1918 situation: You want to make a movie about dolls coming to life.
Obstacle: Animation is in its infancy and mostly happening in Europe.
Solution: Make a stop-motion movie with custom-made dolls.
The 50-minute movie, called The Dream Doll, was released in December 1917. You can read more about the film-making process in the January 1918 issue of Everyone’s magazine. Sadly, this movie doesn’t seem to be available online. Most silent movies are “lost,” i.e. there are no copies still in existence,* and this may be the case for The Dream Doll. So it’s not much of a spoiler to tell you that it was all a dream.
(UPDATE 5/4/2018: My recently discovered fellow back-to-1918 blogger, Whatever It Is, I’m Against It, found two short movies by Moss here. The first one is from much later, but the second one, Mary and Gretel, is also from 1917 and is presumably similar in technique to The Dream Doll. WIIIAI is also on the swapped babies story, see below.)
Everyone’s magazine, January 1918
1918 situation: You want to show video clips of how to do your bit for food conservation by saving fat.
Obstacle: YouTube not invented.
Solution: Food-saving “movies,” i.e. photo sequences.
In the unlikely case that you want to make butter go twice as far by mixing it with milk and gelatin, or save butter by using chocolate instead, or use your inedible fat for soap making, you can learn how here.
Ladies’ Home Journal, March 1918
1918 situation: Babies maybe switched at birth.
Obstacle: No DNA testing yet.
Solution: Have everyone in the courtroom vote about who looks like who.
The reporters, court clerk, court interpreter, and spectators all thought that the babies had been swapped. The judge agreed, and ordered them swapped back. One of the mothers wanted to keep the baby she’d been raising for the past eight months. Too bad. Case closed!
New York Times, April 28, 1918
This post needs some color, so, apropos of nothing, here is the cover of the May 1918 issue of Woman’s Home Companion.
*Reasons: lack of storage space, deterioration, fires, and unawareness that people in the future would care.