America's Historical Newspapers


Bismarck's Birthday Verses: The Chicago Latin Version

From America's Historical Newspapers

When one thinks of Prince Otto von Bismarck, 19th-century Germany’s Iron Chancellor, birthday cakes and greetings do not first come to mind. But they did — at least the birthday greetings — in perhaps an unexpected place and certainly in a most unusual way in a Chicago newspaper in 1874. On April 1, 1874, Bismarck — still not fully recovered from a serious illness contracted the year before (not nervous exhaustion from overwork in redesigning the European continent but rather a case of gout) — celebrated his 60th birthday in Berlin amid much adulation from the new Germany, his enthusiastic nationalist supporters, and foreign dignitaries. Just a little more than a month later, the Chicago Inter Ocean newspaper published on May 2, 1874 a macaronic poem [i.e. a poem, usually in Latin, interspersed with vernacular words or phrases] celebrating Bismarck’s birthday. It is, I think, a poem which raises at least a couple of questions.
“SALUTES NATALICIAE AD BISMARCKIUM PRINCIPEM

Tot mitto Tibi salutes,

Quot ruras Gallia cutes,

Quot Roma habet clamores,

Bismarck's Birthday Verses: The Chicago Latin Version

The Dunlop Broadside a k a The Declaration of Independence

The Dunlap Broadside from Early American Imprints

According to the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, there are 26 known copies of the "Declaration of Independence," which is often referred to as the "Dunlop Broadside."   The name is attributed to the Philadelphia printer, John Dunlop, who was responsible for the first printing. After Dunlop printed and distributed his broadside during the late afternoon on Thursday, July 4, several newspapers published this historic document, including Philadelphia’s Pennsylvania Evening Post on July 6, 1776 and Pennsylvania Packet on July 8, 1776.

The Dunlop Broadside a k a The Declaration of Independence

Shipwreck Found in Lake Michigan: The Sinking of the L.R. Doty as Covered in 19th-Century Newspapers

The Doty at the Soo Locks 1896 - Andrew Young photo courtesy of the Historical Collections of the Great Lakes

On June 24, the Associated Press (AP) distributed an article about the recent discovery of the L.R. Doty, a steamship that sank in Lake Michigan in 1898.  The article begins: 

A great wooden steamship that sank more than a century ago in a violent Lake Michigan storm has been found off the Milwaukee-area shoreline, and divers say the intact vessel appears to have been perfectly preserved by the cold fresh waters.  "Finding the 300-foot-long L.R. Doty was important because it was the largest wooden ship that remained unaccounted for," said Brendon Baillod, the president of the Wisconsin Underwater Archaeology Association.

When the L.R. Doty sank on October 27, 1898, the reports about its demise were numerous.  A brief article in the October 28, 1898 issue of the Dallas Morning News only listed the names of the captain, the chief engineer, and the first mate. 

Shipwreck Found in Lake Michigan: The Sinking of the L.R. Doty as Covered in 19th-Century Newspapers

The First Map of the Gulf Stream: Benjamin Franklin's Maritime Observations

From Early American Imprints, Series I: Evans, 1639-1980

The First Map of the Gulf Stream: Benjamin Franklin's Maritime Observations

The Pope's Stone, Part Two: The Bloody Bedini Background

[The Pope’s Stone, Part One discussed the theft and destruction of a block of marble sent by Pope Pius IX in 1853 to be placed in the Washington Monument, under construction on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. This Part Two recounts some inflammatory background to that embarrassing episode in American history in the form of the perilous visit of a Vatican prelate just before the destruction of the stone.]

The announcement of his upcoming visit was short and succinct, in no way foreshadowing the waves of bigotry, chaos, and violence, which over the following seven months would accompany his progress through America. Baltimore’s Sunof June 27, 1853 reported simply:

"Monsignor Bedini, Archbishop of Thebes, former Commissary Extraordinary of the Pontifical Government to the Legations, has left Rome as special Envoy of His Holiness to the United States. He is charged by the Holy Father to pay a visit to the government at Washington, and also to hold interviews with different Prelates of the Church in the United States, and to acquire the most exact information respecting the interests and condition of the Catholic Church in this country. After making as along a visit as may be of advantage in the United States, Monsignor Bedini will go to Brazil, where he is to reside as Apostolic Nuncio near that Government."

Gaetano Bedini was born on May 15, 1806 in Sinigaglia, Italy, also the birthplace of Pius IX, not far from the Adriatic. After his ordination in 1828, Bedini was awarded a Doctor Utriusque Juris (i.e. doctorate in civil and canon law) and became secretary to Cardinal Altieri, Papal Nuncio at Vienna. In 1846 he was sent by the Pope to serve as Apostolic Internuncio [a sort of junior ambassador] to the Imperial Court of Brazil, where in the words of J.F. Connelley

The Pope's Stone, Part Two: The Bloody Bedini Background

"Tears in England": Will World Cup History Repeat Itself?

From the Springfield Union, July 1, 1950, page 18

England will meet the United States in the first game either team plays in the 2010 World Cup. The tournament begins this Friday, June 11, with the England vs. U.S. game occurring Saturday afternoon in the Eastern Time zone. The first time the two teams met produced a stunning upset in 1950. The Springfield Union quoted British newspapers as saying that the loss "marks the lowest ever for British sport," and "is the biggest soccer upset of all time." A reporter for the U.K.’s Daily Graphic wrote: "It was pathetic to see the cream of English players beaten by a side (team) most amateur players at home would have beaten..." A search within 20th-Century American Newspapers on "World Cup" and "soccer" in the year 1950 reveals only 10 articles in the pages of eight major U.S. papers. In contrast, this year ESPN and its family of networks will be broadcasting every game from the tournament. Times, and American interest in the sport, have changed.
"Tears in England": Will World Cup History Repeat Itself?

The Charleston Advisor awards Early American Newspapers 4.75 stars

The April 2010 issue of The Charleston Advisor includes a two-page review of America's Historical Newspapers by Providence College librarian Janice Schuster. Focusing on Early American Newspapers, Series 1 to 7, 1690-1922, The Charleston Advisor awarded this collection its highest ranking in the categories of Content, Searchability and Contract Options. Here’s an excerpt:
"The initial search screen makes it very clear which searching options are available. One can immediately start searching using the Google-like search box and the drop-down menu of searching options, including Headline, Standard Title (i.e., publication title), and Title as published....The results list includes a wealth of information for each item, including title of publication; publication date; published as; location; headline, and article type....The results list also includes a thumbnail image (actually larger than a thumbnail) of a portion of the article. This facilitates research by making it easy to browse through and eliminate irrelevant items....
The Charleston Advisor awards Early American Newspapers 4.75 stars

The Pope’s Stone: Part One

From the Serial Set: History of the Washington National Monument and Washington National Monument Society. Compiled by Frederick L. Harvey, Secretary Washington National Monument Society. February 6, 1903

The Pope’s Stone: Part One

If At First You Do Not Succeed: Walt Disney Introduces Mickey Mouse (May 15, 1928)

To say that iconic brands are prevalent in today’s society is a bit of an understatement. Everywhere you look, there’s a sign for a name brand, a store, a large company. It may be hard to imagine a time when this wasn’t the case—when not only was that big name unknown, but it was rejected. Take Disney for example: Can you think of a time when Mickey Mouse wasn’t an icon for family fun? If you’ve grown up in the United States within the last, say, 70 years or so, chances are that you may have seen this mouse a time or two! Looking back at those early years though, Walt Disney didn’t always find success. In fact, in the late 1920s the combination of Mickey Mouse and Disney was a gamble that few were willing to take.

From the Plain Dealer, Cleveland, Ohio, May 1, 1955

If At First You Do Not Succeed: Walt Disney Introduces Mickey Mouse (May 15, 1928)

Electronic Resources that Help Illuminate Past Lives

Increasingly, a writer attempting to produce the definitive biography of a 19th or 20th-century American will find that essential tools include searchable databases of government documents and newspapers. T.J. Stiles, author of The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt (2009, Alfred A. Knopf), which recently won the National Book Award, was able to utilize the digital edition of the U.S. Congressional Serial Set to uncover vindicating facts about the patriotism of his often maligned subject. In his article “Commodore Vanderbilt: Patriot or War Profiteer?,” Stiles writes:

I was ready to indict and convict Vanderbilt of war profiteering, if that’s where the evidence led me. Instead, it convinced me that the Commodore deserved his gold medal. Vanderbilt has often been treated with cynicism by historians, who are ready to believe the worst of a staggeringly rich, secretive, and combative man. Certainly I did not set out to rehabilitate his reputation. But I couldn’t ignore the evidence—evidence provided in breathtaking abundance by Congress in its Serial Set, now more accessible than ever thanks to digitization.

Electronic Resources that Help Illuminate Past Lives

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