Ford Fiasco: Tracking the Rise and Fall of the Edsel in American Newspaper Archives

 By Bruce D. Roberts, creator of Edsel Promo Time

Automotive sales tracker R. L. Polk & Co. recently announced that the Ford Focus was the best-selling passenger car in the world in 2012.  Impressive!

By contrast, Ford Motor Company’s ill-fated Edsel, sold for the 1958-1960 model years, is a dark icon of product failure even today.  Ford sunk $250 million into Edsel development; what on earth went wrong?

In 1948, Henry Ford II, Ford’s president and son of previous Ford president Edsel Ford, formed a committee to look into the viability of a new car in the expanding medium-priced segment of the automotive market.  General Motors, by far the largest of the Big Three auto makers, had Pontiac, Oldsmobile, and Buick as entries in the medium-priced field, while Chrysler Corporation had Dodge, De Soto, and Chrysler.  Ford had only Mercury.

Ford Fiasco: Tracking the Rise and Fall of the Edsel in American Newspaper Archives

The First New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival: A Look Back Using American Newspaper Archives

People associate many things with New Orleans—Mardi Gras, the French Quarter, Bourbon Street, Cajun food, and great jazz—just to name a few. So, could there be a better place in America to have an annual music festival? Between April 26 and May 5, 2013, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival will again give fans a rich taste of not only jazz and related music genres, but also Louisiana food, crafts, and culture.

As seen in the newspaper article below, the first New Orleans Jazz Fest took place in April 1970. The list of 200 performers included Mahalia Jackson, Al Hirt, Pete Fountain, Duke Ellington, and the Preservation Hall Band. The producer was George Wein, creator of the Newport (Rhode Island) Jazz Festival. Wein said, "Newport was manufactured but New Orleans is the real thing." 

From the Times-Picayune (Feb. 21, 1970)

Tickets were reasonably priced, as one can see by this festival advertisement.    

The First New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival: A Look Back Using American Newspaper Archives

Earth Day: 44 Years Ago in American Newspaper Archives

Today, Monday, April 22, 2013, marks the 44th observance of Earth Day in the United States. A moving force behind the first Earth Day was Sen. Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin. After seeing the devastation caused by the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill, Sen. Nelson proposed an "environmental teach-in" (later called Earth Day) to be held on April 22, 1970. 

Earth Day: 44 Years Ago in American Newspaper Archives

Afro-Americana Imprints: A Small Sample of Newly Released Titles (April 2013)

Upon completion, Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia will provide researchers with more than 12,000 printed works on diverse aspects of African American history, literature and culture. Among the more than 1,300 items in the April 2013 release are these six:

• Hotel keepers, head waiters, and housekeepers' guide. By Tunis G. Campbell. Published in 1848 (Imprint #1992)

[Campbell, a freeborn African-American, and later an important figure in Reconstruction, wrote this guide while he was a hotel steward. His system for running a high-class dining room calls for military-style drills, but also insists that employers treat waitstaff with dignity. Nearly half the book is devoted to recipes, including eel soup, stewed hare and orange puffs.]

• The life of Africaner, a Namacqua chief, of South Africa. By the Rev. J. Campbell. Published in 1825 (Imprint #1974)

Afro-Americana Imprints: A Small Sample of Newly Released Titles (April 2013)

Just published — The Readex Report: April 2013

In this issue: Enlightening students with colonial-era texts; praise-inspired poetry trumps hymns in eighteenth-century pews; a nineteenth-century black newspaper editor questions the finer points of freedom; and rival dictionaries yield a clear victor after a decade-long duel. 

Travel to New Worlds: Reconceptualizing Research and Early America with Early American Imprints

By Kelly Wisecup, Assistant Professor, Department of English, University of North Texas

Just published — The Readex Report: April 2013

Readex Civil War database reviewed in current Library Journal

In the April 15 issue of Library Journal, Gail Golderman and Bruce Connolly review nine collections of primary-source materials related to the American Civil War.  Among these resources is The Civil War: Antebellum Period to Reconstruction—a thematic Readex collection created from multiple Archive of Americana collections.  Here’s a brief excerpt from their newest e-reviews column:

"Reduced to its bare essentials, The Civil War: Antebellum Period to Reconstruction—with 150 newspapers from across the country, roughly 50,000 documents culled from the U.S. Congressional Serial Set, and 4,000 rare broadsides and ephemeral itemsis a singularly impressive primary-source collection....there is a lot more here than the numbers alone convey.  

"The broad geographic sweep of these newspaper titles puts the regional perspectives and regional biases necessary to comprehend the meaning of this period of American history at the researcher's disposal....

"The huge U.S. Congressional Serial Set is one of the underappreciated gems among all the publications of the federal government....

Readex Civil War database reviewed in current Library Journal

Free e-book examines the history and significance of the Washington Evening Star

For more than a century historians have regarded The Evening Star as the newspaper of record for the nation’s capital. Published under such titles as Washington Star-News and The Washington Star, this long-running daily afternoon paper was one of the highest profile publications in the nation. This 11-page e-book examines the history and significance of this deeply influential American newspaper.  Download “A Star in the Making” here.
 
Free e-book examines the history and significance of the Washington Evening Star

Researching the Chinese Cultural Revolution Using FBIS Reports: A Personal View of the Impact of Digitization, 1990 to 2013

It was January 1990, and I looked out my dorm window at the snow falling, yet again.  Forecasters were calling for nine more inches, adding to the foot already on the ground. Winter in upstate New York can be brutal, and the thought of trudging across campus to the library to research my Modern History thesis wasn't appealing.  But following a recent class discussion about why so many Germans blindly followed Hitler's insane directives, I wanted to explore why so many Chinese citizens blindly followed the Red Guards and Mao Zedong during the infamous Chinese Cultural Revolution from 1966 to 1978.  In 1990, China was still reeling from the horrors of the Tiananmen Square massacre the year before, and I wanted to understand these questions, “How did Mao build such a cult of personality and incite mass imprisonment, torture and public humiliation of its citizens, and was China headed back towards a new kind of revolution?“ 

Researching the Chinese Cultural Revolution Using FBIS Reports: A Personal View of the Impact of Digitization, 1990 to 2013

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