Our archives contain great stories to help you piece together
your family tree. For example, this
1909 story in the Spokane Chronicle tells the story of a father
reuniting with his son after 47 years! The two became separated during the
Civil War and had no way of contacting one another. One day, the son met a man who
shared his last name and soon discovered it was his uncle. He was delighted to
learn that his father was 79-years-old and living in Nebraska. Later, the two
were joyfully reunited.
This weekend’s release of the new Downton Abbey film will bring fans back to the sweeping grounds and grand halls of England’s Highclere Castle. This stunning edifice serves as the real-life setting of the fictional Crawley home. And if walls could talk, Highclere Castle would tell a few compelling stories of its own—especially about its most well-known occupants: George Herbert, 5th Earl of Carnarvon, and his wife, Almina.
Highclere was almost entirely rebuilt in 1842-1849 on the bones of an older house, which in turn was built on the foundations of a medieval palace. The castle, on it’s 5,000 acres of beautiful park-like land, serves as the country seat of the Earl of Carnarvon. Here George Herbert, 5th Earl of Carnarvon was born. Perhaps his birth was accompanied by the Highclere tradition where 500 gallons of beer are brewed to remain unopened until the heir “attains his majority. (The clipping below refers to the birth of George Herbert’s son, Henry Herbert.)
Lord Carnarvon married Almina Wombwell—the illegitimate daughter of millionaire Alfred de Rothschild—on June 26, 1895. Her connections left her with plenty of wealth, which would play a significant role throughout her life. Downton Abbey watchers may recognize Cora Crawley—an heiress who marries into a titled family—is loosely based on Almina. And the similarities don’t end there.
At the start of World War I, just as in the show, Highclere Castle was converted into a hospital.
But later wealth came, as it so often does, with scandal. In the mid-1920s, shortly after her husband’s death, Lady Carnarvon married a Colonel Dennistoun. Dennistoun’s ex-wife drew the wealthy Almina into a high-profile court case, demanding Dennistoun pay the alimony he owed her from their divorce. The case was splashed across papers for months, and every move Lady Carnarvon made was scrutinized (as seen by the clipping below). In the end, the jury ruled that no payment was required from the new couple.
The most sensational story in this history is that of Lord Carnarvon. He was an avid Egyptologist who–with the help of his wife—funded the expedition that would discover Tut’s Tomb. Lord Carnarvon traveled to Egypt in late 1922. He was one of the first in modern times to see it opened, and to enter within.
Five months later he was dead, the victim of a bad mosquito bite gone wrong. But with his recent visit to Tutankhamen’s tomb on everyone’s minds (and with a little help from a certain superstitious author), the idea of a mummy’s curse entered popular culture. And Lord Carnarvon was its unfortunate poster child.
Lord Carnarvon himself may not be directly mirrored in any of the show’s characters, but his love of Egypt is. All of the fictional Lord Grantham’s four-legged companions have Egyptian names.
The history of Highclere Castle is, of course, much longer and more complicated than anything shared here. Perhaps the Downton Abbey film will provide further glimpses into the non-fictional past of its iconic castle backdrop and the real-life people who walked its halls.
Have you ever read an old newspaper article and wondered
what happened to the people mentioned in the story? Then check out the new
Newspapers.com and Ancestry® podcast, “Behind the Headlines of History”!
Join hosts Brad Argent of Ancestry® and historian Michala
Hulme of Manchester Metropolitan University as
they share intriguing newspaper articles from the past, before putting on their
genealogy hats and scouring records to find out more about some of the
people involved in the stories.
In the first episode, Brad and Michala discuss the love story behind the Great Bullion Robbery of 1855 and
also reveal how the theft of some hazelnuts in 1877 is linked to Downton Abbey!
Host Brad Argent shared his thoughts:
“Historic newspapers are a treasure trove of great stories, and a fantastic resource for family historians to find out more about the details of their ancestors’ lives. With this podcast, we wanted to bring this to life, sharing weird, wonderful and sometimes tragic historic news stories to find out who these people were, where they came from and what happened next. Join us as we go behind the headlines of history!”
We’re excited to share “Behind
the Headlines of History” with you! Whether it’s on your commute, at the gym,
or while cleaning the house, this fun and fascinating podcast is a perfect way
to pass the time!
“Behind the Headlines of History” will be released each week on Tuesdays for 10 weeks, beginning September 3. It is available on a range of platforms, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Podcasts and more.
doctors in Vermont noticed
a strange illness spreading throughout the state. Symptoms included fever,
sore throat, aches, and difficulty breathing. In some instances, the disease
or even death. The virus attacked the nervous system and seemed to hit small
children especially hard. The outbreak resulted in 18 deaths and 132 cases of
permanent paralysis in Vermont that year. After careful study, doctors
finally identified the culprit as poliomyelitis – or polio. Polio ravaged
the country and terrified Americans for more than fifty years until a 1955
vaccine promised an 80-90%
success rate in preventing the disease. However, within two weeks of being
inoculated with the new vaccine, six
children developed paralysis and the vaccine was found defective. This
incident, known as the Cutter
incident, led to changes including increased government oversight in the
manufacture and regulation of vaccines.
Advances in polio treatment led scientists to develop the iron
lung in 1928.
Some patients lost the ability to breathe on their own when polio paralyzed their
chest muscles. The iron lung acted as a respirator
using air pressure to expand and contract a patient’s diaphragm, essentially
breathing for them at the rate of 16 times a minute. In 2008, America’s
longest-living survivor in an iron lung passed away after a power outage
shut down her iron lung and a backup generator failed.
In the 1930s, early efforts to create a polio vaccine were
unsuccessful. By the 1950s, Dr. Jonas Salk experienced
a breakthrough and successfully developed a vaccine using an inactivated
strain of the poliovirus (IPV). His vaccine was based on three virulent strains
of the virus that were inactivated using a formaldehyde solution. Salk was so
confident in his work that in 1953, he vaccinated his own family. A larger
trial began in 1954 that provided vaccinations for more than 1
million children, and in April 1955, authorities announced the trial was a
success and mass
vaccinations could begin. That meant the vaccine needed large scale
production and the pharmaceutical industry stepped up to help.
The cheers and relief experienced by Americans quickly turned to shock when within two weeks of receiving the vaccine, six children became paralyzed. Officials discovered that all six children had been inoculated using a vaccine created by Cutter Laboratories in California. The Cutter vaccine was recalled but not before 380,000 of the company’s doses had been administered. It was discovered that the formaldehyde solution Cutter Laboratories used was defective and did not inactivate the virus. Instead, the vaccines administered contained the live poliovirus. The defective vaccine led to 220,000 new infections and caused 164 to become severely paralyzed. Ten children died. The Cutter incident led to a dramatic change in government oversight of vaccine production and also changed medical liability lawsuits when Cutter was found guilty and liable without fault during the trial. Despite the tragic Cutter incident, Salk’s vaccine was successful in the fight against polio. However, the Salk vaccine was replaced in the 1960s when Albert Sabin introduced an oral polio vaccine (OPV) that relied on a weakened poliovirus and proved highly effective.
Do you have family members that suffered from polio? Learn
more about polio and the development of a polio vaccine on Newspapers.com.
Love it or hate it, pumpkin-spice season is here again. But
do you know how this autumn flavor got its start?
Let’s head to the historical papers on Newspapers.com to see what we can learn. Click on any of the links in the post to see newspaper clippings that document the history of pumpkin spice!
“Pumpkin spice” is
usually a mix of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, and/or cloves. Since some
combinations of these spices date back to ancient days, for the sake of time,
let’s jump forward to the 18th century United States.
By this time, spices were available in the U.S. and were being used in cooking and baking. A 1734 Pennsylvania newspaper advertisement, for instance, shows that spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice were being imported to the U.S. And a newspaper recipe for “soft cakes” from 1825 New York confirms that spices (nutmeg and cinnamon in this case) were used in early American baking.
For the Love of
So it’s clear that the spices in “pumpkin spice” were used
together, but where does pumpkin come in?
Americans have been flavoring their pumpkin dishes with spices for a long time. In fact, the first American cookbook (“American Cookery” from 1796) includes a pumpkin recipe that uses mace, nutmeg, and ginger.
But most of all, Americans loved pumpkin pie, and spices were an important part of the flavor of the dish. A 1839 newspaper recipe, for example, calls for cinnamon and ginger in the pie filling.
“Pumpkin Pie Spice” Proliferation
But when did this traditional spice combination become known
as “pumpkin spice”?
In 1930, a spice company called Thompson & Taylor (T&T) introduced what they called “Pumpkin Pie Spice,” which combined all the spices a home baker needed to make pumpkin pie. Now, as the ads claimed, making pumpkin pies at home was more convenient and the pies themselves would be more consistent in flavor.
The idea of selling a pre-mixed pie spice caught on, and over the next few years more and more companies introduced their own pumpkin pie spices. The mix best-known today, by McCormick, went on the market in 1934.
With an increasing number of companies selling pumpkin pie spices, newspapers were inundated with ads around Thanksgiving time. As newspapers tried to save space, the mix was sometimes referred to simply as “pumpkin spice” instead of “pumpkin pie spice,” as you can see in this ad from 1931.
Around this same time, “pumpkin spice” began appearing in the names of recipes published in newspapers. For instance, based on the papers currently on Newspapers.com, recipes for “Pumpkin Spice Cake” began showing up in newspapers around 1935, though we found a brief mention in an ad from 1934.
From this time on, ads and recipes for “pumpkin spice” flavored foods appeared with increasing frequency in newspapers, and it became well-established as its own flavor in the decades that followed.
But, of course, despite pumpkin spice’s long history, the current flood of pumpkin-spice products can largely be traced back to Starbucks, which first introduced its popular Pumpkin Spice Latte in 2003. Spiced coffee has its own extensive history, but Starbucks’ branding of its new beverage as “pumpkin spice” kicked off a trend that seems to have taken over the autumn season. Whether you like it or not.
On September 2, 1859, a massive solar storm composed of subatomic charged particles slammed into the earth’s protective magnetosphere. It ignited countless fires and caused sparks to spew from telegraph machines, shocking their operators. It also created a dramatic show of aurora borealis, or northern lights, as far south as the Caribbean. Solar storms occur when enormous bubbles of superheated plasma are periodically ejected from the sun. Scientists believe that if a similar solar storm were to happen today, it would cause catastrophic damage by crippling power grids, satellites, GPS, and communications systems. Such an event could leave North American without power for months or years and could carry an economic impact as high as $2 trillion.
While conducting observations from his private observatory outside of London on the morning of September 1, 1859, British amateur astronomer Richard Carrington noticed patches of intense white light erupt from the sun. The eruptions lasted about five minutes before dissipating. Little did Carrington know the flare he observed sent solar wind shock waves carrying supercharged plasma racing towards the earth. Hours later, those particles slammed into the earth’s magnetic shield, creating auroral flashes and clouds in vivid colors of red, violet, pink, and green. This single solar storm carried the energy equivalent of 10 billion atomic bombs and is known as the Carrington Event.
Our sun operates on solar
cycles that last an average of 11 years. The Carrington Event occurred
during Solar Cycle 10, which lasted from December 1855 until March 1867. Solar
Cycle 24 began in December 2008 and is just wrapping up. The current
forecast predicts Solar Cycle 25 will be relatively weak.
Will a future solar cycle bring a repeat of the Carrington Event? Scientists say it’s not only possible but inevitable. According to a 2008 report from the National Academy of Sciences, a similar-sized solar storm would include, “disruption of the transportation, communication, banking and finance systems, and government services; the breakdown of distribution of potable water owing to pump failure, and the loss of perishable foods and medications because of the lack of refrigeration.” Researchers studying evidence of historic solar storms say a large solar storm “would be a threat to modern society.”
To read more personal accounts of the Carrington Event in 1859,
and to learn more about solar storms, search
Early editions of the Arizona Weekly Citizen were
filled with accounts of skirmishes
with Native Americans as westward expansion encroached upon Native American
lands. Upset over Indian attacks, in 1870 the paper highlighted an offer by the
Mexican government to pay a $300
bounty for each Apache scalp. The hostilities came to a head in the early
morning hours of April 30, 1871, when a group of men from Tucson massacred more
than 100 Apaches in the Camp
Grant Massacre. Officials arrested the men but a court later
The invention of air-conditioning
to combat sweltering Arizona heat led to significant growth in Arizona’s population.
During the 1930s, the first public buildings in Tucson got
air conditioning, followed by homes
in later decades. If you are tracing ancestors that lived in Tucson, search for
death, and birth announcements. If you’re lucky, you just might find a
biographical sketch of your ancestor like
these for members of the 1883 Territorial Legislature.
If you have ancestors from Jasper, Indiana, you’ll be
excited to hear we’ve added The Dubois Herald
and the Jasper
Weekly Courier to our archives. The Dubois Herald began as The
Jasper Herald, a weekly that started in 1895. In 1946, the paper, known
then as The Dubois County Herald, started publishing six days a week.
That tradition continues today, and The Dubois Herald has chronicled
Jasper’s history for 124 years. Jasper has strong German roots and many of
today’s residents can trace their heritage back to the mid-19th
century when Father
Joseph Kundek, a Catholic Priest, promoted Jasper to German immigrants.
That heritage is celebrated annually during the Strassenfest
celebration. If you have ancestors that lived in nearby townships like Cuzco,
Ferdinand, or Ireland, the Correspondence
Column included updates from citizens of those communities.
On December 26, 2004, following a M9.2 earthquake that
occurred off the western coast of Sumatra, Indonesia, a massive tsunami ripped
through southeast Asia that ultimately resulted in the deaths of some 230,000
people in 14 countries. Indonesia was particularly affected by both physical
damage and human casualties.
At Newspapers.com, we occasionally highlight ways our users
find success in our archives. One team of geologists from Brigham Young
University utilized information found in 19th-century newspapers to
refine computer models of historic tsunamis in Indonesia in hopes of identifying
future area of risks and to prevent future tsunamis from producing the massive
loss of life seen in 2004.
Graduate student Claire Ashcraft frequently travels to
Indonesia to work with government officials, gather geologic
data, and to work with local communities to improve tsunami awareness and
Analysis of geologic evidence, such as
the dating of tsunami sand deposits, help show which islands have experienced
tsunamis. Historical records are also invaluable to the team. By isolating
quantitative information in the written records, the data is applied to complex
digital models to produce more accurate results. However, a lack of available
records hampers this work; few accounts of Indonesian tsunamis survive, and
most were written by Dutch colonists who arrived in the early 17th
Of particular interest to Ashcraft and
her team are two tsunamis which took place in Central and Eastern Indonesia,
the former in 1820 and the latter in 1852.
Recently, Ashcraft turned to Newspapers.com and was elated to find mentions of both events in historical papers.
An 1821 clipping described the 1820
event (the news took months to arrive by ship), citing a Dutch newspaper
article published in the Dutch East Indies in the city of Batavia (now
Jakarta). With this lead, she was able to track down the original Dutch
newspaper and find new quantitative information that had not yet seen.
Similarly, an 1853 clipping gave Ashcraft
critical details. The article noted that a Dutch royal navy brig called “de
Haai” experienced the tsunami and its captain made detailed observations
throughout the day. After learning the name of this ship and its captain from
Newspapers.com, Ashcraft took these names and began searching in Dutch East
Indies nautical records for a connection. She quickly found a book which
mentioned the brig in conjunction with key Dutch words she recognized, such as
‘aardbeving’ (earthquake) and ‘zeebeving’ (seaquake). After translating the
record Ashcraft realized that it contained not only the full account of the
navy brig, but a collection of seven other first-person records that provided a
wealth of information previously unknown to the team.
Newspapers.com provided key details that
allowed BYU researchers key data to improve computer models. The models will
help the Indonesian government to identify areas affected by past tsunamis and
prepare for future events.
At Newspapers.com, we’re constantly adding newspapers to our archives to grow our coverage of locations around the United States, Canada, and beyond. In fact, we add millions of newspaper pages each month!
But growing our archives inevitably takes time. So what can
you do if Newspapers.com doesn’t have a newspaper from your ancestor’s hometown
yet? Or if Newspapers.com does have the paper, but not the years you need? Or
what if your ancestor’s hometown didn’t even have a local newspaper in the
Can you still use the papers on our site to learn about your
ancestor? Yes! While hometown papers are the most likely place to find news
about your ancestor, they’re far from the only place.
Read on to learn 7 of our top tips for doing family history research beyond your ancestor’s hometown newspaper.
1. Search your ancestor’s name in ALL
the papers on the site.
This tip is only practical if your ancestor had a fairly
uncommon name, but it’s worth mentioning up front. You never know exactly when
or where your ancestor’s name might appear in a newspaper—and they can turn up
in some pretty surprising places! Yes, your ancestor may have lived their
entire life in a particular place, but a reprinted or syndicated story about
them may pop up in newspapers in states they had no connection to at all!
But if your ancestor’s name isn’t particularly unique,
you’ll need some ways to focus your search to avoid getting too many matches.
That’s where our other tips come in!
2. Search for your ancestor in the
newspapers of nearby towns and the county seat.
Apart from hometown papers, newspapers from the county seat
or neighboring towns (even those across a state border!) are some of the most
likely places you’ll find mentions of your ancestor.
Two ways Newspapers.com helps you with this are the County search and Map search functions. County search allows you to search all the papers in a county. Just start typing the county name into the “Paper Location” field of the Advanced Search options, and then select the county name. (If the county you type doesn’t appear on the list, then Newspapers.com doesn’t currently have papers from that county.)
The Map search (accessible by selecting “See papers by location” on the homepage) allows you to zoom in on our map to see (and then search!) the papers on our site from as big or small a geographical region as you want.
For example, you can zoom in on the map to see all the
papers currently available from the entire state of Kansas, or you can zoom in
even further to see all the papers available specifically from Cherokee County.
This is especially helpful if your ancestor lived near a state border, since
you can see which papers were being published in neighboring towns across the
state line. So if your ancestor lived in Cherokee County, Kansas, the
Newspapers Map will show you that we also have papers from nearby Jasper
3. Search for your ancestor in every
city they lived in or were associated with.
Outside your ancestor’s hometown, the towns where they were
born or died are good places to check for newspaper mentions of them. But there
are many more places you can search!
First, use vital and other genealogical records, family
stories, newspaper clues, or whatever resources you have to compile a list of
every place your ancestor lived or was associated with. Then search for them in
papers from those locations.
This could be the city where they attended college, where they worked, where they were stationed in the military, where they landed after immigrating, or even where they traveled on an extended vacation. The possibilities are endless! Anywhere your ancestor spent time may have some sort of newspaper record of their time there, even if it’s simply a mention of them in a list of hotel guests or passengers who came in on the train.
4. Search for your ancestor in the
areas where their family members lived.
Once you’ve tried searching for your ancestor in the places they were associated with, move on to
their family members. Start with parents, children, and siblings, and work your
way out to in-laws, cousins, aunts and uncles, and other extended family. This
will likely require you to do some digging into collateral (non-direct) lines
on your family tree, but it may be worth the time.
Family members’ obituaries can be a particularly rich source
of information about your ancestor, but the possibilities don’t stop there. For
instance, newspapers often published news about people who were visiting family
members in town, whether it was for a vacation, wedding, funeral, or reunion.
They also published updates on people who had moved away but still had family
Keep in mind that newspapers didn’t always mention visitors
by name, sometimes merely saying that so-and-so’s brother was in town for the
week. But if you’re paying attention, you might catch that the nameless brother
mentioned in the article is actually the ancestor you’ve been looking for!
You may be surprised how much information about your ancestor can appear in the newspapers where their family members lived. For example, one birth announcement for a baby born in Colorado was actually published in Pennsylvania, where the mother’s family lived. Even more surprising, the announcement wasn’t in the family’s hometown paper but in the paper from the county seat!
5. Search for your ancestor in
newspapers of ethnic or religious communities they belonged to.
If your ancestor belonged to a particular ethnic or religious community, try looking for them in newspapers that catered to that community. These might include Jewish or Catholic newspapers, African American papers, or German-language papers. Newspapers that targeted a specific religious or ethnic community often shared news about people within that demographic even if they lived in a different state than where the paper was published.
For instance, if your ancestor was African American, you may
have luck searching for them in historically black papers, such as the Pittsburgh Courier or Kansas City Sun. These papers published
news about African Americans from all over the United States, not just
Pittsburgh or Kansas City.
6. Search for your ancestor in the
years after their lifetime.
If the problem is that Newspapers.com has the hometown paper, just not the years you need, try searching for your ancestor in the years after their lifetime. They might be mentioned in their child’s obituary or in a piece spotlighting the pioneers of the town. Or they might crop up in a “this-day-in-history” feature in the newspaper or in an article about events of historical significance to the town. This Indiana town history piece from 1939, for example, mentions people and events from more than a century earlier!
7. Check back!
Since Newspapers.com frequently adds and updates papers, check back often to see if the hometown paper you want has been added to the site. A quick way to do this is on our New & Updated page.
There are also a couple ways to be automatically informed by email when certain newspaper content is added to the site. The first way is to save a search. This will notify you when we add a newspaper page that has results that match criteria you specify. To enable this feature, simply set up a search with the criteria you want (for example, “John Smith” in Kansas newspapers), then select the “Save/Notify” button on the search results page.
You can also choose to be automatically notified by email
when we add pages to a specific newspaper title. This is a convenient option if
you’re waiting for additional years to be added to a paper already on our site.
Do it by selecting any newspaper title and clicking the “follow” button on the
On the morning of August 21, 1959, nearly 100 people crammed into the Governor’s office in Iolani Palace in Honolulu, Hawaii. They arrived long before 10:00 a.m., the scheduled time for the anticipated phone call. Minutes ticked by and a nervous hush permeated the room. At 10:08, a string of firecrackers ignited within earshot of the palace, followed by the blaring of car horns – but the phone remained silent. Finally, at 10:15 a.m., the Governor’s phone rang, and the room let out a collective sigh of relief. The call from Washington relayed the news. President Dwight D. Eisenhower had just signed the proclamation making Hawaii the 50th state. Governor William F. Quinn made the announcement to the cheering crowd, “Ladies and gentlemen, Hawaii is now a state!” The announcement came from the same palace where 66 years earlier, Hawaii’s final monarch was ousted during a coup that led to Hawaii’s annexation as a US territory.
Around the time of the Spanish-American War, the US realized
the strategic military importance of Hawaii and established a military
outpost that later became Pearl
Harbor naval station. In 1898, Hawaii was annexed and became a US
B. Dole was named the president of the Provisional
Government of Hawaii. The territory had no voice in the US government and
rich plantation owners benefited by allowing plantation owners to import cheap
labor and export products to the mainland with low tariffs.