Missionary Travels and Researches in South Africa

Source: David Livingstone, Missionary Travels and Researches in South Africa. Including a sketch of sixteen years’ residence in the interior of Africa, and a journey from the Cape of Good Hope to Loanda on the west coast; thence across the continent, down the river Zambesi, to the eastern ocean (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1898), pp. 322-323

Text: Shinte was most anxious to see the pictures of the magic lantern; but fever had so weakening an effect, and I had such violent action of the heart, with buzzing in the ears, that I could not go for several days; when I did go for the purpose, he had his principal men and the same crowd of court beauties near him as at the reception. The first picture exhibited was Abraham about to slaughter his son Isaac; it was shown as large as life, and the uplifted knife was in the act of striking the lad; the Balonda men remarked that the picture was much more like a god than the things of wood or clay they worshiped. I explained that this man was the first of a race to whom God had given the Bible we now held, and that among his children our Savior appeared. The ladies listened with silent awe; but, when I moved the slide, the uplifted dagger moving toward them, they thought it was to be sheathed in their bodies instead of Isaac’s. “Mother! mother!” all shouted at once, and off they rushed helter-skelter, tumbling pell-mell over each other, and over the little idol-huts and tobacco-bushes: we could not get one of them back again. Shinte, however, sat bravely through the whole, and afterward examined the instrument with interest. An explanation was always added after each time of showing its powers, so that no one should imagine there was aught supernatural in it; and had Mr. Murray, who kindly brought it from England, seen its popularity among both Makololo and Balonda, he would have been gratified with the direction his generosity then took. It was the only mode of instruction I was ever pressed to repeat. The people came long distances for the express purpose of seeing the objects and hearing the explanations.

Comments: David Livingstone (1813-1873) was a Scottish missionary and explorer of Africa. Livingstone took a magic lantern with him on his transcontinental journey across Africa, 1852-56. On his return to Britain he became famous following the publication of his Missionary Travels and Researches in South Africa. This account records a magic lantern show late January 1854 in the upper Zambezi area. Shinte was chief of the Balonda people. This entry has been classified under Zambia, but in 1854 there was no country with national borders.

Links: Copy at Internet Archive (American edition)

Over the Waves

Source: ‘Movies “Over the Waves” at Lumina, Wrightsville Beach, Wilmington, N.C.’ in Durwood Barbour Collection of North Carolina Postcards (P077), North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, Wilson Library, UNC-Chapel Hill. Postmarked 22 July 1926.


Comments: The postcard shows a cinema screen positioned at Wrightsville Beach, Wilmington, North Carolina, with seats along the shoreline for the audience. The screen was an extension of the Lumina Theatre entertainment centre. The message on the back of the postcard reads: “Well Beulah how are you. I am just fine only rather warm for it sure is hot here. Wish you could have been with us yesterday you would have had a time. We [went] to the Ocean. I was in bathing right by the post in the picture. Fondly, Violet.” The image is used as a key identifier for the exceptional Going to the Show website, which documents the experience of movies and moviegoing in North Carolina, from the introduction of projected motion pictures to the end of the silent film era.

Links: Going to the Show website
Information from Going to the Show on the Lumina
Postcard images of the Lumina Theatre

The Land of the Dollar

Source: G.W. Steevens, The Land of the Dollar (New York: Dodd, Mead and Company), p. 289

Text: The anxious crowd outside surged denser and more terrible in its ungovernable weight. Thousands stood craning their necks to the walls of the huge buildings before them, faintly outlined against the deep sky. Search-lights spun round the horizon, lighting up signal-kites floating aloft. On the screens appeared scenes shown by the cinematographe, which were received with alternate delight and derision. When the first returns were shown the crowd lost mastery of itself. The City Hall Park is cut up by public buildings, with parallelograms and triangles of grass. The crowd broke against the wire fences, swept them down, and surged over the sacred enclosures. It could not help it. The laws of space and force were the only things that had not taken a night off for the election.

Comment: George Warrington Steevens (1869-1900) was a British journalist, and The Land of the Dollar is his account of an assignment in America in the late 1890s. The scene he is describing is crowds waiting in New York for the results from the 1896 presidential election, won by the Republican William McKinley.

Links: Available from Hathi Trust