Crash Course: More Little Known History

Baby needs a new pair of boots

Baby needs a new pair of boots. No one puts Baby in a corner.

Baby the Persian cat receives a medal of honor for service in 1947

In 1947, a blind woman in Los Angeles owned a cat named Baby and there was something very special about that cat. Carolyn Swanson was featured in a 1947 LIFE magazine issue because of her special pet: she owned a seeing eye cat. Her Persian kitty named Baby was so loyal to her, he led her everywhere she wanted to go. He helped her leave the house, safely cross streets and go about her daily life. He may be the first (and only) seeing eye cat to ever exist.

It would seem Amelia Earhart always set out to make a difference.

It would seem Amelia Earhart always set out to make a difference.

At 20, Amelia Earhart was training to be a nurse.

After visiting her sister in 1917 at a college preparatory school in Canada, Amelia decided to train as a nurses aid in Toronto and served as a Voluntary Aid Detachment nurse at Spadina Military Hospital. until the Armistice in November 1918.

Amelia : “There for the first time I realized what the World War meant. Instead of new uniforms and brass bands, I saw only the result of four years’ desperate struggle; men without arms and legs, men who were paralyzed and men who were blind…”

Laura Dewey Bridgman inspired the parent of Helen Keller.

Laura Dewey Bridgman inspired the parents of Helen Keller.

Half a century before famed Helen Keller, there was the “Original Helen Keller.”

Laura Dewey Bridgman, became the first deaf and blind person to learn a language. Her story inspired Helen Keller’s parents to have Helen be educated.

At the age of two(1831), Laura suffered a severe illness which left her deprived of both sight and hearing and thus her speech. Under Dr. Howe’s care, however, she made remarkable progress in learning the manual alphabet and became the first blind-deaf-mute to be successfully educated in USA

A man named "Fink" old this stuff. What could possibly go wrong?

A man named “Fink” sold this stuff. What could possibly go wrong?

Munching on arsenic wafers will make you boo-ti-ful

Say the word arsenic and most people think “deadly poison.”  Arsenic was the poison of choice for murderers up through the latter part of the nineteenth century, and it is still used for homicides up to the present time.  It may, therefore, seem surprising that arsenic was also used extensively as a medicine for centuries, and was even consumed by many people as a health tonic or for cosmetic purposes.

Sold at Sears in 1902: Reports of “clear and blooming complexions” and full rounded figures of young women led to widespread use of arsenic as a cosmetic in many countries.  The arsenic was taken in various forms.  Women often drank Fowler’s solution or used it as a cosmetic wash.  Many new products were introduced on to the market.  For example, Sulphide of Arsenicum was advertised as a skin remedy and “the sure way to a better complexion.”  Dr. Simms’ Arsenic Complexion Wafers and Dr. Campbell’s Arsenic Complexion Wafers were popular, as were arsenical soaps.  In general, however, these arsenical wafers and soaps contained very little arsenic, which was undoubtedly a good thing.