Friday, October 5, 2012

Lining up to Vote

A black and white photograph of a parade moving through a crowded street.We have a small, sobering collection of material related to the May 4, 1912, Woman Suffrage Parade in New York City. Sobering at first because it makes you realize that women were not allowed to vote in most states just 100 years ago, but also for the way events transpired that day.

The parade started off well as the women followed the organizers' suggestions:
Be punctual. Reach point of formation by 4 p.m. Wear white if possible. Low heeled boots. Appearance of the parade depends on each marcher. Head erect. Shoulders back. Keep step. Eyes to the front. Remember you are marching for a principle. OBEY YOUR MARSHAL.
A black and white photograph of a parade moving through a crowded street.
Crowds press parade
But as the parade progressed, the organizer's discipline and rigid sense of order (they arranged the marchers by occupation and created a strict class hierarchy) were challenged by unruly mobs. Police protection for the marchers broke down and pressed the parade to a single file march. In a first-hand account, march organizer Alva Belmont described the event as "disheartening,"
The lines were constantly allowed to be broken into by rowdies and small boys and the policemen who were stationed at the corner of 41st Street and Fifth Avenue were entirely incompetent and the management at Carnegie Hall was simply disgraceful.
The parade devolved into a near riot, and organizers met with the Police Commissioner the following week to protest the police's inaction.

You can see the file with correspondence, photographs, and flyers from the march, by asking for MS-1107.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Occasionally Useful

A page of printed equations.On page 86 of the second volume of Prinicipia Mathematica, Whitehead and Russell provide the final steps of their proof that 1+1 does indeed equal 2. Accompanying this is the statement that "the above proposition is occasionally useful." They had initially alluded to this on page 379 of volume one. "From this proposition it will follow, when arithmetical addition has been defined, that 1+1=2."

A page of printed equations.
Published over the course of three years (1910, 1912, & 1913), Principia Mathematica is a three volume work by Alfred North Whitehead and Bertrand Russell that attempted to provide a fundamental foundation for all mathematics based on the stated goals of utilizing the most minimal set of "undemonstrated propositions," a "perfectly precise expression, in its symbols, of mathematical propositions," and a method of solving "the paradoxes which...have troubled students of symbolic logic." The title is an obvious link to Newton's Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica and by association intimates that PM, as it is usually known, aims to provide as unassailable a cornerstone for mathematics as Newton did for physics.

Though PM has been criticized by the likes of Wittgenstein and G√∂del, it still stands as one of the most influential mathematical treatises of all time.  Ask for Rare Book QA 9 .W5 1910.