The Greatest Day in Needham’s History

Reposted from Once Upon a Time in Needham.

Invented in 1850, a stereopticon was a slide projector with two lenses (also known as a magic lantern) that presenters could use to project two-dimensional images from glass slides. This image shows an 1895 Phoenix Stereopticon from the McIntosh Battery and Optical Company in Chicago. In a fun linkage between my archives work and my novel research, magic lantern presentations were often used to entertain patients in asylums of the period. (Image via Wikipedia)

Nowadays the Congregational Church of Needham saves copies of each week’s bulletin.

But that wasn’t always the case. Which is why whenever I come across a stray calendar from our first 100 years I can’t help but wonder why that particular bulletin was saved. What did the Church historian—or more likely, the Church Clerk—of the time want to record for posterity?

Consider the bulletin for the week of April 24, 1921. What prompted its inclusion in the archives?

Was it the special program featuring Stereopticon pictures and talk of France by Mr. Gordon that took place at 6 o’clock on Sunday, April 24, 1921?

Or the Church Service held by the Junior Temperance League on Monday April 25, 1921–a service that reminds us that the nation at the time was in the midst of Prohibition?

What strikes me this morning is the Song and Sermon Service on Sunday evening at which the Reverend Wheelock gave a presentation on the “Greatest Day in Needham’s History.” Wouldn’t you love to know which day he thought that was?


About Shala Howell

Writer of things ranging from optical network switching white papers to genetic testing patient education materials to historical fiction set in an 1880s asylum. When I’m not scratching my head over pesky characters who refuse to do things how I want them done or dreaming of my next book (which will of course be much easier to write than the current one), my writerly self can be found blogging about life with a very curious Ten-Year-Old at, or musing about books and the writing life at
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