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Actual Interviews with Individuals Who Lived within the 1800s


The nineteenth century is nicely and actually gone. Which will sound like a trivial declare, on condition that we’re now dwelling within the 2020s, however solely lately did we lose the final individual born in that point. With Tajima Nabi, a Japanese lady who died in 2018 on the age of 117 years, went our final dwelling connection to the nineteenth century (1900, the yr of Tajima’s beginning, technically being that century’s final yr.) Fortunately that very same century noticed the invention of pictures, sound recording, and even movement footage, which supplied sure of its inhabitants a way of preserving not simply their recollections however their method. You’ll be able to view a group of simply such footage, restored and colorized, on the Youtube channel Life within the 1800s.

Within the channel’s playlist of interview clips you’ll discover first-hand recollections of, if not the actual decade of the eighteen-hundreds, then a minimum of of the eighteen-fifties by way of the eighteen-nineties. Take the inventor Elihu Thomson, interview topic in the video on the prime of the put up. Born in England in 1853, Thomson emigrated together with his household to the USA in 1857.

They settled in Philadelphia, the place Thomson discovered himself “compelled out of faculty at eleven” as a result of he wasn’t but sufficiently old to enter highschool. Some advisors mentioned, “Maintain him away from books and let him develop bodily.” To which the younger Thompson responded, “For those who do this, you would possibly as nicely kill me now, as a result of I’ve obtained to have my books.”

A kind of books was filled with “chemistry experiments and electrical experiments,” and carrying them out himself gave Thomson his “first data of electrical energy” — a phenomenon of nice significance to the event that may occur all through the remainder of the nineteenth century and into the 20 th. Albert L. Salt additionally obtained in on the bottom flooring, having began working for Western Electrical at age fourteen in 1881 and ultimately develop into the president of Western Electrical’s equipment subsidiary Graybar. However in fact, not everybody had such knowledgeable ladder out there: take the aged interviewees in the footage simply above, who had been born into slavery the eighteen-forties and eighteen-fifties.

The extra distant a time grows, the extra it tends to flatten in our notion. Within the absence of deliberate historic analysis, we lack a way of the varied texture of eras out of dwelling reminiscence. In the USA of America alone, the nineteenth century encompassed each nice technological innovation and the times of the Wild West. The latter was the realm recognized to Civil Warfare veteran and photographer William Henry Jackson, who within the interview above remembers the American west “earlier than the cowboys got here in” — not the time of the cowboys, however earlier than. May Florence Pannell, whose recollections of Victorian England we beforehand featured right here on Open Tradition, have imagined his world? May he have imagined hers? See extra interviews right here.

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A Uncommon Smile Captured in a nineteenth Century {Photograph}

Hand-Coloured Pictures of nineteenth Century Japan

Hear the Voices of People Born in Slavery: The Library of Congress Options 23 Audio Interviews with Previously Enslaved Individuals (1932-75)

Based mostly in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and tradition. His tasks embrace the Substack publication Books on Cities, the e-book The Stateless Metropolis: a Stroll by way of Twenty first-Century Los Angeles and the video collection The Metropolis in Cinema. Comply with him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Fb.


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