How Newspapers Captured D-Day on the Home Front

On June 6, 1944, newspaper front pages throughout the United States were filled with one thing: D-Day. Huge headlines, countless articles, and striking images all told the story of the critical invasion taking place in France.

But alongside the gripping news from overseas, newspapers also documented another side to D-Day, one closer to home: They captured how the people of their communities reacted to news of the invasion.

Below, we’ve gathered a sampling of 12 of these home front reactions from around the United States, as well as Canada, England, and Australia. Click on any image, article excerpt, or headline below to view the full thing on our site.

  • Windsor Daily Star, 06.06.1944
    Windsor Daily Star, 06.06.1944

Explore more D-Day newspaper coverage on our Topic Page! Or search Newspapers.com for other D-Day content.

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Forgotten U.S. History: The Sultana Disaster

Appalling Steamboat Disaster (Sultana)

Appalling Steamboat Disaster (Sultana) Sat, Apr 29, 1865 – 1 · Chicago Tribune (Chicago, Illinois) · Newspapers.com

In late April of 1865, the steamboat Sultana chugged up the Mississippi river with over 2000 passengers weighing down its decks. Most were Union prisoners returning home from camps like Cahaba and Andersonville, weak and happy to be heading home after a hard and bloody war.

Payment and Patch-Jobs

With thousands of Union prisoners needing a way home, the U.S. Government paid steamship captains several dollars a head for every soldier transported north. The Chief Quartermaster at Vicksburg, Missouri, suggested a deal to Captain James Cass Mason of the Sultana: he’d get Mason a full load of 1400 men in return for some of that sweet government cash. Mason agreed, but didn’t expect over 1900 soldiers to crowd every spare inch of space on a boat only meant to carry 376.

Meanwhile, a leaking boiler on board had been quickly patched to allow the steamer to take on the massive load of passengers. With decks sagging under the weight and the boiler crack ominously nailed together with a metal plate, the Sultana continued on its way.

Last known photo of Sultana and passengers

Last known photo of Sultana and passengers Fri, Oct 7, 1994 – 7 · The Daily News-Journal (Murfreesboro, Tennessee) · Newspapers.com

Confluence of Consequence

At 2 am on April 27th, the leaking boiler exploded and took out two more boilers along with it. The blast tore the steamer apart just north of Memphis, Tennessee, and within twenty minutes the ship was burning to the water line. Those who survived the blast found themselves trapped on the fiery decks or thrown into the river. Those in the river either drowned, weakened from their injuries, or watched in horror as the ship burned with their friends still on board.

Details of the Sultana explosion

Details of the Sultana explosion Tue, May 9, 1865 – 1 · Buffalo Weekly Express (Buffalo, New York) · Newspapers.com

In all, around 1200 passengers perished. To this day it remains the worst maritime disaster in U.S. history. But in the wake of events like the war ending and Lincoln’s assassination, this tragedy has been all but forgotten.

News of Sultana disaster overshadowed by other significant events

News of Sultana disaster overshadowed by other significant events Fri, Oct 7, 1994 – 7 · The Daily News-Journal (Murfreesboro, Tennessee) · Newspapers.com

The Sultana disaster wasn’t as covered as other events at the time, but there’s more to find on Newspapers.com. Try a search for the steamship or Captain Mason for more about the incident and aftermath.

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Louis Armstrong Going Strong

From an April 2nd paper comes this jazzy announcement. In 1957, Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong attended a jazz concert to celebrate his birthday (actually his 56th). An earlier pneumonia scare lead to this great quote: “I know they wanted to get me up there to play first horn for Gabriel but I don’t think I’ll be up there for a long time yet.”

Louis Armstrong attending a jazz concert for 59th birthday

Louis Armstrong attending a jazz concert for 59th birthday Tue, Apr 2, 1957 – Page 8 · Naugatuck Daily News (Naugatuck, Connecticut) · Newspapers.com

Armstrong lived another 14 years, passing away at age 69 in July 1971.

Find more articles from his long and successful career with a browse through the papers of Newspapers.com.

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Robert Scott and the Terra Nova Expedition

On March 29, 1912, Captain Robert Falcon Scott of the British Antarctic Expedition made one final entry in his diary:

Captain Scott's last lines

Captain Scott’s last lines Thu, Nov 6, 1913 – 10 · The Boston Globe (Boston, Massachusetts) · Newspapers.com

The Expedition Begins

A year and a half earlier, the expedition that would claim his life began. Captain Scott’s expedition set sail in the summer of 1911 aboard the Terra Nova, the ship which gave the expedition its nickname.

Captain Robert Falcon Scott

Captain Robert Falcon Scott Tue, Feb 11, 1913 – Page 1 · The Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.com

Scott's British Antarctic Expedition begins

Scott’s British Antarctic Expedition begins Thu, Jun 2, 1910 – Page 3 · Los Angeles Herald (Los Angeles, California) · Newspapers.com

Terra Nova, leaving New Zealand

Terra Nova, leaving New Zealand Mon, Feb 10, 1913 – 4 · The Boston Globe (Boston, Massachusetts) · Newspapers.com

Race to the Pole

They reached Antarctica in January, a few weeks later than planned. The early months of the expedition were spent laying depots and taking smaller scientific expeditions. Roald Amundsen‘s Norwegian Expedition was camped not far off, and Scott’s group felt the pressure to be the first to reach the South Pole.

Amundsen-Scott Routes

Amundsen-Scott Routes Tue, Feb 11, 1913 – 9 · The Guardian (London, Greater London, England) · Newspapers.com

Scott’s path to the South Pole took a different route than Amundsen’s, as seen in the clipping above. After enduring months of bitter cold and blizzards, Scott and the four men he’d chosen to make the full trek arrived at the pole. There they found Amundsen’s flag and a letter. The Norwegian team had beat them to the prize.

Reached South Pole one month after Amundsen expedition

Reached South Pole one month after Amundsen expedition Mon, Feb 10, 1913 – 4 · The Boston Globe (Boston, Massachusetts) · Newspapers.com

“It is a terrible disappointment.” Thu, Nov 6, 1913 – 10 · The Boston Globe (Boston, Massachusetts) · Newspapers.com

The Fateful Return

It was on the trip back to base that things quite literally went south. At first all went smoothly—weeks passed without trouble, and the men made good progress. But their health was quickly deteriorating as frostbite and general weariness took their toll. Petty Officer Edgar Evans was the first to die, one month after reaching the South Pole. Scott noted Evans’ poor condition, and it seems probable that Evans suffered a bad concussion from a fall.

Soon after, Lawrence Oates began to show signs of failing health. With his decline came Scott’s recognition that none of them would make it back.

Oates' health failing, chances grim for all

Oates’ health failing, chances grim for all Sat, Nov 8, 1913 – 6 · Staunton Daily Leader (Staunton, Virginia) · Newspapers.com

It became clear that Oates would not make it. He deliberately walked off from the party to his death, saying, “I am just going outside. I may be some time.” When he did not return, the group continued on without him.

Scott and the two remaining explorers, Edward Wilson and Henry Robertson Bowers, were forced to make camp 11 miles from One Ton Depot. Lack of supplies from the base camp and terrible weather sealed their doom. Scott made his March 29 diary entry, and it is presumed that the three men died later that day.

Scott and party found dead

Scott and party found dead Tue, Feb 11, 1913 – Page 1 · The Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.com

Bitter Thoughts

Some months later the surviving expedition members formed a search party to learn the fate of Scott and his traveling companions. They found the three bodies of Scott, Bowers, and Wilson and erected a cairn as their final resting place. Speculation about whether they could have been saved circled among the survivors, and continues to be discussed today.

Scott Party thoughts

Scott Party thoughts Tue, Feb 18, 1913 – Page 7 · The Reidsville Review (Reidsville, North Carolina) · Newspapers.com

Find more on this highly publicized tragedy with a search through the archives of Newspapers.com.

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A Glimpse Back: St. Patrick’s Day, 1917

A quick look at St. Patrick’s Day from over a century ago, complete with parades, patriotic flags, and some excellent hats. :

St Patrick's Day Parade, 1917St Patrick’s Day Parade, 1917 Sun, Mar 18, 1917 – Page 37 · San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco, California) · Newspapers.com

Find more like this with a search on Newspapers.com.

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It’s March 14th, so Let Them Eat Pi(e)!

Welcome one and all to March 14th, the day that has become a celebration of mathematics and dessert known as “Pi Day”:

March 14 is Pi DayMarch 14 is Pi Day Wed, Mar 14, 2007 – Page B003 · St. Louis Post-Dispatch (St. Louis, Missouri) · Newspapers.com Today's the day for pi(e)Today’s the day for pi(e) Wed, Mar 14, 2012 – 23 · Times Colonist (Victoria, British Columbia, Canada) · Newspapers.com Larry Shaw, father of Pi DayLarry Shaw, father of Pi Day Sun, Feb 22, 2009 – 48 · Edmonton Journal (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada) · Newspapers.com Pi Day with Larry ShawPi Day with Larry Shaw Fri, Mar 12, 1993 – 2 · The San Francisco Examiner (San Francisco, California) · Newspapers.com

Happy March 14th, everyone! Find more on Pi Day with a search on Newspapers.com.

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Bay Leaves on Your Pillow, and Other Love Spells

Happy Valentines Day! This day has its share of nay-sayers, and not without reason. Though some have more commercial concerns in mind, most find that lacking a significant other can really put a damper on a holiday centered around love. Such concerns are sprinkled throughout the papers, and with them come some rather unusual solutions. Some might call them superstitions, others call them spells. But all are said to be effective in leading you to love.

1. Scatter Something

The first method to snatching up a sweetheart involves hemp seed and, ideally, a church.

Valentine's Eve Hemp ScatteringValentine’s Eve Hemp Scattering Sun, Nov 25, 1900 – Page 21 · The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Jefferson, Kentucky, United States of America) · Newspapers.com Sowing and Harrowing Hemp SeedSowing and Harrowing Hemp Seed Sat, Oct 29, 1892 – 20 · The Graphic: An Illustrated Weekly Newspaper (London, Greater London, England) · Newspapers.com

Lacking in hemp and/or churches? No problem. Just substitute hemp for barley and the church for an apple tree. You could even go for it on a different holiday, if you like:

Scatter Barley for your future husbandScatter Barley for your future husband Tue, Oct 20, 1896 – 3 · St. Albans Daily Messenger (Saint Albans, Vermont, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

2. Flower Power

It comes as no surprise that flowers can play a big role in matters of the heart. They have long been associated with Valentine’s Day, often gifted as a token of love. This is about love too…but it comes at it in a slightly different way.

Rose Leaves will name your loveRose Leaves will name your love Wed, Apr 23, 1884 – 7 · Gibson City Courier (Gibson City, Illinois, United States of America) · Newspapers.com Simple flower love spellSimple flower love spell Tue, Oct 20, 1896 – 3 · St. Albans Daily Messenger (Saint Albans, Vermont, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

3. Spookier Spells

The following method works in much the same way that many mirror tricks do—mostly with a lot of staring. But while often such things are associated with visions of spooky ghosts, this one shows you the face of your future love.

The looking glass, comb, and apple love spellThe looking glass, comb, and apple love spell Sat, Oct 29, 1892 – 20 · The Graphic: An Illustrated Weekly Newspaper (London, Greater London, England) · Newspapers.com

If you’re really not into the sweeter stuff, there’s always Miss Hill’s somewhat morbid choice of spell. How she got hold of the man’s socks we may never know.

Socks in a new-made graveSocks in a new-made grave Fri, Jun 13, 1884 – Page 2 · The Shippensburg Chronicle (Shippensburg, Cumberland, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.com

4. Pillow Leaves

Finally, we end with the well-established and once-loved practice of pinning bay leaves to your pillow. A night’s rest with this set up would guarantee dreams of your sweetheart.

Valentine's Bay Leaves traditionValentine’s Bay Leaves tradition Sun, Feb 10, 1957 – 11 · News-Journal (Mansfield, Richland, Ohio, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

Some pin the leaves at each corner of the pillow, with one directly in the middle, but Jody Berkey, below, has a more decorative approach.

Five bay leaves on your pillowFive bay leaves on your pillow Sun, Feb 10, 1957 – 11 · News-Journal (Mansfield, Richland, Ohio, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

Find more love charms, spells, and stories with a search on Newspapers.com.

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Florida Secedes from the Union: Today in Headlines

On January 9, 1861, “Florida Secedes” appears in newspaper headlines.

January 9 in Headlines: Florida SecedesJanuary 9 in Headlines Wed, Jan 9, 1861 – 1 · The Daily Exchange (Baltimore, Maryland, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

The secession became official the following day, making Florida the third state to leave the Union after South Carolina and Mississippi. Nine more states would join them in the months that followed, and it would be seven years before Florida officially rejoined the Union again.

Find more like this with a search on Newspapers.com, or browse through January 9th headlines in the papers.

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Death of George Washington – This Week in History

On December 14th, 1799, George Washington dies in bed in his Mount Vernon home with Martha at his side.

General George Washington, departed this life on the 14th December, '99General George Washington, departed this life on the 14th December, ’99 Tue, Dec 31, 1799 – 2 · The Gleaner (Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne, Pennsylvania, United States of America) · Newspapers.com
The ailment that took the life of this incredibly popular president, general, and founding father remains a matter of debate. Only two days before his death Washington rode on horseback, supervising his property in sleet and snow. A sore throat the next day could not keep him from going out again to continue working the land. Unfortunately, his condition rapidly worsened the night of the 13th. Dr. James Craik, the family physician, attended to his sickness throughout the day without success. Washington died the following night.

Washington’s body remained in the house for three days to ensure he was truly dead, by his wishes. His funeral took place in great solemnity on December 18th, when he was buried in his family vault with those who had gone before him.

George Washington's FuneralGeorge Washington’s Funeral Mon, Jan 6, 1800 – 3 · Farmer’s Museum or Literary Gazette (Walpole, New Hampshire, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

Find more on Washington’s life and death with a search on Newspapers.com.

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Attack on Pearl Harbor

On this day in 1941, the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor was devastated by a surprise attack that resulted in over 2,400 American deaths. Today we remember and honor those who perished in the attack.

War! Honolulu Paper Headline, Dec 7 1941War! Honolulu Paper Headline, Dec 7 1941 Sun, Dec 7, 1941 – 1 · Honolulu Star-Bulletin (Honolulu, Honolulu, Hawaii, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

War Declared! 3,000 Killed, Wounded | Dec 8. 1941War Declared! 3,000 Killed, Wounded | Dec 8. 1941 Mon, Dec 8, 1941 – Page 1 · The Bismarck Tribune (Bismarck, Burleigh, North Dakota, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

Pearl Harbor Day Thought | Editorial Cartoon 1946Pearl Harbor Day Thought | Editorial Cartoon 1946 Sat, Dec 7, 1946 – 4 · The Austin American (Austin, Travis, Texas, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

Find more on the Pearl Harbor attack and its effects through subsequent years with a search on Newspapers.com.

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