Article Round-Up

Happy almost Election Day!  I can’t wait for this joke to be over…  If I can find something in my closet, I plan on wearing some white tomorrow (#wearwhitetovote), if not I’ll wear green and purple.  I cast my vote early a couple weeks ago and have just been sitting back waiting for election day since then.

I have a lot of links for you today.  I tried to find interesting stuff about Presidents and candidates and voting, but then I also have non-political links that are just neat.

Today we have Hillary, but in the 1870s we had Victoria Woodhull.
(I really recommend The Scarlet Sisters about Victoria and her sister.)

Presidential sex scandals are basically as old as the presidency.

Introverted Presidents?

While we’re all concerned with Donald Trump’s health and what Hillary Clinton’scough really signifies, let’s all just remember Grover Cleveland.

Back in September a confusing mammoth skull was found…

The Gilded Age is known for excess, but just look at these gardens!

“Block Printed Cottons in the Georgian Era”

World War I in real time, 100 years later

Now, go vote tomorrow!

Happy Halloween!

I was planning on doing a Halloween related post today but came up short.  None of the ideas I had seemed right, though, and I didn’t want to do a topic that had been done to death.  I finally settled on trick-or-treating, but even with that, I realized there wasn’t different enough information anywhere to warrant me doing a new post of my own.  Instead I’m doing another article post, but with some of the fun Halloween-y stuff I’ve found in the last week or so.  Happy Halloween!

“Why are pumpkins used at Halloween?”

Halloween used to include way more games, and weirder ones at that.

Bobbing for apples was originally romantic and had way more symbolism.

“The New Woman meets the old witch”

Historical Horror Films

“Why Can’t Ghosts Let Go of the Victorian Era?”

Disney’s 1929 Halloween Skeleton-Dance short

Article Round-Up

Halloween is next week and I’m still trying to think of something appropriately Halloween-y to talk about without just doing witches or something like that.  We’ll see what I come up with… In the mean time, here’s some things I’ve found interesting recently, including information about Halloween in the Gilded Age.  Another link discusses Augustus Saint-Gaudens, who I recently read some about in David McCullough’s The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris, which I’d really recommend.

Cléo de Mérode

Well, I’m getting away from Icelandic topics now.  I may get back to some, we’ll see, but I keep finding subjects that interest me and I want to learn more about and share with someone, so we’re moving on.  I follow a lot of historical pages or just interesting pages on facebook, and a lot of times there are brief articles about things that sound interesting, so I save them to remember for later, possibly for a post of my own.  Today’s topic was found in that way.  I don’t remember exactly where I saw something about Cléo de Mérode (maybe 5-minute History?), but she sounded interesting and has a unique look, so here we are.

800px-cleo20aCléo de Mérode, called Lulu by her parents, was born Cléopatra Diane de Mérode on September 27, 1875, probably in Paris, but maybe in Biarritz or Bordeaux.  Her father, Carl (or Karl), was an Austrian landscape painter, and “styled himself Freiherr von Merode (Baron Merode) and claimed descent from the old and noble Belgian family of de Merode” and “Her mother was a former Viennese actress” (1).

When Cléo was eight, she was sent away to study dance.  She made her professional debut at age eleven, and by age sixteen she was famous – but not necessarily for her dance.  Cléo became famous for her hairstyle.  In the late 1880s and early 1890s, women wore their hair piled on top of their heads, maybe with the front portion parted, maybe with bangs, but all up mostly away from their face.  Cléo wore her hair low in back, and parted right down the middle, hair covering her ears (this led to a rumor at one point that she didn’t even have ears).  This different hairstyle made her famous and was adopted by admirers.

Cléo had her image on postcards, playing cards, you name it.  She was featured in “Behind the Scenes at the Opera” at the Musée Grévin, even though she was only a member of the coryphee! (2)  (I had to look up what the coryphee is, as I don’t know dance.  A member of the coryphee is “a member of a ballet company who dances usually as part of a small group and who ranks below the soloists” [3].)


Cléo by Vazquez, and the sculpture, La Danseuse

Alexandre Falguière used Cléo’s likeness in his sculpture La Danseuse (The Dancer) (now at the Musée d’Orsay).  He claimed, or at least there were rumors, that the sculpture was modeled from her body, but “facing a public scandal, she claim[ed] she only lent her features to the sculpture’s face” (4).  In addition to this sculpture, Cléo had her portrait done by Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, Charles Puyo, Alfredo Muller, and Giovanni Boldini.  She was photographed by Felix Nadar and other “illustrious photographers of the day” (5).

In 1896, King Léopold II of Belgium went to the ballet in Paris and saw Cléo perform.  He became completely enchanted with her, leading to gossip that she was his mistress.  The king already had two children with a rumored prostitute, so this association with the king damaged Cléo’s reputation.  Despite this, or maybe because of it in a way, Cléo was still able to become an international star.

In 1897 Cléo travelled to the United States, appearing for a month at Koster and Blat’s in New York.  Her appearance was heavily anticipated, but her performance was disappointing.  “The press was unkind in reviewing her performances, praising her beauty but saying that she could not dance or act” (6).  Despite the letdown, Cléo still made over forty times her regular monthly Parisian salary.

cleo_de_merode_three_posesCléo continued her tour, continuing to various countries around the globe.  She danced for King Chulalenghorn of Siam, doing a Siamese style dance with Parisian highlights.  She became popular in Austria and Germany, so much so that a character in the German movie Frauen der Leidenschaft was based on her.  In Vienna, Austria, she caught the attention of Gustav Klimt (this relationship is fictionalized for the 2006 movie, Klimt).  Back in Paris, Cléo took a risk and performed at the Folies Bergère, earning her a whole new following.  In 1902, she went to England for the first time, performing various national dances at the Alhambra.  In 1904 she toured Sweden, Norway, and Denmark.

a1-giovanni-boldini-cleo-de-merode-1901Cléo kept dancing until her early fifties.  She retired to Biarritz, where she gave dance lessons until she was in her eighties.  Through this time, as she was growing older, she sculpted small figurines of her own, and sold them.  In 1955, she published her autobiography, Le Ballet de ma vie (The Dance of my Life).

Also in 1955, Cléo took Simone de Beauvoir to court and won.  Cléo sued her for “wrongly describing Cleo in public as a prostitute who had taken an aristocratic-sounding stage name as self-promotion.  Cleo’s defence was that she was a professional dancer and member of the old, noble, and distinguished de Merode family” (7).  While Cléo did win, she only won one franc in damages because “the judge found that Cleo had permitted the rumors during the course of her career for their publicity value” (8).  The judge did also order that Cléo’s name would be struck from all future editions of de Beauvoir’s The Third Sex.

Cléo never married and never had any children.  There were rumors of her engagement to various famous and/or rich men throughout her life, but none were true.  She did have two romances in her life, but both ended tragically; one when her lover died from typhoid, and the other left her for another woman.

Cléo de Mérode died in 1966.  She is buried in Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris, with her mother.  (She lived with her mother until 1899, when her mother died.)  There is a likeness of Cléo in mourning over the joint tomb.

1, 2, 6, 8 – Cleo de Merode (1875-1966)

3 – coryphée

4 – Cléo de Mérode (1875-1966)

5 – Cléo de Mérode

7 – Cleo de Merode La Belle Epoque’s Beauty


“Columbus Day – How is That Still a Thing?”

Today is Columbus Day and so I thought it might be a good idea to share some articles and a video about today and the issues people have with it.

Columbus Day – How is That Still a Thing? courtesy of John Oliver

Christopher Columbus was Awful, from the Oatmeal

“Columbus Day?  True Legacy: Cruelty and Slavery”

I will try and have a real post next week for you.  I may have underestimated how exhausting working full-time would be… lol

Article Round-Up

I’m not quite sure what happened last week.  I think I saved my post (here and elsewhere) rather than scheduling/publishing them, but at any rate there wasn’t a post last week! 😦  Here’s the post that should have been, plus a few new links since I had to edit it anyhow.

1920s exercise advice

The, relatively unknown, New Yorker hotel

The National Museum of African American History and Culture just opened.This is a little bit about some of its collections.

Harold Gillies has been discussed here before; here’s another person who triedto help those returning from war not looking like themselves.

A 1790s map of Detroit was just found.

Fore-edge paintings are just so neat!

Some stolen Van Goghs were just found.

Aud the Deep-Minded

Today I start a new job – by the time you’re reading this I’ll be half way through my day!  The new job is regular hours, so it shouldn’t affect my ability to do this blog too much.  I won’t be able to do research at work anymore, but that’s about it, and with regular hours I’ll be able to budget my time to keep this up regularly.  I’m really excited to start this new job and I think that will help create excitement throughout the rest of my activities. 🙂

Today’s subject is another in our Icelandic mini-series (possibly the last entry, I’m not sure yet).  We have a woman this week, but there isn’t a whole lot of real information about her, so this will be relatively short.  Also, not really any images…  I found one picture related, but that’s it.  She is mentioned in a number of Sagas though, so you can always read about her more in those.

Auður djúpúðga Ketilsdóttir, also known as Aud the Deep Minded, Unn, Aud Ketilsdatter, or Unnur Ketilsdottir, was a ninth century settler of Iceland.  Her marks are still visible in Iceland, which will be mentioned later.  Other than ninth century, we’re not exactly sure when she lived.  The only concrete date I found was that she settled in Iceland around 892 (1); we don’t know exactly how old she was then, but she had adult grandchildren by then, so she had to be fairly old.  Before this, though, she had quite a life.

Aud was the second daughter of Ketill Flatnose, a Norwegian Viking military commander.  Ketill fled “Norway for Scotland to escape the tyranny of King Harald Fairhair” (2).  Aud married Olaf (or Oleif) the White, a son of King Ingjald, the self-proclaimed King of Dublin.  Aud and Olaf were the parents of Thorstein the Red.  Olaf was likely killed in battle; at any rate, Aud and Thorstein went to the Hebrides.  Thorstein conquered most of Northern Scotland and became a Viking chieftain.  Other chieftains plotted against Thorstein, though, and betrayed him and killed him in battle.

When Aud heard about Thorstein’s death, she secretly commissioned a Knarr to be built – a ship generally used for Atlantic crossings.  When the ship was completed, Aud sailed to Orkney and then on to Iceland.  She commanded twenty to thirty men on the ship, and was “respected, capable, independent and strong-willed” (3).  In addition to Aud and the men, the ship also helps prisoners.  When they arrived in Iceland, Aud freed these men; these freed-men had a status between slave and free-born and had limited rights and abilities.  Aud gave these men land to farm, though.

Aud mostly claimed areas in Western Iceland for her and those with her, especially around Búðardalur. Many places in this area still have the names that relate to Aud.  Breiðafjörður, Breakfast Headland, is where Aud stopped to eat breakfast.  Kambsnes, Comb Headland, is where she once lost a comb.  Krosshólaborg is a large, prominent hill where Aud erected crosses, and where a modern cross is today. (4)  Krosshólaborg is important in Aud’s story.  Aud was a baptized Christian and is credited with bringing Christianity to Iceland.


Aud was one of the first great Viking matriarchs.  When all her male relatives died, she didn’t let this stop her; she did what she wanted to do and was successful at it.  Because of her wise actions she got the moniker “Deep minded”.  Her descendants gave us her stories through the sagas, making her an important and relevant woman.  Aud is featured in the Landnámabók, Njáls Saga, Laxdæla Saga, Eyrbyggja Saga, Eiríks Saga Rauða, and Grettis Saga.

1, 2, 4 – Dalir – The Valley and Aud the Deep-Minded

3 – Aud the Deep-Minded