HISTORY Vault: WWI: The First Modern War

HISTORY Vault: WWI: The First Modern War

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On April 2, 1917, President Wilson asked Congress to declare war against Germany and the Central Powers. The United States would cast its lot with the Allies four days later. What caused President Wilson to abandon his policy of neutrality?

Germany’s policy of unchecked submarine aggression against shipping interests headed to Great Britain helped bring the United States into World War I. After the sinking of the British ocean liner Lusitania by a U-boat in May 1915, widespread protests helped turn the tide of American public opinion against Germany. On May 6, 1916, the German government signed the so-called Sussex Pledge, promising to stop the indiscriminate sinking of non-military ships. Less than a year later, however, they announced the resumption of unrestricted submarine warfare, resulting in Wilson breaking diplomatic relations with the German government. In February 1917, Congress passed a $250 million arms appropriations bill intended to make the United States ready for war. The following month, Germany sunk four more U.S. merchant ships.

The march to war was also accelerated by a notorious letter penned by German foreign secretary Arthur Zimmermann. On January 16, 1917, British code breakers intercepted an encrypted message from Zimmermann intended for Heinrich von Eckardt, the German ambassador to Mexico. The missive gave the ambassador a now-famous set of instructions: if the neutral United States entered the war on the side of the Allies, Von Eckardt was to approach Mexico’s president with an offer to forge a secret wartime alliance. The Germans would provide military and financial support for a Mexican attack on the United States, and, in exchange, Mexico would be free to annex “lost territory in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona.” In addition, Von Eckardt was told to use the Mexicans as a go-between to entice the Japanese Empire to join the German cause. Handed over to the United States in late February 1917, the scandalous contents of the telegram were splashed on the front pages of newspapers nationwide. On April 6, 1917, the United States entered World War I.

Get a firsthand look at how a new breed of weapons like WMDs, submarines, armored tanks and air attacks changed modern warfare forever in WWI: The First Modern War. Here’s a look at some of the episodes:

  • An assassin’s bullet sparked a global conflict that quickly evolved into the deadliest war humanity has ever seen. In the chaos, a new generation of soldiers—and world leaders—emerged. Watch it all unfold in Trial by Fire.
  • By December 1914, all thoughts of a quick victory had faded. But on Christmas Eve, an astonishing event took place: Up and down the Western Front, Allied and German soldiers met peacefully in No Man’s Land for The Christmas Truce.
  • In Mystery U-Boat of World War I, see how technological achievements that streamlined 19th-century production, improved transportation and expanded science were used to efficiently decimate a generation of soldiers in the early 20th century.

Make Sure to Check Out:

The Assassination of Lincoln: Inside Ford’s Theatre, John Wilkes Booth shot the 16th president of the United States.

Titanic Disaster: More than a century after the “unsinkable” ship sank, explore one of history’s greatest maritime tragedies.

Available until Friday, April 14:
Don’t miss Drugs: Altered States before it goes!

Access hundreds of hours of historical video, commercial free, with HISTORY Vault. Start your free trial today.

History Vault: Revolutionary War and Early America, Module 50

Revolutionary War and Early America: Collections from the Massachusetts Historical Society (1721-1860) (Module 50)

The success of the musical Hamilton has led to increased interest in this pivotal period in American history. This module on one of the most-studied periods in American history consists of 26 collections from the holdings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, the first North American historical society and the first library to devote its primary attention to collecting Americana. The collections digitized by ProQuest from the holdings of the Massachusetts Historical Society focus on the Colonial Era, the Revolutionary War and the Early National Period, with some collections extending into the Civil War era.

Artemas Ward Papers, 1721&mdash1953
Benjamin Lincoln Papers, 1635&mdash1964
Byles Family Papers, 1757&mdash1837
Caleb Strong Papers, 1657&mdash1818
Elbridge Gerry Papers, 1744&mdash1895
Ezekiel Price Papers, 1754&mdash1785
French And Indian War Orderly Books
Governor Jonathan Belcher Letter Books, 1723&mdash1754
Hancock Family Papers, 1728&mdash1830
Israel Williams Papers, 1730&mdash1785
John A. Andrew Papers, 1772&mdash1895
John Thomas Papers, 1693&mdash1839
Louisbourg Papers, 1744&mdash1758

Extradition – A Very Brief History

In October 2012, British Home Secretary Theresa May announced that computer hacker Gary McKinnon would not be extradited to the USA. It marked the end of a ten-year battle. Some commentators argued that the request for extradition should never have been made in the first place and that, once again, it highlighted the unequal Anglo-American extradition treaty. McKinnon, who suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome, hacked into secure US government files in 2002 in an alleged attempt to find out more about UFO’s. The USA suspected him of terrorism and demanded that Britain hand him over. A very modern story… right?

In simple terms, extradition is the legal process by which one country hands over a fugitive to another country where that person has been accused or convicted of a crime. As a concept, it originated with the Ancient Egyptian and Chinese civilisations. Following an unsuccessful Hittite invasion of Egypt, an extradition agreement formed part of a peace treaty signed between Ramses II and the Hittite King, Hattusili II. Amazingly, this text still exists. It wasn’t until the Treaty of Falaise in 1174AD that an English monarch officially made provisions for extradition. The treaty between Henry II and William of Scotland set out a mutual extradition agreement between the Scots and the English.

One of the earliest, and most notorious, recorded case of extradition within Britain dates back to 1591 when an Irish nobleman and rebel Brian O’Rourke fled to Scotland. The monarch at the time, Queen Elizabeth, demanded that O’Rourke be transferred from Scotland to England. She used the 1586 Treaty of Berwick to secure O’Rourke’s custody. He was sent to the Tower of London and then executed at Tyburn on the 3rd November 1591. It was an exceptional case and an important precedent, but what of Anglo-American extradition agreements?

The first Anglo-American extradition agreement appears as a clause within the 1794 Jay Treaty. It was a shaky piece of legislature that although modest and short lived, established a number of important principles that have continued to structure the Anglo-American approach to extradition to this day – it ensured that extradition was dictated by law and not foreign policy and that it was non political (i.e. the only crimes listed were murder and forgery). Fast forward nearly forty years and we find what the UK Home Office claims is the earliest example of a proper and ‘modern’ extradition agreement.

In the year 1842 a treaty known as the Webster-Ashburton Treaty was created between the USA and Great Britain. Created to address the Northeast Boundary Dispute in America, it also specifically dealt with the surrender of alleged offenders in cases of murder, assault with intent to commit murder, piracy, arson, robbery and forgery. Most significantly, the judiciary took on an even greater role. As a result dozens upon dozens of people were extradited to and from Britain in a relatively short space of time and during the 1860s the process of extradition came under considerable strain. The United States complained that the list of offences enumerated in the Treaty was too narrow. In the twenty-two year period between 1846 and 1868, the total number of extradition requests from England to the United States was 53 and outgoing requests amounted to 36.

So there we have it. Even in the mid nineteenth century the proportion of extradition orders was incredibly uneven.

The History of Abbreviation

As an undergraduate, one of my lecturers once said that language is a tug-of-war between laziness and comprehensibility. Laziness, and our desire to communicate with as little effort as possible will make language change, but our need for comprehension will temper how much it changes.

Text-language is a perfect example of this – we want to fit as much information as possible into as small a space as possible by pressing the fewest buttons, but it still needs to be understood by its recipient.

The recent introduction of text abbreviations to the OED was met with OUTRAGE! OMG. WTF. W.T.A.F. Because txt spk is obviously a terrible corruption of our language brought on by modern technology. To quote the always excellent David Crystal:

‘The popular belief is that texting has evolved as a twenty-first-century phenomenon – as a highly distinctive graphic style, full of abbreviations and deviant uses of language, used by a young generation that doesn’t care about standards’*

But the fact is, this isn’t a new phenomenon. Writing is always dictated by the tools we use. Runes developed because straight lines are so much easier than curves to carve in stone or onto bone. Roman inscriptions are all in big CAPITALS because they’re easier to carve into stone. When quills and ink were developed, writing got curlier, but it was still slow because, as anyone who’s written with a fountain pen will know, you can’t go up without the ink splattering, so letters were formed carefully using a series of downwards and curving strokes, rather than in one long scrawl (like my writing with a biro, which is possible because of the flexibility afforded by the ballpoint).

In 1890, telegraph operators’ language was dictated by the tools they used to transmit it. This lovely article shows operators abbreviating every word, taking out not just vowels but a lot of the consonants, too.

And then you have medieval scribes. They abbreviated everything they could get their hands on. Although, they weren’t as extreme as scribes in sixth-century Rome whose excessive abbreviation led to so much confusion and error that the Emperor Justinian passed a law regulating its use.

We all know the ampersand, which comes from the Latin et, meaning ‘and’, which elided and morphed to become a single symbol.

That was, of course, for writing Latin. Old English had its own equivalent, the Tironian Nota, drawn as a ‘7’ (pleasingly, on a modern English keyboard it’s the same key as the ampersand, and I don’t know if that’s intentional or not). And, just as the ampersand has been used to represent ‘et’ in longer words (such as ‘&c.’ for ‘etcetera’), so too was the tironian nota used for ‘and’ in longer words such as ‘andlang’, meaning ‘along’.

Some of the most common Anglo-Saxon abbreviations can be seen here:

Beowulf. British Library, Cotton Vitellius, A. xv.

This is the most famous Anglo-Saxon manuscript page, the first page of Beowulf. The symbol in the middle of the lower red square is an abbreviated form of ‘þæt’, pronounced ‘that’ (the first letter, ‘þ’ is a rune called thorn, pronounced ‘th’), meaning ‘that’ (see how little our language has changed in over a thousand years!). This little symbol is seen everywhere, all over Old English manuscripts, and is no different from the modern texting conventions of @ for ‘at’, or U for you, or 2 for to/too, or 4 for… well.

The top red box is a different type of abbreviation. The line over the top of the ‘u’ in ‘monegu’ means that either an ‘n’ or and ‘m’ has been removed from that point in the word. This abbreviation is even more common than the abbreviation of ‘that’ in Old English manuscripts. Sometimes it’s used as a space-saving device – often near the end of a line to squish a whole word in – but really, it’s used everywhere. It’s used in every genre of text, and it’s used on fancy illuminated pages and in biblical texts, it’s not restricted to informal discourse like texting abbreviations are.

There are, in fact, so many abbreviations in medieval manuscripts that there’s a dictionary just for the abbreviation marks. It’s been put online (start clicking on letters to view it page-by-page). This is, frankly, far more extensive than anything we’ve yet to come up with through texting, and this is in Latin, the language we hold above all others and upon which we base our insane grammatical rules! And in Old English, the oldest form of our language, written almost entirely by monks! This slightly undermines arguments by people scared about language being changed and ‘corrupted’, when actually, language is language. It’s inextricably human and the ways we use it are the same whether we’re writing on parchment or texting on a phone.

Even more than abbreviation not being a corruption of our language, there is evidence that it can be beneficial. This BBC news article shows links between texting and literacy in children, which throws in a whole new line of conversation – not only is texting not corrupting language, it could actually be improving it.

The process of creating a text-speak abbreviation involves being able to identify the various parts of a word and then being able to remove or substitute them. Innovations with language like this require a relatively robust understanding of the language in the first place and the ability to manipulate it meaningfully.

So, not only is texting not a terrible new scourge on our language, not only is it not showing a dumbing-down of the younger generation, but it’s actually helping them! Who knew?

Its users are not, as John Humphrys so vividly puts it, ‘doing to our language what Genghis Khan did to his neighbours 800 years ago, […] destroying it: pillaging our punctuation savaging our sentences raping our vocabulary’. They are, instead, continuing a millennia-old tradition of abbreviation and linguistic innovation, and improving their language skills.

* David Crystal, Txting: The Gr8 Db8 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), p. 7.

– This isn’t a new topic. It’s not widely talked about, but there’s enough that I’m not going to say anything groundbreaking or new here. This article by David Crystal tells you pretty much everything you need to know about text language, and if there’s more you want to know, read Txtng: the Gr8 Db8 which is the full version of that article.

– There was a nice article in the Independent about new abbreviations appearing in specialized spheres:

‘Since acronyms are designed to create brevity and clarity in language, it is intriguing when they become words in themselves which are then expanded and conjugated for fun. In years to come, the OED may cite Caitlin Moran’s How To Be A Woman as the first official use of “rofling”, from the online shorthand ROFL, meaning Rolling On Floor Laughing.’

– Lynne Truss, everyone’s favourite prescriptivist, doesn’t comment on the linguistic issues here, other than to say that she doesn’t do abbreviating herself, and Will Self is fantastic about language change.

– A paper on the history of abbreviation, if you can get it:
Félix Rodriguez and Garland Cannon, ‘Remarks on the Origin and Evolution of Abbreviations and Acronyms’, in F. Fernández, et al., eds., English Historical Linguistics 1992: Papers from the 7th International Conference on English Historical Linguistics, Valencia, 22-26 September, 1992 (Amsterdam, 1994), pp. 262-72 (at 266).

– my own publication on abbreviation use by eleventh-century scribes in a Worcester manuscript: Kate Wiles, ‘The Treatment of Charter Bounds by the Worcester Cartulary Scribes’, New Medieval Literatures, 13 (2011), pp. 113-37, and my thesis, which I’m always happy to talk about!

Salt & Pepper

In the UK and many north European countries we season our food primarily with salt and pepper. When we sit down to lunch or dinner, at home or at a restaurant, and usually before we even reach for the knife and fork we’ll probably season our meal with salt and pepper. Have you ever wondered why we do this? When did salt and pepper become so popular?

Let’s start with salt, which according to historical records, was first used in China. In around 450 B.C. a man named Yi Dun started the process of making salt of boiling brine in iron pans until all that remained was a highly sought-after substance: salt. This process spread through Europe about a thousand years later, thanks to the Roman Empire.

Salt was a huge commodity and Roman soldiers were paid partly in salt and their salarium gave way to today’s word for “salary.” The word “salad” also originated from “salt,” and began with the early Romans salting their leafy greens and vegetables. Throughout history salt has been used as a powerful tool to allow governmental monopoly and special taxes. Salt taxes long supported British monarchs and thousands of people were imprisoned for smuggling salt.

Salt was prized primarily because its use on food draws out moisture which can cause the growth of bacteria and food that could be preserved was highly valuable. It is believed that the Egyptians were the first civilization to preserve fish and meat with salt. This method was employed when food was shipped over, and fishermen in Medieval Europe would salt cod caught off North America’s Grand Banks, preserving them for sale at home. Contrary to popular belief, salt was not used to disguise the taste of rotting meat as it was too expensive a product to waste on such things.

In Britain, salt was first used to flavour food during the Iron Age when boiling meat in pits lined with stones or wood became popular, a practice unique to this country and Ireland. Because this procedure extracted all the natural salts from the meat, diners started to use salt as a seasoning. Cereals, which had only been introduced relatively recently, had also become central to the diet of this time and so salt was craved. Salt mining was such an important industry that early British towns clustered around salt springs. In fact, the “wich” suffix in English place names like Middlewich and Norwich is associated with areas where salt working was a common practice – and some continue to be to this day.

Salt remained the foodstuff of the rich during Tudor and Elizabethan times and its presence on the dining table was an indication of the highest social standing. Butlers were given very specific instructions on how to serve salt, usually in the ‘great salt’, a receptacle that also served as an adornment and would be made of silver or silver gilt. To ‘sit above the salt’ was a sign of social prestige according to food writer and historian Clarissa Dickson Wright. She tells us that the great salt was mainly placed on the table for show in wealthy households and less important diners would be given the trencher salts, which were individual plates made of wood or metal.

Salt was involved in such historic events as the building of the Erie Canal, the French Revolution and the drive for India’s independence from British colonial rule. French kings developed a salt monopoly by selling exclusive rights to produce it to a favored few who exploited that right to the point where the scarcity of salt was a major contributing cause of the French Revolution. In recent years, the promotion of free trade through the World Trade Organization has led to abolition of many national monopolies, for example, in Taiwan.

Salt was, and still is, a great source of superstition in Europe, with the belief that that spilling salt is an evil omen. A likely explanation of this is that Judas Iscariot spilled the salt at the Last Supper and in fact Leonardo da Vinci’s painting, The Last Supper, depicts Judas Iscariot having knocked over a salt-cellar. However, this may not be the real explanation, as salt was once viewed as a symbol of trust and friendship and so to spill salt was seen as a rejection of these values and a person who did so would be seen as untrustworthy.

Pepper is salt’s more exotic cousin. Black pepper originated in Kerala, India and has been exported from South Asia for about 4,000 years. Pepper was essential seasoning in India (it was often referred to as “black gold”) and was of great value as a traditional medicine, featuring in early medicinal documents such as the Susrutha Samhita. Like salt, pepper was a rare and expensive commodity: the Romans traded in it and peppercorns have been found in ancient Egyptian tombs. It is said that Alaric the Visigoth and Attila the Hun each demanded from Rome a ransom of more than a ton of pepper when they besieged the city in the fifth century.

Pepper was popular in ancient Greece and Rome for its medicinal properties and long pepper was believed to reduce phlegm and increase semen. It wasn’t long before Romans who could afford started to use it to season their food and Apicius’ De re coquinaria, a third-century cookbook, includes pepper in many of its recipes. Long pepper’s high status also laid the ground for other pungent spices, like black pepper which is generally what we use today. Other types of pepper imported included Ethiopian pepper (Grains of Paradise) and Cubeb pepper, a type of long pepper from China.

In the early days, Arabia had a huge monopoly over trade routes and this continued into medieval times, while Italian states like Venice and Genoa also controlled the shipping lines once the spice reached the Mediterranean meaning that they could charge extortionate prices. As the rest of Europe tired of being out of pocket, explorers such as Christopher Columbus and Sir Francis Drake went out to establish their own routes and as it became more readily available, it became cheaper and ordinary people were able to afford it. Regional cuisines began incorporating pepper into their foods alongside native spices and herbs which resulted in typical spice blends such as garam masala in India, ras el hanout in Morocco, quatre épices in France and Cajun and jerk blends in the Americas.

Pepper was so valuable that a Guild of Pepperers was established in the UK in 1180 and was responsible for maintaining standards for the purity of spices and for the setting of certain weights and measures. Peppercorns were very expensive and were accepted in lieu of money in dowries, taxes and rent, often known as the peppercorn rent, the meaning of which is today very different as it now refers to a very small payment. In Germany there are records of whole towns paying rent with peppercorns.

In big (and wealthy) households, imported pepper was pounded in a pestle and mortar before it was served at the table. As with salt, it is debatable whether pepper was actually used to disguise the flavour of rancid meat as many rich people could afford fresh food, although poorer people may have used it for this purpose once extensive cultivation and trade made it affordable. The Victorian British working classes bought pepper in large quantities, usually in ground form, although it was seen to be dangerous and newspapers of the time were full of scandal stories of pepper being adulterated with other additives.

Yes, pepper wasn’t always so popular. During the Middle Ages and once again in the Renaissance period, pepper was associated with melancholy, and some opted to use sweeter, more sanguine spices. But with the development of modern French cuisine during the Enlightenment, pepper once again became popular as Francois Pierre de la Varenne, France’s first celebrity chef, encouraged readers to season their food with it, alongside a new companion, salt. It would appear that this pairing was favoured as pepper was considered the only spice that complemented salt and that the two did not overpower the true taste of food. In Britain, this practice was quickly adopted and we have followed it ever since.

So does everyone love salt and pepper as much as us Brits? Obviously, the French are fans but it’s noticeable when holidaying in Europe’s warmer climes that salt and pepper aren’t really used as much. On the Mediterranean, oil and vinegar are more commonly used although black pepper is a staple for Italian dining. In fact, until a few decades ago most Britons consumed ground pepper but the surge of cheap holidays and the influx of Italian restaurants in the UK during the 1970s might be responsible for our preference for grinders filled with black peppercorns. In China and Japan, as we all know, oyster and soy sauce is more typically available and in South America bottles of tabasco-style sauce (sometimes called ‘chile’) is prevalent. As world food becomes ever popular here in the UK, we may not use as much salt and pepper as we may once have but there is still a place for it at the table

Naval Developments

Germany deployed U-boats (submarines) after the war began. Alternating between restricted and unrestricted submarine warfare in the Atlantic, the Kaiserliche Marine employed them to deprive the British Isles of vital supplies. The deaths of British merchant sailors and the seeming invulnerability of U-boats led to the development of depth charges (1916), hydrophones (passive sonar, 1917), blimps, hunter-killer submarines (HMS R-1, 1917), forward-throwing anti-submarine weapons, and dipping hydrophones (the latter two abandoned in 1918). To extend their operations, the Germans proposed supply submarines (1916). Most of these would be forgotten in the interwar period until World War II revived the need.

'WWI: The First Modern War' review: What made 'The Great War' so terrible

WHAT IT'S ABOUT The First World War began a hundred years ago -- absent a name or some of the tools that would wage this fast-spreading and brutal conflict. But those tools would come soon enough.

This four-part documentary focuses on four lethal inventions. First up Saturday is "Armored Beasts," about the proto-tanks that would soon crawl over the battlefields in northern France. The other episodes look at "giant airships" (9 p.m.), poison gas (10 p.m.) and submarines (11 p.m.).

Tanks, which the British pioneered, were the battlefield's first innovation. Inspired by a type of farm tractor, the first metal beasts unleashed on the German lines (at the battle of the Somme) broke down or tumbled into trenches. That failing was subsequently solved by the least technological innovation perhaps of the entire war, the "fascine," or a huge bundle of sticks and brushwood mounted on the tank roof that was dropped into the trench. The British threw hundreds of tanks against the Hindenburg line during the battle of Cambrai in 1917. "All one could say was, 'poor old Fritz,'" wrote a soldier. Of course, the outcome of the battle would not be quite so simple.

MY SAY I watched the first and fourth hours, but those were more than enough to confirm what will immediately be apparent to you as well. "WWI" serves as another one of those vivid and bleak reminders of man's inhumanity to man, along with man's ingenious ways of abetting this with technology. Viewed dispassionately, it's all an axiomatic demonstration of how necessity breeds invention. The Germans wanted to break through the Royal Navy's blockade in the North Sea without sacrificing the precious ships of the Kaiser's navy. So the U-boat was deployed, and deployed brutally.

But good luck viewing this dispassionately, even though the program does. The carnage is too vast, the stupidity too extreme, the inventions too depraved. History is history. It happened. But what's so frightening, even terrifying, about the program is that the only technological lesson learned from this long-ago epic disaster was how to make more lethal weapons.

By clicking Sign up, you agree to our privacy policy.

BOTTOM LINE For history buffs and for those who want to understand what made "The Great War" so terrible.

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ProQuest and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) have teamed up to digitize the association&rsquos archives, bringing one of the most famous records of the civil rights movement to the online world via ProQuest History Vault. The collection is nearly two million pages of internal memos, legal briefings, and direct action summaries from national, legal, and branch offices throughout the country. It charts the NAACP&rsquos work and delivers a first-hand view into crucial issues: lynching, school desegregation, and discrimination in the military, the criminal justice system, employment, and housing, among others.

The documents span a remarkable range. National office records provide insight into NAACP&rsquos leaders and their relationships with the U.S. Congress, with presidents from Taft to Nixon, and with other civil rights organizations. The collection also documents the full range of civil rights tactics in the 1950s and 1960s, revealing a first-hand look at the important roles grassroots leaders and women played in the civil rights movement. Documents from local NAACP branches come from all 50 states and give additional depth and insight.

With a timeline that runs from 1909 to 1972, users can examine the realities of segregation in the early 20th century to the triumphs of the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and beyond. And, they can explore the challenges to the NAACP in the late 1960s and 1970s, such as the Black Power Movement, urban riots, and the Vietnam War. Legal files in the collection chart the organization&rsquos spectacular successes from the 1910s-1970s, including the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision as well as hundreds of other important cases from across the United States.


Although the term "public relations" was not yet developed, [1] academics like James E. Grunig and Scott Cutlip identified early forms of public influence and communications management in ancient civilizations. [2] : 41 According to Edward Bernays, one of the pioneers of PR, "The three main elements of public relations are practically as old as society: informing people, persuading people, or integrating people with people." [3] [4] [5] Scott Cutlip said historic events have been defined as PR retrospectively, "a decision with which many may quarrel." [6]

A clay tablet found in ancient Iraq that promoted more advanced agricultural techniques is sometimes considered the first known example of public relations. [1] [7] [8] Babylonian, Egyptian and Persian leaders created pyramids, obelisks and statues to promote their divine right to lead. Additionally, claims of magic or religious authority were used to persuade the public of a king or pharaoh's right to rule. [5]

Ancient Greek cities produced sophisticated rhetoric, as analyzed by Isocrates, Plato and Aristotle. [9] [10] In Greece there were advocates for hire called "sophists". Plato and others said sophists were dishonest and misled the public, while the book "Public Relations as Communication Management" said they were "largely an ethical lot" that "used the principles of persuasive communication." [11] In Egypt court advisers consulted pharaohs to speak honestly [12] : 38 and scribes documented a pharaoh's deeds. [13] In Rome, Julius Caesar wrote the first campaign biography promoting his military successes. He also commissioned newsletters and poems to support his political position. [1] [12] : 39 In medieval Europe, craftsmen organized into guilds that managed their collective reputation. In England, Lord Chancellors acted as mediators between rulers and subjects. [14] [15]

Pope Urban II's recruitment for the crusades is also sometimes referred to as a public relations effort. [1] [15] [16] Pope Gregory XV founded the term "propaganda" when he created Congregatio de Propaganda ("congregation for propagating the faith"), which used trained missionaries to spread Christianity. [17] The term did not carry negative connotations until it was associated with government publicity around World War II. [14] [17] [18] In the early 1200s, Magna Carta was created as a result of Stephen Langton lobbying English barons to insist King John recognize the authority of the church. [19]

Explorers like Magellan, Columbus used exaggerated claims of grandeur to entice settlers to come to the New World. [20] For example, in 1598, a desolate swampy area of Virginia was described by Captain Arthur Barlowe as follows: "The soil is the most plentiful, sweet, fruitful and wholesome of all the world." [4] [6] When colonists wrote back to Europe about the hardships of colonizing Virginia, including the death toll caused by conflicts with Indians, pamphlets with anonymous authors were circulated to reassure potential settlers and rebuke criticisms. [6]

The first newsletter and the first daily newspaper were founded in Germany in 1609 and 1615 respectively. [5] Cardinal Richelieu of France had pamphlets made that supported his policies and attacked his political opposition. The government also created a publicity bureau called Information and Propaganda and a weekly newspaper originally controlled by the French government, The Gazette. [21] [22] In the mid-1600s both sides of the English Civil War conflict used pamphlets to attack or defend the monarchy respectively. [23] Poet John Milton wrote anonymous pamphlets advocating for ideas such as liberalizing divorce, the establishment of a republic and the importance of free speech. [24] A then-anonymous pamphlet in 1738 by Maria Theresa of the Austrian Empire was influential in criticizing the freemasons and advocating for an alliance between the British, Dutch and Austrian governments. [25]

In 1641, Harvard University sent three preachers to England to raise money for missionary activities among the Indians. To support the fund-raising, the University produced one of the earliest fund-raising brochures, New England's First Fruits. [14] [26] An early version of the press release was used when King's College (now Columbia University), sent out an announcement of its 1758 graduation ceremonies and several newspapers printed the information. [20] Princeton University was the first university to make it a routine practice of supplying newspapers with information about activities at the college. [20]

According to Noel Turnball, a professor from RMIT University, more systematic forms of PR began as the public started organizing for social and political movements. [27] [28] The Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade was established in England in 1787. [29] It published books, posters and hosted public lectures in England advocating against slavery. [30] Industries that relied on slavery attempted to persuade the middle-class that it was necessary and that slaves had humane living conditions. [31] The Slave Trade was abolished in 1807. [32] [33] In the U.S., the movement to abolish slavery began in 1833 with the establishment of the American Anti-Slavery Society, [4] using tactics adopted from the British abolitionist movement. According to Edward Bernays, the U.S. abolitionist movement used "every available device of communication, appeal and action," such as petitions, pamphlets, political lobbying, local societies, and boycotts. The South responded by defending slavery on the basis of economics, religion and the constitution. In some cases propaganda promoting the abolition of slavery was forbidden in The South and abolitionists were killed or jailed. [5] Public relations also played a role in abolitionist movements in France, Australia and in Europe. [12]

The Boston Tea Party has been called a "public relations event" or pseudo event, in that it was a staged event intended to influence the public. [11] [26] Pamphlets such as Common Sense (1775–76) and The American Crisis (1776 to 1783) were used to spread anti-British propaganda in the United States, as well as the slogan "taxation without representation is tyranny." After the revolution was won, disagreements broke out regarding the United States Constitution. Supporters of the constitution sent letters now called the Federalist Papers to major news outlets, which helped persuade the public to support the constitution. [4] [34] Exaggerated stories of Davy Crockett and the California Gold Rush were used to persuade the public to fight the Mexican–American War and to migrate west in the U.S. respectively. [20]

Author Marvin Olasky said public relations in the 1800s was spontaneous and de-centralized. [35] In the 1820s, Americans wanted to disprove the perspective of French aristocrats that the American democracy run by "the mob" had "no sense of history, no sense of gratitude to those who had served it, and no sense of the meaning of 'virtue'". To combat this perception, French aristocrat Marquis de Lafayette, who helped fund the American Revolution, was invited to a tour of the United States. Each community he visited created a committee to welcome him and promote his visit. [35] In the mid-1800s P. T. Barnum founded the American Museum and the Barnum and Bailey Circus. [36] He became well known for publicizing his circus using manipulative techniques. [11] [18] [37] For example, he announced that his museum would exhibit a 161-year-old woman, who had been Washington's nurse, then produced an elderly woman and a forged birth certificate. [36]

In the 1860s, the major railway companies building the Transcontinental Railroad (Central Pacific Railroad in Sacramento, California, and the Union Pacific Railroad in New York City) engaged in "sophisticated and systematic corporate public relations" in order to raise $125 million needed to construct the 1,776-mile-long railroad. To raise the money, the companies needed to maintain "an image attractive to potential bond buyers, [and maintain relationships] with members of Congress, the California state legislature, and federal regulators with workers and potential workers and with journalists." [38]

Early environmental campaigning groups like the Coal Abatement Society and the Congo Reform Association were formed in the late-1800s. [27] In the late 1800s many of the now-standard practices of media relations, such as conducting interviews and press conferences emerged. [39] Industrial firms began to promote their public image. The German steel and armaments company Krupp created the first corporate press department in 1870 to write articles, brochures and other communications advertising the firm. [39] The first US corporate PR department was established in 1889 by Westinghouse Electric Corporation. [40] "The first public relations department was created by the inventor and industrialist George Westinghouse in 1889 when he hired two men to publicize his pet project,alternating current (AC) electricity." [40] [41] The first appearance of the term "public relations" was in the 1897 Year Book of Railway Literature. [42]

The book Today's Public Relations: An Introduction says that, although experts disagree on public relations' origins, many identify the early 1900s as its beginning as a paid profession. [37] According to Barbara Diggs-Brown, an academic with the American University School of Communication, the PR field anchors its work in historical events in order to improve its perceived validity, but it didn't begin as a professional field until around 1900. [4] Scott Cutlip said, "we somewhat arbitrarily place the beginnings of the public relations vocation with the establishment of The Publicity Bureau in Boston in mid-1900." He explains that the origins of PR cannot be pinpointed to an exact date, because it developed over time through a series of events. [14] Most textbooks on public relations say that it was first developed in the United States, before expanding globally [43] however, Jacquie L'Etang, an academic from the United Kingdom, said it was developed in the UK and the US simultaneously. [43] Noel Turnball claims it began as a professional field in the 18th and 19th century with British evangelicals and Victorian reformers. [27] According to academic Betteke Van Ruler, PR activities didn't begin in Continental Europe as a professional field until the 1920s. [39]

According to Goldman, from around 1903 to 1909 "many newspapers and virtually all mass-circulation magazines featured detailed, indignant articles describing how some industry fleeced its stockholders, overcharged the public or corrupted politics." The public became abruptly more critical of big business. [44] The anti-corporate and pro-reform sentiment of the Progressive Era was reflected in newspapers, which were dramatically increasing in circulation as the cost of paper decreased. [45] [46] Public relations was founded, in part, to defend corporate interests against sensational and hyper-critical news articles. [11] [45] [46] It was also influential in promoting consumerism after the emergence of mass production. [47]

Early pioneers Edit

The Publicity Bureau was the first PR agency and was founded by former Boston journalists, including Ivy Lee. [4] [48] Ivy Lee is sometimes called the father of PR and was influential in establishing it as a professional practice. In 1906, Lee published a Declaration of Principles, which said that PR work should be done in the open, should be accurate and cover topics of public interest. [18] [49] [50] According to historian Eric Goldman, the declaration of principles marked the beginning of an emphasis on informing, rather than misleading, the public. [44] Ivy Lee is also credited with developing the modern press release and the "two-way-street" philosophy of both listening to and communicating with the public. [51] In 1906, Lee helped facilitate the Pennsylvania Railroad's first positive media coverage after inviting press to the scene of a railroad accident, despite objections from executives. At the time, secrecy about corporate operations was common practice. [44] Lee's work was often identified as spin or propaganda. [52] In 1913 and 1914, the mining union was blaming the Ludlow Massacre, where on-strike miners and their families were killed by state militia, on the Rockefeller family and their coal mining operation, The Colorado Fuel and Iron Company. [53] On the Rockefeller family's behalf, Lee published bulletins called "Facts Concerning the Struggle in Colorado for Industrial Freedom," which contained false and misleading information. [52] [54] Lee warned that the Rockefellers were losing public support and developed a strategy that Junior followed to repair it. It was necessary for Junior to overcome his shyness, go personally to Colorado to meet with the miners and their families, inspect the conditions of the homes and the factories, attend social events, and especially to listen closely to the grievances. This was novel advice, and attracted widespread media attention, which opened the way to resolve the conflict, and present a more humanized versions of the Rockefellers. [55] In response the labor press said Lee "twisted the facts" and called him a "paid liar," a "hired slanderer," and a "poisoner of public opinion." [52] By 1917, Bethlehem Steel company announced it would start a publicity campaign against perceived errors about them. The Y.M.C.A. opened a new press secretary. AT&T and others also started their first publicity programs. [44]

Edward Bernays, a nephew of Sigmund Freud, is also sometimes referred to as the father of PR and the profession's first theorist for his work in the 1920s. [56] He took the approach that audiences had to be carefully understood and persuaded to see things from the client's perspective. [50] [57] He wrote the first textbook on PR and taught the first college course at New York University in 1923. [11] Bernays also first introduced the practice of using front groups in order to protect tobacco interests. [50] [57] In the 1930s he started the first vocational course in PR. [58] Bernays was influenced by Freud's theories about the subconscious. [51] He authored several books, including Crystallizing Public Opinion (1923), Propaganda (1928), and The Engineering of Consent (1947). [11] [59] He saw PR as an "applied social science" that uses insights from psychology, sociology, and other disciplines to scientifically manage and manipulate the thinking and behavior of an irrational and "herdlike" public. [56] [60]

In 1929, Edward Bernays helped the Lucky Strike cigarette brand increase its sales among the female demographic. [37] Research showed that women were reluctant to carry a pack of Lucky Strike cigarettes, because the brand's green color scheme clashed with popular fashion choices. Bernays persuaded fashion designers, charity events, interior designers and others to popularize the color green. [37] He also positioned cigarettes as Torches of Freedom that represent rebellion against the norms of a male-dominated society. [52]

According to Ruth Edgett from Syracuse University, Lee and Bernays both had "initial and spectacular successes in raising PR from the art of the snake oil salesman to the calling for a true communicator." However, "late in their careers, both Lee and Bernays took on clients with clearly reprehensible values, thus exposing themselves and their work to public criticism." [61] Walter Lippmann was also a contributor to early PR theory, for his work on the books Public Opinion (1922) and The Phantom Public (1925). He coined the term "manufacture of consent," which is based on the idea that the public's consent must be coaxed by experts to support a democratic society. [4]

Former journalist Basil Clarke is considered the founder of PR in the UK. [62] [63] He founded the UK's first PR agency, Editorial Services, in 1924. [43] [63] [64] He also authored the world's first code of ethics for the field in 1929. [65] Clarke wrote that PR, "must look true and it must look complete and candid or its 'credit' is gone". He suggested that the selection of which facts are disseminated by PR campaigns could be used to persuade the public. [66] The longest established UK PR agency is Richmond Towers, founded by Suzanne Richmond and Marjorie Towers in 1930. [67]

Arthur W. Page is sometimes considered to be the father of "corporate public relations" for his work with the American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T) from 1927 to 1946. [4] [68] The company was experiencing resistance from the public to its monopolization efforts. [69] In the early 1900s, AT&T had assessed that 90 percent of its press coverage was negative, which was reduced to 60 percent by changing its business practices and disseminating information to the press. [64] According to business historian John Brooks, Page positioned the company as a public utility and increased the public's appreciation for its contributions to society. [69] On the other hand, Stuart Ewen writes that AT&T used its advertising dollars with newspapers to manipulate its coverage and had their PR team write feature stories imitating independent journalism. [45]

Early campaigns Edit

Edward Clarke and Bessie Tyler were influential in growing the Ku Klux Klan to four million members over three years using publicity techniques in the early 1920s. [12] In 1926 the Empire Marketing Board was formed by the British government in part to encourage a preference for goods produced in Britain. It folded in 1933 due to government cuts. [70] In 1932, a pamphlet "The Projection of England" advocated for the importance of England managing its reputation domestically and abroad. [43] The Ministry of Information was established in the UK in 1937. [43]

Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson were the first Presidents to emphasize the use of publicity. [44] In the 1930s Roosevelt used the media to promote The New Deal and to blame corporations for the country's economic problems. This led companies to recruit their own publicists to defend themselves. [14] Roosevelt's anti-trust efforts led corporations to attempt to persuade the public and lawmakers "that bigger [corporations] was not necessarily more evil." [11] Wilson used the media to promote his government reform program, The New Freedom. [44] He formed the Committee on Public Information. [71]

In the 1930s, the National Association of Manufacturers was one of the first to create a major campaign promoting capitalism and pro-business viewpoints. [72] It lobbied against unions, The New Deal and the 8-hour work-day. NAM tried mostly unsuccessfully to convince the public that the interests of the public were aligned with corporate interests and to create an association between commerce and democratic principles. [6] [45] [46] During the Second World War, Coca-Cola promised that "every man in uniform gets a bottle of Coca-Cola for five cents, wherever he is and whatever it costs the company." The company persuaded politicians that it was crucial to the war-effort and was exempted from sugar rationing. [73] During the European Recovery Program PR became more established in Europe as US-based companies with PR departments created European subsidiaries. [21] [64]

In 1938, amid concerns regarding dropping diamond prices and sales volume, De Beers and its advertising agency N.W. Ayers adopted a strategy to "strengthen the association in the public's mind of diamonds with romance," whereas "the larger and finer the diamond, the greater the expression of love." This became known as one of America's "lexicon of great campaigns" for successfully persuading the public to purchase expensive luxury items during a time of financial stress through psychological manipulation. It also led to the development of the slogan "A diamond is forever" in 1947 and was influential in how diamonds were marketed thereafter. [74] [75] After World War I the first signs of public relations as a profession began in France and became more established through the Marshall Plan. [21]

World War I Edit

The first organized, large-scale propaganda campaigns were during World War I. [76] Germany created the German Information Bureau to create pamphlets, books and other communications that were intended to support the justness of their cause, to encourage voluntary recruitment, to demonize the enemy and persuade America to remain neutral in the conflict. [77] [76] In response to learning about Germany's propaganda, the British created a war propaganda agency called the Wellington House in September 1914. [78] [79] Atrocity stories, both real and alleged, were used to incite hatred for the enemy, especially after the "Rape of Belgium" in 1915. [80] [81] France created a propaganda agency in 1914. [82] Publicity in Australia led to a lift in the government's ban on military drafts. [12] Austria-Hungary used propaganda tactics to attack the credibility of Italy's leadership and its motives for war. Italy in-turn created the Padua Commission in 1918, which led Allied propaganda against Austria-Hungary. [83]

One week after the United States declared war on Germany in 1917, US President Woodrow Wilson established the US propaganda agency, the Committee on Public Information (Creel Commission), [45] as an alternative to demands for media censorship by the US army and navy. [44] The CPI spread positive messages to present an upbeat image about the war and denied fraudulent atrocities made up to incite anger for the enemy. [84] [85] The CPI recruited about 75,000 "Four Minute Men," volunteers who spoke about the war at social events for four minutes. [86]

As a result of World War I propaganda, there was a shift in PR theory from a focus on factual argumentation to one of emotional appeals and the psychology of the crowd. [45] The term "propaganda" which was originally associated with religion and the church, became a more widely known concept. [44]

World War II Edit

Propaganda did not develop a negative connotation until it was used in Nazi propaganda for World War II. [87] Even though Germany's World War I propaganda was considered more advanced than that of other nations, Adolf Hitler said that propaganda had been under-utilized and claimed that superior British propaganda was the main reason for losing the war. [87] [88] [89] Nazi Germany created the Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda in March 1933, just after Nazis took power. [90] The Nazi party took editorial control over newspapers, created their own news organizations and established Nazi-controlled news organizations in conquered regions. [91] [92] The Nazi party used posters, [93] films, [94] books [95] and public speakers [96] among other tactics.

According to historian Zbyněk Zeman, broadcasting became the most important medium for propaganda throughout the war. Posters were also used domestically and leaflets were dropped behind enemy lines by air-ship. [82] In regions conquered by Germany, citizens could be punished by death for listening to foreign broadcasts. Britain had four organizations involved in propaganda and was methodical about understanding its audiences in different countries. US propaganda focused on fighting for freedom and the connection between war efforts and industrial production. Soviet posters also focused on industrial production. [82]

In countries where citizens are subordinate to the government, aggressive propaganda campaigns continued during peacetime, while liberal democratic nations primarily use propaganda techniques to support war efforts. [82]

According to historian Eric Goldman, by the 1940s public relations was being taught at universities and was a professional occupation relied on in a similar way as lawyers and doctors. However, it failed to obtain complete recognition as a profession due in part to a history of deceit. [44] Author Marvin Olasky said in 1987 that the reputation of the profession was getting worse, [35] while Robert L. Heath from the University of Houston said in 1991 that it was progressing toward "true professional status." [97] Academic J. A. R. Pimlott said it had achieved "quasi-professionalism." [98] Heath said despite the field's newfound professionalism and ethics, its reputation was still effected by a history of exploitive behavior. [37]

The number of media outlets increased and PR talent from wartime propaganda entered the private sector. [64] [99] The practice of public relations became ubiquitous to reach political, activist and corporate objectives. The development of the press into a more real-time media also led to heightened scrutiny of public relations activities and those they represent. For example, Richard Nixon was criticized for "doubletalk" and "stonewalling" in his PR office's responses to the Watergate scandal. [11]

Trade associations were formed first in the U.S. in 1947 with the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), followed by the Institute of Public Relations (now the Chartered Institute of Public Relations) in London in 1948. Similar trade associations were created in Australia, Europe, South Africa, Italy and Singapore. The International Association of Public Relations was founded in 1955. [37] [40] The Institute for Public Relations held its first conference in 1949 and that same year the first British book on PR, "Public Relations and publicity" was published by J.H. Brebner. [100] The Foundation for Public Relations Research and Education (now the Institute for Public Relations) was founded in 1956. [101] The International Association of Business Communicators was founded in 1970. [99] Betsy Ann Plank is called "the first lady of public relations" for becoming the first female president of the PRSA in 1973. [99]

Two of today's largest PR firms, Edelman and Burson-Marsteller, were founded in 1952 and 1953 respectively. [22] Daniel Edelman created the first media tour [22] in the 1950s by touring the country with "the Toni Twins," where one had used a professional salon and the other had used Toni's home-care products. [102] [103] It was also during this period that trade magazines like PR Week, Ragans and PRNews were founded. [99] John Hill, founder of Hill & Knowlton, is known as the first international PR pioneer. [22] Hill & Knowlton was the first major U.S. firm to create a strong international network in the 1960s and 1970s. [104] Both Edelman and Burson-Marsteller followed Hill & Knowlton by establishing operations in London in the 1960s and all three began competing internationally in Asia, Europe and other regions. [22] Jacques Coup de Frejac was influential in persuading U.S. and UK companies to also extend their PR efforts into the French market and for convincing French businesses to engage in PR activities. [22] In the early 2000s, PR in Latin America began developing at a pace "on par with industrialized nations." [105]

According to The Global Public Relations Handbook, public relations evolved from a series of "press agents or publicists" to a manner of theory and practice in the 1980s. [22] Research was published in academic journals like Public Relations Review and the Journal of Public Relations Research. This led to an industry consensus to categorize PR work into a four-step process: research, planning, communication and action. [99]

During the 1990s specialties for communicating to certain audiences and within certain market segments emerged, such as investor relations or technology PR. [99] New internet technology and social media websites effected PR strategies and tactics. [99] In April 1999, four managers from IBM, Sun Microsystems, National Public Radio and Linux Journal created "The Cluetrain Manifesto." The Manifesto established 95 theses about the way social media and internet technologies were going to change business. It concluded that markets had become "smarter and faster than most companies," because stakeholders were getting information from each other. [106] [107] The Manifesto "created a storm" with strong detractors and supporters. [108] That same year, Seth Godin published a book on permission marketing, which advocated against advertising and in favor of marketing that is useful and educational. [108] While initially controversial, by 2006 it became commonly accepted that social media had an important role in public relations. [108]

Press releases, which were mostly unchanged for more than a century, began to integrate digital features. BusinessWire introduced the "Smart News Release," which incorporated audio, video and images, in 1997. This was followed by the MultiVu multimedia release from PRNewswire in 2001. [109] The Social Media Release was created by Todd Defren from Shift Communications in 2006 [110] in response to a blog written by journalist and blogger Tom Foremski titled "Die! Press release! Die! Die! Die!" [111] Incorporating digital and social features became a norm among wire services, and companies started routinely making company announcements on their corporate blog. [109]

According to The New York Times, corporate communications shifted from a monologue to two-way conversational communications [112] and new media also made it "easier for consumers to learn about the mix-ups and blunders" of PR. [112] For example, after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, BP tried to deflect blame to other parties, claim the spill was not as significant as it was and focused on the science, while human interest stories related to the damage were emerging. [113] In 2011, Facebook tried to covertly spread privacy concerns about competitor Google's Social Circles. [114] Chapstick created a communications crisis after allegedly, repeatedly deleting negative comments on its Facebook page. [115] During the Iraq War, it was exposed that the US created false radio personalities to spread pro-American information and paid Iraqi newspapers to write articles written by American troops. [116] [117]

Watch the video: WWI The First Modern War: The Germans Release the First WMD. History (January 2023).

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