Yankee Doodle Dandy

When asked to think of a few truly patriotic songs–the ones that have been around in the United States for centuries–only a couple come to mind. The national anthem is likely the first for most. But there is one older still, and as is implied by the title of this post, that is the sing-song tune of Yankee Doodle Dandy.

This funny little song with its unusual lyrics is often associated with the conflict that gave the United States their independence–the Revolutionary War. However, the song actually originated during the French and Indian War when disorganized, rag-tag colonials were mocked by their British allies as “Yankee Doodles,” or American simpletons.

The song was brought back into popularity during the Revolutionary War as an insult to those fighting for independence. But the colonists ended up embracing the catchy song.

The colonials made the song their own

The colonists often took the song and twisted the words, making parodies of the original that they sang to friend and foe alike. Some are seen in the clippings below (click the images for larger versions on Newspapers.com):

Revised Yankee Doodle

Yankee Doodle on the Fourth of July

In the centuries since, the song has acquired hundreds of new verses. The only thing that remains the same through every version is that goofy gentleman, the Yankee Doodle Dandy.

For more articles with different versions of this song throughout the years(some more offensive than others), check out this search on Newspapers.com

Pickles the Dog


Pickles earns silver medal

A dog named Pickles made headlines in 1966 after finding the World Soccer Cup under a bush. Eight days earlier the cup had been stolen, leading to worldwide anger and accusations of carelessness toward England, who hosted the championship that year. But Pickles saved the day when during a walk with his owner, David Corbett, he became interested in an area of the garden and discovered a bundle of newspaper. Corbett picked up the object and unwrapped the paper to find the 10-inch gold cup. Corbett went in to show his wife, stunned, then drove to the police station to turn it in.

Pickles saw it first

Olive Oatman

A Desert Tragedy

In 1850, 14-year-old Olive Oatman traveled across the country to find a new home in California, along with six other siblings and her parents. After separating from the other families on the trail, the Oatmans were attacked by a group of Native Americans and all but three were killed. Olive’s brother Lorenzo survived by feigning death after he was clubbed, and he made his way back to safety once all had fallen quiet again. Olive and her 7-year-old sister Mary Ann were taken by the attackers and used as slaves.

The surviving son's account

After a year in captivity they were traded to a group of Mohave, who treated them a little better. It was among this people that Olive received the distinctive chin tattoo:

Olive Oatman

They’d lived in harsh captivity for five years when young Mary Ann became sick and died, leaving Olive alone and depressed. She remained among the Mohave for six more months before rumors spread that she was among them. Negotiations were made to let her return and, within days of her release she was happily reunited with the brother she had thought to be dead, who had been trying all that time to find a way of rescuing his sisters.

After her rescue

For a more complete version of the story, click through to this article from 1893 on Newspapers.com. There is more to find on Olive Oatman, too: try this search. You can also use the search or browse pages to look through the collection of papers on the site.

Rosenberg Execution

6 to 2 Decision

Atomic Spies Doomed

Rosenbergs Executed

On June 19, 1953, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed for treason and conspiring to pass top secret information on the atomic bomb to the Soviet Union. They were not the only ones to be arrested, but they were the only ones to refuse to confess for a lighter sentence. The Rosenbergs protested their innocence throughout their trial and imprisonment, and the peacetime execution of this couple remains controversial to this day.

It was later found that though Julius had been a spy, his wife was innocent. Ethel’s brother, David Greenglass, had given the testimony that condemned his sister and brother-in-law. Years later he recanted what he had said about Ethel, admitting that he had lied about his sister in order to save his wife, who had been the real spy.

For more, take a look through the results of this search on Newspapers.com

A War Begins

Today marks the start of the War of 1812.

Congress declares war, June 18, 1812

The declaration was an unpopular one, scraping by in both Congress and Senate with the barest of majorities. The conflict lasted 2 1/2 years and was eventually considered to be something of a second war of independence for the United States by the time the Treaty of Ghent was signed in December 1914. Both sides had achieved their goals and did not care to spend any more lives or money on further conflict.

All The Points Gained

For more on the War of 1812 in the news, check out this seach on Newspapers.com. 

The Mysterious Demise of Ludwig II

If there’s one thing people generally agree on, it’s that mysteries hold a strange sort of magnetic power over our minds. They make us pause, they make us wonder. They add an element of the unsolvable to a world that often seems all too ordinary. And when a mystery also coincides with a death, that interest is doubled.

Add that with royalty, and you’ve got a front page news story.

The Mad King of Bavaria

Ludwig Otto Friedrich Wilhelm, also known as Ludwig II, was the king of Bavaria in the mid to late 1800s. He enjoyed arts and architecture and was responsible for the creation of the now-famous Neuschwanstein Castle, among several others. And in 1886 he was found dead in the shallows of Lake Starnburg, along with his psychiatrist, Dr. von Gudden.

Ludwig’s reign was fraught with difficulties, particularly in the years preceding his death. He had a tendency to overspend on his opulent castle projects, borrowing excessive amounts of money against the advice of his harried cabinet until they finally decided the king must be deposed before he dismissed them all. They conspired together with four psychiatrists—one of whom was Dr. von Gudden—to declare Ludwig clinically insane. They bribed the servants for details on Ludwig’s eccentricities, of which there were admittedly quite a few, and used these and their own reports of Ludwig’s uncontrollable spending habits to solidify their assertion. Conveniently, Ludwig’s younger brother Otto was also considered insane, which allowed the claim of hereditary insanity to hold more weight.

It runs in the family

Ludwig II was declared insane and deposed on June 12, 1886. The next day he was found dead in waist-deep water. Near him was the psychiatrist, with head trauma and marks of strangulation around his neck. Most concluded that the “mad king” had killed the conspiring von Gudden and then drowned himself:

Mad King Ludwig a Suicide

But this is where the mysterious part comes into play. During the autopsy it was found that Ludwig had no water in his lungs—he had not been killed by drowning. He reportedly had no other marks on his body, and he had not seemed suicidal in the time before his death. There was also no evidence to prove that Ludwig killed the psychiatrist, although that seemed to be the only explanation. Since then, there have been revelations that perhaps Ludwig had been attempting an escape from his confinement in Berg Castle and was shot by his enemies, a story supposedly supported by a bullet hole-ridden coat that was said to have been worn by Ludwig that day. But as the autopsy said there were no wounds on Ludwig’s body, this can’t be proven. Another unproven theory suggest that heart attack or stroke may have killed Ludwig, a result of the lake’s cool temperatures during his escape attempt.

Though at the time it was generally accepted that he was truly insane and had killed himself for this reason, the accusation of insanity has since been refuted and it is no longer considered certain that his death was by suicide. And so the cause of Ludwig’s death remains unsolved even today.

Ludwig's mysterious death

Read more on Ludwig II with the articles found in this search. Try Newspapers.com today to find more articles about historical events, family history, or other topics of your choice.

Horse of the Century

In June of 1973 a horse sprinted alone across the finish line of the Belmont stakes and became a Triple Crown champion. His name was Secretariat, and he was the first horse in 25 years to win the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness, and the Belmont Stakes.

Secretariat first horse in 25 years to win triple crown

The Belmont Stakes victory was stunning: Secretariat pounded down the final stretch of the track a full 31 lengths ahead of the second-place contender, finishing the 1.5 mile race in just 2 minutes and 24 seconds. That record time still stands today, yet to be beaten.

Secretariat wins triple crown


Secretariat’s story reads like a movie script. He always started at the back of the pack, speeding to first place in a burst of energy to win his races. But in the exciting weeks leading up to the first race of the Triple Crown, Secretariat placed a disappointing third in the 1 1/8 mile race at the Wood Memorial Stakes, leading critics to proclaim that he was just another horse with speed and no distance. Many lost faith that “Big Red,” as he was called, would find success in the longer races of the Triple Crown, making his subsequent victories all the more thrilling.

Secretariat was retired later that year and put to stud. At age 19 he was euthanized after suffering from chronic, painful inflammation, and buried in a silk-lined casket near his sire, Bold Ruler.

Secretariat Dies

For more about Secretariat, take a look at the results of this search on Newspapers.com. You can find more articles about the Triple Crown win here.

Councilman Rhino

Rhino Carareco elected to city council

Ever wondered if write-in submissions sometimes end up winning their elections?

In 1959, Carareco the rhino was added to election ballots for city council printed up by students in Sao Paolo, Brazil. Thousands of people submitted the ballots and in the end Carareco received around 100,000 votes, winning the election by a landslide. In fact, the two-ton victor had garnered one of the highest local candidate totals ever counted in Brazilian history.

After she won, Carareco’s zoo keeper asked that the rhino receive a councilman’s salary. Alas, officials in charge of the election did not seem to think a rhino would make a good councilman and nullified the election before Carareco could receive her well-deserved earnings. Shame.

Check out Newspapers.com for more pranks and politics!

A Royal Coronation

Coronation Invitation

Today marks 62 years since Queen Elizabeth II was crowned monarch of the United Kingdom. Headlines all over the world proclaimed the news as the popular princess, only 27 years old at the time, took her father’s place as sovereign.

Queen Elizabeth II Coronation

Britain Crowns Queen Elizabeth II

The coronation involved age-old ceremony and tradition. Thousands of guests and dignitaries attended the event at Westminster Abbey, while millions more watched the broadcast on live television for the first time ever. The ceremony was followed by a procession through the rain-soaked streets of London, where spectators cheered and lauded their new monarch.

Young Queen Takes Throne

Though many duties have since been passed down to Prince Charles, the queen’s son and heir, 89-year-old Queen Elizabeth II continues to hold the British crown today.

For more on the coronation, take a look at the articles in this search, or this one. This search includes more broad results on the queen herself. Or try a topic of your own using the browse and search pages.

Animal Furniture

Fads come and go, but their memory will always survive through the pages of newspapers.

Splendid Specimens of the Taxidermist's Art

Animal furniture

Animal furniture was the big thing in the mid-19th century. In a strange decision that decidedly broke up the “monotony” of simply hanging animal heads on walls, hunters and enthusiasts began to have pets and hunted animals, big and small, stuffed and shaped into chairs, tables and accessories.

The fad of big game furniture

This bizarre practice was something of an art for a time, until eventually it faded out of popularity. This may have had something to do with the fact that most of the resulting creations were kind of horrifying.

Elephant's Foot as a Liquor Stand

Chair Made From a Baby Giraffe

A search on animal furniture leads to more articles on this unusual trend. But Newspapers.com has much more to offer! Try searching or browsing through our growing collection of papers for relatives, events, or topics that interest you.