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26th October
2014
written by Richard

A number of quite prominent San Diegans attended a séance given by Elsie Reynolds in a room at Dr. Barnes’ residence; Friday evening . . . a lady spirit was materialized, and came into the audience to shake hands. A lady present, at an opportune moment, seized the spirit around the waist with one arm and clinched its wrist with the other hand. The spirit shrieked and attempted to tear itself away. . . . The séance ended abruptly.  –San Diego Union, January 20, 1889.

The religion of “Spiritualism” claimed millions of followers in the United States and Europe in the nineteenth century. Believers  included Mary Todd Lincoln who hosted séances in the White House to reach her departed sons Eddie and Willie. Spiritualist demonstrations could also be entertaining, profitable for the mediums, and more often than not, fraudulent, as San Diegans would discover in the summer of 1888: The Spooks in San Diego

A nineteenth century séance.

A nineteenth century séance.

 

22nd October
2014
written by Richard
A postman wearing protective gauze. National Archives.

A postman wearing protective gauze. National Archives.

In the fall of 1918, San Diego children skipped rope to a popular rhyme:

I had a little bird

Its name was Enza

I opened the window

And in-flew-enza

In the last weeks of World War I and in the months that followed, an influenza outbreak swept the world, infecting a billion people and killing as many as 50 million. It was one of the deadliest pandemics in history. In San Diego the scourge reached epidemic proportions . . .

Read the story of The Spanish Flu.

25th September
2014
written by Richard

The Board of Education has just had their attention directed to a most deplorable state of morals existing in our schools; and the evil has been traced to some degraded persons . . . poisoning the minds of boys and girls.  –Reverend Samuel J. Shaw, United Presbyterian Church, San Diego.

In 1903 San Diego, the 14th century novel The Decameron, was the target of the book censors.  Read about the Deplorable State of Morals.

Reverend Samuel Shaw. From Smythe, History of San Diego.

Reverend Samuel Shaw. From Smythe, History of San Diego.

8th July
2014
written by Richard
A grove of eucalyptus in Rancho Santa Fe.

A grove of eucalyptus in Rancho Santa Fe.

San Diegans planted olive trees by the hundred, citrus by the thousand and eucalyptus trees by the multi-million . . . the coming of the eucalyptus from Australia was the long awaited Millennium—practically a supernatural beneficence to every area of life: economical, medicinal, and ethereal.  –Leland G. Stanford, San Diego librarian and author.

The story of San Diego’s eucalyptus trees.

30th June
2014
written by Richard

Here’s a mystery image from a collection of Spreckels-era transit records.  Anyone recognize the date and place? SD Transit

26th June
2014
written by Richard

bomb blast

An atomic bomb blast in San Diego Bay? No. More like a mushroom of smoke, mud, and water propelled by 2,040 pounds of TNT in seven feet of water. This bomb was detonated by the Naval Electronics Laboratory just a few miles from the Hotel del Coronado in June 1946. The scale model experiment recorded wave intensity from underwater explosions. The San Diego blast was a warm-up exercise for the world’s first underwater nuclear bomb explosion at Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands on July 24, 1946.

22nd June
2014
written by Richard

Many thanks to the San Diego Book Awards Association, which held their 20th annual awards ceremony last night and gave San Diego Yesterday the prize for Local Interest.  My gratitude to the judges and this fine organization!

Best Published Local Interest
Richard W. Crawford
San Diego Yesterday

bookcover_awarded

20th June
2014
written by Richard

Yesterday Tent City had a big crowd as the forerunner of the record breaker which is expected today. Every tent was crowded to capacity and day visitors packed the boats on every trip across the bay.  –San Diego Union, July 4, 1910

Fourth of July celebrations in the early 1900s were huge civic affairs. And no city did it better than Coronado in 1910. Read about Coronado’s 4th of July.

Coronado's Tent City in the early 1900s.

Coronado’s Tent City in the early 1900s.

3rd June
2014
written by Richard

Last summer the collections of the San Diego Central Library moved to a new building at 330 Park Blvd. For the past several months the staff of Special Collections has been busily unpacking and arranging boxes of materials once relegated to the basement of our old building. Among reams of material we make discoveries. Below is a forgotten architectural rendering of the proposed Carnegie Library. The completed structure, designed by the New York firm of Ackerman and Ross, was dedicated in April 1902.

Ackerman & Ross, Architects

Ackerman & Ross, Architects

14th April
2014
written by Richard

In honor of National Library Week (April 13-19) here’s a little San Diego library trivia:

One of the smaller branches of the San Diego Public Library was the Marston Store branch.  As “a convenience to tourists and shoppers,” the room opened in 1917 on the 5th floor of the famed department store at 5th and C Streets.  The branch closed in 1921 and its collection was moved to the new Mission Hills branch.

br_mr1Marstons branch

 

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