5 Astonishing Cats That Were Famous 100 Years Ago!

Viral cat videos and memes aren’t the only things that create feline celebrities. In the winter of 1920–21, the Boston Post spotlighted more than 30 cats in what it called its “Famous Cats of New England” series.

While some of these cats were more famous than others, all the felines came with interesting life stories—from prowling the halls of state government to sailing on a Navy ship during wartime.

Here are our favorite 5 cats from the series, found on Newspapers.comTM.

1. Hindy, the Post’s cat

Tue, Dec 7, 1920 – Page 24 · Boston Post (Boston, Massachusetts) · Newspapers.com


The Boston Post justifiably began its series with its own office cat, Von Hindenburg. Nicknamed “Hindy,” the feisty cat was a regular feature in the Post’s pages between 1918 and 1923.

From the article:

“He is known by name to millions, while hundreds every week recognize him on the street as the famous Post cat. He receives mail regularly from admirers and detractors. Von Hindenburg is a New England institution.” READ MORE.

2. Mike, Governor Coolidge’s cat at the State House.

Wed, Dec 8, 1920 – Page 7 · Boston Post (Boston, Massachusetts) · Newspapers.com


Mike was a rescue kitten that started off in the boiler room of the Massachusetts State House but soon had the run of the whole building. He even laid claim to Governor (and future U.S. president) Calvin Coolidge’s chair. When a sergeant-at-arms attempted to eject Mike from the State House, one of the cat’s loyal supporters made such a strong argument that Mike got to stay.

From the article:

“Word reached the library [that Mike had to leave the State House]. Down came the librarian in fury. The State House simply could not get along without Mike. Since his arrival not a single book has had to be rebound. No rat or mouse lived long enough to set tooth in the precious tomes that contained the State’s records. Mike had seen to that. Previously hundreds of dollars had to be spent in repairing books. So Mike stayed.” READ MORE.

3. Napoleon, at Angell Memorial Hospital

Tue, Dec 14, 1920 – Page 9 · Boston Post (Boston, Massachusetts) · Newspapers.com


Napoleon was the resident cat at a local pet hospital and was known for visiting the animal patients.

From the article:

“Whether it be a horse, dog, cat, monkey, parrot or squirrel that is ill matters little to the charitable Napoleon. With equal impartiality he visits them all. […] Through every ward he goes; has particular cats and kittens with whom he stays longer times than others. Black ones seem to be his favorites. Hours at a time he sits beside Inky, a little black kitten laid up with a strained shoulder.” READ MORE.

4. Squeak, the typical fireside sphinx

Wed, Dec 22, 1920 – Page 9 · Boston Post (Boston, Massachusetts) · Newspapers.com


While less famous than the previous 3 cats we’ve mentioned, Squeak went down in Lake Boon history one summer when his refusal to be left behind prompted some decidedly uncatlike behavior.

From the article:

“It was [the family dog] Michael’s custom to swim after the canoe whenever Mrs. Hayward paddled out across the lake. Squeak followed only to the shore and stood there looking wistfully out to sea—decidedly out of it. Paddling as usual one morning, Mrs. Hayward looked back to assure herself that Michael was coming along in safety when she descried a smaller series of ripples emanating from a small dark object that was battling manfully with the current. Backing until she was closer Mrs. Hayward recognized Squeak, and at the peril of capsizing pulled the valiant little cat into the canoe, where it rested perfectly satisfied with having gone Michael one better.”  READ MORE.

5. Kiltie, who went through three submarine zones

Wed, Jan 5, 1921 – Page 9 · Boston Post (Boston, Massachusetts) · Newspapers.com


Born in Scotland, Kiltie was adopted as a kitten by an American sailor during World War I. He was taken aboard the USS Ozama (a naval mine carrier) and crossed three submarine zones on his trans-Atlantic journey.

From the article:

“Adventure with a big “A” began for the six-day-old kitten from that day. He went through three submarine zones safely. He won the undying devotion of every gob [sailor] on board. Supplies were low and Kiltie remembers well the night when he heard there were only three cans of condensed milk aboard, and that it was to be no plain gob bill of fare, but was to be reserved for the little Scotch kitten.” READ MORE.

Want to read more of the “Famous Cats of New England” series? Search on Newspapers.com!

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February 8, 1968: Orangeburg Massacre

On February 8, 1968, police opened fire on a group of unarmed Black student protestors on the South Carolina State University campus. The students were protesting segregation at a local business. When the smoke cleared, three students were dead and 27 wounded. Nine officers were charged with excessive force and later acquitted as the Governor called the killings, “One of the saddest days in the history of South Carolina.”  

The violence was the culmination of events that began earlier that week when Black students organized a protest at the nearby All-Star Bowling Lanes on Monday, February 5th. Some 200 students gathered to protest the establishment’s policy of segregating black and white patrons. Harry F. Floyd, the operator of the bowling alley, appealed to the City Council. He asserted that his private business did not fall under civil rights laws.  

The next two evenings brought more protests, escalating tensions, and some arrests. National Guard troops were called in as protestors threw rocks and bricks at passing automobiles, including police cars. There were reports of broken windows, shots fired, and injuries. The bowling alley closed down, and rumors that protestors were burning buildings circulated throughout the community.  

By the evening of the 8th, Orangeburg was a tinderbox. Once again, Black students gathered on the campus of South Carolina State University. Angry protestors, many of whom had been beaten by police in the previous days, started a bonfire on campus. Firefighters arrived to douse the flames, and highway patrolmen moved in to protect the fireman. Students responded by throwing sticks and rocks at the highway patrolmen. One protestor grabbed a heavy piece of a wooden banister, taken from a nearby unoccupied house, and threw it at the police. It hit an officer in the head, who fell to the ground injured and bleeding. Fellow officers feared he’d been shot, prompting one to fire a warning shot into the air. Hearing the noise, the other highway patrolmen thought they were being fired upon and began shooting into the crowd. Some students were hit in the back as they tried to flee. Henry Smith, Samuel Hammond, and Delano Middleton were killed and at least 27 others wounded. Cleveland Sellers was among the injured. He was an activist and state coordinator for the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee. The police considered him dangerous, and he was arrested and convicted of inciting a riot.

The killings came to be known as the Orangeburg Massacre, and Governor Robert E. McNair called it, “One of the saddest days in the history of South Carolina.” Prosecutors leveled charges of excessive force against nine officers, all of whom were acquitted. Meanwhile, Cleveland Sellers was sent to prison but later pardoned. The government charged the owners of the bowling alley that triggered the massacre with an anti-discrimination suit.

To learn more about the Orangeburg Massacre, start searching Newspapers.com today.

Interested in other posts related to the Civil Rights Movement? Try one of these:

Greensboro Sit-In Protests

The Life of Martin Luther King, Jr.

The March on Washington  

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New Papers from Pennsylvania and Wisconsin!

We are starting 2021 with a bang! We’ve already added nearly three million new pages to our archives! In addition to new content from Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, we’ve added papers from Missouri, California, and almost one million new pages to our Nebraska archives! It’s a great time to dive in and make new personal discoveries!

Ellwood City Ledger: Ellwood City is located in Western Pennsylvania, primarily in Lawrence County, with a small portion in Beaver County. The city was named after Isaac Ellwood, one of the inventors of barbed wire. The Ellwood City Ledger dates back to 1921 and joins The Ellwood Citizen and The Evening Ledger providing news from Ellwood City that dates back to 1894. The Ellwood City Ledger chronicles light-hearted tidbits in history – like the time city officials confiscated an illegal still during Prohibition and locked it up in the Municipal jail. The paper also covered more somber news, like when the first local soldier from Ellwood City died during WWII. Ellwood City is near the Ohio border, so if you have ancestors from Ohio cities like Youngstown, or nearby Pennsylvania towns like Butler or Washington, you may find them mentioned in this paper. You’ll also find articles about some of the families that helped settle this area. Birth, death, and marriage announcements, anniversary celebrations, birthday announcements, and family reunions also provide wonderful content for genealogical research.

Portage Daily Register: Portage is located in the Wisconsin River Valley between the Fox and Wisconsin Rivers. The Daily Register was the first daily paper in Portage and began publication in 1886. The paper reported on the people and industries that helped fuel growth in this town. One example is the local brickyards that produced distinctive Portage yellow brick. In the 1800s, settlers discovered that the white clay lying beneath the area’s river sands proved particularly well suited for making strong bricks. Several brickyards opened, and brickmaking helped Portage become an important commercial and trading center. Many homes and businesses are built from this brick, including homes in an area known as the Society Hill Historic District. This district, with its elegant, historic mansions, reflects the life of Portage’s elite. If you have ancestors from Portage, the Daily Register reported on national and world news but is particularly rich in local detail. You will find stories on those that were sick, visiting town, births, deaths, or changes in local business – like when a new store opened or another closed.

Check out these and other new papers on Newspapers.com today!

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5 Ways to Learn about Ancestors You Can’t Find in the Newspaper

Mon, May 9, 1904 – 1 · The Boston Globe (Boston, Massachusetts) · Newspapers.com


Finding an ancestor mentioned by name in a newspaper can feel like hitting the family history jackpot. We even have a blog post with strategies for doing so.

READ MORE: Top strategies for finding your ancestor by name in the newspaper

But it’s not possible to find all our ancestors this way, either because the right newspaper hasn’t been digitized yet or because the person was never mentioned in a newspaper in the first place.

Even if you can’t find your ancestor by name, you can still use newspapers to learn about their lives. So we’ve compiled 5 ways newspapers can help you discover more about the ancestors you can’t find mentioned.

1. Learn about the area in which your ancestor lived by browsing their local newspaper.

Learning about the time and place in which your ancestors lived can tell you a lot about what their lives may have been like. Newspapers are perfect for this kind of research, since they serve as a kind of time capsule of the past. So take time to look through your ancestor’s local newspaper to find out what life was like in the neighborhood, city, or state they lived in.

Sun, Oct 15, 1922 – 21 · The Honolulu Advertiser (Honolulu, Hawaii) · Newspapers.com


On Newspapers.com, an easy way to find your ancestor’s local newspaper is by going to the Papers page and searching for the city they lived in. If we don’t currently have papers from that location, try using our newspaper Map to locate the nearest paper.

Once you’ve found the newspaper you want to use, pick some issues of the paper to look at. We recommend you pick a few issues from a variety of years in your ancestor’s life. (You could even pick significant dates in their lives, such as the day they were born, started school, got married, passed away, and so on.) The more issues you look at, the more detailed your understanding will be. But if you feel overwhelmed, start by looking at just one.

Browse through national and local news stories, ads, articles about the economy, the entertainment and leisure sections, war news, transportation schedules, and more to learn about the context of your ancestor’s life. From photos, to weather reports, to letters to the editor—practically every part of the newspaper can help you envision what the city was like when your ancestor lived there.

Thu, Dec 7, 1922 – 2 · La Prensa (San Antonio, Texas) · Newspapers.com


You might be surprised at how much you can learn about an ancestor’s life from seemingly unimportant newspaper sections. A local grocery ad, for example, could tell you which foods your ancestor may have eaten based on availability and affordability.

READ MORE: Discover more newspaper sections that can teach you about your ancestors

2. Explore newspapers specific to your ancestor’s social demographics.

If your ancestor belonged to a particular religion, race, ethnicity, or other social demographic, try browsing newspapers published during their lifetime that served that community. These might include Jewish or Catholic newspapers, Black papers, or Spanish- or German-language papers—just to name a few.

Newspapers that served a specific social demographic often reported on news and issues that were left out of mainstream papers. Reading these community-specific papers can give you an entirely different perspective on what your ancestor may have experienced.

Sat, Mar 22, 1919 – Page 1 · The Kansas City Sun (Kansas City, Missouri) · Newspapers.com


Some of these papers focused primarily on local happenings, but others were national in scope. For instance, the Pittsburgh Courier and Kansas City Sun, two historically Black papers, published news about Black Americans from all over the United States, not just Pittsburgh or Kansas City.

3. Read newspaper accounts of people in circumstances similar to your ancestor’s. 

Another approach is to look for newspaper accounts of people whose life circumstances were similar to your ancestor’s.

For example, did your ancestor immigrate through Ellis Island or Angel Island? Newspapers have numerous firsthand accounts of such journeys. Were your family members farmers in Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl? Newspapers extensively covered what life was like during that time. Did you have an ancestor who worked for women’s suffrage? Newspapers can tell you what that movement was like on a local, state, and national level. Did one of your family members fight in World War II? Newspapers can help you better understand wartime experiences through photos, letters, articles, and more.

READ MORE: How to find your WWII soldier’s story in newspapers

4. Look for newspaper photos.

Even if the photo isn’t of your ancestors, newspaper photos from their lifetime can help you picture them and the area they lived in. Newspaper photos (or illustrations if it was before the photo age) can help answer questions like: What were people wearing? What were the hairstyles? What did the town or city itself look like? What did local businesses, factories, and farms look like? How did a natural disaster affect the city? How did residents celebrate holidays? And much more!

Thu, Feb 5, 1925 – Page 37 · St. Louis Post-Dispatch (St. Louis, Missouri) · Newspapers.com


5. Set a search alert.

Even with the above tips, we know that you’re probably still hoping to find your ancestor mentioned by name in the newspaper. So we recommend setting a search alert on Newspapers.com so you’ll be automatically informed by email when we add a newspaper page that has results that match criteria you specify. To do this, simply set up the search you want (for example, “John Doe” in Kansas newspapers), then select the +Alert button on the search results page.

Location of the +Alert button
Location of the +Alert button

Good Luck!

We hope you find these ideas helpful! Even if you’re lucky enough to have already found your ancestor mentioned by name in the newspaper, the journey doesn’t have to stop there. Newspapers can help you piece together the stories that create a more detailed picture of your ancestor’s life! 

Start researching your ancestors on Newspapers.com! And follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more helpful tips and historical content like this!

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January 15, 1919: The Great Molasses Flood

Does the scent of molasses linger in your home long after the holidays? The Great Molasses Flood of 1919 left residents from one city claiming they could smell molasses for decades. On January 15, 1919, a giant tank holding 2.3 million gallons of molasses burst open in Boston’s North End neighborhood. It flooded the streets creating a 15-foot wave of molasses that carved a path of destruction. The sticky quagmire killed 21 people and injured 150, paving the way for more stringent safety standards across the country.

During WWI, molasses was distilled into industrial alcohol and used to produce military explosives. The Purity Distilling Company set up shop in the densely populated North End neighborhood in Boston. The area was home to many immigrants, and the company encountered little opposition when they constructed a 50-foot tall, 90-foot diameter molasses tank, just three feet from the street in 1915.

Days before the deadly explosion, a ship delivered a fresh load of warm molasses. It was mixed with cold molasses already in the tank, causing gasses to form. With the tank filled to near-capacity, a later structural engineering analysis revealed that the walls were too thin to support the weight, and there was too much stress on the rivet holes.  

Around 12:30 p.m. on January 15, 1919, workers stopped for lunch and a group of firefighters in a nearby firehouse sat down for a game of cards. Suddenly firefighters heard a strange staccato sound. It was the rivets on the molasses tank popping off. Other witnesses described a low rumbling sound. Before anyone could react, the tank of molasses burst, sending a rush of air that hurled people off their feet. A tsunami of sticky syrup poured over bystanders and horses, and knocked buildings off their foundations. The resulting river of molasses ran through streets and passageways, filling cellars and basements. A one-ton piece of steel from the vat flew into a trestle of elevated railroad tracks, causing the tracks to buckle.

First responders rushed to help but were slowed down by knee-deep sticky molasses that had become thicker in the cold air. They labored to find survivors and recover the dead. Initially, there were concerns that the bursting tank was caused by sabotage or an outside explosion (a claim that Purity Distilling Company clung to). Officials later determined that faulty tank construction was the cause. Workers spent months cleaning the molasses mess by sprinkling sand and hosing down the streets with saltwater.

The tragedy led to many lawsuits and more than 100 damage awards. It also spurred changes in building codes with more stringent building regulations, first in Boston, then in Massachusetts, and then across the country.

If you would like to learn more about the Great Molasses Food, search Newspapers.com today!

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8 Delicious Holiday Dishes to Try This December

Looking for some vintage recipes to try this holiday season? We searched the historical papers on Newspapers.com to find these 8 recipes for delicious December dishes!

(Click on any of the recipes below to see a larger version on our site.)

1. Biscochitos (from 1967)

Biscochitos (or bizcochitos) are anise-flavored cookies from New Mexico that are popular during Christmas.

Recipe: Bizcochitos (1967)Recipe: Bizcochitos (1967) Tue, Nov 28, 1967 – Page 14 · Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, New Mexico) · Newspapers.com


2. Cheese Blintzes (from 1959)

Similar to a filled pancake or crepe, cheese blintzes are a part of some Hanukkah celebrations.

Recipe: Cheese blintzes (1959)Recipe: Cheese blintzes (1959) Fri, Oct 9, 1959 – Page 5 · The Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle (Milwaukee, Wisconsin) · Newspapers.com


3. Risgrynsgröt (from 1959)

Risgrynsgröt is a Swedish rice pudding eaten during the winter months, especially around Christmas.

Recipe: Risgrynsgrot (1959)Recipe: Risgrynsgrot (1959) Sat, Sep 19, 1959 – 4 · The Herald-Press (Saint Joseph, Michigan) · Newspapers.com


4. Lebkuchen (from 1934)

Lebkuchen are a traditional German Christmas spice cookie.

Recipe: Lebkuchen (1934)Recipe: Lebkuchen (1934) Fri, Feb 2, 1934 – 2 · Iron County Miner (Hurley, Wisconsin) · Newspapers.com


5. Sweet Tamales (from 1959)

Sweet tamales are a dessert made in parts of Mexico (and elsewhere), particularly at Christmastime.

Recipe: Sweet Tamales (1959)Recipe: Sweet Tamales (1959) Thu, Dec 24, 1959 – Page 6 · Arizona Republic (Phoenix, Arizona) · Newspapers.com


6. Applesauce Cake (from 1958)

Apple-based dishes and desserts are a common feature of Hanukkah meals.

Recipe: Applesauce cake (1958)Recipe: Applesauce cake (1958) Fri, Oct 3, 1958 – Page 7 · The Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle (Milwaukee, Wisconsin) · Newspapers.com


7. Christmas Pudding (from 1896)

Christmas pudding is a boiled or steamed pudding traditionally served at Christmas in the United Kingdom.

Recipe: Christmas pudding (1896)Recipe: Christmas pudding (1896) Wed, Dec 2, 1896 – 4 · The North-Eastern Daily Gazette (Middlesbrough, North Yorkshire, England) · Newspapers.com


8. Bonelos Dago (from 1966)

Bonelos dago (or Buñelos dagu) are yam-based fried donuts popular in Guam during the Christmas season and are typically eaten dipped in syrup.

Recipe: Bonelos Dago (1966)Recipe: Bonelos Dago (1966) Sun, Dec 11, 1966 – 9 · Guam Daily News (Agana Heights, Guam) · Newspapers.com


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Letters to Santa Found in the Newspapers

Nothing is more magical than seeing the holidays through the eyes of a child. For nearly 150 years, letters to Santa have appeared in newspapers. Some are sweet, some are funny, and some tug at your heartstrings. We searched our archives to share just a few examples:

Daily Press: Newport News, Virginia – 1932: “Dear Santa Claus: I am a little girl eight years old. Mother told me that I had been very good, so please bring me a bicycle, pair of shoes for dolly. Please don’t forget the oranges, nuts, apples and candy. Don’t forget my little cousins, Billy and Norman. Your little friend, Lauretta Crockett.”  

Davenport Weekly Republican: Davenport, Iowa – 1901: “My name is Ray Sindt, and don’t forget our house number; it is 1222 Gaines street corner Thirteenth, for Irene’s letter did not have it. And no date, dear Santa Claus, on it, either, then we won’t get our presents. I would like very much to have a live pony and a cart to go with it; then I can take Irene and our kittens out next summer. I would like to have a gun—but well, I’m not big enough, then I’ll take a sled and skates, and a few nuts and candy, if it is just the same to you. And if you have candy canes, Irene would like to have one, too—red and white striped ones. Please don’t forget Irene’s letter, for she felt very sad when she read it. We will hang up our stockings. Be sure and don’t forget our number this time, and don’t forget the pony. I can take good care of it. Good-bye Santa. I am 7 years old. Merry Christmas. Ray Hamilton Sindt. Don’t forget ma and grandma.”

Tampa Day Times: St. Petersburg, Florida – 1925: “My Dear Mr. Santa Claus: I take the liberty of writing you at this seemingly early date to remind you that I have changed my address from Boston Mass., to St. Petersburg, Florida, and should be quite up set, Mr. Claus if you by some error, perhaps not of your own, but of one of your many assistants, took my gifts to our old address. I hope you will not think me greedy for I am told you dislike that in all small boys, when I ask you to leave in or rather around my stocking or stocking’s a complete addition of the “Book of Knowledge,” and “in Tune With the Infinite.” My parents whom you have probably encountered in their youth have been for the past ten years connected with Harvard college, and I feel sure that they would be charmed to have you make your annual visit to us here in St. Petersburg. I will be twelve my next birthday, and while I have never mingled with other small boys my age, I am sure that I shall not feel the lack of any young companions if you accede to my request. Hoping you and Mrs. Claus are in the best of health and that you will enjoy your trip south. I remain, Horace Percy Greenapple.”

In 1992, a letter was dropped in a mailbox outside the Clallam County Courthouse in Port Angeles, Washington. The heartbreaking contents prompted a desperate search for its author, a boy named Thad. Newspapers across the country, including the Chicago Tribune, reprinted Thad’s letter. The young writer was never identified and donations, which poured in from the U.S. and Canada, were eventually turned over to the United Way. Thad’s letter read:

“Dear Santa Clas, Please help my mom and dad this Christmas. My dad is not working anymore. We don’t get many food now. My mom gives us the food she would eat. Please help my mom an dad. I want to go to Heven too be with the angels. Can you bring me to Heven? My mom an dad woud not have too by things for me no more. That would make them happy. Plese bring my dad a job an some food. I live in my house like last year. We got candils. A city man took the lights a way. It looks like we don’t live heer no more. We do. I will wate for you too come in my room. I will not slep. Wen you give my dad a job and some food too my mom I will go with you and the rain deer. Merry Christmas too you Mrs. Clas too the elfs too. Thad.”

Fortunately, most letters to Santa are filled with child-like anticipation and thoughts of toys and sweets. They also offer a historical snapshot of what was happening in America at the time. Many letters from the 1930s included a request for a Shirley Temple doll. In the 1950s children wanted a Slinky or Play-Doh, and G.I. Joe topped many lists in the 1960s.

Journal Gazette: Mattoon, Illinois – 1966: “Dear Santa—I’m a little boy, five years old, so my mother is writing this for me. I’ve been a pretty good boy all this year. I would like to find under the tree, a GI Joe space capsule and space suit, a GI Joe crash crew set, and a GI Joe flagman set. A green Beret doll. A Johhny Eagle Red River set. A Hands Down and Tip it game A table and chair set for my room. Thank you for all the presents you left me last year. There will be cookies and milk under the tree for you! Your friend Robbie Metcalf, 808 S. 9th St.”

Wouldn’t it be fun to find a letter that one of your family members wrote to Santa in our archives? To see more Letters to Santa from across the decades, search Newspapers.com today!  

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Vera Menchik, Women’s Chess Champion

“Menchik Mate” from Menchik-Thomas chess game, London 1932 Sat, Jan 30, 1988 – 62 · The Bangor Daily News (Bangor, Maine) · Newspapers.com

The name Vera Menchik is not familiar to many people. But with her rise as a brilliant chess player in the 20s and 30s, and her success in tournaments against some of the greatest masters of the game, Menchik helped pave the way for women to enter a competitive world that too often failed to welcome them.

Early Life

Vera was born in Moscow, Russia, in 1906. She began playing chess at age nine, given a chess set and an understanding of the rules by her father. When her school formed a chess club, she joined.

The Russian Revolution upended the Menchiks’ home, business, and family, and Vera moved to England with her mother and sister. There she continued her chess education with the Hastings Chess Club, and later became a student of grandmaster Géza Maróczy.

Miss Vera Menchik, New WizardMiss Vera Menchik, New Wizard Tue, Feb 15, 1927 – 9 · Republican and Herald (Pottsville, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.com

In 1927, she won the first Women’s World Championship in London. She would go on to defend that title in every championship over the next twelve years, with seventy-eight wins, four draws, and only one loss.

Vera Menchik Club

Many considered chess too intellectually rigorous for women, an opinion that continued well into the latter half of the 20th century.

Bobby Fischer quote on the stupidity of womenBobby Fischer quote on the stupidity of women Wed, Jan 5, 1977 – 17 · Public Opinion (Chambersburg, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.com

When a woman proved that unflattering sentiment wrong by doing well in competitions, not everyone took her seriously.

Menchik entered the Carlsbad chess tournament in 1929, the only female competitor. Viennese master and fellow competitor Albert Becker found the idea so laughable that he proposed the creation of the “Vera Menchik Club,” where entry would be granted to anyone defeated by Menchik. Becker became the club’s first member.

The Vera Menchik Club - The Vera Menchik Club – “Society for Losers” Thu, Mar 28, 1974 – 61 · Calgary Herald (Calgary, Alberta, Canada) · Newspapers.com

Within a decade, the club that began as a mockery had been “joined” by some of the chess world’s most notable names, including Max Euwe, Edgard Colle, Mir Sultan Khan, Jacques Mieses, Samuel Reshevsky, and Frederick Yates.

Vera Menchik in high standing in chess worldVera Menchik in high standing in chess world Sun, Jul 23, 1944 – Page 38 · The Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.com

World Champion

Women's Chess Champion, Vera Menchik, 21Women’s Chess Champion, Vera Menchik, 21 Sun, Sep 18, 1927 – 103 · The Baltimore Sun (Baltimore, Maryland) · Newspapers.com

Menchik defended her title as Women’s World Champion from 1927 until the end of her life. Sadly, that end came prematurely. At age 38, Menchik was killed by a bomb attack in London during World War II, along with her mother and sister.

Vera Menchik death announcement, 1944Vera Menchik death announcement, 1944 Fri, Jun 30, 1944 – 14 · The Gazette (Montreal, Quebec, Canada) · Newspapers.com

Menchik did not effortlessly win every game. Many times she ranked low, or even last, in the list of competitors. But she played with such skill and knowledge that she took a male-dominated world by surprise. She holds a special place in chess history as the first Women’s World Champion, an example for all who followed. Today, the Chess Olympiad’s winning women’s team is awarded the Vera Menchik Cup in her honor.

Find more clippings on Vera Menchik and other important names in chess with a search on Newspapers.com.

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December 6, 1917: The Halifax Explosion

On the morning of December 6, 1917, two ships collided in the harbor of the Canadian province of Halifax in Nova Scotia resulting in a massive explosion that ultimately killed 2,000 people and injured thousands more. The blast was the largest man-made explosion prior to the atomic age.

During WWI, the port at Halifax was a beehive of activity. Ships loaded with troops, munitions, and supplies sailed in and out of Halifax harbor to support Allied war efforts. The morning of December 6th, the French freighter Mont Blanc prepared to join a military convoy that would escort it across the Atlantic. The ship was filled with tons of highly explosive materials including TNT, gasoline, picric acid, and gun cotton.

At the same time, another ship, the Norwegian relief vessel SS Imo, left its mooring headed for the open sea, and eventually New York. In an area known as the Narrows, the two ships collided, sparking a fire on the Mont Blanc. Realizing the danger, the crew of the Mont Blanc evacuated into lifeboats and began to row furiously toward the shore. Their burning ship drifted until it eventually brushed up against a pier, setting the pier on fire.

The flames attracted curious onlookers who came down to the shore or watched the tragedy unfold from their windows. At 9:04 a.m., the flames ignited the Mont Blanc‘s cargo resulting in a massive explosion. The ship was instantly obliterated and a super-heated shock wave flattened 300 acres, including most of the north end of Halifax. The detonation also caused a tsunami to roll over the waterfront.

One survivor described a scene worse than any battlefield. “I saw people lying around under timbers, stones, and other debris; some battered beyond recognition and others groaning in their last agonies…I groped about assisting some of the poor mothers and little ones who were running about screaming and searching vainly for lost ones, in many instances never to be seen by them again.”

The explosion blew down doors and shattered windows, sending shards of glass flying. Nearly 1000 people were blinded when exploding windows turned glass slivers into projectiles as they watched the fire from their homes. The disaster led to medical innovations to treat eye injuries and resulted in the formation of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind the following year. Reconstruction of the devastated area took more than a year, but urban planners replaced the ruins with a design consisting of homes, businesses, and green space.

Investigations into the cause of the collision and subsequent explosion determined that both vessels were to blame. If you would like to learn more about the Halifax Explosion of 1917, or read more first-hand accounts, search Newspapers.com today!

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New Michigan Paper!

Do you have ancestors from Michigan or an interest in Michigan history? We’ve added the Homer Index to our archives of Michigan papers bringing the total number of digitized Michigan papers to 93! Homer is about 30 miles southeast of Battle Creek, and the Index covers news in Calhoun and Hillsdale counties.

The Index is a weekly that has been in publication since 1872 when the first issue promised an independent paper that would “further the interests of the community.” The Index reported on Homer pioneers that settled this Michigan township established in 1862. 

The Homer Index May 31, 1876

In 1876, the Index reported on the Centennial International Exhibition. It was the first World’s Fair held on the nation’s 100th birthday in Philadelphia. Some Homer locals traveled to attend the Exhibition and described pavilions filled with wonders like machines to wash clothing and dishes. The Declaration of Independence was transported back to Independence Hall for the event, and many of the nearly 10 million visitors got to see it.

In the late 1800s, the Index reported on a bird problem. Flocks of English sparrows had arrived in town, damaging crops, eating all the chicken feed, and chasing away other songbirds. The birds were introduced to the United States in the mid-1800s to eat harmful insects. They multiplied and were quickly spreading across the continent. Michigan enacted laws to get rid of the birds. Killing sparrows became a pastime for many young boys in Homer. They could bring sparrow heads to the county clerk and receive a bounty for each one. The Index reported on payouts for young men like James Lane, who brought the heads of 1200 sparrows to the clerk’s office in 1900, and received $24 (the equivalent of $750 today)!

The Homer Index September 3, 1890

In December 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, and America entered WWII. A few weeks later, Homer residents learned that one of their own died in the attack. Over the next several years, many soldiers from Homer and surrounding towns stepped up to serve. The Index published their letters home and reported on additional local casualties.

You’ll find lighter topics covered in the Index over the years. For instance, this 1951 front-page story complaining about a driver’s poor parking skills made us giggle. But you’ll also find sweet stories of neighbors helping neighbors. In 1976, a group of farmers set aside their chores to help an Eckford neighbor during a time of crisis. Carl Harris was at the hospital with his seriously ill son, but it was time to plow his 350-acre farm. Several dozen local farmers showed up to get the job done. After they finished at the Harris farm, they moved to another farm and did the same thing.

If you have ancestors from Homer, or surrounding areas like Clarendon, Albion, and Tekonsha, search the pages of the Index for things like obituaries and local news. Start searching the Index today on Newspapers.com!

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