A look back at The Wizard of Oz, released in theaters on this day in 1939:
When the Daily Press began publication in 1896, Newport News was in the middle of making the transition from rural town to urban city. Fifteen years earlier, a railway had been built to allow coal to be shipped from the town’s port, and a few years after that, an influential dry dock and shipyard had opened on the waterfront—both of which led to an economic boom for Newport News.
The Newport News Daily Press started out as a four-page paper, sold for a penny a copy. The owner and first editor was Charles E. Thacker, who ran the paper for about 14 years. The Daily Press eventually became the primary daily morning paper of the Virginia Peninsula. In 1913, the new owners of the Daily Press also bought the Times-Herald (the area’s main afternoon paper), and the two papers were jointly owned but separately operated for many years (until 1991, when the Times-Herald ceased publication).
In 1930, the two papers were bought by William E. Rouse, and they stayed in the family for more than 55 years. From 1958 to 1973, the Daily Press was published in a 9-column format, making it the widest in the state. In 1986, the papers were finally sold to the Tribune Company (now Tronc, Inc., which continues to own the Daily Press). The Daily Press is today the main paper of the lower and middle peninsulas in Virginia.
If you’re looking for your ancestors in the Daily Press, a good place to look—as in many papers—is the society and personal columns. Over the years, as the Newport News got bigger and the paper got longer, so did the society column, which eventually evolved into a society section multiple pages long. Society news is wonderful for finding anecdotal information about your ancestors, such as whose card party they attended, where they traveled, whose funeral they attended, when they got sick or went to the hospital, where they went to school, and so on.
If you love old comics, the Daily Press is a great place to find them, as it expanded its Sunday comics section to 16 pages starting in February 1935.
* With a Newspapers.com Basic subscription, you can view issues of the “Daily Press” from 1898 to 1922; or, with a Publisher Extra subscription, access those early years as well as issues between 1923 and 2017.
Solar eclipses are remarkable natural phenomenons that reliably send humanity’s gaze skyward. The upcoming solar eclipse is particularly exciting, with the phrase “100 years” getting thrown around a lot. It’s not because this is the first solar eclipse to happen in 100 years—far from it. But it is the first solar eclipse in nearly 100 years to cross over the width of the United States, making it possible for millions to witness totality from within the arching pathway. The last time that happened, it was June 1918.
Traveling to the path of totality was just as expected then as it is now—and automobiles have definitely been in use for a while these days.
With any luck, good weather will allow clear observation of this century’s sequel to 1918’s eclipse, with all its similarities and differences.
While many of us probably associate Jell-O most closely with the 1950s and ’60s, this gelatin dessert has actually been around since 1897. Recipes using Jell-O started appearing in newspapers not long after, which means there are roughly 120 years’ worth of Jell-O recipes out there! If you love Jell-O, Newspapers.com is a great place to discover vintage Jell-O recipes from decades past.
The number of Jell-O dessert recipes out there is truly astounding. Have you tried any of these?
- Apple Snow Jell-O (1928)
- Molded Stuffed Prunes (1956)
- Crested Jell-O Whip (1949)
- Sparkling Jell-O (1931)
- Lemon Jell-O Cake (1970)
- Strawberry Springtime Surprise (1929)
- Lemon Jell-O Salad (1964)
Or have you ever tried a savory Jell-O recipe?
- Salmon Mold (1948)
- Piquant Ham Mold (1944)
- Ham and Celery Loaf (1931)
- Jellied Pineapple Relish Salad (1930)
- Tart Tomato Salad (1930)
On Newspapers.com, you can also find tips and trivia about Jell-O, see some of the earliest Jell-O newspaper ads, and read about the Jell-O recipe a Kansas minister claimed was sure to make the fish bite.
Ah, romance. Methods of flirting sure have changed over the years, haven’t they? With the introduction of the internet, dating has become so impersonal, so informal. Just a glance at a face and a flick of the finger. So different from the way it used to be.
But perhaps not so different as it seems.
A mention of the 1920s brings with it visions of sparkling flapper dresses, ornate decor, city living, and some sweet jazzy tunes to dance to. Dating apps were a feature of the distant future, but in 1920s Berlin, the concept of dating from a distance was alive and well in the form of telephones and pneumatic tubes.
Two nightclubs in particular provided these handy services: The Resi and the Femina.
For the bold, there were the telephones—simply dial up the lady or lad who catches your eye and ask them to dance. For those more timid attendees, there were the tubes. Pencil down a message of admiration or wrap up a little gift, send it rocketing through the conveniently located tube to the table of your choice, and wait to see if they receive it well.
Sounds pretty familiar after all, doesn’t it?
On this day in history, the discovery of Marilyn Monroe’s unexpected death spread across headlines.
Though speculations and theories about her death spread like wildfire, the official cause of death was reported as a self-administered overdose of sedative drugs.
But before this sobering end of life there was a glittering and memorable career that—whether you care for her acting or not—turned Norma Jeane Mortenson (Baker) into a cultural icon whose memory and influence has yet to fade even 55 years later.
August marks of the deaths of two of the Wild West’s most famous figures: Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane. Hickok was killed August 2, 1876, at the age of 39, and Calamity Jane died of illness on August 1, 1903, at age 51; both died in South Dakota.
During his life, Hickok was a soldier, scout, stagecoach driver, lawman, gunfighter, showman, marksman, gambler, and more. He died after being shot from behind while playing poker in a saloon. Calamity Jane was a frontierswoman known for her men’s attire, hard drinking, and skill at profanity. She claimed to have been in love with Wild Bill Hickok and even to have gone after his killer with a meat cleaver—though there is no evidence to support this; she is, however, buried near him, as she requested.
Both Hickok and Calamity Jane were famous during their lifetimes, with their legends quickly outgrowing the actual facts of their lives. Hickok gained national fame in 1867, when he became the subject of an article in Harper’s Magazine. Calamity Jane similarly became well known around 1877, when she was used as the basis for a fictional character in the “Deadwood Dick” dime novels.
After the two gained fame, they were regularly mentioned in the newspapers of the time. An excerpt of one article about Hickok from 1870 reads:
“Wild Bill is a man of great physical power and an unerring marksman. He never comes out of a fight second-best. He was at one time surprised by ten guerrillas in a cabin, where he fought and killed them all, being himself pretty well cropped to pieces with their knives.”
While Hickok died at the height of his fame, Calamity Jane outlived hers. An article published in 1903, shortly before her death, describes it thus:
“It is not the Calamity Jane of today […] that you want to remember. She of today is old and poverty stricken and wretched. The country has outgrown her and her occupation is gone. […] It is the Calamity Jane of the old days, the Indian fighter, the scout, the mail carrier, the cow puncher, the man among men, who stands heroic.”
In both of the case of Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane, myth became more important than reality in the public’s perception of them, and they both still remain larger than life today.
If you’re interested in Wild Bill Hickok or Calamity Jane, look for more articles about them on Newspapers.com, especially in our South Dakota papers. Through cooperative projects with the Black Hills Pioneer and the Deadwood Historic Preservation Commission, Newspapers.com has a large collection of papers from South Dakota, where both Wild Bill and Calamity Jane spent significant time.
Do you have ancestors from Arizona? Or are you interested in Arizona history? Newspapers.com has added the Arizona Daily Star, with issues from 1879 to 2017.*
The Arizona Daily Star is a daily morning paper that began publishing in Tucson on January 12, 1879, more than 30 years before Arizona became a state. The paper was started as a complement to the already existing Arizona Weekly Star (which would publish until 1907). The Daily Star’s first editor was L.C. Hughes, who would later go on to become governor of the Arizona Territory. Though it was initially called the Arizona Star, within a matter of months the name was changed to the Arizona Daily Star, which it has kept ever since. Despite competition, the paper eventually grew to be a powerful force in Arizona politics and influential throughout the southwest.
Some items of interest from the Daily Star include:
- 1880 editorial calling on Tucson authorities to improve sanitation in the city
- Front page from when Arizona gained statehood in 1912
- Front page from 1934 announcing the capture of John Dillinger and his gang in Tucson
- The 1939 15th annual special rodeo edition
- Article from 1981 announcing that Daily Star reporters won a Pulitzer Prize
- 2011 front page reporting the Gabrielle Giffords shooting
If you have ancestors from southern Arizona or the Tucson area, you might just find them mentioned in the Daily Star. Likely places to find them include the personals column, society column, and local news briefs.
From these columns you can learn tidbits like “Miss Vida Cooper, daughter of Mrs. William F. Cooper, […] is spending the summer in San Francisco where she is continuing her vocal studies” and “Frank Tom Gibbings, graduate second lieutenant in the cavalry reserve has received promotion to grade first lieutenant.”
Get started searching or browsing the Arizona Daily Star on Newspapers.com!
With a Newspapers.com Basic subscription, you can view issues of the Daily Star from 1879 to 1922; or, with a Publisher Extra subscription, access those early years as well as issues between 1923 and 2017.
Turns out, the term “Smart Alec” almost certainly exists because of a real life man named Alec Hoag. He was a crafty criminal who was a little too clever for his own good.
His usual method of thievery is described in the clipping above, but the “smart” part of Alec’s con was that he got the police in on it too, bribing them with shares of the stolen goods if they looked the other way. Of course, working out a way to cut the police out of their shares was probably not so smart, but that’s exactly what Alec did. The police eventually figured it out, and thus came the downfall of the original Smart Alec.