry bags and carry them down to the room where the washing is going to be done.  

The dining room, too, should have its laundry bag.  It should be hung in a place where it will be impossible for mice to get into it, as the small particles of food are very attractive and exceedingly alluring to the animal's delicate sense of smell.  A kitchen bag should also be provided and all soiled pieces should be kept their.  Be careful however, not to permit the insertion of wet cloths or greasy rags in the kitchen bag, for the wet cloths may mildew, and greasy rags will contaminate dust cloths and dish towels.  

Russel, Grace H.  "First Lessons of Keeping House."  Good Housekeeping, December 1908, pp. 108-110.  

You can read the complete text of this article, or the entire magazine 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


Five Most Popular Blog Posts from 2014

For The Historium, 2014 was a HUGE year.  We published a book, worked with some amazing people, launched The Historical Research Planner and blogged away.  In many ways this post is a year in review, in others it is a look at what has worked and what hasn't over the past year.  By taking a look at the social love you all have shown us, we compiled the top 5 blog posts of 2014.  The number one post had a whopping 3,700+ pins (not to mention the shares it got on Twitter and Facebook)! WOW! 

So, now it's our turn to ask you, what you would like to see here in 2015?  Take a second and let us know in the comments below before you go!

Here are the links to the posts above:

1. The Ultimate Organization Cheat Sheet for Genealogists

2. Why We Love History (And You Should Too)

3. Get Your Priorities Straight in 10 Easy Steps

4. Put The Story in Family History

5. Top 5 Best Museums in Minnesota

Don't forget to let us know what you would like to see next year! Hope your 2014 was as great as ours!


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


Merry Christmas

I know postings have been a little bit sparse this month, but I want you all to know that I am thinking of you and wishing you warmth and joy this holiday season.  Thank you for making my 2014 here at The Historium my best one yet.  I am so blessed by each of you who have become a part of our little community and have went out of your way to let me know what you think of what we do here.  

I wish you all the best holidays yet, and hope that you create memories that will last a lifetime or more. 

Yours in History,

Tara Cajacob


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