Newspapers.com 2019 in Review!

We had an incredible year in 2019 and we owe it all to you – our amazing subscribers! Thank you for your passion and dedication to preserving historical newspapers. Our loyal customers have created more than 14.3 million clippings this year alone.

Thanks to your support we’ve reached the following milestones in 2019:

  • Added 100+ million new pages of content for a total of 555 million pages of content
  • 14.3 million clippings created in 2019
  • Added 5,000+ new newspapers to our archives
  • Updated nearly 7,000 existing titles with new content
  • We have newspapers from all 50 states and 10 countries, territories, or districts

We also teamed up with Ancestry® to develop a technology to scour every page in our archive looking for death notices. You have already clipped more than 1.5 million obituaries using this amazing technology.

The best is yet to come. What will you discover in 2020? We promise to keep working hard with our publisher partners, historical societies, and institutions to find new content so your subscription will continue to increase in value year after year. What did you discover using Newspapers.com in 2019? Share your discoveries in the comments below. Thank you! Together we will accomplish amazing things in 2020.

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January 30, 1945: The Sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff

On January 30, 1945, the greatest maritime disaster in history occurred when the MV Wilhelm Gustloff, a German luxury liner turned military transport ship sank in the Baltic Sea after being torpedoed by a Russian submarine. The sinking ship resulted in the loss of an estimated 9,300 victims, including 5,000 children. Those on board included 9,000 civilians fleeing an advancing Red Army, German soldiers, and the crew. The fatalities were six times that of the Titanic.

The Ottawa Journal February 19, 1945

Three months earlier, in October 1944, the Russian Army broke through German defense lines in East Prussia, inflicting atrocities on German civilians. Fearing the approaching army, thousands began to flee west. The temperatures were freezing, and many suffered frostbite, exposure, and starvation. In January 1945, the refugees converged on the docks at Gotenhafen (today Gdynia, Poland) and tried desperately to obtain passage on transport ships appropriated by German officials. The Gustloff, which launched in 1937 as a luxury liner, was now transporting soldiers to western Germany but allowed refugees to board as well. The ship was built to accommodate roughly 1,900 people but quickly filled beyond capacity as some 10,000 boarded the ship. Shortly after noon, the ship set sail.

Just beyond the Gulf of Danzig, the Russian submarine S-13 under the command of Capt. Alexander Marinesko patrolled the waters. On the evening of January 30th, the sub surfaced and spotted the Gustloff sailing in deep waters to avoid the heavily mined area closer to the coast. Suspecting the ship held German combatants, Marinesko decided to attack. He maneuvered S-13 alongside the ship until shortly after 9:00 p.m., when he ordered the launching of three torpedoes. All three impacted the ship’s port side.  

Honolulu Star-Bulletin March 23, 1974

The torpedoes exploded and the initial impact likely killed hundreds. Startled passengers clambered to get up on deck and in the panic, some were trampled, while others drowned as water flooded in. As the Gustloff began to list, panicked passengers found the davits holding the lifeboats in place were coated with ice and inoperable. In the chaos, young mother Irmgard Harnecker clung to her baby daughter Ingrid. Suddenly, an icy wave swept over the deck ripping the baby from her arms. Harnecker also lost her sister in the tragedy. Another young mother had given birth to a baby boy less than 24-hours earlier in the ship’s hospital. She named him Egbert Worner. When the torpedoes hit the ship, she ran up on deck holding the newborn but struggled to descend a rope ladder to a rescue vessel. A nearby soldier called out, “give it to me, you’ll get it back right away.” She handed baby Egbert to the soldier, but the lifeboat was lowered before he handed the child back. She watched the ship sink and feared her child was dead. “I was quaking,” she said. When she boarded a rescue vessel several hours later, someone placed a bundle in her arms. Her baby had been saved!

Passengers recall the horrific screams as the Gustloff sunk below the surface within an hour of the torpedoes’ impact. Those in the sea quickly succumbed to the icy water. Rescue boats arrived and picked up as many as 900 survivors, but the surface of the sea was littered with the dead. The risk of enemy submarine attacks remained and rescue efforts abandoned after one navy barge was nearly struck by two more torpedoes, missing its hull by mere inches.  

The magnitude of the incident became somewhat lost in the headlines of war. World War II was months away from ending and Russia suppressed news of the disaster for another 50 years. The fate of the ship was not made public in Germany during the war and publishing tales of Germany’s hardship was prohibited in East Germany after the war. As we approach the 75th anniversary of the tragic sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff, you can search for more news related to this maritime disaster on Newspapers.com today.

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Lake Nyos Disaster: August 21, 1986

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The Great Solar Storm of 1859

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Rutland Herald Celebrates 225th Anniversary!

The award-winning Rutland Herald in Rutland, Vermont, has reached a milestone that few papers in America can claim – they are celebrating their 225th anniversary! We are pleased to announce that we’ve added this collection of papers dating back to 1794.

President George Washington steps down, Rutland Herald – 1797

The Rutland Herald launched as a weekly in December 1794 when George Washington was president and just 11 years after the end of the Revolutionary War. The paper had the goal of providing a “useful and entertaining paper.” When searching early editions of the Herald, keep in mind that during this era printers often used Old English text and a letter called the ‘medial S’. The letter looks like an ‘f’ and is found throughout early editions. For example, this clipping from 1798 is an advertisement for the return of two apprentice boys that ran away from their keepers or subscribers. The text, however, appears to read “fubfcribers”.

In the mid-1790s, a yellow fever epidemic plagued the eastern United States. The Herald reported that scores of people were evacuating Manhattan and Philadelphia to avoid the disease. Cities along the eastern seaboard took measures to prevent the fever from spreading. About a hundred years later, in 1894, Rutland became ground zero for the first outbreak of polio in the United States. Dr. C. S. Caverly of Rutland carefully tracked the disease’s progression and published a paper to educate others.

Vermont’s marble industry dates back to 1784 and workers from countries including England and Ireland arrived in Rutland to work in the quarries. Master carvers and stone cutters came from Italy where Carrara was known as the center of the marble industry. Those immigrant communities brought their customs and traditions to Rutland and helped shape the community.

When the Civil War broke out in 1861, the Rutland Herald published a letter asking the women of Vermont to sew white linen cap covers meant to reflect harsh sun and heat and keep soldiers from the Vermont 1st, 2nd and 3rd Regiments cool. The paper also reported on 11-year-old Willie Johnston. He enlisted as a drummer boy in the 3rd Vermont Infantry. In 1863, the Rutland Herald reported that Johnston had become the youngest recipient of the Medal of Honor for heroic actions taken during the Seven Days Battles.

In November 1927, the worst natural disaster in Vermont history occurred when devastating floods claimed 84 lives including that of Vermont’s Lt. Governor. More than eight inches of rain fell between November 2-3, creating raging torrents that washed out roads, bridges, and destroyed buildings.

Do you have ancestors from Rutland? The Rutland Herald contains birth announcements, wedding news, and obituaries. You can search for news from other cities in Vermont, New York, and even Canada. Start searching the Rutland Herald today on Newspapers.com!

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Life and Light in the Dead of Winter

From Kwanzaa candles to Christmas’s electric festoons, end-of-year holidays bring light to the northern hemisphere’s darkest months. Light crackling and twinkling merrily against a frozen winter backdrop is a promise of warmth to come, both physically and metaphorically, and humanity has many traditions to celebrate that promise.

Heat the Hearth

The tradition of burning a yule log to celebrate the winter solstice hearkens back to pre-medieval times. The practice cleared the air, so to speak, of the past year, and merry-makers welcomed the return of spring. Like many wintertime traditions, this one was eventually adopted into Christian celebrations. The logs grew smaller to match shrinking fireplaces, and for many the practice of baking log-shaped cakes replaced the original burning tradition.

Royal Christmas Card from Duke and Duchess of York:

Royal Christmas Card from Duke and Duchess of York: “Bringing in the Yule Log” Sun, Oct 31, 1926 – 133 · Chicago Tribune (Chicago, Illinois) · Newspapers.com

Candle Customs

Throughout the festival of Hanukkah, eight candles are lit in memory of a successful rebellion and a miracle of oil.

Hannukiah, Chanukah menorah, presented 1951

Hannukiah, Chanukah menorah, presented 1951 Fri, Mar 23, 1951 – Page 6 · The Times Record (Troy, New York) · Newspapers.com

Kwanzaa sees candles lit as well. Seven candles of red, black, and green, each one a reminder of Kwanzaa’s core principles.

Lightling the Kwanzaa candles, 1975

Lightling the Kwanzaa candles, 1975 Sat, Dec 27, 1975 – Page 7 · The Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio) · Newspapers.com

Saint Lucia, a Christian martyr celebrated mostly in Italy and Scandinavian countries, is represented with a crown of candles to light the way and keep her hands free to help those around her.

Saint Lucia and her candle crown

Saint Lucia and her candle crown Thu, Dec 13, 1979 – 53 · The Vancouver Sun (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada) · Newspapers.com

Christmas trees were traditionally lit with candles, despite the risk of fire and the fiddly nature of trying to place candles on unstable branches. One legend claims Martin Luther, historic figure of the Protestant Reformation, was the first to so trim a tree.

Lights in the tree like stars in the forest, Martin Luther legend

Lights in the tree like stars in the forest, Martin Luther legend Fri, Dec 23, 1904 – Page 1 · Breathitt County News (Jackson, Kentucky) · Newspapers.com

It’s Electric

In 1882, Christmas went electric when Edward Johnson, VP of the Edison Electric Light Company, displayed a tree in his New York home illuminated with electric lights. President Grover Cleveland’s family Christmas tree shone bright with multicolored bulbs in 1894.

Grover Cleveland's electrically lit Christmas Tree, 1894

Grover Cleveland’s electrically lit Christmas Tree, 1894 Tue, Dec 25, 1894 – 1 · () · Newspapers.com

The bright shine of festive electricity remained out of reach for most until the turn of the century, when slightly more affordable pre-wired string lights made an appearance. General Electric was the first to introduce them in 1903. But when their attempt to patent the invention fell through, the market opened to competitors and prices began to drop.

What yearly traditions bring light to your winter days?

Find more about light-centered traditions like those above with a search on Newspapers.com.

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Christmas Miracle: Mother Reunites with Kidnapped Son Missing 41 Years!

In December 1936, Camilla Warner reunited with her long-lost son 41 years after he was kidnapped and given away for adoption without her consent. She called it a Christmas miracle made possible by generous strangers across the country who were touched by her story.

In 1895, Warner, just 18-years-old, lost her young husband when he died in an accident. Pregnant with their first child, she worried about how she could provide for her son alone. She was also a new immigrant, having arrived from Denmark just two years earlier. Determined to keep her child, Warner got a job as a waitress and made arrangements with a maternity home to care for the baby while she was at work. In exchange, she promised to work for a year to pay her expenses.

One day I saw them taking the baby in the office,” she recalled. “He was the prettiest one in the nursery, and people were always wanting to adopt him. They told me they were just showing him to someone.”

When Warner went to pick up her son after work, they told her he’d been taken away by a man in a shiny carriage. A devastated Warner began searching for him vowing that she would never stop. “Nowadays there are kidnapping laws, but then the law of the six-shooter ruled Nebraska, she said. “I spent all the money I had searching for him.”

Weeks turned to months, then years, and finally decades. Warner never gave up hope. She later remarried and moved to California. In December 1936, she had a vivid dream where her son appeared to her. “He had a son with him. I said, ‘what a fine boy’ and my son kissed me,” she said. Later that day Warner found a letter under her doorstep. It included an advertisement placed by a 41-year-old Nebraska man who was searching for his mother and a note that asked, “Am I your son?” It was from Richard Douglas Foster, the baby she hadn’t seen in 41 years. He too had been searching relentlessly for her.

Anxious to reunite, neither of them had the money to make the trip to meet each other. The story was picked up by papers across the country and Canada, and as word spread, “a score of Santa Clauses made their appearance,” donating a railroad ticket, new clothing, and money to make the reunion possible. Camilla left Los Angeles and her son Richard started driving west from Scottsbluff. The two met in Yoder, Wyoming just before Christmas where they tearfully embraced. “From now on,” Warner said, “I will begin to live.” She lived out the final 13 years of her life with the love of her new-found family before passing away in 1949. Richard died two decades later in 1971. His obituary listed the name of his mother thanks to the reunion made possible by their Christmas miracle that occurred 35 years earlier.

Historic newspapers are full of more touching holiday stories like this one. To read more,

start searching Newspapers.com today!

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7 Vintage Cookie Recipes to Make the Holidays Sweeter

Fri, Dec 11, 1925 – 5 · Tulare Advance-Register (Tulare, California) · Newspapers.com


Whether you’re filling your Christmas cookie jar or hosting for Hanukkah, give your holidays a vintage flair with these mouthwatering cookie recipes from our newspaper archives.

Beneath the original newspaper recipes, we’ve written them out in a way that’s a bit easier to follow. Click on any of the images to see the clipping on Newspapers.com.

[Note: In old recipes, a “moderate oven” means 350–375 degrees Fahrenheit.]

Sugar Plum Crispies – from 1949

1949: Sugar Plum Crispies recipes1949: Sugar Plum Crispies recipes Thu, Dec 1, 1949 – 34 · The Knoxville News-Sentinel (Knoxville, Tennessee) · Newspapers.com


Ingredients:

  • ½ cup shortening
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¾ cup flour
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 ½ cups rolled oats
  • ½ cup chopped raisins
  • ½ cup chopped nuts

Directions:

  1. Combine shortening, sugar, salt, spices, vanilla, and water and beat thoroughly.
  2. Sift flour and soda together. Add to first mixture with oats, raisins, and nuts, and mix thoroughly.
  3. Drop from tablespoon on greased baking sheets. Stamp dough thin with a glass covered with a damp cloth.
  4. Bake in moderate oven 350 degrees F for 10 to 15 minutes.
  5. Remove from pan at once. Makes 2 ½ dozen.

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies – from 1936

1936: Chocolate Peppermint Cookies recipe1936: Chocolate Peppermint Cookies recipe Fri, Dec 18, 1936 – Page 32 · The Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio) · Newspapers.com


Ingredients:

Cookies:

  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 egg
  • 2 squares chocolate, melted
  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp baking powder

Frosting:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp milk
  • ½ tsp peppermint flavoring, or ½ cup crushed peppermint stick candy

Directions:

  1. Cream butter with brown sugar. Add sour cream and egg. Beat well. Add melted chocolate.
  2. Sift flour with soda and baking powder, then add to first mixture.
  3. Bake on greased baking sheet for 12 minutes at 325 degrees F.
  4. When frosting will hold its shape, spread on warm cookies.

Hanukkah Dreidel Cookies – from 1958

1958: Hanukkah Dreidel Cookies recipe1958: Hanukkah Dreidel Cookies recipe Thu, Dec 4, 1958 – Page 24 · The Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.com


Ingredients:

  • ½ cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp grated orange rind
  • 2 Tbsp orange juice
  • 1 cup ground Brazil nuts
  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp almond extract

Directions:

  1. Cream shortening; gradually add sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Stir in egg, orange rind and juice, and nuts.
  2. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in almond flavoring. Chill several hours.
  3. Roll out 1/8-inch thick on lightly floured board. Cut into dreidel shape using a paper pattern or cut into desired shapes with 2-inch cookie cutter.
  4. Bake on ungreased cookie sheets at 375 degrees F for 8 to 10 minutes. Makes about 5 dozen cookies.

Snowball Cookies – from 1940

1940: Snowball Cookies recipe1940: Snowball Cookies recipe Thu, Jun 27, 1940 – Page 23 · The St. Louis Star and Times (St. Louis, Missouri) · Newspapers.com


Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup butter
  • ¼ cup evaporated milk or cream
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 1 ¾ cups flour
  • 6 Tbsp confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans

Directions:

  1. Cream butter until very light and fluffy. Beat in the milk or cream a little at a time until it is all taken up by the butter. Add vanilla.
  2. Sift flour, then measure. Resift with confectioners’ sugar and add a little at a time to the butter. Add pecans.
  3. Roll very small bits of dough, about 1 teaspoonful for each cookie, between palms of hands to form small balls.
  4. Place on floured baking sheet and bake in a moderate oven (375 degrees F) until golden brown, about 15 minutes.
  5. Roll cookies in confectioners’ sugar while they are still warm. Yield: 6 dozen small cookies.

Gingerbread Men – from 1920

1920: Gingerbread Men recipe1920: Gingerbread Men recipe Sun, Dec 5, 1920 – 15 · The Enid Daily Eagle (Enid, Oklahoma) · Newspapers.com


Ingredients:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 tsp salt
  • ¾ tsp ginger
  • 2/3 cup molasses
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup shortening, melted

Directions:

  1. Sift flour, baking powder, salt, and ginger together.
  2. Mix molasses, sugar, egg, and melted shortening together. Add the dry ingredients to make soft dough.
  3. Shape in form of little men, animals, or plain cookies on greased pan. Bake in moderate oven 10 to 12 minutes.

Note: The men can be made by forcing the dough through a pastry bag or cornucopia made with plain letter paper. Use tops of cloves, currants, or rice for making the faces and buttons. For colored coats, use colored icing.

Christmas Wreaths – from 1948

1948: Christmas Wreaths recipe1948: Christmas Wreaths recipe Fri, Dec 17, 1948 – Page 12 · The Cincinnati Enquirer (Cincinnati, Ohio) · Newspapers.com


Ingredients:

  • ½ cup butter and shortening
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp grated lemon rind
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 cups flour
  • Pistachio nuts, crushed
  • Red and green maraschino cherries

Directions:

  1. Cream butter/shortening; add sugar and cream well.
  2. Add egg yolks beaten until thick; then add lemon juice and rind. Add one egg white beaten until stiff and dry.
  3. Fold in enough flour to make a stiff dough.
  4. Roll thin and cut with doughnut cutter. Beat other egg white slightly and brush over tops.
  5. Place on greased cookie sheet. Sprinkle with crushed nuts. Place red and green maraschino cherries to represent holly wreaths.
  6. Bake at 325 degrees F until delicately browned.

Fruit Cake Cookies – from 1938

1938: Fruit Cake Cookies recipe1938: Fruit Cake Cookies recipe Sat, Nov 26, 1938 – 14 · The Boston Globe (Boston, Massachusetts) · Newspapers.com


Ingredients:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups pastry flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cloves
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 1 cup each raisins, walnuts, and candied cherries
  • ½ cup candied pineapple
  • ¼ cup citron

Directions:

  1. Cream together sugar and shortening; beat eggs in, one at a time.
  2. Sift dry ingredients together and add alternately with milk.
  3. Chop fruit, nuts, and citron and mix well in mixture.
  4. Drop by teaspoon on greased tin and bake in moderate oven.

Note: Pineapple and citron may be omitted if desired. These cookies will keep for months.

Find even more holiday cookie recipes by searching the papers on Newspapers.com. And follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more historical content like this!

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A Nostalgic Look Back at the Sears Christmas Wish Book

For many children, the arrival of the Sears Christmas Wish Book heralded the official beginning of the holiday season. The catalogs were carefully studied, and toys longingly admired until the pages were dog-eared and tattered. The first Sears Christmas Book debuted in 1933 offering items like the “Miss Pigtails” doll, live singing canaries, fruitcake, and a Mickey Mouse watch.

Letter to Santa – 1933

Over the years, the pages of the Sears Wish Book were filled with toys and gifts that offered a historical snapshot of what was happening in middle-class America at the time.

In 1937, Sears advertised tractor sets and Shirley Temple dolls. Pedal cars were all the rage and sold for about $10. Just five years later, in 1942, the world was at war. The Sears Christmas Book urged Americans to send gifts to members of the Armed Forces. The Christmas Book also allowed families to do their Christmas shopping from home, filling a need when wartime rations on gasoline and tires prevented shopping excursions into town.

Roy Rogers Inspired Gifts 1949

In 1949, Western TV shows and movies exploded in popularity. Roy Rogers was known as the “King of the Cowboys” and that year, the Christmas Book offered a variety of Roy Rogers inspired Christmas gifts and even Roy Rogers school supplies

America entered the Space Race in the 1960s. Children everywhere dreamed of becoming an astronaut and in 1968 the Major Matt Mason astronaut action figure was a popular toy. That’s also the year that Sears embraced the nickname of its Christmas catalog and officially renamed it the Wish Book. Other popular toys during the 1968 holiday season included Hot Wheels cars and G.I. Joe.

In 1975 as Americans prepared to celebrate the Bicentennial, nostalgic American themed toys such as toy fife and drum sets, Colonial dolls and models of the USS Constitution were popular. In contrast, that was the same year that Bill Gates and Paul Allen founded Microsoft. In a glimpse of the high-tech explosion soon to come, the Wish Book advertised the new electronic game Pong. It was described as a “fast-paced electronic ‘table tennis’ game you play on your own TV.”

Atari Pong Ad – 1975

Transformers exploded on the scene in 1984. The popular transforming robot toys proved wildly successful for kids. It was like getting two toys for the price of one. In 1984, a first-generation Optimus Prime sold for $22.99 in the Wish Book. That same toy is now highly collectible and according to some reports can sell for as much as $12,000

In 1993, as consumer shopping habits changed, Sears announced that it was dropping the Wish Book and getting out of the catalog business. Does the Wish Book bring back a flood of memories from your childhood? If you want to take a trip down memory lane, enjoy free access* to the Historic Catalogs of Sears, Roebuck and Co. on Ancestry through January 2, 2020; and search historic ads and news stories related to the Wish Book on Newspapers.com today!

*You can explore this amazing collection for free now through 11:59 pm MT on 02 Jan 2020.

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How World War II Changed Thanksgiving 75 Years Ago

Thu, Nov 23, 1944 – 1 · The News-Review (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma) · Newspapers.com


November 1944 found the United States celebrating its third Thanksgiving since entering World War II. And the war certainly wasn’t taking a break for the holiday, with Americans opening their newspapers Thanksgiving morning to headlines like “50,000 Nazis Trapped on Rhine” and “Germans Fire Rocket Bombs at U.S. Army.”

Two Thanksgivings

But the war wasn’t the only conflict brewing on Thanksgiving 75 years ago; there was also a ruckus much closer to home

The date of Thanksgiving was causing a stir in the U.S.—the result of federal legislation passed in 1941 declaring that Thanksgiving be celebrated on the fourth Thursday rather than the traditional last Thursday. So while 1944 saw the majority of Americans celebrating Thanksgiving on the 23rd, a few states were still holding on to custom and celebrating on the 30th.

LEARN MORE: Read our post about the fight over the date of Thanksgiving

Other beloved traditions had to change as well on that Thanksgiving. There had been no Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade since 1941, for example, since the company had donated the rubber in its famous balloons to the war effort. And Thanksgiving Day football games were played in far fewer places around the nation due to the number of men serving in the military.

Thanksgiving at Home

But then as now, Thanksgiving dinner was the main event of the day, and the war’s effects were seen even at the dinner table. 

By 1944, millions of American men and women were serving in the armed forces domestically or overseas, leaving empty spaces at the holiday table in many homes. In cities near military bases, some of these empty chairs were filled by servicemen and women who had been invited to share a homecooked meal for the holidays with a local family. In other homes, Thanksgiving dinner was held earlier or later than usual to accommodate family members who were working the holiday in factories and other war industries.

“Let Us Give Thanks,” by African American cartoonist Wilbert Holloway Sat, Nov 25, 1944 – Page 6 · The Pittsburgh Courier (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.com


Even traveling to the homes of distant family members or friends for Thanksgiving dinner was curtailed, since gasoline and tires were rationed and bus and train travel were discouraged to open up seats for servicemen and women on furlough.

The Thanksgiving Menu

When it came to the Thanksgiving menu, the war’s influence was seen yet again—this time in the form of food rationing.

By 1944, Americans had been through two previous Thanksgivings under rationing. Sugar was still rationed that year, as were cheese, butter and margarine, and canned fruit—creating a challenge for home cooks hoping to make favorite Thanksgiving dishes.

But Americans had reason to be grateful, as fewer food items than before were being rationed in the United States by November 1944. Lard, shortening, and coffee were no longer rationed, for example, and items such as red meat and processed foods were experiencing a temporary reprieve.

Still, Thanksgiving dinner in 1944 required more planning ahead than in the pre-war years. Those who had heeded the government’s call to grow Victory Gardens could cook Thanksgiving dishes with the produce they had canned or preserved. Other Americans made sure to save up rationing stamps to purchase ingredients for their Thanksgiving meal—aided by newspaper rationing calendars that listed which rationing stamps could be used when and for what products.

Entry for sugar from a 1944 newspaper rationing calendarEntry for sugar from a 1944 newspaper rationing calendar Fri, Nov 24, 1944 – 24 · The Boston Globe (Boston, Massachusetts) · Newspapers.com


The Turkey Challenge

But even food items that weren’t rationed could still be scarce. Such was the case in 1944 with the Thanksgiving centerpiece—turkey. Due to the military’s huge demand for turkey for the troops, the bird was hard to buy in some parts of the country—unless a person was willing to turn to the black market.

Spices and other imported food items also could be difficult to find because the war affected shipping. And non-local produce was limited too in some locations due to the effect of gasoline rationing on trucking.

With this changing availability of food on the minds of many, newspapers published articles about which items were expected to be available for Thanksgiving that year. And Thanksgiving recipes using alternative ingredients became a popular feature in many newspaper food sections.

A Spirit of Sacrifice

Despite the challenges and changes that Thanksgiving 1944 presented to Americans on the home front, people were generally willing to sacrifice for the war effort—especially when they considered how much their servicemen and women were sacrificing overseas.

One newspaper editorial published on Thanksgiving reflected on this spirit of sacrifice, remarking:

Thu, Nov 23, 1944 – Page 18 · Wilkes-Barre Times Leader, The Evening News (Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.com


Learn more about Thanksgiving during World War II by searching Newspapers.com. And follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more historical content like this!

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New Papers Added from Wisconsin

If you have ancestors from Wisconsin or an interest in Wisconsin history, we are excited about the addition of new papers from the cities of Kenosha, Lake Geneva and Viroqua, Wisconsin!

Kenosha News – March 1, 1919

Kenosha is in southeastern Wisconsin, on the shore of Lake Michigan, and just north of the Illinois state line. We have issues from the Kenosha News, the Kenosha News Courier and the Sunday News that date back to 1895. Originally a Native American settlement, Kenosha’s access to transportation lines brought white settlers in the 1830s. Later immigrants from Italy, Denmark, Germany, Poland, and Ireland came to the area.  

In the early 1900s, silent movies were a favorite form of entertainment. In 1914, the Burke Theatre opened on Market Street. When the film The Silver Horde opened in 1920, managers launched a treasure hunt to publicize the film. They hid 10 boxes of silver around Kenosha. The promotion created a stir as residents hunted the treasure. Four years later, the Burke was the scene of another kind when a skunk decided to visit the theater causing pandemonium with the audience.

About 30 miles away from Kenosha is Lake Geneva, Wisconsin and home of the Lake Geneva Herald and the Lake Geneva Regional News. Today Lake Geneva is a vacation destination, but when the Lake Geneva Herald began publishing in 1872, the population was just over 2,000 and the town had one school, a few churches and a smattering of small-town businesses. After the Great Chicago Fire in 1871, Lake Geneva attracted wealthy business moguls who moved to the area while Chicago rebuilt. Beautiful mansions like Stone Manor, Glanworth Gardens and the Wrigley estate line the shore and helped the area earn the nickname “Newport of the West”.

Glanworth Gardens – The Driehaus Estate

Residents living around the lake receive their mail by boat, a tradition that began in 1916 when roads were very primitive. The boat travels at a steady 5 mph, while a “mail jumper” jumps from the boat, races up the dock and swaps the incoming mail with the outgoing mail before the boat has traveled out of reach.

The Vernon County Censor is based in Viroqua and we have issues dating back to 1856. The paper was published weekly, however, on June 28, 1865, a deadly tornado swept through town destroying the printing office and leaving the town devastated. Two weeks later, the paper published an account of the damage. “Large houses were sucked into the air like a feather and tossed about like a wisp of hay in the air.” If you had ancestors from nearby communities like Harmony, Chaseburg, Newton or Westby, search the Vernon County Censor for updates from those towns.

Start searching our new Wisconsin papers today on Newspapers.com!

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The War of the Worlds — Relevant a Century Later

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.

H.G. Wells' Martian fighting-machine

H.G. Wells’ Martian fighting-machine Mon, Oct 31, 1938 – Page 1 · Press and Sun-Bulletin (Binghamton, New York) · Newspapers.com

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.

Orson Welles thought

Orson Welles thought “War of the Worlds” might appear “too old-fashioned for modern consumption” Mon, Oct 31, 1938 – 1 · The Huntsville Times (Huntsville, Alabama) · Newspapers.com

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.

Analysis of Wells' use of scientific and social inspiration in crafting realistic fiction

Analysis of Wells’ use of scientific and social inspiration in crafting realistic fiction Sat, Oct 27, 1962 – Page 19 · The Age (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia) · Newspapers.com

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.

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