A to Z

This section explores an A-Z of the themes that reoccur throughout the images that we gathered for this project. 

W is for Weather

According to Katharine Anderson, Victorians were especially concerned with the control of natural knowledge and the possibility of controlling the anarchy of the weather.

As meteorologists sought to discern the patterns of the atmosphere and the possibility of weather forecasting, writers and artists envisioned what the command of nature might afford.  Pre-empting Carrior’s invention of air-conditioning, New York cartoonist J. Campbell Cory’s 1901 vision of the twentieth century included a device that sold users a blast of snow that would ensure ‘no more sun-strokes in July’.

Weather control promised the redemption of desert wastes into useful agricultural lands, as Albert Robida depicted for the Sahara, in which he gestured to French imperialist visions of a Sahara Sea. Thanks to ‘rainmaking machines’, droughts too would no longer trouble agriculturalists. Nor would a downpour affect the ‘covered city’ (‘Überdachte Stadt’) of the year 2000, where a roof protected the sunny thoroughfares below. Meanwhile, dramatic climatic changes seemingly beyond human control, as in John Ames Mitchell’s The Last American (1893), might spell the end of ‘the Mehrikans’. 

J. Campbell Cory, ‘A Prophetic Vision of the 20th Century’, The World, January 6, 1901, The Ohio State University Libraries, CGA.AC.AA3.029.