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Ernest Shackleton on his south polar expedition (1910)

Thursday 30 August 2012 at 18:43



Ernest Shackleton on his British Antarctic Expedition 1907–09, otherwise known as the Nimrod Expedition, the first of three expeditions to the Antarctic led by the Anglo-Irish explorer. Its main target, among a range of geographical and scientific objectives, was to be first to the South Pole. This was not attained, but the expedition’s southern march reached a farthest south latitude of 88° 23′ S, just 97.5 nautical miles (180.6 km; 112.2 mi) from the pole. This was by far the longest southern polar journey to that date and a record convergence on either Pole. A separate group led by Welsh Australian geology professor Edgeworth David reached the estimated location of the South Magnetic Pole, and the expedition also achieved the first ascent of Mount Erebus, Antarctica’s second highest volcano. For this achievement, Shackleton was knighted by King Edward VII on his return home. (Wikipedia)

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Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2012/08/30/ernest-shackleton-on-his-south-polar-expedition-1910/


Anatomically labelled X-Ray images (1920)

Tuesday 28 August 2012 at 15:12

Images of the illustrative radiographs from Cunningham’s Manual of Practical Anatomy 7th ed. (1920) revised and edited by Arthur Robinson.

(All images taken from Cunningham’s Manual of Practical Anatomy, 7th ed. housed at the Internet Archive and donated by the California Digital Library).











































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Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2012/08/28/anatomically-labelled-x-ray-images-1920/


The Hindenburg Explodes (1937)

Sunday 26 August 2012 at 15:45



Dramatic Universal newsreel footage of the Hindenburg disaster which took place on Thursday, May 6, 1937, when the German passenger airship LZ 129 Hindenburg caught fire and was destroyed during its attempt to dock with its mooring mast at the Lakehurst Naval Air Station, New Jersey. Of the 97 people on board (36 passengers, 61 crew), there were 35 fatalities; there was also one death among the ground crew. The actual cause of the fire remains unknown, although a variety of hypotheses have been put forward for both the cause of ignition and the initial fuel for the ensuing fire. The incident shattered public confidence in the giant, passenger-carrying rigid airship and marked the end of the airship era. (Wikipedia)

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Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2012/08/26/the-hindenburg-explodes-1937/


The Lancashire Witches 1612-2012

Wednesday 22 August 2012 at 17:17

Not long after ten Lancashire residents were found guilty of witchcraft and hung in August 1612, the official proceedings of the trial were published by the clerk of the court Thomas Potts in his The Wonderfull Discoverie of Witches in the Countie of Lancaster. Four hundred years on, Robert Poole reflects on England’s biggest witch trial and how it still has relevance today.

Woodcut of witches flying, from Mathers’ Wonders of the Invisible World (1689) and used in an 18th-century pamphlet about the Lancashire witches.

Four hundred years ago, in 1612, the north-west of England was the scene of England’s biggest peacetime witch trial: the trial of the Lancashire witches. Twenty people, mostly from the Pendle area of Lancashire, were imprisoned in the castle as witches. Ten were hanged, one died in gaol, one was sentenced to stand in the pillory, and eight were acquitted. The 2012 anniversary sees a small flood of commemorative events, including works of fiction by Blake Morrison, Carol Ann Duffy and Jeanette Winterson. How did this witch trial come about, and what accounts for its enduring fame?

We know so much about the Lancashire Witches because the trial was recorded in unique detail by the clerk of the court, Thomas Potts, who published his account soon afterwards as The Wonderful Discovery of Witches in the County of Lancaster. I have recently published a modern-English edition of this book, together with an essay piecing together what we know of the events of 1612. It has been a fascinating exercise, revealing how Potts carefully edited the evidence, and also how the case against the ‘witches’ was constructed and manipulated to bring about a spectacular show trial. It all began in mid-March when a pedlar from Halifax named John Law had a frightening encounter with a poor young woman, Alizon Device, in a field near Colne. He refused her request for pins and there was a brief argument during which he was seized by a fit that left him with ‘his head … drawn awry, his eyes and face deformed, his speech not well to be understood; his thighs and legs stark lame.’ We can now recognize this as a stroke, perhaps triggered by the stressful encounter. Alizon Device was sent for and surprised all by confessing to the bewitching of John Law and then begged for forgiveness.

When Alizon Device was unable to cure the pedlar the local magistrate, Roger Nowell was called in. Characterised by Thomas Potts as ‘God’s justice’ he was alert to instances of witchcraft, which were regarded by the Lancashire’s puritan-inclined authorities as part of the cultural rubble of ‘popery’ – Roman Catholicism – long overdue to be swept away at the end of the county’s very slow protestant reformation. ‘With weeping tears’ Alizon explained that she had been led astray by her grandmother, ‘old Demdike’, well-known in the district for her knowledge of old Catholic prayers, charms, cures, magic, and curses. Nowell quickly interviewed Alizon’s grandmother and mother, as well as Demdike’s supposed rival, ‘old Chattox’ and her daughter Anne. Their panicky attempts to explain themselves and shift the blame to others eventually only ended up incriminating them, and the four were sent to Lancaster gaol in early April to await trial at the summer assizes. The initial picture revealed was of a couple of poor, marginal local families in the forest of Pendle with a longstanding reputation for magical powers, which they had occasionally used at the request of their wealthier neighbours. There had been disputes but none of these were part of ordinary village life. Not until 1612 did any of this come to the attention of the authorities.

Illustration from James Crossley’s introduction to Pott’s Discovery of witches in the County of Lancaster (1845) reprinted from the original edition of 1613.

The net was widened still further at the end of April when Alizon’s younger brother James and younger sister Jennet, only nine years old, came up between them with a story about a ‘great meeting of witches’ at their grandmother’s house, known as Malkin Tower. This meeting was presumably to discuss the plight of those arrested and the threat of further arrests, but according to the evidence extracted form the children by the magistrates, a plot was hatched to blow up Lancaster castle with gunpowder, kill the gaoler and rescue the imprisoned witches. It was, in short, a conspiracy against royal authority to rival the gunpowder plot of 1605 – something to be expected in a county known for its particularly strong underground Roman Catholic presence.

Those present at the meeting were mostly family members and neighbours, but they also included Alice Nutter, described by Potts as ‘a rich woman [who] had a great estate, and children of good hope: in the common opinion of the world, of good temper, free from envy or malice.’ Her part in the affair remains mysterious, but she seems to have had Catholic family connections, and may have been one herself, providing an added motive for her to be prosecuted. She was, along with a number of others named by the children, rounded up, and by the time of the trial in August the Pendle accused had been joined in the dungeons of Lancaster Castle by other alleged witches from elsewhere in the county.

All nineteen were tried in the space of two days, amid dramatic courtroom scenes. Ten of them were hanged the next day on Lancaster Moor, high above the town and overlooking Morecambe Bay. It was probably the first time any of them had seen the sea.

Alice Nutter and several other defendants defied convention by refusing to offer any confession on the gallows. To many of those present at the hanging this would have seemed like proof of innocence, and it may have been such rumblings about the trial that prompted the trial judges to ask the clerk of the court, Thomas Potts, to take the unusual step of publishing an account of it. In truth Potts had already had a large hand in organising the trial itself and may well have suggested the publication in the first place. He certainly used it to curry favour with King James I, whose book Demonology he cited several times, proclaiming how the authorities had followed the King’s advice on uncovering cases of witchcraft in the Lancashire trial. The Lancashire trial was then cited from the 1620s onwards as the legal precedent for using child and ‘supergrass’ evidence in witchcraft cases. Indirectly, the trial of the Lancashire witches may have influenced the notorious ‘witchfinder-general’ trials of the 1640s and even the Salem witch trials of the 1690s in New England.

Thomas Potts as he was imagined in Harrison Ainsworth’s The Lancashire witches, a romance of Pendle Forest (1850), illustrated by Sir John Gilbert.

The modern fame of the Lancashire witches is down to the publication in 1849 of an imaginative novel by Harrison Ainsworth, a friend of Charles Dickens with local connections and one of the bestselling Victorian novelists. His novel The Lancashire Witches has never been out of print, and it was successful in part because to drew on an edition of Potts’ original book published in 1848 by Ainsworth’s friend James Crossley, the Manchester antiquarian. Ainsworth has in turn inspired many other publications and theories. The trial began to receive serious academic attention in the 1990s, pulled together in a book of essays which I edited for Manchester University Press, The Lancashire Witches: Histories and Stories. In 2012 an international conference at Lancaster University, Capturing Witches, will bring together the latest work, both factual and fictional. No fewer than five new novels have appeared, most notably Jeanette Winterson’s At Daylight Gate, as well as a book of verses by Blake Morrison, A Discovery of Witches, and a BBC documentary, The Pendle Witch Child.

The remarkable range of new work testifies to the richness of historical themes thrown up by the trial, but I would like to single out one in particular: children and witchcraft. Much of the key evidence in the trial of 1612 was given by two children, James and Jennet Device, aged about nine and twelve. Caught up in a terrifying web of charges and arrests they panicked, and their stories, designed to clear themselves, ended up in the deaths of most of their own family members, and indeed of James himself. In some parts of the world, children continue to be accused of witchcraft and to suffer horrific maltreatment as a result. A case of a Nigerian child in London, tortured and murdered by their own family for being a witch, recently hit the national headlines. Lancaster, home of the 1612 trials, is also home of Stepping Stones Nigeria, a campaigning charity dedicated to protecting children from accusations of witchcraft and other abuse. It has been adopted as the charity of the Lancashire Witches 400 programme. There could be no better way of marking the anniversary of the Lancashire witches trials than to visit their website and learn more about how witchcraft remains a live issue, four hundred years on.




Robert Poole is the author of The Wonderful Discovery of Witches in the County of Lancaster (Carnegie, £7.95), and the editor of The Lancashire witches: Histories and Stories (Manchester UP, £14.99).


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Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2012/08/22/the-lancashire-witches-1612-2012/


Cartoon Portraits of Leading 19th Century Figures (1873)

Friday 17 August 2012 at 18:22

A selection of the more well known of the leading 19th century figures featured in Cartoon Portraits and Biographical Sketches of Men of the Day (1873) with drawings by Frederick Watty and accompanied by biographical pieces on each of the subjects. With the exception of one, it is a compilation of all the cartoon portraits that were featured in Once a Week, a magazine originally founded as a result of a dispute between Bradbury and Evans and Charles Dickens. Bradbury and Evans had been Dickens’ publisher since 1844, including publishing his magazine Household Words. In 1859, Bradbury and Evans refused to carry an advertisement by Dickens explaining why he had broken with Mrs. Dickens. In consequence, Dickens stopped work on Household Words and founded a new magazine, All The Year Round, which he decided would be editorially independent of any publisher. Bradbury and Evans responded by founding Once A Week, with veteran editor and abolitionist hero Samuel Lucas at the head. (Wikipedia)

(All images extracted from Cartoon Portraits and Biographical Sketches of Men of the Day (1873) housed by the Internet Archive, and donated by the University of Toronto).

Charles Darwin



Robert Browning



Gustave Doré



William Morris



Professor Owen



Benjamin D’Israeli



A.C. Swinburne



Wilkie Collins



Alfred Tennyson



John Ruskin



Mark Twain



H.M Stanley



Matthew Arnold



George MacDonald













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Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2012/08/17/cartoon-portraits-of-leading-19th-century-figures-1873/


Cartoon Portraits of Men of the Day (1873)

Friday 17 August 2012 at 17:17


Cartoon portraits and biographical sketches of men of the day, the drawings by Frederick Waddy; 1873; Tinsley Brothers, London.

A book of caricatures of famous “Men of the Day” (as was the case in 1873) – including the likes of Darwin, Swinburne, Tennyson and Browning – drawn by cartoonist Frederick Watty and accompanied by biographical pieces on each of the subjects. With the exception of one, it is a compilation of all the cartoon portraits that were featured in Once a Week, a magazine originally founded as a result of a dispute between Bradbury and Evans and Charles Dickens. Bradbury and Evans had been Dickens’ publisher since 1844, including publishing his magazine Household Words. In 1859, Bradbury and Evans refused to carry an advertisement by Dickens explaining why he had broken with Mrs. Dickens. In consequence, Dickens stopped work on Household Words and founded a new magazine, All The Year Round, which he decided would be editorially independent of any publisher. Bradbury and Evans responded by founding Once A Week, with veteran editor and abolitionist hero Samuel Lucas at the head. (Wikipedia)

See the post in our Images collection for a selection of the more well known of those featured.

The book is housed by the Internet Archive, donated by the University of Toronto










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Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2012/08/17/cartoon-portraits-of-men-of-the-day-1873/


The Bestiarium of Aloys Zötl (1831-1887)

Thursday 16 August 2012 at 17:05

These beautiful watercolours come from the Austrian painter Aloys Zötl’s Bestiarium, a series of exquisite paintings of various animals undertaken from 1831 through until his death in 1887. He was relatively unknown until, decades after his death, his work was “re-discovered” by surrealist André Breton who was taken by the surrealist aesthetic he saw present in the images – as he writes: “Lacking any biographical details about the artist, one can only indulge one’s fantasies in imagining the reasons which might have induced this workman from Upper Austria, a dyer by profession, to undertake so zealously between 1832 and 1887 the elaboration of the most sumptuous bestiary ever seen.” (Wikipedia)

(All images taken from Wikimedia Commons, digitally reproduced by user Rosebud23 from original prints).

The Hoolock Gibbon (1835)



The Siamang Gibbon (1883)



The Gibbon (1833)



The Cheetah (1886)



The Boa Constrictor (1867)



The Quagga (1882)



The Camel (1846)



The Sea Turtle (1867)



The African Elephant (1886)



The Walrus (1879)



The Elk (1886)



The Lioness (1832)



The Striped Hyena (1831)













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Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2012/08/16/the-bestiarium-of-aloys-zotl-1831-1887/


Olympic Diving Diagrams (1912)

Saturday 11 August 2012 at 17:22

Diagrams showing the trajectory of the major dives as performed at the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm.

(All images taken from The Fifth Olympiad: the Official Report of the Olympic Games of Stockholm 1912 housed by the Internet Archive, donated by the University of Toronto).

































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Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2012/08/11/olympic-diving-diagrams-1912/


Conan Doyle’s Olympic Crusade

Thursday 9 August 2012 at 17:17

When an exhausted Dorando Pietri was helped across the finishing line in the 1908 Olympics marathon, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes, was there to write about it for the Daily Mail. Peter Lovesey explores how the drama and excitement of this event led Conan Doyle to become intimately involved with the development of the modern Olympics as we know it.

Dorando Pietri being helped over the line by officials to come first in the marathon at the London 1908 Olympic Games, only to be later disqualified.

There have been many exciting Olympic contests, but the 1908 race which came to be known as Dorando’s marathon has passed into legend as the most heart-rending. The image of the exhausted Italian runner being assisted across the finish line and so disqualified appears in almost every history of the Games. This was an extraordinary event. Queen Alexandra was so touched by the harrowing scenes in the stadium that she presented a special cup to Dorando Pietri. Irving Berlin wrote a song called Dorando. The King had a horse named after the runner. And a craze for marathon-running was born.

But now let us dispose of a canard. For years there has been a story that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, was one of the officials who assisted Dorando at the finish of the 1908 Olympic marathon and so made the disqualification inevitable. He has even been identified as a portly figure in a straw boater pictured in the background of one of the most famous of all Olympic photographs. Sadly for the romantics, the story isn’t true. The two officials at either side of the athlete are Jack Andrew, the Clerk of the Course, holding the megaphone, and Dr Michael Bulger, the chief medical officer. The man in the background (and seen beside the stricken Pietri in other photos) is probably another of the medical team. Conan Doyle was seated in the stands.

His report in the Daily Mail (25 July, 1908) makes this clear.

Then again he collapsed, kind hands saving him from a heavy fall. He was within a few yards of my seat. Amid stooping figures and grasping hands I caught a glimpse of the haggard, yellow face, the glazed, expressionless eyes, the lank black hair streaked across the brow.

Conan Doyle had been commissioned by Lord Northcliffe to write a special report of the race. “I do not often do journalistic work,” he recalled in his memoirs, “but on the occasion of the Olympic Games of 1908 I was tempted, chiefly by the offer of an excellent seat, to do the Marathon Race for the ‘Daily Mail’.” The almost melodramatic scenes affected him deeply. “It is horrible, and yet fascinating, this struggle between a set purpose and an utterly exhausted frame.” Nothing like it had been seen to that time, though similar scenes would occur at marathon finishes in the future. With remarkable foresight, Conan Doyle finished his report with the words, “The Italian’s great performance can never be effaced from our records of sport, be the decision of the judges what it may.”

Dorando Pietri with the cup he was presented by Queen Alexandra

It has been suggested that the cup presented next day by Queen Alexandra was Conan Doyle’s idea, but this is another distortion of the truth. In fact, Conan Doyle’s contribution was financial; he got up a fund to raise money for Dorando Pietri. A letter published beside his report in the Daily Mail stated:

I am sure that no petty personal recompense can in the least console Dorando for the national loss which follows from his disqualification. Yet I am certain that many who saw his splendid effort in the Stadium, an effort which ran him within an inch of his life, would like to feel that he carries away some souvenir from his admirers in England. I should be very glad to contribute five pounds to such a fund if any of the authorities at the Stadium would consent to organise it.

Nobody seemed to bother that Dorando’s amateur status might be sullied. The appeal raised the substantial sum of £308. Readers of the paper were informed that the money would be used to enable the gallant runner to start up as a baker in his own village. If the villagers were relying on him for bread, they must have been disappointed. He turned professional and cashed in on the marathon craze triggered by his race. For much of the next year he was in the United States, only returning to Italy in May, 1909. His travels lasted until 1912.

For Conan Doyle, that hot afternoon in the White City Stadium was an epiphany that convinced him of the international significance of the Olympic movement. As an all-round sportsman, he was quite an Olympian himself. Between 1900 and 1907, he played cricket for the MCC, was a useful slow bowler and once took the wicket of the finest batsman of the century, W.G.Grace. He was a founder of Portsmouth Football Club (1884) playing in goal and as a defender until he was forty-four; had a golf handicap of ten; and in 1913 got to the third round of the British amateur billiards championship. His knowledge of boxing, particularly the prize-ring, is evident in his writing, particularly Rodney Stone and The Croxley Master. And he is often credited with popularising skiing during the years he spent in Switzerland. A plaque celebrating his part in the history of Swiss skiing can be seen at Davos.

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Images from “An Alpine Pass on ‘Ski’” by Arthur Conan Doyle, The Strand Magazine, vol.8, no.48, pp 657-661 (1894)

In 1910 he accepted the presidency of the English Amateur Field Events Association. Britain’s preoccupation with the more glamorous track events had left the nation far behind the USA and the Nordic countries in jumping and throwing. Britain’s showing in the Stockholm Olympic Games in 1912, a mere two individual gold medals and five in team sports, came as a shock to a nation that had dominated in the previous century. To quote F.A.M.Webster, “a perfect wave of popular indignation swept over the country, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle . . . had his attention drawn to the position.’ Conan Doyle’s own account tells us that in the early summer of 1912 Lord Northcliffe sent him a telegram “which let me in for about as much trouble as any communication which I have ever received.” Northcliffe (who in 1908 had raised nearly £12,000 to bail out the London Olympic Games) said Conan Doyle was the one man in Great Britain who could rally round the discordant parties and achieve a united effort to restore the nation’s Olympic status.

Conan Doyle was a strong patriot. It is often assumed he received his knighthood because of his literary success, but Sherlock Holmes had nothing to do with it. The honour was given mainly in recognition of the writer’s much-translated booklet, The War in South Africa: Its Causes and Conduct, a British response to international criticisms of the nation’s role in the Boer War.

He began by writing to The Times (18 July, 1912) suggesting that in future Britain should send a British Empire team, for “there could not be a finer object lesson of the unity of the Empire than such a team all striving for the victory of the same flag.” Twelve days later came a fuller proposal with recognition that “liberal funds” were needed to form, equip and train such a team. Annual or bi-annual games should be held on the Olympic model, to accustom athletes to the metric distances and to “abnormal events” such as the discus and javelin. The Olympic Games should take priority over such traditional British competitons as Bisley, Wimbledon and Henley. His proposals on training were ahead of their time: “The team should be brought together into special training quarters for as long a period as possible before the Games, with the best advice always available to help them.”

The response was unhelpful. Some of Northcliffe’s own papers attacked the principle of investing money in amateur sport. Conan Doyle was not a man to be silenced. In another letter to The Times (8 August, 1912), he appealed to all concerned to “let bygones be bygones, and centre our efforts upon the future.” Never one to shirk controversy, he pointed out that the British Olympic Council of about 50 members was too large for executive purposes. Instead, he proposed “a nucleus of four or five from the present Olympic Association, with as many more co-opted from outside.” Only then, he felt, would they be in shape to appeal to the public for funds.

By March, 1913, the new Olympic Financial Committee was in place and he was a member. The others were the chairman, J.E.K.Studd, the cricketer and founder of the London Polytechnic; H.W.Forster, MP, a future Governor-General of Australia, and first-class cricketer; Edgar Mackay, the motor-boat pioneer; Bernard J.T.Bosanquet, a test match cricketer now best remembered for inventing the “googly”; Arthur E.D.Anderson, an Olympian from 1912; Arthur Robertson, another Olympic athlete; Theodore Cook, the Olympic fencer; Percy Fisher, representing the AAA; and J.C.Hurd, representing the swimmers.

Unfortunately for the fund-raisers, the state of the money market during the Balkan War made this, in Conan Doyle’s words to the Daily Express (24 May, 1913), “a very inopportune time to go to the public for funds”. The project was put on ice. In July, the Daily Express demanded to know when the appeal would be launched. “An ill-timed appeal for funds would be disastrous … The money market is still unfavourable,” replied Conan Doyle (4 July, 1913).

Donation form for the £100,000 Olympic appeal – British Olympic Council, Aims and Objects of the Olympic Games Fund (London, 1913) 43 – Source

Then he made an unfortunate decision to go on holiday and missed a crucial meeting. In his absence, the committee launched the appeal, not for ten thousand pounds, as Conan Doyle had planned, but a hundred thousand. “I was horrified,” he wrote in Memories and Adventures, “The sum was absurd, and at once brought upon us from all sides the charge of developing professionalism … My position was very difficult. If I protested now, it would go far to ruin the appeal.”

Immediately there was a backlash. Frederic Harrison, head of the Positivist movement in Britain, wrote (rather negatively) to The Times (26 August, 1913), “The whole affair stinks of gate money and professional pot hunting … The craze to collect Olympic dust bids fair to be another case of ‘gate’ – professionalism – years of specialist coaching. I should myself prefer to see Britain decline to enter, as not liking the terms and devices on which the show is run.”

Conan Doyle’s response (The Times, 27 August, 1913) was a cogently argued letter pointing out the scale of the scheme and the practical requirements of improving national standards of physical education. He concludes:

If Mr Harrison’s contention was that we should never have gone in for the Olympic Games at all, he might find many to agree with him. But, things being as they are, I would ask him to consider the courses open to us. One is to retire in the face of defeat and to leave the Colonies to put the Union Jack at the top where they can. As a good sportsman I am sure Mr Frederic Harrison could not tolerate that. A second is to continue with our present haphazard half-hearted methods, and to see ourselves sink lower and lower from that third place which we now occupy.

There was a real risk that the critics would torpedo the scheme and necessitate Britain’s withdrawal from the next Olympics. In the same issue of The Times came a letter from Nowell Smith, the Headmaster of Sherborne. He had spoken to many lovers of sport, he claimed, and “We are just ordinary, though, I fear, rather old-fashioned, Britons, and we think these modern pseudo-Olympic Games are ‘rot’ and the newspaper advertisements of them and the £100,000 fund for buying victories in them, positively degrading.”

The controversy raged for weeks. The Times devoted a leading article to the subject of veiled professionalism in the Olympics, pointing out that even the most amateur of sports, such as the University Boat Race, or schoolboy cricket, were funded to some degree. More subversively, the humorous magazine, Punch, published a piece strongly hostile to the Olympic Games.

Satirical illustration poking fun at the British Olympic Council’s idea that national pride could be restored through Olympic success – Punch 145 (1913):209 – Source

Conan Doyle met the crucial question head on in The Times (13 September, 1913): “I should like to ask one question and receive a definite reply from all those persons, including Mr Punch, who are making our Olympic task more difficult. It is this:- ‘Are you prepared to stand down from the Berlin Games altogether?’”

He persuaded his chairman, J.E.K.Studd, that the right way to handle this crisis was to invite the critics to a London hotel to debate the issue of Britain’s participation. It was a turning point. Studd and Conan Doyle each spoke at length and with honesty. Time, they argued, was against them. The subscriptions were slow (by October 18th only £9,500 was collected). But withdrawal from the Games would cast Britain in the role of bad losers. They admitted that the target sum of £100,000 was an “outside figure”. Studd, speaking for himself alone, said he had only accepted the chairmanship in the hope that “if successful, the work of the committee will enable Great Britain to retire from future Olympic contests without loss of dignity or prestige should she desire to do so.” Conan Doyle disagreed with this view, and said so. As he wrote in a foreword at about the same time, “No department of national life stands alone, and such a climb down in sport as would be involved by a retirement from the Olympic Games would have an enervating effect in every field of activity.”

Such straight talking was rare. The press agreed that the project deserved their support, but the damage had been done. At the end of November, 1913, Conan Doyle admitted, “The public seem apathetic on the question. … Unless prompt and generous help comes to us, the Committee will have dissolved, and the organisation, which has been laboriously built up during the last year, will have gone to pieces. The next few weeks will decide the matter.”

Of course, the matter was decided by events outside the control of sportsmen and writers.

When the First World War was over, and Britain’s participation in the 1920 Olympics was debated, Conan Doyle was no longer at the forefront. He was devoting his energies to another cause – spiritualism. Sadly, the fund-raising experience had embittered him. “This matter was spread over a year of my life, and was the most barren thing that I ever touched, for nothing came of it, and I cannot trace that I ever received one word of thanks from any human being. I was on my guard against Northcliffe telegrams after that.”

But in a modest way, there had been results. An “Olympic sports meeting”, over metric distances and including those “abnormal” field events, the discus and javelin, was held at the Crystal Palace track in 1913. And in February, 1914, Britain’s first paid national coach, Walter Knox (a well-known professional with experience in Canada and the USA) was appointed on a salary of £400 from the Olympic fund. The AAA expanded its Championships to two days and added the 440yds hurdles, triple jump, discus and javelin to its programme. Some important principles had been established.




Peter Lovesey is a novelist, best known as creator of the Victorian cop, ‘Cribb’, and one of Britain’s leading athletics historians, author of The Official Centenary History Of The Amateur Athletic Association (1979). His website: peterlovesey.com. The article above is an adaptation of one first appearing in the Journal of Olympic History, v.10 (2002).


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Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2012/08/09/conan-doyles-olympic-crusade/


Remembrance of Teams Past

Wednesday 8 August 2012 at 14:14

With the end of the 2012 Olympics now in sight, we celebrate the world of amateur sport with some photographs of local teams from yesteryear.

(Images taken from a variety of sources via Flickr Commons. Click on each picture for more info and higher res versions).

Winning oarsmen at Waterford Boat Club (1897) – National Library of Ireland



Sioux Indian Football Team (ca.1910) – George Grantham Bain Collection, Library of Congress



Shamrock hockey team, Montreal, QC (1899) – McCord Museum



Eymard Seminary Baseball Team, Suffern, N.Y. – Wittemann Collection, Library of Congress



Palace Rink Team, Detroit (ca.1910) – George Grantham Bain Collection, Library of Congress.



African American baseball team, Danbury, Connecticut (ca.1880) – Gladstone Collection, Library of Congress.



Shamrock Club lacrosse team (1879) – McCord Museum.



Minneapolis Talmud Torah football team (1920) – Steinfeldt Photography Collection of the Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest.



Irene Kaufmann Settlement, junior basketball team (1929) – American Jewish Historical Society.



Stetson University’s football team (1907) – State LIbrary and Archives of Florida



McGill swimming team, Montreal, QC (1920) – McCord Museum.



Wesleyan Theological Basketball Team, Montreal, QC (1916) – McCord Museum.



Trafalgar Institute basketball team, Montreal, QC (1928) – McCord Museum.



Ladies cricket team, near Weetangera Lane, Canberra: a team composed once a year to play the men, who would use a pick handle (1910) – National Library of Australia.



Dee Why senior Rescue and Resuscitation team, winners of the 1951 Australian Championships (1951) – Australian National Maritime Museum



Portrait of St Mary’s College tennis team, Charters Towers, Queensland (ca.1930) – State LIbrary of Queensland.



Members of the US servicemen’s boxing team (1943) – State Library of Queensland



Local cricket team, Waterford: Second from the left of the seated gentlemen is Sir Richard Musgrave, 5th Baronet of Tourin (1902) – National Library of Ireland.



Hartlepools League Champions for Quoits, a traditional game which involves the throwing of metal, rope or rubber rings over a set distance, usually to land over or near a spike (date unknown) – Hartlepool Cultural Services



African American baseball team from from Morris Brown College, Atlanta, Georgia (ca.1899) – Daniel Murray Collection, Library of Congress.



Aboriginal cricketers with Lawrence and William Shepherd, on tour, Swansea, New South Wales (1868) – Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales



Mercury basketball team, Minnesota (1923) – Steinfeldt Photography Collection of the Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest.



Expansion Ladies Football Team, 1918 – Museum of Hartlepool.



Pacific Southwest Airlines Flight Attendant Basketball Team, The Jets (date unknown) – San Diego Air and Space Museum Archive



United States Military Academy (West Point) football team (1913) – George Grantham Bain Collection, Library of Congress.



Hartlepool Y.M.C.A. Billiards Team (1920) – Hartlepool Cultural Services.













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Source: http://publicdomainreview.org/2012/08/08/remembrance-of-teams-past/