Destruction of the 1890 Census

1890 United States Federal Census Fragment sample image.

Genealogists and historians have lamented the loss of the 1890 census for more than a century. When researchers inquire about the 1890 census, their questions are quickly dismissed with the explanation that a fire destroyed the records. The truth, however, is more complicated. The 1890 census records did sustain extensive smoke and water damage in two different fires (1896 and 1921), but the damaged records sat languishing in a warehouse until the 1930s when Congress ordered their destruction.

The 1890 census was unique for several reasons. For the first time, officials decided to gather data on a separate schedule for each family. Families answered questions about race, immigration and naturalization, the number of children born and living, and questions relating to service in the Civil War. It was also the first census that used punch cards and an electrical tabulation system.

After enumerators finished the 1890 census, the Department of the Interior stored portions in Washington D.C. in the basement of Marini’s Hall. On March 22, 1896, a night watchman discovered the rear of the building was on fire and notified the fire department. Firefighters arrived to find dense smoke pouring from the basement. Though they extinguished the flames before sunrise, the fire damaged or destroyed the special schedules for mortality, crime, pauperism, benevolence, special classes (e.g., deaf, blind, insane) and portions of the transportation and insurance schedules. The general population schedules, however, were safe and stored in the basement of the Commerce Building.

The Washington Post, January 11, 1921

On the evening of January 10, 1921, an employee at the Commerce Building noticed smoke rising through the elevator shaft and sounded the fire alarm. For hours, firefighters soaked the building with water to quench the flames. When the smoke cleared, archivists found 25 percent of the 1890 census schedules destroyed, while half of the rest sustained serious water damage. Government officials debated whether the burnt and waterlogged records could be salvaged.

This tragic fire spurred discussion about the need for national archives to hold public records. While awaiting funding for an archive building, Census Director William Steuart warned the damaged records would continue to deteriorate. Not much is known about what happened to the census records between 1922-1932, but in December 1932, the Chief Clerk of the Bureau of Census sent the Librarian of Congress a list of documents deemed no longer necessary and scheduled for destruction. Included in the list were the 1890 damaged census records. The Librarian approved the list and forwarded it to Congress who authorized it and the damaged records were destroyed. Ironically, just one day before Congress authorized the destruction of these records, President Herbert Hoover laid the cornerstone for the new National Archives Building.

In 1934, the National Archives Building opened in Washington, D.C. In 1942, officials found a damaged bundle of 1890 census records from Illinois that escaped destruction. In 1953, they also found fragments of records from Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, and the District of Columbia. These rediscovered records comprise just a tiny fraction of the 1890 census, leaving 99.99 percent of the original records lost forever. Visit Ancestry.com to see the surviving 1890 census fragments, or search Newspapers.com to see more clippings about their destruction.

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Nancy Drew and the Attempted Banishment

It’s a testament to the lasting power of Nancy Drew that yet another screen reincarnation of the beloved book sleuth is on her way. The character may be closing in on 100 years of existence, but many readers today still fondly remember following Nancy through many mysteries. Not all have loved Nancy Drew from the beginning. But she couldn’t be taken down, thanks in part to the teenage girls who channeled their heroine and saved the day.

Not Just Nancy Drew

In the early 1900s, a literary war was being waged on “nickel novels.” Mostly aimed at boy scouts, these novels were considered by librarians to be a “menace of mediocrity.” Rather more graphically, they were thought to “blow out, shoot to pieces, or burn out boy’s imaginations.” It was thought the average 10-year-old ought to turn their sights to higher literature.

Nancy Drew would not be published until 1930, but this was just the beginning of a controversy that would dog series books for decades to come.

Nickel Novel is Peril of Youth

Nickel Novel is Peril of Youth Wed, May 27, 1914 – Page 6 · The Washington Herald (Washington, District of Columbia) · Newspapers.com

Nancy Comes to Life

The instant popularity of Nancy Drew novels painted a target on the series’ back. By 1933 there were already ten titles to her name, and young girls loved them. But these .50 novels, considered successors to the nickel and dime novels, were still being fought against primarily by librarians. One even called them “devices of Satan.” This article from 1944 shows librarians left them out of the stacks because of too-similar plots and impossible situations:

Library doesn't carry Nancy Drew because of

Library doesn’t carry Nancy Drew because of “similarity in plot” & “impossible situations” 1944 Sat, Nov 18, 1944 – Page 12 · The Des Moines Register (Des Moines, Iowa) · Newspapers.com

The 60s saw another wave of parent and librarian disdain for the popular series, while readers continued to be infatuated with Nancy’s cleverness and moxie. When papers shared negative opinions about the “literary garbage” that was Nancy Drew, readers gave back as good as they got:

“Nancy Drew books are not rubbish” 1964 Thu, Feb 6, 1964 – 4 · Edmonton Journal (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada) · Newspapers.com

Teen defense of Nancy Drew series, 1959

Teen defense of Nancy Drew series, 1959 Sun, Feb 22, 1959 – 9 · Pensacola News Journal (Pensacola, Florida) · Newspapers.com

Group of High School Pupils Speak Out on

Group of High School Pupils Speak Out on “Series Books” Mon, Feb 1, 1965 – 8 · The Daily Herald (Provo, Utah) · Newspapers.com

The books were still removed from many libraries, but they could not be kept away from eager readers completely. In time the fervor of fans and changing attitudes toward literature would soften the fight for reform.

Nancy Drew making comeback following critical period

Nancy Drew making comeback following critical period Thu, Apr 8, 1976 – Page 27 · The Journal News (White Plains, New York) · Newspapers.com

Nancy Drew Endures

Ultimately, it’s hard to argue with the evidence of pure enjoyment, as this columnist found. Nancy Drew books got people reading; they were simply a good time. Decades have passed, times have changed, and now reading for fun is not so often considered a moral failing. In fact, Nancy has become a role model for many women across generations.

Nancy Drew an inspiration still in 1994

Nancy Drew an inspiration still in 1994 Sun, Apr 10, 1994 – Page 54 · Daily Record (Morristown, New Jersey) · Newspapers.com

There have been 5 feature films made about Nancy Drew, and October 9th’s new CW series will be the third attempt to bring Nancy to life on television. It just goes to show that 89 years has done little to dampen the love for literature’s favorite teenage sleuthing lass. Are you a fan?

Notice the Clues?

If you like solving puzzles and decoding clues, give this one a try to find a clipping of a real-life Nancy Drew situation on Newspapers.com:

1. Unscramble the bold letters in the “Not Just Nancy Drew” section for the month and date to search.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

_ _

2. Unscramble the bold letters in the “Nancy Comes to Life” section for the year and the name of the paper. (Hint: each paragraph contains one word)

_ _ _ _

_ _ _ _ _ | _ _ _ _ _ _ | _ _ _ _

3. Unscramble the bold letters in the “Nancy Drew Endures” section for the Find/Search term to look for on Page 7. (Hint: each paragraph contains one word)

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ | _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

(Click here to skip the clues and go straight to the clipping.)

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5 Vintage Autumn Recipes You’ll Actually Want to Try

Lafayette Journal and Courier, 11.15.1921
Lafayette Journal and Courier, 11.15.1921

If you love to cook, historical newspapers are a great place to find recipes. But we’ll admit that sometimes the ingredients and flavor combinations in old recipes can be less than appealing to the modern palette. So we searched the newspapers on our site to find 5 vintage recipes you’ll actually want to try this autumn.

Beneath the original recipe, we’ve written it out in a way that’s a bit easier to follow. We’ve also used brackets to indicate our best estimates for cooking times, temperatures, and measurements when not provided by the original recipe.

Pumpkin Waffles – from 1919

Recipe: Pumpkin waffles, 1919Recipe: Pumpkin waffles, 1919 Sun, Oct 5, 1919 – Page 80 · New-York Tribune (New York, New York) · Newspapers.com


Ingredients

  • 1 scant cupful cooked and sifted [pureed] pumpkin
  • 1 tsp molasses
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • 2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 1 large cupful flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 cupful milk
  • 2 Tbsp melted shortening
  • 2 egg whites, stiffly whipped

Directions

  1. Mix the molasses, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and lightly beaten egg yolks into the pumpkin.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and sugar.
  3. Gradually combine the mixtures, beating in the milk and melted shortening.
  4. Fold in the stiffly whipped egg whites last of all.
  5. Cook in hot, well-greased waffle irons.

Sponge Gingerbread – from 1905

Recipe: Sponge gingerbread, 1905Recipe: Sponge gingerbread, 1905 Sun, Nov 26, 1905 – 32 · The Boston Globe (Boston, Massachusetts) · Newspapers.com


Ingredients

  • ½ cup sugar (light brown recommended)
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 1 cup milk (either sweet or sour)
  • 3 cups pastry flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2-4 tsp ginger
  • 1 scant tsp cinnamon

Directions

  1. Combine ingredients. [Likely, mix wet and dry ingredients separately, then combine.]
  2. Pour into a 2-inch-deep 9×12 pan [or a 9×13 cake pan].
  3. Bake in a moderate oven [around 350 degrees] for about 30 minutes.

Note: If you do not like a decided ginger taste, use only 2 teaspoons.

Apple Slump – from 1916

Recipe: Apple slump, 1916Recipe: Apple slump, 1916 Sat, Oct 7, 1916 – 14 · Norwich Bulletin (Norwich, Connecticut) · Newspapers.com


Ingredients

  • [8] tart apples [e.g., Granny Smith, Pink Lady, etc.]
  • Water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Nutmeg, to taste
  • Pinch of salt
  • Rich biscuit dough, already prepared and cut out into biscuits
  • Hard sauce or cream

Directions

  1. Pare and quarter enough tart apples to fill a 4-quart stewpan half full. [Likely, about 8 apples, though it will vary depending on size of the apples.]
  2. Add the apples to the pot and cover with water.
  3. Add sugar, nutmeg, and salt and let come to a boil.
  4. Lay cut-out biscuit dough over the boiling apples.
  5. Cover the pan and steam for 25 to 30 minutes, without lifting the cover. The pan must not be placed over a very hot fire, as the apples will scorch. [I.e., reduce heat to a simmer.]
  6. Serve hot with hard sauce or cream.

Sweet Potato Soup – from 1921

Recipe: Sweet potato soup, 1921Recipe: Sweet potato soup, 1921 Wed, Nov 16, 1921 – 32 · Evening Star (Washington, District of Columbia) · Newspapers.com


Ingredients

  • ½ Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 1 pint [2 cups] milk
  • 1 pint [2 cups] stock [chicken or vegetable are typically used]
  • ½ tsp onion juice
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • Small stick of cinnamon
  • Sweet potatoes [already baked and then pureed; amount can vary according to preference, but likely about 2 cups]
  • Chopped parsley
  • Grated nutmeg
  • Croutons

Directions

  1. Put butter and flour into a saucepan or double boiler and blend [i.e., make a roux].
  2. Add milk, stock, onion juice, salt, pepper, and cinnamon.
  3. Stir carefully over the fire until the mixture is hot and beginning to thicken. [Be careful the soup does not boil as this can curdle the milk.]
  4. Add the sweet potatoes, stir well, and cook for 10 minutes longer.
  5. Strain into soup dishes, sprinkle chopped parsley over the top, and add a dash of grated nutmeg.
  6. Serve very hot with croutons.

Ham Sandwich Biscuits – from 1914

Recipe: Ham sandwich biscuits, 1914Recipe: Ham sandwich biscuits, 1914 Sun, Oct 25, 1914 – 42 · The Boston Globe (Boston, Massachusetts) · Newspapers.com


Ingredients

  • Biscuit dough, prepared stiffer than usual
  • Minced ham
  • Butter

Directions

  1. Roll biscuit dough out thin [likely, about ½-inch thick] and cut into rounds.
  2. Spread half of the dough rounds with a mixture of minced ham and butter, then cover with a second round. [Consider pinching the edges closed to prevent filling from leaking.]
  3. Bake far apart in a hot oven. [Likely, bake 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.]

Note: In baking biscuits, always place them far apart on the baking sheet so as to ensure crisp baking all round.

Let us know if you try any of these recipes! Are any of them similar to ones handed down in your family?

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Highclere Castle: The Real-Life Downton Abbey

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 best-known occupants: George Herbert, 5th Earl of Carnarvon, and his wife, Almina.

Highclere Castle

Highclere Castle, setting of TV series Downton Abbey

Highclere Castle, setting of TV series Downton Abbey Sat, Jan 19, 2013 – 44 · The Leader-Post (Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada) · Newspapers.com

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.)

500 gallons of beer to celebrate the birth of an heir at Highclere Castle

500 gallons of beer to celebrate the birth of an heir at Highclere Castle Wed, Jun 28, 1899 – 3 · The South Bend Tribune (South Bend, Indiana) · Newspapers.com

Almina Herbert, Countess of Carnarvon

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.

Lady Almina's funds turned Highclere into a hospital

Lady Almina’s funds turned Highclere into a hospital Sun, Feb 3, 2013 – 59 · The Dispatch (Moline, Illinois) · Newspapers.com

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.

Lady Carnarvon becomes the subject of speculation following the Dennistoun Case

Lady Carnarvon becomes the subject of speculation following the Dennistoun Case Sun, Jul 12, 1925 – 51 · The Semi-Weekly Spokesman-Review (Spokane, Washington) · Newspapers.com

George Herbert, Earl of Carnarvon

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.

What Killed Carnarvon -- Tut-Ankh-Amen's Curse?

What Killed Carnarvon — Tut-Ankh-Amen’s Curse? Fri, Apr 20, 1923 – 2 · The Preston News (Preston, Kansas) · Newspapers.com

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.

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The Surprising Evolution of Pumpkin Spice

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!

An Age-Old Combination

1734 ad mentioning nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice for sale (Pennsylvania Gazette, 03.06.1734)
1734 ad mentioning nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice for sale (Pennsylvania Gazette, 03.06.1734)

“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 Pumpkin Pie

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”?

1933 ad for T&T Pumpkin Pie Spice (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 10.20.1933)
1933 ad for T&T Pumpkin Pie Spice (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 10.20.1933)

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.

With pre-mixed pie spices now readily available and convenient, it was easy for creative home cooks in the 1930s and beyond to add it to other foods, from soufflés to cookies to gingerbread. McCormick even briefly marketed a “Pumpkin Pie & Ginger Bread Spice” in the mid-1930s. 

“Pumpkin Spice” Comes into Its Own

1957 ad for pumpkin spice ice cream (News-Messenger, 11.29.1957)
1957 ad for pumpkin spice ice cream (News-Messenger, 11.29.1957)

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.

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Using Historic Newspapers to Save Lives in a Tsunami: A Newspapers.com Success Story

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 preparation.

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 century.

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.

The Leeds Intelligencer and Yorkshire General Advertiser – 1821

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.

The Ipswich Journal – 1853

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.

Discover your success story by searching Newspapers.com today!

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These 10 Cats Adopted Baby Animals and It’s Adorable

Literally just 10 vintage newspaper photos of cats being foster moms that will make your day better.

1922: This cat adopted a Boston bull terrier puppy, and the photo of them snuggling might be the cutest thing you’ll see all day. Read their story in the New York Daily News.

1922: Cat adopts Boston bull terrier puppySat, Dec 23, 1922 – 37 · Daily News (New York, New York) · Newspapers.com


1930: This tabby adopted a baby groundhog, proving looks don’t matter when it comes to a mother cat’s love, because that groundhog probably isn’t going to win a beauty contest anytime soon. Read their story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

1930: Cat adopts a baby groundhogSat, May 10, 1930 – Page 2 · Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.com


1935: This cat adopted a baby rat. Read their story in the Detroit Free Press.

1935: Cat adopts a baby ratThu, Mar 14, 1935 – Page 26 · Detroit Free Press (Detroit, Michigan) · Newspapers.com


1936: And this cat adopted a baby rat too. There must be something about rats. Read their story in the Tampa Times.

1936: Another cat adopts a baby ratSat, Jun 13, 1936 – 1 · The Tampa Times (Tampa, Florida) · Newspapers.com


1937: This cat’s owner adopted a puppy, then the cat took over! Read their story in the Atlanta Constitution.

1937: Cat adopts a puppyMon, Jun 28, 1937 – 8 · The Atlanta Constitution (Atlanta, Georgia) · Newspapers.com


1938: When presented with 3 baby squirrels, this cat apparently took them on without a hitch. Read their story in the Decatur Herald.

1938: Cat adopts 3 baby squirrelsSat, Apr 2, 1938 – Page 3 · The Decatur Herald (Decatur, Illinois) · Newspapers.com


1939: More squirrels! This time 2 baby fox squirrels. Read the story in the News-Palladium.

1939: Cat adopts 2 baby fox squirrelsTue, Jun 20, 1939 – 8 · The News-Palladium (Benton Harbor, Michigan) · Newspapers.com


1946: The relationship between this cat and 3 baby rabbits sounds like it had a bit of a rocky start, but maternal instinct prevailed! Read their story in the Courier-Journal.

1946: Cat adopts 3 baby rabbitsSun, Apr 7, 1946 – Page 17 · The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky) · Newspapers.com


1946: This cat adopted a red fox cub. If you’ve never seen a red fox cub, check out this photo. They’re the cutest. Read the cat-fox adoption story in the Cincinnati Enquirer.

1946: Cat adopts a red fox cubWed, May 1, 1946 – Page 22 · The Cincinnati Enquirer (Cincinnati, Ohio) · Newspapers.com


1950: And finally, this cat adopted a baby field mouse, rising above the traditionally complicated relationship between the two species. Read their story in the Austin American-Statesman.

1950: Cat adopts baby field mouseTue, Aug 22, 1950 – 11 · Austin American-Statesman (Austin, Texas) · Newspapers.com


Whether it’s cat photos or something less feline-themed, search for what interests you on Newspapers.com! And follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more interesting historical content like this!

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Horse and Buggy: The Primary Means of Transportation in the 19th Century

Today’s high-performance cars can have upwards of 700 horsepower. But in the 1800s, typical horse and buggy transportation consisted of one or two horsepower – literally! Horses and other animals including oxen and donkeys provided the primary means of transportation all over the world through the nineteenth century. A single horse could pull a wheeled vehicle and contents weighing as much as a ton.

Transporting people and goods was a costly venture in the 19th century. Animals required large quantities of food and water. Roads usually consisted of two dirt paths with a grassy strip in the middle and they were rough and bumpy. Wagon wheels formed deep ruts that in some places are still visible today, and those same dirt paths turned into a muddy mess when wet.

To meet transportation needs, a variety of types of wagons were available. Some were simple farm wagons, others elegant private carriages. Stagecoaches provided public transportation. Let’s take a look at some of the options our ancestors used for travel in the 1800s.

Buckboard Wagon

Buckboard Wagon: The no-frills buckboard wagon was commonly used by farmers and ranchers in the 1800s. It was made with simple construction. The front board served as both a footrest and offered protection from the horse’s hooves should they buck.

Gig Carriage: A gig was a small, lightweight, two-wheeled, cart that seated one or two people. It was usually pulled by a single horse and was known for speed and convenience. It was a common vehicle on the road.

Gig Carriage
Concord Coach

Concord Coach: American made Concord coaches were tall and wide and incorporated leather straps for suspension that made the ride smoother than steel spring suspension. They were also extravagant, costing $1000 or more at a time when workers were paid about a dollar a day. Wells, Fargo & Co. was one of the largest buyers of the Concord coach. Today the company still displays its original Concord Coaches in parades and for publicity.

Barouche

Barouche: A barouche was a fancy, four-wheeled open carriage with two seats facing each other and a front seat for the driver. There was a collapsible hood over the back. It was a popular choice in the first half of the 19th century and was used by the wealthy. It was often pulled by four horses. This barouche carriage carried Abraham Lincoln to the theater on the night of his assassination.

Victoria Carriage: The Victoria carriage was named for Queen Victoria and renowned for its elegance. It was a low, open carriage with four wheels that seated two people. It had an elevated seat for the coachman.

Victoria Carriage

Phaeton: The Phaeton was a sporty four-wheel carriage with front wheels that were smaller than the rear wheels. The sides were open and that exposed a gentleman’s trousers or a lady’s skirt to flying mud. The seat was quite high and required a ladder to access. Phaetons were fast, but also high-centered leaving them vulnerable to tipping. They were pulled by two or four horses.

Phaeton Carriage

Landau Carriage: The Landau carriage was considered a luxury city carriage that seated four. It had two folding hoods and was uniquely designed to allow its occupants to be seen. It was popular in the first half of the nineteenth century. Pictured here is Queen Elizabeth in a Landau carriage.

Landau Carriage

Brougham Carriage: Designed by England’s Lord Brougham, the Brougham carriage was lightweight, four-wheeled carriage with an enclosed carriage. It was popular because passengers sat in a forward-facing seat making it easy to see out. It was also lower to the ground and easier for passengers to climb in and out of the carriage. The Brougham was driven by a coachman sitting on an elevated seat or perch outside of the passenger compartment.

Brougham Carriage

Rockaway Carriage: The Rockaway originated on Long Island. It was a popular vehicle with the middle class and the wealthy. One distinguishing feature of the Rockaway was a roof that extended over the driver, while the passengers were in an enclosed cabin.

Rockaway Carriage
Conestoga Wagon

Conestoga Wagon: The Conestoga wagon was large and heavy and built to haul loads up to six tons. The floor of the wagon was curved upward to prevent the contents from shifting during travel. The Conestoga was used to haul freight before rail service was available and as a means to transport goods. Conestoga wagons were pulled by eight horses or a dozen oxen and were not meant to travel long distances. The Conestoga wagon is credited for the reason we drive on the right side of the road. While operating the wagon, the driver sat on the left-hand side of the wagon. This freed his right hand to operate the brake lever mounted on the left side. Sitting on the left also allowed the driver to see the opposite side of the road better.

Prairie Schooner

Prairie Schooner: As families moved west, a prairie schooner pulled by teams of mules or oxen was a common choice. It was like the Conestoga wagons, but much lighter with a flat body and lower sides. They were typically covered with white cloth and from a distance resembled a ship. Travelers in prairie schooners often traveled in convoys and covered up to 20 miles a day which meant an overland trip could take 5 months.

Stagecoach: The stagecoach was a public vehicle where passengers paid to ride long distances. Stagecoaches ran on a schedule and were typically pulled by four horses. Periodically, horses were changed out for a fresh team.

Stagecoach

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What Old Newspapers Reveal about the Last of the Czars

If you were living in 1918 and saw a newspaper story about the murder of the Romanovs, would you have known who they were? How would you have felt about the news if you read it when it first broke?

Thanks to numerous books, plays, movies, and mini-series, most people today are familiar with the story of the Romanovs, the Russian royal family headed by Czar Nicholas II who were brutally executed in 1918, ending the country’s monarchy.

But that’s today. What about back then?

We headed to the historical newspapers on Newspapers.com to help us find out how people living in the United States and Canada at the time of the Romanov executions would have experienced the news of their deaths.

Would people living in the U.S. and Canada have known who the Romanovs were?

While we can’t speak for everyone living in those countries at the time, it’s pretty safe to say that if you were a newspaper reader, you would have known who the Romanovs were.

Since Russia was a world power, its monarch naturally drew the attention of newspapers. People could read about Nicholas II’s personal life, from his marriage, to the births of his children, to his visits to foreign royalty. And they likewise could read about Russian politics under his rule, from the Russo-Japanese War, to civil unrest and revolution, to World War I.

Newspaper headlines announce Nicholas II's abdication as czar (The Pacific Commercial Advertiser, 03.17.1917)
Newspaper headlines announce Nicholas II’s abdication as czar (The Pacific Commercial Advertiser, 03.17.1917)

There was fairly consistent newspaper coverage of the Romanovs throughout the years of Nicholas II’s reign, with the exception of a few years that had major spikes in coverage. The first was 1905, an eventful year in Russian politics headlined by a revolution attempt and Nicholas’s issuing of the October Manifesto (which promised an elected parliament).

The other two years that saw spikes in newspaper coverage of the Romanovs were 1917, when Nicholas II abdicated and was exiled, and 1918, when the family was executed. The abundance of newspaper coverage about the executions is probably self-explanatory, but the Romanovs’ lives in exile prior to their deaths seemed to fascinate newspapers almost as much.

How did Americans and Canadians back then feel about the Romanovs?

Nicholas II and Alexandra (The Pittsburgh Post, 11.26.1905
Nicholas II and Alexandra (The Pittsburgh Post, 11.26.1905)

Most people likely formed their opinions about the Romanovs based on newspaper stories—the main source of news at the time. So a look at how newspapers were portraying the Romanovs can help us understand how they would have been seen by the general public in the U.S. and Canada.

Nicholas was often portrayed by the American and Canadian press as an inept, weak ruler who was easily influenced by those around him. The more negative portrayals showed him as an arrogant, superstitious despot who cared nothing for the people he ruled, overly dependent on his wife and on incompetent advisors. The more positive portrayals, however, often wrote about him as a quiet family man who had the misfortune of being born into a role he wasn’t suited for.

As for his wife, Alexandra, the more flattering depictions portrayed her as an intelligent and spiritually-minded woman who was a loving wife and mother. The negative newspaper accounts tended to show her as a pro-German sympathizer who controlled her husband and was unhealthily obsessed with mysticism. 

As for the children—4 daughters and a son—newspapers paid the most attention to Alexei (Alexis), the long-awaited male heir. Although the royal family tried to keep Alexei’s hemophilia a secret, rumors of the boy’s poor health still made it into the American and Canadian media. This in turn led to articles predicting that Alexei’s likely early death would spell the end for the Romanov dynasty.

Did people know about Rasputin?

Newspaper interpretation of Rasputin and Czar Nicholas II (The Shreveport Times, 08.16.1914)
Rasputin and Nicholas II (The Shreveport Times, 08.16.1914)

Yes. Rasputin was a controversial, scandalous figure, and controversies and scandals have always been popular news items. News about Rasputin seemed to have taken a few years to reach the U.S. and Canada (he joined the Russian court around 1905, yet didn’t begin appearing in Western newspapers until about 1911). But once he became known in North America, he was a figure of fascination, and his mystical power over Alexandra and Nicholas was widely written about both before and after his murder in 1916. 

How much did people in 1918 know about the deaths of the Romanovs?

Not much—at least, not much accurate information. Because so much was kept secret by the Bolsheviks, news of the Romanovs’ deaths left Russia slowly, and the details that were reported were often far from what we now understand to have happened. This lack of concrete news opened the gates for a flood of rumors and unsubstantiated news.

Article incorrectly reports Romanov family is safe (The Morning Leader, 07.29.1918)
Article incorrectly reports Romanov family is safe (The Morning Leader, 07.29.1918)

Most initial reports indicated that while Nicholas had been killed, his family was still alive—which we now know was not true. Another oft-published item from around that time claimed that Alexei had died from exposure a few days after Nicholas’s murder—also incorrect. Fictitious accounts of Nicholas’s execution also circulated widely in newspapers, as did a plethora of tell-all articles of dubious veracity written by people claiming to have been connected to the royal family. To top it off, every few months articles would crop up claiming that there was a chance Nicholas was still alive.

There were so many conflicting accounts about what happened that even when a somewhat accurate account was published, there was no way for newspaper readers to be able to discern that this particular article was any more or less true than the numerous others.

The mystery of what really happened to the Romanovs lasted for decades, until the discovery of their bodies was made public in 1989. Even today, there are still things we don’t know about the Romanovs’ deaths, but one thing’s for certain: We know much, much more than people did in 1918.

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Nightmare Saves 200 Lives

Sometimes an imaginary nightmare can stop a terrible, real-life one from happening. Such was the case in this clipping from 1933.

Children's nightmare saves 200

Children’s Nightmare saves 200 Sun, Dec 24, 1933 – Page 3 · The Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.com

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