H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds has been, since its publication in 1898, one of fiction’s most lasting science-fiction stories. In 1938 a radio broadcast of the novel famously caused real-life panic. Multiple movie adaptations have brought the horror of the tripods into modern settings. And this year’s new BBC television series takes the story back to 1905, just a handful of years after the book’s first publication.
Setting this story in a time very like H.G. Wells’ own makes the technological superiority of the Martians all the more clear. It may also better emphasize the destruction of comfortable structure—a society of rules and customs—by a force that simply doesn’t care.
And yet the horror of The War of the Worlds transcends generations and even technology. Orson Welles, who directed and narrated the 1938 radio performance that made such a stir, expressed surprise at listeners’ reactions. He’d worried the story might seem “too old-fashioned.” But the frenzied fear of invasion that resulted just goes to show how pertinent such stories can remain decades—and centuries—later.
Perhaps the greatest reason for this was Wells’ emphasis on surrounding the fictional with the real. His stories were called “scientific romances,” an acknowledgement of the inspiration he found in scientifically-based speculation. He gave his aliens evolutionary traits, reasons for their existence and appearance, and even based their defeat on science we’ve witnessed in our own Earth-bound history. And among all this science was sprinkled a healthy dose of humanity, in which readers, listeners, and viewers see themselves and people they know.
H.G. Wells had flaws too, which are reflected in his work. Women play little part in his stories, a fact he acknowledged in this contemporary interview, and that is remedied in the new BBC series. He held many troubling beliefs on race and religion. And as the article above states, some found and continue to find his endings too sentimental, and some plot points irrelevant. Nevertheless, H. G. Wells and his stories continue to fascinate and inspire more than a century later, which is perhaps the best review an author can hope for.
Find more clippings about H.G. Wells, The War of the Worlds and similar topics with a search on Newspapers.com.
November is here, which means it’s time to start thinking about that classic holiday dessert—pumpkin pie!
Pumpkin pie has been an American tradition for at least two
centuries—which means a lot of people have a favorite tried-and-true recipe.
But sometimes we’re in the mood for something a little different! So we took a
look to see what non-traditional pumpkin pie recipes we could find in the
historical papers on Newspapers.com.
Here are our top picks from across the decades. Beneath the original recipes, we’ve written them out in a way that’s a bit easier to follow. Click on any of the recipe images to see the original clipping on our site. And for even more pumpkin pie recipes, visit our Topic Page!
[Note: In old recipes, a “slow oven” typically means 300-325 degrees Fahrenheit; a “moderate oven” means 350-375 degrees Fahrenheit; and a “hot oven” means 400-450 degrees Fahrenheit.]
Back then, Alexander Graham Bell and his colleague Thomas
Watson shocked the world when they carried on a 30-minute
telephone conversation from two
miles apart. Their newly invented telephones converted sound into electric
pulses that traveled along a wire connecting the phones.
of the telephone quickly grew and soon everybody wanted one. However, it
wasn’t feasible to stretch a wire between every set of telephones, so inventors
developed a telephone
exchange. Each telephone connected to the exchange by wire. To
place a call, a caller would pick up the phone and turn a crank. This illuminated
a light at the switchboard at the central station and an operator would plug a
wire into your jack and ask who you needed to reach. She then connected a wire
to the appropriate customer and sent an electrical current down the line to
alert them with a bell.
The residence’s owner, Mr. Smith, appeared to be a level-headed, logical sort of man. But when a skeptical reporter visited the house nearly a week later, as reported in the article below, Mr. Smith was too nervous to be interviewed and believed the disturbances to be the work of an evil spirit.
The history of Espanola dates back to 1598 when it was
founded as the capital of Nuevo Mexico. Some of the valley’s historic buildings
remain, including La
Iglesia de Santa Cruz de la Canada, a church built in 1733 that is still in
When the Sun published its first edition in the
1950s, the population of Espanola was about 3,000. The first issues were
printed on an old
press that required single sheets of newsprint to be hand-fed
into the press one at a time. The population of the valley continued to
grow and in 1957, local churches
coordinated a door-to-door church
census intending to document every resident.
“The greatest horror that the human mind can picture is that of being buried alive,” read an article in the 1896 San Francisco Examiner. “The agony, of course, would be of short duration, but, even though it lasted only two minutes, it would, in its intensity, contain a world of misery and anguish too horrible to contemplate.”
Historical newspapers are full of bone-chilling tales of
people being mistaken for dead and buried alive. Some of these stories are
likely embellished or altogether fictional, while others have a ring of truth
that make them all the more terrifying.
We’ve selected 6 of these “buried alive” stories from the
papers on Newspapers.com. Decide for
yourself if they’re true or not. If you’re brave enough to read them.
The excerpts below are
just a taste of the full stories. Follow the links to read the jaw-dropping
newspaper accounts in their entirety.
Genealogists and historians have lamented the loss of the 1890
census for more than a century. When researchers inquire about the 1890
census, their questions are quickly dismissed with the explanation that a fire
destroyed the records. The truth, however, is more complicated. The 1890
census records did sustain extensive smoke and water damage in two different
fires (1896 and 1921), but the damaged records sat languishing in a warehouse
until the 1930s when Congress ordered their destruction.
After enumerators finished the 1890 census, the Department
of the Interior stored portions in Washington D.C. in the basement of Marini’s
Hall. On March 22, 1896, a
night watchman discovered the rear of the building was on fire and notified
the fire department. Firefighters arrived to find dense smoke pouring from the
basement. Though they extinguished the flames before sunrise, the fire damaged
or destroyed the special
schedules for mortality, crime, pauperism, benevolence, special classes
(e.g., deaf, blind, insane) and portions of the transportation and insurance
schedules. The general population schedules, however, were safe and stored in
the basement of the Commerce Building.
Do you know your ancestors’ names but not their stories? Historical newspapers are an important resource for discovering who your ancestors were beyond names and dates. But if you’re not sure where to start, read on to learn how to use Newspapers.com to piece together your ancestors’ life stories.
1. Build a basic timeline with the facts you already know.
Before you start
searching for your ancestor’s story in newspapers, it helps to have at least a
rough knowledge of when and where they lived. These basics will serve as the
backbone for the story that you build and help guide you in your newspaper
One way to do this is by locating
your ancestor in as many state and federal censuses as you
can. Write down the year of the census and the city/county/state where the
person was living. It may also be helpful to note their occupation (if
provided) and who else was living in the household at the time. These facts can
help you identify your ancestor when you begin your newspaper search. You can
also use dates and locations pulled from other records, such as those for
birth, marriage, and death.
2. Begin your
Enter your ancestor’s name into the Newspapers.com search bar. Scroll through some of the results to see if there are any likely hits for your ancestor. If there are too many results for people who aren’t your ancestor, try adding date, location, and other filters to narrow down the possibilities.
Remember, however, that people didn’t always appear in
newspapers by their legal name. Try searching for your ancestor using
nicknames, alternative names, initials, and misspellings. In older newspapers,
men were often referred to by initials or abbreviations, and women were often
referred to by their husbands’ names (e.g., Mrs. John Smith).
And here’s a tip: When you find a search that returns
results for your ancestor, use the Save/Notify feature to be automatically
alerted when we add new newspaper pages that have matches for your search.
It’s often easiest to
understand how the events of a person’s life tie together when you learn about
them in the order they happened—just like reading a biography. So once you’ve
found search results for your ancestor, sort the results chronologically. This
will help you see more easily how the newspaper articles you find fit with the
timeline you made in Step 1.
default for search results on Newspapers.com is “Best match,” but you can
easily order them chronologically by choosing to sort them by “Paper date
(oldest first),” which is found under “Sort” in the upper left of the search
4. Start reading!
You’ve got your search results, so now it’s time to start
reading! Using the image thumbnails on the search results page as a reference,
open up articles that seem like they might be about your ancestor. The timeline
you made before you started searching will help you determine which articles
are about your ancestor and which are not. As you find articles about your
ancestor, you’ll become more familiar with their life, making it easier to spot
which other articles are about them too.
5. Clip the articles
When you find articles about your ancestor, use our clipping
tool to save them to your Newspapers.com account.
It’s important not
only to clip the article but also to title the clipping in a way that will make
it easy to find again. For example, the clipping’s title could include your
ancestor’s name and a brief summary of the article. Then when you need to find
that article again, you can simply go to your clippings page and search for the
person’s name to quickly pull up all the articles you’ve clipped about them.
When making a clipping, you can also use the “Add more
details” field to make notes about the clipping. For example, you could use
this field to indicate details in the clipping you want to research further or
to specify how the clipping ties into a larger story.
Another great feature of clippings is that you can easily share them on social media or via email. So if you find an article about your ancestor, you can post it to social media and ask your family members if they know anything else about the story. You can also save clippings to your Ancestry® tree.
As you start reading newspaper articles about your ancestor,
they’ll likely spark ideas about other people or topics to research. Make sure
to take plenty of notes about these so you can come back and search them later.
It’ll be tempting to research them right away, but that can lead you down a
rabbit hole that takes you far away from the person you were originally
researching. So instead make a note to return to it in the future.
It’s also a good idea to take notes about ways you could
adjust your search terms. For instance, if you find an article that uses an
alternative spelling of your ancestor’s name, make a note to come back later
and search using that alternate spelling.
7. Branch out.
Once you learn
everything you can about your ancestor’s life by searching for their name, try
searching for their family member’s names. People don’t exist in isolation, so
learning about the stories of their family members can help you understand your
ancestor. For example, your ancestor might not be mentioned by name in an
article about a tragic death in the family, but it nevertheless likely had a
direct impact on their life.
Searching by family members names
(particularly parents’ names) is especially key to learning about your ancestor’s
early life, since adults are more likely than children to be mentioned by name
in a newspaper. By doing this, you might find out that their family moved when
your ancestor was young or that their father was injured in an accident—events
that would have shaped your ancestor’s childhood.
8. Explore the social
history of your ancestor’s life.
Learning about the time and place in which your ancestors lived can also help you understand their life. Take time to look through their local newspaper to find out what life was like in the town or city they lived in. Try browsing 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.
Social history research is also helpful if you weren’t able
to find much about your ancestor when you searched for them by name.
Researching the world around them can give you a pretty decent idea of what
their life may have been like.
It’s a testament to the lasting power of Nancy Drew that yet another screen reincarnation of the beloved book sleuth is on her way. The character may be closing in on 100 years of existence, but many readers today still fondly remember following Nancy through many mysteries. Not all have loved Nancy Drew from the beginning. But she couldn’t be taken down, thanks in part to the teenage girls who channeled their heroine and saved the day.
Not Just Nancy Drew
In the early 1900s, a literary war was being waged on “nickel novels.” Mostly aimed at boy scouts, these novels were considered by librarians to be a “menace of mediocrity.” Rather more graphically, they were thought to “blow out, shoot to pieces, or burn out boy’s imaginations.” It was thought the average 10-year-old ought to turn their sights to higher literature.
Nancy Drew would not be published until 1930, but this was just the beginning of a controversy that would dog series books for decades to come.
The instant popularity of Nancy Drew novels painted a target on the series’ back. By 1933 there were already ten titles to her name, and young girls loved them. But these .50 novels, considered successors to the nickel and dime novels, were still being fought against primarily by librarians. One even called them “devices of Satan.” This article from 1944 shows librarians left them out of the stacks because of too-similar plots and impossible situations:
The 60s saw another wave of parent and librarian disdain for the popular series, while readers continued to be infatuated with Nancy’s cleverness and moxie. When papers shared negative opinions about the “literary garbage” that was Nancy Drew, readers gave back as good as they got:
The books were still removed from many libraries, but they could not be kept away from eager readers completely. In time the fervor of fans and changing attitudes toward literature would soften the fight for reform.
Ultimately, it’s hard to argue with the evidence of pure enjoyment, as this columnist found. Nancy Drew books got people reading; they were simply a good time. Decades have passed, times have changed, and now reading for fun is not so often considered a moral failing. In fact, Nancy has become a role model for many women across generations.
There have been 5 feature films made about Nancy Drew, and October 9th’s new CW series will be the third attempt to bring Nancy to life on television. It just goes to show that 89 years has done little to dampen the love for literature’s favorite teenage sleuthing lass. Are you a fan?
Notice the Clues?
If you like solving puzzles and decoding clues, give this one a try to find a clipping of a real-life Nancy Drew situation on Newspapers.com:
1. Unscramble the bold letters in the “Not Just Nancy Drew” section for the month and date to search.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
2. Unscramble the bold letters in the “Nancy Comes to Life” section for the year and the name of the paper. (Hint: each paragraph contains one word)
_ _ _ _
_ _ _ _ _ | _ _ _ _ _ _ | _ _ _ _
3. Unscramble the bold letters in the “Nancy Drew Endures” section for the Find/Search term to look for on Page 7. (Hint: each paragraph contains one word)
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ | _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
(Click here to skip the clues and go straight to the clipping.)
And If you liked this post, try one of these next:
On October 2, 1835, ongoing clashes between American
settlers in Texas and the Mexican government escalated
into an open rebellion called the Texas
Revolution, or the War of Texas Independence. Texas colonists led by Sam
Houston fought against Mexican forces led by Gen. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna
of Mexico. The war resulted in Texas declaring independence from Mexico and the
founding of the Republic of Texas which was later annexed by the United States.
Additional battles were fought including the Battle of the Alamo, where Gen. Santa Anna’s forces overpowered a group of volunteer Texas soldiers occupying a mission near present-day San Antonio killing close to 200; and the Goliad Massacre, where more than 400 captured soldiers were executed by Santa Anna’s troops. The cruelty of the killings acted as a rallying cry for Texas troops who shouted, “Remember the Alamo!” and “Remember Goliad!” during the final battle of the revolution, the Battle of San Jacinto, fought on April 21, 1836. The battle lasted just 18 minutes. Texas soldiers captured Gen. Santa Anna as he tried to flee, and his army retreated south. Held prisoner, Santa Anna was forced to sign the Treaty of Velasco recognizing Texas as an independent republic. In 1845, the United States annexed Texas and it became the 28th state. If you would like to learn more about the Texas Revolution, search Newspapers.com today.
To see more headlines from Texas history, see our Newspapers.com topic page.