s is for scholar

27 April 2008

Matthew Yglesias gets a cake upon which various words have been misspelled in his honor. Garance Franke-Ruta speculates:

As blogs move us into a less heavily copy-edited world, I sometimes wonder if we’re moving back into a more 16th and 17th century form of writing, where the idea of correct spelling was less important than the communication of meaning — which, in reality, can be accomplished just as well with incorrectly spelled words and homonyms as with a more perfect language. And also: as we move ever deeper into this new world of speech-like writing, will the perfect, formal language of the page one day seem as antique and elaborate as Victorian silverware?

So far, only one person has commented on her post and it’s none other than Anthony Grafton – no stranger to old pamphlets – who notes (side-stepping the question of spelling for the perhaps more interesting question of editing):

Actually, most printing-houses in the 16th and 17th century had professional copy-editors–the so-called correctors, whose title came from their chief task of proof correction. They also prepared copy, correcting errors of style and fact, and added punctuation. It’s true that pamphlets weren’t always corrected: but most renaissance writers expected that their work would be gone over, corrected and polished before the public saw it.

For my part, I wonder how the state of English spelling at the time compared with that of other European languages. Were they similarly non-standardized?


why 1908? why the New-York Tribune?

24 April 2008

A quick explanation. I wanted a Presidential election year. I didn’t want to do McKinley, didn’t want to do a re-election, and couldn’t do 1912 – which would be really interesting – because the collection I’m using doesn’t cover that year. So it was 1908. It’s convenient that it’s exactly a century ago, but that wasn’t a goal.

I thought it would be cool to do a small local paper people don’t see much of, but there was only one choice from an area I know very little about. (The rest of the choices being from areas I know nothing about.) Unfortunately, the Amador Ledger is only a weekly, and not very appealing visually. I thought of doing the San Francisco Call – the only Bay Area paper with a daily selection, and the region of the country with whose history I’m most familiar – but then I figured a New York paper would have more self-consciously “national” news. So I went with the Tribune.

cooler than the Bee

23 April 2008

Even Eric admits it. (Whether that means this is the last Bee for a while, I don’t know.) On to today’s paper:

The photo:


Top stories:

  1. William Jennings Bryan and Charles F. Murphy have worked out a deal: the New York delegates “selected arbitrarily at the state convention” last week will be recognized as the state’s “regular” delegates at the national convention. In exchange, the New York delegates will vote for Bryan on the first ballot and will apply “the utmost pressure” on other delegations to make Bryan’s nomination unanimous. Update: Murphy was apparently part of the Tammany crowd and Bryan was expected to deny reports of an agreement. A fair amount of intrigue.
  2. The New York state Senate passed a new rapid transit bill.
  3. The city of New York has sent a bill for $78,220.95 to the Brooklyn Rapid Transit company for street work the city says the company should have done.
  4. A member of the New York Historical Society has come across 200 old wills, dated between 1670 and 1730.
  5. Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. took a balloon ride from Washington, DC to Delaware yesterday.
  6. A report on the AP and publisher dinner photographed on the front page. In a speech, Bryan “urged the publication of bipartisan newspapers.”

Previous Tribunes: 1, 2*

*Technical note: I have created a category for these, but I noticed that this blog’s theme does not display anything more than the post titles when you click on the category and archive pages. So I’ll probably switch to a new theme. Update: Done.

late edition

23 April 2008

I think I’m going to keep this up. I’ll try to do it regularly, but daily is probably too time consuming. Here’s what has now just become yesterday’s 1908 New-York Tribune

Across the top of the page, left to right:

  1. William Jennings Bryan gave a speech on “Universal Brotherhood” – and then defended the Democratic southern states afterward when asked a question about the disfranchisement of black voters. Note his reference to northern laws restricting Filipino suffrage.
  2. The British election is heating up, with pronouncements from both Winston Churchhill on Home Rule and David Lloyd-George on pensions.
  3. The Senate steering committee met today and worked out a schedule for the rest of the session.
  4. The NYU Chorus went on strike yesterday.
  5. A Canadian banker’s daughter eloped just long enough to get married.
  6. The State Senate passed “the Page bill placing telephone, telegraph and ferry companies and stage lines under the jurisdiction of the Public Service Commissioners.”

As a bonus, click through and scroll down the front page for what’s likely an unintentionally comical headline about a Lincoln statue (column 5).

this shows potential

21 April 2008

Inspired by the above the fold feature at The Edge of the American West, I thought of trying to do the same thing for a historical newspaper. Much to my surprise, thanks to the Library of Congress, this just might be possible.

Here’s the New-York Tribune for April 21st, 1908:

(click on the image to be taken to the full issue)

Some thoughts:

Either the type is smaller than what the Sacramento Bee uses or the paper is wider (or something else is going on). In any case, you really have to click through to be able to read the headlines. But maybe that’s not such a bad thing: if you click through, you’ll be able to read the whole day’s paper. I don’t really have time to read the articles, but I can highligh some of the headlines.

If I do more with this – and there are years of daily issues to choose from (not to mention other papers in the collection) – I’ll experiment with larger image sizes. I don’t have the best in image software, but getting an image of the top of a front page* seems easy enough.

*This raises the question of “the fold”: since the archived image is unfolded to get the full page, there’s no way to be sure where the fold was. But if you look carefully at the quality of the type, it looks like there was a crease part way down. If I keep this up, I’m just going to go with my best guesses.


17 April 2008

How times have changed:

Filling a Vacuum. For the G.O.P., 1968 may represent the best opportunity in years—but the party has earned a reputation for booting such opportunities away. The late Sam Rayburn once said: “Just leave the Republicans alone and they’ll manage to screw it up every time.” As Esquire magazine noted this month: “The Republican Party could probably beat Lyndon B. Johnson in 1968 if it did not have to run a candidate against him.” The more likely it seems that Lyndon Johnson can be defeated, the more tempted the G.O.P. may be to blow its chances by putting up a candidate who is acceptable to the party pros rather than to the electorate.