Saturday, October 29, 2016

Predicting Women's Attire After Bloomers Take Hold (1895)

"The Bicycle Dress" 1895

The Topeka State Journal. (Topeka, Kan.), 16 Aug. 1895. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.

An illustration in a newspaper in 1895 shows what the future of women's bloomers may be into the 20th century (which then wasn't very far away).

Further down on the page, there is this short article (or more like collection of mostly snarky and contradictory observations):

Fate has decreed that the bicycle girl in bloomers shall become a spinster, observes the Salt Lake Tribune.

The bloomer gives to a shapely women says the Galveston News, a great opportunity; in fact, two of them.

A Boston girl started on a trip around the globe and before she had gone 1,200 miles she received 85 proposals, she says.

If "equal rights" means anything, it means a man's right to keep out of the way of a woman who is just learning to ride says the New York Mail and Express.

Chief Badenoch of Chicago punishes rowdies who assault women in bloomers. He shows gentlemanly instinct. The question of what is a proper costume for a woman is not to be settled by rowdies on the street.

The women of Osnaburg, O., set their dogs on a Canton wheelwoman because she wore bloomers, says the Cleveland World. The women of a Connecticut town about 40 years ago gave one of their sex an order to leave town when she put on the first hoopskirt they ever saw. In six months they were all wearing them.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Washington Boy Shows Joy of Cycling

Boy on Bicycle (in Washington DC, 1890s)

Digitized image from a glass plate negative that shows some degradation. It was likely taken at a studio in the late 1890s. The descriptive record does not have an exact date. Studios sometimes had a bicycle and subjects would be posed sitting on a bike that belonged to the studio, but this I think this may have been the boy's bike - you wouldn't think a studio bike would have a headlight, and the front tire is quite dirty. But that's just a guess. He looks quite happy!

Title-Boy on bicycle
Contributor Names-C.M. Bell (Firm : Washington, D.C.), photographer
Created / Published-[between 1873 and ca. 1916]
Format Headings
Glass negatives.
Portrait photographs.
Portrait photographs
Glass negatives
- Title is unverified name of sitter or person who ordered the photograph, from handwritten label on negative sleeve or negative.
- Date based on span of years of C.M. Bell Collection.
- Negative number assigned by Library.
- Gift; American Genetic Association, 1975.
- General information about the C.M. Bell Collection is available at
- Temp note: Batch 55.
Medium-1 negative : glass ; 5 x 7 in.
Source Collection-C.M. Bell Studio Collection (Library of Congress)
Repository-Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Eliza Jane - A Woman Cyclist of 1895

Celebrated in song.

About this Item:
Title-Eliza Jane.
Created / Published-Boston, Massachusetts, c1895, monographic.
Genre-song sheet
Repository-American Song Sheets Library of Congress Rare Books and Special Collections


Complete Song, Words and Music, 40 Cents.

I. Eliza Jane she had a wheel, its rim was painted red;
Eliza had another wheel that turned inside her head.
She put the two together, she gave them both a whirl,
And now she rides the Parkway sides a Twentieth Century Girl.


"Oh, have you seen Eliza Jane a-cycling in the park?
"Oh, have you seen Eliza Jane?" The people all remark.
They shout "Hi! hi!" as she rides by; the little doggies bark,
For we all have a pain when Eliza Jane goes cycling in the park.

II. No more do skirts enfold her, tho' much her papa grieves,
But baggy trousers hold her in their big pneumatic sleeves;
For where you see the bloomers bloom she sits her wheel astride;
She makes a sight would stop a fight as in the park she rides.

Oh, have you seen, etc.

III. This is emancipation year, the woman movement's on;
Eliza plans to be a man, 'tis sad to think upon.
She thinks she needs the ballot now her freedom to enhance,
She wants to pose in papa's clothes; it is for this she pants.

Oh, have you seen, etc.

IV. Eliza had a nice young man, (Alas! 'twas long ago.)
As gay and fair, as debonair, as any man you know;
He saw her ride in bloomers, he screamed and quickly fled,
And as he ran, this nice young man in trembling accents said:

Ooooh, have you seen, etc.

V. Eliza's ma no longer speaks unto Eliza Jane,
She claims that dime museum freaks give her a sense of pain.
Her dad no longer cashes checks but wanders in the streets,
And thus he cries, in sad surprise, to everyone he meets:

Oh, have you seen, etc.

VI. Eliza's brothers saw her ride, and each one took to drink:
They made it flow to drown their woe, so that they need not think;
But there are woes that will not drown, not even in a well,
And in the worst of their great thirst Eliza hears them yell:

( Hic ), Wow! Have you seen, etc.

VII. Eliza to her tailor went, to try her bloomers on;
She came out from the dressing room and said with angry frown:
"These blooming bloomers do not fit!" The tailor said, Oh, law!
Excuse me, lady, but you've got them on hind-side before!"

Oh, have you seen, etc.

VIII. Eliza Jane has learned to swear since she became a man,
And when she finds it suits her mind she says her little—Rats!
It isn't very often that she feels that swear she must,
But she says it and she means it when her little tire's bust.
Oh, have you seen, etc.

IX. No more upon her red rimmed wheel the fair Eliza flirts,
No more she rides the Parkway sides in bi-fur-ca-ted skirts;
A park policeman ran her in one day in early Spring,
Because he thought Eliza taught the little birds to sing:

Oh, have you seen, etc.

X. Eliza dear, we sadly fear you have not started right;
You will not see more liberty by being such a fright;
Asylums yawn for you, my dear, and in the books we read,
How bloomers that too early bloom soon fade and go to seed.

Oh, have you seen, etc.

From Songs of Suffrage where it explains:

With the introduction of the safety bicycle (the first modern bicycle) in the 1880s, women found a need for clothing that would allow them the freedom to ride. Susan B. Anthony was quoted in an interview as saying, "I'll tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate woman than any one thing in the world. I rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel. It gives her a feeling of self-reliance and independence the moment she takes her seat; and away she goes, the picture of untrammelled womanhood."[1] Women on bicycles were the object of humorous songs, some risqué, that marveled at the sight of a woman in trousers. "Eliza Jane," is a song published on a song sheet in 1895 that brings together the bloomers, the desire to vote, and the freedom of riding a bicycle, with lyrics that explain the scandalous risks the young lady was taking.

Puck Magazine - Bicycle = "Dress Reform" 1895

Title: The bicycle - the great dress reformer of the nineteenth century! / Ehrhart.
Creator(s): Ehrhart, S. D. (Samuel D.), ca. 1862-1937, artist
Date Created/Published: N.Y. : Published by Keppler & Schwarzmann, 1895 August 7.
Medium: 1 print : chromolithograph.
Summary: Print shows a man and a woman wearing knickers and bloomers, standing with a bicycle between them, shaking hands; to the right and left are examples of nineteenth century fashion.
Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-ppmsca-29031 (digital file from original print)
Notes: Title from item.
Illus. from Puck, v. 37, no. 961, (1895 August 7), centerfold.
Library of Congress

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Bicycles in War (Book Review)

Bicycles in WarBicycles in War by Martin Caidin

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The record doesn't give credit to a co-author, Jay Barbree, who seems to have written books mostly about space exploration, including at least one other book written with Martin Caidin.

My father and his older brother both served in the U.S. Army during WWII and both were interested in aviation - they owned a plane together for a while. Growing up I didn't use the public library very much (it wasn't particularly close by) and read a lot of my father's books about WWII that included four or five books written by Martin Caidin about different U.S. fighters and bombers and their use during the War. I certainly remember them as engaging my attention - I'm pretty sure I read several of them more than once.

I got this out of the library where I work. It is probably not readily available these days.

Caidin's usual approach with his military aviation books was to describe the development of the aircraft and then to describe examples of its use in combat, focusing on particular pilots and units. Caidin and his co-author don't appear to have known that much about bicycles or otherwise think that the readers would be interested in the development of bicycles for use in war so that subject is not presented - the focus is on their use in several particular examples, including World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam War. He spends about 20 pages on the famous (in certain circles . . . ) 1,900 mile "march" of the 25th Infantry Corps (that was an all African American unit, except for the officers) in 1897 from Missoula, Montana to St. Louis, Missouri. The story of this unit is now covered quite well be various sources on the Internet, including this day-by-day account, the 25th Bicycle Corp, a page at the Fort Missoula Museum web site, and an hour long video, "The Bicycle Corps: America's Black Army On Wheels" (2000).

The Fort Missoula Museum site provides some of the technical information lacking in the book, for example:
Moss contacted the A. G. Spalding Company, who agreed to provide military bicycles co-designed by Moss at no cost. The Corps, consisting of eight black enlisted men, soon was riding in formation, drilling, scaling fences up to nine-feet high, fording streams, and pedaling 40 miles a day. Each bicycle carried a knapsack, blanket roll, and a shelter half strapped to the handlebar. A hard leather frame case fit into the diamond of each bicycle and a drinking cup was kept in a cloth sack under the seat. Each rider carried a rifle (first slung over the back, later strapped to the horizontal bar) and 50 rounds of ammunition.

The Spalding military bicycles were furnished with steel rims, tandem spokes, extra-heavy side-forks and crowns, gear cases, luggage carriers, frame cases, brakes, and Christy saddles. They were geared to 68 inches and weighed 32 pounds. The average weight of the bicycles, packed, was about 59 pounds.
For someone like me, with my interested heavily towards what the bicycles were like, this wasn't a particularly satisfying book. On the other hand, given that there isn't much published on this topic and was readily available (to me) it was a good enough read.

There are some b&w photographs included - nothing particular special alas, but then these are the days of the Internet and the book was published in 1974. I had seen many of those used before, but when the book was published, they were likely unusual to see.

Cycle orderlies under fire"Cycle orderlies under fire" - one of the photographs in the book, now widely published on the Internet (and even available for purchase from Getty Images, if you want to spend money)

View all my book reviews of books on cycling at Goodreads.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Sad Bike // Bicycles Locked to Poles (Book Review)


This is a few blocks from Nationals Ball Park, a few days ago. Ugh! This is a strange bicycle to steal parts from since it was a very low priced Mongoose junk bicycle when new, and the parts were probably the least good aspect of it.

I am reminded of this book:

Bicycles Locked to PolesBicycles Locked to Poles by John Glassie

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I got my copy used for $5.95 (with a free shipping special - guess I'm cheap) and it was even signed by the photographer.

On some level, of course, it's a terribly sad little book of photographs, but most of the bikes are just crap (missing various parts) so it isn't quite so sad. Perhaps.

The locks on some of these NYC bikes liked to poles clearly weighed more than the bikes (when the bikes were whole). I almost never see monster locks like these around here.

The inside of the front and and back covers includes these matrix table things that explain what parts of the bike on each page are includes, so you can see for example that the bike on page 81 has the frame but the fork is gone, along with practically everything else except the cranks and pedals. Amusing.