Arthur Conan Doyle and the Cottingley Fairies

One day in 1922, two young cousins named Frances Griffiths and Elsie Wright took some remarkable pictures.The subsequent spread of the story was something neither girl anticipated. But what else could be expected for the first captured images of fairies?

Frances, Elsie, and their fairy friendsFrances, Elsie, and their fairy friends Sun, Oct 15, 1922 – 13 · New-York Tribune (New York, New York, New York, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

Headline after headline from the early 1920s show the fervor of the debate. Were the photographs real or faked? Surely fairies could not be real, but the photographs showed no evidence of tampering. Besides, these were just two little girls—how deceitful could they be?

English Girls Snapshot Fairies at their GamesEnglish Girls Snapshot Fairies at their Games Sun, Jan 23, 1921 – Page 24 · New-York Tribune (New York, New York, New York, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

Perhaps the most famous name amongst the believers was that of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, author of Sherlock Holmes. His belief in the photos and fairies was so strong that he even wrote his own book to prove it.

Arthur Conan Doyle believes in fairiesArthur Conan Doyle believes in fairies Sun, Oct 15, 1922 – 13 · New-York Tribune (New York, New York, New York, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

Poor Sherlock Holmes - Hopelessly Crazy?Poor Sherlock Holmes – Hopelessly Crazy? Sun, Nov 19, 1922 – 106 · The San Francisco Examiner (San Francisco, California, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

Equally involved was a man named Edward Gardner, prominent leader of the Theosophical Society. He took it upon himself to investigate the photos, solicit expert opinions on their legitimacy, give lectures on the topic, and even visit the girls and the place where the fairies had been seen.

Fairies in YorkshireFairies in Yorkshire Mon, Feb 7, 1921 – 6 · The Guardian (London, Greater London, England) · Newspapers.com

Of course, even Sir Doyle had to admit that this whole thing could be one of history’s greatest hoaxes.

The most elaborate hoax, or an event in human historyThe most elaborate hoax, or an event in human history Sun, Oct 15, 1922 – 13 · New-York Tribune (New York, New York, New York, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

Sadly for fairy enthusiasts, the truth of the matter was revealed in 1983. Frances Griffiths came forward to admit that the whole thing had just been a trick of hatpins and cardboard cutouts. The Cottingley Fairies became, as Doyle had once grudgingly said, “the most elaborate and ingenious hoax ever played upon the public.” And that was the end of that.

Fairy confessionFairy confession Sat, Mar 19, 1983 – Page 6 · Arizona Republic (Phoenix, Maricopa, Arizona, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

Just for fun, here’s a word search puzzle from decades after the Cottingley Fairy hoax.

Cottingley Fairies Word SearchCottingley Fairies Word Search Wed, Jan 2, 1991 – Page 31 · The Sydney Morning Herald (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia) · Newspapers.com

Find more on the Cottingley Fairies and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s involvement with a search on Newspapers.com.

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Hometown Tour Guide: Exploring Your Ancestors’ Hometown Through Newspapers

Ever wish you had a time machine so you could travel back in time to see what your ancestors’ lives were like? While we can’t give you a time machine, we can give you what may be the next best thing: the ability to visit your ancestors’ hometown without leaving your couch. How can you do this? With newspapers!

If you’ve already searched for your ancestors’ names in the papers, fleshing out what their lives may have been like is the next step in discovering their story. And since the place a person lived often had a big impact on what their daily life was like, it’s worth putting in some time to learn about it.

This is where newspapers come in, because they are a nearly bottomless resource for finding out what life was like in the towns and cities they served. The added benefit to this approach is that even if you can’t find your ancestors mentioned by name in a newspaper, you can still use the paper to help you piece together the details of their lives.

For your journey, we’ve put together a “tour guide” of sorts to help you use newspapers to explore your ancestors’ hometown and learn more about their lives in the process. Check it out!

A street scene in St. James, Missouri, in 1915. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 1957)

A street scene in St. James, Missouri, in 1915. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 1957)

HOMETOWN TOUR GUIDE

Step 1: Find your paper

In many cases, Newspapers.com will have a newspaper (or more than one!) from the town or city your ancestors lived in. But if we don’t, here are some tips for locating other papers that may be useful in your research.

  • Use the Newspapers Map on our site to find the paper closest to the town or city where your ancestors lived. Zoom in on a specific geographical region to find out which papers were being published in the area. Adjust the date slider to see papers from a particular time frame (such as the years your ancestor lived there).
  • Find out which county your ancestors’ hometown is in, and then look for a paper from the county seat. Newspapers from the county seat often contain news from surrounding towns. You can see which papers from a particular county are on Newspapers.com by using the advanced search. Just enter the county name into the Place/Paper Location field, and hit the search button.
  • Look at papers from similar-sized towns or cities in the same part of the state. While each community has its differences, life was probably fairly similar in towns of the same size from the same region.
  • Use the date and location filters on the Papers page to find papers in the state your ancestors lived in that were published while they lived there.

Step 2: Find representative issues of the 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 of the town will be. But if you feel overwhelmed, start by looking at just one!

A business in Fremont, Ohio, in 1933. (Fremont Messenger, 09.18.1933)

A business in Fremont, Ohio, in 1933. (Fremont Messenger, 09.18.1933)

Step 3: Browse the paper

You might be surprised at how much you can learn about a town from seemingly unimportant newspaper sections. We’ve come up with 15 parts of the newspaper we suggest you look through, but the possibilities are nearly endless. We’ve also included some questions to ask yourself to help guide your journey.

  1. Ads/classifieds – What businesses were in town? Where did people shop? What products were available? How much did things cost? What services were individuals offering? What types of jobs were being advertised?
  2. Train & ship ads/schedules Which places could people from the town or city easily travel to? Was their hometown a travel hub? (If it was, this probably meant increased exposure and access to outside fashions, trends, lifestyles, etc.)
  3. Weather reports What was each of the four seasons like? If it was a farming area, did it receive enough rain for a good harvest? Were there any big weather events (blizzards, tornadoes, hurricanes, etc.) that would’ve affected the townspeople’s lives?
  4. Photos What were people wearing? What were the hairstyles? What did the town itself look like (buildings, scenery, etc.)?
  5. Local news Was there anything noteworthy going on? Was there any breaking news that would’ve been the talk of the town?
  6. Party/reunion/event descriptions What types of activities were planned? What games did they play? What food was served? What kinds of people were invited?
  7. Entertainment sections What entertainment options were available? Was there a theater or cinema? If so, what plays or movies were out? Was the local sports team doing well? Does it seem like a lot of people attended local sports matches?
  8. Crime reports/police blotters Did the town or city seem safe? What kind of crime was happening?
  9. Holiday celebration descriptions Were there any big holiday celebrations that happened in town every year? How did individual families celebrate holidays on a smaller scale? (Descriptions of private celebrations may alert you to common local traditions.)
  10. Vacation/travel notices Are there any places people from the town commonly traveled to? If it’s a small town, which bigger city did most people visit for shopping, entertainment, etc.?
  11. Obituaries/death notices What illnesses were common in the area? Did a lot of people die of the same illness around the same time? (If so, this may indicate there was an epidemic.)
  12. Local election/political news What were the big political issues in the area? What local laws and ordinances were being passed or repealed?
  13. Letters to the editor/op-eds/editorials What were some of the opinions in town? What issues did people seem divided on and on which did most people seem to agree?
  14. Recipes & grocery store ads What ingredients and food items were available? Which foods seem common and which seem like items for special occasions? Do some ingredients seem preferred over others?
  15. Articles with addresses – Are there any mentions of the neighborhood your ancestors lived in? What about the street they lived on? (Or even their specific house?) Who else lived in the area? Do there seem to be a lot of people in the neighborhood from the same family? Or immigrants from the same country? What were the neighbors up to? What was going on in the neighborhood?

What do you think? Did we miss any newspaper sections that may be helpful? Let us know in the comments! And happy travels on your hometown newspaper tour!

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Marie Antoinette Executed – This Week in History

On October 16, 1793, erstwhile French queen Marie Antoinette is executed by beheading on charges of treason.
Execution of the Queen of FranceExecution of the Queen of France Mon, Oct 21, 1793 – Page 3 · The Evening Mail (London, Greater London, England) · Newspapers.com

The execution came in the midst of the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror. Her famed extravagance, along with the fact that she was a symbolic target on which to pin France’s problems, made her unpopular among those who would come to seal her fate. Contemporary papers describe in detail, though with some clear bias, the scene leading up to her execution and their feelings on the whole affair.

Last Moments of the QueenLast Moments of the Queen Mon, Nov 11, 1793 – 3 · The Caledonian Mercury (Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland) · Newspapers.com

Marie Antoinette supporters lament her fateMarie Antoinette supporters lament her fate Mon, Oct 21, 1793 – Page 3 · The Evening Mail (London, Greater London, England) · Newspapers.com

With her beheading, Marie Antoinette followed her husband, King Louis XVI, to the grave. He was executed nine months prior on similar charges.

Find more on Marie Antoinette, King Louis XVI, and other events of the French Revolution with a search on Newspapers.com.

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Top 10 Horror Movies Inspired by True Stories

Horror movie fanatics have likely seen the phrase “Based on a true story” rolling in the opening credits of a horror film on more than one occasion. But Hollywood is known for taking liberties when producing movies based on true stories. So just how accurately did they portray what really happened?

We went to Newspapers.com to uncover the real events that inspired the Hollywood adaptations. Below are the top 10 horror movies inspired by the “spookier than fiction” true stories found on Newspapers.com!

1. Poltergeist (1982, 2015)

Based on the mysterious happenings within the walls of James Hermann’s home in Seaford, New York, in 1958.

Newspapers across the state recounted lids falling off screw-top bottles, porcelain figurines crashing to the floor, and dressers tumbling over in the Hermann house. Several theories were considered, ranging from leprechauns and psychic abilities to scientists’ theories on energy and subterranean streams. The most popular theory, however, was poltergeists.

The Daily News in New York reported the Hermann home had received over 300 letters from readers, many of which detailed what the Hermanns needed to do to rid their home of the spirit. Readers and reporters were so captivated by the case that updates on the home sometimes made the front page news.

Although police and parapsychologists examined the case extensively, no conclusions were made that explained the strange phenomena. After more than five weeks of furniture crashing and bottles toppling, the occurrences finally ceased.

A picture of the Hermann home, taken from The Daily News, March 09, 1958

A picture of the Hermann home, taken from The Daily News, March 09, 1958

2. Jaws (1975)

Rumored to be inspired by the true events of a series of shark attacks that killed four people and injured one along the coast of New Jersey in 1916.

Over the course of two weeks, three fatal shark attacks were reported within 100 miles of each other. The third and final attack left two individuals dead and one injured.  Victims included 12-year-old Lester Stilwell, 25-year-old Stanley Fisher, 23-year-old Charles Etting Van Sant, 17-year-old Charles Bruder, and 14-year-old Joseph Dunn (survivor).

Swimmers along the coast were advised to stay out of deep water until the “man-eating” sharks were killed. A $100 reward was put in place by the mayor for whoever killed the shark, and the U.S. Coast Guard joined the war on sharks.

Panic spread across the coast of New Jersey and New York as hordes of sharks were slaughtered. On one occasion, a man drowned near a New Jersey shore after calling for help and receiving no assistance because onlookers feared he was being attacked by a shark. Frantic citizens were catching and cutting open sharks to check for human remains, but whether or not the man eating shark was ever caught is unknown.

Image of one of the sharks that was killed in 1916. The Philadelphia Inquirer, July 15, 1916

Image of one of the sharks that was killed in 1916. The Philadelphia Inquirer, July 15, 1916

3. The Exorcist (1973)

Based on the story of a 14-year-old boy in Maryland who was possessed by the devil and exorcised by a Catholic priest in 1949.

Skeptical religious leaders and neighbors invited the seemingly possessed boy to stay with them, only to report furniture falling over and the boy’s bed moving on its own while he slept.

After seeking medical and psychiatric treatments, the boy’s family approached the Catholic Church. A Catholic priest devoted himself to the exorcism, living in the same home as the boy for more than two months and attempting the exorcism on more than twenty occasions. The exorcisms were attempted multiple times due to the boy’s intense reaction of screaming, cursing, and speaking in Latin.

Finally, with the last exorcism performed by the priest, the devil was successfully driven out and all supernatural manifestations ceased.

4. Psycho (1960) and Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Psycho and Silence of the Lambs are just two of the many films inspired by the true story of Ed Gein, who slaughtered two women and had remnants of fourteen cadavers in his home that he stole from the local graveyard.

Gein claimed to have been in a “dazed” state when he murdered his victims and stole cadaver parts from the graveyard. Even so, his first victim to be discovered was found with her decapitated body hanging upside down by the heels, badly mutilated. A human heart was found in a pot on the stove, leading investigators to suspect cannibalism.

Among the stolen remnants of the fourteen cadavers were ten heads, which had been skinned and preserved as masks. Several other items in Gein’s home were also made from human skin, including a vest, chair upholstery, and belts. Gein’s two murders, numerous grave robberies, and creation of clothing from human skin were said to be motivated by his desire to be a woman.

When news of his crimes broke in 1957, most residents in Gein’s neighborhood did not suspect him of these gruesome crimes, although a local barber did recall Gein pinching his belly and exclaiming he was “just about right for roasting” (News Record, 21 Nov 1957).

To learn more about the disturbing story of Ed Gein, visit the Topic Page on Newspapers.com here.

Mary Hogan (one of the victims) and Ed Gein. Stevens Point Journal, Nov 20, 1957

Mary Hogan (one of the victims) and Ed Gein. Stevens Point Journal, Nov 20, 1957

5. The Amityville Horror (1979, 2005)

Based on the true story of the paranormal activity the Lutz family experienced after moving into the home on Long Island where Ronald DeFeo shot his entire family during their sleep.

On November 13, 1974, at about 3 a.m., Ronald DeFeo Jr. murdered his parents, two brothers, and two sisters while they were sleeping by shooting them with a .35 caliber rifle. Despite the defense’s pleas of not guilty by reason of insanity, DeFeo was declared guilty in November 1975 and sentenced to life in prison.

Approximately one year after the tragedy and one month after DeFeo’s conviction, George and Kathy Lutz purchased the DeFeo home and moved in with their three children and dog. Only 28 days after moving in, the DeFeo home was yet again abandoned. The Lutz family had fled the property because of paranormal experiences, leaving behind the majority of their belongings and never returning to the home.

The paranormal incidents started with a tense atmosphere that increased aggression in the home and led to a more hostile environment. But it didn’t stop there. The Lutz’s daughter spoke of an imaginary friend that was described as a red-eyed pig; rotten smells and cold temperatures filled the home; mysterious red welts appeared on Kathy that were too hot to touch; doors and windows opened on their own; Kathy levitated out of her bed and took on the appearance of an old woman; and loud sounds filled the home around 3:15 a.m., the same time the DeFeo family was murdered.

After the Lutz family fled the home, Ronald DeFeo’s lawyer investigated the history of the home, wondering if demonic possession could have been a factor in DeFeo’s case. He found the home was built on an ancient Indian burial ground, and the remains of a man who was cast out of Salem for practicing witchcraft were also on the property.

The original home the Lutz and DeFeo families resided in. Chicago Tribune, July 25, 1976

The original home the Lutz and DeFeo families resided in. Chicago Tribune, July 25, 1976

6. The Conjuring 2 (2016)

Based on the true story of the “Enfield Poltergeist” in north London, 1977.

Claimed to be one of the most publicized cases of famous ghost hunters Ed and Lorraine Warren, the Enfield Poltergeist captivated many readers in and around London. A reporter of The Observer described the poltergeist activity of Peggy Hodgson’s home as beginning with strange noises and escalating to marbles and Lego’s flying through the air and furniture moving on its own. The paper also mentioned the poltergeist’s fixation on Mrs. Hodgson’s daughter, Janet, and described the paranormal experiences Mr. Graham Morris from the Daily Mirror and Police Constable Carolyn Heeps had while in Mrs. Hodgson’s home. The paranormal experiences ceased eighteen months later, in 1979.

7. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984, 2010)

Based on the mysterious deaths of approximately 80 Laotian refugees who died in their sleep in the 1980s.

In the late 1970s to early 1980s, a number of Southeast Asian refugees came to America following the Cambodian killing fields. In 1981, the CDC recorded 38 deaths due to “Nightmare Death Syndrome” among seemingly healthy Laotian refugees. Two years later, the number increased to 79, and the cause remained unknown. The popular belief was the men were dying due to being frightened to death in their sleep. Others, however, theorized the deaths were due to delayed effects of chemicals in the killing fields or maybe even heart failure.

8. The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)

Based on Anneliese Michel, who was being exorcised of six demons and ultimately died of starvation in 1976.

Although the events took place in West Germany, the story of Anneliese Michel become world news. According to claims by the two priests performing the exorcism and her parents, Anneliese was possessed by six demons, including Hitler, Nero, Judas, and Lucifer. During the numerous months of exorcism rituals, Michel refused to eat and ultimately died of dehydration and starvation at a mere 70 pounds.

Doctors noted that she had a history of epilepsy and could have been saved a week prior to her death had medical attention been sought. The two priests, along with Michel’s parents, were charged with negligent homicide.

9. When a Stranger Calls (1979, 2006)

Based on Janett Christman, who was strangled to death by an intruder while babysitting in 1950.

Mr. and Mrs. Romack returned home to a grisly scene when they found their young babysitter, Janett Christman, dead in the living room, having been raped and strangled by the cord from an iron after putting up a fight. Two-and-a-half hours previous to Mr. and Mrs. Romack’s return, the police received a call from a panicked girl saying “Come quick,” but the call was cut off before the police could get an address, and the call was untraceable. The Romack’s three-year-old son was found sleeping in his room, unharmed. Although the police found footprints and fingerprints, as well as possible blood and hair samples of the assailant, they never found the killer.

10. The Haunting in Connecticut (2009)

Although not broadly published in newspapers across the U.S., the Hartford Courant recounted the experiences the Snedeker family had while living in their new home, which had previously been a funeral home. The Snedekers claimed they had been touched and spoken to by a demonic spirit and had heard, smelled, and seen other unexplainable phenomena. Eventually, with the escalation of paranormal experiences, the Snedekers summoned the help of Ed and Lorraine Warren, who arranged for an exorcism to take place in their home.

The Snedekers fled their home prior to the exorcism and proceeded to write a book about their experiences with the help of the Warrens and horror novelist, Ray Garton. Neighbors and previous owners of the home remained skeptical and argued the Snedekers made up the story as a way to make money.

Learn more about these spooky true stories by searching Newspapers.com! All the clippings in this post can be found here. And look for our #SpookierThanFiction hashtag on social media.

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Anna Atkins, Plant Photographer of the 1800s

In 1842, multi-talented astronomer Sir John Herschel introduced the world to his beautiful new photography process, cyanotype. He also taught this new process to a clever and avid botanist named Anna Atkins, whose father’s connections to the scientific community (and convenient neighboring location to Herschel’s own home) gave her the opportunity to become the first known female photographer.

Sir John Herschel's Sir John Herschel’s “beautiful blue pictures” (cyanotype) Fri, Oct 14, 1842 – 4 · The Royal Cornwall Gazette, Falmouth Packet, and General Advertiser (Truro, Cornwall, England) · Newspapers.com

Anna Atkins signed work Anna Atkins signed work “A.A.” Wed, Nov 3, 1976 – 15 · The Monitor (McAllen, Hidalgo, Texas, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

Anna had been making accurate botanical drawings for years before learning the cyanotype process. It was the simplicity of the process that drew her to it, and because she learned from the master himself, her images were produced with a clarity and success that few were able to replicate.

Anna Atkins, Botanist Photography 1843-1853Anna Atkins, Botanist Photography 1843-1853 Sun, Jun 23, 1996 – 97 · The Observer (London, Greater London, England) · Newspapers.com

Her work was published in a book, Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions, which she signed “A.A.” For decades her identity remained anonymous and her contributions to photography and history unrecognized, until a scholar acknowledged her as the book’s author during a lecture in 1889. By then, new processes had long made cyanotype more or less obsolete. But Anna’s place in history and multiple unique copies of her remarkable book of blue prints still survive.

Find more about Anna Atkins and the cyanotype process with a search on Newspapers.com.

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October 1918: Outbreak of Spanish Flu Kills Millions

News, Finds, Tips of the Month

In 1918, the most severe pandemic in recent history spread across the globe. The Spanish flu, or the H1N1 virus, infected 500 million people (about a third of the world’s population). Before it was over, about 40 million people died worldwide!

Spanish Flu Pandemic
The Spanish flu arrived in three waves. It initially appeared in the spring of 1918. The first wave was mild. Symptoms included chills, fever and fatigue, but those infected recovered relatively quickly. By fall, however, the virus took a dramatic turn. The second wave was deadly, especially for people ages 20 to 40. In addition to the sudden onset of earlier flu symptoms, many developed a virulent strain of pneumonia. Their lungs filled with fluid and many victims died within hours or days after coming down with symptoms. The third wave hit that winter, and by the spring of 1919 the virus had run its course.

Though the origin of the virus is not known, it arrived during WWI, when troop movements and the living conditions in military camps helped it to spread. Governments were slow to report on the flu’s severity, for fear it could be seen as a military weakness. But when the flu arrived in neutral Spain, newspapers reported widely on it. As a result, the virus became known as the Spanish flu. It even infected the King of Spain. When it was over, the Spanish flu killed more than the war did. In fact, of the US soldiers who died in Europe, half of them died from flu and not the enemy.

Back on the home front, in an effort to contain the wildfire-like spread of the flu, gatherings of all types were cancelled, weddings and meetings postponed, and churches shuttered. Schools closed, prompting The Nebraska State Journal to offer students cash prizes for the best written entries on how they were spending their school break.

Unsure how to best combat the spread of the virus, Health Departments advocated fresh air as cure. Restaurants advertised new sterilization techniques, movie theaters required patrons to spread out with empty seats and rows, and drug stores advertised remedies to keep the flu away. Eventually many public gathering places closed altogether.

The human toll of the pandemic was astonishing. Children everywhere were left orphaned when parents succumbed to the virus. Families buried their loved ones one by one. Hospitals were overcrowded and undertakers and coffin makers were unable to keep up with demand. Homes of the sick were quarantined and family members often too sick to care for one another. Officials discouraged gatherings of any type, including funerals. Only close family members could attend the funerals of loved ones, and funerals were limited to 15 minutes!

The Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 affected everyone in some way. One-quarter of the country became infected and 675,000 Americans lost their lives to the virus. How did it impact your family tree? If you would like to learn more about this pandemic, search our archives today!

Search our archives today to find the obituary for your ancestor!

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Great Chicago Fire of 1871 – This Week in History

On October 8, 1871, a devastating fire spreads across the streets of Chicago. It would come to be known as the Great Chicago Fire.The Fire Fiend - Great Chicago Fire 1871The Fire Fiend – Great Chicago Fire 1871 Sun, Oct 8, 1871 – Page 5 · The New York Times (New York, New York, New York, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

Great Fire in ChicagoGreat Fire in Chicago Mon, Oct 9, 1871 – Page 4 · The Daily State Journal (Alexandria, Alexandria, Virginia) · Newspapers.com

Terrible Fire in Chicago 1871Terrible Fire in Chicago 1871 Sun, Oct 8, 1871 – 1 · Leavenworth Daily Commercial (Leavenworth, Kansas, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

With its frequent high winds and countless wooden structures, 1871 Chicago was prone to fires even before the “Great Fire” tore through the city. However, none were so destructive as this one, which killed hundreds of people and cost millions of dollars (billions, today) in damages.

Find more on this event in history with a search on Newspapers.com.

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Going Beyond Birth, Marriage & Death Announcements

(Click image to view full-size version. Or click here.)

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

So don’t stop once you’ve found their birth, marriage, and death announcements in the newspaper. That’s just the beginning of discovering your ancestor’s story. For more ideas, check out our list of 20 sections in the newspaper to look for your ancestors in.

  1. Advertisements & classifieds
  2. Church news, events & activities
  3. Court dockets & jury lists
  4. Disaster victims lists
  5. Entertainment sections
  6. Gossip columns
  7. Land/home/farm sales
  8. Legal notices
  9. Letters to the editor
  10. Local election news & political events
  11. Military service news
  12. Local news stories
  13. Ship & train passenger lists
  14. Personal notices
  15. Police blotters
  16. School news
  17. Social news & events
  18. Sports sections
  19. Unclaimed letters lists
  20. Group photos
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Lord Lucan’s Disappearance

This story could be considered a murder mystery, though not in the traditional “whodunit” sense. It features the wealthy John Bingham, 7th Earl of Lucan; a murder; and a disappearance that remains a mystery to this day.

Lord LucanLord Lucan Mon, Nov 11, 1974 – 6 · Tampa Bay Times (St. Petersburg, Pinellas, Florida, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

On November 7th,1974, the wealthy Veronica Duncan stumbled into a pub with a shocking tale. She accused her estranged husband, the Earl of Lucan, of murdering the family’s nanny, Sandra Rivett, before turning on her. She’d just managed to escape.

At once the search was on for Lord Lucan. However, the story was confused by the account of family friends, the Maxwell-Scotts. They said Lucan had come to their home after the incident and explained that he’d been trying to save his wife from a separate attacker. He fled because he knew his wife would suspect him, despite his innocence.

The most prevalent belief in the whole affair was that a murderous Lucan mistook the nanny for his wife in the dark and killed her by mistake. Whatever his intentions, it took a jury only half an hour to decide that Lord Lucan was, in fact, the murderer. A warrant was issued for his arrest.

Lord Lucan declared guiltyLord Lucan declared guilty Fri, Jun 20, 1975 – Page 5 · The Sydney Morning Herald (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia) · Newspapers.com

Summary of the Lord Lucan troubleSummary of the Lord Lucan trouble Mon, Nov 11, 1974 – 27 · Chicago Tribune (Chicago, Cook, Illinois, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

Lord Lucan’s whereabouts were never uncovered. He was declared dead in 1999, and his fate remains a mystery to this day.

Find more on the infamous Lucan case with a search on Newspapers.com.

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