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tv   American Artifacts  CSPAN  August 19, 2016 10:36pm-11:04pm EDT

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it wasn't a wholesome environment for the young. and but also there was a spread of disease because of the crowdedness so this particular article that we're highlighting police lodging houses, are they heatbeds for typhus fever? a story of a man shown here lying on the floor. he's very ill. he's at the elger street police station and he did have typhus, so riis uses this as an example of the danger of contagious disease to the people that are staying there who then spread it when they left, but also to the policemen themselves. the police were concerned about this issue. so they do succeed in closing down the lodging houses and the idea that the police -- policing authority should have the major role in supplying homeless shelters, and riis believed that private charities should take over that role in partnership with the municipality. so with shared funds, both city
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and charitable funds to open model lodging houses that would have showers or ways to bathe and ways to wash clothes and a real bed for people to sleep in and so on. >> on the side walls, we have paired the photograph attributed to riis with a fire insurance map from the paris and brown company. so each panel features one of these maps that locates where this photograph was or probably was taken. these maps date from 1880. they're block by block. what if you can see, if you are an insurer, is what the building material is made of. so yellow indicates that is a wooden structure. pink is brick. green indicates there is some sort of fire insurance hazard
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whether it be because of what goes on in that building or building materials, but you can see where the police station is. the eldridge street station is in the lower right quadrant or the lower right portion of the map. and also, this illustrates what riis was railing against which is that there was no light, no sort of air circulation in these structures. so if you can imagine that there's a window on the street side, but then you see that there are buildings that are back to back, so there's no light getting in. >> one of the reforms that happened through the tenement house commission is regulations to require that windows be cut through in interior rooms and there were some 40,000 windows that were cut through so that there could be light from an exterior window. inside rooms like we saw at the
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"5 cent spot," that was a 13x13 room with no ventilation and no light. >> so these films are taken by the thomas edison company and american biograph company right around the same time riis is working in new york, so primarily they're dating -- these films in particular are dating from 1903, 1904. and this is the fish market on the lower east side. on the right-hand side. and you see a vibrancy that is really missing in the static images, in the still images and it shows, you know, the life of the street. and i think that it adds a nice dimension, i think, to the exhibition. >> and these particular films, they date mainly from the 1903
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era, so they are from riis' lifetime. so it really is as he would have seen new york at the time. and one of the things they're showing, like this particular one, men that are sorting things at the dump and riis did a famous article about men who -- and children. there was a picture in it that's called "children of the dump" who lived underneath the street there, at the rivington street dump, and other places. part of what they're doing is they're sorting things out of the garbage that can be recycled in for money. so, they sorted rags and then the rags would be recycled to make paper and they also sorted bones and cleaned the bones and the bones would be used for fertilizer or baking soda. and he covered this partly as an issue of homelessness, but also, as an issue of disease and sanitation. we had mentioned earlier that
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jacob riis came into fame during the gilded age, and then he dies in 1914 during the progressive era. and he had many friends that were progressive reformers, including lillian wald, who was the head of the nurse's settlement known as the henry street settlement in the lower east side. and he became a particular patron of another settlement house, the king's daughter settlement, and we have in this section about his legacy a -- something that he saved from -- but actually his wife -- second wife mary saved. from the jacob riis papers. and he was a patron of the kings daughters group which is a group of episcopal women following health inspectors in the lower east side and they eventually had purchased this property and he helped them do that by giving
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lantern side lectures and donating the money he gave and he was a major fundraiser for the creation of the settlement and he continued to raise funds for its operation. and they had a kindergarten, social services, nursing services, a playgrounds in the backyard for the kids, and it was a church based settlement house which he was a very pri price -- pious protestant. he was very comfortable with the church-based charity. some of the other settlements were nonsectarian or secular and
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among the people that lived it, lillian wald's henry street settlement was florence kelly, and florence kelly lived previously at whole house in chicago that was founded by jane adams and ellen gate star in 1889 and was a factory inspector for the state of illinois and came to new york. she moved into the henry street settlement and she worked on child labor, on the eight-hour day for women and worked women's rights. and she was a leader of the national consumers league, and we have the papers of the national consumers league here at the library of congress. and we highlighted one of the articles that florence kelly wrote and published very much in riis style, an expose about the issues of women and children in
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the labor force and their poor wages, the lack of protection for hours. and this particular article was illustrated by a photograph by lewis hind. we have the papers of the national child labor committee and hind was hired by them to go undercover and basically do investigative reports. so this is another riis-like activity that riis was doing these exposes of the slums and basically pioneering investigative reporting and hind went into canneries and factories and also the fields and took photographs that are now considered some of the most important documentary photographs of the 20th century, particularly of child labor. and then he used them like riis used the pictures of the children of the slums in an earlier time to show as magic lantern slides to social reformers and to testify before congress and it did lead to major child labor legislation. well, one important thing about this exhibit and especially the kinds of issues that we emphasize in our side walls about public housing and public health, the statutes and attitudes towards immigrations, all these issues are still very much with us today. and we'd like people to understand that they go back far into the 19th century, that they -- the people grappled with them at that time and we continue to grapple with them today. >> and i think that riis would
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be astounded today to learn that he's best known for being a photographer which is not what he thought of himself as. and so, i think that this exhibit as does the -- did the exhibit in new york and the upcoming exhibits in denmark, they're repositioning riis more as he saw himself, as a communicator. >> the exhibition "jacob riis -- revealing how the other half lives" can be viewed online at the library of congress website, american history tv airs on c-span 3 every weekend. telling the american story through events, interviews and visits to historic locations. this month american history tv is in primetime to introduce you to programs you could see every weekend on c-span 3. our features include lectures in history, visits to college classrooms across the country to hear lectures by top history
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professors. american artifacts takes a look at treasure, real america revealing the 20th century through archive films and newsreels. the civil war where you hear about people who shaped the civil war and the presidency, focusing on u.s. presidents and first ladies, to hear about their politics and legacy. all this month and every weekend object american history tv on c-span 3. next, we tour the innovation wing of the national museum of american history in washington, d.c. museum director john gray shows us some of his favorite objects, including an 1896 bicycle embellished with gold, silver, and jewels by tiffany and company and a 1948 tucker
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automobile. we also hear historical background from curator, kathleen franz. >> welcome to the smithsonian's national museum of american history, and it is really wonderful to welcome you to our new floor that is welcoming invention and innovation in america. as a matter of fact, we have apple one up here, which is quite extraordinary. you'll see as we walk through the floor the ways in which america has been so inventive and continues, that invention is one of the most important parts of our country. so let's walk through. as you come through, you start to see all these exhibitions that are focused on ways in which we have developed a new way of thinking, a new way of
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being, almost since time. so here we have the value of money, which has the most extraordinary collection of gold, coins, but all of them are oriented in a way to understand the role of money. as a matter of fact, we end up with a bitcoin. and now we walk into part of the show where we have american enterprise talking about the social and cultural history, which is really your history, of capitalism, business, the common good. but before we get to that, here's one of my most favorite objects, the tucker car in mint condition, which when it came out in 1948, 1949 was a total innovation. everything which i love is the centered front light that goes
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out to the ways in which it was styled and the ways in which it was to operate. you can see within this the role of invention and you can also see within this the stories of people who are very successful and created a market and some people weren't, so it is an important item to understand in america. the ways in which we as people have dominated how we understand one another. and in this cart, which is called the red river cart, it is an extraordinary story of women out of canada bringing in pelts into the area around st. paul to trade. and what they were doing was circumventing the hudson bay monopoly. obviously, the hudson bay monopoly didn't like that, so there was a lawsuit and ultimately the women prevailed. here we're starting out a show talking about american enterprise, talking about women who came across a border, which was really undefined back then,
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in order to create their own livelihood. so you can start to see the ways in which we can tell your stories of american business. and as we continue to walk through here,. you start to realize and in america the start of the country really had enormous amounts of trade that were going on, starting can native peoples into the our advertising wall, which shows from a period of time to today when we developed the idea of how to promote products and how to promote really consumerism. and you start with some things that are stereotypical, but you also go to the way identities develop and how we do that. you then come into the corporate era, which is quite
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extraordinary because you see the development of unbelievable businesses. some based on consumerism, like mr. wonderful peanut. this actually was on a fence post in iowa, because you started to see how we promoted our own products. coming through here, we walk into the consumer era. and here's where we start to identify our current lives, whether it's the way cars are developed or the ways in which energy got exploited and actually had a greater impact. and after that, we go into the global era. and as part of this overall show, there are numerous areas in which you can learn more about the country and things that have really affected us, and one of the most popular objects is right here. the laffor curve. we see the concept that lower taxation can increase everyone's income.
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what's fascinating about this, when laffer drew this out, he was the donald rumsfeld, the vibrant part of our history that has influenced all of our politics, our economic decisions today represented right there. and behind that, the milton friedman briefcase. as you come through this extraordinary exhibition, you can learn more about not only the country, but you can learn about what affects you every day. so we leave american enterprise and we go into an educational area, and we call it "object project" because it's these objects that literally change the way people live and behave. and the numerous ones from a refrigeration unit that actually changed the way we eat and how women could behave because they could prepare food and put it in there, to bicycles. and what's a real instructive
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way to think of the innovation of bicycles because it changed mobility for everybody. particularly changed mobility for women, and it changed the way they dressed and the way they were able to navigate a different kind of world. and one of the most beautiful objects and certainly something everybody is going to want to come see is the way tiffany with silver and jewels decorated this bicycle that then became symbolic for women, particularly this one, in their quest for mobility and the way they could identify their own independence that developed over a period of time. so here we have "spark lab." and the reality of invention is people doing the actual work. our spark lab takes children of all ages and actually can teach them and have them experiment with their development and the understanding of how to invent, whether it's around sound or
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music or lighting or electricity, and that is an enormous place of creativity for us as we come through. so you have to think about what it means for you to be an inventor and who are these inventors. so here we actually have the studio or workshop of ralph baird, who actually invented pong, which was the first interactive tv program, and look at today, how many interactive programs there are. and through this, you can learn about the fight and how you preserve your intellectual rights through patent models. you can also learn about how technology started in one place and just grew and grew in america. what i love most about this is actually his sweater. because he was a real human being who escaped from germany, came and found himself as one of the great inventors of all kinds of things in his america. and so what we're trying to do here is explain how america and
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actually the world has seen innovation and invention and how it's been captured from the start of this country into today, and continues to be such a major component of how we live, how we think, and how we act. so now, you really get the exciting privilege of listening to curators talk about individual objects, and it's the kind of experience you will have when you come and visit this wonderful, wonderful innovation. >> i'm kathleen franz. i'm the business history curator here at the national museum of american history smithsonian institution. and we're here in the object project today. looking at some of the amazing objects that have come out of storage and that you can interact with. i'm here with the tiffany bicycle. it is a super blingy example of a safety bicycle that was introduced in 1895 by tiffany and company for christmas, for
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the holiday market, and for the very distinguished and very wealthy buyer. this is not a common bicycle used by everybody. but the form that it is, which are two wheels of about the same size, is something that was new on the market, but aimed at a more middle class audience. so objects can tell us lots of different stories. and this bike is just packed full of stories. i'll just share a couple of them with you. one is that biking was a craze in the 1880s and 1890s, but bikes come first and then automobiles. they overlap a little bit, but bikes really paved the way, literally, to better roads in the u.s. so bikers are forming clubs and groups and they go out in their spare time and they bike across the countryside and they realize that the roads in the 1880s and 1890s leave something to be desired. so they form good roads clubs.
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and that eventually develops into highway systems and paved roads. so that comes out of biking. it's also these bikes are an innovation from the earlier version which is the high-wheel bicycle. where the rider basically sits on top of one big wheel with a sort of small supporting wheel behind it. those are ridden mostly by men. mostly for sport. and mostly to test themselves and test bicycles. when these come along, it really opens up biking to both men and women. and that's another one of the important stories that we tell here, is that this is a moment in the 1880s, 1890s, where middle-class women are starting to embrace this idea of sufferage, and moving outside the boundaries of the home and taking on new roles in public, and the bike really allows for that, and it also becomes a symbol of women's independence.
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just to get on this bike, you had to wear shorter skirts, sensible shoes, and so it was an instrument in helping to change women's fashion but made them more mobile as well. it also becomes a symbol for women's suffrage, and people moving that movement point to the bike as one of the things that gives women a new kind of mobility and independence. lastly, if we look closely at the object itself, why is it so fancy? well, tiffany's is trying to cater to its market of very wealthy people. the 1890s is one of those moments in american history when a lot of wealth becomes concentrated in the hands of a few americans, and they have a lot to spend. the vanderbilts, the carnegies, those folks, and they're buying lavish things to show off that wealth. this definitely shows off your wealth. this was for a pretty wealthy
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woman in montgomery, alabama. it also has a lot of filigree and decoration. you can tell just when you walk up this is not your average bike. so we're in the corporate era of american enterprise. and thinking about inventors and innovation, and i'm here with thomas edison, and what the curators call the creepy baby doll. these are two of edison's inventions. one is the light bulb, which is really made his career in many ways. it's the thing we know most about edison. this incandescent bulb invented in 1879 really changed the landscape of american cities and indeed american life. this doll was a real failure, and one of the interesting things about edison, a man known as the wizard of menlo park for his more than 1,000 patents and his many, many successes, also
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had a tremendous failure along the way. it was this doll, which was remarkable for its time because it was a talking baby doll, and when it's invented in the 1890s, it's one of the first applications of recorded sound in children's toys. and you can see here, this is basically a very small phonograph with a wax cylinder which is also edison and several other people's inventions and it's trumped down to a very small size to fit inside the doll. and a child would crank this from the back, and it would sing one nursery rhyme. you could hear it through this sort of perforated chest of the doll. now, these dolls would have had hair. they would have had clothing on. ours is a little bit stripped down. the problem with this was actually there were several problems.
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one is that it was incredibly expensive. so it was $10 to $20 in the 1890s, which was just more than the average family or average consumer could spend. it was a very high priced item. but the worst thing was that it just didn't work. so when it was launched on the market, the crank fell off. the sound didn't work. and if the sound did work, it was really a very shrill, screaming nursery rhyme. not a very pleasant, something that would put you to sleep at night. the sound was recorded by women who worked in edison factory. in new jersey, and the recording technology is not at all like what we would have today. so they would have to sing the nursery rhyme at a very high volume for the wax cylinder to pick it up and record it. so it was sort of like the screaming baby doll.
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unfortunately, edison only sold a very small number of these, and then ended up with almost 2,000, i think the number is like 1,700 dolls in a warehouse. in new jersey. and he called them his little monsters because they were one of his greatest failures and sort of plagued his dreams, but he bounces back. that's why we have this story in american enterprise. just to show you success and also failures. most entrepreneurs, most inventors experience some failure. it's just how they overcome it. this is also a nice parallel with earl tupper's story, the inventor of tupperware that you'll hear about later in the collection. he had a lot of failures and one tremendous success, which was tupperware.
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we're standing in front of our 1960 hot point refrigerator, which is a beautiful aqua blue, and contains some brightly colored, behind me, tupperware. i'm here to tell you a little bit about the back story on its namesake, earl tupper. earl tupper is what i would say a classic independent american inventor. he grew up thinking that he would become famous through his inventions and his inventions would make him a millionaire. he was born in new hampshire. and then moved to western massachusetts, which was really a hub for inventors. and his parents were sort of small farmers. and they lived, you know, a sort of hard scrabble life. this is his diary, from the 1930s. he graduates from high school in 1925. he has a very active imagination and mind. he couldn't afford to go to


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