By the late Victorian era and into the 20th century, cocaine was widely considered to be a miracle substance thanks to its nerve-numbing properties. But how did the powdery substance go from a celebrated and widely available cure-all remedy to an outlawed street drug that was rightfully vilified by the press and politicians? It’s time to explore the story of cocaine and its transformation from miracle substance to society’s #1 menace.
While radioactivity conjures up images of nuclear reactors and bright yellow warning signs for a 21st-century audience, society of the early 1900s actually clamored for more of it, not less. But how did the discovery of radium lead to its inclusion in a generation of quack medical and consumer products? It’s time to delve into the story of radium in popular culture, and how a once fetishized substance was finally exposed as the dangerous substance it always was.
Thanks to runaway industrialization and globalization by the mid-19th century, people looking to beautify themselves no longer needed to distil and compound treatments with their own bare hands — rather, they could select from an endless number of ready-to-use beauty products at their local store. But while many items were simply natural ingredients in a bottle, weak health regulations allowed a whole new class of beauty products to hit the shelves that were at best ineffective — and at worst, extremely dangerous. From toxic elixirs and topical substances to invasive procedures, this is the story of beauty through the 19th and 20th centuries, and the (often unwitting) risks many took in order to achieve it.
Before the advent of commercial transatlantic flights in the early 50s the only way to travel between continents was by sea. During the early 20th century responding to a competitive market shipping companies spent lavishly ensuring their liners were elegant, comfortable and full of onboard activities and diversions. But what actually ensued when a passenger walked over the gangway onto one of the grand ocean liners of the 1920s and 20s? Focusing on onboard leisure activities – including sports, dining and dancing, this talk will immerse you in the glamour of the age.
While fascination surrounding Ancient Egypt had existed for millennia, American and European societies in the early 20th century took their obsession to a whole new level — one never before seen, and never seen since. But what stoked the flames of this cultural phenomenon, and where can we still see traces of it today? It’s time to uncover the Egyptomania phenomenon like never before.
While Prohibition might have started in America, it certainly didn’t stop there — that’s because over the next decade, many countries throughout Europe latched on to the temperance movement and tried to implement their own restrictive nightlife policies. But just as New York City saw the rise of tens of thousands of watering holes, so too did cities like London, which experienced its own version of the Roaring 20s. It’s time to explore London during the 1920s and 1930s, and the notorious legacy left behind by its most famous late-night clubs.