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1915

Live-In Theater has come up with another interactive, participatory theater experience that is a dramatization based on real past events, in this case, the 1915 apprehension of 45-year-old Mary Mallon, called “Typhoid Mary” by the news media of the time. Reportedly, Mallon infected 51 people with Typhoid Fever, three of them died.

Alas, the one future performance of The Trial Of Typhoid Mary (Dec. 10th) on the online calendar of the Live-In Theater website is presently sold out, and no performances are (so far) scheduled for 2018.  However, your hope of seeing it may not be entirely lost. A stage manager told me that they do this production in “a lot of high schools” as well as “for private groups”. It has been around for a few years, and they performed it at The New York Historical Society in 2016.

Live-In Theater’s promotional materials for the show, “The Trial of Typhoid Mary” say, “Come give Typhoid Mary the trial she never received”. Ticketholders assemble (in this case, in the downstairs room of a Lower East Side bar), and a costumed re-enactor in solemn black who declared himself the judge set the scene, and chose various members of the audience to act the parts of jurors, bailiffs, and, at the performance I attended, a courtroom sketch artist. Another costumed re-enactor handed out golf pencils and notepads, and doubled as a “barker”. Though from the Colonial era to the mid-19th century, it was not unheard of for courts to be informally convened in taverns, (at least in Staten Island) by the end of the 19th century to the early 20th century (the time of Mary Mallon’s arrest for being a public health hazard), court proceedings had acquired a lot more formality and government control, not to mention proper courthouses. However, treatment of suspects under the premises of “innocent until proven guilty” had not advanced as much as it has now. I think the majority of the twenty- and thirty- something audience were properly horrified that Mallon had been arrested without a warrant, and some who questioned the actress who played Mallon on the stand clearly disapproved of the fact that she had not been read her rights (enforcement of this became a 1960s innovation), and had previously been summarily imprisoned on North Brother Island. Motivated perhaps by the role-playing of certain of the re-enactors, the suffragette who claimed to have been Mallon’s previous employer, who stressed that Mallon did not willfully infect others, and the one who played Mallon, who claimed to have nursed the family who got typhoid back to health, doing the more onerous duties, including washing soiled bedsheets, unlike in real life, they returned a verdict of innocent, though Mallon’s understanding of sanitary practices was to clean away all visible dirt, and she didn’t seem too concerned about whether she washed her hands “after she had been to the privy” if they were “not dirty”. All participants in this exercise had entered a time when “The Germ Theory of Disease” was as hotly debated and widely doubted as the phenomena of Global Warming is now, and with pretty much the same class divide between adherents.…

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The page, http://www.vintag.es/2015/11/rarely-seen-autochrome-photos-of-new.html , claims to display

Rarely Seen Autochrome Photos of New York in the Early 20th Century .

The images themselves span 18 years, from the earliest one dated with the year 1900, to the last, a photo of buildings with banners and signs exhorting the public to buy war bonds, with the date given as 1918. Not all of them are from New York City, several are attributed to places in Upstate New York. Though they are lovely to look at, and a few provide a glimpse of what everyday life for everyday people looked like in the thick of NYC, some people who have written into the comments section have revealed that the provenance of the images is not in all cases what the site represented them to be: some are not genuine Autochrome images at all, but colorized photos or lantern slides, and the one of two men playing chess was reportedly taken in Germany, not New York. Here are the comments, correcting some of the attributions of the images:

Some of these are not original autochromes but colorised black and white photos, e.g. the couple in Saratoga Springs, which is a detail from a colorisation by Sanna Dullaway: http://sannadullaway.com/0r…

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A number of critical errors. Image #1 (from the top down) is not an autochrome. Images #2 & 3 are autochromes by Charles Zoller (Rochester, NY). Image #4 is not an autochrome. Image #5 ( Foolish House) is an autochrome by Zoller. Images 6, 7, 8, & 9 are not autochromes. Image #10 (rooftops) is an autochrome in the collection of Wm. B. Becker and should be credited to him. Images 11, 12, 13, & 14 are by Zoller. All the Zoller autochromes are owned by the George Eastman Museum and should be credited to them. Image # 15 (chess players) is probably by Alfred Stieglitz or possibly by Edward Steichen and was taken in Germany. The last image (war bond rally) is an autochrome by J. D. Willis from the collection of Mark Jacobs.
Nearly all the non-autochrome images identified in this post are actually black & white lantern slides that have been digitally colored

 

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    Right! 6-7-8-9 are not color photographs at all, but Photochrom prints made from black and white negatives. You can see the originals online at the Library of Congress — the process is explained here: http://www.loc.gov/pictures…

    And if you’re interested in real Autochromes, including the rare New York rooftops image (#10 above), see the original postings online at the American Museum of Photography: http://photographymuseum.co…

 

 

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