Announcement of a new Page F30 side project: 90 Years Ago Today.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Some people have been suggesting recently that I migrate Page F30 to Wordpress, and that discussion reminded me of a side project I've been meaning to start for a few months ago so yesterday I decided to do so.

First the link. And now the explanation:

The side project is quite a simple concept: news from exactly 90 years ago. Well, give or take a week. I spend quite a bit of time digging through old newspapers and while turning up the odd interesting article is quite educational I've always wanted to try doing it in a more comprehensive manner, by tracing events as if they were happening today instead of just picking and choosing here and there. I chose 90 years ago for two reasons:

1) Newspapers before 1923 are without copyright, so the project can run for three years without having to give that any thought, and
2) 1920 is a very important time in our recent history, as it was just after the end of World War I where the economy was booming on one side of the Atlantic, was a mess on the other, and only a few months after a young Adolf Hitler had just joined a party called the DAP (Deutsche Arbeiterpartei) which renamed itself the NSDAP (i.e. the Nazi Party) in February. So 1920 is a good place to start in order to understand exactly how World War II happened, by tracing it one step at a time and watching events unfold.

The theme of this project is thus quite simple, and trying to do it here would probably result in it being buried in the mass of other subjects I write about. Also, because it's so simple I would also like to see others contribute. All it requires is a newspaper clipping, ad or something else from exactly 90 years ago. I plan to write about two posts a week for this, but anyone who wants to help out can write as many as they like, and frequent contributors will be added to the user list so they can write posts whenever they feel like it.

Posts can also (and hopefully will be) be in other languages, since English media alone is still looking at the world from a single point of view. They don't have to be translated into English, but typing an article out is requested, as this will make it easy for Google to automatically translate it.

The first article for the project is here, an editorial on Bolshevism from 5 August 1920. Some parts of the article are smudged and there is one name in particular that I would love to know: the article references three Americans that went to the Soviet Union just after it began and came back, saying that the country was working well and that this was the wave of the future. One of them was Raymond Robins, another was Lincoln Steffens, and the other name...Builit or something. Their names are in the left column, directly to the left of the title of the comic on the right.

If the project begins to take off and copyright issues are resolved, I could also see this turning into a number of 5-year projects: 85 years ago today, 80 years ago today, 75 years ago today, and 70 years ago today (which would go to the end of WWII). The reason for that: though tracing history day by day is a worthwhile endeavour, it would still take 25 years to get to the end of WWII, so it wouldn't be until 2035 that we get to Hitler dying, Japan surrendering and the beginning of the Cold War.

Oh, and I haven't given much thought to the design of the page just yet as I just registered it last night, and it still looks like a day-old blog. Recommendations on that are certainly welcome.

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