Historical Nonfiction

fun facts, quotes, and pictures from history
Before automatic pinsetters were invented, “pin boys” lined them up by hand (1914).

Before automatic pinsetters were invented, “pin boys” lined them up by hand (1914).

the Citadel of Qaitbay is considered one of the most important defensive strongholds. It was built in 1477 CE by Sultan Al-Ashraf Sayf al-Din Qa’it Bay (hence the name). It protected Egypt well first under the Mamelukes and then the Ottomans. Unfortunately, as the Ottomans weakened the Citadel did too. In 1798 the French Expedition easily took the fort. Inside, they discovered ome crusader weapons, which dated back to the campaign of Louis IX around 1250! Today, the fort has been restored and is now a maritime museum.

(Source: Wikipedia)

In the afternoon there was a dinner at which tediously predictable worthies of New York — John A. Dix, Horace Greeley, and a divine or two — gave speeches. At the close of the tributes, Grant rose and, as he had done in St. Louis more than a year earlier, gave the speech which was to become his trademark. The New York Times report included the response of his audience: ‘I rise only to say I do not intend to say anything. [Laughter] I thank you for your kind words and your hearty welcome. [Applause].’

—Ulysses Grant had a “perfect speech” that he used on several occasions beginning in 1865. From Grant: A Biography (1982), by William S. McFeely:

(Source: futilitycloset.com)

rough translation: “The Englishman Heathcoat wanted to make a lace-making machine. After trying so many times and failing he grew very poor. This made his wife very sad. Eventually, however, he succeeded and was able to give his wife lace.”

rough translation: “The Englishman Heathcoat wanted to make a lace-making machine. After trying so many times and failing he grew very poor. This made his wife very sad. Eventually, however, he succeeded and was able to give his wife lace.”

rough translation: “The Frenchman Palissy wanted to make nice china. His wife and kids got very upset with him when he started throwing their furniture into the kiln(?) to feed it. But finally he succeeded.”

rough translation: “The Frenchman Palissy wanted to make nice china. His wife and kids got very upset with him when he started throwing their furniture into the kiln(?) to feed it. But finally he succeeded.”

rough translation: The Englishman Arkwright wanted to make a spinning-frame. It took him such a long time that he became very poor and so his wife got mad and broke his machine. Angry at her, he sent her away. But even after all this, he succeeded and became extremely rich.

rough translation: The Englishman Arkwright wanted to make a spinning-frame. It took him such a long time that he became very poor and so his wife got mad and broke his machine. Angry at her, he sent her away. But even after all this, he succeeded and became extremely rich.

A set of prints depicting famous Western inventors and scholars which seem to have been produced by the Japanese Department of Education. It was around 1873, when Japan was undergoing rapid, government-sponsored westernization. They all depict problems and disapproval for the luminaries. The accompanying text, however, reveals that each was successful in the end. Perhaps to encourage perserverence in the next generation of Japanese?
Rough translation of the print above: “the American celebrity Audubon’s important travel documents that he had been copying and gave to relatives for safekeeping were eaten by mice. He was extremely sad but tried again, and after just three years, his boxes were once more full of paper.”

A set of prints depicting famous Western inventors and scholars which seem to have been produced by the Japanese Department of Education. It was around 1873, when Japan was undergoing rapid, government-sponsored westernization. They all depict problems and disapproval for the luminaries. The accompanying text, however, reveals that each was successful in the end. Perhaps to encourage perserverence in the next generation of Japanese?

Rough translation of the print above: “the American celebrity Audubon’s important travel documents that he had been copying and gave to relatives for safekeeping were eaten by mice. He was extremely sad but tried again, and after just three years, his boxes were once more full of paper.”

Ping-pong is one of the most popular games in China, but it was not invented in China. It originated in Britain, where it is called table tennis.

Ping-pong is one of the most popular games in China, but it was not invented in China. It originated in Britain, where it is called table tennis.

This Is What A Good Man Looks Like

Wilhelm Roentgen, the scientist who discovered X-rays, was awarded the very first Nobel Prize in Physics in 1901. He refused to take patents out related to his discovery because he wanted humankind as a whole to benefit.

(Source: facts.randomhistory.com)

The word “jumbo” comes from the name of Jumbo the circus elephant. Jumbo was hit by a train and killed on September 15, 1885 in St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada. A statue was erected in his honor, and the name stuck.

The word “jumbo” comes from the name of Jumbo the circus elephant. Jumbo was hit by a train and killed on September 15, 1885 in St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada. A statue was erected in his honor, and the name stuck.

The first six Moghul Emperors of India ruled in an unbroken succession from father to son for nearly 200 years, from 1526 to 1707, a remarkable feat considering that there was no tradition of primogeniture and there was often a bloody contest for the throne.

(Source: allfunandgames.ca)

The Tony Awards are the awards for Broadway — aka musicals.
In the first two years the Tonys were presented in 1947 and 1948, the ceremony began with a 9 p.m. dinner at New York’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel, followed by dancing. Anyone could attend (it cost $7 for a ticket)
Most nominated production in Tony history: The Producers, which earned 15 nominations in 2011. 
In 1960, two musicals tied for Best Musical for the only time (Fiorello! and The Sound of Music)
Also in 1960, a nomination for Best Featured Actress in a Musical was split among the seven child actors—five girls and two boys—who played the Von Trapp children in The Sound of Music. 1960 was a weird year.
Originally, winners got a scroll, a money clip, and a cigarette lighter (for the men) or a compact (for the women).

The Tony Awards are the awards for Broadway — aka musicals.

  • In the first two years the Tonys were presented in 1947 and 1948, the ceremony began with a 9 p.m. dinner at New York’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel, followed by dancing. Anyone could attend (it cost $7 for a ticket)
  • Most nominated production in Tony history: The Producers, which earned 15 nominations in 2011. 
  • In 1960, two musicals tied for Best Musical for the only time (Fiorello! and The Sound of Music)
  • Also in 1960, a nomination for Best Featured Actress in a Musical was split among the seven child actors—five girls and two boys—who played the Von Trapp children in The Sound of Music. 1960 was a weird year.
  • Originally, winners got a scroll, a money clip, and a cigarette lighter (for the men) or a compact (for the women).
Jeffrey Hudson was born, amusingly, in the smallest county in England -Rutland County- on June 14, 1619. His parents were ordinary stock, as were all his brothers and sisters. But Jeffrey simply did not grow. At seven he stood 18 inches tall. Everyone in the area, including the Duchess of Buckingham was curious about him. At her request, Jeffrey’s parents walked him a mile or so to the Duchesses’ mansion. From then on, Jeffrey would be dressed in velvets, silks, and satins, with two servants to attend his every need. The whim of the wealthy saved him from a life as a country fair attraction — instead only the titled, rich, and intelligentsia could laugh at Jeffrey. He eventually became a pet project of the Queen of England, and remained part of her entourage through the English Civil War. The story of the rest of his life sounds like a adventure novel, with pirates and storms at sea and duels.

Jeffrey Hudson was born, amusingly, in the smallest county in England -Rutland County- on June 14, 1619. His parents were ordinary stock, as were all his brothers and sisters. But Jeffrey simply did not grow. At seven he stood 18 inches tall. Everyone in the area, including the Duchess of Buckingham was curious about him. At her request, Jeffrey’s parents walked him a mile or so to the Duchesses’ mansion. From then on, Jeffrey would be dressed in velvets, silks, and satins, with two servants to attend his every need. The whim of the wealthy saved him from a life as a country fair attraction — instead only the titled, rich, and intelligentsia could laugh at Jeffrey. He eventually became a pet project of the Queen of England, and remained part of her entourage through the English Civil War. The story of the rest of his life sounds like a adventure novel, with pirates and storms at sea and duels.

a few true facts about John Wayne
Stalin ordered his death (the FBI intercepted 2 KGB assassins) and Nikita Khrushchev rescinded the order!
John battled cancer in his last years. He blamed smoking six packs a day. But it could also be from shooting a movie downwind of Nevada’s nuclear test site
John was born Marion Robert Morrison on May 26, 1907
"John Wayne" was a moniker given by the studios that he had no part in choosing. He preferred "Duke" after his childhood dog
at 6’4” (193 cm) John was very tall for the time, and easily got a college football scholarship
his favorite pastime was — you’ll never guess — chess

a few true facts about John Wayne

  • Stalin ordered his death (the FBI intercepted 2 KGB assassins) and Nikita Khrushchev rescinded the order!
  • John battled cancer in his last years. He blamed smoking six packs a day. But it could also be from shooting a movie downwind of Nevada’s nuclear test site
  • John was born Marion Robert Morrison on May 26, 1907
  • "John Wayne" was a moniker given by the studios that he had no part in choosing. He preferred "Duke" after his childhood dog
  • at 6’4” (193 cm) John was very tall for the time, and easily got a college football scholarship
  • his favorite pastime was — you’ll never guess — chess