Editorial: Different World, Same Story
by Kevin Sims
Different World, Same Story
DID you know the magazine in front of you is actually pretty old? Not this particular issue of course (unless you’re reading this in 2070!) but All the World was first published in November 1884 – well over 100 years ago.
I’ve been thinking about the magazine’s heritage since someone kindly sent me six copies of All the World from 1903 and 1904. They make for fascinating reading and offer some insights into thoughts and attitudes of more than a century ago.
I find it amazing to think what has changed in those years – transport and communications have altered beyond all recognition, for a start. Back then many people would have had only a vague idea what the world beyond their own town or city was like, let alone what happened in other countries.
It’s worth bearing in mind that the Wright Brothers managed the first – very short – powered flight in 1903, with commercial flights not being available for many more years. The telephone had been around for about 30 years but was by no means a common sight, and the joys of radio and television were still waiting to be discovered. It was a very different world to the one we live in today.
The Salvation Army was also, understandably, very different. Today it’s in 111 countries but only 38 of these were ‘under the flag’ back in 1903 – though that was still pretty impressive if you consider the Movement had begun only 38 years previously.
So how did the 1903/4 All the World differ from today’s? The obvious difference is the look – today’s glossy colour photos would have been beyond the dreams of the editorial team in the early 20th century.
Back then, for threepence – equivalent to around £1.20 today, allowing for inflation – you got 32 pages of print with a good helping of black-and-white illustrations and photographs. Topics ranged from ‘The Winning of Holland’, about how the Army first began work there, to the strange-but-true ‘One Peep Into Spider World’, which is pretty much summed up by its title!
I’m always looking for ideas for the magazine so watch out in coming issues for the reintroduction, if I can convince someone to make them, of adverts for ‘Sanis underwear (sold only by The Salvation Army)’!
Despite the quirky nature of the language, what comes through clearly is the passion of the people engaged in work for The Salvation Army. One report from Java speaks about people in a home there, ‘some suffering from most revolting diseases’, and adds, ‘Captain Healey goes round every day, washing their wounds and putting on fresh bandages.’ Elsewhere there is mention of a Salvation Army hall in San Antonio, Jamaica, being turned into a temporary hospital after the island was hit by a ‘cyclone’. Some things, I guess, don’t change.
Forgive the possibly twee sentiment but compare All the World in 2007 with any of its predecessors and, when you get to the heart of things, the only world of difference you’ll notice is that made in the lives of people who come under the influence of The Salvation Army.
Kevin Sims is the editor of All the World