November 12, 1989

25 years ago today, Tim Berners-Lee published a formal proposal for the World Wide Web.  While his idea of linking information together, creating a web of hypertext information (WorldWideWeb, W3, etc.) I doubt Mr. Berners-Lee could ever have predicted the image macros and cat jokes we enjoy online today. However, humans have been creating memes as long as we have been communicating with each other!

Here are a couple of early “tin-type memes”

unidentified_photographer_2008_81_15
Unidentified Photographer, [Decapitated Man with Head on a Platter], ca. 1865 (2008.81.15)

unidentified_photographer_2013_55_1
Unidentified Photographer, [Cartoon of Unidentified Drunk Man Sleeping], ca. 1880 (2013.55.1)

jefferson_davis_collection_2011_55_77 (2)

Unidentified Photographer, [Child’s drawing of Jefferson Davis in women’s clothing], 1865 (2012.18.37)

Last but not least, this is one of my favorite pictures in the collection. It is a photograph of a children’s drawing poking fun of a popular rumor about Jefferson Davis. 

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About Emily P Dunne

Reader Services, ICP library
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