Weird Universe

Nineteenth Century

Carnivorous Buffaloes


Nothing much about California has really changed since this 1849 warning, has it?

Original article here.

The Eccentric Club

For over 230 years there has been one or more organizations known as "the Eccentric Club." I think every WU-vie should be a member by birthright.

Here is a tongue-in-cheek account of a party at an NYC branch from 1889.


Original article here.

Profile of the current London version.

Present-day USA version.
Posted By: Paul | Date: Wed Nov 11, 2015 | Comments (11)
Category: Eccentrics, Eighteenth Century, Nineteenth Century, Twentieth Century, Twenty-first Century

Tornado-Proof House With Tail

The idea, from an 1890 patent, was to make the house aerodynamic (long and narrow) and then attach it to a turntable, so that it could turn to face the wind.

I'm sure there must be some basic flaw in the concept. I imagine the entire house being spun like a top by the wind.

Source: Popular Mechanics - Apr 1910
Posted By: Alex | Date: Wed Nov 04, 2015 | Comments (19)
Category: Inventions, Nineteenth Century

Civil War Nurse Barbie

First of all, there's actually such a thing as a Civil War Nurse Barbie. (But no Civil War Soldier Ken, featuring horrific battle injuries).

Second, it's been pointed out in a number of places (such as here and here) that the doll is historically inaccurate. So it teaches kids bad history.

Dorothea Dix, Superintendent of Female nurses, famously set strict guidelines for all Union nurses: "They were required to be between 35-50 years old and plain-looking. [No attractive young nurses!] They were to dress in black or brown dresses and were not allowed to wear jewelry of any kind."

This is what an actual Civil War nurses' uniform looked like, complete with bloodstains:

Unlike the Union, the Confederates didn't have a nurses organization that defined what nurses should wear. But Confederate nurses tended to dress in simple, plain dresses, because that was practical.
Posted By: Alex | Date: Fri Oct 30, 2015 | Comments (12)
Category: Toys, War, Nineteenth Century

How to Cook Husbands


Alas, I wanted this 1898 book to be a tract by an angry feminist cannibal, but it is not--as you can see for yourself, if you go here.
Posted By: Paul | Date: Thu Oct 22, 2015 | Comments (4)
Category: Cannibalism, Feminism, Food, Books, Nineteenth Century

Mystery Gadget 32


The original article provides the answer.

But you might also like to visit this site, which shows the item in contemporary use.
Posted By: Paul | Date: Wed Sep 30, 2015 | Comments (10)
Category: Regionalism, Technology, Nineteenth Century

Savage Catfight

Can I say it before any other WUvie does? That boyfriend must have been some cocksman!


Original article here.
Posted By: Paul | Date: Fri Sep 11, 2015 | Comments (5)
Category: Death, Women, Nineteenth Century, Love & Romance

Follies of the Madmen #259


Original ad here.
Posted By: Paul | Date: Mon Sep 07, 2015 | Comments (2)
Category: Business, Advertising, Products, Domestic, Nineteenth Century

A Whole Sheep in a Can

In 1948, the Continental Can Company ran a series of magazine ads presenting "uncanny" facts about the history of canning. One of these facts was the great technological achievement from 1852 of packing an entire sheep into a huge can.

The ad didn't bother to say who exactly did this, but after a bit of googling I figured out that it was the French inventor Raymond Chevallier-Appert (1801-1892). Before Chevallier-Appert, canned food kept spoiling. He figured out that it needed to be cooked at higher temperatures. Here's the rest of the story from the Stravaganza blog:

Studying the problem, [Chevallier-Appert] decided that higher degrees of heat were needed in cooking. The apparatus called the autoclave, a closed vessel in which steam under pressure gave heat much greater than boiling water, had never been used for cooking food, however, and there was danger of over-cooking, because it lacked apparatus to measure and regulate the heat. Chevallier-Appert equipped the crude autoclave with another crude device, a manometer, which had been used for measuring heat in boilers. It would measure differences of only twenty degrees. He made it an instrument of precision, capable of measuring half a degree, and patented the invention in 1852. With greater heat, and an instrument to measure and control it, the difficulties of canning were overcome to such a degree that in June, 1852, Chevallier-Appert exhibited to scientists a whole sheep that had been cooked and sealed in a huge can in his autoclave four months before.
Posted By: Alex | Date: Fri Jul 17, 2015 | Comments (4)
Category: Animals, Food, Technology, Nineteenth Century

The Plot to Steal Abe Lincoln’s Corpse


Once upon a time, some crooks thought it would be a good idea to rob the grave of Abe Lincoln and hold the corpse for ransom.

One account here.

More detailed account here.
Posted By: Paul | Date: Fri Jul 03, 2015 | Comments (1)
Category: Death, Politics, Stupid Criminals, Nineteenth Century
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All original content in posts is Copyright © 2008 by the author of the post, either Alex Boese ("Alex"), Paul Di Filippo ("Paul"), or Chuck Shepherd ("Chuck"). All rights reserved. The banner illustration at the top of this page is Copyright © 2008 by Rick Altergott.