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Entries in space age (17)

Saturday
Jun112011

A Trip Through Space for Boys and Girls (1954)

While flipping through the 1954 book A Trip Through Space I was struck by one aspect of the interstellar story that I've never noticed in a pre-Apollo book... a girl in space!

Here at Paleofuture we've looked at quite a few books that told children of the 1950s and 60s about the wondrous world of space travel in store for them. But I can honestly say that I've never noticed one that included girls in this fantastic, space-faring future.

Exploring Space, First Men to the MoonBoytopia, The Complete Book of Space Travel; none of these depictions of future astronauts bothered to include women. A Trip Through Space was written by Catharine E. Barry, an associate curator at the Hayden Planetarium, but there isn't much information about her online. Any biographical information about Ms. Barry from readers is greatly appreciated.

Now, I know that pointing out gender inequalities of the 1950s isn't a particularly novel observation and I only own about half a dozen children's books from the 1950s and 60s that envision future space travel. So it's difficult for me to definitively say how common depictions of female astronauts were during this period without more extensive research. With that said, I suspect that the girl in A Trip Through Space is a rare depiction indeed. 

I'm fascinated by what kind of stories we tell our children and how that shapes our society. The stories we hear as kids no doubt greatly influence our perspective on what's possible for the future, both globally and personally. Sally Ride became the first American woman in space* in 1983 -- the year I was born, in fact. What stories did Sally Ride hear growing up that set her on a path pursuing science? Growing up, how did she see herself fitting into the space program? As a 27 year old man who didn't grow up during the Space Age it's sometimes hard for me to gain personal perspective on things like this. 

I emailed Virginia Postrel, author of The Future and Its Enemies, columnist at Bloomberg and editor of the website Deep Glamour so that I might better understand the gender politics of the time. When I moved to Los Angeles I had dinner with Virginia, her husband and Paul Boutin at Cafe 50s, where a copy of the 1959 kid's book You Will Go to the Moon hangs on the wall. Over dinner Virginia talked about how much she loved that book when she was a little girl. Virginia's email to me appears below. 

When I was in kindergarten (roughly 1965), we had a time every day where we could look at books. My favorite books were You Will Go to the Moon (1959) and a book on the planets. I did read You Will Go to the Moon nearly every day, and I never noticed that the character in the book is a boy or that the text says, "You will be a space man." I only noticed that decades later when the book turned up on the wall of Cafe 50s and I later acquired a used copy. As a child I never explicitly aspired to be an astronaut. It was more that I assumed that in the future people would go into space, perhaps on business trips or as tourists. I never got to the details. I don't know that more women being represented would have had much effect on me, because I've never had much of a problem identifying with male role models, but it might have made a difference for other girls. Later, in the early 1970s, when I was 12 or 13 I watched Star Trek, which, of course, had plenty of female characters. The recurring ones were a switchboard operator, a nurse, and a secretary, but there were nonrecurring scientists, diplomats, historians, etc.

 

And it goes without saying that your comments about this time period -- educated or otherwise -- are more than welcome.

*The first woman in space was Russian Valentina Tereshkova in 1963.

Sunday
Apr172011

Construction Begins on the Space Needle (1961)

Fifty years ago today construction began on the Space Needle in Seattle. Just a year later, the 605 foot (185 meter) tower, which featured a revolving restaurant and observation deck, would be the crown jewel of the 1962 Seattle World's Fair. Dubbed the Century 21 Exposition, the Fair planners were eager to showcase American ingenuity with eyes firmly fixed on the future. The space race had begun in 1957 with the Soviet launch of Sputnik, so it only made sense that Americans would want the Space Needle to become a prominent symbol for the new Space Age.

The ad below appeared in the February, 1962 issue of Holiday magazine.

It's April 21, 1962, in Seattle... World's Fair time! The curtain's going up on the 21st Century... and on the most exciting preview ever seen. This is Seattle's spectacular Space-Age World's Fair, where the epic of man's journey into the next 100 years will unfold for you. What's ahead? How will man live? What will he see? Look at cities in the year 2000, see homes whose walls are jets of air, where cordless appliances work for you, cars ride without wheels, TV wrist telephones speed everyday communications. Time and distance wll disappear in the gigantic, pillar-less Coliseum Century 21, jutting eleven stories up from the heart of the fair. You'll soar past the moon into outer galaxies -- no space suit, no gravity, in the $9 million complex of the United States Science Pavilion. You will discover the secrets of the future in these six gleaming buildings rising above lighted fountains and courtyard pools. But it's not all the story of man's great tomorrows. Much of this $80 million show will be a glittering world of today. Dine atop the towering 60-story Space Needle which revolves to view Mt. Rainier, the Olympic and Cascade Ranges. Stroll Boulevards of the World filled with the sights and sounds of foreign lands. Thrill to the Monorail as it whisks you the mile from downtown Seattle in 95 seconds.

 

 

Wednesday
Mar032010

Lunar Colonies of the Future (1969)

The May, 1969 issue of Science Journal features an article by Dr. Rodney Wendell Johnson about lunar colonies of the future. Dr. Johnson was the Advanced Planner for NASA's Advanced Manned Mission Program Office. The illustrations by Roy G. Scarfo that accompany the article are pretty amazing.

(Please excuse the semi-blurred scans. The magazine is too big to fit comfortably on my scanner and frankly I'm too lazy to scan it in pieces for you. Listen, you complain any more and I'll turn this rocket ship right around! I swear!)

[The illustration above] shows a semi-permanent base, a six man shelter landed by a direct flight from Earth and coupled to an expandable laboratory in the foreground.

Early lunar bases would grow from Apollo hardware. The picture [above], depicts Apollo lunar modules; that in the background carries a shelter and the other has landed a one man roving vehicle with a range of 8 km. This system would permit 14 day scientific missions in 1971-72, including geological drilling to about 35 m.

 

[UPDATE: Thanks to Winchell Chung for tracking down the illustrator of these great pieces as Roy G. Scarfo, who also illustrated the book Beyond Tomorrow: The Next 50 Years in Space.]

Previously on Paleo-Future:

 

Wednesday
Feb242010

Another Frigidaire Space Age Advance (1966)

Last month we looked at this photo in a book of 1960's advertisements. It's not immediately clear what women in space helmets have to do with refrigerators, but like we've discussed, positioning a product as "futuristic" means that as a consumer you're able to "buy tomorrow."

Own a piece of the future... with our widget.

Today we have an ad that looks to be from that same Frigidaire campaign. It appeared in the May 5, 1966 issue of Life magazine and touts the Gemini 19 refrigerator-freezer. I'm at a loss trying to think of products today that might co-opt language of the space age. When did the idea of living in space lose its luster?

Ad via Flickr and Google Books.

 

Previously on Paleo-Future:

 

Sunday
Jan102010

Refrigerators... in Space! (1965)

The image above is from a 1965 Frigidaire print advertisement. The futuristic style reminds me of the New Christy Minstrels album cover we looked at a few years ago, though the faux-wood paneling on that fridge doesn't scream "space age" to me.

The ad was found in the book The Golden Age of Advertising - The 60s, cropped just as you see above, but I'm curious if the original ad had any interesting copy to justify the space age ladies pictured.


Previously on Paleo-Future:

 

Tuesday
Jul292008

Space and National Security (1963)



The 1963 U.S. Air Force film Space and National Security envisioned futuristic wars conducted in space. The clip above is taken from the fascinating NOVA episode, Astrospies. Many thanks to Matt Chapman of Homestarrunner.com for bringing this clip to our attention.

 

As Matt points out, the "non-animation animation" is similar in style to many of the 1950s Disneyland TV episodes like Mars and Beyond, and Man and the Moon, as well as non-Disney films like Rhapsody of Steel.


See also:
Air Force Predictions for 2063 (1963)
2063 A.D. Book (1963)
Mars and Beyond (1957)
Man and the Moon (1955)
Rhapsody of Steel (1959)

Tuesday
May272008

A Glimpse Into 2056 (1956)


The March 10, 1956 Ames Daily Tribune (Ames, IA) ran this story about a local play called Futurama 2056. The entire piece appears below.

Food in capsules, clothes you can throw away - these are a few of the features of the future to be seen in the play, "Futurama 2056," which will be presented at the general meeting of the Ames Woman's Club Monday at 2:30 p.m.

 

The play, a comedy fantasy, written by Mrs. George Town, will show two children of the future clad in close-fitting disposable garments and wearing space helmets. These children are being checked out before starting for the Space Drome for exercise classes. Transportation for the trip is the ordinary air pedicycles of the period.

When the study room of the future comes into view, the club committee women will be seen discussing a financial problem of the period.

Mrs. AJ Knudson plays the part of the committee chairman in whose home the play takes place.

Daisy Johnson portrays the Lady in Charge of the Household.

Mrs. W. J. Peer and Mrs. Dean Dickson are delegates with voting power.

Mrs. Joe Lawlor will play a character with flash back tendencies.

Mrs. B. R. Rozeboom, chairman of the Drama workshop, has entered the production in the Play Festival competition. The entire cast plans to present it in Iowa City during the Play Festival period, April 6.


See also:
Closer Than We Think! Throw-Away Clothes (1959)
Disposable Clothes Just Around Corner (1961)
Closer Than We Think! Fat Plants and Meat Beets (1958)
How Experts Think We'll Live in 2000 A.D. (1950)