May 9th marks Mother’s Day here in the US, which was made a National Holiday by President Woodrow Wilson in 1914. Depending on one’s preferences, 1914 would place this within the Diesel Era source material for Dieselpunk. However, how and why the history of Mother’s Day became a national holiday in 1914 is different from what is portrayed in most sources. Here’s an excerpt from a fascinating article in the Washington Post.
That spring, suffrage leader Anna Howard Shaw lobbied President Woodrow Wilson to declare the first Saturday in May Women’s Independence Day “in recognition of the right and necessity that the women of the United States should become citizens in fact as well as in name.” Ruth Hanna McCormick, the Illinois suffragist later elected to Congress, then organized women across America to participate in the first Women’s Independence Day on May 2, 1914. Women in every state gathered to read a woman’s version of the Declaration of Independence and demand the vote.
Wilson did not yet support the federal suffrage amendment. He also didn’t want to meet with any pesky suffragists and ignored Shaw’s request. Instead, he proclaimed that henceforth the second Sunday in May would be Mother’s Day, reminding the nation of women’s primary role in American life. Wilson decreed that American flags should be flown at all government buildings and at private homes “as a public expression of our love and reverence for the mothers of our country.”
Wilson’s Mother’s Day proclamation disappointed women’s rights advocates as well as the women who had organized state and local Mother’s Day events since the 1870s. These early Mother’s Day events were never about empty praise of mothers, as Wilson imagined. Rather, they were opportunities for women to shape political debates, enact changes to policies affecting women and children and provide community support for mothers.
For example, in the years following the Civil War, abolitionist and suffragist Julia Ward Howe, author of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” began organizing mothers’ peace events, which provide one origin story for Mother’s Day. Having seen the ravages of war (and especially the deaths of so many sons) as a Civil War volunteer, she became a lifelong advocate for peace, using her position as a mother to propel pacifism. Howe organized the first Mother’s Peace Day in 1872, and this event was celebrated in cities across the nation for 30 years.
Anna Jarvis and her mother Ann provided another Mother’s Day origin story. Anna Jarvis grew up in West Virginia where she helped her mother (a woman who bore 13 children and watched nine die) organize Mother’s Day Work Clubs to combat the Appalachian region’s high infant mortality rate with improvements to sanitation and health care. After her mother’s death in 1905, Jarvis committed herself to securing a Mother’s Day holiday as a way to honor her beloved mother and, by extension, all mothers.
But shortly after Wilson declared Mother’s Day a federal holiday in 1914, women like Jarvis became disillusioned with the frivolous commercialization of what to her should have been a sacred and sincere commemoration. Indeed, in 1933, Jarvis even wrote President Franklin D. Roosevelt asking him to remove the federal mandate for Mother’s Day.
Why? Because instead of equality, health care, peace, safety and support, Mother’s Day had become an occasion for vapid expressions of “love and reverence,” increasingly characterized by flowers, brunch and store-bought cards.
More significantly, Jarvis’s opposition signaled that celebrating motherhood had become symbolic, not substantive. One could even argue that Mother’s Day provided a superficial placeholder in lieu of policies that actually would benefit mothers. Just months after the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920, Congress passed the Sheppard-Towner Maternity and Infancy Act, a longtime goal of women activists. This landmark legislation funded maternal and infant health-care centers, supported prenatal care and education and significantly reduced infant mortality, especially in rural areas. But the Sheppard-Towner provisions expired in 1929 in the face of increasingly vocal opposition grounded in fears of “communist” child-rearing and the dissolution of the patriarchal family.
Congress next approved major legislation benefiting mothers in the 1940s. For four years during World War II, the United States funded child-care centers across the country, under the Lanham Act, enabling mothers to enter the labor force while husbands fought the war. But, after the war concluded, so too did the program. Like women’s wartime labor, this program succeeded only to the extent to which it was understood to be temporary. Women took to the streets to protest the removal of funding for child-care centers, and federally supported child care has remained a core goal of women activists ever since.
Read the full article here.
"Diesel, because steam wasn't dirty enough." - Dieselpunk saying
One will find interesting stuff in the most unexpected places on the interwebs. Recently, the YouTube channel “How to Drink” posted an excellent video about Pre-Code movies.
In this video, the host covers the history of the Hayes Code and the Ginger Rogers movie “Gold Diggers of 1933.” While he makes two cocktails named after the actress Ginger Rogers, most of the video is an excellent history of the Hayes Code and how it changed motion pictures. Also, he briefly explains the difference between gangster movies and Film Noir.
Pre-Code is very much in the spirit of what would become Dieselpunk. I highly recommend this video to anyone interested in the Pre-Code movies and it's relation to Dieselpunk, regardless of whether they’re interested in the cocktails.
So, you've decided to start dressing retro. However, you look in your closet, and all you find is the “national uniform” of t-shirts, jeans, cargo shorts, flip-flops, and tennis shoes. You need a whole new wardrobe. But how to start?
For that, I highly recommend Dandy Wellington's tutorial video "Starting A Vintage Style Wardrobe (Men 2021)":
On February 28th, 2021, the 78th Golden Globes Awards honored the best of American television for 2020. There were many Dieselpunk nominations and one winner.
Chadwick Boseman posthumously won the award for Best Actor in a Motion Picture Drama for his role in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.
Viola Davis was nominated for Best Actress in a Motion Picture Drama for her role in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.
The movie Mank was nominated for Best Picture Drama.
Amanda Seyfried of Mank was nominated for Best Supporting Actress - Motion Picture.
David Fincher of Mank was nominated for Best Director Motion Picture.
Jack Fincher of Mank was nominated for Best Screenplay Motion Picture.
Atticus Ross, Trent Reznor of Mank for Best Score Motion Picture.
Tigress & Tweed of The United States vs. Billie Holiday was nominated for Best Song Motion Picture.
Lovecraft Country was nominated for Best Drama Series.
Matthew Rhys of Perry Mason was nominated for Best Television Actor – Drama Series.
This blog post is the second of two in recognition of Black History Month, in which I focus on influential African Americans in Dieselpunk.
Tony Snipes is the Founder of Portsmouth Aeroshipbuilding Co. Many of you may recognize him as a guest on the Dieselpunk Podcast. Recently, Tony was kind enough to answer some questions for you, dear reader.
- Tell our readers about yourself.
I'm Tony Snipes, mild-mannered Media Marketing Executive by day...SciFi/Fantasy Illustrator by night! I've been a visual artist all of my life, but have dived deep in my craft with the boom of the internet. (It's mostly because the medium has allowed us to reach any part of the world with our passion!) I've worked professionally in the advertising departments of Newspaper, Broadcast TV and now Broadcast Radio, learning how to reinvent each traditional media outlet with the boom of the Digital industry.
- How do you define “Dieselpunk” to non-Dieselpunks?
I define "Dieselpunk" as a subgenre of Science Fiction. It is a "retro-futuristic" creative expression reflecting the historic era of the "Jazz Age", the Art Deco era. Taking place from about the start of World War I until about the era of the launch of Sputnik. It's a blend of that historic era that includes either sci-fi, fantasy or magic.
- If you could only have 3 Dieselpunk movies in your DVD collection, which ones would you have and why?
"SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW"-because to me it's the best visual example of the genre.
"CAPTAIN AMERICA THE FIRST AVENGER" -because it's the best mainstream example...and to me, the one of best examples of quality in storytelling of the genre (without looking like a video game!)
Peter Jackson's "King Kong" (2005)-because it's a great example of the Dieselpunk era with the twist of fantasy/horror versus the usual sci-fi addition. Also, because it was deliberately filmed to make modern theater goers feel like those that saw the original in 1933.
- Tell our readers about the Portsmouth Aeroshipbuilding Co.
It’s the 1940’s and the world of The Portsmouth Aeroshipbuilding Co. has access to technology before it’s time. It’s a world rooted in the true shipbuilding history of my hometown of Portsmouth, Virginia.
- Do you have any new projects in the works?
Coming off the publishing of another annual calendar, this year I plan to dedicate most of the year to publishing an illustrated "coffee table book" to serve as an overview of the Portsmouth Aeroshipbuilding Co. experience. It's called "GUIDE BOOK".
- February is, of course, Black History Month here in the US. While the Diesel Era saw a long-overdue recognition of African American art and literature, such as the Harlem Renaissance, it also saw horrible racism with the Second Klan's rise and Jim Crow laws' entrenchment. As an African American man, how does this dark source material affect your vision of Dieselpunk?
For many years I've been passionate about discovering the rich, hidden legacy of African American history. I've used art and events to pass on what I've found on to others.
The Dieselpunk genre has allowed me a dynamic and intriguing backdrop for retelling of African Americans in history. Discovering that African American medics served at Normandy on D-Day...being introduced to jazz pianist Hazel Scott who'd go on to having her own TV show in America...all while these greats pass through our gates as aeroships float overhead. This is my way of reclaiming our hidden history and sharing it with the world.
- Is there anything else you would like to say to my readers?
Please be sure to stop by and visit The Portsmouth Aeroshipbuilding Co on Facebook at:
This blog post is the first of two in recognition of Black History Month, in which I focus on influential African Americans in Dieselpunk.
“Vintage style, not vintage values.” – Dandy Wellington
There may be no one who embodies Dieselpunk as a lifestyle other than Dandy Wellington. Not only is he a talented performer, but, as described by the web site for the magazine Rob Report, Wellington dresses “exclusively in vintage clothing, whether at the dancehall or the dentist.”
A quick view of Wellington’s YouTube videos reveals that his style is much more than vintage. There is a fresh, lively style to his fashion. His mantra, “Vintage style, not vintage values,” is pure Dieselpunk.
I highly recommend reading the Rob Report interview with Wellington. Then swing by his website and join his Patron account. You can also take your fashion style up a notch by joining his class “Wardrobe Building.”
“In the eyes of many in the world, this every-four-year ceremony we accept as normal is nothing less than a miracle.” - President Ronald Reagan
On January 20, 2021, the United States inaugurated Joseph Biden as the 46th president. However, it hasn’t always been held in January. Interestingly, the date change has a connection to the Jazz Age.
Historically, the inauguration had been on March 4th, which was four months after the election. This date resulted from Article I, Section 4, Clause 2 of the Constitution. Congress set March 4, 1789, as the date “for commencing proceedings” of the newly reorganized government. These scheduling decisions resulted in a long, four-month lame-duck period between the new President’s election and inauguration. Because they were voted out of office, defeated politicians would serve as lame ducks, incapable of effectively representing their constituents or affecting public policy. Critics, particularly those in the Progressive Movement that had been vital to other political reforms, argued that shrinking the gap in time between elections and taking office amounted to an immediate call to public service.
At times, this lame-duck Constitutional provision led to some bizarre attempts by presidents to circumvent it. In 1916, during World War I, President Woodrow Wilson devised a plan to avoid a lame-duck presidency and allow his Republican opponent Charles Evans Hughes to assume presidential powers immediately if Hughes had won the election. Wilson planned to appoint Hughes as Secretary of State. This appointment would have made him first in line to act as President in the event of a simultaneous vacancy in President and vice president’s offices thanks to another odd feature of Article 1. President Wilson and Vice President Thomas R. Marshall would have then both resigned. Wilson never implemented the plan since he was narrowly re-elected.
In 1932, to resolve this problem, Sen. George W. Norris of Nebraska proposed a twentieth Constitutional Amendment. This amendment established that the “terms of the President and Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January, and the terms of Senators and Representatives at noon on the 3d day of January, of the years in which such terms would have ended if this article had not been ratified; and the terms of their successors shall then begin.” Because its goal was end the lame-duck Congress, the Twentieth Amendment became known as the “Lame-Duck Amendment.”
On January 23, 1933, the Twentieth Amendment was adopted making FDR the first US president to be inaugurated on January 20th in 1937.