Celebrations Today – October 26
Holidays and observances
- Accession Day (Jammu and Kashmir)
- Angam Day (Nauru)
- Armed Forces Day (Benin)
- Christian feast day:
- National Day, celebrates the anniversary of the Declaration of Neutrality in 1955. (Austria)
- Intersex Awareness Day
Celebrations Today – USA: October 26
National Day of the Deployed
National Mule Day
National Pumpkin Day
National Mincemeat Day
National Horseless Carriage Day
Worldwide Howl at the Moon Night
Today in US History: October 26
Mahalia Jackson, the “Queen of Gospel Song,” was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, on October 26, 1911. She was the daughter of Charity Clark, a laundress and maid, and Johnny Jackson, a Baptist preacher, barber, and longshoreman. Her mother died when she was five years old and she was then brought up by her extended family of one brother, six aunts, and several half-brothers and sisters—the children of her father. Jackson grew up singing gospel music at the Plymouth Rock Baptist Church where her father preached. She relocated to Chicago in 1927. Although her ambition was to become a nurse, she worked as a laundress and studied beauty culture at Madame C. J. Walker‘s and the Scott Institute of Beauty Culture. With that training, Jackson began the first of her several business ventures and opened a beauty shop.
Within months of her arrival in Chicago she was a lead singer with the choir at the Greater Salem Baptist Church, where she joined her pastor’s three sons in their group, the Johnson Brothers.
In 1936 Jackson married Isaac Hockenhull, a college-educated entrepreneur. He encouraged her business aspirations but realized that her musical talent was a bigger source of income. “Ike,” as he was called, persuaded Jackson to audition for the Works Projects Administration (WPA) Federal Theatre Broadway production of Hot Mikado by Gilbert and Sullivan.
The beauty of her contralto voice and the increasing popularity of gospel music during the Depression brought Jackson success. Her first recording, “God’s Gonna Separate the Wheat from the Tares” and the Baptist hymn “Keep Me Every Day,” was made for Decca in May 1937. Jackson changed record labels and signed with Columbia in 1954.
Jackson resisted secular music saying, “When you sing gospel you have a feeling there is a cure for what’s wrong. But when you are through with the blues, you’ve got nothing to rest on.” Although she declined to sing anything but gospel, Jackson listened to and was heavily influenced by ragtime, jazz, and blues artists including Bessie Smith, Maime Smith, Ma Rainey, and Ida Cox.
Jackson sang regularly at Chicago’s South Side Greater Baptist Church and often collaborated with Thomas Dorsey, the “Father of Gospel Music.” Originally a blues musician, Dorsey began to write sacred music early in the century, using the sounds and rhythms of blues and jazz. Over the years, gospel made a lasting impact on blues and soul artists, including Aretha Franklin, who listened to Mahalia Jackson sing at Reverend C. L. Franklin’s (Aretha’s father’s) New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit.
Jackson hosted a radio program in Chicago for CBS, and often her powerful voice concluded the day’s local television broadcast. She recorded with Duke Ellington, packed Carnegie Hall on a number of occasions, and sang for four presidents.
Jackson lent her prestige to the civil rights movement and became a prominent figure in the struggle. In 1955, she supported the Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott led by Dr. Martin Luther King, and, at King’s request, she sang “I’ve Been ‘Buked and I Been Scorned” just before he delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech during the 1963 march on Washington.
Jackson was sixty-years-old years old when she died in the Chicago suburb of Evergreen Park, Illinois. At her funeral, Coretta Scott King described the singer as “black…proud…[and] beautiful.” She recalled her husband saying of Jackson, “A voice like this comes, not once in a century, but once in a millennium.”
The American Memory collections offer more information on gospel and the times in which Mahalia Jackson lived.
- Listen to gospel. “Now What a Time”: Blues, Gospel, and the Fort Valley Music Festivals, 1938-1943 consists of approximately one hundred sound recordings, primarily blues and gospel songs, from the folk festival at Fort Valley State College, Georgia. “Lead Me to that Rock,” “Anyhow,” and “Daniel Saw the Stone” are just a few of the gospel recordings available through this collection.
- View pictures of Mahalia Jackson and Bessie Smith in Creative Americans: Portraits by Van Vechten, 1932-1964.
- Visit the online exhibition The African-American Mosaic to learn more about African-American migrations.
- By the People, For the People: Posters from the WPA, 1936-1943 has 908 boldly colored and geographically diverse original posters produced as part of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal program. View images of other Mikado productions. Also search on African American to view additional posters.
- Read Today in History features on other twentieth-century recording artists including Sophie Tucker, Louis Jordan, and Ella Fitzgerald.
The Erie Canal opened on October 26, 1825, providing overland water transportation between the Hudson River on the east and Lake Erie at the western end. Popularly known as “Clinton’s Folly,” the eight-year construction project was the vision of New York Governor DeWitt Clinton. He convinced the New York State legislature to commit seven million dollars to the construction of a 363-mile ditch, forty feet wide and four feet deep.
On October 26, Governor Clinton and his party boarded the packet boat Seneca Chief , with two wooden barrels of Lake Erie water, to begin the journey from Buffalo to New York City. Eight days later, Clinton ceremoniously emptied the water into the Atlantic Ocean to marry the waters as a symbol of the importance of this canal.
A tremendous success, the waterway accelerated settlement of western New York, Ohio, Indiana, and the upper Midwest including the founding of hundreds of towns such as Clinton, in DeWitt County, Illinois, and DeWitt, in Clinton County, Iowa.
Mr. and Mrs. Barre Stoen were among those who traveled west, via the Erie Canal, to settle in the vicinity of Holmen, Wisconsin. Nearly a century later, fourteen-year-old Melvina Casberg recounted the Stoens’ experience:
I[n] the spring of 1849 Mr. and Mrs. Barre Stoen of Ringsaker a province near Christiania Norway immigrated to America the “Promised Land.”
After a perilous journey of 14 weeks they landed in New York. By means of the Erie Canal and Great Lakes they immediately proceeded to Wisconsin lured by the amazing tales told by those who had journeyed before them. They landed at Milwaukee.
Mr. Stoen purchased a team of oxen and a wagon as the family was to travel farther west. During the day they made slow progress and at night would find a sheltered nook to camp. After travelling in this manner for six weeks they arrived at their destination, weary from fatigue that the rude methods of transportation brought them.“Pioneer Days.”
American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936-1940
Completion of the Erie Canal also stimulated the growth of New York City. Canal boats facilitated exchange of manufactured goods from the city with agricultural products from the Midwest. A 1903 actuality film from the Thomas Edison film company, Panorama Water Front and Brooklyn Bridge from East River, begins with footage of canal boats from the Erie Canal demonstrating the canal’s continuing commercial importance to the port of New York at the turn of the century.
In fact, the Erie Canal remained vital well into the twentieth century. The New York State Barge Canal, completed between 1903 and 1918, incorporated the canal into a larger system of waterways that included extensions to Lake Ontario, Lake Champlain, Lake Cayuga, and Lake Seneca. Commercial use of the Barge Canal had declined by the 1980s. Since then, it has become a popular venue for pleasure boaters.
For more about the Erie Canal and the settlement of the Midwest:
- Read more about the Wisconsin village settled by the Stoen family. Search the collection American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936 -1940 on the term Long Coulee. This collection includes several narratives recounting the experiences of immigrants who settled in Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana in the nineteenth century. To find their stories, browse the title lists for these states, or search the collection on pioneer.
- Additional stories of pioneer life are available through Pioneering the Upper Midwest: Books from Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, ca. 1820-1910. William Nowlin recounts his family’s adventurous 1834 journey on the Erie Canal in The Bark Covered House…a Description of Real Pioneer Life in the Wilderness of Michigan.
- American Memory has hundreds of pages of text and photographs of man-made waterways in this country and abroad. For example, a search on canal in Touring Turn-of-the-Century America: Photographs from the Detroit Publishing Company, 1880-1920 yields 333 photographs from this period. Also search the American Memory pictorial collections on canal as well as the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog for even more images.
- For more images taken in twentieth century, search the America from the Great Depression to World War II: Photographs from the FSA and OWI, ca. 1935-1945 collection using the phrase Erie Canal.
- Access the numerous bills and debate about the operation and maintenance of the Erie Canal in A Century of Law Making for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774-1785 and the Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress using the search term Erie Canal.
- Numerous broadsides listing toll rates, speeches, newspaper articles, and other ephemeral material is available in An American Time Capsule: Three Centuries of Broadsides and Other Printed Ephemera.
- An original ink and watercolor drawing of a canal lock between 1852 and 1856 is one of many images of the Erie Canal in the Prints and Photographs Online Catalog.
Today in History – October 26-External Links
Today’s Weather in History
Today in Earthquake History
This Day in Naval History
Today’s Document from the National Archives
Today’s Events, Births & Deaths –Wikipedia
Today in History by AP
On this Day -1950 to 2005 – Today’s Story–BBC
On This Day: The New York Times
This Day in History –History.com
Today in Canadian History – Canada Channel
History of Britain that took place On This Day
Russia in History –Russiapedia