Prohibition Ends: December 5, 1933

Prohibition Ends: December 5, 1933

On December 5, 1933, Prohibition came to an end with the repeal of the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which had outlawed the manufacture, sale, and transport of alcohol since 1920.

Utah ends prohibition for nationThe passage of the 18th Amendment had been the result of decades of work by religious and progressive groups to permanently eliminate the consumption of alcohol in the United States. Groups such as the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union and the Anti-Saloon League believed that getting rid of alcohol would remove many of society’s ills. Brewery-owned saloons, in particular, were seen by temperance and prohibition groups as the root of many evils, and these establishments were targeted by activists such as Carrie Nation, who became famous for smashing up saloons.

Finally, by late 1917, there was enough support in Congress to pass the 18th Amendment, which was ratified by the states in early 1919. Prohibition was set to go into effect in 1920, and in preparation, the National Prohibition Act (more commonly known as the Volstead Act) was passed in late 1919. Under the Volstead Act, it was illegal to manufacture, sell, or transport any beverage with an alcohol content of more than 0.5%. Exceptions were made for medical or religious needs, and it was still legal to drink in your own home and to make wine for personal use.

Though Prohibition did see an overall decline in alcohol consumption in the country, it had many unintended consequences. It was illegal to sell alcohol, but it wasn’t illegal to buy or drink it, which led to the rise of a black market alcohol industry of bootleggers and smugglers. This strengthened organized crime syndicates, who made significant amounts of money off illegal alcohol. Gang violence increased, perhaps most notoriously in Chicago, and criminals such as Al Capone became household names. With so much money to be made from black market alcohol, bribery of Prohibition agents, police, judges, and politicians was rampant.

These and other issues—such as the onset of the Great Depression—as well as the rise of powerful anti-Prohibition groups (such as the Women’s Organization for National Prohibition Reform), finally turned the tide against Prohibition. The 1932 Democratic Party platform was anti-Prohibition, and when Democratic candidate Franklin D. Roosevelt won the presidential election, anti-Prohibition forces passed the 21st Amendment in Congress. The amendment, which repealed Prohibition, was quickly ratified by the states, with Utah casting the deciding vote in favor of repeal on December 5, 1933.

Do you have any family stories about Prohibition? Share them with us! Or find more articles and other information about Prohibition by searching Newspapers.com!

The Mother of Modern Thanksgiving

Planning to fill up on turkey, mashed potatoes and—of course!—the all-important pumpkin pie tonight? Be sure to save one of your Thanksgiving “thank yous” for Sarah Josepha Hale. Hers isn’t a familiar name, but perhaps it ought to be—it’s because of her that Thanksgiving is now a regularly celebrated holiday, and a scrumptious one to boot.

Thank her for Thanksgiving

Making Thanksgiving a consistently celebrated holiday was just one of her many accomplishments. With her influential standing as editor of the quintessential magazine guide Godey’s Ladies Book, she was able to make a lot of positive change, both in her community and across the nation. And all the while she wrote dozens of books and poems, including the classic, “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” 

Sarah Hale

The many accomplishments of Sarah Josepha Hale

Lincoln is often credited (rightly) for issuing the proclamation that officially made Thanksgiving an annual federal holiday, but it was Sarah Hale’s relentless, decades-long campaign full of letters and appeals that pushed the idea from thought into reality.

Cherchez la Femme

Hale also published recipes, spreading the Thanksgiving spirit through one of the most compelling of subjects: food. It is because of her recipes that traditional Thanksgiving dishes like turkey, potatoes, and pumpkin pie are holiday staples today.

Hale's influence

Happy Thanksgiving!

Find more on Sarah Hale and Thanksgiving history with a search on Newspapers.com.

The Ice Aircraft Carrier That Almost Was

Once upon a time, in the midst of World War II, an innovative scientist named Geoffrey Pyke had an idea. It was born out of difficulties arising from what was called the “mid-Atlantic gap,” a wide stretch of ocean traveled by vulnerable UK-bound ships who were too far from the shore for the short range aircraft to protect. They needed an aircraft carrier made from something that was large, could float, and wouldn’t use up the valuable supply of metal.

Something like…ice?

Gigantic Ice Aircraft Carrier

It wasn’t just any ice, however. Pyke found that if you added wood pulp to your ordinary frozen water, it created a stronger, less melty version of the ice we all know and love. It was dubbed pykrete—a clever mix of Pyke’s name and “concrete”—and then this happened:
Ice that didn't melt
And then this happened:
The Habakkuk
Pykrete

But alas, the Habakkuk itself never happened. The idea wasn’t a bad one—it probably would have worked. But in the months it took to build a smaller scale prototype–which held up very well to testing, it should be said—the need for a mid-Atlantic gap ice aircraft melted away and the project was abandoned.

Find more on this intriguing bit of history with a search on Newspapers.com.

The Knitting Spies of War

When it comes to subterfuge, success can often be found by hiding in plain sight. Take, for example, the lady spies who, over the years, communicated secret information through their knitting. They turned knitting patterns into codes, overheard conversations as their needles clicked, dropped stitches intentionally to conceal messages in scarves and hats. It was clever and perfectly concealed by the stereotype that women’s hobbies—especially those of older women—were silly and harmless.

In Molly “Old Mom” Rinker’s case, she found she was able to hide quite comfortably in the role of “old woman knitting” while she spied on British forces during the Revolutionary War.

Old Mom Rinker uses knitting to her advantage

Enough daring ladies took advantage of this method, especially during WWI, that by the time WWII came around, specific precautions were taken to keep knitted codes from slipping through unnoticed (among other things):

Knitting Spies

Find more clippings on these topics and more with a search on Newspapers.com.

Find: Serial Fiction on Newspapers.com

News, Finds, Tips of the Month

Nearly everyone knows what it’s like to have to wait for the next episode of your favorite TV show to come out. But what if you had to wait for the next chapter of your favorite book? Your ancestors may have had to do just that!

The Hound of the BaskervillesSerial fiction was a bit like today’s TV shows—but instead of a new episode coming out each week, it was a new chapter, or series of chapters, of a story or book, often published in newspapers, magazines, or stand-alone installments. Some of these “serials” came out daily, some weekly, some monthly, some on other schedules, depending on the author and the publisher.

Serials found popularity during the Victorian period, though they first appeared long before that. They remained a fairly common feature of certain newspapers and magazines up until radio and then television took over as people’s main sources of entertainment.

Sometimes entire novels would be written as serials (Charles Dickens famously published some of his novels this way), while other novels would be written and published in their entirety first, and then later segmented out in installments. But not all serials were novel-length: many newspaper serials were just a few installments long, more like a short story or novella, though some did run for months.

Stories published as serial fiction were often tales of romance, mystery, or adventure—with sentimental or thrilling storylines that would catch readers’ attention and have them coming back for the next installment. And they might just hook you too! Try reading one for yourself on Newspapers.com. We’ve collected just a few of them below—some you might recognize, but many you won’t! Try one out and let us know what you think!

Want to read more? To find further installments of the stories above, try checking the next day’s issue of the paper the story was featured in (e.g., if it was in Monday’s paper, check Tuesday’s). If it’s not in that issue, try checking the next issue that falls on the same day of the week (e.g., if it was published on Sunday, check the next Sunday’s issue).

Or if you’re interested in finding other serial fiction on Newspapers.com, try using search terms such as “chapter 1”, and limit your search to papers from the decades around the turn of the 19th century. Get started searching here!

Happy Monday!

The weekend is over and the workweek is back at it again. Not a big fan of Mondays? You’re not alone. Here’s a little 1995 article from the Wausau Daily Herald all about the Monday blues and surviving the workweek:

Monday Morning Blues

“Just kind of hope for the best. Don’t expect too much.” – Jim Beem.

Happy Monday!

Find more like this with a search on Newspapers.com.

King Tut’s Tomb Discovered: November 4, 1922

King Tut's Tomb Discovered: November 4, 1922

On November 4, 1922, the first stair to what would eventually be uncovered as Tutankhamen’s tomb was discovered in Egypt by the team of British archaeologist Howard Carter. King Tut’s tomb would quickly gain fame for being among the most intact pharaonic tombs, as well as for the curse that some said affected those who were involved in the tomb’s discovery.

New Tomb Found Egypt's GreatestHoward Carter had been excavating in the Valley of the Kings under the patronage of Lord Carnarvon since 1917, but by 1922 he still had not made any finds of major significance. When Lord Carnarvon threatened to withdraw his funding, Carter convinced Carnarvon to bankroll a final excavation season. The request paid off, and on November 4, 1922, Carter’s team discovered the top of a staircase. Further digging revealed a door to what would turn out to be Tutankhamen’s tomb, and Carter sent word to Carnarvon, who joined him in Egypt.

The tomb was officially opened on November 29 (though Carter, Carnarvon, and others had secretly entered before that), and they discovered that though the tomb appeared to have been robbed twice in antiquity, the majority of the treasures and other items remained inside. With such a host of artifacts, work on the tomb was slow and painstaking. It took months after the tomb’s discovery for the burial chamber to be opened, and three years after the discovery for the archaeologists to finally view Tutankhamen’s mummy itself. In total, it would take eight years for all the objects in the tomb to be documented and removed.

As soon as word got out about the discovery in 1922, the world was fascinated with the wonders that were uncovered from the 3,000-year-old tomb. Despite the ancient grave robbing attempts, Tut’s tomb was still among the best-preserved pharaoh’s tombs ever discovered. However, another factor also increased King Tut’s fame: the so-called “curse of the pharaohs.”

Beginning with Lord Carnarvon’s illness and death in April 1923 (due to complications following an infected mosquito bite), rumors of the curse grabbed the public’s attention. From then on, the deaths of any of the people associated with the tomb’s discovery were attributed to a curse that was said to affect anyone who had disturbed Tutankhamen’s rest. In all, dozens of deaths were claimed to be the result of the curse—though Howard Carter himself would live for more than 15 years after the discovery.

Find more articles about King Tut on searching Newspapers.com!

The Strange Death of Harry Houdini

On October 24, 1926, the famed magician Harry Houdini finished a show, walked off the stage, and collapsed.

Collapses after Stunt, Temperature at 104 Degrees

Details of Houdini's Collapse

The above-mentioned “delay in applying for medical attention” was a span of several days. The exact reasons for his unexpected death haven’t been confirmed, exactly, but it is pretty likely a result of being punched in the stomach after a lecture on October 22nd. Houdini was chatting with some students in his dressing room when one student decided to test his claim that he could withstand any blow to the stomach.

Damage to the Appendix Happened Days Earlier

The student’s blow came without warning, and Houdini, with no time to prepare, found himself with a ruptured appendix as a result. But it was his insistence that the show must go on, as they say, that did him in. He survived for a week after the operation for his appendicitis, but eventually died that Halloween at the age of 52.

But before he died, he is said to have made a promise with his wife. If there was a way to contact her from the Beyond, he would find it. And thus, the annual Halloween Houdini seances began.

Houdini's Post-Death Plan

Annual Houdini Seance

Seances not successful

After ten years of attempting to receive a message from her husband, Bess Houdini finally gave up the effort. She died in 1943. She is pictured below next to a small collection of her husbands things a few days before the October 1936 seance, the final attempt she would make.

Bess Houdini and her husband's

Find more on Houdini’s life, death, and attempts to reach him beyond the grave with a search on Newspapers.com.

On This Day: Completion of the Famous Gateway Arch

On this day in 1965, the 630 foot tall curve of St. Louis’ Gateway Arch was completed.

Ready to Complete

On Topping Out Day

32 Years of Planning & 3 Years of Construction

The Arch

Interesting, related tidbit of history: it seems that while in town for the arch’s monumental completion, Aline Saarinen—wife of the architect who designed the building—was robbed.

Robbed while in town for the arch

Eero Saarinen, sadly, died in 1961, two years before construction of the arch began.

Find more on the arch and its history, meaning, and construction with a search on Newspapers.com.

New Hawaii Papers!

If you have family from Hawaii or are interested in Hawaiian history, come check out the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Honolulu Advertiser, and Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Although the Honolulu Star-Advertiser only began publishing fairly recently (in 2010), the papers that merged to create it—the Honolulu Advertiser and the Honolulu Star-Bulletin—have histories that stretch back more than a century!

Sample Honolulu Star-Advertiser front page The Honolulu Advertiser traces its history back to 1856, with the creation of a weekly paper called the Pacific Commercial Advertiser. In 1882, the Pacific Commercial Advertiser also began publishing a daily edition, and the weekly edition was ended a few years later, in 1888. In 1921, the paper was renamed the Honolulu Advertiser, the name it would keep for the next 90 years.

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin also has a long history. It began as a single-page, hand-written bulletin posted in a shop window in 1870, and by 1882 it had become a paper known as the Daily Bulletin, which then became the Evening Bulletin in 1895. In 1912, the Evening Bulletin combined with a newspaper called the Hawaiian Star to become the Honolulu Star-Bulletin.

In 1962, the Advertiser and the Star-Bulletin entered into a joint operating agreement, in which the two papers would maintain separate, competitive newsrooms but share printing, circulation, administration, and advertising expenses. Finally, in 2010, the two papers were merged to create the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

In their early years, the Honolulu Advertiser and the Honolulu Star-Bulletin both catered primarily to the white, English-speaking population of Honolulu. But by the mid-20th century, they had begun to make efforts to appeal to more diverse segments of Honolulu’s population as well. If you’re looking for ancestors or other family members in these papers, good places to start include personals columns, society pages, local interest columns, and the like.

And for an interesting piece of history, check out the Star-Bulletin’s report on the bombings at Pearl Harbor, which was the earliest coverage of the event in the world.

Get started searching or browsing the Honolulu Star-Advertiser*, Honolulu Advertiser*, and Honolulu Star-Bulletin* on Newspapers.com! .

*With a Newspapers.com Basic subscription, you can view issues up to 1922; or, with a Publisher Extra subscription, access those early years as well as issues between 1923 and 2017