"Trouble in de Kitchen"; "When Malindy Sings"; "We Wear the Mask"
By: Paul Laurence Dunbar
Source: Dunbar, Paul Laurence. "Trouble in de Kitchen"; "When Malindy Sings"; "We Wear the Mask." Reprinted in The Collected Poetry of Paul Laurence Dunbar. Charlottesville: The University Press of Virginia, 1994. Available online at ; website home page: http://www2.scc.rutgers.edu/~triggs/AAP/ (accessed May 19, 2003).
About the Author: Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872–1906), one of the first African Americans to receive national recognition as a poet and novelist, was born in Dayton, Ohio. The son of former slaves, Dunbar published his first volume of verse, Oak and Ivy, at twenty-one. In his lifetime, he was best known for his dialect verse, but he wrote in standard English as well.
When he was twelve, Paul Laurence Dunbar's father died, and his mother raised him alone. As an adult, many of Dunbar's writings were inspired by the stories of slave life that she told him. However, she never spoke of the horrific aspects of her experiences. As a result, Dunbar tended toward a romantic view of plantation life, an aspect of...
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Art of Frederic Remington
"Western Types: The Cow-boy and The Half-breed"
By: Frederic Remington
Date: October 19, 1902
Source: Remington, Frederic. "Western Types: The Cow-boy and The Half-breed." Scribner's, October 19, 1902. Reprinted in Samuels, Peggy, and Harold Samuels, eds. The Collected Writings of Frederic Remington. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1979, 450–454.
"A Few Words From Mr. Remington"
By: Frederic Remington
Date: March 18, 1905
Source: Remington, Frederic. "A Few Words From Mr. Remington." Collier's Magazine, March 18, 1905. Reprinted in Samuels, Peggy, and Harold Samuels, eds. The Collected Writings of Frederic Remington. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1979, 550–551.
About the Artist: Frederic Remington (1861–1909) was a painter, illustrator, and sculptor famous for his romantic depictions of the Old West. He created archetypal images of cowboys, soldiers, and American Indians. Remington was born in upstate New York. Although he never actually lived in the West, he made frequent trips there—taking photographs and gathering props to enable him to work...
(The entire section is 1833 words.)
"What Children Want"
By: L. Frank Baum
Date: November 27, 1902
Source: Baum, Frank. "What Children Want," Chicago Evening Post, November 27, 1902. Reprinted in Tystad Koupal, Nancy, ed. Baum's Road to Oz: The Dakota Years. Pierre: South Dakota State Historical Society Press. 166–170. About the Author: L.(yman) Frank Baum (1856–1919), creator of the beloved Wizard of Oz stories, spent much of his adult life moving—from New York to South Dakota to Chicago, and finally California. He worked as a journalist, shopkeeper, traveling salesman, playwright, and magazine editor, each with varying degrees of success. The phenomenal popularity of the first Oz book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900) gave Baum financial stability for the first time in his life, and it enabled him to continuing writing for children until his death.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, one of the most enduring stories in modern literature, nearly was never published. Baum had difficulty finding a publisher for his story of an ordinary child from the American Midwest transported to an imaginary land, as European fairy tales were in vogue at the time. Baum had introduced the character of Dorothy in his first children's book, Mother Goose in Prose (1897), illustrated by...
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A Trip to the Moon
By: Georges Méliès
Date: c. 1902
Source: Méliès, Georges. A Trip to the Moon [manuscript]. Reprinted in Bessy, Maurice, and G.M. Lo Duca. Georges Méliès: Mage et "Mes Memoires" par Méliès. Paris: Prisma, 1945, 80; The Kobal Collection.
About the Author: Georges Méliès (1861–1938) was a French stage magician whose expansive imagination and fascination with optical illusions led to A Trip to the Moon (1902), a landmark in cinematic history. Méliès, a prodigiously talented artist, built Europe's first film studio in Montreuil, France. There he constructed elaborate sets for his fantastic short films. He produced over one thousand films and invented many special effects techniques before bankruptcy ended his film career in 1913.
Méliès studied painting, drawing, and sculpture in his youth, and sold his share in his family's footwear business to become a stage magician. In 1895 a demonstration of the Lumière brothers' cinematograph sparked Méliès' interest in cinema. He eventually constructed his own camera and founded a production company, Star Films. Star Films was housed in a specially designed greenhouse-like structure, where Méliès created more than five hundred films...
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Selected Letters of Edwin Arlington Robinson
By: Edwin Arlington Robinson
Date: 1905, 1908
Source: Robinson, Edwin Arlington. Selected Letters of Edwin Arlington Robinson. New York: Macmillan, 1940, 59–65.
About the Author: Edwin Arlington Robinson (1869–1935) was one of the most acclaimed American poets during his lifetime. Robinson's mature poetry had a dark, direct tone. This made his writing popular, even though he refused to adopt the developing modernist style of American verse. Robinson famously eschewed the comforts of traditional life, embracing poverty for the freedom to write. Even after he achieved recognition for his writing, he continued to work from Gardiner, Maine, where he was raised. During the 1920s, he was awarded a Pulitzer Prize three times.
In his early twenties, Edwin Arlington Robinson dedicated himself to a literary career. In 1896, he self-published his first pamphlet-sized volume of poetry, The Torrent and the Night Before. He sent out copies, and he received some favorable responses. Encouraged, he published The Children of the Night in 1897. He then moved to New York to be among other writers. Unable to make a living by writing, he took a job as a time-checker for the New York subway system....
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The Letters of Arturo Toscanini
By: Arturo Toscanini
Source: Sachs, Harvey. ed., trans. The Letters of Arturo Toscanini. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2002, 69–80.
About the Author: Arturo Toscanini (1867–1957) was one of the world's most legendary conductors. Under his leadership, he elicited some of the most breathtaking and energetic orchestral performances of the twentieth century. He introduced radical changes to the way operas and orchestras were run. In addition to his musical accomplishments, Toscanini was outspoken in his opposition to fascism in Italy and Germany. Born in Parma, Italy, Toscanini first came to the United States to lead New York City's Metropolitan Opera in 1908. But there resistance to his demands for artistic control ultimately led to his departure in 1914, although his reforms had been instrumental in bringing a new level of professionalism to the music world. Toscanini returned to La Scala from 1921 to 1929, and returned to the U.S. to lead the New York Philharmonic Orchestra from 1928 to 1936. Beginning in 1937 he conducted the NBC Symphony Orchestra (formed especially for him) until his retirement in 1954. Throughout his career, Toscanini appeared internationally, serving as guest conductor for some of the world's greatest orchestras. He also conducted numerous...
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Harry Houdini's Magic
Advertisement for The Conjuror's
Monthly Magazine; "Harry Houdini
Performs the Amazing Milk Can
By: Harry Houdini
Source: "Advertisement for The Conjurors' Monthly Magazine; " "Harry Houdini Performs the Amazing Milk Can Eascape." The American Variety Stage: Vaudeville and Popular Entertainment, 1870–1920: Houdini. American Memory digital primary source collection. Library of Congress. Available online at http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/vshtml/vshdini.html; website home page: http://memory.loc.gov (accessed May 19, 2003).
"Hogan Envelope Company Employees Challenge to the Famous Houdini;" "Houdini Defied!!"
By: Hogan Envelope Company; Alliance Dairy
Source: "Hogan Envelope Company Employees Challenge to the Famous Houdini;" "Houdini Defied!!" 1907; 1908. Reprinted in Gibson, Walter B. The Original Houdini Scrapbook. New York: Corwin Sterling, 1976, 33, 35.
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"The Old-Maid Aunt"
By: Mary Eleanor Wilkins Freeman
Source: Freeman, Mary Eleanor Wilkins. "The Old-Maid Aunt." In The Whole Family: A Novel by Twelve Authors. New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1908.
About the Author: Mary Eleanor Wilkins Freeman (1852–1930), born in Vermont and based in New England for much of her life, began her writing career with occasional poems for children. In a time of financial need, she published adult stories in important national magazines including Harper's, garnering a reputation for her depictions of New England life. Freeman also wrote popular ghost stories. She received the Howells Medal by the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1926, and was one of the first four women elected to the National Institute of Letters.
Mary Eleanor Wilkins Freeman's work demonstrated early American realist literature. She earned a reputation for her vivid portrayals of New Englanders in stories such as "The Revolt of Mother" (1891). Employing regional dialect and first person narratives, she wrote of the bleak lives of women in small villages and towns. Freeman's stories often examined the divided self that resulted from a constant struggle against social restrictions. Her later...
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By: Florenz Ziegfeld
Date: April 12, 1909
Source: "My Pony Boy" Sheet music, 1909, cover. Historic American Sheet Music, 1850–1920. American Memory digital primary source collection, Library of Congress. Available online at http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/award97/ncdhtml/hasmhome.html; website home page: http://memory.loc.gov. (accessed May 19, 2003).
About the Author: Broadway impressario Florenz Ziegfeld Jr. (1869–1932) was born in Chicago and growing up, he helped his father manage a variety hall called the Trocadero. His first wife, Anna Held (1868?–1918), a French actress, created the legendary Ziegfeld Follies. Anna Held was already a famous showgirl in Paris when she met Ziegfeld in America in 1896. She contracted to perform with Ziegfeld's company. Their relationship evolved into a domestic and creative partnership that resulted in numerous hit shows—in no small part due to each having an extraordinary gift for publicity. Held was the singular inspiration for the Follies, which featured performers who would go on to become the first stars of the modern entertainment industry.
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"The Memphis Blues"
By: W.C. Handy
Source: Handy, William Christopher. "The Memphis Blues." New York: Joe Morris Music Co., 1912. Historic American Sheet Music: 1850–1920. American Memory digital primary source collection, Library of Congress. Available online at http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/award97/ncdhtml/hasmhome.html; website home page: http://memory.loc.gov/ammem (accessed May 12, 2003).
About the Author: William Christopher Handy (1873–1958) was born in Florence, Alabama. Handy showed musical talent at an early age, and he took cornet lessons. As a teenager, he left home to join a minstrel show. As a performer, band-leader, and songwriter, Handy rose to musical prominence. Although he did not invent the blues, his 1912 composition "Memphis Blues" became the first blues ever published. W.C. Handy was one of the earliest musicians to make a successful living from the blues.
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Songs of Ma Rainey
"Slow Drivin' Moan"; "Moonshine Blues"
By: Ma Rainey
Source: Rainey, Ma. "Slow Drivin' Moan"; "Moonshine Blues." Reprinted in Lieb, Sandra. Mother of the Blues: A Study of Ma Rainey. University of Massachusetts Press, 1998, 68, 91.
About the Author: Gertrude Pridgett (1886–1939) became known as "Ma Rainey" when she married performer William "Pa" Rainey in 1904. She was born in Georgia. By fourteen,
"The Assassinators of the Blues" performed mostly with tent shows in the South. These were popular with both black and white audiences...
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The Art Spirit
By: Robert Henri
Source: Henri, Robert. The Art Spirit, ed. Margery Ryerson, Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1923. Reprint, Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1984, 15–19, 102–105.
Snow in New York
By: Robert Henri
Source: Henri, Robert. Snow in New York. From the collection of the National Museum of Art, Washington, D.C. Available online at The National Gallery of Art. http://www.nga.gov/ (accessed May 19, 2003).
About the Artist: Robert Henri (1865–1929), artist and teacher, was born Robert Henry Cozad in Cincinnati, Ohio. However, a family scandal forced him to assume a new identity in his teen years. He studied painting at Pennsylvania Academy and at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. He returned to the United States and became the leader of the Ash Can artists, who helped to establish an identity for American art. He had a long, distinguished teaching career.
IntroductionRobert Henri took a teaching position at the Women's School of Design in...
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Twenty Years on Broadway
By: George M. Cohan
Source: Cohan, George M. Twenty Years on Broadway. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1924, 93–99.
About the Author: George Michael Cohan (1878–1942) was an actor, playwright, director, author, composer, director, and star of more than twenty musicals. Many of his songs are still heard today, such as "You're a Grand Old Flag," "Give My Regards to Broadway," and "Over There." Cohan built his reputation on patriotic songs full of flag-waving optimism. He claimed his birthday was on July 4, but it was actually July 3; he was born in Providence, Rhode Island.
George M. Cohan spent most of his life in the theater. His parents, Jerry and Nellie Cohan, were traveling vaudevillians. At age three, George made his debut. By nine, he and his older sister, Josephine, began to perform with their parents as The Four Cohans. Cohan started writing songs at age thirteen, publishing his first, "Why Did Nellie Leave Her Home?" at age sixteen. By age twenty, he was writing the family act and managing The Four Cohans. Backstage, the arrogant young man was a troublemaker. His brashness consistently would be reflected in his later hit songs. Cohan composed over 500 songs, many of them national hits. He...
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By: Isadora Duncan
Source: Duncan, Isadora. My Life. New York: Liveright Publishing Co., 1927; 1995, 154–163.
About the Artist: Isadora Duncan (1878–1927) is regarded as the mother of modern dance, famous for dancing barefoot in simple Greek robes. She was born in 1878 in San Francisco, California, as Dora Angela Duncan. Performing for audiences by age twelve, she made her dazzling New York debut in 1899. She became famous in Europe, and she died as spectacularly as she lived. In 1927, while speeding along in a Bugatti sports car in Nice, France, her long scarf became entangled in the car's wheels and strangled her.
Isadora Duncan's sensational life was marked by much hardship and tragedy. In her childhood, her father, in a state of financial ruin, abandoned the family and left Isadora's mother to raise three young children by herself. Duncan was encouraged in the arts of dance, theater, and literature. The family lived a life of genteel poverty; her mother gave music lessons. By age six, Isadora was helping to support the household by dancing for money, and she and her sister, Elizabeth, taught dance to other young children. Although she had little formal education, Duncan was an avid...
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Sunshine and Shadow
By: Mary Pickford
Source: Pickford, Mary. Sunshine and Shadow. Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, Inc. 1955, 63–71.
About the Author: Mary Pickford (1892–1979) was one of the first powerful women in film. Originally from Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Gladys Louise Smith began her acting career to support her family after her father's death. By fourteen, she was on Broadway, starring in David Belasco's The Warrens of Virginia. Belasco gave Pickford her stage name. She made her screen debut two years later, in 1909. She became known as "America's Sweetheart" for the little girl roles she played well into adulthood. In addition to acting, she was also a film producer, writer, and director. In 1919, she formed United Artists with Charlie Chaplin, D.W. Griffith, and Douglas Fairbanks.
Early films were shown in theater houses called "nickelodeons"—named for "odeon," the Greek word for "music"—and the admission of a nickel. A program consisted of six ten-minute film reels, which might include an adventure, a comedy, an information film, a chase, and a melodrama. Although the films were silent, a piano player often provided musical accompaniment. Nickelodeons became a popular form of...
(The entire section is 2606 words.)