Tales of Heroism from a Forgotten Tragedy: The General Slocum Disaster

Same-day front page about the General Slocum disasterSame-day front page about the General Slocum disaster 15 Jun 1904, Wed The Evening World (New York, New York) Newspapers.com


While the PS General Slocum isn’t well remembered today, the burning of this passenger ship in 1904 with the loss of approximately 1,000 lives was New York’s deadliest disaster prior to 9/11, and it remains one of the worst disasters on a US waterway.

So it’s no surprise that the General Slocum tragedy was major national news when it occurred, making headlines in papers from coast to coast. But along with the big headlines emphasizing the truly tragic nature of the disaster, another kind of newspaper coverage also appeared—stories of awe-inspiring heroism from that heartbreaking day. A search of the historical papers on Newspapers.com™ reveals many of them.

The Disaster

On the morning of June 15, 1904, nearly 1,400 passengers from St. Mark’s German Lutheran Church boarded the paddlewheel steamer General Slocum. The excursion vessel had been chartered to take the group—almost all of them women and children—from Manhattan to picnic grounds on Long Island. But after the steamer was underway in the East River, a fire began in the forward cabin that quickly consumed the ship.

The captain beached the burning vessel on North Brother Island, but the stern of the ship, where most of the passengers had been forced by the fire, was left in 10 to 30 feet of water. Though there were life preservers and lifeboats aboard, poor maintenance and neglect had made many of them useless. So passengers had little choice but to jump overboard without them to escape the flames—despite many not knowing how to swim.

Weighed down by their heavy clothing and struggling against a strong tide, 400 to 600 passengers drowned after the ship was beached. Though estimates vary, a government commission’s investigation into the disaster reported 955 passenger deaths—or about 70 percent.

Mary McCann’s Story of Courage

Mary McCann (1909)Mary McCann 26 Mar 1909, Fri Oakland Tribune (Oakland, California) Newspapers.com


As soon as the fire became visible beyond the ship, bystanders from nearby boats and on shore rushed to aid the stricken steamer.

One rescuer story that got extensive newspaper coverage was that of teenager Mary McCann, a recent immigrant from Ireland who was recuperating from an illness at the isolation hospital on North Brother Island.

When the General Slocum came aground on the island, Mary ran to the shore and swam out time after time to pull as many children as she could to safety. Reports of the number she saved range from 6 to 20, depending on the newspaper account.

Though Mary’s story was written about in newspapers immediately following the disaster, she gained further admiration after her testimony at the coroner’s inquest a little over a week later. She appeared again in newspapers nationwide 5 years afterward, when she was awarded the Coast Guard’s Silver Lifesaving Medal in 1909 for her rescue efforts.

Other Tales of Heroism

But far more stories of bravery from the General Slocum disaster appeared in newspapers besides Mary McCann’s.

The New York Times wrote about the staff at the North Brother Island hospital, who immediately rushed to aid the beached ship. They not only pulled people from the water using ladders and human chains, but also resuscitated victims and provided medical care. The New-York Tribune described a story similar to Mary’s, in which a hospital employee named Pauline Puetz swam out multiple times to pull victims ashore, even rescuing a child who had been caught in the ship’s paddlewheel.

Rescuers on nearby vessels, from rowboats to tugboats, got newspaper coverage as well for saving lives. Henry George, for instance, saved four people from the water in a rowboat that had only one oarlock and was filling with water. He then returned to rescue others from beneath the side of the ship despite the risk of being caught under the listing vessel. The crew of the tugboat John L. Wade, which arrived within minutes of the General Slocum being beached, took their vessel so near the burning ship to rescue passengers that it caught fire itself.

Henry GeorgeHenry George 16 Jan 1910, Sun The Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, California) Newspapers.com


Papers also included accounts of the heroism that occurred on the General Slocum itself. The New York Evening World wrote about 12-year-old Louise Galing, who jumped into the water with the toddler she was babysitting and managed to keep ahold of the child until they were pulled from the water. The World also recounted that when young Ida Wousky would have fainted, 13-year-old John Tishner kicked his friend in the shins to wake her up. John then managed to find a life preserver and put it on Ida, pushing her into the water when she wouldn’t jump. He held onto her by her hair until they were rescued by a boat.

After the Catastrophe

The stories of courage from that tragic day are numerous. Brooklyn’s Standard Union reported that six months after the disaster, the US Volunteer Lifesaving Corps awarded 250 people for their bravery. And those medals were well deserved: The government commission into the tragedy concluded that bystanders were responsible for saving 200 to 350 lives, and that without their aid possibly only 70 of the approximately 1,400 people aboard would have survived.

A century after the tragedy, in 2004, the last remaining survivor, Adella Liebenow Wotherspoon, passed away at age 100. Though her death marked the end of living memory of the disaster, the stories of the passengers and heroes of that day live on in the pages of historical newspapers.

Read more news coverage of the General Slocum disaster on Newspapers.com. And follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more historical content like this!

Like this post? Try one of these:

Share using:

6 of the “Best Wartime Recipes” Shared during World War II

28 May 1943, Fri Oklahoma City Advertiser (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma) Newspapers.com


In late 1941, food columnist Mary Moore invited readers of Canada’s Windsor Star to send in their favorite recipes to be featured in her new weekly “Best Wartime Recipes” column.

“Star cooks! Amateur cooks need your help. Send in those recipes that you are hoarding against your lean days—share your depression or wartime ideas with all of us.”

Because Canada faced food rationing and shortages during World War II, the recipes published in Moore’s column reflected wartime food restrictions—such as the rationing of sugar, tea, coffee, butter, and meat. Still, Moore asked that the submitted recipes be not only economical but flavorful as well, and she tested many of them herself to ensure they were.

Her wartime recipe column ran from October 1941 until May 1945, when Moore replaced it with one about dinner preparation for novice home cooks. She would continue as a food columnist until her death in 1978. Having gotten her start in the late 1920s writing for the Edmonton Journal (which ran her wartime recipe column as well), Moore’s newspaper career lasted an astonishing 50 years and ultimately saw widespread syndication in papers across Canada.

Interested in these wartime recipes? Here are 6 intriguing dishes selected from the 100+ published in Mary Moore’s column over the course of the war—all found on Newspapers.com! Click any of the recipes to see it in the original newspaper.

1. Applesauce Cake (October 1941)

Best Wartime Recipe: Applesauce CakeBest Wartime Recipe: Applesauce Cake 25 Oct 1941, Sat The Windsor Star (Windsor, Ontario, Canada) Newspapers.com


2. Hot Red Cross (November 1941)

Best Wartime Recipe: Hot Red CrossBest Wartime Recipe: Hot Red Cross 01 Nov 1941, Sat The Windsor Star (Windsor, Ontario, Canada) Newspapers.com


3. Bacon Substitute (February 1942)

Best Wartime Recipe: Bacon SubstituteBest Wartime Recipe: Bacon Substitute 14 Feb 1942, Sat The Windsor Star (Windsor, Ontario, Canada) Newspapers.com


4. Jelly Roll (April 1943)

Best Wartime Recipe: Jelly RollBest Wartime Recipe: Jelly Roll 10 Apr 1943, Sat The Windsor Star (Windsor, Ontario, Canada) Newspapers.com


5. New Idea Beef Loaf (November 1943)

Best Wartime Recipe: New Idea Beef LoafBest Wartime Recipe: New Idea Beef Loaf 27 Nov 1943, Sat The Windsor Star (Windsor, Ontario, Canada) Newspapers.com


6. Molasses Cookies (April 1945)

Best Wartime Recipe: Molasses CookiesBest Wartime Recipe: Molasses Cookies 21 Apr 1945, Sat The Windsor Star (Windsor, Ontario, Canada) Newspapers.com


Find more of these wartime recipes on Newspapers.com™. And follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more historical content like this!

Like this post? Try one of these!

Share using:

The ABCs of Old Time Occupations

Have you come across an occupation in a census record that you’ve never heard of before? Many of our ancestors held jobs that are rare or no longer exist today. We’ve scoured our archives to learn more about those jobs and what our ancestors did to earn a living. Here are a few of the occupations we found:

AArtificial Flower Maker: This intricate job required long hours and a lot of skill. The detailed artificial flowers embellished bonnets, dresses, and hats.


BBath Attendant: In the early 20th century, school children in cities like New York and Chicago were bathed at school. Often the children came from tenements with no access to washing facilities. This 1909 article invited women to apply for the position and described the qualifications needed to become a bath attendant.

CCorset Factory Worker: Factories became common during the Industrial Revolution. In this 1910 help wanted ad, a corset factory was hiring women between the ages of 16-40 to work in the factory.


DDaguerreotypist: A daguerreotypist was an early photographer who used a now-obsolete process to create images on a silvered copper surface. In this 1846 article, a traveling daguerreotypist offered to create miniature likenesses in Joliet, Illinois.

EEsquire: Today the term esquire describes a lawyer, but that wasn’t always the case. If your 19th-century ancestor was an esquire, it meant that he held a title of office, such as a lawyer, sheriff, justice of the peace, etc.


FFellmongers: A fellmonger is a person who removes hair or wool from hides in preparation for making leather.


GGlazier: A glazier cut, installed, and removed glass in windows, display cases, and more.

HHokey-Pokey Man: The Hokey-Pokey man was a vendor with a pushcart that sold cheap, low-quality ice cream in the late 1800s through early 1900s. The Hokey-Pokey man was popular with children in tenement neighborhoods. In this 1910 article, a San Francisco Hokey-Pokey man found out he would likely inherit a fortune.

IIce Cutter: Before refrigeration was invented, ice cutters went to lakes and rivers during the winter and cut out blocks of ice for use in the summer. Workers transported ice to ice houses where it was kept cold with straw or sawdust. It would stay frozen for many months.

JJapanner: Japanned leather was a process to coat leather with a Japanese varnish and then dry it on a stove, producing a smooth, shiny surface like patent leather.


KKnocker-Upper: A knocker-upper was the equivalent of a human alarm clock. They roamed the streets with a tall wand used to tap on windows to awaken workers in the morning.


LLeech Collector: Leech collectors, often women, gathered leeches for medicinal use. Doctors believed that bloodletting could cure disease, so leeches were placed on patients to suck infected blood out. The practice was especially popular in Europe. 


MMillwright: A millwright was responsible for designing, installing, maintaining, and repairing mill machinery. This 1902 article reported on a labor dispute when millwrights demanded an eight-hour workday, but employers wanted ten.


NNeedle-Pointer: A needle pointer was a person who filed the points of needles. According to this 1822 article, breathing in steel dust caused health problems for needle-pointers, forcing most to end their careers by the age of 35.

OOrdinary Keeper: An Ordinary Keeper was an innkeeper. The terms “ordinary” and “tavern” used to be used interchangeably. Early records from Maine cautioned Ordinary Keepers about serving too much liquor.


PPinsetter: Bowling became popular in the 20th century and before automated pinsetters were invented, workers handset the bowling pins each time they were knocked down. This 1943 article describes how a pinsetter might set 132 games a night and be paid 9 cents a game.


QQuarrier: A quarrier was a quarry worker.


RRag Man: A rag man walked the streets with a cart, collecting old rags and other discarded items. He then brought them to a junk shop where they were resold. This 1894 article describes the job of a rag men and gives a detailed description of a junk shop.


SSaddler: A saddler was in charge of making, repairing, and selling saddles. This 1872 article describes what a saddler’s shop might have looked like.


TTeamster: A teamster drove a team of oxen, horses, or mules, pulling a wagon. A man who drove a team of oxen was called a bullwhacker. Teamsters transported cargo and supplies. This 1875 article described the duties of a teamster.


UUptwister: An uptwister was a textile industry worker that was in charge of winding yarn onto a revolving spindle.


VVitner: A vitner is a wine merchant. This 1859 article talks about the South Carolina grape industry and the oldest vitner in the South.


WWhitesmith: A whitesmith works with metals like tin, copper, and brass.



XXylographer: A xylographer is a person who makes engravings on wood, especially for printing.


YYeoman: A yeoman was a farmer that owned his land.


ZZincographer: A zincographer worked in the printing industry etching images on zinc plates. The line drawings used in newspapers before photography (like this 1893 example), were created by zincographers.


Share using:

Civil War Soldier and Wife Reunite After 28 Years

Life on the American frontier presented unique challenges, and it was not uncommon for loved ones to lose track of one another as they moved from place to place. In 1889, an unbelievable story made headlines when a Civil War soldier who thought his wife was dead learned that she was alive – and they reunited after 28 years.

Abilene Weekly Reflector 2.7.1889

Frank H. Hall was born in 1837 in the Netherlands. He immigrated to America and settled in Waukesha, Wisconsin, where he got a job in a flour mill. There he met a young woman named Annie Rivers. Frank and Annie fell in love and married in 1860. Shortly after came the Civil War, and Frank was among the first to volunteer for his newly adopted country. He enlisted in the Illinois 42nd Infantry Regiment in 1861.

Annie accompanied Frank to the train station and wept as he boarded the rail car that would take him to his Illinois regiment. At first, Frank and Annie wrote letters regularly. In one letter, Annie informed Frank that she had given birth to their son. The Illinois 42nd fought in several battles including the Siege of Corinth, and the battles of Stones River, Chickamauga, and Missionary Ridge. Annie’s letters became less frequent, and one day, Frank received a letter from a friend in Wisconsin informing him that Annie died.

Darke County Democratic Advocate 1.24.1889

Frank continued to serve, and in 1863, received a discharge in Atlanta for disablement. After recuperating, he reenlisted, serving in the Thirteenth Ohio. For an unknown reason, he served under an alias, Benjamin F. Berkley (possibly because Berkley paid him a bounty to serve in his place). When the war ended, Frank continued to serve in the Sixth Cavalry in Texas. When he finally left military service in 1869, he moved from Kansas to the Washington Territory, to Michigan, and then later Iowa. Along the way, Frank met and married a second wife named Julia Nelson in 1869. Frank and Julia later divorced.

In 1889, Frank decided to return to Waukesha and visit old friends. He hardly recognized the town, but after searching, he found Annie’s brother, Joe. He asked his shocked brother-in-law to take him to Annie’s grave. It was then that Frank learned that Annie was alive and living in the poor house. Joe and Frank immediately went to find Annie. Along the way, Frank learned that the letter he received about Annie’s death was a mistake. It was Annie’s brother who died – not Annie.

Public Ledger 1.19.1889

When Annie saw Frank for the first time in nearly three decades, she didn’t recognize him. Frank called out to her saying, “Don’t you know Frank, your husband?” Annie rushed into his arms. Frank told Annie that better times were coming, and the next day he collected her things and they moved to Iowa.

Annie didn’t live long after their reunion. She died sometime before Frank remarried for the third time in 1894. Frank spent the last years of his life in the Milwaukee Soldier’s Home. He died in 1916 at age 79.

Have you discovered an amazing story from your family history using Newspapers.com? We’d love to hear about it! Dive into Newspapers.com™ today and begin your search!

Like this post? Try one of these!

Share using:

5 Pioneering Women Doctors You Probably Haven’t Heard Of

We searched the historical papers on Newspapers.com™ to find the stories of 5 pioneering women doctors you may not have heard of before!

1. Rebecca Lee Crumpler – First Black American woman licensed as a doctor

Rebecca (Davis) Lee Crumpler (1831-1895) was the first Black American woman doctor, graduating in 1864 from the New England Female Medical College, where she was the only Black graduate.

Rebecca Lee Crumpler graduates from New England Female Medical CollegeRebecca Lee Crumpler graduates from New England Female Medical College 15 Jul 1864, Fri The Aegis & Intelligencer (Bel Air, Maryland) Newspapers.com


After graduating, she practiced medicine primarily in Massachusetts and Virginia, focusing on the care of women and children. She also worked with the Freedmen’s Bureau to provide medical care to the formerly enslaved. She published A Book of Medical Discourses in 1883.

An 1894 piece in the Boston Globe described Crumpler as an “intellectual woman” who “as a physician made an enviable place for herself in the ranks of the medical fraternity.”

2. S. Josephine Baker – First American woman to receive a doctorate in public health

Sara Josephine Baker (1873-1945) graduated from New York Infirmary Medical College in 1898. Her career was largely focused on improving children’s healthcare in underserved New York communities and lowering infant mortality rates. Baker received a doctorate in public health in 1917, the first woman to do so.

Baker became known for her observation (as quoted in the New York Times in 1918) that it was “safer to be a soldier in the trenches in this horrible war than to be a baby in the cradle in the United States.”

S. Josephine BakerS. Josephine Baker 24 Nov 1923, Sat The Star Press (Muncie, Indiana) Newspapers.com


3 & 4. María Elisa Rivera Díaz & Ana “Anita” Janer – First Puerto Rican women to earn medical degrees

María Elisa Rivera Díaz and Ana “Anita” Janer both graduated from the Woman’s Medical College of Baltimore in 1909, making them the first Puerto Rican women to earn medical degrees. Both were at the top of their class, and both started medical practices shortly after graduating.

Their extremely high grades in difficult subjects earned them the 1908 newspaper description of “las más notables estudiantes de medicina en la ciudad” (“the most notable medical students in the city”).

Elisa Rivera and Anita Janer, with fellow medical student Palmira GatellElisa Rivera and Anita Janer, with fellow medical student Palmira Gatell 25 Oct 1908, Sun The Baltimore Sun (Baltimore, Maryland) Newspapers.com


5. Margaret Jessie Chung – First Chinese American female surgeon

Margaret Jessie Chung (1889-1959) graduated from the University of Southern California Medical School in 1916 and opened a clinic in San Francisco’s Chinatown in the 1920s. She provided medical care not only to the Chinese community, but also to celebrities and other prominent Californians. She became known as “Mom Chung” for the care and support she gave to hundreds of servicemen beginning in 1931.

A 1927 newspaper feature about Chung remarked that “she fought her fight until her achievements have earned for her the reputation of being both a physician and a surgeon of unusual ability.”

Margaret Jessie ChungMargaret Jessie Chung 08 May 1927, Sun The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York) Newspapers.com


Learn more about these 5 amazing women and many more on Newspapers.com™! And follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more historical content like this!

Like this post? Try one of these!

Share using:

5 Astonishing Cats That Were Famous 100 Years Ago!

Viral cat videos and memes aren’t the only things that create feline celebrities. In the winter of 1920–21, the Boston Post spotlighted more than 30 cats in what it called its “Famous Cats of New England” series.

While some of these cats were more famous than others, all the felines came with interesting life stories—from prowling the halls of state government to sailing on a Navy ship during wartime.

Here are our favorite 5 cats from the series, found on Newspapers.comTM.

1. Hindy, the Post’s cat

Tue, Dec 7, 1920 – Page 24 · Boston Post (Boston, Massachusetts) · Newspapers.com


The Boston Post justifiably began its series with its own office cat, Von Hindenburg. Nicknamed “Hindy,” the feisty cat was a regular feature in the Post’s pages between 1918 and 1923.

From the article:

“He is known by name to millions, while hundreds every week recognize him on the street as the famous Post cat. He receives mail regularly from admirers and detractors. Von Hindenburg is a New England institution.” READ MORE.

2. Mike, Governor Coolidge’s cat at the State House.

Wed, Dec 8, 1920 – Page 7 · Boston Post (Boston, Massachusetts) · Newspapers.com


Mike was a rescue kitten that started off in the boiler room of the Massachusetts State House but soon had the run of the whole building. He even laid claim to Governor (and future U.S. president) Calvin Coolidge’s chair. When a sergeant-at-arms attempted to eject Mike from the State House, one of the cat’s loyal supporters made such a strong argument that Mike got to stay.

From the article:

“Word reached the library [that Mike had to leave the State House]. Down came the librarian in fury. The State House simply could not get along without Mike. Since his arrival not a single book has had to be rebound. No rat or mouse lived long enough to set tooth in the precious tomes that contained the State’s records. Mike had seen to that. Previously hundreds of dollars had to be spent in repairing books. So Mike stayed.” READ MORE.

3. Napoleon, at Angell Memorial Hospital

Tue, Dec 14, 1920 – Page 9 · Boston Post (Boston, Massachusetts) · Newspapers.com


Napoleon was the resident cat at a local pet hospital and was known for visiting the animal patients.

From the article:

“Whether it be a horse, dog, cat, monkey, parrot or squirrel that is ill matters little to the charitable Napoleon. With equal impartiality he visits them all. […] Through every ward he goes; has particular cats and kittens with whom he stays longer times than others. Black ones seem to be his favorites. Hours at a time he sits beside Inky, a little black kitten laid up with a strained shoulder.” READ MORE.

4. Squeak, the typical fireside sphinx

Wed, Dec 22, 1920 – Page 9 · Boston Post (Boston, Massachusetts) · Newspapers.com


While less famous than the previous 3 cats we’ve mentioned, Squeak went down in Lake Boon history one summer when his refusal to be left behind prompted some decidedly uncatlike behavior.

From the article:

“It was [the family dog] Michael’s custom to swim after the canoe whenever Mrs. Hayward paddled out across the lake. Squeak followed only to the shore and stood there looking wistfully out to sea—decidedly out of it. Paddling as usual one morning, Mrs. Hayward looked back to assure herself that Michael was coming along in safety when she descried a smaller series of ripples emanating from a small dark object that was battling manfully with the current. Backing until she was closer Mrs. Hayward recognized Squeak, and at the peril of capsizing pulled the valiant little cat into the canoe, where it rested perfectly satisfied with having gone Michael one better.”  READ MORE.

5. Kiltie, who went through three submarine zones

Wed, Jan 5, 1921 – Page 9 · Boston Post (Boston, Massachusetts) · Newspapers.com


Born in Scotland, Kiltie was adopted as a kitten by an American sailor during World War I. He was taken aboard the USS Ozama (a naval mine carrier) and crossed three submarine zones on his trans-Atlantic journey.

From the article:

“Adventure with a big “A” began for the six-day-old kitten from that day. He went through three submarine zones safely. He won the undying devotion of every gob [sailor] on board. Supplies were low and Kiltie remembers well the night when he heard there were only three cans of condensed milk aboard, and that it was to be no plain gob bill of fare, but was to be reserved for the little Scotch kitten.” READ MORE.

Want to read more of the “Famous Cats of New England” series? Search on Newspapers.com!

And follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more historical content like this!

Like this post? Try one of these!

Share using:

January 15, 1919: The Great Molasses Flood

Does the scent of molasses linger in your home long after the holidays? The Great Molasses Flood of 1919 left residents from one city claiming they could smell molasses for decades. On January 15, 1919, a giant tank holding 2.3 million gallons of molasses burst open in Boston’s North End neighborhood. It flooded the streets creating a 15-foot wave of molasses that carved a path of destruction. The sticky quagmire killed 21 people and injured 150, paving the way for more stringent safety standards across the country.

During WWI, molasses was distilled into industrial alcohol and used to produce military explosives. The Purity Distilling Company set up shop in the densely populated North End neighborhood in Boston. The area was home to many immigrants, and the company encountered little opposition when they constructed a 50-foot tall, 90-foot diameter molasses tank, just three feet from the street in 1915.

Days before the deadly explosion, a ship delivered a fresh load of warm molasses. It was mixed with cold molasses already in the tank, causing gasses to form. With the tank filled to near-capacity, a later structural engineering analysis revealed that the walls were too thin to support the weight, and there was too much stress on the rivet holes.  

Around 12:30 p.m. on January 15, 1919, workers stopped for lunch and a group of firefighters in a nearby firehouse sat down for a game of cards. Suddenly firefighters heard a strange staccato sound. It was the rivets on the molasses tank popping off. Other witnesses described a low rumbling sound. Before anyone could react, the tank of molasses burst, sending a rush of air that hurled people off their feet. A tsunami of sticky syrup poured over bystanders and horses, and knocked buildings off their foundations. The resulting river of molasses ran through streets and passageways, filling cellars and basements. A one-ton piece of steel from the vat flew into a trestle of elevated railroad tracks, causing the tracks to buckle.

First responders rushed to help but were slowed down by knee-deep sticky molasses that had become thicker in the cold air. They labored to find survivors and recover the dead. Initially, there were concerns that the bursting tank was caused by sabotage or an outside explosion (a claim that Purity Distilling Company clung to). Officials later determined that faulty tank construction was the cause. Workers spent months cleaning the molasses mess by sprinkling sand and hosing down the streets with saltwater.

The tragedy led to many lawsuits and more than 100 damage awards. It also spurred changes in building codes with more stringent building regulations, first in Boston, then in Massachusetts, and then across the country.

If you would like to learn more about the Great Molasses Food, search Newspapers.com today!

Like this post? Try one of these:

Share using:

8 Delicious Holiday Dishes to Try This December

Looking for some vintage recipes to try this holiday season? We searched the historical papers on Newspapers.com to find these 8 recipes for delicious December dishes!

(Click on any of the recipes below to see a larger version on our site.)

1. Biscochitos (from 1967)

Biscochitos (or bizcochitos) are anise-flavored cookies from New Mexico that are popular during Christmas.

Recipe: Bizcochitos (1967)Recipe: Bizcochitos (1967) Tue, Nov 28, 1967 – Page 14 · Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, New Mexico) · Newspapers.com


2. Cheese Blintzes (from 1959)

Similar to a filled pancake or crepe, cheese blintzes are a part of some Hanukkah celebrations.

Recipe: Cheese blintzes (1959)Recipe: Cheese blintzes (1959) Fri, Oct 9, 1959 – Page 5 · The Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle (Milwaukee, Wisconsin) · Newspapers.com


3. Risgrynsgröt (from 1959)

Risgrynsgröt is a Swedish rice pudding eaten during the winter months, especially around Christmas.

Recipe: Risgrynsgrot (1959)Recipe: Risgrynsgrot (1959) Sat, Sep 19, 1959 – 4 · The Herald-Press (Saint Joseph, Michigan) · Newspapers.com


4. Lebkuchen (from 1934)

Lebkuchen are a traditional German Christmas spice cookie.

Recipe: Lebkuchen (1934)Recipe: Lebkuchen (1934) Fri, Feb 2, 1934 – 2 · Iron County Miner (Hurley, Wisconsin) · Newspapers.com


5. Sweet Tamales (from 1959)

Sweet tamales are a dessert made in parts of Mexico (and elsewhere), particularly at Christmastime.

Recipe: Sweet Tamales (1959)Recipe: Sweet Tamales (1959) Thu, Dec 24, 1959 – Page 6 · Arizona Republic (Phoenix, Arizona) · Newspapers.com


6. Applesauce Cake (from 1958)

Apple-based dishes and desserts are a common feature of Hanukkah meals.

Recipe: Applesauce cake (1958)Recipe: Applesauce cake (1958) Fri, Oct 3, 1958 – Page 7 · The Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle (Milwaukee, Wisconsin) · Newspapers.com


7. Christmas Pudding (from 1896)

Christmas pudding is a boiled or steamed pudding traditionally served at Christmas in the United Kingdom.

Recipe: Christmas pudding (1896)Recipe: Christmas pudding (1896) Wed, Dec 2, 1896 – 4 · The North-Eastern Daily Gazette (Middlesbrough, North Yorkshire, England) · Newspapers.com


8. Bonelos Dago (from 1966)

Bonelos dago (or Buñelos dagu) are yam-based fried donuts popular in Guam during the Christmas season and are typically eaten dipped in syrup.

Recipe: Bonelos Dago (1966)Recipe: Bonelos Dago (1966) Sun, Dec 11, 1966 – 9 · Guam Daily News (Agana Heights, Guam) · Newspapers.com


Find more recipes like these on Newspapers.com. And follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more historical content like this!

Like this post? Try one of these!

Share using:

Letters to Santa Found in the Newspapers

Nothing is more magical than seeing the holidays through the eyes of a child. For nearly 150 years, letters to Santa have appeared in newspapers. Some are sweet, some are funny, and some tug at your heartstrings. We searched our archives to share just a few examples:

Daily Press: Newport News, Virginia – 1932: “Dear Santa Claus: I am a little girl eight years old. Mother told me that I had been very good, so please bring me a bicycle, pair of shoes for dolly. Please don’t forget the oranges, nuts, apples and candy. Don’t forget my little cousins, Billy and Norman. Your little friend, Lauretta Crockett.”  

Davenport Weekly Republican: Davenport, Iowa – 1901: “My name is Ray Sindt, and don’t forget our house number; it is 1222 Gaines street corner Thirteenth, for Irene’s letter did not have it. And no date, dear Santa Claus, on it, either, then we won’t get our presents. I would like very much to have a live pony and a cart to go with it; then I can take Irene and our kittens out next summer. I would like to have a gun—but well, I’m not big enough, then I’ll take a sled and skates, and a few nuts and candy, if it is just the same to you. And if you have candy canes, Irene would like to have one, too—red and white striped ones. Please don’t forget Irene’s letter, for she felt very sad when she read it. We will hang up our stockings. Be sure and don’t forget our number this time, and don’t forget the pony. I can take good care of it. Good-bye Santa. I am 7 years old. Merry Christmas. Ray Hamilton Sindt. Don’t forget ma and grandma.”

Tampa Day Times: St. Petersburg, Florida – 1925: “My Dear Mr. Santa Claus: I take the liberty of writing you at this seemingly early date to remind you that I have changed my address from Boston Mass., to St. Petersburg, Florida, and should be quite up set, Mr. Claus if you by some error, perhaps not of your own, but of one of your many assistants, took my gifts to our old address. I hope you will not think me greedy for I am told you dislike that in all small boys, when I ask you to leave in or rather around my stocking or stocking’s a complete addition of the “Book of Knowledge,” and “in Tune With the Infinite.” My parents whom you have probably encountered in their youth have been for the past ten years connected with Harvard college, and I feel sure that they would be charmed to have you make your annual visit to us here in St. Petersburg. I will be twelve my next birthday, and while I have never mingled with other small boys my age, I am sure that I shall not feel the lack of any young companions if you accede to my request. Hoping you and Mrs. Claus are in the best of health and that you will enjoy your trip south. I remain, Horace Percy Greenapple.”

In 1992, a letter was dropped in a mailbox outside the Clallam County Courthouse in Port Angeles, Washington. The heartbreaking contents prompted a desperate search for its author, a boy named Thad. Newspapers across the country, including the Chicago Tribune, reprinted Thad’s letter. The young writer was never identified and donations, which poured in from the U.S. and Canada, were eventually turned over to the United Way. Thad’s letter read:

“Dear Santa Clas, Please help my mom and dad this Christmas. My dad is not working anymore. We don’t get many food now. My mom gives us the food she would eat. Please help my mom an dad. I want to go to Heven too be with the angels. Can you bring me to Heven? My mom an dad woud not have too by things for me no more. That would make them happy. Plese bring my dad a job an some food. I live in my house like last year. We got candils. A city man took the lights a way. It looks like we don’t live heer no more. We do. I will wate for you too come in my room. I will not slep. Wen you give my dad a job and some food too my mom I will go with you and the rain deer. Merry Christmas too you Mrs. Clas too the elfs too. Thad.”

Fortunately, most letters to Santa are filled with child-like anticipation and thoughts of toys and sweets. They also offer a historical snapshot of what was happening in America at the time. Many letters from the 1930s included a request for a Shirley Temple doll. In the 1950s children wanted a Slinky or Play-Doh, and G.I. Joe topped many lists in the 1960s.

Journal Gazette: Mattoon, Illinois – 1966: “Dear Santa—I’m a little boy, five years old, so my mother is writing this for me. I’ve been a pretty good boy all this year. I would like to find under the tree, a GI Joe space capsule and space suit, a GI Joe crash crew set, and a GI Joe flagman set. A green Beret doll. A Johhny Eagle Red River set. A Hands Down and Tip it game A table and chair set for my room. Thank you for all the presents you left me last year. There will be cookies and milk under the tree for you! Your friend Robbie Metcalf, 808 S. 9th St.”

Wouldn’t it be fun to find a letter that one of your family members wrote to Santa in our archives? To see more Letters to Santa from across the decades, search Newspapers.com today!  

Share using:

Vera Menchik, Women’s Chess Champion

“Menchik Mate” from Menchik-Thomas chess game, London 1932 Sat, Jan 30, 1988 – 62 · The Bangor Daily News (Bangor, Maine) · Newspapers.com

The name Vera Menchik is not familiar to many people. But with her rise as a brilliant chess player in the 20s and 30s, and her success in tournaments against some of the greatest masters of the game, Menchik helped pave the way for women to enter a competitive world that too often failed to welcome them.

Early Life

Vera was born in Moscow, Russia, in 1906. She began playing chess at age nine, given a chess set and an understanding of the rules by her father. When her school formed a chess club, she joined.

The Russian Revolution upended the Menchiks’ home, business, and family, and Vera moved to England with her mother and sister. There she continued her chess education with the Hastings Chess Club, and later became a student of grandmaster Géza Maróczy.

Miss Vera Menchik, New WizardMiss Vera Menchik, New Wizard Tue, Feb 15, 1927 – 9 · Republican and Herald (Pottsville, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.com

In 1927, she won the first Women’s World Championship in London. She would go on to defend that title in every championship over the next twelve years, with seventy-eight wins, four draws, and only one loss.

Vera Menchik Club

Many considered chess too intellectually rigorous for women, an opinion that continued well into the latter half of the 20th century.

Bobby Fischer quote on the stupidity of womenBobby Fischer quote on the stupidity of women Wed, Jan 5, 1977 – 17 · Public Opinion (Chambersburg, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.com

When a woman proved that unflattering sentiment wrong by doing well in competitions, not everyone took her seriously.

Menchik entered the Carlsbad chess tournament in 1929, the only female competitor. Viennese master and fellow competitor Albert Becker found the idea so laughable that he proposed the creation of the “Vera Menchik Club,” where entry would be granted to anyone defeated by Menchik. Becker became the club’s first member.

The Vera Menchik Club - The Vera Menchik Club – “Society for Losers” Thu, Mar 28, 1974 – 61 · Calgary Herald (Calgary, Alberta, Canada) · Newspapers.com

Within a decade, the club that began as a mockery had been “joined” by some of the chess world’s most notable names, including Max Euwe, Edgard Colle, Mir Sultan Khan, Jacques Mieses, Samuel Reshevsky, and Frederick Yates.

Vera Menchik in high standing in chess worldVera Menchik in high standing in chess world Sun, Jul 23, 1944 – Page 38 · The Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.com

World Champion

Women's Chess Champion, Vera Menchik, 21Women’s Chess Champion, Vera Menchik, 21 Sun, Sep 18, 1927 – 103 · The Baltimore Sun (Baltimore, Maryland) · Newspapers.com

Menchik defended her title as Women’s World Champion from 1927 until the end of her life. Sadly, that end came prematurely. At age 38, Menchik was killed by a bomb attack in London during World War II, along with her mother and sister.

Vera Menchik death announcement, 1944Vera Menchik death announcement, 1944 Fri, Jun 30, 1944 – 14 · The Gazette (Montreal, Quebec, Canada) · Newspapers.com

Menchik did not effortlessly win every game. Many times she ranked low, or even last, in the list of competitors. But she played with such skill and knowledge that she took a male-dominated world by surprise. She holds a special place in chess history as the first Women’s World Champion, an example for all who followed. Today, the Chess Olympiad’s winning women’s team is awarded the Vera Menchik Cup in her honor.

Find more clippings on Vera Menchik and other important names in chess with a search on Newspapers.com.

Like this post? Try one of these:

Share using: