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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Sign of the Older Times

Sign of the Older Times

Taken in Zion, Illinois, circa 1915.

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I thought consumption was TB.

["While consumption usually signified tuberculosis in mid-nineteenth-century texts, the term covered a multitude of physical ailments characterized by weight loss resulting in death, including cancer." (Susan Sontag in "Illness as Metaphor.") - Dave]

Right again!

Interesting to note from Wikipedia that W.G. Voliva also believed that the earth was a flat disk. I think his rant against tobacco products didn't spring from any deep medical or scientific insights but rather from a patholocigal tendency to regulate other people's lives.


The connection between lung cancer and smoking was discovered around 1930, so it could be that the sign is from the thirties (Wilbur died in 1942 according to Wikipedia). Still looks like photoshopped to me. At least, I'm surprised.

[A link between smoking and cancer (or consumption, as it was called) was posited at least as far back as the 19th century. Scientific or medical evidence didn't have much to do with it. The various temperance movements active at the time claimed all kinds of deleterious effects from tobacco use. - Dave]

>>>I never would have

>>>I never would have thought they even had a clue about the bad effects of smoking back!

Yes, they had to just guess, with nothing more to go on than the wracking cough, shortness of breath and bloody sputum!

Zion Illinois?

I looked for more information on W.G.Voliva because I had never heard of Great Lakes, Illinois. There is the Great Lakes Naval Station that opened in 1911 but this photo is probably taken in Zion, Illinois.,_Illinois

Check out her hand

I've seen this before.
It's hard to tell in this copy but I believe she has a cigarette in her hand. Poking fun at the sign.


Publicly scolding other people for things you don't do is hardly a new vice.


This just blows me away!

I never would have thought they even had a clue about the bad effects of smoking back!



You mean tobacco products aren't good for you?


I'm sending my friend who's a smoker this link. She always says that they used to think smoking was good for ya!

[Cigarette advertising of the early 20th century did indeed tout the supposedly medicinal, healthful qualities of tobacco. - Dave]


This sounds like something my would write TODAY in 2007, nearly a hundred years after this photo was taken.

SHORPY OLD PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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