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Monthly Archives: October 2009

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Atlanta Constitution, January 22, 1890. In colonial New England, the birth of such a monster would typically inspire suspicions that some man had had carnal relations with the mother. The freakish progeny would be scrutinized for clues as to the identity of the malefactor. The penalty for bestiality was hanging, but first the condemned man would have to watch his animal consort killed before his eyes. And no, I’m not making this shit up.

matimpAmerican Phrenological Journal, June 1865. Yes, even the American Phrenological Journal occasionally got things wrong.

mat impMedical & Surgical Reporter, October 9, 1869. Pre-natal care has changed a fair bit over the years.

Chicago Tribune, September 16, 1916 (left) and December 24, 1895. Beautiful editorial cartoons from the Trib (click through twice for optimum magnification). The one on the left speaks for itself, I reckon. The one on the right pertains to the boundary dispute between Venezuela and Britain. Britain was preparing to kick some ass when the U.S. forcibly reasserted the Monroe Doctrine (“Nobody fucks about in South America but us”). The Brits initially said “Pshaw!” but then backed down–a watershed moment in global power politics. The profile on the target is of course John Bull. I love it that newspapers once had leeway to depict Uncle Sam as a dissolute old carny, and on Christmas Eve day no less. Imagine the ensuing uproar if it happened today.

FrankAtlanta Constitution, November 30, 1888. It’s a wonder that the 19th-century agrarian sector could even function what with all of the monsters tearing around the back forty. Read More »

oct 7 11Savannah Tribune, October 7, 1911. Seems like the phenomenon of albinism was not as widely understood as one might think circa 1911. Read More »

needles and pinsNew York Tribune, March 14, 1849. Another Wild Woman story, but this one is treated with unusual caution and skepticism, despite the fact that it doesn’t involve superhuman jumping. Read More »

ioneLos Angeles Times, September 12, 1896. Well shut my mouth: here’s a wild woman who does manifest in mixed company. So let me advance another, I think safer, generalization: Wild Women skew distinctly toward the brunette end of the spectrum. Haven’t run across a blond one yet.

giantessSan Francisco Chronicle, January 29, 1894. My headline here plays off of the title and lyric of “The Giant of Illinois,” the mournful and mysterious but insuperably beautiful song by The Handsome Family (lately also covered by Andrew Bird).

A signature trait of the Wild Woman is that she rarely seems to manifest in mixed company. She appears to the men on some occasions, and to women and/or children on others, but not to all at once. I like the detail that this one wields a club rather than the usual knife. So much more bluntly phallic.

It’s odd that neither Forteans nor feminists have perpetuated this trope. Nor even that tiny overlapping body of Fortean feminists.

simon pureChicago Tribune, November 13, 1871. As I understand these things, Eve was at the peak of her nudity before the fall, but whatever. The point here is that your wild women tended to fall into one of two classes: ugly to the point that witnesses weren’t sure they were fully human, or, like this gal, veritable Rousseauian pin-ups. But always good jumpers, in either case. Read More »

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