American Newspaper Archives


“Someday They’ll Eat Grass”: The Launch of Fitzgerald’s Great Gatsby as Seen in the Boston Herald and other American Newspapers

The latest Hollywood version of The Great Gatsby has sparked book sales of more than a million copies in the first half of 2013 alone. That's more than twice the number typically sold in a full year, and far more than the small number sold between 1925 and 1940—the year a dejected Fitzgerald died at 44. In May 1925, a month after Charles Scribner’s Sons released Gatsby to mixed reviews, Fitzgerald wrote to Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins about its reception: “I think all the reviews I've seen, except two, have been absolutely stupid and lousy. Someday they'll eat grass, by God!”

 

In the 1925 pages of the Boston Herald—one of America’s oldest daily newspapers and winner of eight Pulitzer Prizes—one can closely follow the Gatsby launch, including Scribner's supporting advertising campaign.

Fitzgerald’s name first appears in the 1925 Herald on March 4—a month before Gatsby’s publication on April 10—within an advertisement for a now-forgotten Jazz Age novel:

 

The first prepublication announcement for Gatsby appears in the Herald on March 21:

 

Two forthcoming Scribner's books—Fitzgerald’s new novel and a Ring Lardner collection—are noted in the Herald on April 8, two days before Gatsby’s publication date:

 

“Someday They’ll Eat Grass”: The Launch of Fitzgerald’s Great Gatsby as Seen in the Boston Herald and other American Newspapers

Ascending the World’s Tallest Mountain: The View from America’s Historical Newspapers and the World Newspaper Archive

Ascents of Everest are now so numerous they often don’t make the news anymore, unless there is a devastating loss of life, a brawl among Sherpas and climbers or a race between octogenarians to become the mountain’s oldest successful climber. Yet from early attempts in the 1920s until the triumphant expedition in 1953, attempts at Everest were widely covered. The exotic nature of the quest meant that newspapers could combine graphics and photography in the layout of their pages, as will be seen in the articles below. 

Everest was named after a former British colonial official, though the mountain had local names, including the Tibetan Chomolunga. Since both Nepal and Tibet had closed their borders to foreigners, the British didn’t know the native names. They did know it was the tallest mountain in the Himalayas, from surveying it from afar, and the tallest in the world. They also knew that only a highly organized team could conquer it. In fact, before the first attempt in the 1920s, there was actually an expedition to survey the area and plan a later attempt at the summit. 

These first two excerpts come from the World Newspaper Archive: South Asian Newspapers; the rest are from America’s Historical Newspapers. 

From The Leader of Allahabad, India, on 15 January 1921:

Ascending the World’s Tallest Mountain: The View from America’s Historical Newspapers and the World Newspaper Archive

The Rite of Spring: As Seen in America’s Historical Newspapers

On May 29, 1913, at the Theatre des Champs-Elysees in Paris, a dance and orchestral performance was given that has reverberated throughout the American art world for the past 100 years. Ballet Russes, the ballet company founded and directed by Russian impresario Sergei Diaghilev, performed a dance choreographed by Vaslav Nijinsky to an orchestral piece composed by Igor Stravinsky. That performance, The Rite of Spring, portrayed a pagan Russian celebration of spring which culminated in the sacrifice of a young girl chosen to dance to her death.

Nijinsky’s choreography departed from the contemporary idea of ballet by incorporating pigeon-toed, knock-kneed, repetitive, stamping and jumping. If that wasn’t disconcerting enough, Stravinsky’s dissonant music, with its powerful, pulsating, irregular rhythm, was.  Confronted by this combination of the primitive and the modern, which confounded current ideas of beauty, many in the audience jeered and hissed.  

The Rite of Spring: As Seen in America’s Historical Newspapers

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

Keeping Up with the Kardashians in American Newspaper Archives: Their Earliest Years

Among the individually available titles in American Newspaper Archives is the California Courier—an English-language Armenian weekly newspaper published in California since 1958. In addition to offering insight into decades of the Armenian American experience on the West Coast, its newly digitized pages include several items about the young Kardashian family—including Kourtney, Kim and Khloé—printed long before reality TV brought them widespread attention.

Keeping Up with the Kardashians in American Newspaper Archives: Their Earliest Years

Forty Sports Champions of 1913: A Photo Montage from the Harrisburg Patriot

This newspaper page from a century ago features a complex layout of amateur and professional sports heroes, established and up-and-coming, two- and four-legged. Found among the 40 photographs are baseball legends Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson and Christie Mathewson as well as young golfer Francis Ouimet, the surprise winner of the 1913 U.S. Open. Women pictured include tennis players Marie Wagner and Mary Browne, golfer Gladys Ravenscroft, and Mrs. W.H. Dewar, U.S. National Fencing Champion, Women’s Foil. Other sports represented are boxing, billiards, harness racing, polo, long-distance running, and many more.

 

For more information about the Harrisburg Patriot and other American Newspaper Archives, please contact readexmarketing@readex.com.

Forty Sports Champions of 1913: A Photo Montage from the Harrisburg Patriot

Walt Whitman's "America": As First Published in The New York Herald

Walt Whitman's poem "America" was first published in The New York Herald on February 11, 1888. This short but significant work appeared on page four in the middle of a column-long article headlined "Personal Intelligence,” almost as "filler."

From a surviving 19th-century wax-cylinder recording, you can listen today to a remarkable reading of "America," widely believed to be spoken by Whitman himself, as captured by Edison circa 1890.

Walt Whitman's "America": As First Published in The New York Herald

“Traveling Where the Air Is Like Wine”: The American Story of a White Buddhist Monk

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.”

“Traveling Where the Air Is Like Wine”: The American Story of a White Buddhist Monk

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