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:

December 6, 1917: The Halifax Explosion

On the morning of December 6, 1917, two ships collided in the harbor of the Canadian province of Halifax in Nova Scotia resulting in a massive explosion that ultimately killed 2,000 people and injured thousands more. The blast was the largest man-made explosion prior to the atomic age.

During WWI, the port at Halifax was a beehive of activity. Ships loaded with troops, munitions, and supplies sailed in and out of Halifax harbor to support Allied war efforts. The morning of December 6th, the French freighter Mont Blanc prepared to join a military convoy that would escort it across the Atlantic. The ship was filled with tons of highly explosive materials including TNT, gasoline, picric acid, and gun cotton.

At the same time, another ship, the Norwegian relief vessel SS Imo, left its mooring headed for the open sea, and eventually New York. In an area known as the Narrows, the two ships collided, sparking a fire on the Mont Blanc. Realizing the danger, the crew of the Mont Blanc evacuated into lifeboats and began to row furiously toward the shore. Their burning ship drifted until it eventually brushed up against a pier, setting the pier on fire.

The flames attracted curious onlookers who came down to the shore or watched the tragedy unfold from their windows. At 9:04 a.m., the flames ignited the Mont Blanc‘s cargo resulting in a massive explosion. The ship was instantly obliterated and a super-heated shock wave flattened 300 acres, including most of the north end of Halifax. The detonation also caused a tsunami to roll over the waterfront.

One survivor described a scene worse than any battlefield. “I saw people lying around under timbers, stones, and other debris; some battered beyond recognition and others groaning in their last agonies…I groped about assisting some of the poor mothers and little ones who were running about screaming and searching vainly for lost ones, in many instances never to be seen by them again.”

The explosion blew down doors and shattered windows, sending shards of glass flying. Nearly 1000 people were blinded when exploding windows turned glass slivers into projectiles as they watched the fire from their homes. The disaster led to medical innovations to treat eye injuries and resulted in the formation of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind the following year. Reconstruction of the devastated area took more than a year, but urban planners replaced the ruins with a design consisting of homes, businesses, and green space.

Investigations into the cause of the collision and subsequent explosion determined that both vessels were to blame. If you would like to learn more about the Halifax Explosion of 1917, or read more first-hand accounts, search Newspapers.com today!

Like this post? Try one of these!

Share using:

New Michigan Paper!

Do you have ancestors from Michigan or an interest in Michigan history? We’ve added the Homer Index to our archives of Michigan papers bringing the total number of digitized Michigan papers to 93! Homer is about 30 miles southeast of Battle Creek, and the Index covers news in Calhoun and Hillsdale counties.

The Index is a weekly that has been in publication since 1872 when the first issue promised an independent paper that would “further the interests of the community.” The Index reported on Homer pioneers that settled this Michigan township established in 1862. 

The Homer Index May 31, 1876

In 1876, the Index reported on the Centennial International Exhibition. It was the first World’s Fair held on the nation’s 100th birthday in Philadelphia. Some Homer locals traveled to attend the Exhibition and described pavilions filled with wonders like machines to wash clothing and dishes. The Declaration of Independence was transported back to Independence Hall for the event, and many of the nearly 10 million visitors got to see it.

In the late 1800s, the Index reported on a bird problem. Flocks of English sparrows had arrived in town, damaging crops, eating all the chicken feed, and chasing away other songbirds. The birds were introduced to the United States in the mid-1800s to eat harmful insects. They multiplied and were quickly spreading across the continent. Michigan enacted laws to get rid of the birds. Killing sparrows became a pastime for many young boys in Homer. They could bring sparrow heads to the county clerk and receive a bounty for each one. The Index reported on payouts for young men like James Lane, who brought the heads of 1200 sparrows to the clerk’s office in 1900, and received $24 (the equivalent of $750 today)!

The Homer Index September 3, 1890

In December 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, and America entered WWII. A few weeks later, Homer residents learned that one of their own died in the attack. Over the next several years, many soldiers from Homer and surrounding towns stepped up to serve. The Index published their letters home and reported on additional local casualties.

You’ll find lighter topics covered in the Index over the years. For instance, this 1951 front-page story complaining about a driver’s poor parking skills made us giggle. But you’ll also find sweet stories of neighbors helping neighbors. In 1976, a group of farmers set aside their chores to help an Eckford neighbor during a time of crisis. Carl Harris was at the hospital with his seriously ill son, but it was time to plow his 350-acre farm. Several dozen local farmers showed up to get the job done. After they finished at the Harris farm, they moved to another farm and did the same thing.

If you have ancestors from Homer, or surrounding areas like Clarendon, Albion, and Tekonsha, search the pages of the Index for things like obituaries and local news. Start searching the Index today on Newspapers.com!

Share using:

10 Vintage Thanksgiving Recipes Perfect for Small Gatherings

Tue, Nov 22, 1921 – Page 3 · The Logansport Morning Press (Logansport, Indiana) · Newspapers.com


Will your Thanksgiving gathering be smaller this year? Your favorite recipes might make too much food for a dinner with fewer guests. So we searched the historical papers on Newspapers.com to find vintage Thanksgiving recipes for small groups. Check them out! One of them just might become a new favorite!

(Click on any of the recipes below to see it in the original newspaper.)

1. Roast Half Turkey with Apple Stuffing (from 1959)

Roast Half Turkey with Apple Stuffing recipe, 1959Roast Half Turkey with Apple Stuffing recipe, 1959 Sat, Nov 28, 1959 – Page 11 · The New York Age (New York, New York) · Newspapers.com


2. Stuffed Broiling Chicken (from 1948)

Stuffed Broiling Chicken recipe, 1948Stuffed Broiling Chicken recipe, 1948 Sun, Nov 21, 1948 – Page 95 · The Cincinnati Enquirer (Cincinnati, Ohio) · Newspapers.com


3. Glazed Ham and Sweet Potatoes (from 1959)

Glazed Ham and Sweet Potatoes recipe, 1959Glazed Ham and Sweet Potatoes recipe, 1959 Thu, Mar 26, 1959 – 5 · The Hydro Review (Hydro, Oklahoma) · Newspapers.com


4. Marmalade Stuffed Yams (from 1959)

Marmalade Stuffed Yams, 1959Marmalade Stuffed Yams, 1959 Wed, Nov 11, 1959 – 38 · The Times (Munster, Indiana) · Newspapers.com


5. Squash, New Style (from 1937)

“Squash, New Style” recipe, 1937 Fri, Nov 19, 1937 – 8 · Republican and Herald (Pottsville, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.com


6. Panned Broccoli—plus, Wilted Spinach & Cranberry Coleslaw (from 1951)

Panned Broccoli, Wilted Spinach & Cranberry Coleslaw recipes, 1951Panned Broccoli, Wilted Spinach & Cranberry Coleslaw recipes, 1951 Sun, Nov 18, 1951 – 71 · Johnson City Press (Johnson City, Tennessee) · Newspapers.com


7. Spiced Raisin Stuffing (from 1937)

Spiced Raisin Stuffing recipe, 1937Spiced Raisin Stuffing recipe, 1937 Tue, Nov 23, 1937 – 35 · The Times (Munster, Indiana) · Newspapers.com


8. Cranberry Glazed Biscuits (from 1956)

Cranberry Glazed Biscuits recipe, 1956Cranberry Glazed Biscuits recipe, 1956 Thu, Dec 27, 1956 – 25 · The Record (Hackensack, New Jersey) · Newspapers.com


9. Baked Fresh Pears (from 1953)

Baked Fresh Pears recipe, 1953Baked Fresh Pears recipe, 1953 Thu, Nov 12, 1953 – 22 · The Bangor Daily News (Bangor, Maine) · Newspapers.com


10. Pumpkin Pie (from 1948)

Pumpkin Pie recipe, 1948Pumpkin Pie recipe, 1948 Thu, Nov 18, 1948 – Page 22 · The News-Review (Roseburg, Oregon) · Newspapers.com


Find more vintage 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:

Uncovering Hidden Treasure

Who doesn’t love a good hidden treasure story? The newspapers are filled with stories of ordinary people who uncover extraordinary treasures in the most unusual places. Whether found in a hidden secret compartment or buried in the ground, these stories might leave you wondering if there is a hidden treasure in your house! Here are a few fun treasure stories we’ve uncovered.

In 1924, the owner of a house built in 1860 made plans to demolish it. The house was originally owned by a bank president. During the demolition, workers found a concealed compartment containing $100,000 in gold coins. That is equivalent to $1.5 million today!   

In 1928, George Maher invented a metal detector. While scanning the ground on a farm near Natchez, Mississippi, he discovered a cache of coins buried two feet deep. The money was buried shortly before the fall of Vicksburg during the Civil War. Maher’s find validated his invention and allowed him to deposit more than $1,000 in the bank.

In 1986, two workmen found a hidden room on the third floor of a 140-year old Italianate home overlooking Cayuga Lake in New York. The door to the room didn’t have a handle and was disguised by wood paneling matching the room. A desk and shelves further guarded the doorway. Once inside the secret room, the men discovered three steamer trunks filled with 19th-century toys, historical items, and at least $10,000 in coins.

In 1935, after the death of an Oklahoma pioneer, his four daughters inherited his valuable estate. An attorney representing the daughters visited a farm owned by the pioneer to take an inventory. An aged caretaker told the attorney that additional valuables were hidden in an old office building in Wheeling, West Virginia. The treasure, he said, dated back to the Kings of France. Traveling to West Virginia, the attorney discovered a partition and false fireplace inside the office building. He removed them and found a dim passageway to an attic where he discovered three brass chests filled with a fortune in gold and silver. The treasure once belonged to Louis S. Delaplaine, the U.S. consul in British Guiana. Delaplaine kept a luxurious apartment in the West Virginia office building. The discovery added to the valuable estate inherited by the four daughters who were related to Delaplaine by marriage. They also received an island in Lake Huron gifted to Delaplaine by Queen Victoria.

Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln daguerreotype

Not all treasure is money. In 1929, a man was examining the contents of an old wooden chest found in the attic of a home in Westport, Connecticut, when he came upon a rare daguerreotype. Further examination revealed the image was that of Abraham Lincoln and his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln.

Another historical treasure was discovered in 1998 by C.P. Weaver. She had papers and documents passed down through her family stored in her attic. After seeing the movie Glory about a troop of Black Civil War soldiers, it stirred something in Weaver’s memory. She went to the attic and retrieved the stash of papers and discovered the fragile diary of Union Col. Nathan W. Daniels, commander of the Second Louisiana Native Guards, one of the first Black regiments organized in the Civil War. The diary was eventually published and provided priceless historical understanding.

In 1998, a Florida couple bought a painting at the thrift store for $1.99. The painting turned out to be an original by Auguste Rodin, sculptor of the masterpiece, The Thinker. Their $2 investment was valued at $14,000 and earned them an invitation to appear on an episode of the Oprah Winfrey Show about uncovered hidden treasures.

Have you ever discovered a hidden treasure? Tell us about it in the comments below, and search Newspapers.com for many more treasure stories.

Share using:

Search the World’s Largest Archive of Historical Wedding Announcements

We are thrilled to announce the launch of the first phase of our Newspapers.com Marriage Index collection. The Marriage Index collection is a searchable archive of more than 50 million U.S. wedding announcements! We’ve teamed up with Ancestry® to train machine learning algorithms to scour more than 600 million pages of digitized newspapers to extract wedding announcements.

Wedding announcements often contain detailed genealogical information, including the names of family members, biographical details, addresses, and more. These key details can break down genealogical brick walls and open up new research avenues.

How Does it Work?

Using OCR (optical character recognition), we’ve converted our archive of newspapers into machine-readable text. We’ve trained computers to identify keywords often associated with wedding announcements. The computer then draws a text box around that announcement. If you hover over the announcement and then click on the text box, you will see a dialogue box pop up. It has the information we’ve indexed. That indexed information is searchable in our Marriage Index. Occasionally you might notice an incorrect date or misspelled names. This is a result of the OCR conversion process. You can correct the facts by clicking on “Add alternate info” within the dialogue box. Your updates will then become searchable for other users. You then have the option to electronically clip the announcement and save it or attach it to your Ancestry® tree.

The first phase of this release contains information from more than 200 million records from over 50 million lists and wedding announcements from the United States dating from 1800-1999.

  • List marriage announcements were usually a weekly list of couples that had applied for a marriage license that week. The lists usually contained the names of the bride and groom only. See an example of a list announcement here.
  • Non-list marriage announcements might contain detailed information about the bride and groom, photographs, addresses, the names of relatives, the wedding officiant, and wedding guests. See an example of a non-list announcement here.

You will soon see wedding announcement hints to your Ancestry® tree. These hints can lead to personal discoveries and genealogical breakthroughs! We will continue to update this index with additional wedding announcements and international wedding announcements in the future. Start searching our Marriage Index collection today on Newspapers.com.

Share using:

Stories that Haunted the Papers

The frosty fall season has once again settled over the northern hemisphere. For some that means warming up against the cold, while for others it’s prime time to get those goosebumps going. We’ve got the latter covered with today’s post, which features three ghost stories that have haunted past papers. Are the tales real, or just stories meant to thrill and chill? You can be the judge.

The Haunted Mine

There’s something about an enclosed space that lends itself to creepiness, isn’t there? And if you take that enclosed space underground, it only gets worse. This 1887 story recounts the harrowing experience of Mr. Bennett, whose qualifications as a reliable source speak for themselves.

Mr. Bennett is very truthful, and has feared Mr. Bennett is very truthful, and has feared “…No goblin or swart faery of the mine.” Sun, Nov 27, 1887 – 9 · The San Francisco Examiner (San Francisco, California) · Newspapers.com

Bennett worked in Nevada’s Yellow Jacket mine, which made the news nearly two decades earlier following a deadly fire. Stories had since been told of unexplained sounds and sights in the mine, but Bennet didn’t believe them. That is, not until the day he had to retrieve a pair of shovels from the empty 1000 level.

The Shovels

Bennett found the shovels and was descending the ladder back to the 1100 level when he heard footsteps. At first Bennet thought it was the foreman, Pete Langan. But Langan would have used a light, and the footsteps were approaching from complete darkness.

Mr. Bennett heard footsteps in the darkMr. Bennett heard footsteps in the dark Sun, Nov 27, 1887 – 9 · The San Francisco Examiner (San Francisco, California) · Newspapers.com Mr. Bennett on the ladderMr. Bennett on the ladder Sun, Nov 27, 1887 – 9 · The San Francisco Examiner (San Francisco, California) · Newspapers.com

He called out to ask who it was, and heard no answer but the footsteps coming closer. Suddenly, the two shovels held under his arm were “violently thrust forward and sent flying.” They tumbled down the ladderway until they came to rest 30 feet away.

Mr. Bennett describes being so badly frightened he felt a Mr. Bennett describes being so badly frightened he felt a “chilling, sickening shock.” Sun, Nov 27, 1887 – 9 · The San Francisco Examiner (San Francisco, California) · Newspapers.com

Made it to Safety

Bennett scrambled back to the other workers, who confirmed Pete Langan had been above ground throughout his experience. Bennett, who once “went by himself through all parts of the mine with no thought of fear,” refused to return to the haunted 1000 level ever again.

The full article can be read in these clippings: Part 1, and Part 2

The Haunted Lighthouse

This next story is also from the late 1800s and reads a bit like a Gothic horror story. The author, Tom, was hired to replace a lighthouse-keeper who had “deserted his employ” months before and hadn’t been heard from since. He was told the man had a pretty wife, and the two were suspected of having disappeared so effectively because they’d stolen some items of value from the lighthouse.

The First Night

Tom asked the temporary keeper, Morgan, to stay with him the first night and teach him the ropes. Morgan was reluctant, and Tom noted his face looked haggard and anxious, but he agreed. He skipped the tour of the cellars while showing Tom around the lighthouse, claiming they were never used anyway, and the night passed unremarkably. Morgan was all too eager to leave the next morning, and gave only one strange bit of advice.

Temporary lighthouse-keeper Morgan anxious to leave, advises Tom to load his revolverTemporary lighthouse-keeper Morgan anxious to leave, advises Tom to load his revolver Thu, Jan 26, 1871 – 6 · The Bradford Observer (Bradford, West Yorkshire, England) · Newspapers.com

A Ghostly Experience

It wasn’t until his second night spent alone in the lighthouse, a moonless Saturday evening, that Tom had his first taste of the supernatural.

Tom heard noises--heavy blows, curses, shrill screams and a dull thud--with no visible sourceTom heard noises–heavy blows, curses, shrill screams and a dull thud–with no visible source Thu, Jan 26, 1871 – 6 · The Bradford Observer (Bradford, West Yorkshire, England) · Newspapers.com

After some time spent frozen in terror, Tom worked up the courage to explore the cold, clammy cellar with his lantern (and revolver) in hand. Despite all that he had experienced, there was nothing unusual to be seen. He secured the cellar door and spent a sleepless night at the top of the lighthouse.

The next day he went back to shore to share what had happened with Mr. Thompson, the man who’d hired him. Thompson was skeptical, but sent a man named Wilson to stay a few days with him. Wilson helped him nail the cellar door shut, but of course the days passed with no further unexplained events. Wilson left, and Tom felt foolish…until that Saturday evening, when the events occurred again exactly as they had the week before.

Tom's second experience with the ghosts of the haunted lighthouseTom’s second experience with the ghosts of the haunted lighthouse Thu, Jan 26, 1871 – 6 · The Bradford Observer (Bradford, West Yorkshire, England) · Newspapers.com

The Final Vision

An exasperated Mr. Thompson once again sent Wilson to act as witness to any further oddities, and made plans to come himself the next Saturday evening. Aside from the unnerving discovery that the nails in the cellar door had been forcibly ripped out, Wilson and Tom passed that week quietly. On Saturday Thompson arrived, and all three men took up position directly outside cellar door.

As the clock chimed 11, they heard the shouting and blows begin. The door flew open, and the voice screamed as it had before. This time a violent vision played out before their eyes:

The ghostly vision in the lighthouseThe ghostly vision in the lighthouse Thu, Jan 26, 1871 – 6 · The Bradford Observer (Bradford, West Yorkshire, England) · Newspapers.com

Mr. Thompson arranged an investigation of the cellar and found the bodies of a man and woman, identified as a local farmer and the wife of the former lighthouse keeper. They tracked down the keeper and got his confession. He’d suspected an intimate relationship between his wife and the farmer, and had killed them both in a jealous rage despite his wife’s protestations of innocence.

And thus the ghosts of the wronged who had haunted that lonely lighthouse could rest, their mystery now solved. The full article can be read here.

The Haunted Tower

This story may be more familiar, especially to those who have visited the Tower of London before. The famous castle-prison has its fair share of grim history, perhaps most notably as the site of multiple royal executions during the reign of Henry VIII. His second wife, Anne Boleyn, is one of those. And according to several newspaper articles across the years, her ghost makes regular appearances at the Tower to this day.

Anne Boleyn's Ghost haunted Tower of LondonAnne Boleyn’s Ghost haunts Tower of London Sat, Sep 3, 1898 – 3 · The Brooklyn Citizen (Brooklyn, New York) · Newspapers.com

An Unconscious Sentry

One story says a sentry heard a scream during his rounds. He ran to the sound and found a fellow guard unconscious beside his rifle. When the affected guard came to, he was in such a state of distress that he was unable resume his post.

Under questioning, he finally revealed what had happened.

A sentry at the Tower of London recounts his experience with the ghost of Anne BoleynA sentry at the Tower of London recounts his experience with the ghost of Anne Boleyn Fri, May 5, 1933 – 5 · Deerfield Valley Times (Wilmington, Vermont) · Newspapers.com

The Haunted Chapel

Another favorite Anne Boleyn story centers the captain of the guard, who once saw a light coming from the Tower chapel. He climbed a ladder to investigate and saw a Locals and Tower sentries provide endless stories of Anne Boleyn's restless spiritLocals and Tower sentries provide endless stories of Anne Boleyn’s restless spirit Fri, May 5, 1933 – 5 · Deerfield Valley Times (Wilmington, Vermont) · Newspapers.com Anne Boleyn PortraitAnne Boleyn Portrait Mon, Dec 22, 1902 – 6 · The Chickasha Daily Express (Chickasha, Oklahoma) · Newspapers.com

Try a search on Newspapers.com for more on these and other ghost stories!

Like this post? Try one of these:

Share using: