Discovery of the Rosetta Stone: July 15, 1799

On July 15, 1799, during Napoleon’s campaign in Egypt, a French soldier spotted a black stone covered in inscriptions outside of the Egyptian city of Rosetta. Suspecting it could be an important cultural find, he brought it to the attention of his superiors. The Rosetta Stone, as it came to be known, contained an ancient decree written in three types of scripts. One of them was Egyptian hieroglyphics. Using the Rosetta Stone and comparing the hieroglyphics to the other writings, a French linguist was able to crack the hieroglyphic code. For the first time since hieroglyphics died out in the 4th century, scholars were able to decipher a lost language and the field of Egyptology was born.

The Maryland Gazette – 12.10.1801

In 1798, Napoleon Bonaparte led a French campaign through Egypt and Syria. His goal was to defend French trade interests and ultimately drive the British from India. He brought scholars along on the expedition to document the antiquities they discovered. While digging a foundation in Rosetta in July 1799, a young officer named Pierre-Francois-Xavier Bouchard discovered a stone covered in inscriptions. The broken stone was part of a larger tablet and contained an official message or decree about King Ptolemy (204-181 BC). The same message was written in hieroglyphs, Demotic, and Ancient Greek.

After Napoleon’s defeat, the Rosetta Stone fell into British hands. The Treaty of Alexandria required that all antiquities gathered during Napoleon’s campaign be turned over to the British, including the stone. It was loaded on a ship, arriving in England in February 1802. That summer, it was presented to King George III, then displayed at the British Museum. Scholars immediately began studying the inscriptions. A British physicist named Thomas Young was the first to realize that a group of hieroglyphics repeated several times on the stone wrote the sounds of the name Ptolemy.

The Morning Chronicle 8.9.1802

He continued his extensive study of the stone, as did other scholars, including French scholar Jean-Francois Champollion. Over the next two decades, the race to decipher the Rosetta Stone continued. In 1822, Champollion made the first of several breakthroughs, and in 1824, he realized that hieroglyphics combined phonetic and ideographic signs. Combined with his knowledge of the Coptic language, which is derived from ancient Egyptian, Champollion cracked the code and was able to read the hieroglyphics.

Champollion then transcribed the message on the Rosetta Stone. He is heralded as the founder of the study of Egyptology. The message on the stone was a decree celebrating the first anniversary of the coronation of King Ptolemy V. More importantly, scholars could now decipher hieroglyphics on other Egyptian antiquities.

The Rosetta Stone is still displayed in the British Museum today, where it has drawn curious crowds for nearly 220 years. To learn more about the Rosetta Stone, search Newspapers.com™ today!

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June 10, 1942: The Lidice Massacre

The village of Lidice was located in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia (present-day Czech Republic) during WWII. In reprisal for the assassination of a Nazi official in the Spring of 1942, Adolf Hitler ordered the assassination of all men in Lidice, aged 16 and older. The women and children were taken to concentration camps or gassed, and the village of Lidice was destroyed.

The Age – June 15, 1942

In 1939, the area around Lidice came under Nazi control. Reinhard Heydrich, a high-ranking German official, was appointed Deputy Reich Protector of the area. Heydrich was one of the principal architects of the Holocaust. He was known for brutality, murder, and efforts to destroy any Nazi resistance. On May 27, 1942, Heydrich was being driven to his headquarters at Prague Castle when his car was attacked by two Czechoslovak resistance operatives. The operatives were trained in Great Britain and operated under the approval of the Czechoslovak government. Heydrich was wounded and died less than a week later.

The Shreveport Journal – June 6, 1942

German officials declared a state of emergency and established a curfew in Prague. They began a massive search for the attackers, promising that anyone involved, and their families, would be executed. Days later, when they failed to locate any conspirators, they decided to destroy the village of Lidice in reprisal. They chose Lidice because its residents were suspected of harboring members of the local resistance.

On June 10, 1942, German police and SS officials surrounded Lidice to block off any escape route. They rounded up 192 boys and men from Lidice and marched them to a farm on the edge of town, where they lined them up and shot them in groups.

Nazi officials separated the women and children and loaded the women onto rails cars for transport to concentration camps. Most went to Ravensbrück, where 60 died. A few of the children considered racially pure were handed over to SS families. The rest were likely killed in late June when Nazi official Adolph Eichman ordered the children to be gassed to death at Chelmno extermination camp.

In all, some 340 people from Lidice died and the town was destroyed. Nazi officials shelled the village, set it on fire, and plowed over the remains. To further erase the memory of Lidice, the name of the village was removed from all local municipal records. The massacre in Lidice angered people from around the world and garnered Allied support for the war. In the years following the war, those found complicit in the Lidice massacre were prosecuted. If you would like to learn more about the tragic story of Lidice, search Newspapers.com™ today.

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The Arkansas Pearl Rush

In the 1850s, a New Jersey shoemaker found a large pearl inside a mussel pulled from a New Jersey river. The valuable pearl was sold to Tiffany & Co. for $1500. The find inspired others to scour freshwater rivers and lakes, hoping to find more gems. The hunt for pearls moved south, and in the early 1880s, more pearls were discovered in Arkansas. The discovery set off the Arkansas pearl rush which produced more than $2.5 million in pearls annually before the mussel population began to dwindle around 1905.

A group of Arkansas pearl hunters examine a pearl in 1905

It was the discovery of a large pearl in 1897 that fueled the Arkansas pearl rush. Dr. J. Hamilton Meyers found a large, valuable pink pearl in a mussel shell from the Black River. News of the discovery spread, and people flocked to the lakes and rivers, hoping to make a similar find. Makeshift settlements popped up along the rivers as men, women, and children joined the search. Newspapers compared the frenzy to the Klondike Gold Rush. The mussels were abundant, and pearl hunters gathered them by hand in shallow waters. Those lucky enough to find a pearl inside discovered gems in many colors, including white, pink, blue, purple, and black. The pearls were prized by jewelers and some even became part of a royal gem collection.

St. Louis Dispatch 1905

Single pearls could command a premium price if they met the specifications a jeweler required to form a matched string of pearls or earrings. One Arkansas pearl buyer recalled selling a single pearl to a French jeweler for $1,500. It was the final pearl needed to complete a necklace. The finished string of pearls had a value of $200,000!

The pearl rush also gave birth to a robust shell button industry. In the late 1890s, thousands of mussel shells were shipped by rail from Arkansas to Iowa, where button factories turned them into beautiful mother-of-pearl buttons. By 1900, button factories were operating in Arkansas, popping up along northeastern Arkansas rivers. Factory workers gathered mussel shells and placed them in hot water to open them. They removed the meat, graded the shells, and then cut them into button blanks. By the end of WWII, plastic buttons put most shell button factories out of business.

Daily Arkansas Gazette 1897

Overharvesting led to a dwindling mussel population in Arkansas, and by 1905, pearls were much harder to find. Shells were no longer available in shallow waters and pearl hunters relied on boats and special tools like long-handled tongs called pearling rakes to search in deeper waters. About the same time, cultured pearls were also making their way into U.S. markets. A Japanese man, Mikimoto Kokichi, had patented a new process of injecting a grain of sand or ground mussel shell into an oyster, forcing the oyster to form a pearl. Cultured pearl jewelry became popular and much more accessible.

Does someone in your family have a piece of jewelry that contains Arkansas pearls? If you would like to learn more about the Arkansas pearl rush, search Newspapers.com™ today!

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April 2, 1863: The Richmond Bread Riot

During the Civil War, lack of food, money, and supplies created unbearable conditions for women living in the southern United States. Inflation and the lack of supplies left families reeling. Women especially felt the financial pinch and had difficulty providing food for their families. The situation was further exacerbated when the drought of 1862 impacted the harvest. Meager food supplies became even scarcer. The salt needed for preserving meat was also hard to come by. It was imported from the North and generally unavailable, or too expensive to purchase.

The Lancaster Examiner 4.15.1863

Tensions reached a boiling point in the spring of 1863 when civil unrest broke out in cities across the South. The unrest was organized by women, enraged by the exorbitant price of bread. They attacked stores and warehouses, stealing food, clothing, and supplies. The largest of these riots took place in Richmond, Virginia, on April 2, 1863.

In March 1863, a Richmond woman named Mary Jackson began recruiting women to participate in an organized protest. She was the mother of a Confederate soldier and frustrated with the government’s inability to provide aid for her and other women whose men were away fighting. She garnered the support of about 300 women. On the morning of April 2, 1863, Jackson arrived at the market in Richmond. She was a peddler, but that day she brought nothing to sell. Instead, she increased recruitment efforts and began warning men that trouble was brewing. The growing crowd of women began marching towards the governor’s office in Capitol Square, where they were turned away. There are varying reports of what happened next, with some claiming the governor eventually came and met with the women. The angry crowd began marching towards Ninth Street. As the women marched, hundreds began to follow, and the crowd ballooned. 

Liverpool Mercury 4.20.1863

Armed with guns, hatchets, and household implements, the women began to chant “Bread or Blood!” They attacked grocery stores, warehouses, and other businesses, stealing food, supplies, and even fine jewelry.

Soon, Richmond Mayor Joseph Mayo arrived and read the Riot Act aloud to the mob. They ignored him. Governor John L. Letcher sent for Confederate President Jefferson Davis. He begged the women to disperse, warning that an artillery unit would open fire on the mob. Davis then emptied his pockets, throwing his money to the women. Tensions finally eased, and the crowd disbursed.

Rioters take more than bread – The Chanute Times 5.29.1889

Confederate secretary of war James A. Seddon asked the local press to refrain from publishing news of the incident, fearing it would fuel Union propaganda. Confederate deserters, along with Union prisoners who watched the scene unfold from their cell windows, leaked the story. The New York Times published a front-page account of the riot on April 8th.

Following the riot, more than 60 demonstrators were arrested, including Jackson. The women received varying degrees of punishment. Jackson’s punishment was merely nominal. The City of Richmond increased efforts to provide aid to the poor, restoring a measure of calm. The 1863 bread riots showed just how difficult life had become for women on the home front. If you would like to learn more about the Richmond Bread Riot, search Newspapers.com™ today.

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March 18, 1889: The First Carnegie Library Opens in America

On March 18, 1889, the Carnegie Free Library of Braddock opened in a suburb of Pittsburgh. It was the first library donated by businessman and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie in America. From 1886-1919, Carnegie donated more than $40 million to open 1,679 libraries across the country. He also built additional libraries around the world. These libraries were in communities both small and large and opened up a world of learning, entertainment, and possibilities to millions of patrons. Carnegie was a Scottish-American immigrant who made his fortune in the railroad and steel industries. Before the end of his life, he donated nearly 90% of his fortune ($350 million) to various causes.

During the second half of the 19th century, the idea of “free” libraries began to spread. Carnegie, who was born in Scotland in 1835, immigrated to America as a boy after industrialization forced his father out of the textile business. The Carnegie family settled in the suburbs of Pittsburgh where young Andrew got a job as a messenger boy. There he met Colonel James Anderson. Each Saturday, Anderson opened his personal library and allowed young workers like Carnegie to borrow books. The books opened up a new world for Andrew who vowed that if he ever became wealthy, he would provide this generosity to others.

Carnegie spent the next 50 years building his fortune, though occasionally his methods were scrutinized. He faced criticism in 1892 when workers at his Homestead Steel Mill decided to strike over low wages and better working conditions. The strike spiraled into a violent gun battle requiring a militia to restore peace. One editorial complained, “Ten thousand Carnegie public libraries would not compensate…for the evils resulting from the Homestead lockout.” Some argued that Carnegie built his fortune on the backs of poor workers. Carnegie however, believed that a library was one way that workers could improve themselves. He wanted libraries housed in beautiful buildings, with big windows and ample light. This was a change for many towns that housed makeshift libraries in churches, stables, or at the back of shops.

Carnegie Library in Perry, Oklahoma – 1909

Carnegie devised a plan to award grants for library construction for communities in need. Grants were conditional upon three conditions. First, municipalities had to own the property where the library would be built. Second, the property had to be large enough for future expansion if demand arose, and third, grant recipients had to pay 10% of the gift for building maintenance.  

Initially, when an application was approved, a community could build any type of building they wanted. Carnegie felt some of the buildings were not an efficient use of space and later insisted on approving plans before construction began. He even wrote a book, Notes on Library Building, and sent it to each community that received a grant. The standards outlined in the book meant that many Carnegie libraries looked similar. They had high ceilings and spacious interiors. The exterior was often stone or brick. The high ceilings meant that access to the library from street level usually included a flight of stairs. These stairs became a hallmark of Carnegie libraries, and some claimed they represented climbing towards wisdom or working towards knowledge. The stairs, however, proved a hindrance to older or disabled patrons.

Carnegie Libraries in Iowa – 1917

By the time Carnegie issued the last library grant in 1919, most states had at least one Carnegie library, while other states had many (California had 142)! Some Carnegie libraries are still in use today. Others are no longer standing or have been converted into civic centers or commercial businesses.  Do you have a Carnegie library in your community? To learn more about Andrew Carnegie and Carnegie libraries, search Newspapers.com today!

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February 8, 1968: Orangeburg Massacre

On February 8, 1968, police opened fire on a group of unarmed Black student protestors on the South Carolina State University campus. The students were protesting segregation at a local business. When the smoke cleared, three students were dead and 27 wounded. Nine officers were charged with excessive force and later acquitted as the Governor called the killings, “One of the saddest days in the history of South Carolina.”  

The violence was the culmination of events that began earlier that week when Black students organized a protest at the nearby All-Star Bowling Lanes on Monday, February 5th. Some 200 students gathered to protest the establishment’s policy of segregating black and white patrons. Harry F. Floyd, the operator of the bowling alley, appealed to the City Council. He asserted that his private business did not fall under civil rights laws.  

The next two evenings brought more protests, escalating tensions, and some arrests. National Guard troops were called in as protestors threw rocks and bricks at passing automobiles, including police cars. There were reports of broken windows, shots fired, and injuries. The bowling alley closed down, and rumors that protestors were burning buildings circulated throughout the community.  

By the evening of the 8th, Orangeburg was a tinderbox. Once again, Black students gathered on the campus of South Carolina State University. Angry protestors, many of whom had been beaten by police in the previous days, started a bonfire on campus. Firefighters arrived to douse the flames, and highway patrolmen moved in to protect the fireman. Students responded by throwing sticks and rocks at the highway patrolmen. One protestor grabbed a heavy piece of a wooden banister, taken from a nearby unoccupied house, and threw it at the police. It hit an officer in the head, who fell to the ground injured and bleeding. Fellow officers feared he’d been shot, prompting one to fire a warning shot into the air. Hearing the noise, the other highway patrolmen thought they were being fired upon and began shooting into the crowd. Some students were hit in the back as they tried to flee. Henry Smith, Samuel Hammond, and Delano Middleton were killed and at least 27 others wounded. Cleveland Sellers was among the injured. He was an activist and state coordinator for the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee. The police considered him dangerous, and he was arrested and convicted of inciting a riot.

The killings came to be known as the Orangeburg Massacre, and Governor Robert E. McNair called it, “One of the saddest days in the history of South Carolina.” Prosecutors leveled charges of excessive force against nine officers, all of whom were acquitted. Meanwhile, Cleveland Sellers was sent to prison but later pardoned. The government charged the owners of the bowling alley that triggered the massacre with an anti-discrimination suit.

To learn more about the Orangeburg Massacre, start searching Newspapers.com today.

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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!

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G.I. Bill Gives Back to Soldiers Returning from WWII

In 1944, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law the new Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, otherwise known as the G.I. Bill. The G.I. Bill created sweeping new benefits for millions of veterans returning from WWII. Those benefits included money for education, job training, low-interest home loans, and unemployment benefits. Within its first seven years, about 8 million veterans took advantage of these benefits. The G.I. Bill led to a jump in university and college enrollment, a housing boom, and helped usher in an era of prosperity.

President Roosevelt signs the G.I. Bill: Press and Sun-Bulletin June 23, 1944

During the war, government officials realized that when the war eventually ended, 16 million men and women serving in the armed forces would return home unemployed. That level of unemployment had the potential to create financial instability within the country and could lead to an economic depression. In a bipartisan effort led by the American Legion, planning got underway for new legislation that could help returning veterans and benefit the economy. The Servicemen’s Readjustment Act was passed by Congress in January 1944 and signed by President Roosevelt the following June.

The Tampa Times: October 11, 1945

One of the landmark provisions of the G.I. Bill was funding for education. Before the war, a college education was out of reach for the average American. The G.I. Bill, however, flung the doors to universities and vocational schools wide open with benefits that covered tuition, books, supplies, and offered a living stipend. A college education was now within reach and many veterans took advantage of the opportunity. Educational funding had the added benefit of preventing too many veterans from flooding the job market all at once. In 1947, nearly half of those admitted to college were veterans, and between 1940-1950, the number of college and university degrees earned doubled.

Another popular benefit offered through the G.I. Bill was low-interest home loans. The VA Home Loan benefit granted 4.3 million low-interest, zero down payment home loans between 1945-1955. Veterans starting families snapped up the home loans and moved to the suburbs. New neighborhoods sprang up in mass-produced subdivisions all around the country and veterans became the largest single group of homeowners.

Berwyn Life: December 17, 1944

The building boom helped usher in an era of unprecedented prosperity and growth for the middle class. Homeownership “cemented the stability of millions of veterans’ families,” fueled job growth, and added substantially to personal income and consumer demand. WWII rations and shortages gave way to abundance and prosperity that helped shaped the country for decades.

Other benefits offered through the G.I. Bill included unemployment benefits, money to start a business, additional veterans hospitals, and veteran job counseling and employment services.

The original G.I. Bill ended in 1956, though it was extended several times. More recently, the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill and the Forever G.I. Bill have passed to help veterans.

Did someone in your family benefit from the G.I. Bill? Share your stories in the comments below and search Newspapers.com to learn more about the 1944 G.I. Bill.

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The Deadliest Natural Disaster in U.S. History: The Galveston Hurricane of 1900

On September 8, 1900, the deadliest natural disaster in U.S. history occurred when the low-elevation island of Galveston, Texas, was struck by a category four hurricane that resulted in 135 mph winds and a deadly tidal surge. The hurricane, also known as the Great Galveston Storm, leveled 3,600 buildings and killed an estimated 6,000 to 12,000 people. Primitive forecasting techniques and ignored warnings contributed to the high number of fatalities.

Salt Lake Herald 9.10.1900

Galveston was the largest city in Texas at the turn of the century. It had a bustling shipping port and was among the richest urban areas in the United States. It had a population of 37,000 that swelled each summer when vacationers flocked to the island to enjoy the beaches.

Hurricane forecasting science at the turn of the century was not very sophisticated. The U.S. Weather Bureau relied on warnings from arriving ships or telegraphed warnings from islands in the Caribbean. In early September 1900, Cuban meteorologists sent warnings of an impending storm headed for the U.S. which were largely ignored. The U.S. Weather Bureau eventually issued a hurricane warning but predicted the storm would pass over Florida and continue north along the Eastern Seaboard. The storm headed into the Gulf of Mexico, however, and the first storm warnings in Galveston were not issued until September 7th. Few people heeded the warnings.

The morning of September 8th dawned cloudy and with a powerful surf. Soon the skies turned dark and the winds picked up. The Furniss family of St. Louis, Missouri was vacationing at the Beach Hotel in Galveston with their three daughters, unaware that a deadly hurricane was taking aim at the city. Galveston sat just nine feet above sea level and as the hurricane came ashore, a 15-foot storm surge rolled in.

The Atlanta Constitution 9.9.1900

When the storm hit, the hotel was completely demolished, and the Furniss family presumed dead. Their only other child, an 18-year-old son, was home in Missouri when he received news of the disaster. He quickly traveled to Galveston to search for his family. Upon arrival, a local militia involuntarily enlisted him into service to search for survivors and bury the dead. Thousands of bodies were strewn about the island and mountains of debris piled everywhere. The heat and humidity created a terrible stench and workers initially tried to bury vast numbers of the dead at sea. However, the tide just washed the bodies back to shore. Eventually, they burned the dead instead. The bodies of the Furniss family were among those finally found and buried at sea.  

St. Louis Glove-Democrat 9.15.1900

Another tragedy occurred at the St. Mary’s Orphans Asylum, which sat directly on the shore. It was built to take advantage of the fresh sea breezes which nuns hoped would protect the children from Yellow Fever and other illnesses that had killed their parents. As the storm intensified, the nuns gathered all 93 children and moved to the second floor to escape the rising water. As an added protection, the nuns tied themselves to small groups of children. Eventually, the storm ripped the orphanage from its foundation, trapping the children. Tragically, all were lost except three boys who clung to a tree.

As the stories of the devastation emerged, a nationwide relief effort sprang up to help the people of Galveston. To prevent a similar tragedy from happening again, Galveston built a 17-foot seawall and brought in tons of sand to raise the city’s elevation as much as 18 feet near the seawall, with a downward slope toward the bay. Buildings that managed to survive the hurricane were lifted to the new ground level.

If you would like to learn more about the Great Galveston Storm of 1900, search Newspapers.com today or see additional clippings on the Galveston Hurricane in our Topic Pages.

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August 15, 1945: The 75th Anniversary of V-J Day

On August 14, 1945, at 7:00 p.m., President Harry S. Truman summoned reporters to the White House for a special announcement. He read a statement from the Emperor of Japan which announced in part, “The unconditional surrender of Japan.” Three years, eight months, and seven days after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, WWII was finally over!

V-J Day (short for Victory in Japan Day) came at a steep price. The United States counted some 418,500 military and civilian deaths during the war. Worldwide, that number neared 60 million! For just a moment, in August 1945, a war-weary world set aside mourning to celebrate the end of WWII. People poured into the streets and church bells rang out. President Truman declared a two-day holiday, and on August 15th, the United States celebrated V-J Day.

In New York City, thousands flocked to Times Square. Alfred Eisenstaedt, a photographer for Life magazine, pulled out his camera to capture the exuberance of the crowd. His iconic shot of a sailor kissing a nurse captured a defining moment in history.

In Tinley Park, Illinois, Mildred Pritza recalled hearing the news, “We cried, we hugged. Bells were ringing. Everyone went outside and everyone was hugging…There was real cohesiveness in the nation with everyone working for a shared goal.” The country was united in spirit and purpose and V-J day was a celebration of shared sacrifice. Pritza, who had never worked before the war, recalled her job building crankshafts for airplanes for $1.09 an hour. With her husband in the Navy and a new baby to care for, she did what was necessary.

In Plainfield, New Jersey, police officer Cornelius Coffey was assigned traffic patrol and said the city had the worst traffic jam he’d ever seen as everyone came out to celebrate. He chose to ignore the 10 p.m. wartime curfew for youngsters that night.

News of the Japanese surrender came at 4:00 p.m. PST in Spokane, Washington. The Spokesman-Review reported that crowds spilled into the streets, and at first there was a stunned silence. “Then automobile horns began to blow. In a few moments, their blasts became a solid wave of sound in downtown streets. Their noise drowned out the shouting and even the noise of the siren atop city hall. A storm of confetti swirled down from windows of high buildings as office workers gave vent to their joy.”

On the island of Oahu, the bells in Kawaiahaʻo church pealed, bringing a flashback memory to many who heard the same bells ring out a warning on December 7, 1941. The roof of the Honolulu Advertiser building was crowded that December morning in 1941, as dazed and stricken citizens watched black smoke rise from the distance. Now 1,347 days later, the same rooftop was filled with people tossing shredded paper to the street below in celebration.

Do you remember V-J Day? Have you heard V-J Day stories shared in your family? To read more about the end of WWII and to see more stories on V-J Day, search Newspapers.com today!

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