On this day:
1935 – Caroline Mikkelsen becomes the first woman to set foot in Antarctica.
Caroline Mikkelsen (1906 – late 1990s) was born in Denmark and in 1935 was the first woman to set foot on Antarctica, although whether this was on the mainland or an island is a matter of dispute.
In the winter of 1934-1935, Mikkelsen accompanied her Norwegian husband, Captain Klarius Mikkelsen, on an Antarctic expedition sponsored by Lars Christensen, on the resupply vessel Thorshavn, with instructions to look for Antarctic lands that could be annexed for Norway. Mount Caroline Mikkelsen is named for her.
On 20 February 1935, the expedition made landfall somewhere on the Antarctic continental shelf. Mikkelsen left the ship and participated in raising the Norwegian flag and in building a memorial cairn. Mikkelsen never made any recorded claims to have landed on the mainland, but was initially thought to have landed on the Vestfold Hills not far from the present Davis Station. She did not publicly speak about her Antarctic voyage until sixty years after her landing in 1995 when she spoke about her journey to the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten having been contacted by Davis Station Leader Diane Patterson.
In 1998 and 2002, Australian researchers published historical articles in the Polar Record concluding that the landing party from the Thorshavn—and thus Mikkelsen—landed on the Tryne Islands where a marker at Mikkelsen’s Cairn can still be seen today). The landing site is a approximately five kilometres from the Antarctic mainland. No alternative mainland landing site for the Mikkelsen party has been discovered, in spite of years of searching by Davis Station workers. Consequently, Mikkelsen is regarded as the first woman to set foot on an Antarctic island, and Ingrid Christensen, the first to stand on the Antarctic mainland.
1943 – American movie studio executives agree to allow the Office of War Information to censor movies.
The United States Office of War Information (OWI) was a United States government agency created during World War II to consolidate existing government information services and deliver propaganda both at home and abroad. OWI operated from June 1942 until September 1945. Through radio broadcasts, newspapers, posters, photographs, films and other forms of media, the OWI was the connection between the battlefront and civilian communities. The office also established several overseas branches, which launched a large-scale information and propaganda campaign abroad.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt promulgated the OWI on June 13, 1942 by Executive Order 9182 to consolidate the functions of the Office of Facts and Figures (OWI’s direct predecessor), the Office of Government Reports, and the Division of Information of the Office for Emergency Management. The Foreign Information Service, a division of the Office of the Coordinator of Information, became the core of the Overseas Branch of the OWI.
At the onset of World War II, the American public was in the dark regarding wartime information. One American observer noted: “It all seemed to boil down to three bitter complaints…first, that there was too much information; second, that there wasn’t enough of it; and third, that in any event it was confusing and inconsistent”. Further, the American public confessed a lack of understanding as to why the world was at war, and held great resentment against other Allied Nations. President Roosevelt established the OWI to both meet the demands for news and less confusion, as well as resolve American apathy towards the war.
The OWI’s creation was not without controversy. The American public, and the United States Congress in particular, were wary of propaganda for several reasons. First, the press feared a centralized agency as the sole distributor of wartime information. Second, Congress feared an American propaganda machine that could resemble Joseph Goebbels’ operation in Nazi Germany. Third, previous attempts at propaganda under the Committee on Public Information/Creel Committee during WWI were viewed as a failure. And fourth, America was experiencing endemic isolationism and was hesitant to become involved in a global propaganda campaign and subsequently a global war.
But in the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the need for coordinated and properly disseminated wartime information from the military/administration to the public outweighed the fears associated with American propaganda. President Roosevelt entrusted the OWI to beloved journalist and CBS newsman Elmer Davis, with the mission to take “an active part in winning the war and in laying the foundations for a better postwar world”.
President Roosevelt ordered Davis to “formulate and carry out, through the use of press, radio, motion picture, and other facilities, information programs designed to facilitate the development of an informed and intelligent understanding, at home and abroad, of the status and progress of the war effort and of the war policies, activities, and aims of the Government”. The OWI’s operations were thus divided between the Domestic and Overseas Branches.
The OWI Domestic Radio Bureau produced series such as This is Our Enemy (spring 1942), which dealt with Germany, Japan, and Italy; Uncle Sam, which dealt with domestic themes; and Hasten the Day (August 1943), which focussed on the Home Front, the NBC Blue Network’s Chaplain Jim. The radio producer Norman Corwin produced several series for OWI, including An American in England, An American in Russia, and Passport for Adams, which starred Robert Young, Ray Collins, Paul Stewart and Harry Davenport.
In 1942 OWI established the Voice of America (VOA), which remains in service as of 2015 as the official government broadcasting service of the United States. The VOA initially borrowed transmitters from the commercial networks. The programs OWI produced included those provided by the Labor Short Wave Bureau, whose material came from the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations.
In conjunction with the War Relocation Authority, the OWI produced a series of documentary films related to the internment of Japanese Americans. Japanese Relocation and several other films were designed[by whom?] to educate the general public on the internment, to counter the tide of anti-Japanese sentiment in the country, and to encourage Japanese-American internees to resettle outside camp or to enter military service. The OWI also worked with camp newspapers to disseminate information to internees.
During 1942 and 1943 the OWI boasted two photographic units whose photographers documented the country’s mobilization during the early years of the war, concentrating on such topics as aircraft factories and women in the workforce. In addition, the OWI produced a series of 267 newsreels in 16 mm film, The United Newsreel which were shown overseas and to US audiences. These newsreels incorporated U.S. military footage. For examples see this Google list.
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The requested URL /videosearch was not found on this server. That’s all we know. )
The OWI Bureau of Motion Pictures (BMP) worked with Hollywood to produce films that advanced American war aims. According to Elmer Davis, “The easiest way to inject a propaganda idea into most people’s minds is to let it go through the medium of an entertainment picture when they do not realize that they are being propagandized.” Successful films depicted the Allied armed forces as valiant “Freedom fighters”, and advocated for civilian participation, such as conserving fuel or donating food to troops.
By July 1942 OWI administrators realized that the best way to reach American audiences was to present war films in conjunction with feature films. OWI’s presence in Hollywood deepened throughout World War II, and by 1943 every Hollywood studio (except for Paramount) allowed OWI to examine all movie scripts. OWI evaluated whether each film would promote the honor of the Allies’ mission.
Born on this day:
1819 – Alfred Escher, Swiss businessman and politician (d. 1882)
Johann Heinrich Alfred Escher vom Glas, known as Alfred Escher (20 February 1819 in Zurich – 6 December 1882 in Zurich/Enge) was a Swiss politician, business leader and railways pioneer. Thanks to his numerous political posts and his significant role in the foundation and management of the Swiss Northeastern Railway, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Credit Suisse, Swiss Life and the Gotthard Railway, Escher had an unmatched influence on Switzerland’s political and economic development in the 19th century
“The rail tracks are approaching Switzerland, moving nearer on all sides. People are coming up with plans to route the railways around Switzerland. There is thus a danger that Switzerland will be entirely circumvented and that, in the future, it will be left with no option but to present to the world the sad face of Europe’s forgotten backwater.” With these words uttered in late 1849 Alfred Escher expressed his concern that modernity risked passing Switzerland by. And he had good cause for such concern, since at the time when the distances covered by railway tracks in Europe were steadily increasing, driving economic development as they did, Switzerland was doing little to join in. The fate of the new Swiss Confederation established in 1848 became inextricably bound up with the advent of the railways. There was basic agreement on the need for railways, but precious little agreement on how or where they should be built. In 1852 Escher helped push through a railway law drafted entirely in line with his own conceptions: railway construction and operation would be left to private companies. This soon led to a veritable railway boom in Switzerland. Within a very short period of time competing railway companies were set up, including in 1852-53 the Swiss Northeastern Railway, with Escher at its helm. In this way the Swiss rapidly closed the gap in rail-related knowledge and technology between themselves and foreign operators.
Federal Polytechnic Institute
The railway boom was accompanied by a call for people with the technical training required in the new economic sector. In Switzerland there were then no educational establishments for engineers and technicians. Escher was in the forefront of the struggle to rise to the technological and manufacturing challenges of the time. After years of political wrangling the Federal Polytechnic Institute (now known as ETH Zurich) was finally founded in 1854/55. From 1854–1882 Escher was vice-chairman of the Federal School Council, the governing body of the Polytechnic Institute. The establishment of this institution for technology and the natural sciences was the key act in laying the foundation for Switzerland’s later pre-eminence in education and research.
The large amounts of capital involved in constructing railways posed new challenges to the rail companies. The capital had to be raised outside Switzerland because there were no institutions within the country able to make money available in the huge quantities required. This dependence on foreign lenders resulted in those lenders seeking to influence the growth and development of the Swiss rail companies. Alfred Escher did not like this state of affairs. In 1856 he succeeded in establishing a new bank, Schweizerische Kreditanstalt (now known as Credit Suisse), primarily for the purpose of securing financing for his own rail company, the Swiss Northeastern Railway. Increasingly, however, Escher’s bank financed other public and private sector endeavours too, thereby developing into an important lender for the Swiss economy and the founding institution of the Zurich’s financial centre.
Despite the expansion of the rail network in the 1850s, there was still a danger that Switzerland would be left out of the wider European scheme of things. Although connections with the main Swiss towns and cities had soon been established, there was still no major north-south route. Alfred Escher initially favoured a trans-Alpine link via the Lukmanier, he changed his mind and became an advocate of the Gotthard project. Escher threw all the economic and political resources at his command behind this ambitious project. He consulted engineers and other experts, and conducted negotiations with the authorities at home and abroad. At the international Gotthard conference held in the autumn of 1869, the final decision was made in favour of the Gotthard line. In 1871 the Gotthardbahn-Gesellschaft (Gotthard Railway Company) was established, with Escher as its chairman. The construction phase was hampered by a variety of problems in realising the project and a – given the scale of the project, rather modest – budget overrun of around 11%. Escher was exposed to increasingly vociferous criticism, prompting him to resign as chairman of the Gotthard Rail Company in 1878. When the builders of the Gotthard tunnel broke through in 1880, he was not invited to attend. In 1882 this landmark project was finally completed and the Gotthard tunnel was ceremoniously opened. This time, Escher was invited but unable to attend the opening celebrations because of his poor health. The Gotthard tunnel played a vital part in putting Switzerland on the international transport map. In the years following its inauguration the volume of goods and passengers passing through soared, turning Switzerland into an important transit country.
1893 – Elizabeth Holloway Marston, American psychologist and author (d. 1993)
Elizabeth “Sadie” Holloway Marston (February 20, 1893 – March 27, 1993) was an American attorney and psychologist. She is credited both for partially inspiring the comic book character Wonder Woman and having been involved in the nature of the character’s creation, with her husband, William Moulton Marston (pen name Charles Moulton) and his mistress, Olive Byrne. She also participated with Marston in the development of the systolic blood-pressure test used to detect deception.
Marston was born Elizabeth Holloway in the Isle of Man and raised in Boston, Massachusetts. As noted by Boston University, “In an era when few women earned higher degrees, Elizabeth received three.” She received her BA in psychology from Mount Holyoke College in 1915 and would have liked to go on to join her then-fiance, William Marston, at Harvard Law School. However, according to an interview she gave to the New York Times in 1992, “Those dumb bunnies at Harvard wouldn’t take women […] so I went to Boston University.” According to Marston’s granddaughter, Susan Grupposo, when Marston asked her father to support her through law school, “He told her: ‘Absolutely not. As long as I have money to keep you in aprons, you can stay home with your mother.’ Undeterred, Holloway peddled cookbooks to the local ladies’ clubs. She needed $100 for her tuition, and by the end of the summer she had it. She married Marston that September, but still she paid her own way.” Marston received her LLB from the Boston University School of Law in 1918, and was “one of three women to graduate from the School of Law that year. [She later stated] ‘I finished the [Massachusetts Bar] exam in nothing flat and had to go out and sit on the stairs waiting for Bill Marston and another Harvard man . . . to finish.'”
Systolic blood-pressure test
Both William and Elizabeth next joined the psychology department at Harvard. Because Harvard’s doctoral program was restricted to men, Elizabeth was in the master’s program at the neighboring Radcliffe College. Elizabeth worked with William on his dissertation, which concerned the correlation between blood pressure levels and deception. William later developed this into the systolic blood-pressure test used to detect deception that was the predecessor to the polygraph test.
This work led to a PhD for William from Harvard and an MA for Elizabeth from Radcliffe in 1921. Furthermore, according to their son, Elizabeth suggested to William, “When she got mad or excited, her blood pressure seemed to climb.” Although Elizabeth is not listed as William’s collaborator in his early work, a number of writers refer directly and indirectly to Elizabeth’s work on her husband’s deception research. She also appears in a picture taken in his polygraph laboratory in the 1920s, reproduced in a 1938 publication by William.
Career and family
Marston was a career woman, a position that was controversial for the time in which she lived: “She indexed the documents of the first fourteen Congresses, lectured on law, ethics, and psychology at American and New York Universities, [and] served as an editor for Encyclopædia Britannica and McCall’s magazine.” In 1933, Marston became the assistant to the chief executive at Metropolitan Life Insurance, a position she held until she was 65 years old.
In 1920, Marston gave birth to a stillborn child, Fredericka. She had her second child, Pete, at the age of 35 and continued to work, which was rare for women at the time. Her third child was Olive Ann, named after Olive Byrne, who lived with the couple in an extended relationship. Marston also supported the two children of Olive Byrne. These children, Byrne and Donn, were legally adopted by the Marstons. While Olive stayed home to raise the children, Elizabeth supported the family when William was out of work and after his death in 1947. This included financing the college and graduate education of all four children and supporting Olive until her death in the 1980s.
Marston’s involvement in the creation of the DC Comics character Wonder Woman was discussed in detail in a 1992 New York Times article published one year before her death:
Our Towns reveals the true identity of Wonder Woman’s real Mom. She is Elizabeth Holloway Marston. She’s not 1,000; she’s 99 come Thursday […] One dark night as the clouds of war hovered over Europe again, Mr. Marston consulted his wife and collaborator, also a psychologist. He was inventing somebody like that new Superman fellow, only his character would promote a global psychic revolution by forsaking Biff! Bam! and Ka-Runch! for The Power of Love. Well, said Mrs. Marston, who was born liberated, this super-hero had better be a woman […] Wonder Woman was created and written in the Marston’s suburban study as a crusading Boston career woman disguised as Diana Prince […] Meanwhile, in a small Connecticut town, Wonder Woman’s Mom has disguised herself as a retired editor who lives in postwar housing.
Her 1993 obituary stated that she was the inspiration for Wonder Woman. It also quoted her son Pete as stating that Marston had told William (after he was asked to develop a new superhero in the early 1940s), “Come on, let’s have a Superwoman! There’s too many men out there.” A 2001 article in the Boston University Alumni Magazine, which included extensive interviews with her family, further noted that “William Moulton Marston, a psychologist already famous for inventing the polygraph (forerunner to the magic lasso), struck upon an idea for a new kind of superhero, one who would triumph not with fists or firepower, but with love. ‘Fine,’ said Elizabeth. ‘But make her a woman.'”
Lillian S. Robinson, however, has argued that both Olive Byrne and Elizabeth were the models for the character. In addition, Marston contributed some of Wonder Woman’s signature exclamations, such as “Suffering Sappho” and “Great Hera.”
Marston lived to be 100 years old, dying March 27, 1993, just after her hundredth birthday.