British Collection of Newspapers

This month we head across the pond to highlight our British collection of newspapers. We have papers from cities across England. We also have issues from Scotland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, and Wales. Our archives date back to 1700 and cover more than 300 years of history.

The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II
This clipping from The Post Man and The Historical Account from 1700, advertises a book that scholars consider the world’s first scientific journal. It was published by Sir Hans Sloane. Sloane was King George’s doctor, a scientist, and an avid collector of objects from all around the world. Upon his death, Sloane willed his collection of 71,000 items to Britain. This collection became the foundation for the British Museum.

The events leading up to the Revolutionary War are covered from a British perspective in this collection. In one last attempt to avoid war, The Derby Mercury published this letter sent by the Continental Congress to “The Inhabitants of Britain” in 1775. The letter asked for compassion and understanding and pointed out injustices.

The American Revolution has been just one of many conflicts covered by British papers. This dispatch published in The Morning Post in 1814 described when the British set fire to the White House. “The following buildings were set fire to and consumed – the Capitol, including the Senate-house and House of Representation, the arsenal and the President’s palace,” the report said.

The royal family has long dominated British newspaper headlines. In 1837, the papers reported on the crowning of Queen Victoria. The Jackson’s Oxford Journal celebrated her marriage to Prince Albert; and this 1861 headline in The Morning Chronicle announced the death of Prince Albert.

Queen Victoria reigned during a time of rapid industrial growth. British newspapers recorded the deaths of many men, women and children who worked in unsafe working conditions in factories and mines.

The Shefflield and Rotherham Independent reported on a violent storm in 1838. It filled ventilation shafts with water at the Huskar Colliery, resulting in the deaths of 26 child mine workers. Queen Victoria pressed for an inquiry on working conditions. In 1842, the Children’s Employment Commission released a report that made its way to the papers and caused a sensation. The report found it was not uncommon for children as young as five to work 12-hour days in the mines. They hauled heavy loads through narrow shafts, some just 18-inches tall. The Mines and Collieries Act of 1842 was designed to protect women and children from these conditions.

Industrialization led to increased pollution. The Guardian reported on the great smog of 1952. An anticyclone caused high pressure that trapped pollutants and formed a layer of smog over London. Visibility was reduced to inches. The smog claimed more than 4,000 lives during the 5-day event, and thousands more after.

To learn more about these stories, or to research your British ancestors, search our British collection on Newspapers.com!

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Introducing Newspapers.com Topic Pages!

News, Finds, Tips of the Month

We’re excited to announce that Newspapers.com now has Topic Pages! Topic Pages are a free, curated collection of newspaper articles and clippings focused on subjects throughout American and world history.

Want to learn more about the Great Depression, the D.B. Cooper Hijacking, or Jackie Robinson? These are just a few of the Topic Pages we’ve created! Each Topic Page includes a description of the person or event and a selection of newspaper clippings related to the subject.

As primary sources, these newspaper clippings help you learn how people of the time viewed the person or event highlighted on the Topic Page. For example, our Topic Page for the Battle of Bunker Hill includes newspaper clippings from Patriot, Loyalist, and British perspectives, so you can see the battle from three different points of view.

Whether you’re doing research or are just curious about a subject, Topic Pages are a great place to dive deeper.

Our Topic Pages include:


Battle of Gettysburg

Battle of Gettysburg

Our collection of Topic Pages is still growing, so keep checking back to find more topics. Or if there’s a topic you want to see, suggest it to us!

Get started exploring our new Topic Pages here.

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The Irish Potato Famine Begins: September 1845

Lake Nyos Disaster August 21, 1986

In September 1845, Irish farmers noticed the leaves on their potato plants starting to wilt and turn black. When the potatoes were dug up, they initially appeared to be fine, but then rotted within days. A fungus called Phytophthora infestans, accidentally brought from North America, was rapidly spreading. The cool, moist climate of Ireland allowed the spores to thrive. Virtually overnight, entire fields were infected.

Famine still pains the Irish
The Irish potato famine, also known as the Great Hunger, had begun. The 1851 Irish census recorded more than a million deaths between 1845-1849. A Dublin paper, The Freeman’s Journal, recorded individual parish deaths in 1847, including this parish that lost 240 members within months.

Even before the famine, Irish farmers lived in extreme poverty. They were tenant farmers, working land owned by the British. The absentee landlords collected rents, but rarely, if ever, visited their properties. Middlemen, who often managed the farms, sought to increase rents by dividing the farms into smaller parcels. The farms became too small to hire help, leaving many Irish unemployed. In order to survive, farmers had nothing to depend on but a small plot of potatoes to feed their families and livestock.

When the famine hit, farmers fell behind on rent. Some British landlords evicted starving peasants and burned their homes. The blight continued and peaked in 1847 (also known as Black ’47) because suffering was so extreme. Weakened by hunger, many Irish succumbed to starvation or diseases like dysentery, typhus, and infection.

The British response to the deepening crisis was slow. Parliament passed the Soup Kitchen Act which led to nearly 3 million people lining up each day for a bowl of soup, often their only meal of the day. Unable to keep up with demand, many of the soup kitchens went bankrupt and the government shut down the program. It wasn’t until 1997 that Britain apologized for their response to the famine, saying they had “failed their people.”

Desperate to escape the crisis, a flood of emigrants loaded in Canadian timber ships bound for North America. Passage was cheap because the ships were not intended for human cargo, and conditions were horrific. They became known as “coffin ships” because so many died during the voyage.

Starving and desperate, more than 1.5 million Irish sought refuge in the United States. Today many Americans of Irish descent can trace their heritage back to this pivotal time in history.

Do you have Irish immigrants in your family tree? Tell us their story! To learn more about the Irish Potato Famine, search our archives!

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New Historical Kansas Newspapers Now Available

If you have ancestors from Kansas or an interest in Kansas history, we’re pleased to announce a partnership with the Kansas Historical Society that will ultimately make available nearly 11 million pages of newspapers, primarily from pre-1923. We’re halfway through digitizing this collection and adding more records every day! The entire archive will be digitized by year’s end!

Kansas Historical Society Organized - 1875
Kansas became the 34th state in 1861, months before the start of the Civil War. In a clipping from The Lecompton Sun, an early Kansas pioneer remembered the conflict over slavery that led to bloody battles in Kansas in an era known as the Border War or Bleeding Kansas. Lecompton’s Constitution Hall is where the territorial government drafted a pro-slavery constitution which would be used for obtaining Kansas statehood. This constitution was ultimately rejected at a national level and never went into effect.

After the Civil War, railroads expanded to Kansas. Military posts were installed to protect the railroad. This led to the creation of small towns dotting the rail line and plenty of newcomers. This clipping from The Dodge City Daily Globe in 1912 heralded the new railroad that would double the town’s population — unless, of course, you wanted to “Get Outta Dodge!”

Newspapers from early Kansas communities provide a glimpse into the daily life of settlers. This page from the Weekly Republican in Cherryvale is a typical example. Like many other Kansas towns, the population of Cherryvale tripled from 1880-1890 because of westward expansion. Early newspapers recorded births, deaths, and other details of settlers lives.

Expansion led to increased confrontation with Native American tribes as their land was given to whites. This clipping from the El Dorado Republican recounts the incredible story of a woman kidnapped by the Sioux tribe in 1877. She later concluded that Native Americans had been treated unjustly by settlers. Tribes were forced to smaller reservations and tensions were high.

In 1874, Russian immigrants arrived in Goessel, and according to legend, came with kitchen crocks full of Turkey Red winter wheat seed. The wheat berries contained more protein and proved well-suited for the climate. Until then, corn was the Kansas crop of choice. Today Kansas is one of the world’s top wheat producing regions.

In 1886, developer Ben Blanchard was drilling for oil when he hit salt instead. The town of Hutchinson sprang up and the Kansas salt industry was born.

The famous landmarks of Castle Rock and Monument Rocks in Gove County have been landmarks for many including explorer John C. Freemont and travelers on the Overland Trail. Monument Rocks was the first designated National Natural Landmark in Kansas. The monuments have also been a gathering spot for many Kansans over the years.

Search our archives to learn more about Kansas history or to document your early Kansas ancestors through this historical newspaper collection!

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Historic causes of death and modern equivalents

News, Finds, Tips of the Month

Finding the historic obituary for your ancestor on Newspapers.com is like hitting the jackpot in genealogical research. Sometimes the cause of death is something we’ve never heard of. Here’s a list of historic causes of death and their modern equivalents.

1856 Ad For Medicine To Cure Ague
Ague: Malarial Fever

Apoplexy: Unconsciousness resulting from a cerebral hemorrhage or stroke

Brain Fever: Meningitis

Bright’s Disease: Kidney failure

Childbed: Fever due to an infection after childbirth

Consumption: Tuberculosis

Canine Madness: Rabies caused by the bite of an animal

Consumption Cure? 1904
Chin Cough: Whooping cough

Diphtheria: Contagious disease of the throat

Dyspepsia: Indigestion and heartburn

Dropsy: Edema caused by kidney or heart disease

Falling Sickness: Epilepsy

Inanition: Starvation

Lockjaw: Tetanus disease that affects muscles in the neck and jaw

Milk Leg: Painful swelling after giving birth caused by thrombophlebitis in the femoral vein

Mania: Dementia

Memorial to 6000 Irish Immigrants Who Died From Ship Fever 1847-48
Mania-a-potu: A mental disorder caused by alcoholism

Quinsy: Tonsillitis

Ship Fever: Typhus

Spotted Fever: Meningitis or Typhus

Search our archives today to find the obituary for your ancestor!

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Lake Nyos Disaster: August 21, 1986

Lake Nyos Disaster August 21, 1986

On August 21, 1986, a rare natural disaster occurred in the West African country of Cameroon when a large cloud of carbon dioxide gas spewed from Lake Nyos and blanketed nearby villages killing 1,746 people and 3,500 livestock while they slept.

The event, known as a limnic eruption, occurs when carbon dioxide builds in colder, deep lake water creating a heavy layer on the bottom. The weight of the warmer, upper layer of water forms a lid that keeps the gas down — much like a cork on a bottle.

Carbon dioxide cloud kills 1746 people in Cameroon
Eventually the gas in Lake Nyos built up to a point that it was released in a massive eruption that created a 330-foot high column of water and a 200-foot wave. Scientists wondered what caused the cork to pop.

Sule Umare, a cattle herder from Cameroon described the event that killed 99% of the people in his village. “We thought that rain was coming,” he recalled. “I went out and saw the moon shining. I wondered how rain could come without clouds.” Sule was enveloped in a flood of carbon dioxide before he lost consciousness.

Another survivor, Margaret Wandia remembers she was, “breathing very hard and had no strength.” She woke to find three of her four daughters dead beside her.

Some scientists concluded that an underwater landslide disrupted the layers and caused the gas to bubble up that fateful day. Others wondered if volcanic magma below the lake caused the release.

While studying the lake, scientists realized gas levels were rising again. They concluded that gas was gradually leaking into the lake from deep in the earth. In order to prevent a future explosion, scientists started venting the gas with a 672-foot pipe, that when lowered to the bottom, performed like a big straw – sucking the gas upward where it vented gradually into the air.

A second Cameroon lake experienced a similar, but smaller eruption in 1984 and 37 people died.

If you’d like to learn more about the disaster at Lake Nyos, search our archives!

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Find Gold in Montana’s Historic Newspaper Archives!

Montana’s nickname is the “Treasure State.” You can join the treasure hunt by exploring our updated archives for newspapers in Montana! We’ve added issues from The Billings Gazette; The Montana Standard in Butte; The Independent Record in Helena; and The Missoulian.

Butte Mine Disaster 1917
Our archives date back to 1874, two years before the Battle of the Little Bighorn between Native Americans and George Armstrong Custer, and 15 years before Montana achieved statehood!

After parts of Montana were acquired through the Louisiana Purchase, President Thomas Jefferson sent the expedition of Lewis and Clark to survey the land. Clark left his name chiseled on a rock about 25 miles outside of Billings.

The Billings Gazette: The first edition of The Billings Gazette in 1885 almost didn’t happen. A fire roared through the building destroying the press. After salvaging the pieces, the first editorial lobbied for the creation of a fire department. Billings earned the nickname “Magic City” after the Northern Pacific Railway came to town in 1882 and the city experienced rapid growth. Within months, nearly two thousand buildings were erected. The paper recorded the worst train wreck in Montana history when a 1938 flash flood roared through a creek bed weakening a trestle bridge. A train crashed through the bridge sending rail cars plunging into the water below.

The Montana Standard: We have issues dating from 1928. Read how Butte got its start with the discovery of gold, silver and copper. The city earned the nickname “The Richest Hill on Earth,” after billions worth of metals were mined at the Anaconda and other mines. A tragic 1917 mining disaster resulted in the loss of at least 166 lives when a carbide lamp ignited a blaze that spread throughout the shafts trapping miners.

The Independent Record: With issues dating back to 1874, early editorials were sympathetic to the Anaconda Copper Mining Co. (known as “The Company.”) The Company owned The Independent Record in the 1920s. In 1959, Lee Enterprises purchased the paper allowing an independent and open community forum.

Early Helena prospectors struck gold in 1864, in a creek they named Last Chance Gulch. Helena became the territorial capital of Montana. In 1894, the paper lobbied for Helena to become the state capital. Helena was a gold camp that would grow up to become a permanent thriving city.

The Missoulian: We have issues dating back to 1892! Read about the establishment of the University of Montana in 1895 where Missoula native Jeannette Rankin was educated. She was the first woman elected to Congress in 1916 – before women in American could vote! Rankin was a leader in the suffrage movement and introduced legislation in 1919 that led to the enfranchisement of all women.

To learn more about the rich history of Montana, search our archives at Newspapers.com!

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Early Household Appliances

News, Finds, Tips of the Month

In 1910, it took 12 hours a day to do the housework (six hours for cooking alone)! Domestic chores were no walk in the park. Take a look at these ads for newly invented household appliances from the early 1900’s. These time-saving devices would revolutionize domestic life!

Hoover Suction Sweeper 1912
The Hoover Suction Sweeper: The first upright vacuum was invented by James M. Spangler, a janitor at an Ohio department store. He rigged a device to clean floors then filed a patent for his design. Spangler sold the patent to his cousin’s wife, William Henry Hoover. Hoover improved the design and started the “Electric Suction Sweeper Company.”

The Thor Washing Machine: In 1909, women swooned over Thor – the washing machine not the superhero! The Thor washing machine was an electric powered washing machine that took the place of galvanized tubs, washboards and elbow grease. It revolutionized wash day in America!

Drum-type clothes dryer invented by J. Ross Moore
Clothes Dryer: Tired of not being able to hang laundry out to dry in frigid North Dakota winters, J. Ross Moore invented the clothes dryer. The dryers were sold under the name “June Day” beginning in 1938.

Hot Point Iron: In 1910, a company called Hotpoint developed an electric iron that was hotter at the tip making it easier to iron ruffles and around button holes. Soon everyone wanted the iron with the hot point!

1913 Refrigerator
Refrigerator: This 1913 refrigerator shows the latest and greatest in refrigeration technology. These icebox type refrigerators kept food cool with blocks of ice that needed to be replenished regularly.

Electric Refrigerator: By 1918, Frigidaire started mass producing electric refrigerators for home use – and no ice required!

Electric Dishwasher: Tired of washing dishes? In 1920, you could wheel in this portable electric dishwasher, load it and press a button. Voila!

Electric Oven 1913
Electric Oven: For about $10, families could buy this 1913 “El Bako” countertop electric oven. It was 14-inches square and constructed of one-inch thick steel walls to maintain heat. It had three heat levels: low, medium and high.

Does your family have any of grandma’s old appliances kicking around? Tell us about it and search our archives for other fun finds!

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July 5th: First Casualty of the Korean War

Robert F. Kennedy Fatally Shot: June 5, 1968

If your understanding of the Korean War comes from watching the TV show M*A*S*H, you’re not alone. The Korean War has been referred to as the forgotten war. July 5th marks the 68th anniversary of the first American casualty of the war. With North Korea dominating headlines again, we’ve explored our archives to give you a brief overview of the Korean War from the headlines as it happened.

Korean War Ends
At the end of WWII, Korea was divided into zones. The Soviets occupied North Korea where communism reigned, and the US occupied South Korea. Both Koreas longed for unification —but each on their own terms. The communist leader of the North, Kim II Sung, attempted to unify the Koreas by force when on June 25, 1950, he ordered 75,000 soldiers to spill over the 38th parallel line into the South. Five days later, President Harry S. Truman ordered US troops into action as America sought to stop the spread of communism.

By August, North Korean troops had taken control of Seoul and much of the country. In September, under General Douglas MacArthur, the US launched a major counter-offensive and drove Northern troops back to the 38th parallel line and continued across it until troops nearly reached the Chinese border. The Chinese government fearing invasion sent 200,000 soldiers to bolster North Korea.

With the help of China, and support from the Soviets, North Korea pushed US troops back across the 38th parallel again. Fighting was intense. Among significant battles were the Battle of Inchon and the Battle of Chosin. US losses and a disagreement in strategy spurred President Truman to fire General MacArthur. General Matthew B. Ridgway took over command.

Nearly three years after the war started, it ended right where it started – at the 38th parallel line. The US lost 36,500 soldiers. There was no clear winner and no peace treaty established. An armistice was adopted designating a DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) that separated North from South. Nearly 70 years later, the Korean peninsula remains divided.

Kim II Sung remained the North’s leader until his death in 1994 when his son Kim Jong II took over. After Kim Jong II’s death in 2011, Kim Jong Un, the son of Kim Jong II and grandson of Kim Sung II was named Supreme Commander.

Do you have a relative that fought in the Korean War? Tell us about it! You can search our archives to find more articles about the war! You can also access Korean War casualty records on Fold3.com.

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The Atlanta Constitution

If you have ancestors from Georgia, or you’re interested in Civil War history or Georgia history, we’re thrilled to add The Atlanta Constitution to our growing newspaper archives. We have issues dating back to 1868!


The Constitution started in 1868. The nation was just emerging from the Civil War. The city of Atlanta had been virtually destroyed just four years earlier when General William T. Sherman’s troops set fire as they left, burning 4,500 homes. Only 400 homes survived. The smoldering ruins had cooled but wounds were still raw. Atlanta was operating under martial law.

Three partners got together to buy a small newspaper, The Opinion. Carey Wentworth Styles, James H. Anderson, and W.A. Hemphill decided it was time to lift martial law and return to a constitutional form of government. They changed the paper’s name to The Constitution.

The population of Atlanta was small back then. The entire city could fit in SunTrust Park with seats to spare! Atlanta welcomed new arrivals with open arms. Help was needed to rebuild. When a ship full of immigrants from Germany was blown off course and ended up in the South instead of Baltimore, an article reprinted in the Atlanta Constitution said, “We extend a hearty welcome to the new comers.” They are “just such as are needed at this time to rebuild broken fortunes of our beloved State and City.”

Evan P. Howell, a great rebuilder of the city, bought a controlling interest in the paper in 1876. In 1887, The Constitution introduced the South’s first women’s page called “Society Salad.” It announced marriages, cotillions, anniversaries, and news from outlying communities like Buford and Conyers. It’s a wonderful resource for piecing together the family tree of early citizens.

Today, Atlanta is Georgia’s largest city and a center of culture and industry. Coca-Cola was founded here in 1891. One of the world’s busiest airport, Hartsfield-Jackson International, started out as the tiny Candler Field in 1925. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was born and is buried here, and the city hosted the 1996 Summer Olympics.

The Atlanta Constitution, as the paper came to be known, attracted top notch talent like Clark Howell and Henry W. Grady who helped shaped the paper and the city. In 1950, The Atlanta Constitution and The Atlanta Journal merged ownership but continued to operate separate papers until 2001 when they combined publication. Today Cox Media Group maintains The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s dominant position as the largest daily newspaper publisher in the Southeast. The paper has been awarded numerous Pulitzer Prizes.

You can access issues of The Atlanta Constitution through 1922 with a basic subscription; issues between 1923-2001 are copyrighted and accessible with Publisher Extra. Search The Atlanta Constitution archives here.

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