WWII in the United States

Axis Declares War

Today in 1941 Japan’s allies, Germany and Italy, declared war on the United States. Days earlier, Pearl Harbor had been infamously attacked by Japan’s military, prompting the U.S. to consider their own declaration of war against the island country. This declaration passed with only one dissenting vote on the same day that Hitler was drawing up his own declaration of war against the United States, convinced war with the U.S. was inevitable. With the declaration of war from the Axis, the U.S. was drawn into a massive global conflict that would continue for nearly four more years and would later be known as World War II.

Dec 11, 1941 - US enters WWII

There’s much more to find about WWII on Newspapers.com. Use the search page for specifics, or pick a specific date using the “Show Advanced” or “Add More Info” drop-down menu on the search bar. You can also use the “Narrow by Date” option in the left-hand column of the website after making a search.

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Rosa’s Prostest

Dec 1 1955, Rosa Parks Arrested

The above is a clipping from December 5th, 1955, just a few days after Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white passenger. The arrest was made December 1st when Parks sat in a seat directly behind the white section of the bus.

Riding the bus in 1955

When those seats filled and more white passengers boarded, the bus driver moved the sign designating the “colored section” further back on the bus and asked Rosa Parks and three other black passengers to move. The others complied, but Parks refused, tired of bending to arbitrary and unjust rules. She was arrested at the insistence of the bus driver.

Rosa Parks on the day she was arrested

Perhaps not so coincidentally, the same bus driver had once insisted Parks pay the fare and then get off the bus to reenter in the back door. The back of the bus was brimming with people, and Parks suspected he might just leave her on the sidewalk if she got off. She was thrown off the bus when she ignored the driver’s instructions.

Rosa Parks, 75

Find more about Rosa Parks’ famous bus experience with this search or create your own search for more articles about this and other moments in history.

The Turkey Pardon

Presidential Pardon Saved the Gobbler

The story of the presidential turkey pardon is a strange and mysterious one. Strange, because it involves pardoning a large fowl to save it from ending up in your Thanksgiving dinner. And mysterious because no one is sure where or why it began.

Thanksgiving Trivia

Commonly, the tradition is said to have started with President Truman in 1947, the year the first turkey was supposedly pardoned. This is despite the lack of any newspaper articles, stories, letters or other similar things proving the connection between Truman and the turkey pardon. Stories of Abe Lincoln pardoning the turkey meant for their Christmas dinner after his son grew attached to the bird also abound, leading many to believe that perhaps he is the reason for the custom.

Lincoln's Turkey History

As the article above mentions, Reagan was the first to mention an actual pardon for the lucky turkey, but it was a passing joke. The first official Thanksgiving turkey pardon didn’t happen until 1989, during George H. W. Bush’s presidency. Since then it has been a standing tradition every Thanksgiving holiday.

Turkey gets presidential pardon

The annual turkey pardon has been fairly well-documented in the last few decades. Here are some other articles about presidents pardoning their feathered friends:

Clinton's First Presidential Pardon Granted to a Turkey

Presidential Turkey Pardon

Strong Turkey Pardon Feelings

Obama Pardons Turkey

Of course there are many more similar articles to be found, full of stories of the origins of this bizarre tradition. Some are not quite factual, but all share different angles to this silly story. See what you can find on Newspapers.com.

The Facts of Facial Hair

Mustaches

Whether you know it as Movember, No Shave November, or something in between, this month is the time when many a man forgoes the razor and lets his face fur grow freely in the name of promoting men’s health. In honor of this strange and ever-growing tradition (pun intended), today’s post will center around the lip sweater, the cookie duster, the soup strainer, the caterpillar, or, as it is most commonly known…the mustache.

Mustaches—and their frequent companions, beards—have been a rather hotly debated topic over the centuries. Some find them disgraceful and a sign of derelict character, while others see them as the ultimate expression of a true gentleman. Here are a few articles that brave the subject of mustaches (click on the images to read the whole article):

1. Waiters in years past had a struggle if they were the mustache-loving type. For a while, waiters were banned from sporting lip fuzz, a rule that began in France and trickled into the high-end restaurants in the United States. Many pushed back against the insistence on bare faces, though not all succeeded.

Let His Mustache Blossom!

2. Did you know there are national mustache days? They are varied and many now, without as much consensus on a date as this article has. The many difficulties and advantages of wearing a mustache are delved into here.

Mustache advantages vs. disadvantages

3. Ever wanted to know about the facial hair decisions of past presidents or the longest mustache in the world in 1972? Look no further: here lies the history of the mustache. And in case you were curious, the current world record for longest mustache is 14 feet, which is just a little longer than the record in this clipping…by about 5 feet. That’s a lot of mustache.

Unsightly Hair or Beautiful Brush?

4. What does your mustache say about you? (Spoiler, it says a lot.) This article amounts to a zodiac of mustache meanings. Where do you fall on the scale from timid to murderous? And don’t overlook the fabulous last line of the clip below, “The Cleanly Shaven Upper Lip is Open to Suspicion.”

The Cleanly Shaven Upper Lip is Open to Suspicion

You’d be surprised how many newspaper stories mention the mustache, some with great vitriol. Take a look at this search to look for more about how mustaches are signs of insecurity, make you more manly, or attract the ladies. It plain to see that they can do all these things and more—depending on who’s talking.

The President at Gettysburg

Address by President Lincoln given at Gettysburg

It’s been over 150 years since the president stood before an audience of thousands and proclaimed the words, “all men are created equal,” but President Lincoln’s stirring address just four months after the battle of Gettysburg still remains one of the most memorable speeches in American history. Brief and stirring, the speech was given as part of a ceremony to consecrate a new cemetery for the thousands of men who had died in that terrible battle. Lincoln’s words only lasted about three minutes, in contrast to the hours of speeches that preceded him, but it clearly defined Lincoln’s vision of winning not only victory for the Union, but unified freedom for everyone: “that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Lincoln’s full speech was reprinted many times in newspapers throughout the country. Here is just one version (click to make the image larger):

Lincoln's Remarks

More on Lincoln and the Gettysburg Address can be found on Newspapers.com. Try narrowing down the dates for more contemporary articles, or see how the newspapers refer back to the occasion over the years with a broader search.

Elvis in CinemaScope

November 15th, 1956, was the day the film Love Me Tender premiered, featuring none other than 21-year-old Elvis Presley. Originally called The Reno Brothers, the title of the film was changed to capitalize on Presley’s famous tune, which Presley sang during the movie in the role of the youngest Reno brother, Clint. Presley hoped the film would be his first step on the road to becoming a serious actor, one of his dreams. Unfortunately for the famous singer, Love Me Tender was just the first in a long string of musicals in which his beloved songs were used to garner attention for the films. The public wanted his music, not a new James Dean.

November 15, 1956 - Elvis make film debut in Love Me Tender.

Still, regardless of Presley’s own disappointment in his role as the famous face on the posters, his movies, including Love Me Tender, were box office hits, selling out almost as quickly as his albums. In fact, Love Me Tender was the first movie ever to recover its initial investments in just three days. It wasn’t long before Elvis was perpetually cast in the role of the dashing young love interest with a talent for song. It wasn’t what he wanted, but Elvis certainly loved to entertain and continued to do so through both movies and music for years.

Presley's movie debut:

Presley’s movies aren’t considered the greatest of all time, but they definitely have their fair share of fans. Are you an Elvis Presley fan? Were his movies or his music more to your taste? Let us know, and if you’re interested in more articles about anything Elvis related, see what else you can find on Newspapers.com. 

Thank You to Our Veterans

Thank You, Veterans: Veterans Celebrate Their Day

In 1954 an Act of Congress declared that November 11th would become Veterans Day, a day to honor the courage and sacrifice of the men and women who served in the armed forces of the United States.

November 11, Armistice Day, Becomes Veterans Day in 1954

A Grateful Nation

A Grateful Nation, cont.

Thank You, Veterans

For all those veterans out there, this day is to honor you. Thank you for your incredible service for this country.

The Sting of Success

James Brindley Nicolson awarded Victoria Cross

The story behind this clipping is much more impressive and unbelievable than the two short paragraphs let on. James Brindley Nicolson was a 23-year-old flight lieutenant in World War II when his plane was fired on, leaving him injured in the eye and leg. Blinded by the blood from his wounds and with a fire starting in the cockpit, Nicolson was about to bail out when he spotted another enemy fighter. Determined to see the battle out to the bitter end, Nicolson crawled back into the flaming bucket seat and fired at the enemy craft until it fell from the sky.

Nicolson managed to jump from his diving plane and open his parachute in time to land relatively safely on solid ground, although he was shot in the leg midair by a member of the Home Guard before they realized he was not the enemy. As the article states, Nicolson was badly burned on much of his body after literally sitting in fire during the airborne fight. Not surprisingly, Nicolson was awarded the United Kingdom’s highest honor for bravery and gallantry, the Victoria Cross.

Head over to Newspapers.com to find more clippings like this one.

The Ghost of Patience Worth

Patience Worth

In honor of the Halloween holiday, today’s post focuses on the intriguing story of Patience Worth—the spookiest author you’ve probably never heard of. Patience had a very unusual way of writing, a method that, both then and now, produces either a sense of unease or a lot of eye rolling. Luckily for Patience she found a willing partner in a Mrs. Pearl Lenore Curran, and thousands of pages of fiction and poetry resulted from their peculiar partnership.

“On a hot, stuffy St. Louis summer night 60 years ago three women passed the time experimenting with a Ouija board. They had not had much luck in previous attempts to contact spirits but thought they would give it another try. After several false starts the board spelled out a message: ‘Many moons ago I lived. Again I come—Patience Worth my name.’”

It all began when Pearl Curran visited her friend who convinced her to try the Ouija board. As the article above states, their first attempts were apparently met with this reply: “Many moons ago I lived. Again I come—Patience Worth my name.”

Patience Worth, guiding spirit

Patience Worth was a woman thought to have lived several hundred years before Curran’s time based on Curran’s descriptions and Patience’s odd pattern of speech, which even Curran said was “as strange to her as it is to others.” Curran used the Ouija board to learn what Patience wanted to write, describing the sessions as visions of scenes and action rather than a voice telling her which words to use. Eventually Curran became so familiar with Patience’s ways that she could receive direction with nothing more than the typewriter at which she wrote. Under Patience’s name, Curran published seven books, dozens of plays and essays, and thousands of poems.

Patience’s unique phrasing certainly made the idea of a dictating ghost more believable. She also appeared to be much more educated on history and culture than Curran claimed to be, which was something of a wonder to even the most skeptical. Still, many didn’t quite buy the story.

Patience put to the test

Pearl Curran insisted throughout her life that the ghost of Patience truly communicated with her. Unfortunately, no record was ever found of a living Patience Worth in years past, and the mystery of (and interest in) whether she ever really existed died with Curran. Regardless of whether Curran spoke the truth, had a secondary personality, or was simply a very clever woman, the writing she did under the name of Patience Worth was considered learned, witty, and of high quality.

The lessons of Patience

Find out more about Patience Worth and Pearl Lenore Curran using this search on Newspapers.com, or try to find some spooky stories of your own! The Search Page and Browse Page are great places to start exploring history through the news.

Andre the Seal

In 1970s Maine there lived a friendly seal with a certain flair for showmanship. His name was Andre, and he was one of the Rockport area’s main attractions.

Andre and Harry

Andre was found by Maine resident Harry Goodridge when he was just a wee pup. The seal had apparently been abandoned, so Goodridge took him home and there he flopped and rolled around to his heart’s content. Goodridge took him down to the harbor daily, and soon enough constructed a floating, partially submerged pen where Andre could swim and lounge.

Before long, Andre and Harry were the talk of the town. Together they made up a most unusual team, entertaining growing crowds with Andre’s tricks, including twists, jumping through hoops, dancing, and dozens more.

Andre's tricks

Andre became a well-known and beloved sight in Rockport harbor, and more and more people gathered to see him perform. The seal was a charming tourist attraction, and attract he did.

Andre the crowd-pleaser

The seal was so friendly that fishermen grew frustrated with his tendency to swamp their boats as he climbed in to say hello. This happened most often in the winter months, when Goodridge left Andre to his own devices in the harbor. Andre was so good-natured and eager to please that Goodridge thought he might enjoy furthering his entertainment career in the New England aquarium in Boston. From then on, Andre was taken to Boston every winter to continue his series of tricks and to socialize with the seals there.

The spring after his first winter away, Goodridge made a risky move in deciding to let Andre swim the many miles back to Rockport harbor. Many people were skeptical that the seal would ever return, but Goodridge was certain Andre would prefer the lengthy swim to a long, stuffy drive. He resigned himself to the fact that Andre may indeed choose to swim away and never come back, and watched the seal disappear into the waters of Marblehead, Massachusetts.

Andre the Seal Swims to Maine

Goodridge’s faith in Andre was well-founded, as it turned out. To everyone’s delight, Andre was spotted in Rockport harbor only three days later. Andre’s spring journey became a tradition from that point on, complete with residents all along the coast keeping an eye out for sightings of the spotted gray seal.

Andre rests on his Maine-ward journey

Andre continued to entertain the masses in both Maine and Massachusetts for years. But all good things come to an end—even the friendly, seal-shaped ones.

One July day, in the weeks following a bad mating-season fight with another seal, Andre was found dead on shore some eight miles from the harbor. Goodridge had noted his scars and unusual sluggishness following the fight and suspected, perhaps, that Andre would not perform again. Goodridge closed the door on the Andre years with acceptance and grace, noting that Andre had led a good life.

Andre the Seal found dead

Find more articles about this heart-warming pair here, or feel free to make your own search using search or browse on Newspapers.com