Author: Nathan Pease

Happy New Year 1918: Same same but different

Happy New Year 1918!

Considering that LancasterHistory.org (LHO) has a large collection of old newspapers available to our patrons, I thought that I would take a peak back 100 years to see what news stories were being read by Lancastrians on the eve of New Years in 1918. It will not surprise you that I found three topics which will sound familiar to our contemporary ears:

  • Women in the workplace
  • Cold winter temperatures
  • Taxes

Women in the workplace

The article below, from the December 29, 1918 edition of Lancaster’s The Inquirer, reports on the employment of women at the New York Central railroad. Female workers were needed to replace the men who had become soldiers for WWI. What struck my eye in this article is the section entitled “Receive Same Pay”. A. T. Hardin, the senior vice president in charge of operations for the New York Central, is quoted as saying, “The woman who does the same work as a man will get the same pay as a man.”

 

Cold winter temperatures

The following article, from the same issue of The Inquirer, reports on a cold spell that sounds much worse than the one we are suffering from right now. At 6 degrees below zero, the cold is described as “the sort of cold that make wagon wheels screech as they move over the snow”.

 

Taxes

The January 5, 1918 edition of The Inquirer reports on the new tax schedule. Single men making an annual income of more than $1000 are to be taxed in the new year at 2%. Incomes between $3000 and $5000 for single men would be taxed at a higher rate of 4%.

 

Donovan’s will pay your car fare

When I’m going through old newspapers, I always find myself admiring the graphic design of the advertisements. Below is an advertisement for Donovan’s department store that I found charming. Donovan’s, which was located at 32-38 East King St., paid the trolley car fare for customers spending more than $10 (unless the purchases were for Victor or Columbia products!!).

Materials at LHO that were used for this blog post

The Inquirer is available in our microfilm collection. Our microfilm readers can produce hard copy or digital images.

The address for Donovan’s department store was found in our 1917-18 copy of the Lancaster City Directory.

-Nathan Pease, Director of Library Services at LancasterHistory.org


Crocheting service wear for your soldier…

Service Wear title page from Fleisher’s Knitting & Crocheting Manual, 1918

On Tuesday, November 14, LancasterHistory.org (LHO) conducted a “History Harvest” for World War I items. One of the items reaped in that harvest was a 1918 copy of Fleisher’s knitting & crocheting manual, published by Fleisher Yarns in Philadelphia. This book, which features knitting and crocheting patterns, was donated by LHO member Denise Lahr.

Crocheting Service Wear

One noteworthy section of the book is dedicated to “Service Wear” items that would be worn by American soldiers:

In the Sixteenth Edition of Fleisher’s Knitting and Crocheting Manual precedence has been given to the needs of those who are cheerfully enduring the hardships and dangers of warfare on land and sea. Nothing that we can do for their comfort should be neglected. The section devoted to Service Wear has been carefully prepared and contains only designs that have been approved by competent authorities.

Here are some of the Fleisher designs for service members:

Helmet pattern from Fleisher's Knitting & Crocheting Manual, 1918
Helmet pattern 
Jacket pattern from Fleisher's Knitting & Crocheting Manual, 1918
Jacket pattern 
Service Sweater A pattern from Fleisher's Knitting & Crocheting Manual, 1918
Service Sweater A with spiral heelless sock

Crocheting Kimonos

Later sections of the book include “Sweaters”, “Babies’ and Infants’ wear”, “Afghans”, among many others. But the section that really caught my eye was “Kimonos”. Here are two examples from that section:

Emily Kimono pattern from Fleisher's Knitting & Crocheting Manual, 1918
Emily Kimono pattern
Marcelona Jacket pattern from Fleisher's Knitting & Crocheting Manual, 1918
Marcelona Jacket pattern 

My favorite image

And my favorite photograph in the book is this pair of infant leggings:

Infant legging pattern from Fleisher's Knitting & Crocheting Manual, 1918
Infant legging pattern 

Why add this to the library collection?

Because the book lacks a connection to Lancaster County, readers may wonder why the LHO library would add this book to the collection.

Although it has no direct connection to Lancaster, the book does provide us with a sample of some of the garments that Lancastrians may have fashioned during the war.

LHO’s genealogist, Kevin Shue, is a great proponent of adding contextual information to the lives of the many people who populate the genealogies of our Research Center. What clothes did they wear? What did they do for entertainment? Where would they have shopped? What is some of the local lore that they would have shared with neighbors?

In this case, not only does the Fleisher book provide information on what the soldiers might have worn, but it also provides a glimpse into the lives of people on the home front, how they may have contributed to the war effort.

Kevin suggests that this kind of societal, contextual information provides coloring and warmth to genealogy charts that normally consist only of lines for names, places, and dates. When a genealogist adds this type of information to their work, the ancestors come alive. The person is no longer a set of data; they become living people that we can recognize and relate to.

So that is why the LHO library has included Fleisher’s knitting & crocheting manual to its collection. LHO is dedicated to providing heritage resources that allow our patrons to understand and recognize the lives of the people of Lancaster County with contextual, day-to-day information.

Where to find it

If you want to take a look at the Fleisher’s knitting & crocheting manual, you will be find it in the library section with the call number 746.43. As I have just received it this week, it may take another week to get it cataloged and put on our shelves. If you can’t wait that long, just ask the capable workers at the library reference desk. If they can’t find it in the library, tell them to check the shelves behind “Bob Coley’s work station”.


Healthy German Men and Women To Be Sold…

Newspaper Ad from 1798

Lancaster Journal newspaper advertisement from December 29, 1798. Adam Reigart is selling some healthy German redemptioners.
Lancaster Journal, 29-Dec-1798

A number of healthy German MEN and WOMEN Redemptioners, (among which are several Mechanics) just arrived in Lancaster, and to be sold for a term of years. Apply to Adam Reigart, Jun.

This advertisement ran in the Lancaster Journal newspaper on December 29, 1798. Why are German men and women being sold by Adam Reigart, a local merchant who was generally known for selling wine and spirits? And what’s a “Redemptioner?”

Tiered System of Labor

According to Cheesman Herrick, the author of White servitude in Pennsylvania: Indentured and redemption labor in colony and commonwealth, the economic potential of America’s natural resources was offset by the lack of labor in the sparsely populated colonies. In order to create the requisite pool of labor, the American colonies established a three-tiered system of labor:

  1. Free labor who could bargain for wages, who were hired, and who could withdraw from their employment at any time;
  2. Indentured/Redemptioned laborers who lived in servitude for a set number of years in exchange for passage to the American colonies from England or Germany. They were considered chattel that could be bought and sold until the period of their servitude expired;
  3. Slave labor who lived in servitude, who were considered chattel, and who had no expectation of ever being free.

Indentured Servants vs. Redemptioners

Herrick says that the term “indentured” is usually applied to servants from Great Britain. British regulations required that a labor contract had to be completed before an emigrant could board a ship bound for the colonies. However, German emigrants were not bound by the British regulations. They would sign an agreement with the ship’s captain to pay a certain sum after landing at the colonies. If the emigrant failed to find someone to pay the amount owed to the ship’s captain, s/he would be sold as property by the ship captain. The person sold was called a Redemptioner. She would then work a set number of years for her owners before she could be live freely in the colonies.

Looking at Reigart’s ad in the Lancaster Journal,  we can assume that Adam Reigart had bought two Redemptioners, perhaps in Philadelphia, and was selling them as property.

Also, note the ad above, “To be Sold, the time of a NEGRO MAN, who has 8 years to serve, is young and healthy.” Because this man has “8 years to serve”, we can assume that he was also indentured and was not a slave. But consider the nature of the labor market that someone is selling by the hour the services of indentured servant.

Further Information

If you are interested in getting more information about indentured servitude…

  • You can search LancasterHistory.org’s library catalog at https://lhdo-verso.auto-graphics.com/MVC/. You can search for this topic by using the official Library of Congress subject headings: <redemptioners> and/or <“indentured servants”>. Be sure to use the quotation marks around “indentured servants”. That way the catalog will search for that exact phrase.
  • You can read Cheesman Herrick’s White servitude in Pennsylvania in LancasterHistory.org’s library. Its call number is 331.62 G566. You can view the library record here.
  • You can read what some person somewhere, we don’t know who, says about indentured servitude in Pennsylvania at Wikipedia here.

As for Adam Reigart, LancasterHistory.org has a collection of items related to his business. You can find a detailed description of that collection here. If you want to view items from that collection, please come into the library and put in an archive’s request for the materials you want to view.


This is an entry from Notes From the Library by Nathan Pease, Director of Library Services.

The Library at LancasterHistory.org has collected materials about Lancaster County for over 100 years. All the while, the librarians have been creating multiple tools to help patrons find relevant information. This blog will feature items from the collection as well as tips and tools for searching and discovery.