Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

News, Finds, Tips of the Month

What do Chef Brockett, Mr. McFeely, King Friday and Daniel Striped Tiger have in common? If you’re humming “It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” then put on your sneakers, zip up your cardigan, and let’s take a magical trolley ride down memory lane.


Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood first aired February 19, 1968, on black-and-white television screens. At that time, nobody could have predicted that the show would continue on for 33 seasons and nearly 1,000 episodes. Fred Rogers, with his kind and soft-spoken voice, won the hearts of children and their parents. He embraced “make believe” with his puppets and explored things that might seem strange or threatening to a child, like a visit to the doctor or physical handicaps. He promoted values and wanted children to feel safe. Early on in his career, Rogers told The Decatur Daily Review, “We are trying to build the imagination of the child. There is no real work or sport for preschoolers. Their sport and their work is their imaginative play,” Rogers said.

Rogers saw his first television in 1951 during his senior year of college. He immediately recognized that TV could be a powerful educational tool for children. In 1953, Rogers developed his first show, The Children’s Corner, for WQED Pittsburgh. He was the puppeteer, composer, and organist. The success of The Children’s Corner later led to the creation of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. As the show prepared to wrap its final season, Rogers gave an interview to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Pointing to a framed quote on the wall that read “Life Is For Service,” Rogers said it was based on a favorite sign from Rollins College, his alma mater. “I’ve never tried to make a decision that had to do with selfishness. I think we certainly have done the kind of work I have wanted to do for children and one of the avenues has been the Neighborhood,” he said.

Rogers passed away on February 27, 2003, of stomach cancer, but his legacy continues. A documentary film commemorating the life of Rogers called Won’t You Be My Neighbor premiered in select theaters on June 8. You can find many more newspaper articles about Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood in our archives. Do you have any memories of Mr. Rogers? Share them with us!

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Find: Bigfoot Sightings in History

News, Finds, Tips of the Month

Frame from famous 1967 Bigfoot filmIf you think reports of Bigfoot sightings are relatively recent phenomenon, guess again. Accounts of creatures similar to Bigfoot, also known as Sasquatch, have been showing up in American newspapers for at least 200 years!

Take a look at these newspaper stories from the distant (and not-so-distant) past and decide for yourself whether you think Bigfoot is real!

  • Long-Island Star, 1818: “He is described as bending forward when running, hairy—and the heel of the foot narrow, spreading at the toes.”
  • Weekly Arkansas Gazette, 1851: “They were followed by an animal bearing the unmistakable likeness of humanity. He was of gigantic stature, the body being covered with hair.”
  • Southern Shield, 1852: “He is described by them as being about 7 feet 2 inches high, and covered completely with black hair, interspersed now and then with gray.”
  • Cincinnati Enquirer, 1895: “She was suddenly confronted by a naked giant, who sprang into the road in front of her horse, making savages gestures and yelling.”
  • Boston Post, 1895: [https://www.newspapers.com/clip/17486340/wild_man_account_1895/] “…that this being had a hirsute growth on its face […]; that it uttered a loud howl or yell, and with amazing swiftness leaped into the recesses of the forest.”
  • Florida Today, 1979: “…[saw] over 1,000 footprints ascribed to a crippled Bigfoot.”
  • Town Talk, 1995: “He saw three of the creatures staring back [at] him. The creatures appeared to be large stumps, but Bryant could discern heads and shoulders.”
  • Daily Record, 2012: “He looked like a human being with an ape head and had jet-black hair all over him.”
  • Detroit Free Press, 2016: “[The creature was] standing on two legs and looking back at him from the woods with glowing eyes. […] And it just casually turned to the left, walked into the woods and it met up with […] three others.”

And don’t miss these images!

  • Image of a frame from the famous 1967 Bigfoot film (from the Press and Sun-Bulletin, 1999), as well as a description of the creature in the film (from the Star Press, 1967)
  • Photo of casts of Bigfoot footprints (Decatur Herald, 1967)
  • Another photo of a Bigfoot footprint cast (Great Falls Tribune, 1967)
  • A map of 50 years of Bigfoot sightings in New Jersey (Daily Record, 2012)

Want to read more? To find further installments of the stories above, try checking the next day’s issue of the paper the story was featured in (e.g., if it was in Monday’s paper, check Tuesday’s). If it’s not in that issue, try checking the next issue that falls on the same day of the week (e.g., if it was published on Sunday, check the next Sunday’s issue).

Got any Bigfoot stories? Share them with us! Or find more articles about Bigfoot sightings on Newspapers.com.

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Black History Newspapers

News, Finds, Tips of the Month

In honor of Black History Month, we’re highlighting some of the many historical black papers that we have here on Newspapers.com. These include dozens of papers that were either black owned, were geared toward a black audience, or dealt specifically with topics relevant to African Americans. Though some of these papers may only have a few issues available, they still provide a valuable perspective on the struggles, contributions, and everyday lives of African Americans.

The Hound of the BaskervillesSome of the longest running black papers we have on Newspapers.com are the Pittsburgh Courier, Washington Bee, and St.-Paul-based Appeal. Long-running newspapers such as these can be especially useful for tracking long-time residents of a city or for seeing how the community and its inhabitants changed over time. On the other hand, if you’re more interested in a specific time period that was historically significant to black history, such as the post-Civil War and Reconstruction era, you can browse through black papers like the Charleston Advocate, Maryville Republican, and Concordia Eagle.

The historical black papers on Newspapers.com cover a wide geographic area. Though many are based in the South, there are also examples from the Northeast, Midwest, and West. Wherever there was a big enough population of literate African Americans to support a black paper, one often existed (though many were short-lived), with black papers popping up in places you might not initially expect, like Montana.

Though a few papers, like the Weekly Louisianian, were geared to both black and white readers, most black papers focused on content that would be of particular interest to African Americans. The Indianapolis Leader, for example, covered society news from the local black community, and the Nashville Globe, in addition to speaking out on racial issues, promoted a middle-class lifestyle to its black readers, encouraging them to frequent black-owned businesses and buy homes.

Some papers were narrow in scope, concentrating on specific topics like slavery. Two anti-slavery papers you can find on Newspapers.com are the Liberator (established by famous abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison) and the Anti-Slavery Bugle.

Some of the black papers on Newspapers.com were quite influential during their heyday. In addition to the previously mentioned Washington Bee, some of these include the Lexington Standard, Kansas City Sun, and Richmond Planet. Others were more controversial, like the Broad Ax, which could be rather inflammatory. Papers that are especially useful to historians today include the Sedalia Weekly Conservator (for dealing with a variety of racial issues in addition to the news) and the Seattle Republican (for covering conditions for African Americans across the nation).

Black papers can be especially rich resources for finding information on your African American ancestors, as these papers often reported on people and events that white papers overlooked. So get started searching on Newspapers.com here.

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Popular Toys in History

Happy Holidays from Newspapers.com

Slinky ad, 1947When the holidays roll around, many children are busy compiling their lists of which toys they want most. Hatchimals and Fingerlings might be topping the lists of kids in 2017, but what toys were popular in decades past? How much did they cost? We can find out by exploring old newspapers. Here are some ads for the hottest toys of the last century:

Were any of these toys on your childhood Christmas lists? Let us know in the comments! Or find more toy ads by searching Newspapers.com!

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Find: Serial Fiction on Newspapers.com

News, Finds, Tips of the Month

Nearly everyone knows what it’s like to have to wait for the next episode of your favorite TV show to come out. But what if you had to wait for the next chapter of your favorite book? Your ancestors may have had to do just that!

The Hound of the BaskervillesSerial fiction was a bit like today’s TV shows—but instead of a new episode coming out each week, it was a new chapter, or series of chapters, of a story or book, often published in newspapers, magazines, or stand-alone installments. Some of these “serials” came out daily, some weekly, some monthly, some on other schedules, depending on the author and the publisher.

Serials found popularity during the Victorian period, though they first appeared long before that. They remained a fairly common feature of certain newspapers and magazines up until radio and then television took over as people’s main sources of entertainment.

Sometimes entire novels would be written as serials (Charles Dickens famously published some of his novels this way), while other novels would be written and published in their entirety first, and then later segmented out in installments. But not all serials were novel-length: many newspaper serials were just a few installments long, more like a short story or novella, though some did run for months.

Stories published as serial fiction were often tales of romance, mystery, or adventure—with sentimental or thrilling storylines that would catch readers’ attention and have them coming back for the next installment. And they might just hook you too! Try reading one for yourself on Newspapers.com. We’ve collected just a few of them below—some you might recognize, but many you won’t! Try one out and let us know what you think!

Want to read more? To find further installments of the stories above, try checking the next day’s issue of the paper the story was featured in (e.g., if it was in Monday’s paper, check Tuesday’s). If it’s not in that issue, try checking the next issue that falls on the same day of the week (e.g., if it was published on Sunday, check the next Sunday’s issue).

Or if you’re interested in finding other serial fiction on Newspapers.com, try using search terms such as “chapter 1”, and limit your search to papers from the decades around the turn of the 19th century. Get started searching here!

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Find: Famous American Unsolved Mysteries

News, Finds, Tips of the Month

If you’re looking for some stories to make you shiver this Halloween, you don’t have to look farther than the newspaper, as real-life mysteries can often be the most spine-tingling of all. This being the case, we’ve gathered three famous unsolved mysteries from the papers that will be sure to send shivers up your spine this October.

Lizzie Borden

Free from GuiltDespite being immortalized by the rhyme “Lizzie Borden took an ax / And gave her mother forty whacks; / And when she saw what she had done / She gave her father forty-one,” Lizzie Borden was actually found not guilty of the ax murders of her father and stepmother. The pair was found murdered at their home in Massachusetts on August 4, 1892, the father struck with an ax 10 or 11 times and the stepmother struck 17. Lizzie, age 32 at the time, was the prime suspect, as she was one of the only people home at the time of the murders. She was arrested and tried but was eventually acquitted, since there was a lack of hard evidence. No one else was ever charged with the murders.

Read about it in the newspaper:

D.B Cooper

On November 24, 1971, an airplane passenger going by the pseudonym Dan Cooper hijacked a plane flying between Portland and Seattle. Using a bomb as a threat, Cooper requested that he be given $200,000 in cash and 4 parachutes. When the plane landed in Seattle, Cooper was granted his requests, and per his orders, the plane took off once again, headed toward Mexico City via Reno, Nevada. However, somewhere between Seattle and Reno, Cooper jumped out of the plane, likely in southern Washington. Despite a massive search operation, Cooper was never found, and the true identity of Cooper, as well as what happened to him, remains unsolved to this day.

Read about it in the newspaper:

The Black Dahlia

On January 15, 1947, 22-year-old waitress and aspiring actress Elizabeth Short was found brutally murdered in Los Angeles. Most notably, her upper body had been completely severed from her lower half, and her body had been drained of blood. The gruesome nature of her death made it a media sensation, and Short became known in the press as the Black Dahlia. Despite a plethora of suspects and false confessions, no one was ever tried for her murder, and it is still unsolved today.

Read about it in the newspaper:

Learn more about these and other unsolved mysteries on Newspapers.com!

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Find: Vintage Jell-O Recipes

News, Finds, Tips of the month

While many of us probably associate Jell-O most closely with the 1950s and ’60s, this gelatin dessert has actually been around since 1897. Recipes using Jell-O started appearing in newspapers not long after, which means there are roughly 120 years’ worth of Jell-O recipes out there! If you love Jell-O, Newspapers.com is a great place to discover vintage Jell-O recipes from decades past.

Jell-o TipsSome early Jell-O recipes include:

The number of Jell-O dessert recipes out there is truly astounding. Have you tried any of these?

Or have you ever tried a savory Jell-O recipe?

On Newspapers.com, you can also find tips and trivia about Jell-O, see some of the earliest Jell-O newspaper ads, and read about the Jell-O recipe a Kansas minister claimed was sure to make the fish bite.

Share your favorite Jell-O memories with us in the comments! Then get started searching for Jell-O recipes on Newspapers.com, or look for other recipes that interest you.

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What Did Your Ancestors Wear?

When trying to find out more about an ancestor’s life, have you ever thought about what they wore? Many people already know to look in newspapers for things like birth, marriage, and death notices; but one way you can flesh out your ancestor’s day-to-day life is by discovering what they may have worn.

Advertisement for women's clothing patterns (Missouri, 1875)
Newspapers are a great resource for this, as papers have long carried ads for clothing—or for the fabric and patterns to make them. You can trace how fashions changed throughout your ancestor’s life—discovering what they might have worn as kids, as young adults, and as older adults. You can find out what these fashions would have cost your ancestors as well, and learn which clothing and accessories they could have afforded in their daily lives and which they probably would have bought only for a special occasion. You can search papers from across the nation during your ancestor’s life to get a general idea of the fashion of the time, or you can look in papers from the state or even town they were from to see if local fashion trends were any different from national ones. The possibilities are nearly endless.

Here are a few examples of the types of fashions you can find in newspapers. Who knows? Your ancestors may have worn them!

Start exploring what your ancestors wore by browsing Newspapers.com!

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What Can You Learn from Classified Ads?

Today, a wide range of online resources are available to people looking to find items for sale or to sell items themselves—from Craigslist to Facebook and beyond. But up until about twenty years ago, they usually turned to one place: their local newspaper classifieds. Newspaper classifieds provided a centralized location for individuals to make transactions: buyers could buy, sellers could sell, job seekers could find employment, and employers could find employees.

Livestock not allowed in the streets; Australia 1859When we read classified ads in newspapers from decades and centuries past, it gives us a glimpse into what life was like in other times. For instance, one city government ad in a classified section of an 1859 Australian newspaper paints a picture of what the streets of Melbourne must have been like at that time when it notifies its readers that “all Cows, Pigs, or Goats found Straying on any of the streets of the city after Wednesday next […] will be impounded.”

Similarly, the plethora of ads in a Philadelphia paper in 1784 offering rewards for runaway indentured servants hints at the prevalence of this type of labor in the city at the time. One such ad offers a reward for a runaway “Irish servant woman, named Sarah Welsh,” described as being “of a swarthy complexion, dark brown hair, mixed with grey, pitted a little with the smallpox, has a reserved dark look, and a remarkable protuberance or lump on her windpipe.”

Classified ads can also teach us about social attitudes of the time, through the types of employees requested in job ads. Job ads were historically quite specific in the gender, race, or religion requirements for potential employees. For example one job ad in 1867 New York paper requested a “girl, Protestant preferred, to do general housework,” while another ad in the same issue asked for “a colored woman to do housework,” and yet another from that issue stipulated “an American boy, one that is strong and not afraid to work.”

If you’re curious about what life was like in the town or city an ancestor lived in, try looking through the local paper’s classified ads to gain interesting insights. Who knows? You might even find a relative’s name in one of the ads!

Get started reading the classifieds on Newspapers.com!

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Find: Ads through the Ages

Since about the 1830s, newspapers have relied on advertising to pay for part of their operating costs. This meant that the more ads they ran, the more money they made. As a result, for a long time, newspapers were the main source people used to find out about new products and learn about sales at local business.

Listerine ad, 1957These ads make for interesting reading today, as they give us a glimpse into the products and services our ancestors and more recent family members may have used in years past. And some of those products might be surprisingly familiar, since some things we still use today have been around longer than we may have realized. For example, Coca-Cola has been around since 1886, Cream of Wheat since 1893, Arm & Hammer baking soda since 1867, Jell-o since 1897, Oreos since 1912, Cracker Jack since 1896, and Listerine since 1879.

Take a look at some of these ads from decades past found on Newspapers.com. Your ancestors may have used these ads to buy the same products you enjoy today!

Find many more ads from throughout history on Newspapers.com, either by searching for specific products or browsing through the pages of a particular paper. You might even want to try looking at ads in newspapers from the areas where your ancestors lived to get an even better idea of what types of products they may have used!

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