President McKinley Shot: September 6, 1901

Opening of the Panama Canal: August 15, 1914

Headline President McKinley Shot
“Extra!” screamed late-edition newspaper headlines on the evening of September 6, 1901, “President McKinley has been shot.” The crime had occurred earlier that day at about 4 p.m. while President William McKinley was shaking hands during a public reception at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York.

The popular president had given a speech at the exposition the day before and returned the following day to hold a short meet-and-greet with the public. The assassin, 28-year-old would-be anarchist Leon Czolgosz (pseudonym Fred Nieman), had attended the president’s speech but lacking opportunity to kill him there, arrived early enough the next day to ensure that he would be in line to meet the president. Czolgosz hid his gun in a handkerchief that he then wrapped around his hand. When the assassin finally reached the president, he fired twice, point blank, hitting McKinley in the chest and abdomen.

One Bullet is Extracted
McKinley was rushed to the exposition’s hospital. The wound to his chest was superficial, but the one to his stomach was serious, and during the surgery the doctors were unsuccessful at locating the bullet. Still, despite mistaken news reports of his death, in the days following the shooting McKinley appeared to be recovering—until the night of the 12th, when he took a sudden turn for the worse. Gangrene had developed around his stomach wound, and at 2:15 a.m. on the 14th, President McKinley died. Vice President Theodore Roosevelt, who had rushed back from a family vacation, was sworn in as president later that afternoon.

Depiction of McKinley's funeral procession
The nation was devastated by McKinley’s death. Vast crowds showed up to view his body in Buffalo, Washington DC, and Canton (Ohio) during the various public viewings, processions, and funeral services, and towns across the nation held their own memorial services. Czolgosz, who had been arrested at the scene of the crime, was quickly tried and convicted. He was sent to the electric chair on October 29, less than two months after the shooting.

Learn more about McKinley’s assassination, or other events and people that interest you, on Newspapers.com.

Texas Papers

Content Update

Since Newspapers.com is looking forward to attending the Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference in San Antonio, Texas, at the end of this month, we thought we’d get in the Lone Star spirit by highlighting our assortment of over 170 English- and Spanish-language Texas newspapers.

With more than 8.4 million pages so far, our Texas collection has the second-highest number of pages of any of our state collections (only Pennsylvania has more). Cumulatively, our Texas papers span almost 150 years (from 1865 to 2014) and cover 82 different cities, making this an invaluable resource for anyone researching their Texas ancestors or wanting to learn more about events and trends in the state’s remarkable history.

Waxahachie Daily LightNew to our Texas papers are issues of the Waxahachie Daily Light. Based in the county seat, the Daily Light has covered news from Waxahachie and the rest of Ellis County since the 1860s. Now, you can read about the goings on in the county—as well as how state and national news affected the area—in the years 1911 and 1941. For instance, on the same front page from February 4, 1941, news of World War II, politics in Washington DC, and a murder in Cleburne are interspersed with information on local deaths and illnesses, announcements of various cultural, civic, and religious events, and much more.

Recently updated is the San Angelo Press. During its 10-year run (1897–1907), this weekly paper paired local news with news on livestock, ranching, and farming. The long-running column “Stock News” was a staple of the paper, keeping residents of Tom Green County up to date on everything they needed to know about the livestock industry and which of their neighbors were buying or selling animals.

Brownsville HeraldOur Texas paper with the longest time span is the Brownsville Herald, with issues from 1892 to 2008—a period of 116 years! However, the oldest issues of our Texas papers come from the Galveston Daily News, which has issues dating back to 1865. If you’re looking in our collection for a Texas paper with few time gaps, the Abilene Reporter-News is one of our most complete Texas papers, with more than 737,000 pages between the years 1926 and 1977.

From Abilene to Wichita Falls, use Newspapers.com to explore the papers that documented the progress of the state of Texas and its residents.

Health and Beauty Tips to Skip

One thing that has changed very little throughout the years is a person’s need to look and feel the best they can. Ads have capitalized on human insecurity for as long as they’ve been around, using promises and deception–and occasionally even the truth–to get people to buy their products. Here are just a few examples of interesting or unusual newspaper ads and tips that you might not see so much these days.

Charcoal Kills Bad Breath

Advice on the use of charcoal for bad breathThe charcoal ads introduce one of the few weird remedies that actually work. Charcoal as a rudimentary breath mint? Yes, in the absence of anything better to brush away that horrific halitosis, it will do the job. You’ll just want to rinse your mouth or else show the world your grimy black grin.

Most of the old ads indicate that the charcoal was sold in the form of capsules or lozenges, which certainly makes the idea seem more palatable. But it wasn’t many years ago that sucking on a lump of charcoal was a valid option for removing that unappealing bad breath.

Arsenic Complexion Wafers

Some ideas were less lasting. These “complexion wafers” were possibly quite effective, but the added benefits of arsenic did not outweigh the negative side effects–like being poisoned, for example. Arsenic wafers were certainly not as safe as Dr. Simms would have us believe.

Why Be Skinny?

Nobody Loves a Skinny Man

The first quarter of the twentieth century saw numerous ads on gaining weight, a concept that might seem strange to many now. Pills and powders were touted with assurances of serious weight gain. They were most often directed toward women with flat, narrow physiques, implying that they would get more looks and more success with fuller figures. “Skinny” men received the same treatment in reverse; women would surely pay attention to them if they gained thirty or forty pounds! These ads have practically disappeared in favor of those promoting weight loss in the years since.

Pass me a Lucky - I pass up the sweets.

The old cigarette ads probably wouldn’t surprise anyone. Cigarettes companies posted ads with endorsements from doctors, promises of throat-soothing properties, and, like the ad above, implications that smoking would help you stay away from those tempting sweets.  That last one may be a true assertion, but cigarettes are not exactly a healthier alternative.

Cocaine for Toothache

Cocaine was a once an acceptable remedy for toothaches, usually in the form of drops to suck on. The article above tells a story of a doctor who tried a more direct method, injecting cocaine straight into his gums. The headline makes it pretty clear how well that turned out. But he did cure the toothache!

Dimple-making device

Dimples on the cheeks and chin have long been objects of envy for many people. This contraption from the 1920s provided a fairly simple solution: simply pop it on your face for a night and your cheeks would be perfectly, charmingly indented the following day. That is, until it went away a few hours later.

Eventually inventions like this were tossed out in favor of more permanent surgical solutions, some of which are still around today.

DOLLARS FOR DIMPLES

You can find thousands more of ads like these on Newspapers.com. Try the search page for specific results, or browse through the collection to see what there is to be found.

6 Tips for Searching Obituaries on Newspapers.com

Newspapers.com News, Finds and Tips

Newspapers.com is a valuable resource for locating your ancestors’ obituaries and death notices. Our indexed digital newspapers make the process much easier than sorting through hard copies or microfilm. Perhaps the most convenient way to find obituaries on our site is by using the “search” feature. While Newspapers.com’s “search” is straightforward and easy to use, you can make your searches even more effective by using a few of the following tricks and tips:

  1. Learn how to use Newspapers.com’s “search” feature. This tip may sound obvious, but it’s essential. Searching for obituaries will be a lot easier if you’re already familiar with how to do a general search of the papers on our site. For instance, did you know that you can narrow your results by date, state, and/or paper? If you haven’t watched our helpful “Searching Newspapers.com” video yet, do it!

  2. Add key terms to your search. Say you’re searching for the obituary of John Bair. If you search just for ["John Bair"], you’ll get many results that don’t have anything to do with a possible obituary. But if you instead search for ["John Bair" obituary], it will narrow down your results to much more likely candidates. Such key terms include “obituary”, “death”, “died”, “dead,” and “funeral.”

  3. Search using alternative names, nicknames, abbreviations, initials, and common misspellings. If a search of an ancestor’s legal name doesn’t bring up the obituary you want, try different variations of their name. Many older newspapers identified men by their first and middle initials along with their last names, while others sometimes used abbreviations (e.g., “Wm.” for William). If you’re searching in obituaries for a female ancestor, you’ll want to try also looking for her under her husband’s name (or husband’s initials)—for example, “Mrs. George E. Moring”, “Mrs. George (Grace) Moring,” or “Mrs. G. E. Moring.” And don’t forget to try a search using a woman’s maiden name.

  4. Know when to narrow your search and when to widen it. The more information you know about your ancestor, the easier it will be to narrow your results to find their obituary more quickly. For example, if you know your ancestor lived between 1870 and 1928 and spent their whole life in Kansas, you can narrow your search to those parameters of time and place to get rid of many superfluous results. However, don’t automatically discount results from a wider search just because they’re not from the city or state where your ancestor died. Obituaries may have been published in the place where they spent the majority of their life instead of the one where they died. Or obituaries may be in newspapers from the city where the deceased’s relatives lived.

  5. Save your search. If you didn’t find the obituary you want, save your search by selecting the “Save/Notify” button in the top-right corner of your search results (watch this video for more details on how to do this). By doing so, Newspapers.com will automatically notify you when any newspapers are added that fit your search criteria.

  6. Don’t be afraid to browse instead of search. Newspapers.com uses OCR (Optical Character Recognition) to find names and terms in the newspapers. However, while OCR can locate many instances of the words you’re searching for, it isn’t 100 percent accurate, especially for newspapers that are in poor condition. So if a search doesn’t turn up an obituary you’re looking for, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not on Newspapers.com. It just may mean that you’ll have to look for the obituary the old-fashioned way, going through likely newspapers page by page until you find what you’re looking for.

Ready to begin searching for those obituaries? Get started on our Search page.

The Wizard of Oz Turns 75

The Wizard of Oz Turns 75

Wizrd of Oz theater ad
August 12 marks the 75th anniversary of the premiere of one of America’s most iconic and beloved films: The Wizard of Oz. Premiering in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, on August 12, 1939, The Wizard of Oz screened in Hollywood on the 15th and New York on the 17th, before it’s general release on the 25th.

Newspaper film critics immediately loved it, calling it “a glittering, rollicking fantasy in modern idiom” and “this season’s rainbow lollipop of entertainment” that you’d “have to be pretty old and crotchety not to like.”

The critics were awed by seemingly every aspect of the film, from the vibrant Technicolor, intricate costumes, and imaginative sets, to the clever songs, talented actors, and mysterious “camera magic.” One review summed it up by calling the film “the most ideal combine of color, music, dancing, spectacle, pageantry, laughs, and thrills.” More than one article mentioned the movie’s $3 million price tag, with one reviewer observing that 13 “ordinary pictures” could’ve been made for the same price.

Critics almost unanimously declared The Wizard of Oz to be a perfect “all-family picture” that “successfully combin[ed] for the first time adult and juvenile appeal.” (Though at least one reviewer cautioned that parents view the film first if their young children were “subject to nightmares.”)

And the film certainly did have “juvenile appeal.” Youth groups commonly held “theater parties” to attend the film together, and some children even hosted “Wizard of Oz” parties complete with yellow-brick roads and family members in character costumes. Contests to win a chance to meet the cast members were also popular for youth, especially the one hosted by Loew’s theaters in New York.

Free ticket to The Wizard of Oz with purchase of dressTheaters promoted the film other ways too, holding special screenings where audience members were given autographed cast portraits, novelty buttons, and ice cream, for example. Other businesses got in on the action by using the film to promote their merchandise—everything from fur coats and dresses to ice cream.

Despite the positive reviews, the film wasn’t originally a monetary success because its high production costs countered box-office earnings. However, a re-release to theaters in 1949 and annual television broadcasts beginning in 1956 introduced The Wizard of Oz to new generations of children, transforming it into the beloved classic it is today.

Find more articles on Newspapers.com about the 1939 release of The Wizard of Oz using this search.

* “WIZARD OF OZ ORIGINAL POSTER 1939″ by MGM – http://daw.dyndns.org/images/movies/posters/wizard%20of%20oz.jpg. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

The Vatican’s own “Scarlet Pimpernel”

During the turbulent years of WWII, the Vatican housed an unusual Irish Roman Catholic priest and monseigneur with a penchant for defying and resisting the Nazis. His name was Hugh O’Flaherty, and his aid in helping released Allied POWs remain free in Nazi-occupied Italy led him to be nicknamed “The Scarlet Pimpernel of the Vatican.”

The Scarlet Pimpernel of the Vatican

During Italy’s time as an Axis country, O’Flaherty spent much of his time visiting the camps full of war prisoners from the Allied countries. He would search for those thought to be missing in action and tried to send information on their health and safety back to their families using Vatican Radio, the broadcasting service of the Vatican.

In 1943, when Italy left the Axis and joined the Allies, thousands of British POWs were released from the camps. Unfortunately, the subsequent Nazi occupation in Italy meant the freshly freed men were in danger of recapture. Many released POWs remembered O’Flaherty from his days visiting the camps and came to Rome to find him, seeking refuge and hope. Eventually O’Flaherty became a huge thorn in the side of the Nazi leaders who were trying to round up fleeing prisoners and find the men concealing them.

Hugh O'Flaherty

O’Flaherty never hesitated to help a fellow human in danger. He created a network of agents, wore disguises, set up safehouses, and helped over four thousand desperate people—mostly Allied soldiers and Jews—stay hidden in various locations throughout Rome. He escaped arrest and multiple assassination attempts. Even once the Nazis recognized his involvement as the leader of the network, they could not do anything to him while he remained inside the Vatican. So he began to openly help escapees on the very steps of the Vatican, infuriating the Nazi officials who watched.

The success of O'Flaherty's network

One man in particular, Colonel Herbert Kappler, chief of the SS and Gestapo in Rome, discovered what O’Flaherty was up to and set himself to the task of arresting, killing, or otherwise stopping the Irish priest. He had a white line painted outside the Vatican and made it clear that if O’Flaherty crossed that line, he would be arrested (and probably tortured and killed). Nevertheless, O’Flaherty did manage to covertly cross that line many times and then make it back home unharmed. No matter what Kappler did, O’Flaherty and his network managed to outwit him. When the Allies swept through Rome in 1944, O’Flaherty’s network was still intact and all its beneficiaries safe. O’Flaherty then demanded that any German prisoners be treated properly by the Allied soldiers.

One of these prisoners was Herbert Kappler. After the war O’Flaherty often visited Kappler in prison, his only visitor. In a surprising twist, Kappler eventually converted to Catholicism in 1959–and was baptized by none other than O’Flaherty himself.

Read more about O’Flaherty using this search on Newspapers.com, or more about Kappler (particularly his post-war years) here. There are many more stories from WWII that can be found in history’s newspapers. Try your own search here.

Opening of the Panama Canal: August 15, 1914

Opening of the Panama Canal: August 15, 1914

Locks scheduled to close
American newspapers had been closely following every aspect of the building of the Panama Canal for 10 years. Every breakthrough and scandal was covered in detail, and hardly a week went by when the canal wasn’t making news in some way. But on the day the canal finally opened, August 15, 1914, it didn’t get the main headline—instead, it was overshadowed by news of the developing European war, which had begun just a few weeks earlier. Despite the Panama Canal’s demotion to secondary headlines, its completion was still important news, as it highlighted America’s engineering might and the country’s new place as a major player on the world stage.

An American-built Panama Canal was the pet project of President Theodore Roosevelt. In the late 1800s, the French had tried and failed to build the canal, and the whole thing ended in a major scandal. So when Roosevelt took on the canal, all eyes were on the project from the beginning.

Wallace quits job as chief engineerConstruction began in 1904, with a majority of workers coming from the West Indies. But after the initial enthusiasm abated, it quickly appeared that the American canal would go the way of the French attempt. Progress was slow and dangerous, and the threat of yellow fever terrified the workers. The first chief engineer quit after only a year, as did the second one after a year and a half. With negative press beginning to dominate coverage of the canal, Roosevelt himself visited in 1906 to improve the canal’s public image.

In 1907, work on the canal finally began to take off. Yellow fever had largely been eradicated, living conditions had improved (mainly for whites), and the railroads for removing the dirt had been finished. The year 1907 also saw the first issue of the Canal Record, the Panama Canal’s own newspaper.

First ship goes through Panama Canal
By 1913, the biggest challenge—digging the Culebra Cut through a mountain range—was completed and the locks had been built. In January 1914, the first unofficial ship sailed through the canal from ocean to ocean, and that August marked the official—if overshadowed—opening. The Panama Canal remained in American hands until the end of 1999, when control was handed over to Panama.

Learn more about the Panama Canal by searching Newspapers.com, or find news of people living and working on the canal during its construction in the Canal Record.

Content Update: Newspapers in Wartime

Content Update

Storming of Normandy HeadlineAs a main method of mass communication, newspapers have historically been the primary way Americans learned the details of the wars and battles affecting their country. Newspapers.com, with content from every war from the American Revolution to the Iraq War, provides a valuable look at not just what newspapers cover when it comes to war, but also how they cover it.

Take the Battle of Antietam in the Civil War, for example. The New York Times, a Northern paper, announced it as a “great victory” for the Union and “an epoch in the history of the rebellion, from which will date the inauguration of its downfall.” In contrast, the pro-Confederate Richmond Examiner, as quoted in the Raleigh Semi-Weekly Standard, said of Antietam and the surrounding battles that the Union’s “grand coup has failed after the most prodigious effort the North has yet made in the field.” But not all Southern newspapers were necessarily pro-Confederacy. For instance the Newbern Daily Progress, a North Carolina paper forced by Union occupation to reopen with a new pro-Union owner, called the battle a “total rout of the Rebels.”

Continent InvadedA town’s or newspaper’s priorities could also affect a paper’s war reporting, as can be seen in headlines following D-Day. In the vast majority of American newspapers, the invasion dominated the front pages with huge headlines proclaiming “Invasion Smash!” and “Continent Invaded” and “Allied Forces Storm Europe.” However, in a few papers—like the Algona Upper Des Moines of Iowa—the invasion didn’t make the main headline. In fact, the Algona paper relegated the D-Day invasion to a secondary headline, choosing instead to focus on local primary election results.

Even within the same newspaper, opinion could change over time based on wartime events. Just compare these two WWI-era articles, only six months apart, to see how the Washington Post’s opinion of German submarines in American waters shifted following Germany’s resumption of unrestricted submarine warfare:

So many factors influence how newspapers tell their stories, especially when it comes to war and other divisive topics. Explore Newspapers.com to find more wartime coverage, or search for other subjects that interest you.

Tip: Using “Share”

Newspapers.com News, Finds and Tips

Many of us have—at some point in our lives—probably been sent a newspaper clipping that a friend or family member thought we’d enjoy. Or we’ve given a clipping to others ourselves. Now, on Newspapers.com, you can quickly and easily share your newspaper clippings online rather than dealing with cutting and sending paper copies, which can smear or fade over time.

It’s easy. Once you clip an article on Newspapers.com, the option will automatically appear for you to share that article via email or social media like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or Pinterest—or you have the option to get the code to embed the article in your own website or blog. When you share a clipping in any of these ways, others can view it without having a Newspapers.com account.

If you want to share a Newspapers.com article that you’ve clipped previously, simply go to “Your Clippings” from the dropdown menu in the top right-hand corner of our website. Then either mouse over the clipping you want to share or click or tap it. Either will give you access to the “Share” button, which you can select to access the different share options.

If you’d still rather share a hard copy of an article you’ve found, you can print your clipping by selecting it from “Your Clippings” and choosing the “Print” option. When it prints, it will include not only the article but the newspaper name and article date as well.

For other tips on using Newspapers.com, visit our “Newspapers.com basics” page.

Bummer and Lazarus

Bummer & Lazarus

During the days when dogs outnumbered people in Los Angeles, fellow Californian city San Francisco became the playground for two homeless pups. Bummer and Lazarus were their names, and they escaped the too-frequent dog poisonings and bullets that killed so many of their canine companions by becoming San Francisco’s furry celebrities. The dogs’ excellent ratting skills and their comical friendship gained them city-wide notoriety and led them to be featured in newspaper stories for decades.

Bummer heals LazarusBummer was a fluffy black dog, probably a Newfoundland or a Newfoundland mix. He was an impressive rat-killer and his usefulness in that area earned him a spot just outside of Frederick Martin’s saloon . As the story goes, Bummer rescued a smaller dog from a dog fight, nursing him back to health from a terrible leg injury. Witnesses to this dog-bonding did not expect the smaller dog to live, but Bummer was a loyal nurse. He brought his new companion food, encouraged him to eat, and slept next to him to keep him warm at night. The new dog was dubbed “Lazarus” after his miraculous recovery from the injury, and the city’s residents and reporters loved Bummer for his generosity. Lazarus, too, grew attached to Bummer and was a constant figure at his side.

Newspapermen and journalists hovered around the saloon, watching the dogs and creating dramatic stories about their lives and motivations. Bummer was purported to be the gentlemen between the two, a loyal and thoughtful friend. Lazarus, on the other hand, was seen as the fickle companion who only stayed around when it was convenient. The newspapers were strewn with personality-filled reports of the dogs’ adventures.

Bummer and Lazarus, faithful friendsMany of the stories implied a connection between the dogs and Joshua Norton, an eccentric man who also lived in San Francisco. He claimed to be Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico, and the trio’s activities were well-documented in cartoons and articles from the 19th century. But the two dogs were never the pets of “Emperor Norton,” as he was known. In fact the Emperor was very offended by the cartoons, which he saw as a blow to his dignity. Emperors don’t traipse about with lowly dogs, you see. In reality, Emperor Norton and the two dogs were connected only in people’s imaginations.

Bummer dies after being kickedIn October 1863, Lazarus died. While some papers chalked it up to old age, others claim he was poisoned. Either way, Bummer apparently became very downcast without his buddy and wandered aimlessly for two more years until he was kicked by a drunk. The effects of this kick were what finished him off, and in November 1865 he joined Lazarus “in dogland.” The man who had drunkenly and fatally kicked Bummer was arrested and fined, a mark of the people’s love for the dog.

To read more on Bummer and Lazarus, take a look at this search. You can find a lot more on the interesting Emperor Norton here. And be sure to check out all of the papers available on Newspapers.com for more stories like these.