Thursday, July 14, 2011

1909 Delineator Magazine

From the Delineator Magazine, September 1909.

I purchased another Delineator Magazine, at great cost, because it had an article on the Corset: It's uses and abuses.

I thought it would be useful for my story Edith in the City. I'm guessing Edith saw this magazine, or at least perused in on the stands.

Now, the Delineator is a magazine which has been forgotten by History. The Wikipedia entry on it says only that it was a fashion magazine, but it was much more than that.

A few scholars have written it up in journals, but no scholars have analyzed the Delineator, to the extent that they've deconstructed The Ladies' Home Journal. I believe there are two giant studies on that magazine, neither of which I have read. Although I probably should.

The Delineator, in 1909, was being edited by Theodore Dreiser, the novelist who penned Sister Carrie in 1900 or so. His name is not mentioned on the masthead. Hmm. They had offices in Toronto and Winnipeg, but not Montreal.

I wonder if Dreiser penned the editorial for this edition, which addressed the decline in church attendance in the US.

"Is it is true that the people of the United States have ceased to be a church-going nation of which our Puritan forefathers would be proud? For the last twenty years - ever since the bicycle and apparently harmless outdoors sports began to lure armies of men, women, and children out of doors, until to-day, when the automobile and golf entices tens of thosuands, there has been an increasing tolerance of Sunday amusements and what appears to be a corresponding indifference to denominational affliations. (The editorial goes on to say that the Delineator is to run a series called "What is the matter with the churches."

I was just discussing this at lunch with my husband. His Aunt Edie and the Edith of my story was employed in 1909 at French Methodist Institute in Westmount, a missionary school. According to Preparing the Way, a book by Principal Paul Villard of the school, one of the most difficult tasks teachers of the school had was to keep Catholic children quiet on the Sabbath. Villard tells of how many a game of ball behind doors has had to be broken up at the boarding school.


As I explained to my husband, in 1908 Canada passed the Lord's Day Act, forcing people to have the day off from Saturday noon to Sunday noon. This act was pushed through by Conservative Prebyterians and Labour, an unholy alliance, as it were.

Of course, if you give people the day off, they want something to do. Maybe Presbyterians like Edith were trained to restrain themselves on the Lord's Day, but Catholics liked to have fun, let off steam on Sunday. (According to Villard, one of his students convinced his parents not to drink and play cards on Sunday.)

That's the reason the Ouimetoscope and about half of the Nickelodeons in Montreal stayed open on the Lord's Day. As Monsieur Ouimet later said. "It was my biggest day."

I will have fun with this, when Edith meets Miss Gouin, the vivacious French Canadian shopgirl of my first story, Threshold Girl about Flora Nicholson.

Of course, practical Marion Nicholson, didn't respect the Sabbath. She says so in a letter. In her story, I'll have her go out to plays and such on Saturday Night.