Good excuse to get to Houston: QWERTY, a typewriter exhibt at the Museum of Printing History

November 28, 2009

Well, yeah, its that kind of quirky museum you love — one topic, so you know the kind of history you’re going to get.

And this particular subtopic?  Just right square in the middle of the road — that is, up my alley!

QWERTY Exhibit at the Museum of Printing History, Houston

QWERTY Exhibit at the Museum of Printing History, Houston

QWERTY: A Typewriter Retrospective

October 8, 2009– March 20, 2010 Typewriters inhabit a special place in the American psyche. No longer in widespread use, typewriters have been outsourced by the desktop computer, although they maintain a special air of nostalgia. Americans remember their junior high typing class, while many of today’s youngsters have never set eyes on such a machine. Tucked away in closets and in office corners, many typewriters are still occasionally put to good use. In addition to being beautiful specimens of design, who can forget the characteristic music of taps and bells created by a manual typewriter? From the collection of the Museum of Printing History.

More details on the Museum:

The Museum of Printing History
1324 W. Clay Street
Houston, Texas 77019
10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Tuesday – Saturday
Free admission for self-guided tours

Sources: Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, and Trial

November 28, 2009

More than just as tribute to the victims, more than just a disaster story, the Triangle Shirtwaist Co. fire, and the following events including the trial of the company owners, lay out issues students can see clearly.  I think the event is extremely well documented and adapted for student projects.  In general classroom use, however, the event lays a foundation for student understanding.

A couple of good websites crossed my browser recently, and I hope you know of them.

Cartoon about 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, New York Evening Journal, March 31

Cartoon about 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, New York Evening Journal, March 31, 1911

Events around the fire illuminate so much of American history, and of government (which Texas students take in their senior year):

  • Labor issues are obvious to us; the incident provides a dramatic backdrop for the explanation of what unions sought, why workers joined unions, and a sterling example of a company’s clumsy and destructive resistance to resolving the workers’ issues.
  • How many Progressive Era principles were advanced as a result of the aftermath of the fire, and the trial?
  • Effective municipal government, responsive to voters and public opinion, can be discerned in the actions of the City of New York in new fire codes, and action of other governments is clear in the changes to labor laws that resulted.
  • The case provides a dramatic introduction to the workings and, sometimes, misfirings of the justice system.
  • With the writings from the Cornell site, students can climb into the events and put themselves on the site, in the courtroom, and in the minds of the people involved.
  • Newspaper clippings from the period demonstrate the lurid nature of stories, used to sell newspapers — a working example of yellow journalism.
  • Newspapers also provide a glimpse into the workings of the Muckrakers, in the editorial calls for reform.
  • Overall, the stories, the photos, the cartoons, demonstrate the workings of the mass culture mechanisms of the time.

Use the sites in good education, and good health.

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