On September 2, 1859, a massive solar storm composed of subatomic charged particles slammed into the earth’s protective magnetosphere. It ignited countless fires and caused sparks to spew from telegraph machines, shocking their operators. It also created a dramatic show of aurora borealis, or northern lights, as far south as the Caribbean. Solar storms occur when enormous bubbles of superheated plasma are periodically ejected from the sun. Scientists believe that if a similar solar storm were to happen today, it would cause catastrophic damage by crippling power grids, satellites, GPS, and communications systems. Such an event could leave North American without power for months or years and could carry an economic impact as high as $2 trillion.
While conducting observations from his private observatory outside of London on the morning of September 1, 1859, British amateur astronomer Richard Carrington noticed patches of intense white light erupt from the sun. The eruptions lasted about five minutes before dissipating. Little did Carrington know the flare he observed sent solar wind shock waves carrying supercharged plasma racing towards the earth. Hours later, those particles slammed into the earth’s magnetic shield, creating auroral flashes and clouds in vivid colors of red, violet, pink, and green. This single solar storm carried the energy equivalent of 10 billion atomic bombs and is known as the Carrington Event.
Our sun operates on solar
cycles that last an average of 11 years. The Carrington Event occurred
during Solar Cycle 10, which lasted from December 1855 until March 1867. Solar
Cycle 24 began in December 2008 and is just wrapping up. The current
forecast predicts Solar Cycle 25 will be relatively weak.
Will a future solar cycle bring a repeat of the Carrington Event? Scientists say it’s not only possible but inevitable. According to a 2008 report from the National Academy of Sciences, a similar-sized solar storm would include, “disruption of the transportation, communication, banking and finance systems, and government services; the breakdown of distribution of potable water owing to pump failure, and the loss of perishable foods and medications because of the lack of refrigeration.” Researchers studying evidence of historic solar storms say a large solar storm “would be a threat to modern society.”
To read more personal accounts of the Carrington Event in 1859,
and to learn more about solar storms, search
Early editions of the Arizona Weekly Citizen were
filled with accounts of skirmishes
with Native Americans as westward expansion encroached upon Native American
lands. Upset over Indian attacks, in 1870 the paper highlighted an offer by the
Mexican government to pay a $300
bounty for each Apache scalp. The hostilities came to a head in the early
morning hours of April 30, 1871, when a group of men from Tucson massacred more
than 100 Apaches in the Camp
Grant Massacre. Officials arrested the men but a court later
The invention of air-conditioning
to combat sweltering Arizona heat led to significant growth in Arizona’s population.
During the 1930s, the first public buildings in Tucson got
air conditioning, followed by homes
in later decades. If you are tracing ancestors that lived in Tucson, search for
death, and birth announcements. If you’re lucky, you just might find a
biographical sketch of your ancestor like
these for members of the 1883 Territorial Legislature.
If you have ancestors from Jasper, Indiana, you’ll be
excited to hear we’ve added The Dubois Herald
and the Jasper
Weekly Courier to our archives. The Dubois Herald began as The
Jasper Herald, a weekly that started in 1895. In 1946, the paper, known
then as The Dubois County Herald, started publishing six days a week.
That tradition continues today, and The Dubois Herald has chronicled
Jasper’s history for 124 years. Jasper has strong German roots and many of
today’s residents can trace their heritage back to the mid-19th
century when Father
Joseph Kundek, a Catholic Priest, promoted Jasper to German immigrants.
That heritage is celebrated annually during the Strassenfest
celebration. If you have ancestors that lived in nearby townships like Cuzco,
Ferdinand, or Ireland, the Correspondence
Column included updates from citizens of those communities.
On December 26, 2004, following a M9.2 earthquake that
occurred off the western coast of Sumatra, Indonesia, a massive tsunami ripped
through southeast Asia that ultimately resulted in the deaths of some 230,000
people in 14 countries. Indonesia was particularly affected by both physical
damage and human casualties.
At Newspapers.com, we occasionally highlight ways our users
find success in our archives. One team of geologists from Brigham Young
University utilized information found in 19th-century newspapers to
refine computer models of historic tsunamis in Indonesia in hopes of identifying
future area of risks and to prevent future tsunamis from producing the massive
loss of life seen in 2004.
Graduate student Claire Ashcraft frequently travels to
Indonesia to work with government officials, gather geologic
data, and to work with local communities to improve tsunami awareness and
Analysis of geologic evidence, such as
the dating of tsunami sand deposits, help show which islands have experienced
tsunamis. Historical records are also invaluable to the team. By isolating
quantitative information in the written records, the data is applied to complex
digital models to produce more accurate results. However, a lack of available
records hampers this work; few accounts of Indonesian tsunamis survive, and
most were written by Dutch colonists who arrived in the early 17th
Of particular interest to Ashcraft and
her team are two tsunamis which took place in Central and Eastern Indonesia,
the former in 1820 and the latter in 1852.
Recently, Ashcraft turned to Newspapers.com and was elated to find mentions of both events in historical papers.
An 1821 clipping described the 1820
event (the news took months to arrive by ship), citing a Dutch newspaper
article published in the Dutch East Indies in the city of Batavia (now
Jakarta). With this lead, she was able to track down the original Dutch
newspaper and find new quantitative information that had not yet seen.
Similarly, an 1853 clipping gave Ashcraft
critical details. The article noted that a Dutch royal navy brig called “de
Haai” experienced the tsunami and its captain made detailed observations
throughout the day. After learning the name of this ship and its captain from
Newspapers.com, Ashcraft took these names and began searching in Dutch East
Indies nautical records for a connection. She quickly found a book which
mentioned the brig in conjunction with key Dutch words she recognized, such as
‘aardbeving’ (earthquake) and ‘zeebeving’ (seaquake). After translating the
record Ashcraft realized that it contained not only the full account of the
navy brig, but a collection of seven other first-person records that provided a
wealth of information previously unknown to the team.
Newspapers.com provided key details that
allowed BYU researchers key data to improve computer models. The models will
help the Indonesian government to identify areas affected by past tsunamis and
prepare for future events.
At Newspapers.com, we’re constantly adding newspapers to our archives to grow our coverage of locations around the United States, Canada, and beyond. In fact, we add millions of newspaper pages each month!
But growing our archives inevitably takes time. So what can
you do if Newspapers.com doesn’t have a newspaper from your ancestor’s hometown
yet? Or if Newspapers.com does have the paper, but not the years you need? Or
what if your ancestor’s hometown didn’t even have a local newspaper in the
Can you still use the papers on our site to learn about your
ancestor? Yes! While hometown papers are the most likely place to find news
about your ancestor, they’re far from the only place.
Read on to learn 7 of our top tips for doing family history research beyond your ancestor’s hometown newspaper.
1. Search your ancestor’s name in ALL
the papers on the site.
This tip is only practical if your ancestor had a fairly
uncommon name, but it’s worth mentioning up front. You never know exactly when
or where your ancestor’s name might appear in a newspaper—and they can turn up
in some pretty surprising places! Yes, your ancestor may have lived their
entire life in a particular place, but a reprinted or syndicated story about
them may pop up in newspapers in states they had no connection to at all!
But if your ancestor’s name isn’t particularly unique,
you’ll need some ways to focus your search to avoid getting too many matches.
That’s where our other tips come in!
2. Search for your ancestor in the
newspapers of nearby towns and the county seat.
Apart from hometown papers, newspapers from the county seat
or neighboring towns (even those across a state border!) are some of the most
likely places you’ll find mentions of your ancestor.
Two ways Newspapers.com helps you with this are the County search and Map search functions. County search allows you to search all the papers in a county. Just start typing the county name into the “Paper Location” field of the Advanced Search options, and then select the county name. (If the county you type doesn’t appear on the list, then Newspapers.com doesn’t currently have papers from that county.)
The Map search (accessible by selecting “See papers by location” on the homepage) allows you to zoom in on our map to see (and then search!) the papers on our site from as big or small a geographical region as you want.
For example, you can zoom in on the map to see all the
papers currently available from the entire state of Kansas, or you can zoom in
even further to see all the papers available specifically from Cherokee County.
This is especially helpful if your ancestor lived near a state border, since
you can see which papers were being published in neighboring towns across the
state line. So if your ancestor lived in Cherokee County, Kansas, the
Newspapers Map will show you that we also have papers from nearby Jasper
3. Search for your ancestor in every
city they lived in or were associated with.
Outside your ancestor’s hometown, the towns where they were
born or died are good places to check for newspaper mentions of them. But there
are many more places you can search!
First, use vital and other genealogical records, family
stories, newspaper clues, or whatever resources you have to compile a list of
every place your ancestor lived or was associated with. Then search for them in
papers from those locations.
This could be the city where they attended college, where they worked, where they were stationed in the military, where they landed after immigrating, or even where they traveled on an extended vacation. The possibilities are endless! Anywhere your ancestor spent time may have some sort of newspaper record of their time there, even if it’s simply a mention of them in a list of hotel guests or passengers who came in on the train.
4. Search for your ancestor in the
areas where their family members lived.
Once you’ve tried searching for your ancestor in the places they were associated with, move on to
their family members. Start with parents, children, and siblings, and work your
way out to in-laws, cousins, aunts and uncles, and other extended family. This
will likely require you to do some digging into collateral (non-direct) lines
on your family tree, but it may be worth the time.
Family members’ obituaries can be a particularly rich source
of information about your ancestor, but the possibilities don’t stop there. For
instance, newspapers often published news about people who were visiting family
members in town, whether it was for a vacation, wedding, funeral, or reunion.
They also published updates on people who had moved away but still had family
Keep in mind that newspapers didn’t always mention visitors
by name, sometimes merely saying that so-and-so’s brother was in town for the
week. But if you’re paying attention, you might catch that the nameless brother
mentioned in the article is actually the ancestor you’ve been looking for!
You may be surprised how much information about your ancestor can appear in the newspapers where their family members lived. For example, one birth announcement for a baby born in Colorado was actually published in Pennsylvania, where the mother’s family lived. Even more surprising, the announcement wasn’t in the family’s hometown paper but in the paper from the county seat!
5. Search for your ancestor in
newspapers of ethnic or religious communities they belonged to.
If your ancestor belonged to a particular ethnic or religious community, try looking for them in newspapers that catered to that community. These might include Jewish or Catholic newspapers, African American papers, or German-language papers. Newspapers that targeted a specific religious or ethnic community often shared news about people within that demographic even if they lived in a different state than where the paper was published.
For instance, if your ancestor was African American, you may
have luck searching for them in historically black papers, such as the Pittsburgh Courier or Kansas City Sun. These papers published
news about African Americans from all over the United States, not just
Pittsburgh or Kansas City.
6. Search for your ancestor in the
years after their lifetime.
If the problem is that Newspapers.com has the hometown paper, just not the years you need, try searching for your ancestor in the years after their lifetime. They might be mentioned in their child’s obituary or in a piece spotlighting the pioneers of the town. Or they might crop up in a “this-day-in-history” feature in the newspaper or in an article about events of historical significance to the town. This Indiana town history piece from 1939, for example, mentions people and events from more than a century earlier!
7. Check back!
Since Newspapers.com frequently adds and updates papers, check back often to see if the hometown paper you want has been added to the site. A quick way to do this is on our New & Updated page.
There are also a couple ways to be automatically informed by email when certain newspaper content is added to the site. The first way is to save a search. This will notify you when we add a newspaper page that has results that match criteria you specify. To enable this feature, simply set up a search with the criteria you want (for example, “John Smith” in Kansas newspapers), then select the “Save/Notify” button on the search results page.
You can also choose to be automatically notified by email
when we add pages to a specific newspaper title. This is a convenient option if
you’re waiting for additional years to be added to a paper already on our site.
Do it by selecting any newspaper title and clicking the “follow” button on the
On the morning of August 21, 1959, nearly 100 people crammed into the Governor’s office in Iolani Palace in Honolulu, Hawaii. They arrived long before 10:00 a.m., the scheduled time for the anticipated phone call. Minutes ticked by and a nervous hush permeated the room. At 10:08, a string of firecrackers ignited within earshot of the palace, followed by the blaring of car horns – but the phone remained silent. Finally, at 10:15 a.m., the Governor’s phone rang, and the room let out a collective sigh of relief. The call from Washington relayed the news. President Dwight D. Eisenhower had just signed the proclamation making Hawaii the 50th state. Governor William F. Quinn made the announcement to the cheering crowd, “Ladies and gentlemen, Hawaii is now a state!” The announcement came from the same palace where 66 years earlier, Hawaii’s final monarch was ousted during a coup that led to Hawaii’s annexation as a US territory.
Around the time of the Spanish-American War, the US realized
the strategic military importance of Hawaii and established a military
outpost that later became Pearl
Harbor naval station. In 1898, Hawaii was annexed and became a US
B. Dole was named the president of the Provisional
Government of Hawaii. The territory had no voice in the US government and
rich plantation owners benefited by allowing plantation owners to import cheap
labor and export products to the mainland with low tariffs.
1930: This tabby adopted a baby groundhog, proving looks don’t matter when it comes to a mother cat’s love, because that groundhog probably isn’t going to win a beauty contest anytime soon. Read their story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Whether it’s cat photos or something less feline-themed, search for what interests you on Newspapers.com!And follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more interesting historical content like this!
Voice: The Citizens’ Voice in Wilkes-Barre was
founded in 1978 by striking employees of the Wilkes-Barre Publishing Company.
learned their paper, the Times Leader, was being sold. They banded
together and with help
from the community and unions, started the Citizens’ Voice. The
Voice soon became a strong competitor to the Times Leader and has
advocated for the local citizens of Wilkes-Barre. The Citizens’ Voice has
covered natural disasters, like the September 2011 flooding along the
Susquehanna River. When the river
finally crested, it strained levees and forced
Today’s high-performance cars can have upwards of 700
horsepower. But in the 1800s, typical horse and buggy transportation consisted
of one or two horsepower – literally! Horses and other animals including oxen
provided the primary means of transportation all over the world through
the nineteenth century. A single horse could pull a wheeled vehicle and
as much as a ton.
Transporting people and goods was a costly venture in the 19th
century. Animals required large quantities of food and water. Roads usually
consisted of two dirt paths with a grassy strip in the middle and they were rough
and bumpy. Wagon wheels formed deep ruts that in some places are still
visible today, and those same dirt paths turned into a muddy
mess when wet.
To meet transportation needs, a variety of types of wagons were
available. Some were simple farm wagons, others elegant private carriages. Stagecoaches
provided public transportation. Let’s take a look at some of the options our
ancestors used for travel in the 1800s.
Wagon: The no-frills buckboard wagon was commonly used by farmers and
ranchers in the 1800s. It was made with simple construction. The front board
served as both a footrest and offered protection from the horse’s hooves should
Carriage: A gig was a small, lightweight, two-wheeled, cart that seated one
or two people. It was usually pulled by a single horse and was known for speed
and convenience. It was a common vehicle on the road.
Concord Coach: American made Concord coaches were tall and wide and incorporated leather straps for suspension that made the ride smoother than steel spring suspension. They were also extravagant, costing $1000 or more at a time when workers were paid about a dollar a day. Wells, Fargo & Co. was one of the largest buyers of the Concord coach. Today the company still displays its original Concord Coaches in parades and for publicity.
A barouche was a fancy, four-wheeled open carriage with two seats facing each
other and a front seat for the driver. There was a collapsible hood over the
back. It was a popular choice in the first half of the 19th century
and was used by the wealthy. It was often pulled by four horses. This barouche
carriage carried Abraham
Lincoln to the theater on the night of his assassination.
Carriage: The Victoria carriage was named for Queen Victoria and renowned
for its elegance. It was a low, open carriage with four wheels that seated two
people. It had an elevated seat for the coachman.
The Phaeton was a sporty four-wheel carriage with front wheels that were
smaller than the rear wheels. The sides were open and that exposed a
gentleman’s trousers or a lady’s skirt to flying mud. The seat was quite high
and required a ladder to access. Phaetons were fast, but also high-centered leaving
them vulnerable to tipping. They were pulled by two or four horses.
Landau Carriage: The Landau carriage was considered a luxury city carriage that seated four. It had two folding hoods and was uniquely designed to allow its occupants to be seen. It was popular in the first half of the nineteenth century. Pictured here is Queen Elizabeth in a Landau carriage.
Brougham Carriage: Designed by England’s Lord Brougham, the Brougham carriage was lightweight, four-wheeled carriage with an enclosed carriage. It was popular because passengers sat in a forward-facing seat making it easy to see out. It was also lower to the ground and easier for passengers to climb in and out of the carriage. The Brougham was driven by a coachman sitting on an elevated seat or perch outside of the passenger compartment.
Rockaway Carriage: The Rockaway originated on Long Island. It was a popular vehicle with the middle class and the wealthy. One distinguishing feature of the Rockaway was a roof that extended over the driver, while the passengers were in an enclosed cabin.
Wagon: The Conestoga wagon was large and heavy and built to haul loads up
to six tons. The floor of the wagon was curved upward to prevent the contents
from shifting during travel. The Conestoga was used to haul freight before rail
service was available and as a means to transport goods. Conestoga wagons were
pulled by eight horses or a dozen oxen and were not meant to travel long
distances. The Conestoga wagon is credited for
the reason we drive on the right side of the road. While operating the
wagon, the driver sat on the left-hand side of the wagon. This freed his right
hand to operate the brake lever mounted on the left side. Sitting on the left
also allowed the driver to see the opposite side of the road better.
Schooner: As families moved west, a prairie schooner pulled by teams of
mules or oxen was a common choice. It was like the Conestoga wagons, but much
lighter with a flat body and lower sides. They were typically covered with
white cloth and from a distance resembled a ship. Travelers
in prairie schooners often traveled in convoys
and covered up to 20 miles a day which meant an overland trip could take 5
The stagecoach was a public vehicle where passengers paid to ride long
distances. Stagecoaches ran on a schedule and were typically pulled by four
horses. Periodically, horses were changed out for a fresh team.
If you were living in 1918 and saw a newspaper story about
the murder of the Romanovs, would you have known who they were? How would you
have felt about the news if you read it when it first broke?
Thanks to numerous books, plays, movies, and mini-series,
most people today are familiar with the story of the Romanovs, the Russian
royal family headed by Czar Nicholas II who were brutally executed in 1918,
ending the country’s monarchy.
But that’s today. What about back then?
We headed to the historical newspapers on Newspapers.com to help us find out how people living in the United States and Canada at the time of the Romanov executions would have experienced the news of their deaths.
Would people living
in the U.S. and Canada have known who the Romanovs were?
While we can’t speak for everyone living in those countries
at the time, it’s pretty safe to say that if you were a newspaper reader, you
would have known who the Romanovs were.
Since Russia was a world power, its monarch naturally drew the attention of newspapers. People could read about Nicholas II’s personal life, from his marriage, to the births of his children, to his visits to foreign royalty. And they likewise could read about Russian politics under his rule, from the Russo-Japanese War, to civil unrest and revolution, to World War I.
There was fairly consistent newspaper coverage of the Romanovs throughout the years of Nicholas II’s reign, with the exception of a few years that had major spikes in coverage. The first was 1905, an eventful year in Russian politics headlined by a revolution attempt and Nicholas’s issuing of the October Manifesto (which promised an elected parliament).
The other two years that saw spikes in newspaper coverage of the Romanovs were 1917, when Nicholas II abdicated and was exiled, and 1918, when the family was executed. The abundance of newspaper coverage about the executions is probably self-explanatory, but the Romanovs’ lives in exile prior to their deaths seemed to fascinate newspapers almost as much.
How did Americans and
Canadians back then feel about the Romanovs?
Most people likely
formed their opinions about the Romanovs based on newspaper stories—the main
source of news at the time. So a look at how newspapers were portraying the
Romanovs can help us understand how they would have been seen by the general
public in the U.S. and Canada.
Nicholas was often portrayed by the American and Canadian press as an inept, weak ruler who was easily influenced by those around him. The more negative portrayals showed him as an arrogant, superstitious despot who cared nothing for the people he ruled, overly dependent on his wife and on incompetent advisors. The more positive portrayals, however, often wrote about him as a quiet family man who had the misfortune of being born into a role he wasn’t suited for.
As for his wife, Alexandra, the more flattering depictions portrayed her as an intelligent and spiritually-minded woman who was a loving wife and mother. The negative newspaper accounts tended to show her as a pro-German sympathizer who controlled her husband and was unhealthily obsessed with mysticism.
As for the children—4 daughters and a son—newspapers paid the most attention to Alexei (Alexis), the long-awaited male heir. Although the royal family tried to keep Alexei’s hemophilia a secret, rumors of the boy’s poor health still made it into the American and Canadian media. This in turn led to articles predicting that Alexei’s likely early death would spell the end for the Romanov dynasty.
Did people know about
Yes. Rasputin was a controversial, scandalous figure, and
controversies and scandals have always been popular news items. News about
Rasputin seemed to have taken a few years to reach the U.S. and Canada (he
joined the Russian court around 1905, yet didn’t begin appearing in Western
newspapers until about 1911).
But once he became known in North America, he was a figure of fascination, and
power over Alexandra and Nicholas was widely written
about both before and after his murder
How much did people
in 1918 know about the deaths of the Romanovs?
Not much—at least, not much accurate information. Because so much was kept secret by the Bolsheviks, news of the Romanovs’ deaths left Russia slowly, and the details that were reported were often far from what we now understand to have happened. This lack of concrete news opened the gates for a flood of rumors and unsubstantiated news.
Most initial reports indicated that while Nicholas had been killed, his family was still alive—which we now know was not true. Another oft-published item from around that time claimed that Alexei had died from exposure a few days after Nicholas’s murder—also incorrect. Fictitious accounts of Nicholas’s execution also circulated widely in newspapers, as did a plethora of tell-all articles of dubious veracity written by people claiming to have been connected to the royal family. To top it off, every few months articles would crop up claiming that there was a chance Nicholas was still alive.
There were so many conflicting accounts about what happened that even when a somewhat accurate account was published, there was no way for newspaper readers to be able to discern that this particular article was any more or less true than the numerous others.
The mystery of what really happened to the Romanovs lasted for
decades, until the discovery of their bodies was made public in 1989. Even
today, there are still things we don’t know about the Romanovs’ deaths, but one
thing’s for certain: We know much, much more than people did in 1918.
Back on the Hornet, a cheering crowd that included
President Richard Nixon, greeted the returning astronauts. They were ushered
into a mobile quarantine facility where President
Nixon congratulated them through a window as the three smiling astronauts peered
out from behind the glass. Where were you the day men walked on the moon? If
you would like to see more of the headlines and stories from the historic
Apollo 11 mission, search Newspapers.com
For more on the Apollo 11 Moon Landing, see our