From the Archives: Fireworks, 1860

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Anniversary 2022 (photo credit: Karen Bobotas)

The July 4th holiday is fast approaching, and this means barbecues and fireworks and the official start to summer fun!

Speaking of fireworks, we recently came across an entry in the second issue of the Horae Scholasticae, July 1860, which described their “fire-works” show here at SPS.  They wrote:

“The fire-works at St. Paul’s School passed off well. They commenced at dark and lasted about two hours. There were no accidents. The fire-works were set off in the farthest part of the play-ground from the buildings. The principal pieces were the Palm Tree, Torbillion, “July 4th”, and the Veruvian Cross; some large wheels, rockets and mines; also a great number of small pieces. There were many persons present, who were well pleased with what they saw.”

Being librarians, that made us curious about what kind of fireworks SPS students might have seen in 1860. Turns out, some form of fireworks has been around for over 2000 years. The fireworks that celebrated America’s first birthday on July 4, 1777 would have been one color- orange. It would not be until the 1830’s that the more colorful “modern” fireworks were born. So, maybe the fireworks show at Anniversary 2022 would have been similar to the one seen in Millville in the summer of 1860!

Interested in learning more about the evolution of fireworks? Click HERE for a brief history from the Smithsonian Science Education Center.



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