The Patriotic Deaths of Adams and Jefferson

On July 4, 1776, the founding fathers scratched their names onto parchment (and into history) as they signed the Declaration of Independence. Fifty years later, on a day of fireworks and celebration of the anniversary of that historic day, both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams took their final breaths.

Jefferson took the lead, reportedly happy to go once he had seen the morning of the 4th.

Thomas Jefferson Death

Thomas Jefferson

Adams succumbed about five hours later, unaware that Jefferson had preceded him in death.

Death of Adams

John Adams

Adams and Jefferson were the last living members of the original group of revolutionaries who fought for freedom from the British Empire. As death dates go, this seems a fitting one for two of the men who drafted the declaration which the United States celebrates every year on this day.

The striking coincidences of life

Find more on the lives and deaths of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams with a search on Newspapers.com, or seek out clippings on a topic of your choice with a search of interest to you.

Bonus Army Forced from the Capital: July 28, 1932

Bonus Army Forced from the Capital: July 28, 1932

On July 28, 1932, U.S. troops expelled thousands of American World War I veterans—known as the Bonus Army—from their camps in Washington DC, after months of protests and marches by the Bonus Army failed to result in legislation that would allow them to receive promised government funds early.

Bonus Army after being evicted from DC In the years following World War I, Congress passed legislation that would pay veterans of the conflict an adjusted “bonus” compensation for their time in the service, to be paid out in 1945. However, when the Great Depression struck, many veterans were out of work and wanted the government to pay them the money immediately rather than in 1945.

Starting in May 1932, veterans from across the country made their way to Washington DC to lobby and show their support for a bill introduced in Congress that would pay them their money early. Soon, an estimated 11,000–20,000 veterans—who quickly became known as the Bonus Army, or Bonus Expeditionary Force—as well as some families, crowded the capital, setting up massive camps in the area.

On June 15, the bill was passed in the House of Representatives, but it failed in the Senate two days later. The veterans were disappointed, but they largely reacted peacefully and many returned home—though thousands still remained in the capital.

In late July, after Congress had adjourned, the government decided that the veterans should vacate the abandoned buildings they had occupied along Pennsylvania Avenue. However, the veterans refused to leave, and on July 28 violence broke out between veterans and police, resulting in the deaths of two veterans.

The district commissioners requested that federal troops intervene, and hundreds of infantry and cavalry were sent out, led by General Douglas MacArthur. The troops used tear gas, bayonets, sabers, and tanks to push the veterans out of the downtown area, and then MacArthur proceeded to likewise clear out the veterans’ main camp at Anacostia Flats, which went up in flames.

Though the government claimed that the troops only used minimal force, and alleged that many of the marchers who were routed were radicals and criminals rather than veterans, the public largely reacted negatively to the use of federal troops on the veterans. The incident increased the public’s dissatisfaction with President Hoover, who would lose reelection that fall. The early bonus payments the veterans sought would not be approved until 4 years later, in 1936.

Do you have any family stories about the Bonus Army? Tell us about them! Or learn more about the Bonus Army on Newspapers.com.

The Radium Girls

Today we take a look at the frustrating and jaw-dropping history of the “Radium Girls.”

Radium Girl Awaits Death

If you’ve never heard of this particular incident before, the “Radium Girls” were factory workers who had the joy of unknowingly contracting radiation poisoning while doing the seemingly innocuous task of painting watch dials. This work was done in three United States factories—one in New Jersey, one in Illinois, and one in Connecticut—who used radium in their paint to make it self-luminous, and all the while the women were led to believe the paint was harmless.

The Girls' Work

They were paid per dial so time was of the essence, and the quickest way to get those paintbrushes pointed enough to paint such fine lines was by shaping the tip with one’s lips—a method encouraged by the instructors to avoid wasting excess time with other methods such as wet rags or a rinse in water.

Used their lips to point the brushes

Death of a young girl factory worker

It’s not known exactly how many women were affected by the radiation poisoning that soon spread through their systems, but as the death toll began to rise the connection between the radium paints and the deaths became more and more clear. Meanwhile, factories like the U.S. Radium Corporation maintained that the girls had died from unrelated causes. They insisted that the amount of radium used in the paint was so small as to be harmless, which was true—for the finished watches. Not so for the factory girls exposed to the dangerous substance day after day, stroke after stroke.

Many Deaths

In New Jersey, five women who worked at the United States Radium Corporation sued the company for the health problems—and, quite bluntly, the certain death—that they would suffer because of the factory’s negligence. These five were called the “Radium Girls” in the news stories that sprung up over the next several decades.

Radium Girl fourth to die of poisoning

Five Women sued, known as the

They eventually won, though the money was often used to pay for their funerals. The last of the five women died two years after their case was settled.

Some good did manage to come from the horrific and avoidable fates of these women. Laws regarding compensation for disease or injury from occupational hazards were improved, and the window of time in which an employee could collect such compensation was extended. The nation’s understanding of the dangers of radium increased exponentially, and within a decade new precautions had been put in place to avoid a slow-building disaster like this one from ever happening again—at least, not from radium.

Find more on this oft-untold piece of history with a search on Newspapers.com.

Berlin Airlift

On this day in 1948, the first U.S. and British pilots fly to Berlin bearing food, medicine, water, clothing and fuel in response to the Soviet Union blockade of the western section of the city.

Berlin Airlift

Eight-minute intervals

Blockade Motivations

U.S. Air Force C-47 cargo planes

Known as the Berlin Airlift, the operation brought around 2500 tons of supplies daily and continued to do so for four months after the blockade was lifted in May 1949.

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

Horseback Librarians

Don’t have a library? Never fear—the library will come to you. Such was the thought in eastern Kentucky, 1935, when the Pack Horse Library initiative began.

Pack Horse Library

Book Woman during Great Depression

The job was no walk in the park. The lack of library access was often due to how remote these places were, and access to them was found through stony creeks, mud-caked footpaths, and on the skirting edges of cliffs. The librarians often had to walk on foot, leading their horse behind them, for the safety of themselves and their mounts. Library headquarters would be set up in the various counties in whatever building would offer room, and from here the librarian would stock up, travel with a pocket-full of adventures or recipes or romances, and later return to get a fresh batch to circulate.

Librarians bring the books

“She” in this instance is Grace Caudill Lucas, who worked as a pack horse librarian

Pack Horse Librarian

The Pack Horse Libraries lost their funding in 1943 and were forced to close up shop. Fortunately, bookmobiles were not far behind and took the reins—so to speak—in 1946 as a modernized version of the “horsemobile” libraries of the Great Depression. But for a decade, thousands of Kentucky residents had these brave women to thank for caring enough about literacy, education, and imagination to traverse the craggy Kentucky countryside with their bags full o’ books.

horseback librarians

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

The Star Tribune and Other Minneapolis Papers

Do you have family from Minnesota, particularly the Minneapolis area? Or are you interested in Minnesota history? Come explore* three related Minneapolis papers on Newspapers.com: the Star Tribune, the Minneapolis Star, and the Minneapolis Journal. The pasts of these three papers are closely connected through a long history of buy-outs and consolidation, finally resulting in the Star Tribune that exists today as Minnesota’s biggest newspaper

First issue of the Minneapolis Daily Tribune, 25 May 1867The “Tribune” part of the Star Tribune’s title refers to the Minneapolis Daily Tribune, founded in 1867, less than a decade after Minnesota became a state. During the late 19th century, the Tribune became one of the city’s top papers.

First issue of the Minnesota Daily Star, 19 Aug 1920The “Star” in the Star Tribune’s name comes from the Minnesota Daily Star, which was started in 1920. Due in part to the paper’s controversial socialist-leaning agenda, it went bankrupt in 1924 and was eventually purchased in 1935 by the Cowles family, under whose leadership the Star achieved the highest circulation in the city.

In 1939, the Cowles family also bought the Minneapolis Journal (a top Minneapolis paper that had begun publication in 1878) and combined it with the Star as the Star-Journal. Not long after, the family also bought the Tribune, and the Tribune then served as a morning paper, while the Star-Journal (renamed the Star in 1947) functioned as the evening paper. Due to low circulation, the Star was discontinued in 1982, and the Tribune was renamed the Minneapolis Star and Tribune; the title was simplified to the Star Tribune in 1987.

The Minneapolis papers on Newspapers.com contain a wealth of information for anyone looking for information on ancestors from the area or doing research into Minnesota’s history. The overlap of the dates coved by these papers means that you’re that much more likely to find mentions of the person or topic you’re looking for. The Star Tribune (which on Newspapers.com also includes issues of the Tribune) has issues from 1867 to 2017. Newspapers.com has issues of the Journal from 1901 to 1906. And the Star has issues from 1920 to 1982.

Get started searching or browsing the Star Tribune, the Minneapolis Star, and the Minneapolis Journal on Newspapers.com!

* With a Newspapers.com Basic subscription, you can view issues up through 1922; or, with a Publisher Extra subscription, access those early years as well as issues between 1923 and 2017.

Ratification of the Constitution

On this day in 1788, New Hampshire became the ninth state to vote “yea” on the debate of ratifying the U.S. Constitution, officially making it law.

Constitution Ratified 21st June

More states would follow suit later, but only nine of the thirteen existing states had to accept for the Constitution to become valid.

Fun fact: While the United States is a fairly young country compared to others worldwide, it has the oldest written constitution still in use today.

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

Make a Difference with History Unfolded!

History Unfolded
November 9, 1938
Anti-Jewish Riots Convulse German Reich (Kristallnacht) Father Coughlin Blames Jews for Nazi Violence April 9, 1939
Marian Anderson Performs at the Lincoln Memorial June 2, 1939
Jewish Refugees Desperately Seek Safe Harbor

Looking for an easy way to make a big difference? Newspapers.com invites you to participate in the History Unfolded project run by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum!

What is History Unfolded?

History Unfolded is a project that seeks to expand our knowledge of how American newspapers reported on Nazi persecution during the 1930s and ’40s so we can better understand what Americans knew about the Holocaust as it was happening.

To help achieve this, the History Unfolded project asks people like you to search local newspapers from the 1930s and ’40s for Holocaust-related news and opinions and then submit them online to the museum. The newspaper articles you submit will be used to help shape the museum’s 2018 exhibit on Americans and the Holocaust and related educational materials. The articles will also be made available to scholars, historians, and the public.

Who Can Contribute?

Everyone! History buffs, students, teachers . . . All you need is an interest in the Holocaust and access to a newspaper from the 1930s or ’40s, either online (using Newspapers.com, for example) or through a physical archive, such as a library. Simply create an account with History Unfolded, and away you go!

How Do I Contribute?

History Unfolded has created a list of more than 30 Holocaust-related events to focus on. Choose one of these events to research, then search for content related to that topic in an American newspaper of your choice from the 1930s or ’40s. After you find an article related to one of the events, submit it online to the museum through the project’s website.

Newspapers.com and History Unfolded

You can contribute to this important project whether or not you use Newspapers.com to do so. But using Newspapers.com makes it even easier to submit the articles you find. Simply use Newspapers.com to create a clipping of an article you’ve found, then submit that clipping through the submission form on the History Unfolded website. The submission form has a special tool created specifically for Newspapers.com users that makes submitting your clipping a snap.

Your help with this project will help shape our understanding of the Holocaust and the lessons it holds for us today. For more information on how to get involved, visit the History Unfolded website.