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Prof. Boerner's Explorations

Thoughts and Essays that explore the world of Technology, Computers, Photography, History and Family.


Archive for November 16th, 2009

Photographers have been stressing composition for years…

One of the main techniques has been using the ‘Rule of Thirds’, which means that you should look at the viewfinder screen (or LCD) as divided into three vertical and three horizontal sections.

Good composition starts by placing the key elements of your photo at the vertical and horizontal intersections. But this is just the starting point of composition. Many good books are available to help you ‘see’ more creatively. I have been profiling quite a few photographers over the past several months. Many, many of them have noted that they ‘see’ the photo before ever taking the picture. This ‘visualization’ is an art and skill that can be learned.

B and H Photo is having a seminar, as stated in this article. Even if you can’t attend, you might want to search out some of these other techniques to help your composition. Let me know what you find is helpful with a comment…

Better Photographic Composition – Beyond the Rule of Thirds 


Digital cameras can practically do it all, but what they can’t do is adjust for good composition, a fundamental quality of a great image. Ironically, the technological wonders of the digital era have made some of us blind to seeing photographs as art, and although the latest digital cameras may be able to perform in almost any light, if you can’t “see” the shot, then you won’t capture the image.

In this program, David Brommer will cover the basic concepts of composition as established by the masters of the Renaissance. Commencing with the classic rule of thirds and leaping into theories of color and balance, David will touch upon a range of topics, including image construction, positive and negative space, as well as other advanced composition.

General shooting questions like, “Is the shot better if it’s a horizontal or vertically composed?” and conceptual ideas such as integrating theme and subject context will be explored. Another factor to be considered is color vs. black and white, and how these two treatments can influence the visual impact of the photograph. Just when your head is spinning with new cropping and composing ideas, David will demonstrate special shooting techniques including how to create a pan blur, zooming the lens during exposure and low angle (worms eye view) shooting tips. [MORE]

Enhance your black and white images with Split Toning…

Photographers have been using ‘split toning’ for years in the darkroom to create tinted prints of their black and white images. Now you can use Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) and CS4 to accomplish a similar effect. This article gives you the basic procedures.

Take a look at it and post a comment about how it works…

Split Toning a JPEG File in Photoshop CS4 in Three Easy Steps| 


Digital toning has become increasingly popular in recent years, but the technique is of course more than 120 years old.

Some of the classic darkroom toning techniques include processes like sepia, selenium, gold, copper and iron-blue toning and are achieved with the use of chemicals.

There is no denying that digital toning has made the process of toning your images very easy.

The concept of split toning involves tinting the highlights in a black and white image with one color and the shadows with another color. Some people might argue that the best results are achieved using opposite colours such as yellow and blue. In my view you can also achieve some really interesting results using two colours that are relatively close to each other such as red and yellow (see this variation at the bottom of this post). [MORE]

Living with stress when the job pays well is one thing…

But, getting a heavy dosage of stress in a job that receives so-so pay is NOT. This article identifies a number of jobs that are accompanied by high stress but are average or low-average on the salary scale. Take a look at them; if your job should be added to the list, leave a comment for the group to read… I look forward to seeing the results…

stressful-jobs-that-pay-badly: Personal Finance News from Yahoo! Finance 

Social Worker

High stress and a meager paycheck are just another day at the office. Here are some of the most overworked and underpaid professions out there.

1. Social Worker

Median pay: $43,200
% who say their job is stressful: 72%

Social workers step in when everyone else steps aside to help people and families in vulnerable situations. They provide patients with education and counseling, advise care givers and make referrals for other services. And with social workers in short supply and programs underfunded, few must juggle the work of many, while reaping little reward.

Just ask Heather Griffith, a social worker who works with children in intensive foster care in Boston: "You’re getting paid $12 an hour and kids are screaming at you, telling you that you are just in it for the money and you’re just like, really?" [MORE]

The meteors are coming… The meteors are coming…

If you live in the northern hemisphere (like in the U.S.) you will be gifted with one of the best Leonid meteor showers in the wee morning hours of Tuesday (from 1am to sunrise). They will be best viewed away from city lights, like in the desert. Good luck in a great viewing experience…

Strong Leonid Meteor Shower Peaks Early Tuesday Morning – Yahoo! News 

One of the best annual meteor showers will peak in the pre-dawn hours Tuesday, and for some skywatchers the show could be quite impressive.

The best seats are in Asia, but North American observers should be treated to an above average performance of the Leonid meteor shower, weather permitting. The trick for all observers is to head outside in the wee hours of the morning – between 1 a.m. and dawn – regardless where you live.

The Leonids put on a solid show every year, if skies are clear and moonlight does not interfere. This year the moon is near its new phase, and not a factor. For anyone in the Northern Hemisphere with dark skies, away from urban and suburban lighting, the show should be worth getting up early to see.[MORE]

by Gerald Boerner


“A kind of golden hour one remembers for a life time… Everything was touched with magic.”
— Margaret Bourke-White

“I have always thought that if I could turn back the pages of history and photograph one man, my choice would be Moses.”
— Margaret Bourke-White

“Saturate yourself with your subject and the camera will all but take you by the hand.”
— Margaret Bourke-White

“They [her subjects] believed I would be trying to get the truth of the question, and they trusted me.”
— Margaret Bourke-White

“We are in a privileged and sometimes happy position. We see a great deal of the world. Our obligation is to pass it on to others.”
— Margaret Bourke-White

“Utter truth is essential and that is what stirs me when I look through the camera.”
— Margaret Bourke-White

“If you want to photograph a man spinning, give some thought to why he spins. Understanding for a photographer is as important as the equipment he uses.”
— Margaret Bourke-White

“The camera is a remarkable instrument. Saturate yourself with your subject, and the camera will all but take you by the hand and point the way.”
— Margaret Bourke-White

“If anyone gets in my way when I’m making a picture, I become irrational. I’m never sure what I am going to do, or sometimes even aware of what I do—only that I want that picture.”
— Margaret Bourke-White

“The world was waiting to be full of discovery made…(as a photographer) I could share the things I saw and learned….you would react to something all others might walk by.”
— Margaret Bourke-White

“By some special graciousness of fate I am deposited — as all good photographers like to be — in the right place at the right time. Go into it [photography] as young as possible. Bring all the asset you have and play to win.”
— Margaret Bourke-White

“[Life wanted] faces that would express what we wanted to tell. Not just the unusual or striking face, but the face that would speak out the message from the printed page. I am always looking for some typical person or face that will tie the picture essay together in a human way.”
— Margaret Bourke-White

“As photographers, we live through things so swiftly. All our experience and training is focused toward snatching off the highlights…That all significant perfect moment, so essential to capture, is often highly perishable. There may be little opportunity to probe deeper.”
— Margaret Bourke-White

“The very secret of life for me…was to maintain in the midst of rushing events an inner tranquility. I had picked a life that dealt with excitement, tragedy, mass calamities, human triumphs and suffering. To throw my whole self into recording and attempting to understand these things, I needed an inner serenity as a kind of balance.”
— Margaret Bourke-White

“The element of discovery is very important. I don’t repeat myself well. I want and need that stimulus of walking forward from one new world to another. There is something demoralizing about going back to a place to retake pictures. You can no longer see your subjects in a fresh eye; you keep comparing them with the pictures you hold in your memory. [The] world was full of discoveries waiting to be made…(as a photographer) I could share the things I saw and learned…you would react to something all others might walk by.”
— Margaret Bourke-White


Margaret Bourke-White (1904 – 1971)

Margaret_Bourke-White Margaret Bourke-White was an American photographer and documentary photographer. Farrah Fawcett starred in a TV movie about her life, Double Exposure: The Story of Margaret Bourke-White (1989).

Her father was a naturalist, engineer and inventor. His work improved the four-color printing process that is used for books and magazines. Her mother, Minnie Bourke, was a "resourceful homemaker." Margaret learned perfection from her father; from her mother, she learned the unabashed desire for self-improvement." Margaret’s success was not a family fluke. Her older sister, Ruth White, was well known for her work at the American Bar Association in Chicago, Ill., and her younger brother Roger Bourke White became a prominent Cleveland businessman and high-tech industry founder.

Margaret_at_home_1964-01In 1922, she began studying herpetology at Columbia University, where she developed an interest in photography after studying under Clarence White (no relation). In 1925, she married Everett Chapman, but the couple divorced two years later. After switching colleges several times (University of Michigan, where she became a member of Alpha Omicron Pi sorority; Purdue University in Indiana, and Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio), Bourke-White enrolled at Cornell University, lived in Risley Hall, and graduated in 1927. A year later, she moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where she started a commercial photography studio and did architectural and industrial photography. One of her clients was Otis Steel Company.

Bourke-Whie_Women Working 2 Bourke-White’s success was due to both her people skills and her technical skills. Her experience at Otis is a good example. As she explains in Portrait of Myself, the Otis security people were reluctant to let her shoot for many reasons: First, steel making was a defense industry, so they wanted to be sure national security was not affected. Second, she was a woman and in those days people wondered if a woman and her delicate cameras could stand up to the intense heat, hazard, and generally dirty and gritty conditions inside a steel mill. When she got permission, the technical problems began. Black and white film in that era was sensitive to blue light, not the reds and oranges of hot steel—she could see the beauty, but the pictures were coming out all black. She solved this problem by bringing along a new style of magnesium flare (which produces white light) and having assistants hold them to light her scenes. Her ability to work well with both people and technology resulted in some of the best steel factory pictures of that era, and these pictures earned her national attention.


Bourke-White_Bombing over Moscow In 1929, she accepted a job as associate editor of Fortune magazine. In 1930, she became the first Western photographer allowed into the Soviet Union. She was hired by Henry Luce as the first female photojournalist for Life magazine.

Her photographs of the construction of the Fort Peck Dam were featured in Life’s first issue, dated November 23, 1936, including the cover. This cover photograph became such an iconic image that it was featured as the 1930s representative to the United States Postal Service’s Celebrate the Century series of commemorative postage stamps. "Although Bourke-White titled the photo, ‘New Deal, Montana: Fort Peck Dam,’ it is actually a photo of the spillway located three miles east of the dam," according to a United States Army Corps of Engineers Web page.

Bourke-White_Flood Victim During the mid-1930s, Bourke-White, like Dorothea Lange, photographed drought victims of the Dust Bowl. Bourke-White and novelist Erskine Caldwell were married from 1939 to 1942, and together they collaborated on You Have Seen Their Faces (1937), a book about conditions in the South during the Great Depression.

She also traveled to Europe to record how Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia were faring under Nazism and how Russia was faring under Communism. While in Russia, she photographed a rare "smiling Stalin" while in Moscow, and Stalin’s grandmother when visiting Georgia.

World War II

Bourke-White_Concentration Camp Inmates Bourke-White was the first female war correspondent and the first woman to be allowed to work in combat zones during World War II. In 1941, she traveled to the Soviet Union just as Germany broke its pact of non-aggression. She was the only foreign photographer in Moscow when German forces invaded. Taking refuge in the U.S. Embassy, she then captured the ensuing firestorms on camera.

As the war progressed, she was attached to the U.S. army air force in North Africa, then to the U.S. Army in Italy and later Germany. She repeatedly came under fire in Italy in areas of fierce fighting.

Bourke-White_Buchenwald Prisoners 1 "The woman who had been torpedoed in the Mediterranean, strafed by the Luftwaffe, stranded on an Arctic island, bombarded in Moscow, and pulled out of the Chesapeake when her chopper crashed, was known to the Life staff as ‘Maggie the Indestructible.’" This incident in the Mediterranean refers to the sinking of the England-Africa bound British troopship SS Strathallan which she recorded in an article "Women in Lifeboats", in Life, February 22, 1943.

In the spring of 1945, she traveled through a collapsing Germany with General George S. Patton. In this period, she arrived at Buchenwald, the notorious concentration camp. She is quoted as saying, "Using a camera was almost a relief. It interposed a slight barrier between myself and the horror in front of me." After the war, she produced a book entitled Dear Fatherland, Rest Quietly, a project that helped her come to grips with the brutality she had witnessed during and after the war.

Bourke-White_gandhi-spinning-wheelShe had a knack for being at the right place at the right time: She interviewed and photographed Mohandas K. Gandhi just few hours before his assassination. Eisenstaedt, her friend and colleague, said one of her strengths was that there was no assignment and no picture that was unimportant to her. She also started the first photo lab at Life.

"To many who got in the way of a Bourke-White photograph — and that included not just bureaucrats and functionaries but professional colleagues like assistants, reporters, and other photographers — she was regarded as imperious, calculating, and insensitive."

Later years

Bourke-White_Gold Miners She wrote her autobiography, Portrait of Myself, which was published in 1963 and became a best seller, but she grew increasingly infirm and increasingly became more isolated in her home in Darien, Connecticut. Her living room there "was wallpapered in one huge, floor-to-ceiling, perfectly-stitched-together black-and-white photograph of an evergreen forest that she had shot in Czechoslovakia in 1938." A pension plan set up in the 1950s "though generous for that time" no longer covered her health-care costs. She also suffered financially from her personal generosity and "less-than-responsible attendant care."

Description of Accomplishments

Margaret Bourke-White is a woman of many firsts. She was a forerunner in the newly emerging field of photojournalism, and was the first female to be hired as such. She was the first photographer for Fortune magazine, in 1929. In 1930, she was the first Western photographer allowed into the Soviet Union.

Bourke-White_DamHenry Luce hired her as the first female photojournalist for Life magazine, soon after its creation in 1935, and one of her photographs adorned its first cover (November 23, 1936). She was the first female war correspondent and the first to be allowed to work in combat zones during World War II, and one of the first photographers to enter and document a concentration camp.

She made history with the publication of her haunting photos of the Depression in the book You Have Seen Their Faces, a collaboration with husband-to-be Erskine Caldwell. She wrote six books about her international travels. She was the premiere female industrial photographer, getting her start in Cleveland, Ohio, at the Otis Steel Company around 1927.

John Szarkowski described Bourke-White in Looking at Photographs: 100 Pictures from their Collection of the Museum of Modern Art, as follows:

Bourke-White_Gandhi Walking "Margaret Bourke White was one of the most famous and most successful photographers of her time. Her combination of intelligence, talent, ambition, and flexibility made her an ideal contributor to the new group journalism that developed during the thirties. Bourke White was already noted as a photographer of industrial subjects when she joined the staff of Fortune magazine in 1929 at the age of twenty five. When Life magazine began publication in 1936, she escaped her industrial specialty and became a distinguished member of that select, glamorous, peripatetic group of photographers who witnessed almost everything (in passing), and photographed it for an audience of millions. During her career at Life she photographed both Joseph Stalin and Mohandas Gandhi, and a good sampling of what lay between.

Bourke-White_Statue of Liberty "Bourke White had an excellent sense of simple, poster like design, and a sophisticated photographic technique, both perhaps the legacy of her apprenticeship in the demanding field of industrial reportage. She was excited by the new opportunities presented by photoflash bulbs, which made possible clear and highly detailed pictures under circumstances that would otherwise have been difficult or impossible for photography. The use of two or three bulbs, synchronized to flash together as the shutter was released, could produce a reasonable simulation of normal interior light. Bourke White became very skillful at this technique, which required especially delicate calculation when the level of the interior flash had to be balanced against the level of natural light visible through a room’s windows. According to the accepted formula the outside landscape should be about twice as bright as the interior; otherwise the images seen through the windows would look like pictures on the wall."


Background and biographical information is from Wikipedia articles on:

Margaret Bourke-White that can be found at…

Other References:

Margaret Bourke-White in an exhibit description by John Szarkowski at MoMA…

by Gerald Boerner


“Thus, there can be no real disarmament except on the basis of the collective peace system of the League of Nations.”
— Arthur Henderson

“There was a sense among Roosevelt’s generation the League of Nations had failed.”
— David Woolner

“The real history of the U.N. lies in the perceived failure of the League of Nations.”
— Joel Diemond

“I have loved but one flag and I can not share that devotion and give affection to the mongrel banner invented for the League of Nations.”
— Henry Cabot Lodge

“A formally recognized equality does, however, accord the smaller nations a position which they should be able to use increasingly in the interest of humanity as a whole and in the service of the ideal.”
— Hjalmar Branting

“As long as the problem of world reconstruction remains the center of interest for all nations, blocs having similar attitudes will form and operate even within the League itself.”
— Hjalmar Branting

“All in all, the League of Nations is not inevitably bound, as some maintain from time to time, to degenerate into an impotent appendage of first one, then another of the competing great powers.”
— Hjalmar Branting

“And the annual meetings of the League’s Assembly are in effect official peace congresses binding on the participating states to an extent that most statesmen a quarter of a century ago would have regarded as utopian.”
— Hjalmar Branting

“As a result of the World War and of a peace whose imperfections and risks are no longer denied by anyone, are we not even further away from the great aspirations and hopes for peace and fraternity than we were one or two decades ago?”
— Hjalmar Branting

“The first condition of success for the League of Nations is, therefore, a firm understanding between the British Empire and the United States of America and France and Italy that there will be no competitive building up of fleets or armies between them.”
— Arthur Henderson


The League of Nations

Opening of League of Nations_1920 The League of Nations (LoN) was an inter-governmental organization founded as a result of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919–1920. At its greatest extent from 28 September 1934 to 23 February 1935, it had 58 members. The League’s goals included upholding the new found Rights of Man such as right of non whites, rights of women, rights of soldiers, disarmament, preventing war through collective security, settling disputes between countries through negotiation, diplomacy and improving global quality of life. The diplomatic philosophy behind the League represented a fundamental shift in thought from the preceding hundred years. The League lacked its own armed force and so depended on the Great Powers to enforce its resolutions, keep to economic sanctions which the League ordered, or provide an army, when needed, for the League to use. However, they were often reluctant to do so.


Palace of Nations, Geneva,
the League’s headquarters
since 1938

Sanctions could also hurt the League members, so they were reluctant to comply with them. When, during the Second Italo-Abyssinian War, the League accused Benito Mussolini’s soldiers of targeting Red Cross medical tents, Mussolini responded that Ethiopians were not fully human, therefore the human rights laws did not apply. Benito Mussolini stated that "The League is very well when sparrows shout, but no good at all when eagles fall out."

After a number of notable successes and some early failures in the 1920s, the League ultimately proved incapable of preventing aggression by the Axis powers in the 1930s. In May 1933 the League was powerless to convince Hitler that Franz Bernheim, a Jew, was protected under the minority clauses established by the League in 1919 (that all minorities were fully human and held equal rights among all men). Hitler claimed these clauses violated Germany’s sovereignty. Germany withdrew from the League soon to be followed by many other totalitarian and militaristic nations. The onset of World War II showed that the League had failed its primary purpose, which was to avoid any future world war. The United Nations replaced it after the end of the war and inherited a number of agencies and organizations founded by the League.

Origins of the League


A commemorative card depicting
President of the United States
Woodrow Wilson and the
"Origin of the League of Nations"

The concept of a peaceful community of nations had been outlined as far back as 1795, when Immanuel Kant’s Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch outlined the idea of a league of nations that would control conflict and promote peace between states. There, Kant argues for establishment of a peaceful world community not in a sense that there be a global government but in the hope that each state would declare itself as a free state that respects its citizens and welcomes foreign visitors as fellow rational beings. It is in this rationalization that a union of free states would promote peaceful society worldwide, therefore there can be a perpetual peace bound by the international community.

International co-operation to promote collective security originated in the Concert of Europe that developed after the Napoleonic Wars in the nineteenth century in an attempt to maintain the status quo between European states and so avoid war. This period also saw the development of international law with the first Geneva conventions establishing laws about humanitarian relief during war and the international Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907 governing rules of war and the peaceful settlement of international disputes.

The forerunner of the League of Nations, the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), was formed by peace activists William Randal Cremer and Frederic Passy in 1889. The organization was international in scope with a third of the members of parliament, in the 24 countries with parliaments, serving as members of the IPU by 1914. Its aims were to encourage governments to solve international disputes by peaceful means and arbitration and annual conferences were held to help governments refine the process of international arbitration. The IPU’s structure consisted of a Council headed by a President which would later be reflected in the structure of the League.

league_of_nations At the start of the twentieth century two power blocs emerged through alliances between the European Great Powers. It was these alliances that came into effect at the start of the First World War in 1914, drawing all the major European powers into the war. This was the first major war in Europe between industrialized countries and the first time in Western Europe the results of industrialization (for example mass production) had been dedicated to war. The result of this industrial warfare was an unprecedented casualty level with eight and a half million members of armed services dead, an estimated 21 million wounded, and approximately 10 million civilian deaths. By the time the fighting ended in November 1918, the war had had a profound impact, affecting the social, political and economic systems of Europe and inflicting psychological and physical damage on the continent.


Moral Suasion The Rabbit.
"My offensive equipment being
practically nil, it remains for me
to fascinate him with the
power of my eye."

Anti-war sentiment rose across the world; the First World War was described as "the war to end all wars", and its possible causes were vigorously investigated. The causes identified included arms races, alliances, secret diplomacy, and the freedom of sovereign states to enter into war for their own benefit. The perceived remedies to these were seen as the creation of an international organization whose aim was to prevent future war through disarmament, open diplomacy, international co-operation, restrictions on the right to wage wars, and penalties that made war unattractive to nations.

While the First World War was still underway, a number of governments and groups had already started developing plans to change the way international relations were carried out in order to prevent a repetition of the war. United States President Woodrow Wilson and his advisor Colonel Edward M. House enthusiastically promoted the idea of the League as a means of avoiding any repetition of the bloodshed seen in World War I, and the creation of the League was a centerpiece of Wilson’s Fourteen Points for Peace. Specifically the final point provided: "A general association of nations must be formed under specific covenants for the purpose of affording mutual guarantees of political independence and territorial integrity to great and small states alike."

Before drafting the specific terms of his peace deal, Wilson recruited a team led by Colonel House to compile whatever information deemed pertinent in assessing Europe’s geo-political situation. In early January, 1918, Wilson summoned House to Washington and the two began hammering out, in complete secrecy, the President’s first address on the League of Nations which was delivered to an unsuspecting Congress on January 8, 1918.

Wilson’s final plans for the League were strongly influenced by the South African Prime Minister, Jan Christiaan Smuts. In 1918 Smuts had published a treatise entitled The League of Nations: A Practical Suggestion. According to F.S. Crafford’s biography on Smuts, Wilson adopted "both the ideas and the style" of Smuts.

On July 8, 1919, Woodrow Wilson returned to the United States and embarked on a nation-wide campaign to secure the support of the American people for their country’s entry into the League. On July 10, Wilson addressed the Senate declaring that “a new role and a new responsibility have come to this great nation that we honour and which we would all wish to lift to yet higher levels of service and achievement.” Positive reception, particularly from Republicans, was scarce at best.

The Paris Peace Conference, convened to build a lasting peace after World War I, approved the proposal to create the League of Nations (French: Société des Nations, German: Völkerbund) on 25 January 1919. The Covenant of the League of Nations was drafted by a special commission, and the League was established by Part I of the Treaty of Versailles. On 28 June 1919, 44 states signed the Covenant, including 31 states which had taken part in the war on the side of the Triple Entente or joined it during the conflict. Despite Wilson’s efforts to establish and promote the League, for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in October 1919, the United States did not join the League. Opposition in the U.S. Senate, particularly from Republican politicians Henry Cabot Lodge and William E. Borah, together with Wilson’s refusal to compromise, ensured that the United States would not ratify the Covenant.


The Gap in the Bridge the sign
reads "This League of Nations
Bridge was designed by the
President of the U.S.A"

The League held its first council meeting in Paris on 16 January 1920, six days after the Versailles Treaty came into force. In November, the headquarters of the League moved to Geneva, where the first General Assembly was held on 15 November 1920 with representatives from 41 nations in attendance.

Languages and symbols

The official languages of the League of Nations were French, English and Spanish (from 1920). The League considered adopting Esperanto as their working language and actively encouraging its use but neither option was ever adopted. In 1921, there was a proposal by Lord Robert Cecil to introduce Esperanto into state schools of member nations and a report was commissioned to investigate this. When the report was presented two years later it recommended the teaching of Esperanto in schools, a proposal that 11 delegates accepted. The strongest opposition came from the French delegate, Gabriel Hanotaux, partially in order to protect the French Language which he argued was already the international language. This opposition meant the report was accepted apart from the section that approved Esperanto in schools.

The League of Nations had neither an official flag nor logo. Proposals for adopting an official symbol were made during the League’s beginning in 1920, but the member states never reached agreement. However, League of Nations organizations used varying logos and flags (or none at all) in their own operations. An international contest was held in 1929 to find a design, which again failed to produce a symbol. One of the reasons for this failure may have been the fear by the member states that the power of the supranational organization might supersede their own. Finally, in 1939, a semi-official emblem emerged: two five-pointed stars within a blue pentagon. The pentagon and the five-pointed stars were supposed to symbolize the five continents and the five races of mankind. In a bow on top and at the bottom, the flag had the names in English (League of Nations) and French (Société des Nations). This flag was used on the building of the New York World’s Fair in 1939 and 1940.

Principal organs

lon_order The League had four principal organs, a secretariat (headed by the General Secretary and based in Geneva), a Council, an Assembly and a Permanent Court of International Justice. The League also had numerous agencies and commissions. Authorization for any action required both a unanimous vote by the Council and a majority vote in the Assembly.


League of Nations Mandates were established under Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations. These territories were former colonies of the German Empire and the Ottoman Empire that were placed under the supervision of the League following World War I. The Permanent Mandates Commission supervised League of Nations mandates, and also organised plebiscites in disputed territories so that residents could decide which country they would join. There were three Mandate classifications.

"A" Mandates

The "A" Mandates (applied to parts of the old Ottoman Empire) were ‘certain communities’ that had:

“…reached a stage of development where their existence as independent nations can be provisionally recognised subject to the rendering of administrative advice and assistance by a Mandatory until such time as they are able to stand alone. The wishes of these communities must be a principal consideration in the selection of the Mandatory.”

"B" Mandates

The "B" Mandates were applied to the former German Colonies that the League took responsibility for after the First World War. These were described as ‘peoples’ that the League said were:

“…at such a stage that the Mandatory must be responsible for the administration of the territory under conditions which will guarantee freedom of conscience and religion, subject only to the maintenance of public order and morals, the prohibition of abuses such as the slave trade, the arms traffic and the liquor traffic, and the prevention of the establishment of fortifications or military and naval bases and of military training of the natives for other than police purposes and the defence of territory, and will also secure equal opportunities for the trade and commerce of other Members of the League.”

"C" Mandates

South-West Africa and certain of the South Pacific Islands were administrated by League members under a C Mandate. These were classified as ‘territories’:

“…which, owing to the sparseness of their population, or their small size, or their remoteness from the centres of civilisation, or their geographical contiguity to the territory of the Mandatory, and other circumstances, can be best administered under the laws of the Mandatory as integral portions of its territory, subject to the safeguards above mentioned in the interests of the indigenous population.”

Mandatory Powers

The territories were governed by "Mandatory Powers", such as the United Kingdom in the case of the Mandate of Palestine and the Union of South Africa in the case of South-West Africa, until the territories were deemed capable of self-government. There were fourteen mandate territories divided up among the six Mandatory Powers of the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, New Zealand, Australia and Japan. With the exception of the Kingdom of Iraq, which joined the League on 3 October 1932, these territories did not begin to gain their independence until after the Second World War, a process that did not end until 1990. Following the demise of the League, most of the remaining mandates became United Nations Trust Territories.

In addition to the Mandates, the League itself governed the Saarland for 15 years, before it was returned to Germany following a plebiscite, and the free city of Danzig (now Gdańsk, Poland) from 15 November 1920 to 1 September 1939.


Background and biographical information is from Wikipedia articles on:

The League of Nations that can be found at…

by Gerald Boerner


“…hardships and obstacles occurring almost daily…”
— William Becknell

“In spring, the vast plain heaves and rolls around like a green ocean.”
— Early Traveler on the Santa Fe Trail

“Every man will fit himself for the trip with a horse, a good rifle, and as much ammunition as the company may think necessary…”
— William Becknell in the Missouri Intelligencer

“For 60 years, the Trail was one thread in a web of international trade routes.”
— National Parks Service

“Trail travels mostly experienced dust, mud, gnats and mosquitoes, and heat. But occasional swollen streams, wildfires, hailstorms, strong winds, or blizzards could imperil wagon trains.”
— National Parks Service

“Soldiers used the Trail during 1840’s disputes between the Republic of Texas and Mexico, the 1846-48 Mexican-American War, and the American Civil War, and troops policed conflicts between traders and Indian tribes.”
— National Parks Service

“The Mexican-American War erupted in 1846. General Stephen Watts Kearny led his Army of the West down the Santa Fe Trail, to take and hold New Mexico and upper California and to protect American traders on the Trail.”
— National Parks Service

“…horses and the riders upon them presented a remarkable picture, apparently extending into the air…45 to 60 feet high…At the same time I could see beautiful clear lakes of water with… bulrushes and other vegetation…”
— Another Early Traveler on the Santa Fe Trail


Opening of the Santa Fe Trail

The Santa Fe Trail was a 19th century transportation route through central North America that connected Missouri with Santa Fe, New Mexico. First used in 1821 by William Becknell, it served as a vital commercial and military highway until the introduction of the railroad to Santa Fe in 1880. At first an international trade route between the United States and Mexico, it served as the 1846 U.S. invasion route of New Mexico during the Mexican–American War.

Santa Fe Trail_logoTrail logo created by graphic designer Martin Kim
as a pro-bono design project for the
National Park Service

The route crossed Comancheria, the territory of the Comanches, who demanded compensation for granting rights-of-way. Americans routinely traded with the Comanche along the trail, sometimes finding the trade in Comancheria more profitable than that of Santa Fe.

The Trail was an important trade route, carrying manufactured products from the central plains of United States (present day Kansas City area) to the northeastern ranching and farming country of Mexico.

William Becknell: Father of the Santa Fe Trail

William Becknell Expedition1822 William Becknell was a freight operator who established the Santa Fe Trail.

Becknell was born in Amherst County, Virginia. He left Franklin, Missouri in September 1821 on his first trip to the western US with a load of freight to deliver to Santa Fe, New Mexico. The next year Becknell left Franklin with party of traders on a trip that was to open up the Santa Fe Trail to regular traffic and military movement. It became the first and only international trade route between The United States and Mexico until a railway to Santa Fe was built in 1880. He became known as the Father of the Santa Fe Trail.

Becknell became a politician later in life. His first political appointment was as Justice of the Peace in Saline County, Missouri. He was elected to the Missouri House of Representatives in 1828. Becknell, who had been in the War of 1812, later moved to Texas and joined a group of volunteers called the Red River Blues in 1836. He ran unsuccessfully for the Texas House of Representatives in 1826. He supervised the Texas congressional elections in 1845 and US congressional elections in 1846. Becknell died April 25, 1856.


1845_trailmap Map of the Santa Fe Trail (in red) in 1845.
A detailed present-day map is also available.

The eastern end of the trail was in the central Missouri town of Franklin on the north bank of the Missouri River. The route across Missouri first used by Becknell followed portions of the existing Osage Trace. West of Franklin, the trail crossed the Missouri near Arrow Rock, after which it followed roughly the route of present-day U.S. Route 24. It passed north of Marshall, through Lexington to Fort Osage, then to Independence. Independence was also one of the historic "jumping off points" for the Oregon and California Trails.

Santa Fe Trail_WagonsWest of Independence, in the State of Missouri, it roughly followed the route of U.S. Route 56 from near the town of Olathe to the western border of Kansas. It enters Colorado, cutting across the southeast corner of the state before entering New Mexico. The section of the trail between Independence and Olathe was also used by immigrants on the California and Oregon Trails, which branched off to the northwest near Gardner, Kansas.

From Olathe, the trail passed through the towns of Baldwin City, Burlingame, and Council Grove, then swung west of McPherson to the town of Lyons. West of Lyons the trail followed nearly the route of present-day Highway 56 to Great Bend. Ruts in the earth made from the trail are still visible in several locations. At Great Bend, the trail encountered the Arkansas River. Branches of the trail followed both sides of the river upstream to Dodge City and Garden City.

Santa_Fe_Trail_sign The Santa Fe Trail in
Cimarron, New Mexico

West of Garden City in southwestern Kansas the trail splits into two branches. One of the branches, called the Mountain Route or the Upper Crossing (of the Arkansas River) continued to follow the Arkansas upstream in southeastern Colorado to the town of La Junta. At La Junta, the trail continued south into New Mexico to Fort Union at Watrous.

The other main branch, called the Cimarron Cutoff or Cimarron Crossing or Middle Crossing cut southwest across the Cimarron Desert (also known as the Waterscrape or La Jornada) to the valley of the Cimarron River near the town of Ulysses and Elkhart then continued toward Boise City, Oklahoma, to Clayton, New Mexico, joining up with northern branch at Fort Union. This route was generally very hazardous because it had very little water. In fact, the Cimarron River was one of the only sources of water along this branch of the trail.

From Watrous, the reunited branches continued southward to Santa Fe.

Current Status

After the U.S. acquisition of the Southwest, the trail helped open the region to U.S. economic development and settlement, playing a vital role in the expansion of the U.S. into the lands it had acquired. The road route is commemorated today by the National Park Service as the Santa Fe National Historic Trail. A highway route that roughly follows the trail’s path through the entire length of Kansas, the southeast corner of Colorado and northern New Mexico has been designated as the Santa Fe Trail National Scenic Byway.


Other Events on this Day
  • In 1700…
    Charleston, South Carolina, which had established the first library in the English colonies in 1698, passes an act allowing inhabitants to borrow its books.

  • In 1821…
    William Becknell reaches Santa Fe, an event that opens the Santa Fe Trail

  • In 1864…
    Union general William T. Sherman leaves Atlanta in smoldering ruins as he begins his “March to the Sea”.

  • In 1907…
    Oklahoma becomes the forty-sixth state.

Dates and events based on:

William J. Bennett and John Cribb, (2008) The American Patriot’s Almanac Daily Readings on America. (Kindle Edition)

Background information is from Wikipedia articles on:

Santa Fe Trail that can be found at…

William Bicknell that can be found at…