Cylinder of the Month

See also the  Cylinders of the Month Archive.

From 1901, an animated attack on men and their vices by the prominent and somewhat eccentric preacher John Alexander Dowie.

Those dirty dogs: Men with their Nicotine, Tobacco and Alcohol

Company Dowie's Zion Tabernacle in Chicago
Cylinder # none (5-inch "Concert" cylinder)
Category Speech
Title Those dirty dogs: Men with their Nicotine, Tobacco and Alcohol
Performed by John Alexander Dowie
Circa 1901
Announcement None

One of the first modern tele-evangelists ('tele' in its classical sense), John Alexander Dowie in 1901 used the medium of wax cylinder records to extend his ministry beyond his Zion Church in Chicago to his satellite church in Australia.

Dowie used 5-inch diameter concert cylinders which, in those days before electronic amplification, he hoped would be able to reproduce his messages with a loudness sufficient for his congregations.

In his council room at the Central Zion Tabernacle on Chicago's Michigan Avenue and 12th Street, Dowie (then known as Dr. Dowie, or The First Apostle), recorded dozens of cylinders containing the church's services, music and sermons.   He recorded the cylinders at a relatively slow 80-RPM (120 or more was typical), in order to minimize the number of these bulky records needing to be shipped to Australia.

To hear Those dirty dogs: Men with their Nicotine, Tobacco and Alcohol   —

For help playing these sounds, click here.

John Alexander Dowie, wife Jane, deacons and elders, circa 1900
(Note his strange signature fingering gesture)

Edison trade poster advertising the concert cylinder's broad potential, circa 1899

Dowie's recordings archive
Dowie's church resettled just outside of Chicago in his attempt to create a utopian community of believers: Zion, Illinois (see the "Babel and Zion" illustration, below).   It is possible the extant cylinders, held by the successor church, Christ Community Church in Zion, were of a batch that were never shipped to Australia, for shortly afterwards, church financial difficulties and Dowie's health concerns began to alter the trajectory of his ministry.

"Babel and Zion", 1900.   Click to enlarge.

— This composite image is derived from the Christ Community Church archive —

Dowie's influences were many, and his brand of evangelism, healing works, all which were entangled with money, created quite a buzz in his day.   To hear a topical rip on the dollars-for-deliverance teachings attributed to Dowie, see the April 2009 Cylinder of the Month presentation of the 1906 comic song Jingles, Jokes and Rhymes.


To hear other examples of wax cylinders, see the

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