Lindbergh Completes His Transatlantic Flight:
May 21, 1927

Lindbergh Completes His Transatlantic Flight: May 21, 1927

Lindbergh Reaches Paris
On May 21, 1927, at 10:22 p.m. local time, 25-year-old Charles Lindbergh and his silver monoplane, the Spirit of St. Louis, landed in Paris, France, making him the first aviator to successfully fly nonstop across the Atlantic from New York to Paris.

A former barnstormer, Army Air Service cadet, and airmail pilot, Lindbergh decided to try to win the Orteig Prize—$25,000 to the first aviator to fly nonstop from New York to Paris or vice versa. Many well-known pilots of the day had attempted the flight, but all previous attempts had ended in accident or death.

Lindbergh, a virtually unknown pilot at the time, had a hard time finding a company to sell him a plane in which to make the journey, even after he found backers in St. Louis to fund him. Eventually, he found Ryan Airlines, based out of San Diego, which would custom-build him a plane to his exact specifications—a light-weight, one-seat, single-engine monoplane with only the bare essentials to allow for extra fuel.

Map of Lindbergh's transatlantic flight

The plane, named the Spirit of St. Louis, was completed in a mere 60 days, and after stopping in St. Louis, Lindbergh flew on to New York to make his attempt. Initially, the flight was postponed due to poor weather, but as soon as it began to clear up, Lindbergh departed on May 20 at 7:52 a.m. The trip took him 33 ½ hours, and though he faced challenges like ice building up on his plane, Lindbergh’s greatest struggle was staying awake and alert over the long flight.

From the moment he touched down, Lindberg became an instant celebrity. Tens of thousands (and perhaps upwards of 100,000) French greeted him at the airport, and an estimated 4 million people packed the streets during his parade in New York City. 30 million Americans (about a quarter of the population at the time) came to see him as he toured the Spirit of St. Louis around the country in the months that followed. He even received the Medal of Honor for his landmark flight.

Cartoon about how Lindbergh closed the distance between US and France with his flight
Lindbergh used his immense fame to promote the nascent aviation industry, and though he would lose favor in later years because of his controversial political and personal views, for a time he was easily one of the most famous people in the world.

Did any of your family members see Lindbergh as he toured the nation? Tell us about it! If you want to learn more about him, you can search for articles on

May Day

At times the 8-hour workday feels unbearably long, doesn’t it? And yet it’s nothing compared to what many workers endured in the seventeenth century. It was not unusual for employees to be stuck at work-intensive jobs for 10-16 hours a day, and by 1884 America’s labor force had had enough.

Eight hour workday strike

In October 1884, a Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions convention came to the unanimous decision that an 8-hour workday should become standard on May 1, 1886. When that day came, thousands of workers went on strike to support the effort. Chicago led the movement, with over 30,000 strikers and perhaps twice as many general supporters flooding the streets to aid in the protest.

For several days the strikers surprised the populace with their peaceful marches and demonstrations. But on May 3, 1886, there was an incident at the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company in Chicago. Despite strike leader August Spies’ pleas for calm, strikers surged toward the building to confront strikebreakers. Police fired into the crowd, killing two.

McCormick riot and revenge circular

The next day saw a rally at Haymarket square to protest the police violence. Movement leaders Spies, Albert Parsons, and Samuel Fielden spoke to the gathered crowd (on the condition that the violent speech be removed from the “Revenge!” fliers like the one described above) and for a while all remained peaceful. But then a police force arrived and ordered the rally to disperse. A lone protester lobbed a homemade bomb at them, killing one officer instantly and mortally wounding six more.

Public opinion turned against the 8-hour movement and the connected protesters, and a wave of arrests were made. Among the arrested were rally speakers Spies, Fielden, and Parsons. Five others who had not been at the rally were also arrested and included in the remarkably unjust trial that followed: Adolph Fischer, George Engel, Michael Schwab, Louis Lingg and Oscar Neebe.

Trial ends in death sentences

All were sentence to death but Neebe, whose punishment was 15 years in prison. Schwab and Fielden appealed for a life sentence instead, which they were granted. Lingg killed himself the night before the execution, taking his fate into his own hands. The remaining four were hanged. They became international martyrs for the cause, and many prominent people spoke out openly and angrily against the conditions of the trial and sentencing.

The whole Haymarket debacle was a hitch in the American labor movement’s progress, but it did strengthen the resolve to continue fighting for the 8-hour day. An international celebration was created, to be observed every May Day as a commemorative event for those who died and were executed during those May 1886 strikes.

International Workers Day

This International Workers Day is still an official holiday in many countries around the world, though it is rarely thought of anymore in the United States.

If you’re interested in learning more, search for contemporary articles about the riots, strikes, and the “anarchist trial.” There’s a lot to be found on this topic and many others, and the browse page is great for stumbling upon history’s random tidbits.


Looking Back: Chernobyl

It’s been 30 years since one of Chernobyl’s four nuclear reactors exploded and spread radioactive particles miles in every direction. The April 26, 1986, disaster killed over 30 people directly, while thousands more were evacuated from the surrounding area. Decontamination and health care costs were and continue to be extensive, and the longer-term effects from the catastrophe continue to be seen today.

Take a look below at some articles published in the days and years following the incident::


Soviet Union's report

Early reports: 2 people killed

Chernobyl Cartoon

1986 cartoon reflects public sentiment on the disaster at Chernobyl


No reason for concern


Chernobyl: Disaster Continues

Find more on Chernobyl and other historic disasters on

Miss Perfect Posture

Beauty contests have been a tradition in the United States for nearly a century. Contests with names like “Miss Universe,” “Miss United States,” and “Miss [name of any city, really]” have attracted leggy and service-oriented ladies since the first Miss America pageant in 1921. But there have also been several other beauty contests with rather unique qualifications. One of these is Miss Perfect Posture.

Rib cage drawings show the effects of correct and incorrect posture

These posture-perfect competitions, sponsored by those in the chiropractic industry, sought out women with well-balanced stances and beautifully aligned spines.

Seeking perfect postures

Often contestants stood on two scales—one foot on each—and if the numbers came out even the lady in question had excellent posture. Sometimes the straight-backed hopefuls were also submitted to full-body x-rays to determine exactly how perfect their postures were, a practice which would not fly today.

Miss Perfect Posture Contest

In the end, only one could be named Miss Perfect Posture.

Miss Perfect Posture (1959)

Winner of Perfect Posture Contest

There were (are) a lot of other bizarre beauty competitions out there—Miss Drumsticks, Miss World’s Most Beautiful Ape, and Miss Atomic Bomb to name just a few. Search for more on any of these pageants or browse to find articles and history that are more your style.

The Indianapolis Star

Content Update

Sample Indianapolis Star front page
If you have ancestors from Indiana or the surrounding region, come check out the Indianapolis Star on Issues from 1903 to 1922 are available with a Basic subscription—or,with a Publisher Extra subscription, access the years previously listed and additional issues from 1923 to March 2016.

The Indianapolis Star began publication in June 1903, when Indianapolis was already a bustling city. It is a daily morning paper that originally launched with 10-page issues, except for Sunday issues, which were longer.

Indianapolis had been founded on the banks of the White River in hopes that the waterway would serve as a major artery for trade, but the river turned out to be too sandy and shallow. Nevertheless, the city became a major transportation hub for the region because of the railroads and roads that passed through it. In fact, just a few months after the Indianapolis Star began publishing, it reported on a train wreck that occurred in Indianapolis in which 14 players on the Purdue University football team were killed.

With the development of automobiles around the turn of the 20th century, Indianapolis became a major auto manufacturer. Reflecting the importance of automobiles to the city, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was built in 1909, and the Indianapolis Star reported on the first Indianapolis 500 race in 1911.

In 1913, the city’s position on the White River proved a detriment when heavy rains caused massive flooding. The Indianapolis Star covered this and other natural disasters that struck the city over the years, including the outbreak of tornadoes in 2002.

Of course, the Indianapolis Star also covered politics, and a major story in the late 1960s and early 1970s was the controversial formation of Unigov—the consolidation of Indianapolis’s city and county governments.

If you have Indiana ancestors, the Indianapolis Star is a great place to look for them, as it includes plenty of columns and articles about the city’s—and region’s—inhabitants. You can find announcements of births, marriages, and deaths in addition to social and personal news. And you can learn about who held parties and meetings, as well as who played on the winning basketball team, got into a car accident, and more.

The paper is also great for discovering the context of your ancestors’ lives. For instance, from the ads, you can find out how much your family members might have paid for a TV or house during a certain era, as well as what clothing was in style at the time.

Get started searching or browsing the Indianapolis Star here—you never know who you might find!

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Titanic Disaster

In the frozen pre-dawn hours of April 15, 1912, the passenger liner RMS Titanic was swallowed by the waters of the North Atlantic Ocean. Just two hours and forty minutes after an iceberg ripped through the rolled steel hull plates on Titanic‘s starboard side, the massive ship and most of her passengers sunk out of sight.

Giant Liner Titanic Sinks

1800 Lives Lost

Steamer Titanic

It was one of the most fatal maritime disasters to happen during a time of peace. The oversights that caused so many deaths, and the misinformation that followed, prompted outrage, particularly from family and friends who ached to know if their loved ones had survived—or why they hadn’t.

Titanic disaster

Wireless from the Carpathian

Not Enough Boats

The disaster cost thousands of lives, millions of dollars, and—fortunately—led to major improvements in maritime safety regulations, some of which are still around today.

Find more headlines from this infamous disaster on

Happy 100th Beverly Cleary!

Today, beloved children’s book author Beverly Cleary turns 100 years old.

Happy Birthday Beverly Cleary!

Beverly Cleary

Cleary worked as a librarian before turning to writing books. In her many interviews, some of which can be found in the newspapers linked here, she mentions that during her time tending the shelves she came to the realization that not many books represented children as they were—messy, imperfect, adventurous and clever. Children had trouble finding characters they related to, and she had trouble finding books to recommend. She decided she wanted to create characters who experienced childhood like she had, in a neighborhood much like the one she’d grown up in. And so Cleary’s characters—like Ribsy, Ralph, Henry, Beezus and Ramona—well-known now by so many, were born. And real-life children loved them.

Cleary turned the light bulb of reading on

In 1975 Cleary was thanked for her lasting impression on children’s literature when she was granted the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award. It was the first of several more awards to come.

Beverly Cleary given Wilder Award, 1975

Perhaps her best-known character, and one of the best-known children’s book characters of all time, is Ramona Quimby, a spunky little girl with a whole bunch of curiosity. Did you grow up with Ramona? Try your hand at this quiz (click the image for a larger version):

Ramona Quimby Quiz

Though Cleary has since decided not to publish any more books, she has never stopped championing the importance of reading.

Cleary's advice

Find more on Beverly Cleary on Make a search on her name, characters, awards, or on something else entirely—it’s up to you!

Find: Clippings from the Dust Bowl News, Finds and Tips

Dust storm photo from the air
Seventy-seven years ago this month, in April 1939, John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath was first published. The novel tells the story of the Joads, a struggling family that makes their way to California after being forced to leave their Oklahoma farm by financial hardship and the Dust Bowl. The Joads were representative of hundreds of thousands of Great Plains residents during the 1930s who struggled to make a living during the Dust Bowl, when massive dust storms caused by drought and poor farming techniques swept across the American and Canadian prairies, destroying crops and livestock and thus the livelihoods of many.

If you’re interested in learning what life was like during the “Dirty Thirties”—perhaps to get a better understanding of what your own Midwestern family members lived through— has a wealth of articles written by the people who experienced it firsthand. Below are some examples of clippings of articles from the Dust Bowl:

Do you have family stories from the Dust Bowl? Share them with us! Or get started searching for articles related to the Dust Bowl.

Dr. Barry

It’s no secret that back in the day, career-oriented women had a rough time. Many tried, despite cultural expectations, and were discouraged by family, friends, and men in their fields from continuing. Some managed to stick to it through the opposition and make an impact as a 19th century woman. And some found it necessary to give up the whole “woman” thing altogether, like Dr. James Barry.

Dr. James Barry posed as a man

Dr. Barry was born Margaret Ann Bulkley, but chose to live as a man in order to be accepted as a student and become a surgeon. The secret of Barry’s identity was only revealed after his death.

Woman Who Lived As An Army Doctor

Though Barry was apparently a pretty rough character who often got into conflicts (some of which led to duels), he was also known to be an excellent surgeon with good bedside manner. His insistence on better conditions and diets for all patients, including the poor, was also a large aspect of his character.

Find more articles about Dr. Barry and other similar figures in history using‘s search page.

A Day For Fools

Happy April Fool’s Day, one and all. In honor of this sometimes beloved, sometime detested holiday, have a look at these prank day articles from around the turn of the century. How much has changed after over 100 years of tricks?

'Tis April Fool's Day

The first April Fool? Or are fools too eager to guess?

A Reasonable Solution

The day of April 1

Perhaps the best trick

Please Kick Me

Well, at least they’re polite

More sensible ideas

What do you think—are the “old stale” traditions of April 1st finally fading out? Or do you find April Fool’s Day to be just as full of vexation and trickery as it ever was?

Find more articles about this silly holiday by making a search on