Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Long Plan for 1915

Personally, I want to know how
many members they had.
In 1912, the committee working on the Pan-American Esperanto Congress had no idea that their efforts would also incorporate the eleventh Universala Kongreso, since their hopes for another Esperanto congress in the United States weren’t receiving an enthusiastic response. Really no surprise, given that 1910 Universala Kongreso in Washington, D.C. was the second smallest ever (with only 357 participants), with the last time the a congress held in Europe had fewer than 1,000 participants was right before World War II (preceding an eight-year gap). The United States probably isn’t ruled out of hosting a congress, but it’s my guess that the UEA would want to see that 1,000 American participants were likely first.

In 1912, the Esperantists who met in Oakland were just planning the eighth national congress of the Esperanto Association of North America. The hopes of the Universala Kongreso returning to the United States had already been dashed with Edinburgh, Scotland chosen as the site of the 1915 Universala Kongreso. And that all changed in March 1915, with little time to turn this from a national congress to an international one.

In a way, as the smallest Universala Kongreso ever (and I doubt there will ever be a smaller one), the 1915 Kongreso really was a national congress with a bit of international tacked on. But they didn’t know that in 1912. They were just planning the EANA congress. The San Francisco Call ran an article announcing their meeting on August 27, 1912.

OAKLAND, Aug. 26.—The monthly meeting of the Oakland branch of the Universal Esperanto association will be held in the Oakland high school Thursday evening. Papers will be read by Miss Emma Rathgeb, William T. Drake, Miss E. Stevens and Miss Alice Lercher. Edward Irving will read a paper on the value of Esperanto to science. A short talk will be given by L. H. Gorham, who will tell of the plans of the society, including the pan-American congress of Esperantists in San Francisco in 1915.
The date in question for the meeting was September 30, as the 27th was a Monday in 1915. That’s an awfully long lead-up to a convention that was only going to be a couple hundred people at best. It’s clear that in that era that was the size of the national congresses in the United States. So why three years in the planning? Couldn’t this have been handled in about a year or less?

Sadly, there’s not much value in reading a paper on the importance of Esperanto to science to a bunch of Esperanto supporters. Really, it’s the scientists that you need to convince. In any case, this seemed to be pretty standard for a meeting of the Oakland Esperanto Society, and the San Francisco Call was pretty good about letting the public know of their events.
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