Bruce has been at NewsBank since 1992. Today, he supervises a team researching topics in U.S. history to prepare entries for the Timeline Edition of America’s Historical Newspapers. His team also selects articles and writes lesson plans for NewsBank’s Special Reports and Hot Topics.
One of the pleasures of using America’s Historical Newspapers is the ability to come across remarkable yet little known individuals like Theos Bernard. This Arizona native and Columbia University student went to India and Tibet in the 1930s to learn Tantric Yoga.
The earliest newspaper article found to mention him begins:
"Across a gale-swept pass, 18,000 feet high in the Himalayas' perpetual snows, an Arizonian is struggling to bring out on the backs of yaks and 100 mules what he believes to be one of the world’s most precious cargoes.”
Irving Berlin, the great American songwriter, needs little introduction today, but the great singer Mary Garden is less well known. She was an opera star in the first three decades of the 20th century, ending her music career as manager of the Chicago Civic Opera. The image below is a delightful illustration of the way leading newspapers of the 1920s produced creative full-page layouts combining photos and original artwork.
Alas, Berlin seems to have never written an opera for Ms. Garden, who performed Salome in New York. That's too bad. As the inset quote in the center of this Fort Worth Star-Telegram page says: "It's but a step from Salome to the Shimmy."
Samuel Clemens checked off many of these items: He was a sailor, if on the Mississippi. He went west to make his fortune. He had served briefly in the Civil War. He was a journalist and popular lecturer. He reinvented himself as the author Mark Twain. He became an entrepreneur, and he lost a fortune.
This year marks the 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens’ birth. America’s Historical Newspapers contains hundreds of contemporaneous articles about this genius of English literature, as well as reviews of his works and advertisements for his books. Here are a few samples, supplemented by the menu of a banquet held in his honor, found in American Broadsides and Ephemera.
It was 100 years ago this month that Roald Amundsen, the Norwegian explorer, reached the South Pole. For the first time, two expeditions were making attempts to get there in the same summer season. Amundsen had been a member of an earlier expedition to Antarctica and had led expeditions in the Arctic. Robert F. Scott had led an earlier British expedition to Antarctica, and he was back to make another attempt to reach the pole. Their expeditions and their leadership styles continue to fascinate us.
In “Just Browsing: Cool Items from the Past,” I shared several unexpected items I recently stumbled upon in America’s Historical Newspapers. I don’t however expect to find such wonderful things in Foreign Broadcast Information Service Daily Reports. What’s cool there comes more from the benefits of hindsight than sheer surprise. And that backward look lets the propagandistic nature of some of the documents shine through. One I recently read is the somewhat hagiographic interview with Kim Philby, the former high-ranking member of British intelligence agent who spied for and later defected to the Soviet Union. The interview, first published in the Russian daily newspaper Izvestiya on Dec. 19, 1967, was translated into English for publication in FBIS supplement “MATERIALS ON 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF SOVIET STATE SECURITY ORGANS, FBIS-FRB-68-007-S on 1968-01-10. Supplement number 2” Titled “Hello, Comrade Philby,” the article starts with a street scene in chilly Moscow: