Here it is, the start of my blog on turn of the century oddness. This blog is actually an accompaniment to my book-in-progress, Into the Beautiful New, which tells the stories of poets Vachel Lindsay and Sara Teasdale, zeroing in on the years from 1900-1930. The "About" section of this site will tell you more about the book, and I'll explain more in later postings, too. Suffice to say now that this site will have snippets of some of the odd information I ran across while working on the book.
Rather than blither about my own intents and purposes, let me just jump in. Right now, I'm editing a chapter I wrote about Sara Teasdale going to the St. Louis World's Fair of 1904. There's considerable strangeness to that Fair--it was considered to be an anthropological, "educational" Fair that used recently conquered humans as subjects for its displays. That is, these people were the displays, as I'll show you as we go along. Besides this, this Fair marked the end of a type of post-Victorian sensibility, as it glorified all kinds of "modern" inventions and celebrated then relatively new, but hardly common, conveniences--like electricity.
Since this is a book that uses Sara Teasdale's point of view and constructs the situation in scenes, I used much of the kind of basic info above as a way to put together the setting and feel of the piece. What I actually worked on today was a section on the dancers, sword throwers, acrobats, restaurants, and such located on the Fair's "Streets of Cairo" display.