How to Add “Zest” to Your Housework

Are you making every minute worthwhile? Or are you losing time and strength with inefficient housework methods? This 1919 article advises housewives on the best way to “work like a whirlwind” and add some “zest” to typical chores.

Add Add “zest” to your housework by studying time, methods, and motions Fri, Jul 4, 1919 – 2 · The Powder River County Examiner and the Broadus Independent (Broadus, Montana, United States of America) ·

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Unsolved Mysteries: The Disappearance of Suzy Lamplugh

Suzy LamplughSuzy Lamplugh Fri, Dec 5, 1986 – 6 · The Guardian (London, Greater London, England) ·


On July 28, 1986, real estate agent Suzy Lamplugh went to show property on Shorrolds Road in Fulham, England, to a client she called “Mr. Kipper.” Witnesses report seeing a woman of her description arguing with a man and then getting into a car. Her own vehicle, a white Ford Fiesta, was found apparently abandoned the night of July 28, with the keys gone and her purse still inside. That night Suzy was declared missing.

Suzy Lamplugh DisappearanceSuzy Lamplugh Disappearance Thu, Jul 31, 1986 – 28 · The Guardian (London, Greater London, England) ·

In the thirty years since, her disappearance has remained a mystery. No evidence exists to link her disappearance to foul play (though it is assumed), and her remains have never been found. There are, however, a couple of theories as to who is responsible.


The first involves a man name Steve Wright, who worked on the same cruise ship as Suzy when she was a beautician prior to her real estate job. In 2008, decades after Suzy’s disappearance, Wright was convicted of five murders. People began to suspect that Suzy might have been an earlier victim of his, but there have been no strong connections made between him and Suzy’s murder.

The second theory is a bit stronger. This one involves John Cannan, a convicted killer who was released from a prison hostel days before Suzy disappeared. He was known by fellow inmates as “Kipper,” the same name used by the client Suzy met the day she vanished. He bore some resemblance to the police sketch of the mysterious Mr. Kipper. But again, all evidence was too circumstantial to bring Cannan to court, and he denied any involvement.

The search for clues to Suzy’s fate has been ongoing, but evidence continues to elude investigators. For now, Suzy’s disappearance remains an unsolved mystery.

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New Papers From Kentucky and Pennsylvania!

Do you have ancestors from Kentucky or Pennsylvania? We’re thrilled to announce our newspaper archives from these states are expanding!

The Paducah Sun: Paducah, Kentucky is located just past the confluence of the Ohio and Tennessee Rivers and is home to The Paducah Sun. Our archives date back to 1896 and contain more than 1.5 million pages from The Sun and related titles including The Sunday Chat; the Paducah Weekly Sun; the News-Democrat; the Weekly News-Democrat; and the Paducah-Sun Democrat.

These papers covered important developments in the history of Paducah including steamboat commerce and railroad growth. One historic event that made Paducah headlines was the flood of 1937. Weeks of steady rain followed by sleet caused the Ohio River to crest at 60.8 feet. Flood waters consumed the city and some 27,000 citizens were evacuated. Many residents were trapped in their homes or stranded on the upper floors of downtown buildings. Following the disaster, the US Army Corps of Engineers constructed a 14-foot high floodwall. In the early 1990s, in an effort to beautify downtown Paducah, one citizen suggested painting murals along the floodwall. In 1996, the city hired an artist to paint more than 50 murals that depict the history of Paducah.

If you have ancestors from Paducah, society columns are a great place to piece together your family story. They often mention travels, and births and deaths.

The Daily Item: Based in Sunbury, Pennsylvania, The Daily Item archives go back to 1894. Thomas Edison made a mark in Sunbury in 1883 when he installed and successfully tested the first three-wire electric lighting system in a local Sunbury hotel. The hotel’s name was later changed to the Edison Hotel in his honor. Electricity in Sunbury led to one of the first electric streetcar systems in the country. In 1906, the State of Pennsylvania established a bureau to record all the state’s births and deaths. Before then, newspapers like The Daily Item published birth announcements and obituaries.

Just 13 miles from Sunbury is the town of Danville. We have archives from the Danville Morning News and the Danville News that date back to 1898. In the 19th century, Danville became an important stop along the early transportation routes that included railroads, the Susquehanna River, and roads. Does your family tree contain an orphan from the Danville area? These newspapers are a great resource for information about institutions like the Mother House of Christian Charity and the Odd Fellows’ Orphans Home.

In 1919, during the early days of aviation, Danville residents poured into the streets to see an airplane. For many, it was their first time! The government plane circled the town dropping leaflets advertising Victory Liberty Loans (war bonds) to fund the war effort.

These stories are just a sampling of many fun and historical stories in these newspapers. Get started searching our Kentucky and Pennsylvania archives today at!


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Battle on Bric-A-Brac: America’s Changing Views on Clutter

If you’ve been tuning in to the new Netflix series Tidying up with Marie Kondo or read Kondo’s bestseller The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, you’re familiar with her war on clutter. As part of her KonMari Method, she famously encourages people to keep only possessions that “spark joy.”

But Kondo’s decluttering philosophy wouldn’t have been popular in the U.S. in the mid- to late 19th century. In fact, the opposite philosophy seemed to reign—the more objects on display in your home the better, particularly if you were wealthy or aspiring to be so.

The Rise of Bric-A-Brac

If you could peek into the home of a wealthy Victorian-era American family, it would probably look cluttered to our modern eyes. Bare rooms were equated with poor taste, low morals, and poverty, while displaying expensive objects was a sign of style, culture, and status. Vases, figurines, decorative boxes, fans, teacups, miniature paintings, curios, and much more filled nearly any flat surface, from mantles to tables to sideboards.

An 1891 showroom for home furnishings, demonstrating the popular Victorian "cluttered" look (The Times—Philadelphia, 10.03.1891)

An 1891 showroom for home furnishings, demonstrating the popular Victorian “cluttered” look (The Times—Philadelphia, 10.03.1891)

The Second Industrial Revolution (roughly 1870–1914) was creating an abundance of “nouveau riche” in America, people recently made wealthy by railroads, steel, and other new industries. Eager to imitate the aristocracy of Great Britain and Europe—and to showcase their new wealth and worldliness—they filled their homes with costly objets d’art. These decorative objects eventually came to be known as “bric-a-brac.”

  • Go here to read an 1887 newspaper article about bric-a-brac selling for insanely high prices

Though items sold as bric-a-brac supposedly had historical ties, antique origin, or exotic provenance, realistically it was a term for expensive items with no practical use—which is probably why an 1875 New York Times article defined bric-a-brac as “elegant rubbish.” Still, bric-a-brac was in such high demand that an industry sprung up to procure and sell it. Newspapers carried stories of people spending incredible sums of money to expand their collections, and ads for bric-a-brac sellers abounded in the papers.

Bric-a-Brac’s Decline

This “bric-a-brac mania,” as it was sometimes called, had its acme in the 1870s and 1880s. But as is the case with many expensive things, a knock-off market of cheaper, inauthentic bric-a-brac came into being. This affordable, mass-produced bric-a-brac allowed people of the middle and even working classes to embrace the trend and buy bric-a-brac for their own homes.

  • Go here to read about the knock-off market for bric-a-brac in an 1885 newspaper

The wide availability of inexpensive bric-a-brac meant it no longer implied social status and wealth, however, and its popularity among the upper class began to wane. Around the same time, attitudes about ostentatious displays of wealth began changing, and interior design preferences shifted toward simpler and more utilitarian styles. On top of that, late 19th-century America was hit by a series of economic panics—perhaps putting more nails in bric-a-brac’s coffin. Gradually, the term “bric-a-brac” began to take on the connotation that it has today—nearly synonymous with “knick-knack” rather than “objet d’art.”

The rejection of the bric-a-brac trend can be clearly seen in newspapers from the late 1880s through the early 20th century.

One Pennsylvania newspaper wrote in 1895:

And this 1906 article even provided questions to help the reader cut down on bric-a-brac:

20th-Century Clutter

The end of the 19th-century bric-a-brac craze wasn’t the end of indoor clutter, obviously. In fact, there seems to have been somewhat of a resurgence of bric-a-brac in the 1920s, though the onset of the Great Depression likely had a dampening effect.

  • Go here to read a 1926 article about bric-a-brac’s 1920s comeback

But America’s post-war economic boom in the late 1940s through the early 1970s gave people more discretionary income than ever before. Perhaps as a result of this new post-war buying power, home decor trends in the late 1950s swung back toward a “controlled clutter” look. And articles promoting “clutter rooms” (rooms devoted to odds and ends) ran in the papers in the 1960s. So is it any surprise that decluttering articles became increasingly ubiquitous in newspapers in the decades after the economic boom?

The Pendulum

America’s views on the use of clutter in home decoration seem to be a pendulum, swinging back and forth between embracing a cluttered look and its rejection. Right now, our society appears to be firmly rejecting it, as typified by the incredible popularity of Marie Kondo and her method. (Related examples of this desire for simplification are found in the “tiny home” movement and the backlash against the “fast fashion” industry.)

But as history has shown us, who knows when the pendulum will swing back the other way? So you might not need to throw out grandma’s antique tea set just yet.

Learn more about bric-a-brac by searching Or if you’re interested in reading some vintage decluttering articles, start with these:

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A Bald Head Shines Like a Good Deed in a Naughty World

From the pages of a 1906 issue of The Checotah Times comes this peculiar defense of “bald-headed bridegrooms.”

A Bald Head Shines Like a Good Deed in a Naughty WorldA Bald Head Shines Like a Good Deed in a Naughty World Fri, Jun 1, 1906 – Page 2 · The Checotah Times (Checotah, McIntosh, Oklahoma) ·

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Did Atlanteans Build the Bimini Wall?

In 1968, a diving expedition discovered a series of large stone formations, so square and neatly arranged that they seemed to form an intentional structure. It was called the Bimini Wall (or Road) after the nearby Bimini Island, and since the discovery there has been speculation galore about how it came to exist.

Most believe the stones to be naturally formed beach rock that sunk beneath the surface. But there is another popular and rather more imaginative theory, as evidenced by the many articles printed on the topic in the 60s and 70s. And that theory is that the Bimini Wall was once part of Atlantis.

Atlantis Found?Atlantis Found? Sun, Jan 9, 1972 – Page 17 · Detroit Free Press (Detroit, Wayne, Michigan, United States of America) ·

These articles say it all.

Bimini Wall manmade?Bimini Wall manmade? Sun, Oct 27, 1974 – Page 206 · The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Orange, Florida, United States of America) ·

Bimini's mystifying formationsBimini’s mystifying formations Sun, Sep 25, 1988 – Page 106 · Fort Lauderdale News (Fort Lauderdale, Broward, Florida, United States of America) ·

Bimini Wall was constructed by ancient advanced societyBimini Wall was constructed by ancient advanced society Thu, Mar 28, 1974 – Page 28 · Courier-Post (Camden, Camden, New Jersey, United States of America) ·

From pillars to pyramids to the legendary Fountain of Youth, this little stretch of sea supposedly has it all. And to top it off, Bimini sits right at the edge of the Bermuda Triangle. With so much mystery to be found here, it’s easy to see why the Atlantis explanation might not seem so far-fetched.

What do you think—is the Bimini Wall potential proof of a mythical missing city? Or is it just naturally formed rock that got a little too much attention?

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2018 in Review: Over 5,000 Papers Added!

2018 Year in ReviewHappy New Year! We’re so excited for what’s to come in 2019, but we wanted to pause a moment and reflect on all we accomplished in 2018. Last year we:

    • Added more than 5,000 new papers
    • More than doubled the number of titles in our archive
    • Added more than 120 million pages
    • We’re adding 10-13 million pages each month
    • We now have nearly a half a billion searchable pages – making us the largest online historical newspaper archive

In 2018 we continued to increase our international newspaper titles from Canada, England, Scotland, and Wales. We’ve also added Puerto Rico. Plus, we added new papers from the following states:

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin

Our archives have unlocked roadblocks in family history research and provided a unique tool for those searching for historical and academic data. Did you make an incredible discovery this year using Tell us about it! From our team to you, Happy New Years!



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Florida Secedes from the Union: Today in Headlines

On January 9, 1861, “Florida Secedes” appears in newspaper headlines.

January 9 in Headlines: Florida SecedesJanuary 9 in Headlines Wed, Jan 9, 1861 – 1 · The Daily Exchange (Baltimore, Maryland, United States of America) ·

The secession became official the following day, making Florida the third state to leave the Union after South Carolina and Mississippi. Nine more states would join them in the months that followed, and it would be seven years before Florida officially rejoined the Union again.

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“She Used to be a Flirt and was Getting Young Again”

This “aged mother” wanted to be the flirt she once was again, but her daughters found the cost too high. Found in the papers of 1910:

Mother spending too much on bonnets, parasols, and a young new husbandMother spending too much on bonnets, parasols, and a young new husband Wed, May 4, 1910 – Page 11 · Trenton Evening Times (Trenton, Mercer, New Jersey) ·

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From Frog-Snake-Slug to Rock-Paper-Scissors

Some things are so culturally ubiquitous that we rarely think to wonder where they came from. Children’s games fall under this category quite often (Ring Around the Rosy, anyone?). When you and a friend have to choose who gets the last cookie, what’s the go-to game of choice? Very likely, it’s Rock-Paper-Scissors, or, as it used to be known, Jan-ken (or Janken, or Jan Ken Po/Pon).

Japanese game of Japanese game of “ken” (rock, paper, scissors) Thu, Jun 30, 1910 – Page 8 · Altoona Tribune (Altoona, Blair, Pennsylvania, United States of America) ·

Rock-paper-scissors (or whichever version of the name you use) went through many historical variations before it became the game it is today. The concept of a game where a hand signal can always lose to one and beat another is quite old, originating in China. Earlier versions used gestures for various animals, or simpler signals using the thumb, index and pinky fingers.

Transition from single-finger gestures to paper, scissors, stone signalsTransition from single-finger gestures to paper, scissors, stone signals Thu, Apr 9, 1953 – 28 · The Honolulu Advertiser (Honolulu, Hawaii, United States of America) ·

Today’s version has morphed from all of those to feature the familiar closed fist, flat hand, and scissor shapes. It didn’t appear in America until the 20th century, when Japanese immigrants introduced it in Hawaii. Today it’s as popular in the U.S. as it continues to be in Japan, and is a beloved go-to for all manner of disputes.

For example, these two girls…

Rock Paper Scissors solves seat disputeRock Paper Scissors solves seat dispute Wed, Jun 4, 1997 – 48 · The Honolulu Advertiser (Honolulu, Hawaii, United States of America) ·

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