“Let Sleeping Porcupines Lay”

Let Sleeping Porcupines LayA man kicked a porcupine out of his way and got two legs full of quills. This experience isn’t so common today, contrary to what this article from 1941 implies, but it does give some solid advice in case you ever do come across a porcupine: just let ’em sleep. And a word to the wise—kicking is definitely not advised.

Search Newspapers.com for more articles and clippings like this one, or browse at your leisure for plenty of random and interesting finds.



The Plague of Philadelphia

This week in 1793, Yellow Fever hit Philadelphia hard. Mortality rates hit their peak between October 10th and October 13th, contributing massively to the overall count of 4000+ people who died during the months that Yellow Fever ravaged the city.Number of persons carried off by the Yellow FeverPerhaps you noticed the next paragraph in the clipping above. It’s true that people of color were commonly thought to have a sort of immunity to the fever, and were thus often asked to be nurses and caregivers to the sick. The truth is there was no actual immunity—unless one had previously had yellow fever—so the black population of Philadelphia was just as susceptible.

Surrounding cities and those along trade routes did their best to quarantine the fever before it spread. Some were unsuccessful, but many managed to avoid the epidemic.

The Fever in London

Yellow Fever in New YorkDr. Benjamin Rush was an apprentice living in Philadelphia at the time and initially recognized the outbreak of the fever. He was a leading voice in treatment and prevention theories…not that his ideas were universally respected, then or now; in fact, the theories of Dr. Rush brought him a significant amount of ridicule.

Yellow Fever: Dr. Rush's DirectionsInstructions to treat the Fever



All attempts to clean the city and eradicate the fever were not exactly successful. Mosquitos were the true culprits, and they bred in the standing water that could be found in every street and alleyway. It wasn’t until temperatures cooled throughout the end of October and beginning of November that the epidemic was finally killed off. Those who’d fled the city returned, shops opened, families and friends mourned those they’d lost in those terrible months, and time pushed on.

Find more about the Yellow Fever with a search on Newspapers.com.



The Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News

Content Update

Sample The Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News and Daily News and Daily News and Daily News front page

One of the oldest surviving papers in the United States, the Philadelphia Inquirer was founded as the Pennsylvania Inquirer in 1829 (Philadelphia would replace Pennsylvania in the title in 1859). It was originally a Democratic paper that supported President Jackson, but in its later history the paper would eventually lean Republican, then independent. As Philadelphia already had quite a few well-established papers when the Inquirer began publishing, the paper struggled at first, it but eventually found its footing and became a major paper in the city.

However, the paper really gained its reputation during the Civil War, when it became one of the best-regarded papers for accurate war news. Though the paper supported the Union, it was considered a more-or-less objective source, to the extent that even some Confederate generals, including Robert E. Lee, read the paper. The high quality of the Inquirer’s war news was the work of the paper’s nationally renowned war correspondents, including Uriah Hunt Painter and Edward Crapsey.

After the war, in what would become a cycle of declines and successes, the Inquirer hit a slump and its circulation dropped dramatically. The paper was revamped in 1889, including the introduction of a Sunday edition and an emphasis on classifieds, and the Inquirer once again became successful. However, under poor management, the paper hit another slump, particularly during the Great Depression.

Inquirer wins its first Pulitzer Prize, 1975

In the mid-1930s, the Inquirer turned around once again. By 1947, the Inquirer was the only major morning paper in Philadelphia (though there was still a major evening paper in competition) and was turning a respectable profit. Yet another downturn followed, but beginning in the mid-1970s, the Inquirer began winning numerous journalism awards, including 20 Pulitzer Prizes to date, and regained its place as one of the nation’s most prominent papers.

Since the Philadelphia Inquirer focused on comprehensive news coverage for much of its history, the paper can be a particularly valuable source for learning about the events and issues prevalent in the city, state, and nation during your ancestors’ day. If you’re looking for specific mentions of an ancestor, you might find them in lists of death notices and marriage licenses, local social news, or even the day’s fire record or building permits issued, among many others.

With a Newspapers.com Basic subscription, you can see issues from 1860 through 1922; or, with a Publisher Extra subscription, access those early years and additional issues from 1922 to August 2016. Get started searching or browsing the Philadelphia Inquirer on Newspapers.com!

Truman on Air

Truman on AirOn this day in 1947, television saw its first presidential speech. President Harry Truman took to radio and screen to urge citizens toward conservation, hoping to provide food aid to a still recovering Europe in the wake of WWII.
Televised speech on conservationThe speech aired across the nation, but most Americans missed it—those who had TVs could be counted in thousands rather than millions. Still, the move to television set the tone for a future relationship between president and people that continues to this day.

President spoke over televisionOne last thing to note: in fairness, Franklin Roosevelt was actually the first president to appear on TV. He spoke at NYC’s World’s Fair nearly 10 years before Truman’s screen appearance. But since his speech was only shown at the event itself and at Radio City in Manhattan—a very limited audience—Truman’s television debut is considered the first in the history of presidential speeches.

For more on this speech and other comings and goings of US Presidents, try a search on Newspapers.com.






Baseball’s First World Series: October 1–13, 1903

Baseball's First World Series: October 1–13, 1903

Boston team, 1903 World Series
On October 1, 1903, the Boston Americans faced off against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Game 1 of the first baseball World Series; the series lasted until October 13, when the Americans emerged the victors of the championship.

Although the National League was well established by 1903, the American League was still new. American League president Ban Johnson decided to give his league a boost by lowering ticket prices and promising fans clean baseball—and by raiding players from the National League.

Finally, the National League had had enough, and in January 1903, the two leagues met in Cincinnati for peace negotiations. The agreement resulted in the end of player raids and allowed for the existence of two equal leagues. With the two leagues now at peace, the owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates (the National League 1903 pennant winners) proposed a best-of-9 championship series to the owner of the Boston Americans (the American League pennant winners). An agreement was signed in mid-September, with the first game of the series slated to begin just a few weeks later, on October 1.

(The Pirates: Claude Ritchey, Harry Smith, Eddie Phelps, Ginger Beaumont, Deacon Phillippe, Sam Leever, Bucky Veil, Gus Thompson, Tommy Leach, Jimmy Sebring, Brickyard Kennedy, Fred Carisch and Honus Wagner. Middle: Fred Clarke. Boston players: J Collins, C Stahl, B Dineen, B Freeman, C LaChance, Dougherty, Winter, D Farrell, J O'Brien, T Hughes.)

Going into the series, Pittsburgh was generally favored to win—however, key players (including one of the pitchers and Honus Wagner, legendary shortstop and batter) had suffered injuries, and another pitcher had experienced a mental breakdown. This left essentially one strong pitcher for the Pirates—Deacon Phillipe, who would go on to pitch five complete games during the series. The Boston team, meanwhile, boasted star pitchers Cy Young and Bill Dinneen.

Game 1 was played in Boston to a crowd of more than 16,000, who more than filled the park’s 11,500 seats. The Pirates won the first game, but Game 2 went to the Americans. Game 3 went the Pirates, as did Game 4, which was the first of the Pittsburgh-based games. Heading into Game 5, the Pirates were ahead 3 games to 1, but then the Americans won the next two games, tying the teams at 3 games apiece. The Americans’ victory in Game 7 put them ahead, and their victory in Game 8 (played back in Boston) made them the first World Series champions.

1903 World Series crowd
The 1903 championship series between the American League and the National League began a tradition that has lasted more than a century. In 113 years, there have been only two years without a World Series: 1904 and 1994.

Do you have any World Series memories? Tell us about them! Or find more articles about the 1903 World Series on Newspapers.com.

Welcome, Little Women

Happy publishing day to Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, released in 1868.

New BooksThe novel is a popular one, and saw immediate success even at the time of its publishing.

the Little Women seem to be very interesting folks.Technically the book released in 1868 was only half of the story—the second part of Little Women wasn’t released until the following year. It followed the lives of the March sisters a few years after the first part, when they’d grown and begun individual lives of their own.
Little Women, Part Second.Little Women’s second part was as well-received as the first, and Alcott would go on to write several more novels featuring the spunky sisters and their friends and families.

Try a search on Newspapers.com to find more on Alcott and her novels.


Fletcher’s Mutiny

With a name like Fletcher Christian, you’re bound to have an adventurous life. Recognize the name? Christian is known for his involvement in what is possibly the most famous mutiny of all time.

At the age of 17, Christian enlisted in the Royal Navy as a common seaman. He rose in the ranks quickly, and by 1787 was made Master’s Mate of the HMS Bounty under Commander William Bligh. They set off on a voyage to Tahiti…
The Mutiny…and Bligh and his supporters were put on a small boat and sent on their merry way (with surprising results).

For a handful of the mutineers, the stay in Tahiti did not last long. Fletcher (rightly) guessed that once the mutiny was discovered, Tahiti was the first place the law would look. So he and a small group sailed away with 20 of the Tahitian natives to find the nearest uncharted island. That island turned out to be Pitcairn. Unfortunately, their new island home did not provide the happily ever the mutineers hoped for. As the story goes, the mutineers bickered and the native Tahitian men, who had not come along willingly in the first place, eventually rose up against them. Most of the men died on both sides.

But the massacre didn’t happen before the next generation was born on the island. Descendants of the men who mutinied can still be found on Pitcairn today.

Pitcairn forever associated with Bounty MutinyFind more on Christian, The Bounty, the mutiny and Pitcairn with a search on Newspapers.com.

The First Day of Autumn

Today is the September Equinox, which brings on its heels the first official day of Autumn. What does Autumn mean to you? Perhaps it brings memories of spices and soups, golden leaves and cozy clothes. Maybe you see it less favorably: shoes muddy from rain, cold beginning to seep through your sweater, the feeling of impending snow and shorter days. People respond to the seasons in many different ways, which can be even more apparent when seen across a span of years. The articles below range from the early 1900s to our own current century, describing the first day of Autumn as it looked to the writers:

From 1911:
First Day of Autumn, 1911
From 1924:
First day of Autumn, 1924
From 1931 (a particularly heart-warming description):
Description of Fall, 1931
From 1952:
First Day of Autumn, 1952
From 1959:
First Day of Autumn, 1959
From 1968 (when mentions of the equinox really started to filter into the articles):
Autumn Equinox, 1968
From 2009:
First Signs of Fall, 2009Happy first day of Autumn to everyone! For more articles like these, try a search on Newspapers.com.

A Coffin Spurned

Here’s a random find from the Indianapolis Star, 1925. The article describes a man who was struck by lightning while riding his horse through a storm. The horse was killed and so, it seemed, was Juan Acosta Iznaga. So convincing was his unconsciousness that a coffin was nearly ready for him when he revived, much to the shock of everyone around him.

Coffin is Ready but Man RevivesSounds like he had a hard time living his fake death down.

You can find more articles like these in the pages of Newspapers.com, either with a specific search or by browsing papers at your leisure.


The first time the now-recognizable bright white letters stood on the hills over Hollywood, they were little more than a fancy advertisement. “Hollywoodland,” the 1923 sign spelled, and in its shadows stood the new residential development of the same name.

The sign was only intended to last for a year and a half, but the 30-foot letters were soon a symbol recognized internationally thanks to the up-and-coming industry of American film. So the sign was left alone.

original sign

Since it was never meant to last forever, it didn’t take long before upkeep faltered, deterioration set in, and the sign began to look pretty sketchy. In 1949, restoration efforts were made with the stipulation that “land” be removed from the sign so it could better represent the district as a whole rather than just the development for which it was originally created.

Restoration of Hollywood Sign, 1949

But time erodes all things, and in less than 30 years the sign looked worse than ever. That’s when the stars stepped in. At nearly 28k a pop, the nine letters were restored thanks to the donations of celebrities like Gene Autry and Hugh Hefner, who each “sponsored” a letter. The replacement letters were bigger, stronger, steel and concrete structures built to last. They were unveiled in 1978 and, other than a thorough repainting in 2005, still remain as sturdy and scenic as they were on that day.

Celebrity donations to rebuild the signFind more on the history of these iconic letters in the pages of Newspapers.com. Try a search here, or browse papers here at your leisure. Be sure to check out the recently added Los Angeles Times collection for more articles from Californian history.