Thursday, July 24, 2014

Big Plans for Conference in Washington

They didn't say what kind of record
In 1910, the World Esperanto Congress was held in Washington D.C. It was one of the smallest, beaten out only by a convention in far-off California during World War I. As I’ve been reading the articles on it, I found myself wondering when they realized that they were putting on a smaller meeting. Yet according to what they shared with the Washington Times on July 24, 1910, they were expecting to "break the former records for numbers of delegates and followers of the new universal language.

To be record setting, the conference would have needed to exceed the 1,500 participants of the 1908 and 1909 conferences. As I’ve noted before, the 1910 congress had only 357 participants.
Record to be Set By Esperantists
Reports Promise Largest Attendance for International Congress in Washington

From all indications the sixth international Esperanto congress, which is to meet here from August 14 to 20, will break the former records for numbers of delegates and followers of the new universal language.

Letters now at the Chamber of Commerce show that all sections of the United States, as well as a large number of foreign nations, will send delegates to this convention.
This second paragraph is low on specifics, and certainly can be consistent with the small number of actual attendees. It doesn’t say “every state,” but “all sections.” Admittedly, in 1910, a trip from Los Angeles to D.C. involved substantial time and expense. Even worse was to travel from Europe. To get to the convention, the Zamenhofs first travelled to Bremen, spent nine days at sea on the way to New York, and then had to travel to D.C.

The article concludes with the program of the Sixth Esperanto Congress:
The following program for the work of the delegates has been completed by General Secretary Reed:
August 13—Informal reception and concert at 8 p. m.
August 14—Morning, church service in Esperanto; afternoon, sightseeing; evening, concert. August 15—Morning, formal opening of the sixth congress; address by Dr. L. L. Zamenhof, the author of Esperanto; presentation of governmental delegates and responses; greeting from Esperantist national delegates; afternoon, formal business meeting; evening, moonlight excursion on Potomac.
August 16—Morning, meeting of Esperanto Academy language committee, and general business meeting; afternoon, excursion to Mt. Vernon; evening, presentation of “As You Like It” by the Hickman players.
August 17—Morning, meeting of the International Council, International Scientific Association, and general business meeting; afternoon, excursion to Great Falls, where luncheon will be served; evening, formal reception and presentation of prizes in literary contest.
August 18—Morning, meetings of the Universala Esperanto Asocio, general business meeting, and sectional meetings; afternoon, league baseball game at the National ball park; evening, lectures.
August 19—Morning, section meetings and various adjourned meetings; afternoon, sightseeing, evening international ball.
August 20—Morning, business meetings, adjourned meetings; afternoon, formal closing of sixth congress; evening, departure for post-congress excursions.
We come back to the initial question. On July 24, 1910, was Edwin Reed aware that the congress was going to be a particularly small one? Of course, in a way, the 1910 convention did set a record. It was the smallest ever at that point.
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