October 28, 2011

Care and Feeding of a Mermaid

This film shows a young woman training to perform as a mermaid at Weeki Wachee, a Florida water park founded by Newton Perry (1908–87) after World War II. After serving in the U.S. Navy during the war, where among other duties he trained military divers, champion swimmer Perry scouted out locations for a water park. He found a major spring in a largely unpopulated area 100 miles (160 kilometers) north of Tampa, with remarkably clear water that flowed to the Gulf of Mexico 16 miles (26 kilometers) away. To lure tourists to his attraction, in 1947 Perry constructed an underwater theater where people could view the wildlife in the springs. To further differentiate Weeki Wachee from other roadside attractions, Perry trained young women to stay underwater for long periods of time using his own innovative underwater tubing system for breathing. The swimmers performed underwater maneuvers and ballet. Perry advertised the mermaids of Weeki Wachee, which by the 1950s was one of the most popular attractions in the United States. In 1959, the American Broadcast Company bought the park, built a larger, 500-seat theatre that was embedded below ground in the side of the spring, and began promoting the spring across the nation. In this 1961 film, underwater cameras allow viewers see lessons in breath control, graceful movements, synchronized swimming, and underwater dining etiquette.

Florida Moonport USA

This early 1960s black-and-white film was made as a tribute to the U.S. space program in Florida. It begins by showing a launch sequence for Project Mercury, the first U.S. human spaceflight program. Also shown are examples of the technology of the day, including pocket transistor radios and massive computers. Twelve gallons of gas cost $3.60. Also seen is an unsuccessful rocket launch. The film highlights the broader economic and social effects of the space program on Florida, including the large numbers of highly educated personnel who moved into the area of Cape Canaveral, the booming growth of recreational, cultural, and educational facilities, and the development of light industry and a fast-growing economy from Pensacola to Miami. The film also shows tactical missile launches carried out by the military, astronaut medical-test equipment and processes, an early model of the Vehicle Assembly Building at Cape Canaveral, an astro-monkey known as Miss Baker, Pensacola’s School of Naval Aviation Medicine, and Eglin Air Force Base in Fort Walton Beach.

Wakulla Springs and World War II Troop Maneuvers

In this 1940s film, made in northwest Florida in color but without sound, U.S. Army troops practice slogging through a cypress swamp, make a human chain across the river, crawl on their bellies, and use weeds and Spanish moss for camouflage. The troops fire machine guns, shoot from trees, and swim in an assault across the river. As the troops hit the shore, smoke screens are seen and explosions hit the water. Other shots show a machine-gun team on shore, followed by scenes of the troops swimming with bamboo poles as floats. Troops with guns and helmets practice ducking under the water as they swim across the river, and float gear using tent canvas and poles for rafts. An amphibious vehicle tows troops in the water. Soldiers jump from a tower, swim through flames on the water, set off smoke bombs, and swim through more flames. They also practice jumping from the deck of a rusty derelict ship (possibly at Carrabelle). The action then moves back to Wakulla for soldiers posing in camouflage uniforms and more wading across the river.

A History of the University of the Panjab

The University of the Punjab (as it is now spelled) was formally established in Lahore, in present-day Pakistan, in 1882. It was the fourth university founded by the British colonial authorities on the Indian subcontinent, the first three being at the initial British strongholds of Bombay, Madras, and Calcutta. The University of the Punjab was from the beginning both a teaching and an examining body, and it was the first higher education institution in India in a majority Muslim area. J.F. Bruce (1867–1933), who published this work in 1933, was the university’s first professor of history. He describes the early days of the university, donations by ruling princes and individuals, and key figures in its academic development. Prominent among the latter were G.W. Leitner, an Englishman of Hungarian origin who was the first registrar, and Professor A.C. Woolner, vice-chancellor in 1928–36. Bruce covers the development of the university’s constitutional foundation, its educational and service departments, and extracurricular activities. The book includes photographs of faculty and administrative staff and lists of chancellors, deans, degree conferees, and others associated with the history of the university.

Kaunas Municipal Acts Year Books for 1555–64

At the height of its power in the 15th century, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania ruled over the territory of present-day Belarus, Latvia, Lithuania, and Ukraine, and parts of Estonia, Moldova, Poland, and Russia. In the Union of Lublin of 1569, the Grand Duchy and the Kingdom of Poland merged to form the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The commonwealth had a highly developed legal and administrative system, based on local land courts that decided civil cases involving the gentry and castle courts that dealt with other local matters, including criminal cases. Courts were required to maintain detailed records of their proceedings, which were kept in old Byelorussian and in Polish. In the 19th century, the court records of the Grand Duchy were centralized in Vilnius, and eventually became part of the manuscript collections of the Vilnius University Library. The library now holds 543 books of court acts of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania dating from 1540 to 1845. These books are a unique source for the histories of Lithuania, Poland, and Belarus. Shown in this volume are the 1555–64 year books of the Kaunas municipal acts. Kaunas is in south-central Lithuania, and by the mid-16th century it was one the most important cities in the Grand Duchy.

Trakai Castle Court Year Book for 1677–78

At the height of its power in the 15th century, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania ruled over the territory of present-day Belarus, Latvia, Lithuania, and Ukraine, and parts of Estonia, Moldova, Poland, and Russia. In the Union of Lublin of 1569, the Grand Duchy and the Kingdom of Poland merged to form the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The commonwealth had a highly developed legal and administrative system, based on local land courts that decided civil cases involving the gentry and castle courts that dealt with other local matters, including criminal cases. Courts were required to maintain detailed records of their proceedings, which were kept in old Byelorussian and in Polish. In the 19th century, the court records of the Grand Duchy were centralized in Vilnius, and eventually became part of the manuscript collections of the Vilnius University Library. The library now holds 543 books of court acts of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania dating from 1540 to 1845. These books are a unique source for the histories of Lithuania, Poland, and Belarus. Shown here is the Trakai castle court year book for 1677–78. Trakai is the site of an important castle, which was the seat of a large principality that included most of western and central Lithuania.