Declaration of Independence

Erector Set - June 11, 2014

One day in 1911, a professional magician named Alfred Carlton (A.C.) Gilbert rode a train from New Haven, Connecticut to New York City when he saw the construction on nearby tracks that were being upgraded with electrification.  Steel girders were being moved around and connected to one another.  He was inspired.  Two years later, he presented his Erector set at a toy fair, advertising his creation as being "Educational, Instructive, and Amusing."  

Gilbert's invention became one of the first toys to ever receive its own national advertising campaign.  Extremely popular, millions of sets have been sold over the last one hundred years, first with Gilbert running the company, then under a number of different owners. The American Treasure Tour has a number of different Erector sets on display along the tram route, in both un-assembled and completed versions.  Attached here is an image of the Erector steamboat located in the Toy Box.  Good luck finding it! 

QUESTION:  In 1949, Drs. William Sewell and William Glenn used an Erector set to construct a precursor to this modern device at the Yale School of Medicine:

a)  Artificial Heart

b)  Model of a Human Being

c)  Steamboat

d)  Defibrillator

Answer Below


Five men in the Continental Congress received appointments to a special committee on this day in 1776 to write up a document announcing the decision to sever ties with the British government.  The youngest of the five, Thomas Jefferson, was given the responsibility to do the actual writing, while John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman and Robert Livingston opted only to edit his work upon its completion.  Some contend that none of the senior members of the committee regarded writing the Declaration of Independence as a nuisance.

Today in 1920, Republicans met at the Blackstone Hotel to discuss who was going to be the candidate running for the highest office in the land.  The phrase "smoke-filled room" was coined after this discussion.  Out of it came surprise selection Warren G. Harding for what would be the first presidential election after women gained the right to vote. 


Jeanette Rankin was born today in 1880.  The Montana native has the distinction of being the first American woman to serve in the House of Representative.  In fact, she served twice - first in 1916 and again in 1940.  She had the dubious honor of voting on American entry into both World Wars.  When she did in 1941, after the Japanese attach on Pearl Harbor, she was the only member of Congress to do so.

Jerome Silberman shares this special day with Ms. Rankin.  The actor/director/screenwriter was born in 1933 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  It must be a hilarious city, because the young Silberman grew up to be a very funny man.  At 26, he changed his name to Gene Wilder, and started his career in comedy.  His first significant movie role came in 1968, with Mel Brooks' The Producers. The incredibly funny - yet offensive - film began a run for Wilder that included 1971's Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Blazing Saddles in 1972, and two years later Young Frankenstein.  He has gone on to become comic royalty.  Have a happy birthday!

QUOTE:  You take people as far as they will go, not as far as you would like them to go. - Jeanette Rankin

Answer:  a)  Artificial Heart.