Springfield Republican


The Brief, Wondrous Life of Lafcadio Hearn: Tracking the Author, Journalist and 19th-Century World Traveler through Historical Newspapers

Lafcadio_hearn.jpgAn American author and literary figure in the last quarter of the 19th century, Lafcadio Hearn was known for his fiction and his reportage from the Caribbean and Japan. His own life, however, was as fascinating as fiction itself, and his biography reads like a Charles Dickens novel that morphs into a Hemingway memoir.

Born to a Greek mother and an Irish father, Hearn was brought up in Greece, Ireland, England and France. After moving to Dublin when he was five, his parents divorced. His mother remarried and returned to Greece, while his soldier father was sent to India with his new wife. Hearn was left in Ireland with his aunt, Sarah Brenane, who sent him to a Catholic school in France on the advice of her financial advisor, Henry Molyneux.

495px-Lafcadio_Hearn.jpgFrom there, Hearn went to yet another school in England, but was forced to leave when Molyneux suffers some financial setbacks. His aunt died and Molyneux became her heir. When Hearn turned nineteen, Molyneux gave him a ticket to New York City. From there, he went to Cincinnati, Ohio, where a relative of Molyneux’s was supposed to help him, but didn’t. Hearn lived in abject poverty. But thanks to his multinational upbringing, he was literate and knew several languages.

The Brief, Wondrous Life of Lafcadio Hearn: Tracking the Author, Journalist and 19th-Century World Traveler through Historical Newspapers

War of the Dictionaries

War of the Dictionaries

By Barbara Shaffer, unofficial historian of Springfield, Massachusetts

The Georgian brick building of the Merriam-Webster company on Federal Street in Springfield, Massachusetts, is considered by some world headquarters of the English language.  Scholars, heads of state and judges alike often deem the Merriam-Webster dictionary the final authority in spelling, pronunciation and definition.  That standing is the outcome of winning a long-fought conflict over a century ago. The company’s founders were brothers George and Charles Merriam, young printers who settled in Springfield in 1831 to print and sell books.  Their shop specialized in school books, Bibles and, curiously, wall papers.  The second-floor presses produced titles stocked by stores in Boston, New York and Philadelphia.
Engraving of Noah Webster

 

War of the Dictionaries

New Webinars: Historical Perspectives on the American South, West and Northeast

Newspaper Archives for Academic Research and Training: A Series of Three Regionally Focused Webinars

American newspapers—with their eyewitness reporting, editorials, advertisements, obituaries and human interest stories—have preserved essential records and detailed accounts of nearly every facet of regional and national life. Now searchable online, these regionally diverse newspaper archives span centuries of social, cultural, political, military, business, sports and literary history, providing students and scholars with invaluable original reporting and fresh, local-level insights.

Newspaper Archives of the American Northeast

Thursday, October 18 -- 1 to 2 pm EST

Newspaper publishing in New England and the Mid-Atlantic stateshas had a long and proud history, going back to the colonial era. In this webinar we’ll explore the rich histories of prominent newspapers such as the Boston Herald, New York Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer, Springfield Republican, Trenton Evening Times, Washington Evening Star and others.

Newspaper Archives of the American South

Thursday, October 25 -- 1 to 2 pm EST

New Webinars: Historical Perspectives on the American South, West and Northeast

Hitler’s Secret Mistress

Eva Braun (1912-1945)

In his recent review of Heike Görtemaker’s new book Eva Braun: Life with Hitler (New York Review of Books, Vol. 59, No. 7, Apr. 26, 2012), British historian Antony Beevor writes:
Although the American press had strong inklings of Hitler’s relationship with Eva Braun as early as May 1939, in Germany only Hitler’s intimate circle knew of her existence. (p. 26)

Springfield Daily Republican (Dec. 31, 1937). Source: American Newspaper Archives.

Hitler’s Secret Mistress

Freedom of Movement: The Shocking Life of Isadora Duncan

Isadora Duncan (May 27, 1877 - September 14, 1927). Image from America's Historical Newspapers

Isadora Duncan was dance-struck as a young child in San Francisco. By the time she was six, she was teaching neighborhood children how to move like ocean waves. The strict rules of ballet and conventions of the music hall never held her interest. Indeed, throughout her life as a dancer and teacher, she rebelled against the forms and costumes of traditional dance, preferring movements based on nature and emotion. In 1895, still a teenager, she moved to Chicago and joined the Augustin Daly Company, touring from the Midwest to New York to London. While in London, she also danced solo performances at society events.

Freedom of Movement: The Shocking Life of Isadora Duncan

The Vermilion Bridge: One of the World’s Most Admired Human Achievements

May 27, 2012, is the 75th anniversary of the opening celebrations of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. When it opened, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world.  It spanned the mile-wide strait entering San Francisco Bay, a feat that had been dreamed of, and deemed impossible, for a century.  On May 27, 1937, over 200,000 pedestrians streamed over the bridge in a festive display of wonder and enthusiasm.

Dallas Morning News (May 28, 1937)

The Vermilion Bridge: One of the World’s Most Admired Human Achievements

Just published — The Readex Report: April 2012

In our latest issue: The exonerated executioner of a Native American sorceress; profiling a polymathic chess master; using a local newspaper archive to uncover an American city's past; and unremembered inhumanity that sparked a world war.
Murder! Or the Remarkable Trial of Tommy Jemmy, 19th-Century Seneca Witch-Hunter and Defender of Indian Sovereignty By Matthew Dennis, Professor of History and Environmental Studies, University of Oregon I never read murder and mayhem stories in the newspaper.  Such sensationalist accounts have been a mainstay of the U.S. popular press since it was invented in the early American republic, and they remain a prominent feature today.  But the tawdry details of homicidal doings, breathlessly recounted, hold little appeal for me.  And yet a few years ago one such story caught my eye and drew me in, sending me on my own investigative journey. (read article)
Just published — The Readex Report: April 2012

Local Intelligence: Exploring the Past of My Adopted Hometown

Our Guest Blogger:

Barbara Shaffer, unofficial historian of Springfield, Massachusetts

From the online archive of the Springfield Republican and Union

Local Intelligence: Exploring the Past of My Adopted Hometown

Ernest Hemingway: In His Time

Source: American Newspaper Archives / America's Historical Newspapers

Ernest Hemingway: In His Time

Just Browsing: Cool Items from the Past

One of the joys of browsing American historical newspapers is discovering the unexpected from around the world. Take this photograph, for example, of a car being dragged across a Siberian river during the Peking-to-Paris race in 1907:

Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer; Date: Aug. 18, 1907; Page: 29

Or this photo of European ostrich racing in the 1920s:

Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer, Date: Sept. 28, 1924; Page 76

Just Browsing: Cool Items from the Past

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