Mount Rushmore Project Begins – This Week in History

This week in 1927, work began on the ambitious sculpture of Mount Rushmore. The project was the brainchild of sculptor Gutzon Borglum.

Mount RushmoreMount Rushmore Sun, Aug 22, 1999 – Page 102 · Daily Press (Newport News, Newport News, Virginia, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

Mountain SculpturingMountain Sculpturing Fri, Oct 7, 1927 – Page 8 · Asbury Park Press (Asbury Park, Monmouth, New Jersey, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

Washington’s face was the first to emerge from the stony cliff. The rest of the sculpture would take 14 years to complete, though “complete” may be the wrong term to use. Gutzon planned for the sculpture to not only include the four famous faces we see there today, but also to inscribe a history of the United States into the mountain that would endure through the ages. However, Gutzon’s unexpected death in 1941 led to an early end to the project, and the history portion of the sculpture was never included.

Not everyone was pleased with the decision to use a natural landscape as the canvas for a memorial to presidents past.

Not everyone pleased about Rushmore memorialNot everyone pleased about Rushmore memorial Wed, Oct 5, 1927 – 4 · Messenger-Inquirer (Owensboro, Kentucky, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

Regardless of the controversies it has stirred in past or present, Mount Rushmore has become an internationally recognizable U.S. landmark.

Mount Rushmore a National ShrineMount Rushmore a National Shrine Thu, Jul 6, 1939 – 6 · Rapid City Journal (Rapid City, Pennington, South Dakota, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

Mount Rushmore, 1941Mount Rushmore, 1941 Thu, Mar 6, 1941 – 6 · Des Moines Tribune (Des Moines, Polk, Iowa, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

Some interesting related articles:

How Rushmore Got its Name

Susan B. Anthony proposed as another addition to Mount Rushmore sculpture

Find more on Mount Rushmore and its history with a search on Newspapers.com.

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“Magnetism Affects Watch”

In this article titled “Magnetism Affects Watch,” we find the very definition of a “magnetic personality.”

Magnetism Affects WatchMagnetism Affects Watch Thu, Oct 24, 1935 – 1 · The Axtell Standard (Axtell, Kansas, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

Do you think this article was intended as a charming joke about the young lady’s magnetic personality? Or was it written in all seriousness? Let us know what you think.

Find more like this on Newspapers.com with a search through the collection.

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The Peshtigo Fire: October 8, 1871

The Peshtigo Fire: October 8, 1871

The deadliest forest fire in American history swept through Northeast Wisconsin on October 8, 1871. The Peshtigo fire, named after the small town it obliterated, claimed 1200 lives. The Peshtigo fire has been somewhat ignored by history because it started the same day as the great Chicago fire.

Painting from Peshtigo Fire Museum
It was an unusually dry summer that year. Small fires used to clear land for farming and railroads had been smoldering, but didn’t cause alarm. That all changed on the evening of October 8th. As parents tucked their children into bed, an ominous rumbling “like the distant roaring of the sea or like a coming storm” had them nervously scanning the horizon. In the distance they could see the glow of a fire. The winds were picking up, but residents still had no idea what was approaching.

About 10 p.m., hurricane force winds, accompanied by lightning, blew into town. Gusts that preceded the firestorm ripped roofs from houses and felled large trees. Alarmed residents ran to investigate and witnessed a huge inferno, described as a tornado of flame, bearing down.

The Guardian, reported that “The wind blew with such tremendous violence that people endeavoring to escape were lifted from their feet and blown into burning houses. The wind blew super-heated clouds of sand on to those running to escape. Each grain burning and blistering.”

Those that could, began a mad dash to the river. Mothers, unable to make it to the water, tried desperately to protect their children from the flames. The fire was an “oxygen-sucking firestorm” whose power has been compared to an atomic bomb. Residents, unable to outrun the fire, burst into flames. Those that did reach the river encountered frightened livestock that trampled over them. Burning logs floated on the river’s surface. Once immersed in the river, faces of those trying to escape were badly burned each time they surfaced for air. Some, unable to make it to the river, jumped in wells to escape the flames. The intense heat caused the water to boil, killing them. Within two hours the town was reduced to ashes.

When relief workers entered Peshtigo after the fire, they found the town and surrounding woods littered with burned bodies. As the magnitude of destruction became apparent, people from surrounding towns stepped up to care for survivors. Those who managed to survive the flames lost everything. Today, Peshtigo is rebuilt and thriving, and as the Green Bay Press-Gazette says, is “Truly reborn from the ashes.”

If you would like to learn more about the Peshtigo fire, or have ancestors from that area, search our archives at Newspapers.com to learn more!

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The Cat Who Ran for President

Remember the cat who ran for president? If not, never fear. The newspapers have got you covered!

Morris the Cat was already famous in his own right as picky spokes-kitty of the 9Lives cat food brand. He—or more accurately, his successor—put his name in the ring for the 1988 presidential election. And the cat puns abounded.

Morris the CatMorris the Cat Fri, Aug 28, 1987 – 9 · The Dispatch (Moline, Illinois, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

Morris the Cat running for presidentMorris the Cat running for president Fri, Aug 28, 1987 – 9 · The Dispatch (Moline, Illinois, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

“Morris’ Paw-licies” Fri, Aug 28, 1987 – 9 · The Dispatch (Moline, Illinois, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

Morris would run for presidency again in 1992. He has yet to win, but perhaps some day in the future will see the first feline president. After all, cats are nothing if not persistent.

Find more on Morris’ impressive career with a search on Newspapers.com.

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Integration at Central High – This Week in History

On September 25,1957, integration in schools begins in Little Rock, Arkansas, when nine black students are escorted into the halls of previously all-white Central High.

Troops disperse crowd at Central HighTroops disperse crowd at Central High Thu, Sep 26, 1957 – 18 · The Honolulu Advertiser (Honolulu, Hawaii, United States of America) · Newspapers.com

The event was preceded by weeks of difficulty with segregationist governor Orval Faubus. Faubus had ordered National Guard troops to surround the school to prevent the students from entering. His stated reasoning was to “prevent disorder and bloodshed” from citizens who opposed integration. When the Guard was withdrawn at the order of Federal Judge Ronald Davies, the students were escorted through an angry mob by armed guards.

Guard escorts students into Central High SchoolGuard escorts students into Central High School Wed, Sep 25, 1957 – Page 1 · The Kane Republican (Kane, McKean, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.com

The whole process was pretty rough and wouldn’t get much easier over the next few years. Though some of the white students welcomed their new classmates, many were not so friendly. In 1958 Faubus closed Little Rock’s schools to further prevent integration; this decision was overturned after a tense, year-long fight, and the schools were reopened in 1959.

Find more on this important moment in history with a search on Newspapers.com.

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Enterprise Unveiled – This Week in History

This week in 1976, NASA’s first space shuttle, the Enterprise, was revealed to the public. And it was definitely named after Star Trek.

The EnterpriseThe Enterprise Fri, Sep 17, 1976 – Page 3 · Abilene Reporter-News (Abilene, Texas) · Newspapers.com

Space Shuttle EnterpriseSpace Shuttle Enterprise Thu, Sep 9, 1976 – Page 9 · Simpson’s Leader-Times (Kittanning, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.com

Space Shuttle Enterprise Unveiled TodaySpace Shuttle Enterprise Unveiled Today Fri, Sep 17, 1976 – Page 1 · The Index-Journal (Greenwood, South Carolina) · Newspapers.com

Space Shuttle EnterpriseSpace Shuttle Enterprise Sat, Sep 18, 1976 – Page 32 · Asbury Park Press (Asbury Park, New Jersey) · Newspapers.com

The Enterprise was not built to withstand the rigors of space, but was used in atmospheric test flights in the late 1970s. It never went through the intended retrofitting that would allow for spaceflight when it became clear that it would be prohibitively expensive to do so. In 2003 the shuttle was fixed up and put on display at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. It was moved to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City in 2012 and remains there today.

Find more on this piece of spacey history with a search on Newspapers.com.

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The Forgotten Technology that Changed the News Forever

Many Americans were shocked by Ryan Kelly’s Pulitzer Prize-winning photo when it appeared in newspapers around the nation after the racially charged 2017 rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia. But they weren’t surprised that there was a photo.

In today’s world, we’re used to photos accompanying breaking news stories. We’re used to seeing as well as reading our news. In fact, we expect it. But this wasn’t always the case.

Before 1935, photos that accompanied breaking news stories—if there were photos at all—were rarely of the event itself, unless the event had happened locally. American newspapers had been able to quickly receive news stories via telegraph for nearly a century; but because images of a faraway event had to be sent by mail, train, or (later) plane, they wouldn’t arrive until days, possibly weeks, later.

In 1935 that all changed with the introduction of the AP Wirephoto. The way Americans consumed news would never be the same.

Wirephoto receiving machine (Hartford Courant, 01.13.1935)

Wirephoto receiving machine (Hartford Courant, 01.13.1935)

What Was AP Wirephoto?

The AP Wirephoto process involved using light and telephone wires to send and receive photos across long distances. The process is described in the following newspaper excerpt:

The introduction of AP Wirephoto was not the first time photos were transmitted via wire, but it was faster than previous attempts and the results were higher quality. No longer did newspapers have to wait days for photos of events from the other side of the country; instead they could receive a photo via the AP Wirephoto network 8 minutes after it was sent—an extraordinary advancement. For the first time, someone in Iowa could see a photo of a baseball game in New York before the game was even over.

Map of original AP Wirephoto map (Dayton Daily News, 12.19.1934)

Map of original AP Wirephoto map (Dayton Daily News, 12.19.1934)

The adoption of AP Wirephoto was not without opposition, however. Early detractors argued against the high cost of the necessary machinery, and some believed there weren’t enough important photos to justify the expense. As it turned out, they were quickly proven wrong.

Just days after the introduction of Wirephotos, the network was used to distribute photos of the Lindbergh baby murder trial—one of the most sensational trials of the time. This timely publication of the trial photos cemented the public’s appetite for photos of news events as they happened.

AP Wirephoto coverage of the Lindbergh kidnapping trial (Minneapolis Tribune, 01.05.1935)

AP Wirephoto coverage of the Lindbergh kidnapping trial (Minneapolis Tribune, 01.05.1935)

How Wirephoto Changed Everything

AP Wirephotos (as well as competing photo distribution wire services) changed the way Americans understood and consumed the news. It wasn’t just that photos of an event across the country could now be published alongside news of that event, as groundbreaking as that was. But for the first time in history, millions of people were seeing the same photo of the same event on the same day.

As photos came to dominate newspaper front pages—in some cases overshadowing the headlines—Wirephotos also helped evolve the idea that photos could be news in and of themselves. No longer were photos seen as merely an addition to the news story—they increasingly were the story. Many now-iconic photos—such as the raising of the flag on Iwo Jima—began as AP Wirephotos.

But part of the power of Wirephotos was that inconsequential photos—as well as the iconic ones—were now being published in cities on the opposite side of the country. Before Wirephoto, it likely would not have been worth the cost and effort to send a photo of a champion hog caller—for example—across the country by train or plane. But the ease of sending that same picture through Wirephoto meant that Americans could now see photos of relatively trivial events from around the country, helping to build a sense of national community.

Typical Wirephoto newspaper page (Elmira Star-Gazette, 03.11.1955)

Typical Wirephoto newspaper page (Elmira Star-Gazette, 03.11.1955)

The End of Wirephoto

Wirephotos dominated newspapers from 1935 to the mid-1970s, when papers began adopting new types of photo technology, eventually leading to the digital world we live in today. Now, photos of a newsworthy event are often published online before the story is even written. But although there have been advancements in news photo technology over the years, few compare to the indelible impact that Wirephotos had on the news industry.

Learn more about the history of AP Wirephoto by searching Newspapers.com. And follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more interesting historical content like this!

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British Collection of Newspapers

This month we head across the pond to highlight our British collection of newspapers. We have papers from cities across England. We also have issues from Scotland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, and Wales. Our archives date back to 1700 and cover more than 300 years of history.

The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II
This clipping from The Post Man and The Historical Account from 1700, advertises a book that scholars consider the world’s first scientific journal. It was published by Sir Hans Sloane. Sloane was King George’s doctor, a scientist, and an avid collector of objects from all around the world. Upon his death, Sloane willed his collection of 71,000 items to Britain. This collection became the foundation for the British Museum.

The events leading up to the Revolutionary War are covered from a British perspective in this collection. In one last attempt to avoid war, The Derby Mercury published this letter sent by the Continental Congress to “The Inhabitants of Britain” in 1775. The letter asked for compassion and understanding and pointed out injustices.

The American Revolution has been just one of many conflicts covered by British papers. This dispatch published in The Morning Post in 1814 described when the British set fire to the White House. “The following buildings were set fire to and consumed – the Capitol, including the Senate-house and House of Representation, the arsenal and the President’s palace,” the report said.

The royal family has long dominated British newspaper headlines. In 1837, the papers reported on the crowning of Queen Victoria. The Jackson’s Oxford Journal celebrated her marriage to Prince Albert; and this 1861 headline in The Morning Chronicle announced the death of Prince Albert.

Queen Victoria reigned during a time of rapid industrial growth. British newspapers recorded the deaths of many men, women and children who worked in unsafe working conditions in factories and mines.

The Shefflield and Rotherham Independent reported on a violent storm in 1838. It filled ventilation shafts with water at the Huskar Colliery, resulting in the deaths of 26 child mine workers. Queen Victoria pressed for an inquiry on working conditions. In 1842, the Children’s Employment Commission released a report that made its way to the papers and caused a sensation. The report found it was not uncommon for children as young as five to work 12-hour days in the mines. They hauled heavy loads through narrow shafts, some just 18-inches tall. The Mines and Collieries Act of 1842 was designed to protect women and children from these conditions.

Industrialization led to increased pollution. The Guardian reported on the great smog of 1952. An anticyclone caused high pressure that trapped pollutants and formed a layer of smog over London. Visibility was reduced to inches. The smog claimed more than 4,000 lives during the 5-day event, and thousands more after.

To learn more about these stories, or to research your British ancestors, search our British collection on Newspapers.com!

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