The Start of Civil War

On this day in 1861, the tension that had been building for years between the Union and the recently seceded Confederacy broke into Civil War.

Civil War start, The Liberator, Boston MA April 12, 1861 part 1

War begins

The war continued for four long years, during which hundreds of thousands of soldiers were killed on both sides.

Find more headlines from the years of the Civil War with a search on Newspapers.com or browse the collection of papers.

Tip: Where to Look for Your Ancestors in the Newspaper

Newspapers can be a treasure trove of information about your ancestors. Unlike government records, which are often limited to forms, newspapers can typically include a wide variety of different types of information about the people who live in the towns and cities they serve. Newspapers often go beyond the facts to tell the stories about people’s lives.

If you’re just starting out looking for an ancestor in the newspaper, a common place to begin is with birth, marriage, and death announcements. Although the amount of information provided can vary widely, details you might find in these announcements include:

  • Birth Announcements: baby’s name, birth date, gender, place of birth, parents’ names, family religion, grandparents’ names, mother’s maiden name, sibling names, photos

  • Engagement/Wedding Announcements: wedding date and place, bride’s and groom’s names, parents’ names, family religion, members of the wedding party, guest list, name of minister, where the couple plans to live, description of bride’s dress, details of ceremony/reception/shower, photos

  • Obituaries and Death Notices: death date and place, birth date and place, occupation/interests, military service, past places of residence, notable accomplishments, name and place of residence of close family, mortuary/cemetery, burial date, cause of death, photos

However, births, marriages, and deaths are just the beginning of the places in the newspaper where you might find your ancestors. The possibilities are nearly endless, but some sections in which you may want to look for your family include:

  • Advertisements (business ads, personal ads)
  • Church activities, news, and events
  • Court dockets/jury lists
  • Disaster victim lists
  • Entertainment sections (local theater and performances, school/church productions)
  • Gossip columns
  • Land/home/farm sales
  • Legal notices (divorces, probate, dissolution of business partnerships, sheriffs’ sales, delinquent tax lists, lawsuits, civil and criminal trials, foreclosures, estate settlements, bankruptcies, public sales/auctions)
  • Letters to the editor
  • Local election news/political events
  • Military service information (enlistment, draft, injury/death, letters home)
  • News stories (accidents/wrecks, disasters, crimes)
  • Passenger lists (trains, ships)
  • Personal notices
  • Police blotters
  • School news (honor roll, graduates, teachers)
  • Social news and events (parties, club meetings, out-of-town visitors, hotel guests, community events, contests, holiday celebrations, vacations, fraternal organizations, reunions, anniversaries, memorials)
  • Sports news (local teams, school sports, community leagues)
  • Unclaimed letters lists

Get started looking for your ancestor’s by searching or browsing on Newspapers.com!

Hammerin’ Hank’s 715th Home Run

Hank Aaron 715

The above clipping describes Hank Aaron’s record-making moment on this day in 1974. After finishing the previous season only one home run shy of making history, the victory was truly one for the books.

The months leading up to that historic swing were pretty rough for Aaron. Expectations were high and fans were waiting to see Aaron take the record that had been held by Babe Ruth for nearly 40 years.

Al Downing pitched

Pre-715 messages

He certainly had his share of haters. A large portion of the incredible amount of mail Hank Aaron received included death threats and general vitriol. The racism and hatred toward him was so strong and so persistent that Aaron himself feared he might be killed before the 1974 season ever came around.

Peanuts writer Charles Schulz addressed the hate mail in a string of his August 1973 comic strips, in which Snoopy is also attempting to break the home run record and receives similar reactions.

From August 10, 1973:

Peanuts Comic Mirrors Aaron's Hate Mail Experience

And August 11:
Peanuts' quiet criticism over Hank Aaron hate mail

But, detractors notwithstanding, Aaron won the day in the Braves’ home turf of Atlanta to roaring applause and a standing ovation.
Aaron Hits 715th

Aaron went on to hit another 40 home runs during his career, retiring with a total of 755. He held the record for most home runs until it was broken by Barry Bonds in August 2007.

Find more about Hank Aaron’s world-record moment, Babe Ruth, other news-worthy moments in baseball history or a topic of interest to you with a search on Newspapers.com.

First Oklahoma Land Rush: April 22, 1889

Oklahoma land rush begins In March, President Benjamin Harrison had announced that land in Indian Territory called the Oklahoma District (land obtained from the Creek and Seminole that wasn’t currently assigned to a tribe) would shortly be opened up to non-Native American settlers. This move came after years of eager homesteaders known as “boomers” trying to illegally settle the land; they were repeatedly removed by federal troops, but eventually the pressure on Washington from boomers, western congressmen, and railroads proved strong enough for the government to agree to allow non-Native American settlers to stake claims in the Oklahoma District.

So on April 22, roughly 50,000 prospective settlers (though some estimates range as high as 100,000) gathered at the borders of the Oklahoma District, waiting for the signal—a gunshot in most places—to begin their race to claim land. At noon the signal was given, and the men (and a few women) moved on foot, on horseback, by wagon, and by train to try to get to the best spots of land first.

While some of these settlers staked out potential farms, others raced to the site of future towns to claim lots for businesses. The chaos led to some pieces of land being claimed by more than one person, or to claims that overlapped. The settlers were also frustrated to find that some of the best land and lots had already been claimed by “sooners,” people who had snuck in illegally beforehand to strike their claims early.

In a single day, almost 2 million acres of land were claimed. The city of Guthrie went from a population of zero to 15,000 on that day, and Oklahoma City similarly went from nonexistent to 10,000 inhabitants.

The land rush of 1889 was just the beginning of a series of land rushes that opened up most of Oklahoma to non-Native American settlement, with the largest occurring in 1893. Through the Dawes Act and other government actions during this time period, the Native American tribes in the region lost approximately two-thirds of the land the government had previously given them.

Learn more about the land rush of 1889 by searching Newspapers.com.

Voila! The Eiffel Tower

Happy debut day to the Eiffel Tower, which opened on this day in 1889 at the world exhibition in Paris. Though the concept of the tower was initially met with skepticism and dislike, it came to be seen (by most) as a wrought-iron wonder and a masterpiece of architecture.

The Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower Debut

Eiffel

Gustave Eiffel

For forty years the tower stood as the world’s tallest man-made structure, only losing the title in 1930 to New York’s Chrysler Building. Today, of course, this iconic structure is one of the most instantly recognizable landmarks in the world—a symbol of the city in which it stands.
The Eiffel TowerFind more on the opening of the Eiffel Tower and the Paris exhibition as a whole with a search on Newspapers.com, or search or browse for a topic or person of interest to you.

U.S. Troops Withdraw from Vietnam

On this day in 1973, U.S. troops officially withdraw from South Vietnam and the remaining U.S. prisoners of war are freed. While the war continued violently on between North and South Vietnam, the departure of American forces marked the end of U.S. history’s longest and most unpopular foreign war.

Check out the headlines below:

US Ends 12-year Direct Military Role in Vietnam

Last U.S. troops leave Vietnam today

Headlines from March 29 (1973)

May not end the war

Last GIs Fly out of Saigon

Many more headlines and articles like this can be found with a search on Newspapers.com. Or, search or browse Newspapers.com‘s pages for a topic of personal interest to you.

Spring is Here!

Spring has officially sprung, according to the calendar. Warmth and regrowth are generally a very welcome sight following wintertime, and many newspapers from around this date in any year have articles to prove it.

SpringNot everyone is especially thrilled by spring-themed writing assignments. This writer for the Daily Republican (Pennsylvania, 1939), with his First Day of Spring story about how he didn’t want to write a First Day of Spring story, is just one example (click through for an larger version on Newspapers.com):
Not everyone thrilled by Spring writing assignmentsFortunately, there are always willing children. The clippings below are just a few of the responses to a writing prompt about what to do on that “first great day of spring,” found in the Press and Sun-Bulletin, 1993.

Lisa Collins had a full schedule planned:

A solid planSarah Holmes had her priorities well in order:

Alligators are a spring necessityAnd how sweet is Sarah Von Esch’s response?

How sweet is this?Find more first day of spring articles and clippings with a search on Newspapers.com, and Happy Spring!

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The Courier-Journal

Do you have ancestors from Kentucky? Then check out the Courier-Journal on Newspapers.com!

Sample The Courier-Journal front page The Courier-Journal was created in 1868 by the merger of two Louisville papers: the Daily Journal (founded in 1830) and the Daily Courier (founded in 1844 as the Morning Courier). Before their merger, the Daily Journal and the Daily Courier were at odds with each other politically, particularly during the Civil War when the Journal was anti-slavery and the Courier supported the Confederacy. The first edition of the combined Courier-Journal was published on November 8, 1868.

The paper temporarily ended up on rocky ground in the late 1890s due to its vocal opposition to the Democratic presidential candidate, William Jennings Bryan. When the historically Democrat Kentucky voted Republican in the 1896 election, local Democratic leaders blamed the Courier-Journal, and the paper lost advertisers and readers.

As the paper moved into the 20th century, it gained a reputation for supporting progressive causes, producing quality journalism, and standing by its sometimes unpopular convictions. The paper increased its coverage by setting up news bureaus throughout Kentucky while also emphasizing national and international news. It currently has been awarded 10 Pulitzer Prizes, the first in 1918 and the most recent in 2005.

As the main newspaper in Louisville and an important paper in the region, the Courier-Journal documented the city’s memorable moments, such as the first Kentucky Derby in 1875, the 1890 and 1974 F4 tornadoes, and the Great Flood of 1937.

If you have ancestors or other family members from the Louisville region, try looking for them in the Courier-Journal. The Sunday social pages of the paper are an especially good place to look for mentions and photos of locals. The paper also has the typical lists of births, marriages, deaths, divorces, and more.

With a Newspapers.com Basic subscription, you can view issues of the Courier-Journal from 1830 to 1922; or, with a Publisher Extra subscription, access those early years as well as issues between 1923 and 2016.

Get started searching or browsing the Courier-Journal on Newspapers.com.

Why the Shamrock?

St. Patrick’s Day has arrived again, and with it comes an assortment of traditions. Green clothes, corned beef and cabbage and shamrocks are the order of the day. So what’s the deal with the shamrocks, anyway? Check out the clippings below for the story of this little leaf and why it is spotlighted this day each year:

The use of the Shamrock

Excerpt from a poem about St. Patrick's non-IrishnessDid you know shamrocks are said to have magical abilities? Just for fun, here’s a little clipping on just a few of the mystical properties of the shamrock:

The magical powers of the ShamrockAnd lastly, if you’re looking for something to do today, maybe give this festive shamrock puzzle a try? (Clues found here.)

Shamrock PuzzleHappy St. Patrick’s Day! Find more St. Patrick, shamrock, and green related articles with a search on Newspapers.com.

Have any St. Patrick’s Day traditions? Share them below!

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What Can You Learn from Classified Ads?

Today, a wide range of online resources are available to people looking to find items for sale or to sell items themselves—from Craigslist to Facebook and beyond. But up until about twenty years ago, they usually turned to one place: their local newspaper classifieds. Newspaper classifieds provided a centralized location for individuals to make transactions: buyers could buy, sellers could sell, job seekers could find employment, and employers could find employees.

Livestock not allowed in the streets; Australia 1859When we read classified ads in newspapers from decades and centuries past, it gives us a glimpse into what life was like in other times. For instance, one city government ad in a classified section of an 1859 Australian newspaper paints a picture of what the streets of Melbourne must have been like at that time when it notifies its readers that “all Cows, Pigs, or Goats found Straying on any of the streets of the city after Wednesday next […] will be impounded.”

Similarly, the plethora of ads in a Philadelphia paper in 1784 offering rewards for runaway indentured servants hints at the prevalence of this type of labor in the city at the time. One such ad offers a reward for a runaway “Irish servant woman, named Sarah Welsh,” described as being “of a swarthy complexion, dark brown hair, mixed with grey, pitted a little with the smallpox, has a reserved dark look, and a remarkable protuberance or lump on her windpipe.”

Classified ads can also teach us about social attitudes of the time, through the types of employees requested in job ads. Job ads were historically quite specific in the gender, race, or religion requirements for potential employees. For example one job ad in 1867 New York paper requested a “girl, Protestant preferred, to do general housework,” while another ad in the same issue asked for “a colored woman to do housework,” and yet another from that issue stipulated “an American boy, one that is strong and not afraid to work.”

If you’re curious about what life was like in the town or city an ancestor lived in, try looking through the local paper’s classified ads to gain interesting insights. Who knows? You might even find a relative’s name in one of the ads!

Get started reading the classifieds on Newspapers.com!