18 Vintage Photos of People Celebrating Independence Day

Library of Congress
Library of Congress

You'll spend today grilling, drinking, and watching fireworks. Here's how people celebrated in years gone by.

1. 1918: American soldiers driving through streets during 4th of July celebrations.


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2. 1932: Elizabeth Young (right), a Paramount player of the 30s, is celebrating Independence Day by waving sparklers and linking arms with Lyda Roberti, the German-Polish leading lady who was a former child cafe singer.


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3. 1940: A group of children playing with sparklers after Fourth of July celebrations.


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4. 1955: A young boy on a miniature float commemorates the American Declaration of Independence, at the baby parade in Lititz Springs Park, Pennsylvania. The children are judged on their appeal and costume as part of the Independence Day celebrations on the 4th of July.


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5. 1955: A child dressed as George Washington is pulled past on a miniature float, one of the contestants in the Lititz Springs Park, Pennsylvania baby parade.


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6. 1939: A Fourth of July picnic on St. Helena Island, South Carolina.


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7. 1923: Fourth of July parade at Takoma Park. 


Library of Congress

8. 1893: A Fourth of July salute.


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9. 1908: Baseball at Sauk Centre, Minnesota, within a race track.


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10. 1906: A little boy holding three large firecrackers and an American flag.


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11. 1906: Parade float.


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12. 1919: Two women (possibly in the Washington, DC area) dressed as Liberty and Columbia as part of the year's Fourth of July celebration.


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13. 1919: Scenes of celebration at Walter Reed.


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14. 1941: Bicycle riders in parade on the Fourth of July at Vale, Oregon.


Library of Congress

15. Between 1900 and 1916: Tug of war contest on street in Skagway, Alaska, on the 4th of July.


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16. 1941: Fourth of July roadside stand near Milwaukee, Wisconsin.


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17. 1895: Boys stand on a model ship on horse-drawn float in Victor, Colorado's Fourth of July parade.


Denver Public Library

18. 1916: Child dressed as Liberty.


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Why Are There No Snakes in Ireland?

iStock
iStock

Legend tells of St. Patrick using the power of his faith to drive all of Ireland’s snakes into the sea. It’s an impressive image, but there’s no way it could have happened.

There never were any snakes in Ireland, partly for the same reason that there are no snakes in Hawaii, Iceland, New Zealand, Greenland, or Antarctica: the Emerald Isle is, well, an island.

Eightofnine via Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Once upon a time, Ireland was connected to a larger landmass. But that time was an ice age that kept the land far too chilly for cold-blooded reptiles. As the ice age ended around 10,000 years ago, glaciers melted, pouring even more cold water into the now-impassable expanse between Ireland and its neighbors.

Other animals, like wild boars, lynx, and brown bears, managed to make it across—as did a single reptile: the common lizard. Snakes, however, missed their chance.

The country’s serpent-free reputation has, somewhat perversely, turned snake ownership into a status symbol. There have been numerous reports of large pet snakes escaping or being released. As of yet, no species has managed to take hold in the wild—a small miracle in itself.

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If March 15 Is the Ides of March, What Does That Make March 16?

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iStock.com/bycostello

Everyone knows that the soothsayer in William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar was talking about March 15 when he warned the Roman emperor to "beware the Ides of March." We also all know Caesar's response: "Nah, I gotta head into the office that day." But if March 15 is the Ides of March, what does that make March 16?

At the time of Caesar's assassination, Romans were using the Julian calendar (introduced by Julius Caesar himself). This was a modified version of the original Roman calendar, and it is very similar to the one we use today (which is called the Gregorian calendar). A major difference, however, was how Romans talked about the days.

Each month had three important dates: the Kalends (first day of the month), the Ides (the middle of the month), and the Nones (ninth day before the Ides, which corresponded with the first phase of the Moon). Instead of counting up (i.e., March 10, March 11, March 12), Romans kept track by counting backwards and inclusively from the Kalends, Ides, or Nones. March 10 was the sixth day before the Ides of March, March 11 was the fifth day before the Ides of March, and so on.

Because it came after the Ides, March 16 would’ve been referred to in the context of April: "The 17th day before the Kalends of April." The abbreviated form of this was a.d. XVII Kal. Apr., with "a.d." standing for ante diem, meaning roughly "the day before."

So, had Julius Caesar been murdered on March 16, the soothsayer's ominous warning would have been, "Beware the 17th day before the Kalends of April." Doesn't have quite the same ring to it.

This story first ran in 2016.

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