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Category Archives: Hysteria

The Inter Ocean, July 13, 1878.

Dallas Morning News, February 1, 1886. Said Frenchmen would in fact have been Quebecois rather than F.O.B. cheese-eaters. Now, your Quebecois gene pool is (no aspersions intended) a tight and tidy affair, which raises the possibility that the behavioral oddities manifested by these Gallic lumberjacks stemmed from some kinda mutation. But I’m more inclined to think that this was a culture-bound syndrome like latah, piblokto, bulimia or Republicanism. Read More »

New York Times, April 26, 1871. This is kind of cool: an editorial devoted to the subject of journalistic coverage of wild man stories nationwide. That’s pretty much the same theme I was working when I gave my talk on stage the other night, except I was focusing on wild women exclusively. But it’s time to acknowledge that wilding was numerically a male-dominated field of endeavor. Read More »

Grand Forks Herald, May 8, 1910. The Edwardian era had its garden variety libertines and seducers, but Oom the Omnipotent was operating on an entirely separate plane. Though it was also a pretty crowded plane, according to this reportage. Read more.

San Antonio Daily Express, July 7, 1873. Here is a singularly pitiable instance of FBAS (False Bender Arrest Syndrome). In the headline of the post that inaugurated this thread I made a casual comparison between FBAS and contemporary hysteria over blue gum negroes. The resemblance actually runs deeper than I’d deeply thought about: Both are basically semi-secularized versions of witchcraft panic. In this case, we have a bit of an overlap with the whole rural wild woman phenomenon too. Everything that plummets must converge, see? Read More »

Chicago Daily Tribune, October 31, 1889. Your average false arrest of a Bender suspect is a pretty prosaic affair: Some unlucky schmuck or schmuckess is in transit through a hick town, and a random resident of the latter spontaneously decides That’s John Bender! (sometimes senior, sometimes junior) and/or That’s Kate Bender! and/or That’s Almira Bender! An arrest or arrests ensue, and the newspapers triumphantly report that the long-sought criminal or criminals have been arrested at last and for sure this time, and no mistake about it. Often the coverage simply stops there until the next round, though sometimes there’s a sheepish follow-up item to the effect that, uh, perhaps the rock-solid Bender identification had been a bit premature after all. This one, however, is a bit more complicated. Read More »

Chicago Tribune, December 20, 1882. Hey, we’re back in business here at The Hope Chest. (And may I just thank the international service response team of the Hewlett-Packard corporation for fixing me up with working computer in just slightly more time than it would have taken for Rural Free Delivery to deliver me a can of Dapper Dan Pomade? Outstanding.) Read More »

AC 10 14 99 Atlanta Constitution, October 14, 1899. An inoffensive negro you say? Oh, the humanity!
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grand rapids eve press march 22 1907Grand Rapids Evening Press, March 22, 1907. This strikes me as legislative overkill. Seems like there’d be less economic derangement and dislocation if Senator McKnight simply brought his missus to live in Little Rock full-time. Or if that would cramp his style too much, maybe the railway could build her a special rail car with a lily-white hydraulic lift.

It’s a weird thing about coverage of Jim Crow stuff in old papers–some stuff arbitrarily gets lampooned, but it’s no crazier than the stuff that doesn’t.

I wonder if there’s a hidden meaning to the billing being “referred to the department of agriculture”?

race baseNew York Times, August 14, 1907. Tawana Brawley surely made stuff up, but she invented nothing. I’d say it was a lucky break for hostler William Engels that Bridget Dwyer flaked on her court appearance.

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