This semester, Science and Society 102.23 first-year seminar students practiced using a variety of databases and digital collections to explore questions related to new technologies. One project was to delve into the past and investigate how society reacted to emerging technologies from approximately 100 years ago. Students chose a specific technology and used different databases and search terms to better understand and compare different historical perspectives on new inventions. The results were often fun and interesting, and students were able to present what they found in a final project. The students below gave permission for the library to share some of their findings.
Devansh Patel was able to find two articles written a century apart about the same thing: the future of electric cars! Here is the New York Times article he found from January 1918, using the Historical New York Times database:
And here is an article he found from a 2019 issue of Environmental Forum, using an EBSCOhost database:
Emily Li provided a thoughtful analysis of the historical reception of the typewriter by analyzing a 1912 article and a 1928 newspaper advertisement. Her analysis of the latter is pictured below:
Sammi Lin explored the history of headphones through photographs, articles, and advertisements. She was struck by the similarities between these two technologies from 1920 & the early 2000s:
Lin He provided a thoughtful history of vacuum cleaners, and observed that most of the people in old photographs of vacuum cleaners were women. You can see some of the sources she found by viewing her Canva presentation.
Tina Zheng looked at the history of radium, and was surprised to find this 1909 advertisement for Radium Sulphur Springs, which uses the word “radioactive” as a positive adjective to describe the mineral water you could drink there:
And here are a couple more examples from students who wanted to anonymously share their findings:
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