Staying cool before Air Conditioning

So summer is here — it’s hot, humid, sticky, and still. Luckily, most of us nowadays can seek refuge in some air-conditioned space, but how did people stay comfortable years ago before air conditioners were available? Throughout history until the mid-20th century, people lived without air conditioning — somehow! In

Continue reading

Vintage and Antique Dolls

The Barbie Doll debuted in 1959 and, for decades since, has been the most popular doll in the world. Archaeologists digging in our landfills a thousand years in the future will be able to date the stratified findings as “AB” and “BB” — After Barbie and Before Barbie — by

Continue reading

WWI Pop Hits

Pity the poor adman at the beginning of the 20th century. No TV. No radio. No color magazines and no recordings. No internet or pop-up ads. What’s an advertising executive supposed to do to sell his client’s music? Since recordings were, literally, unheard of back then, people had to make

Continue reading

Connecting to the Past, One Artifact at a Time

One of the most enjoyable aspects of photographing the artifacts in the collection of the Madison Historical Society is actually handling them and examining them closely. As the staff photographer, I work carefully with delicate objects, but I do not have to heed the “Do Not Touch” signs that visitors

Continue reading
Detail of pewter whale oil lamp

Lighting Madison

Thomas Edison is rightfully saluted as a creative genius who brought electric lights and other modern wonders to the world. But a look through the Madison Historical Society’s examples of early lighting devices (beyond candles) is proof that ingenuity was plentiful, long before Edison invented the incandescent light bulb. The

Continue reading

Revisiting Old Times

The Madison Historical Society and the Charlotte L. Evarts Memorial Archives have hundreds of photographs and postcards that illustrate how much — and sometimes how little — town life has changed since the early 1900s. In these vintage images, clothing styles seem peculiar, the cars are all “antique,” and a

Continue reading