Find: Ads through the Ages

Since about the 1830s, newspapers have relied on advertising to pay for part of their operating costs. This meant that the more ads they ran, the more money they made. As a result, for a long time, newspapers were the main source people used to find out about new products and learn about sales at local business.

Listerine ad, 1957These ads make for interesting reading today, as they give us a glimpse into the products and services our ancestors and more recent family members may have used in years past. And some of those products might be surprisingly familiar, since some things we still use today have been around longer than we may have realized. For example, Coca-Cola has been around since 1886, Cream of Wheat since 1893, Arm & Hammer baking soda since 1867, Jell-o since 1897, Oreos since 1912, Cracker Jack since 1896, and Listerine since 1879.

Take a look at some of these ads from decades past found on Newspapers.com. Your ancestors may have used these ads to buy the same products you enjoy today!

Find many more ads from throughout history on Newspapers.com, either by searching for specific products or browsing through the pages of a particular paper. You might even want to try looking at ads in newspapers from the areas where your ancestors lived to get an even better idea of what types of products they may have used!

U.S. Presidential Inauguration: January 20, 2017

U.S. Presidential Inauguration: January 20, 2017

January 20 is the 2017 U.S. presidential inauguration in Washington, D.C. In preparation for the event, brush up on your knowledge about inaugurations for the country’s highest office:

  • FDR's second inauguration, 1937
    In 1937, Franklin D. Roosevelt became the first president to be inaugurated on January 20. Previous presidents (including FDR for his first term) had traditionally been inaugurated on March 4, but the 20th Amendment, passed in 1933, stipulated a January 20 inauguration.

  • The Oath of Office is traditionally administered by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, though not required. There is also no requirement that it occur in Washington, D.C., or that the president place his hand on the Bible. The only thing prescribed by the Constitution is that the president take the Oath of Office.

  • Chief Justice John Marshall administered the Oath of Office the most number of times: 9 times to 5 men. Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney administered it to the most presidents: 7 times to 7 men.

  • A total of four March inauguration dates fell on a Sunday (1821, 1849, 1877, 1917); the swearing-in ceremonies in these cases were all postponed until the next day. Three January inauguration dates have fallen on a Sunday: 1957 (Dwight D. Eisenhower), 1985 (Ronald Reagan), and 2013 (Barack Obama); these three presidents were sworn in privately on the 20th and then a public ceremony was held the next day.

  • The shortest and longest inaugural addresses were given by George Washington and William Henry Harrison, respectively. Washington’s second inaugural address was only 135 words long. William Henry Harrison’s inaugural address was 8,445 words long.

  • Due to a major snow storm, John F. Kennedy’s 1961 inaugural parade was only possible because of a major mobilization of snow plows and other equipment.

  • Multiple inaugural balls are held throughout Washington, D.C. The new president and first lady make appearances at all official parties.

  • Barack Obama took the Oath of Office four times: twice each time he was elected. He took it twice in 2009 because there was some concern it wasn’t properly administered at the formal swearing-in, so he took it again the next day. He took it twice in 2013 because January 20 fell on a Sunday, so there was a small swearing-in ceremony on the 20th and then the public ceremony on the 21st.

  • 2017 will be the nation’s 58th formal presidential inauguration ceremony.

Learn more about presidential inaugurations throughout U.S. history by searching Newspapers.com!

Letters to Santa

Happy Holidays from Newspapers.com

Letters to Santa first began regularly appearing in newspapers around the 1880s. Every December since then, newspapers across the nation have published children’s requests for the gifts they want most.

Below are a few letters to Santa from 1916—one hundred Christmases ago. Although the items requested of Santa have changed somewhat since then (not too many kids request fruit and nuts these days), the belief that St. Nick can bring worthy petitioners anything their hearts desire, big or small, remains the same.

“Dear Santa Claus: My little friend Jeff is writing to you and I will write too. I want a cow but be sure she ain’t got no ticks on her because I can’t keep her. Also some fruit and lots and lots of nuts.” –M.C. Goowin

“Dear Santa Claus. Please bring me a Maltese kitten. I would rather have that than anything.” –Helen Slavens

“Hon. Mr. Santa Claus: As Christmas is again coming with all its glory and my heart being wild with anticipation of great pleasure, I earnestly ask you to bring me a pistol such as cowboys handle, plenty of firecrackers, roman candles, and a cracker jack bicycle, as I have lost all childhood foolishness for toys. Goodbye old friend. I wish you a merry and happy Christmas.” –Charles Scott Greaves

“Dear Santa: I want you to come Christmas. We haven’t any mother and you know what we need most. Maybe Santa will send our mamma to us Christmas. If he would, we would be tickled to death to see her. Now don’t forget to come see my papa for he wants to see you.” –Elmer Fryman

“My dear Santa Claus, I wasn’t going to ask you for a doll this year but Charles killed my favorite child the other day—just threw her down and broke her head all to pieces. I cried about it till mother said ask you for another one. I want a big one, Santa Claus, and pretty too. Then I want a stove that I can sure enough cook on and a set of doll furniture for my dining room and a tea set. This is all for my dolls. I want a tricycle and a rocking chair for myself, and a fur set and some gloves and a rain coat. And I want some fruit and nuts and a few little firecrackers that shoot easy.” –Elizabeth Heitman

On Newspapers.com, you can read countless letters to Santa from across the decades. You might even find one from a relative! Get started reading more letters to Santa!

Philadelphia Daily News

Content Update

Sample Philadelphia Daily News front page

If you or your family lived in Philadelphia, take a walk down memory lane by searching or browsing the Philadelphia Daily News.

The Philadelphia Daily News was founded in 1925 with the money of William Scott Vare, a candidate in the 1926 U.S. Senate race. When it became evident that none of the existing Philadelphia papers would endorse him, Vare started his own.

From its beginning, the Daily News was an urban-focused, picture-based paper, covering hot news items like celebrities, crime, politics, and sports. Although known for its passionate, gritty reporting and its memorable, sometimes controversial front pages, the tabloid-sized Daily News also boasts three Pulitzer Prizes (1985, 1992, and 2010), among other awards.

In 1957, the Daily News was bought by the publisher of the Philadelphia Inquirer, and the two remained sister papers for years, despite several changes in ownership, until, within the last decade, the Daily News became an edition of the Inquirer. In 2011, the Daily News introduced a Sunday issue.

1964 Philadelphia race riot
Explore the last 50 years of Philadelphia history in the Daily News, from the big headlines (like the 1964 race riot, 1980 slaying of mob boss Angelo Bruno, and 2015 visit to the city by Pope Francis) to the smaller news items (like when two babysitters led three kids to safety during a 1970 fire, or when someone was reported to be hanging out of a 25th-floor window in 1965).

And since the Daily News includes plenty of photos, you never know who you might find a photo of, whether it’s the five children of the Crooch family in 1965, three generations of women who volunteered at a local hospital in 1970, or your own family members.

With a Publisher Extra subscription you can access Newspapers.com’s collection of the Daily News, which currently includes issues from 1960 to 2016. Get started searching or browsing the Philadelphia Daily News here.

U.S. Coal Mining’s Deadliest Month: December 1907

U.S. Coal Mining's Deadliest Month: December 1907

Horrors at Pit Mouth of Darr Mine
December 1907 was the deadliest month in American coal mining, with a total of five separate mining disasters that together killed more than 700 men and boys in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Alabama, and New Mexico.

The biggest of these disasters was an explosion that decimated two connected mines in Monongah, West Virginia, on December 6. The explosion happened around 10:30 in the morning and killed at least 360 miners, though the number of dead was likely higher, as men frequently brought their sons to work in the mine off the books.

Newspapers covered the disaster as well as the tragic aftermath, as shown in an excerpt from the Greenville, Pennsylvania, Record-Argus, which reads, “Throughout the night great crowds of wailing women and children congregated about the mine entrances and the scene is heartrending, as all now know that there is not the slightest chance of their loved ones being alive.”

Images from the Darr mine disaster

Even more miners would have died if dozens of those of the Roman Catholic faith hadn’t stayed home from work to observe St. Nicholas Day. No official cause of the explosion was determined, though officials speculated gas or coal dust in the mine was likely ignited by a spark or lamp flame. It is still considered America’s worst mining disaster.

The second-deadliest of December’s coal mining disasters occurred at the Darr Mine in western Pennsylvania at 11:30 in the morning on the 19th. This explosion killed at least 239 men and boys, many of them immigrants. As was often the case in those days, the mining company was found not to be at fault, despite accusations of neglect. An inquiry determined that the explosion was most likely caused by an open-flame lamp in an area that had been cordoned off because of high levels of gas.

Map of area of Darr mine disaster (at Jacobs Creek at center)
In a twist of fate, the 19th was again St. Nicholas Day (this time for the Eastern churches, which use a different calendar), and it is estimated that possibly hundreds of miners of the Greek Catholic and Orthodox faiths survived because they chose to forego the day’s wages to instead observe the saint’s day. The Darr mine disaster was the worst in Pennsylvania history and the second worst in the United States, following the Monongah disaster.

Do you have any family who worked in the coal mines? Tell us about them! Or learn more about the mining disasters of December 1907—or of any period of American history—on Newspapers.com.

How Many Ways Can You Cook a Turkey?

Newspapers.com News, Finds and Tips

Turkey timetables
How many ways can you cook a turkey? Quite a few, judging from the number of recipes found on Newspapers.com! If you’re looking for a new way to cook your Thanksgiving turkey this year, look no further than your Newspapers.com search results to find turkey recipes from over the decades and across the country. Below is a selection of recipes to get you started, though these are just the tip of the iceberg:

And need some help with carving that turkey? Or want to know how to deep-fry your turkey safely? Or curious how long you should thaw your turkey? Newspapers.com can help you with that too:

Not only can you find recipes for how to cook your turkey on Thanksgiving, you can also find recipes for your turkey leftovers:

And these are just the turkey recipes! We haven’t even gotten into all the Thanksgiving side dish and dessert recipes you can find on Newspapers.com. So if you’re cooking Thanksgiving dinner this year, take a look at some of the many recipes and tips you can find by searching Newspapers.com!

The Palm Beach Post

Content Update

Do you have ancestors from Florida? Check out the Palm Beach Post on Newspapers.com! With a Newspapers.com Basic subscription, you can see issues of the Palm Beach Post from 1916 through 1922; or, with a Publisher Extra subscription, access those early years and additional issues from 1922 to 2016.

Florida’s Palm Beach Post first began publishing in 1908 under the name Palm Beach County, but in 1916 (by this time called the Palm Beach Post) the paper made the switch from running weekly issues to being a morning daily.
As the self-proclaimed official paper of the city of West Palm Beach and Palm Beach County, the Post ran many interesting articles, editorials, and cartoons over the years, reporting on issues and events that were important to the county’s residents.

For example, in September 1928, the Palm Beach Post covered the Okeechobee hurricane, which made landfall not far from West Palm Beach. While the hurricane itself was deadly and caused much damage, also extremely threatening was the storm surge caused by Lake Okeechobee overflowing its dike, which resulted in flooding over hundreds of square miles—up to 20 feet high in some places. Altogether, the storm caused more than 4,000 deaths. A few days after the hurricane, the Post reported on a family who survived because their house had floated in the floodwaters. The wife is recorded as saying, “The wind seemed to change and I stepped off the porch and immediately disappeared in water over my head. […] Our house was afloat, it floated for more than half a mile.”

City okays circus parade, 1938

Another item of local interest ran in October 1938, when the paper followed the local upset surrounding a canceled circus parade. A circus had come to town, and there was much discussion about whether the circus would be able to parade its animals through town as part of the show. When the city decided last minute to allow the parade, excitement was high; but disappointingly for the local kids, the circus decided not to hold a parade, as it would conflict with the afternoon performance. The Post ran an editorial the following day that piled on the guilt, remarking, “Sometime the guy who gave the order to cancel the circus parade yesterday will remember a crying kid along the curb, and he’ll wonder if the money he saved was worth it.”

If you have family or ancestors from the Palm Beach area, you might find them in the Post in “personal mention” columns, news of local WWII servicemen, engagement announcements, death and burial notices, birth announcements, society and club news, court records, school honor rolls, or maybe even lists of candidates running for local office—just to name a few!

Get started searching or browsing the Palm Beach Post on Newspapers.com!

The Great Diamond Hoax Is Revealed: November 25, 1872

The Great Diamond Hoax Is Revealed: November 25, 1872

Headlines about the Diamond Hoax
On November 25, 1872, one of the greatest hoaxes of the day was revealed when it was discovered that some of the biggest names in business had been conned into investing in a fake diamond field by two Kentucky swindlers.

Following the gold rush of 1849 and silver rush of the Comstock Lode in 1859, it seemed like the American West held endless possibilities for wealth. So when two Kentucky prospectors showed up at a bank in San Francisco in 1871 with a bag full of uncut diamonds, news of the gems quickly leaked to the founder of the bank, William C. Ralston. The two prospectors, Philip Arnold and John Slack, were tracked down, and eventually they were persuaded to divulge that they had found a major diamond field, loaded with a variety of gems in such abundance that they could practically be plucked off the ground. Ralston alerted some of his business associates, and after the two prospectors reported they had returned to the diamond field and found even more stones, Ralston and his associates decided to try to buy the two men out.

But what Ralston didn’t know was that Arnold and Slack were con men. The bags of diamonds they presented were actually ones of inferior quality that they had acquired, and as soon as they got money from Ralston, they used that money to secretly travel to London and buy more inferior uncut diamonds (along with some rubies, emeralds, and sapphires for good measure).

Nov 26 headlines about the diamond fraud

Under the pretense of going to their “diamond field” along the Colorado-Wyoming border (though some newspapers would report it as being in Arizona) to find more gems for the businessmen, Arnold and Slack actually went there to salt their diamond field. When Arnold and Slack returned with the gems they had “found,” the businessmen took a sample to famous diamond expert Charles Lewis Tiffany in New York for authentication. However, neither Tiffany nor his lapidary had experience with uncut stones, so they mistakenly valued the gems at far more than they were actually worth.

With luck still on his side, Arnold got more money from the businessmen and once again secretly traveled to Europe to buy more low-quality uncut gems to further salt the so-called diamond field. Arnold and Slack’s luck continued, because when the businessmen hired an expert mining engineer—Henry Janin—to travel to the diamond field to authenticate it, Janin somehow concluded that the diamond field was real. Deciding it was time to leave before the scheme collapsed, Arnold and Slack sold off the rest of their interest in the diamond field (netting an estimated $8-10 million in today’s money).

News of the rich diamond fields hits the newspapers
The hoax was finally discovered when Janin happened to meet government geologist Clarence King on a train. King decided to take a look at the diamond field himself, and not long after he arrived he and his team began noticing suspicious things about the site, like diamonds and other gems being found in places and groupings where they wouldn’t naturally occur.

King immediately informed Ralston and the other investors about the fraud, and news of the swindle broke in San Francisco newspapers on November 25, 1872, revealing that many high-profile figures from both coasts had been duped. When Arnold was eventually tracked down back home in Kentucky, he settled out of court and ended up only having to pay back a fraction of the money he had earned from the con. Slack was never found.

Want to learn more about the Great Diamond Hoax of 1872? Start a search on Newspapers.com!

Find: Three Controversial Elections in American History

Newspapers.com News, Finds and Tips

Anti-Hayes inauguration headlines
2016 is far from the first time America has experienced a contentious election. With Newspapers.com, you can learn all about the controversies of elections past from historical articles written by the people who had to vote in them. Let’s take a look at three of the most sensational elections in American history:

1800

The election of 1800 created so much drama that it resulted in a Constitutional amendment. Under the original system, each person in the Electoral College got two votes: the candidate who got the most votes (as long as it was a majority) became president, and the person in second place would become vice president, whether or not the two were from the same party. In 1800, Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr (both of the Democratic-Republican Party) tied at 73 votes in the Electoral College. The election went to the House of Representatives for a decision, and Alexander Hamilton (former secretary of the treasury) convinced his fellow Federalists to vote for Jefferson. Although Hamilton disliked Jefferson, he disliked Burr more. Burr would eventually kill Hamilton in a duel a few years later.

1824

The election of 1824 likewise had to go to the House of Representatives for a decision. All four candidates were Democratic-Republicans: war-hero Andrew Jackson, Secretary of State John Quincy Adams, Secretary of the Treasury William Crawford, and House Speaker Henry Clay. Although Jackson won the popular vote, he only won a plurality of Electoral College votes (rather than a majority), so it was up to the House of Representatives to decide the election. Henry Clay (who got the least electoral votes and was thus no longer under consideration for president) got his supporters to switch to Adams, making Adams president instead of Jackson. Adams, in turn, made Clay his secretary of state in what Jackson called a “corrupt bargain.”

1876

The election of 1876 was perhaps the most contested of the three elections. It pitted Republican Rutherford B. Hayes against Democrat Henry Tilden. Tilden won the popular vote but was one electoral vote short of a majority, with 20 electoral votes yet to be tallied due to various controversies. Congress appointed a commission to award the remaining votes, and all 20 were given to Hayes, which gave him the majority. When Democrats threatened to contest the results, the matter was settled with a behind-the-scenes agreement that made Hayes president but essentially ended Reconstruction in the South.

Learn more about elections throughout America’s history by searching or browsing 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.
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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!