Tag: History

  • Life Through a Stereoscope

    I just received this quirky little anachronism that I found through Etsy. Featured in the image is a streoscope, a contraption that allows the viewer to see images in three dimensions.

    I’ve seen these items in museums throughout the years, and found them to be fascinating. What did people do before television, the radio and the internet? Well some looked at foreign scenes and women in their three-dimensional glory. All with the help of a bulky viewer.

    In the Van Helsing Paradox, Clara has referenced these devices when describing what she saw. In that situation, the world was frozen in time, depth remained, but the world looked like an aged photograph. In many ways, it was satisfying to see the world through the streoscope, and see just how close that description worked when it came to this piece of history!

    Yes this device works perfectly, impressive for something that was patented in 1895.

  • Blank Page Syndrome

    There are tons of articles on the Internet which talk about getting rid of writer’s block. Some offer a series of steps to follow, others provide a quick and easy trick and some even guarantee results.

    I tend to avoid any article which covers this topic since there are no one-size-fits-all solutions in life. However, this an article by Robert Fulford of the National Post covers various opinions and solutions throughout literary history. This twist to the age old topic struck me as interesting.

    Block of Ages by Robert Fulford on the National Post
    Block of Ages by Robert Fulford on the National Post

    It does mention some solutions authors and journalists found. However like anything, what works for them may not work for someone else.

  • A Stroll Through La Ville De Québec

    La Ville de Québec is one oldest European settlements in North America.  This city was a part of la Nouvelle France and features a fortified wall that surrounds the old city.  It is interesting to walk down the streets of the lower city and make your way up cliff as architecture changes.

    One of the most prominent landmarks is the Chateau Frontenac, which is an old railway Grand hotel.  The fort is named after Louis de Baude de Frontenac a popular Governor of la Nouvelle France which was famously known to have repelled the English through bravado and wit. On that day he uttered a phrase that became legend:

    I have no reply to make to your general other than from the mouths of my cannons and muskets.

    Unfortunately, I had little time to visit this city.  However, I did manage to take a few shots which are featured below!

  • On the Subject of Names

    Finding a good name has been the bane of authors and expectant parents alike.  For centuries we have struggled to come up with names that fits our characters and sets them apart from our other creations.

    Would Jane Doe work as a name for this young lady?

    It is my belief that stories set in the future names have no limits. How cold anyone fathom naming trends fifty years from now? How about a thousand? A good example of this phenomenon can be drawn from history. During the 1920s these were the most popular names for girls in the United States.

    • Mary
    • Dorothy
    • Helen
    • Betty
    • Margaret
    • Ruth
    • Virginia
    • Doris
    • Mildred
    • Frances

    Fifty years later these were the most popular names in the United States.

    • Jennifer
    • Amy 
    • Melissa
    • Michelle 
    • Kimberly
    • Lisa
    • Angela
    • Heather
    • Stephanie
    • Nicole 

    Who could have foreseen such a shift in names over a half-a-century? Mind you there is a reason why names from the 1970s are more mainstream now. Those names belong to people in their 30s to 40s which are now mothers, teachers and even celebrities.

    Still we look for inspiration when it comes to finding names. We desire some sort of guide which will shine the way. Fortunately, when it comes to historical names we have the benefit of foresight.

    Most countries have records spanning centuries, these also provide an invaluable source of names. The trick is to avoid using names from the decade in which the story is based. Instead, we have to rely on names from an earlier period.

    For example, a forty-year old character set during the Roaring Twenties would have been born in the 1880s. Knowing this, the name Dorothy may not be accurate for someone born in that era.

    For North America, a good source of names is the Social Security Administration‘s website and records.  To find names, select the decade you wish (starting from 1880) and look at the top 100 names for the period.  Next, simply scroll through the names and find one that strikes your fancy.

    As for family names there are a myriad of sites which carry that information as well.  I found a site which contains the 1000 most common family names in the United States.  Again, use such sites to narrow down your selection and make it historically accurate.

    That is how I came up with names like:

    • Ida Bell
    • Elmer Bell
    • Eleanor Green
    • Molly Webster
    • Thelma Walker
    • Mavis Johnson
    • Eugene White
    • Cecil Clark
    • Lewis Hall

    Some of these names are clearly dated but are oddly familiar. Hence these are the names that may be associated with a  grandparent or even a great-grandparent. They feel old and dated, hence they feel authentic for someone who lived during the Roaring Twenties.

    To find names which are modern, the same resources can be applied.  Just dial in the appropriate decade to work from and you are done.