Hoax Archive: Time Periods
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Legends & Rumors (1869-1913)
The Great Duck Egg Fake, 1894 (mid 1890s)During the final decades of the nineteenth century, a conservation movement coalesced around a campaign to save the nation's birds, whose populations were under pressure because of the fashionability of hats decorated with feathers. The Audobon Society and the American Ornithological Union both formed out of this campaign. The campaign was given renewed urgency in the early 1890s when a report appeared in various publications, including the Northwest Sportsman of Oregon and the Sportsmen's Review of Chicago, that millions of waterfowl eggs were being collected in breeding grounds in Alaska and then shipped east for sale. The eggs, it was said, were a source of dried albumen used in a variety of commercial applications such as photography, the manufacture of leather, and candy-making. The magazines warned that the collection of these eggs threatened the existence of the duck and geese populations of the entire west. More→
Monkeys Pick Cotton, 1899 (late nineteenth century)In February 1899, numerous American newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, printed a story claiming that a farmer, W.W. Mangum, had successfully trained monkeys to pick cotton on his plantation in Smedes, Mississippi. The story was sourced to an article in the Cotton Planters' Journal by T.G. Lane. Reportedly Mangum was so pleased with the success of his monkey-labor experiment that he had ordered more monkeys from Africa, and he was urging other planters to join him in using simians as laborers. There is no evidence this story was true. In fact, the tale of monkeys being trained to pick cotton (or other crops) was one of the more persistent legends that circulated in the American South during the second half of the nineteenth century. Versions of it appeared in newspapers every few years. More→
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