The Great Moon Hoax that Rivaled Jules Verne

In August of 1835, the fledgling New York Sun printed the most astonishing news. Life had been discovered on the moon! An excited public ate it up, and what may have been intended as a satirical poke at past religious and “scientific” articles became the Great Moon Hoax.

Story was a Story was a “reprint” from a supplement to the (nonexistent) Edinburgh Journal of Science Tue, Oct 1, 1957 – Page 14 · The Ithaca Journal (Ithaca, New York) · Newspapers.com

As described in the clipping above, probable author Richard Adams Locke presented the article as originating from the Edinburgh Journal of Science. That, along with the name-drop of famous astronomer Sir John Herschel, lent credibility to an otherwise incredible story.

With the use of a powerful telescope, “Herschel” and his (entirely fictional) colleague, Dr. Grant, were able to make some remarkable discoveries on the moon’s surface. First, the article describes the land and vegetation.

First organic production of nature in a foreign worldFirst organic production of nature in a foreign world Fri, Sep 4, 1835 – Page 3 · Newbern Spectator (New Bern, North Carolina) · Newspapers.com

There were descriptions of beautiful beaches lining deep blue water, green marble walls of stone, huge pyramidal amethysts that stretched for miles, and red, crystallized hills. But the most amazing discovery of all were the creatures.

The moon and its life formsThe moon and its life forms Thu, Aug 25, 2011 – Page 1-2 · Chicago Tribune (Chicago, Illinois) · Newspapers.com

Herds of something like bison, tail-less beavers that walked upright, majestic birds,  beautiful black-antlered stags, and blue goat-unicorns were just some of the fauna described in “Dr. Grant’s” account. But the most exciting and sensational discovery of all was the humanoid “man-bat.”

The man-bats of the moonThe man-bats of the moon Fri, Sep 4, 1835 – Page 3 · Newbern Spectator (New Bern, North Carolina) · Newspapers.com

The man-batsThe man-bats Sun, Feb 25, 1962 – 75 · The Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, California) · Newspapers.com

It sounds ridiculous now, and to many it sounded ridiculous then. When the telescope that brought all this marvelous insight into the life on the moon “broke,” it didn’t take long for the truth of the hoax to come to light. Oddly enough, most people didn’t really seem to mind.

Kept on Buying itKept on Buying it Fri, Oct 4, 1957 – Page 24 · Green Bay Press-Gazette (Green Bay, Wisconsin) · Newspapers.com

Comment by Professor Ulf Jonas BjorkComment by Professor Ulf Jonas Bjork Thu, Aug 25, 2011 – Page 1-2 · Chicago Tribune (Chicago, Illinois) · Newspapers.com

Who needs the truth when you can have a good story?

Find more on the Great Moon Hoax of 1835, including the original articles that were circulated at the time of the hoax, with a search on Newspapers.com.

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Miss Farmer’s School of Cookery – This Week in History

On August 23, 1902, Fannie Farmer opens a school to teach her methods of cooking. You may not have heard of her, but she revolutionized American cooking by introducing standardized measuring tools in her famous cookbook. Next time you measure a level teaspoon of baking soda, you know who to thank! Miss Farmer’s aptitude and nearly scientific approach to cooking made her a familiar name across the country.

Made Cooking a ScienceMade Cooking a Science Sun, Nov 24, 1957 – Page 38 · Lansing State Journal (Lansing, Michigan) · Newspapers.com
Miss Fannie FarmerMiss Fannie Farmer Sat, Jul 19, 1902 – 3 · New England Farmer (Boston, Massachusetts) · Newspapers.com

Miss Farmer was unique in her field for another reason, too; not only did her cookery courses focus on fancy dinners and events, but she worked to create diets catered to the ill. She taught nutritional courses to doctors and nurses and considered her work creating meals for those who are so often without appetites to be her most important contribution. But the classes taught in her cooking school focused on all of her areas of expertise.

Miss Farmer's school of cookeryMiss Farmer’s school of cookery Sat, Sep 6, 1902 – 3 · New England Farmer (Boston, Massachusetts) · Newspapers.com

Find more on Fannie Farmer, her cookbook, and her cooking school with a search on Newspapers.com.

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Berlin Divided – This Week in History

On August 13, 1961, barbed wire fences are put up to divide the Soviet eastern half of the city from democratic West Berlin. This would later become the infamous concrete barrier known as the Berlin Wall.

Barbed wire barrier divides BerlinBarbed wire barrier Mon, Aug 14, 1961 – Page 1 · The Burlington Free Press (Burlington, Vermont) · Newspapers.com

Peace Pact Now Seen IrrevocablePeace Pact Now Seen Irrevocable Mon, Aug 14, 1961 – 3 · Tampa Bay Times (St. Petersburg, Florida) · Newspapers.com

Turned BackTurned Back Mon, Aug 14, 1961 – 8 · Tampa Bay Times (St. Petersburg, Florida) · Newspapers.com

Violate Big Four AccordViolate Big Four Accord Mon, Aug 14, 1961 – 3 · Daily News (New York, New York) · Newspapers.com

Wire put upWire put up Mon, Aug 14, 1961 – 1 · Tampa Bay Times (St. Petersburg, Florida) · Newspapers.com

Find more from this moment in history with a search on Newspapers.com, or by browsing the papers from this time.

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National S’mores Day

Happy National S’mores Day! Recipes for S’mores started popping up in papers around the 1930s. Back then they were often associated with scouting programs and summer hikes, and called other things like “graham cracker sandwiches” or the name from which the term S’more is derived, “Some Mores.”

In honor of such an auspicious occasion, here are a couple S’mores-related clippings from those early days of ooey-gooey goodness. 

Scouts' DelightsScouts’ Delights Thu, Sep 19, 1940 – 14 · The Dayton Herald (Dayton, Ohio) · Newspapers.com

Learned to make Learned to make “some mores” Fri, Oct 30, 1936 – Page 8 · The Oshkosh Northwestern (Oshkosh, Wisconsin) · Newspapers.com

Find more S’mores-y stuff  with a search on Newspapers.com.

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This Week in History – Voyage of the Kon-Tiki

This week in 1947, a balsa raft called the Kon-Tiki successfully ends its long voyage across the Pacific with a (rough) landing on the uninhabited island of Raroia. The precarious excursion was meant to prove that the Polynesian islands could have originally been settled by South Americans, a theory posited by Norwegian anthropologist and raft captain, Thor Heyerdahl.

Thor HeyerdahlThor Heyerdahl Sun, Jun 1, 1947 – Page 135 · The Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.com

the the “why” behind the trip Thu, May 8, 1947 – Page 25 · The Pittsburgh Press (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.com

The Kon-Tiki route, and Thor (on the right)The Kon-Tiki route, and Thor (on the right) Sun, Feb 9, 1947 – 57 · The Baltimore Sun (Baltimore, Maryland) · Newspapers.com

The 4,300 mile trip took the six men on board the raft 101 days to complete. The voyage began in late April and was anticipated to last at least four months. The raft itself was constructed as close to the indigenous ancient Peruvian style as could be managed, and would bob along from Peru to Tahiti with the help of the Humboldt Current. As you might expect, an ocean journey on a raft no bigger than a modestly-sized living room had its share of dangers.

the six menthe six men Thu, May 8, 1947 – Page 25 · The Pittsburgh Press (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.com

sea creature dangerssea creature dangers Sun, Feb 9, 1947 – 57 · The Baltimore Sun (Baltimore, Maryland) · Newspapers.com

The raft crashed into a reef off the coast of Raroia island on August 7—an almost comically bad ending to a long and difficult experiment. Fortunately, all of the crew were fine and made it back home safely afterwards. But on the bright side, they got there ahead of schedule! You win some, you lose some.

Aug 7, 1947Aug 7, 1947 Mon, Aug 11, 1947 – 11 · Hartford Courant (Hartford, Connecticut) · Newspapers.com

Find out more about the Kon-Tiki expedition and the men who braved it with a search on Newspapers.com.

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Charlotte Cushman

In the past, there have been many actresses whose talents and innate understanding of emotion and character have brought them fame and fortune. But perhaps none were quite as unique as the famous American actress, Charlotte Cushman. In the mid-1800s her ability to step easily into male roles was the talk of the stage and made her a celebrity whose name was known far and wide.

Cushman began her time on the stage as an opera singer, but was forced to make a change of career when her voice gave out. She stepped into the world of acting in 1835, to great success. But it was her performance as Romeo a few years later, with her younger sister Susan in the role of Juliet, that made her famous.

Cushman sisters as Romeo and JulietCushman sisters as Romeo and Juliet Sun, Oct 22, 1893 – Page 19 · The Times (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.com

Charlotte Cushman as RomeoCharlotte Cushman as Romeo Mon, Sep 26, 1927 – 14 · The Boston Globe (Boston, Massachusetts) · Newspapers.com

Charlotte Cushman as RomeoCharlotte Cushman as Romeo Mon, Sep 26, 1927 – 14 · The Boston Globe (Boston, Massachusetts) · Newspapers.com
Romeo would be the role for which she was known and remembered even after her death, and one that she played for well over a decade. Her much-admired performances earned her reviews like the one below, by dramatist Sheridan Knowles:

Review of the performance of Miss Cushman as Romeo and her sister as JulietReview of the performance of Miss Cushman as Romeo and her sister as Juliet Sun, Feb 12, 1860 – 9 · The Era (London, Greater London, England) · Newspapers.com

Cushman was also successful in the role of Hamlet, and, more unusual for women of the time, as Cardinal Wolsey in Henry VIII.  She didn’t exclusively play male roles, either, often capturing audiences as female leads like Queen Katherine and Lady Macbeth.

Miss Charlotte Cushman as RomeoMiss Charlotte Cushman as Romeo Tue, Apr 20, 1858 – 2 · The Daily Exchange (Baltimore, Maryland) · Newspapers.com

When she died of pneumonia at age 59, papers praised her career and admirable life. But, as with many things, her fame has faded with time.

Charlotte CushmanCharlotte Cushman Wed, Feb 23, 1876 – Page 2 · The Daily Commonwealth (Topeka, Kansas) · Newspapers.com

Find out more about this extraordinary actress with a search through the archives of Newspapers.com.

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This Week in History – USS Nautilus Slides Over North Pole

On August 3rd, 1958, the famous nuclear-powered submarine USS Nautilus makes a historic journey beneath the ice caps of the North Pole. Here are a handful of clippings about the journey and crew from papers across the states during August 1958:

This Time He Made ItThis Time He Made It Sun, Aug 31, 1958 – 16 · Hartford Courant (Hartford, Connecticut) · Newspapers.com

Commander and crew of USS NautilusCommander and crew of USS Nautilus Sun, Aug 31, 1958 – 16 · Hartford Courant (Hartford, Connecticut) · Newspapers.com

Excerpt from letter of Nautilus crewman James IrvinExcerpt from letter of Nautilus crewman James Irvin Tue, Aug 26, 1958 – 4 · The Clinton Eye (Clinton, Missouri) · Newspapers.com

Excerpt from the letter of Nautilus crewman James JohnsonExcerpt from the letter of Nautilus crewman James Johnson Tue, Aug 12, 1958 – Page 2 · The Lincoln Star (Lincoln, Nebraska) · Newspapers.com

Commander Anderson awarded Legion of MeritCommander Anderson awarded Legion of Merit Sat, Aug 9, 1958 – Page 1 · Reno Gazette-Journal (Reno, Nevada) · Newspapers.com

Find more on this unprecedented journey, the many records of the Nautilus, and Commander Anderson with a search on Newspapers.com.

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