Monday, May 11, 2015

Yes to Esperanto, No to Photos at World’s Fair

Please don't photograph
the Esperanto speakers.
Whenever I find that a tourism venue forbids photography, my immediate thought is that they’re tying to push you to buy the souvenir photo book instead. They don’t want to compete with their vendors. They want to squeeze more tourist cash out of you. Ironically, in some of these places, they have people running about taking flash photos, and I can understand a ban on flash photography. A museum might claim that flash photos can harm artworks (I’ve heard that this is utter bullshit), but more believably, the claim can be made that flash is distracting to other patrons (which is true). But a world’s fair?

But that’s what the organizers of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition did. They announced their ban on cameras on May 10, 1913, while the Expo was still under construction. However, contemporary reports made it clear that the ban continued when the fair was actually opened. And article in the San Francisco Call made it clear that permission to take photographs lay with the Department of Concessions. See, you don’t need to take photos; we have this wonderful souvenir book with professional photography.

The Call also reported on the work that was being done by the Esperanto Club in preparation for the Panama-Pacific Exposition, which was attempting to become the host of the 1915 Universala Kongreso. They were unsuccessful at this, and the city of Edinburg was chosen, though that decision had to be revisited at the last moment. The is what the Call reported on May 11, 1913:

Photos May Be Taken Only With Permission of Department of Concessions
Special Meeting of Esperanto Club Will Be Held Next Friday
Cameras are to be barred from the Panama-Pacific exposition grounds and no one will be allowed hereafter to take photographs of the exhibit buildings now under course of construction or other views without first obtaining permission from Director Frank Burt of the department of concessions, according to an announcing meant made public yesterday.

Much interest is being manifested n the 1915 Esperanto club organized in March of this year for the purpose of securing the universal Esperanto association convention for this city during the exposition year.

A special meeting of the club will be held in the director’s room, Exposition building, next Friday, May 16.

The officers of the club are H. B. Weaver, president; Miss M. D. Van Bloun, secretary treasurer; George H. Peterson, corresponding secretary.

The exposition committee is composed of the following: H. B. Langille (chairman), P. W. Mason, John H . Gray, L. H. Gorman and G. H. Peterson.

The club is working under a charter issued by the Esperanto Association of North America, which is a branch of the Universal Association. The local organization has 30 members and expects to increase this to 50 by next meeting. Any person interested in the language is eligible to membership. Those living outside this city are requested to become associate members.

A similar club has been organized in Oakland. It has among its members former Judge Dangerfield and Assemblyman Norris.

The latter has presented a bill to have the legislature following a petition to have the Esperanto language taught in the public schools.

F. C. Drew, the attorney, is honorary president of the local Esperanto club. The classes for the study of Esperanto are being held every Tuesday and Wednesday evenings under the leadership of G. H. Peterson and G. H. Weaver.

It is the plan of the local Esperanto club to petition the exposition to have many of its employees to take up Esperanto in order that they may be able to communicate with the visitors from all over the world during 1915.

A meeting has been called of the natives and former residents of South Carolina, to be held in the director’s room, Exposition building, Tuesday, May 13, at 8 p.m.

The expo was just under two years away, but plenty of planning was still to be done (the location for the Universala Kongreso wouldn’t be decided until later that year). Cameras weren’t so much banned, as taxed. The California Camera Club’s objection and resolution were noted in the October 15, 1913 Bulletin of Photography:
Protest against the proposed gate tax upon hand cameras at the Panama-Pacific Exposition at San Francisco in 1915, was voiced on September 28th at a mass meeting Native Sons’ Hall, at which 1200 California Club members and their friends were present.
Hopes were high in the Esperanto movement for the 1915 Exposition (of course they had been high for the 1910 Universala Kongreso in D.C.). In The Legacy of the Exposition, J. D. Haliman, the head of the EANA, was quoted as saying:
I hope that the work of the Exposition may serve to renew and regenerate the spirit of true fraternity among the peoples, which we Esperantists believe does exist and is struggling to expression, despite the doings of the past woeful year.
Both H. B. Langille and Judge Dangerfield (amongst other things, no doubt) taught Esperanto classes at the University of California
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