Togetherness at the End of the Year

As another year comes to a close and 2022 looms large on the horizon, the IDHH would like to devote a post to the ways in which we reconnect, recharge, and renew ourselves during these busy holiday weeks. As a nod to the ways in which we all might choose to close out this year, we have featured a few forms of togetherness and entertainment from years past.

Entertainment, Fun in the snow. circa 1900. Arthur Public Library. Arthur, Once Upon a Time – Local History Images of Arthur. Courtesy of the Arthur Public Library.

Invented by American Thomas Edison in 1877, the phonograph was the first sound machine that could both record and reproduce sound. The earliest “record player”, these devices consisted of a stylus or needle which traced the grooves etched upon a rotating cylinder and then amplified the sound waves through a flared horn. By 1890, record manufacturers had begun to mass-produce their product, allowing consumers to assemble their own record collections and share their favorite music with friends and family.

Entertainment, Family listening to Victrola. circa 1900. Arthur Public Library. Arthur, Once Upon a Time – Local History Images of Arthur. Courtesy of the Arthur Public Library.

While previous generations may not have had the ability to binge-watch an entire season of TV together over the course of a weekend, they could enjoy dazzling depictions of scenes and far-off places from the comfort of their very own homes using a magic lantern. Widely accepted to have been invented by Dutch scientist Christiaan Huygens in the 17th century, the magic lantern created large-scale projections from images on transparent glass plates by manipulating one or more lenses and a light source. With these larger images, a magic lantern was preferable for large groups of viewers and was commonly used for entertainment purposes from the 18th century until the mid-20th century.

Magic Lantern, circa 1890s. circa 1890s. Bensenville Community Public Library. Bensenville Historical Collection. Courtesy of the Bensenville Community Public Library.
Churches and winter scenes in the mountains. [n.d.] Bensenville Community Public Library. Bensenville Historical Collection. Courtesy of the Bensenville Community Public Library.

However we choose to spend these last moments of 2021 together – whether that’s listening to music, dancing with our favorite dance partner, or watching a feel-good movie – the IDHH wishes everyone a joyous holiday season and a wonderful New Year!

Music and dancing with Lil’ Pat. circa 1971. Photographed by James Newberry. Chicago History Museum. Prints and Photographs Collection. Courtesy of the Chicago History Museum.
Man and woman dancing on Peoria Street. 1970. Photographed by James Newberry. Chicago History Museum. Prints and Photographs Collection. Courtesy of the Chicago History Museum.

Want to see more? 

Visit the IDHH to explore other items related to togetherness and entertainment

Find even more examples of magic lanterns, phonographs, and dancing on the IDHH.

National Guitar Month

April is National Guitar Month and to celebrate, the IDHH spotlights items from two collections from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign Library: the Sousa Archives Music Instrument Digital Image and 3D Model Collection and the John Starr Stewart Ex Libris Collection.

The John Starr Stewart Collection comprises more than 1500 book plates, book stamps, and spine labels from the late 19th century and earlier. Among these is a stamp from Leipsig, Germany that features a guitarist identified as Agnes Drobner.

Poster with illustration of woman playing guitar.
Horst-Schulze. Drobner, Agnes. 1900. UIUC Library. John Starr Stewart Ex Libris Collection. Permission to display was given by UIUC Library.

The Sousa Archives houses thousands of pages of sheet music, musical instruments, and other historical artifacts pertaining to America’s diverse music heritage. Among these is a fascinating collection of early and experimental guitars, including some of the first electric Hawaiian guitars produced. Included below are an assortment of these unique guitars, including table and lap-style guitars developed by Eddie Alkire and produced by the Rickenbacker and Epiphone guitar companies, as well as Alkire’s modified 12-string acoustic Oahu GUITAR.

Electro A-22
Rickenbacker. Steel guitar. ca 1932. UIUC Library. Sousa Archives Music Instrument Digital Image and 3D Model Collection. Permission to display was given by UIUC Library.

Oahu Jumbo 68B model acoustic guitar
Hawaiian guitar. Date unknown. UIUC Library. Sousa Archives Music Instrument Digital Image and 3D Model Collection. Permission to display was given by UIUC Library.

Ten-string lap-style electric guitar
Epiphone. Eharp-Lap Model Guitar. Date unknown. UIUC Library. Sousa Archives Music Instrument Digital Image and 3D Model Collection. Permission to display was given by UIUC Library.

Table electric guitar
Epiphone. Eharp. Date unknown. UIUC Library. Sousa Archives Music Instrument Digital Image and 3D Model Collection. Permission to display was given by UIUC Library.