Category Archives: Chronicling America

Chronicling America, Historic Oregon Newspapers Now with New Content!

Calling all aficionados of historic Oregon newspapers! The Chronicling America and Historic Oregon Newspaper websites have been updated with lots of great new content. All issues of historic Oregon newspapers that have been added to these sites are completely free to search and are easily keyword searchable.

New content includes the following:

Chronicling America is a website that provides “access to information about historic newspapers and select digitized newspaper pages, and is produced by the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP).” Historic Oregon Newspapers is a website that lets you “search and access complete content for historic Oregon newspapers that have been digitized as part of the Oregon Digital Newspaper Program (ODNP).” ODNP is a program of the University of Oregon Libraries with the help of major grants and external funding.

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New Search Strategies and Genealogy Webinar

Our colleagues at the National Digital Newspaper Program in Ohio have just released two new resources with tips on searching historic newspapers online via the Library of Congress’ Chronicling America website:


1) Search Strategies – “Proximity Searching in Chronicling America: This video shows how to use proximity searching (searching for keywords within a certain number of words from each other) to find cooking tips and recipes in historic newspapers, as well as why it’s useful to use proximity searching in the Advanced Search feature.


2) Chronicling America for Genealogists Webinar (recording): This webinar was recorded on Jan. 9, 2014, 7pm-9pm and addresses the kinds of family information that can be found in historic newspapers, as well as how to search for family history information in Chronicling America. View just the powerpoint slides here.


The Historic Oregon Newspapers website uses the same search and viewer software as Chronicling America, so the tips and tricks covered in these resources can also be applied to searching just Oregon newspapers at Happy Searching!

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New historic Oregon newspaper content now online at Chronicling America!

Attention all historic Oregon newspaper lovers! The Library of Congress and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) have added hundreds of new Oregon newspaper issues to Chronicling America, the nation’s free, online, keyword-searchable historic newspaper database!

Ashland Tidings Salute Old Glory

Ashland tidings. (Ashland, Or.) July 04, 1912, Image 1.

New content includes:

In addition to these Oregon titles, Chronicling America now has an additional 800,000 new newspaper pages from more than 130 new titles from across the country, including all new content from Indiana and North Dakota, as well as new content in French and Spanish from Arizona, Louisiana and New Mexico.
For more info, please see the NEH Announcement of New Release of Chronicling America.


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Chronicling America Posts 5 Millionth Page

As part of the Library of Congress’ and National Endowment for the Humanities’ National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP), the ODNP is pleased to announce that Chronicling America, the NDNP’s online collection of searchable, historic newspapers from across the United States, has reached a total of 5 million newspaper pages! Chronicling America currently hosts content from 16 of Oregon’s historic newspaper titles, which can also be found on our Historic Oregon Newspapers website.

The following announcement from the Library of Congress and the National Endowment for the Humanities was released yesterday:

October 22, 2012

Chronicling America Posts 5 Millionth Page

Popular Online Resource Provides Access to Nation’s Historic Newspapers

The Chronicling America website,, a free, searchable database of historic U.S. newspapers, has posted its 5 millionth page.

Launched by the Library of Congress and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) in 2007, Chronicling America provides enhanced and permanent access to historically significant newspapers published in the United States between 1836 and 1922. It is a part of the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP), a joint effort between the two agencies and 32 state partners.

“This magnificent resource captures the warp and weft of life as it was lived in grassroots America,” said NEH Chairman Jim Leach. “Metropolitan newspapers were early targets for digitization, but Chronicling America allows the journalism of the smaller cities and the rural countryside to become accessible in all its variety—and sometimes, quirkiness.”

“Chronicling America is one of the great historical reference services on the web,” said Roberta Shaffer, associate librarian for Library Services at the Library of Congress. “It is a treasure trove of information about communities, personalities, key events and culture in the United States, and it is all free and available to the public.”

The site now features 5 million pages from more than 800 newspapers from 25 states. The site averaged more than 2.5 million page views per month last year and is being used by students, researchers, congressional staff, journalists and others for all kinds of projects, from daily podcasts to history contests. The news, narratives and entertainment encapsulated in the papers transport readers in time.

Newspaper clipping features four illustrations of THeadore Roosevelt, each portraying a different facial expression. Text reads: "Characteristic Poses of the President. The Roosevelt Laugh - When the president is out in the woods he enjoys a good story, and his laugh is hearty and care free. President Roosevelts Latest Picture - In repose the president's face is very solumn and dignified; in action it is one of the most expressive countenances in America. The President's Smile for the Children - President Roosevelt loves the children, and one of his most kindly smiles is reserved for them. When the President is Strenuous - When President Roosevelt clinches a point in the midst of his oratory, his set expression is proof in itself of his earnestness."

Daily capital journal. (Salem, Or.) April 20, 1907, Page 3, Image 3. Chronicling America:
Historic Oregon Newspapers:

For instance, on this day, Oct. 22, 100 years ago, there was a lot of news about Theodore Roosevelt recovering from an assassination attempt several days earlier. A Washington Times headline said “Roosevelt Home Swinging His Hat with Happiness, Finishes Tedious Trip to Oyster Bay in Good Shape.” A crime story in the New York Tribune read, “Girl Runs Down Thief, Pajama-Clad Coed Races over Campus to Save Violin.” International news focused on the First Balkan War. “20,000 Turks Reported Taken by Bulgarians,” according to a story in The Washington Herald.

In 2003, the Library and NEH established a formal agreement that identified goals for the program, institutional responsibilities and overall support. In 2004, the NEH announced guidelines for grants, funded by NEH, awarded to cultural-heritage institutions wishing to join the program and select, digitize and deliver to the Library approximately 100,000 newspaper pages per award. Since 2005, the NEH has awarded more than $22 million to 32 state libraries, historical societies and universities representing states in the national program.

Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about NEH and its grant programs is available at

The Library of Congress, the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution, is the world’s preeminent reservoir of knowledge, providing unparalleled collections and integrated resources to Congress and the American people. Many of the Library’s rich resources and treasures may also be accessed through the Library’s website,

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Recognition and Prizes to be Awarded for Student Use of Chronicling America in National History Day Competition

As part of the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP) and provider of historic Oregon newspaper content for the Chronicling America historic American newspapers website (hosted by the Library of Congress and the National Endowment for the Humanities), the Oregon Digital Newspaper Program (ODNP) is pleased to spread the word about a new opportunity for recognition of middle and high school students with a passion for history.

Text reads: Get in the contest now.

St. Johns review. (Saint Johns, Or.) January 01, 1915, Image 3.

The following press release was published today on the National Endowment for the Humanities website at

WASHINGTON (June 14, 2012) —  The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) today announced a new contest to encourage middle and high school students to use Chronicling America, the NEH and Library of Congress-supported digital archive of historic newspapers, in their projects for National History Day.

At the closing ceremonies of National History Day, held on the University of Maryland campus in College Park, Maryland, NEH Chairman Jim Leach announced that NEH would begin offering recognition and prizes to students who make effective use of the Chronicling America database in 2013 National History Day submissions. This would include cash prizes for exceptional use of the newspaper archives for junior and senior students in all submission categories. All National History Day participants who incorporate Chronicling America in their project research will receive certificates of recognition.

Chronicling America offers students free access to nearly five million pages of hyper-local stories, advertisements, and opinions published between 1836 and 1922 in 28 states (and growing) across the country. In addition, EDSITEment, NEH’s educational website for teachers, students, and parents, will develop new educator and student resources to facilitate and encourage use of the newspaper material.

Created through a 7-year-old partnership between the NEH and the Library of Congress, Chronicling America allows visitors access to newspaper pages from Arizona, 1836-1922; California, 1860-1922; District of Columbia, 1836-1922; Florida, 1900-1910; Hawaii, 1836-1922; Illinois, 1860-1922; Kansas, 1860-1922; Kentucky, 1860-1922; Louisiana, 1860-1922; Minnesota, 1860-1922; Missouri, 1836-1922; Montana, 1860-1922; Nebraska, 1880-1922; New Mexico, 1836-1922; New York, 1880-1922; Ohio, 1836-1922; Oklahoma, 1860-1922; Oregon, 1860-1922; Pennsylvania, 1836-1922; South Carolina, 1860-1922; Tennessee, 1836-1922; Texas, 1860-1922; Utah, 1860-1922; Vermont, 1836-1922; Virginia, 1860-1922; and Washington, 1836-1922. The project is conducted in phases, with new states being added to the list each year.

National History Day is a national year-long academic program focused on historical research for 6th to 12th grade students.  Each year, more than half a million students chose historical topics related to a theme and conduct extensive primary and secondary research to prepare original papers, websites, exhibits, performances, and documentaries for entry into local, state, and national History Day competitions.  The program culminates in the national contest, held each June at the University of Maryland.

Watch a live webcast of the 2012 National History Day awards ceremony online, starting at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, June 14:

About the National Endowment for the Humanities

Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at:


Text reads: Daily Capital Journal. Makers of Oregon History

Daily capital journal. (Salem, Or.) June 11, 1907, Image 1.

Oregon students can get a head start on ideas for National History Day contest entries that include Chronicling America resources by learning about the many historic Oregon newspapers that are currently available through the Chronicling America website:

Astoria, OR:

The Daily Astorian

The Daily Morning Astorian

The Tri-weekly Astorian

Burns, OR:

The Times-Herald

Klamath Falls, OR:

The Evening Herald

Medford, OR:

The Medford Mail Tribune

Ontario, OR:

The Ontario Argus

Portland, OR:

The New Northwest

Saint Johns, OR:

The St. Johns Review

Salem, OR:

The Evening Capital Journal

The Daily Capital Journal 1896-1899

The Daily Capital Journal 1903-1919

The Daily Journal

The Capital Journal

Sumpter, OR:

The Sumpter Miner

 ~ Good luck and happy searching! ~

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Outside Perspectives on Oregon News

Oregon’s history is not only accessible for searching and browsing through Oregon’s historic newspapers. Several newspapers from other states, available for keyword-searching online through the Library of Congress and National Endowment for the Humanities’ Chronicling America website, can yield a wealth of articles about Oregon. Below you’ll find a few examples of topics and articles that are available, with links arranged by newspaper “sections.”

A newspaper page from The San Francisco Call, March 25, 1900, featuring images of women from Oregon.

The San Francisco call. (San Francisco, Calif.) March 25, 1900, Image 12.


“How We Got Oregon” – A reporter from the Salt Lake Herald (UT) visits the Umatilla Indian Reservation in 1903, and is told a story from pioneer days

“Lewis & Clark Centennial” – Account of the 1905 Exposition in Portland, from the San Francisco Call (CA)

Advertisement for the Great Northern Railway, taken from The Appeal, a newspaper from Saint Paul, Minnesota, on April 29, 1905. Advertisement states: "Scenic suprises all the way to the Lewis and Clark Exposition in Portland, Oregon, if you travel via the Great Northern Railway, the comfortable way, the height of travel and comfort afforded by two through transcontinental trains daily. Tourist sleepers, palace sleepers, buffet library cars, dining cars, a trip acorss the mountains by daylight.

The appeal. (Saint Paul, Minn.) April 29, 1905, Minnesota Law Supplement, Page 24, Image 29.


“Women’s Battle For The Ballot” – Story about the narrow defeat of Oregon’s proposed 1906 equal suffrage amendment, from the Washington Times (DC)

“Political Depravity In Oregon” – The Washington Herald (DC) details a land fraud scandal that was sullying Oregon politics in 1906


“Home Again From The Willamette” – 1893 account of business opportunities in Oregon, from the San Francisco Morning Call (CA)

“Dairy Production In The Pacific Northwest” – 1915 article from the Pullman Herald (WA) with in-depth analysis of agricultural economics in our region

Headline from Ranch and Range, a newspaper from Washington state, August 13, 1898, reads: "Agriculture in Oregon. Remarkable resources, present condition and future developement, stock to be pre-eminent. By Thos. Shaw, professor of the bureau of animal husbandry of the University of Minnesota."

Ranch and range. (North Yakima, Wash.) August 13, 1898, Image 4.

Image of three cows in association with an article about agriculture in Oregon from Ranch and Range, a newspaper from North Yakima, Washington, August 13, 1898.

Ranch and range. (North Yakima, Wash.) August 13, 1898, Image 4.


“Oregon’s Two Climates” – From 1905, the Washington Times (DC) explains our prevailing weather patterns

Leisure & Lifestyles:

“Pendleton’s First Round-Up” – A long-running Oregon tradition begins in 1910, with the San Francisco Call (CA) reporting


“N.W. Conference To Remain” – 1915 item from the Pullman Herald (WA) recounts the beginning of the Pac-10 athletic conference

“Best Eleven Won” – The University of Oregon plays in its first Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day of 1917, as reported by the Evening Ledger of Philadelphia (PA)

Photograph from a football game between Oregon and Pennsylvania teams, published in the Evening Public Ledger of Philadephia, Pennsylvania on January 10, 1917. Caption reads: "At the new year football game - Huntington, of Oregon, starts around Penn's left end, aided by compact interference."

Evening public ledger. (Philadelphia, Pa.) January 10, 1917, Night Extra, Image 16.

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Titanic Centennial

April 15, 2012 will mark the 100th anniversary of the Titanic shipwreck tragedy.

The day book. (Chicago, Ill.) April 16, 1912, Image 1.

The story of the Titanic has been told and re-told since 1912: The largest and most luxurious ship ever to be built in the history of humankind was thought to be “unsinkable.” Not only was the ship a giant, it was extravagant inside and out.

Medford mail tribune. (Medford, Or.) April 16, 1912, FIRST EDITION, Image 1.

New-York tribune. (New York, N.Y.) April 21, 1912, Page 8, Image 24.

News of the Titanic’s size and accommodations was bubbling in the press even before the ship set sail:

The day book. (Chicago, Ill.) February 26, 1912, Image 12.

In accordance with ideals of the Edwardian era, class and luxury were of utmost importance, which is one of the reasons why it was decided that more than 20 lifeboats (enough to fit 1178 people when filled to capacity) would clutter the ship’s deck, even though there were about 2200 people on board. At the time, Board of Trade regulations had not yet caught up with the size of the Titanic, and existing laws only required passenger ships to carry enough lifeboats for 1060 people. But after all, who would need lifeboats on an unsinkable ship?

The San Francisco call. (San Francisco, Calif.) April 17, 1912, Page 5, Image 5.

Ironically and tragically, confidence in the infallible genius of man was shaken when the Titanic struck an iceberg in the north Atlantic after just five days at sea, and sank to the depths of the ocean, leaving only a fraction of its passengers – about 700 people – as survivors. When the news broke that the Titanic was not in fact “unsinkable,” newspaper reporters were on the scene to gather information and alert the world.

New-York tribune. (New York, N.Y.) April 18, 1912, Image 1.

Every generation has managed to find mystery and meaning in the gripping tale of the Titanic, and it continues to astonish people today. Stories surrounding the Titanic include survivors’ first-hand accounts of the disaster, detailing the anguish that they experienced as well as the bravery of those who lost their lives…

The Breckenridge news. (Cloverport, Ky.) April 24, 1912, Image 2.

…as well as speculation as to what happened and why, and how the huge loss could have been prevented…

The day book. (Chicago, Ill.) April 17, 1912, Image 6.

…and accounts of the ensuing investigation, including suspicion of male passengers who managed to survive, even though it was customary of the time to save “women and children first.”  It was widely believed to be preferable for a man to perish in a disaster rather than to survive and be considered a coward. For example, Captain Edward J. Smith was viewed as a hero for “going down” with his ship, whereas J. Bruce Ismay, chairman and managing director of the White Star Line, not only survived the wreck, but was held responsible for the disaster, and many American newspapers propagated this blame. Apparently it was Ismay who pressured Captain Smith to maintain full speed after the Titanic struck the infamous iceberg, causing the ship to sink so quickly that the majority of people on board could not be rescued.

New-York tribune. (New York, N.Y.) April 20, 1912, Image 1.

Several elements of the Titanic story have been consistently repeated over time and are well known by many people today, such as the lack of lifeboats and the many lifeboats that were only half full, the way in which the ship broke into two pieces as it sank, and how the band continued to play until the very last possible moment.

The times dispatch. (Richmond, Va.) April 28, 1912, Image 45.

As time has passed since the wreck, the story of the Titanic has been addressed in documentaries and Hollywood films, and after the discovery of the wreckage site in 1985, more recent narratives have focused on artifacts that have been identified or brought to the surface and examined, as well as exploration and scientific investigation of the wrecked ship itself.

New-York tribune. (New York, N.Y.) April 16, 1912, Image 1.

The story of the Titanic is tragic no doubt, but several positive consequences have stemmed from the event. For example, shortly after the Titanic sank, new laws were passed regulating the number of lifeboats required on big steamers, and people began to take safety measures more seriously.

Medford mail tribune. (Medford, Or.) April 16, 1912, FIRST EDITION, PAGE SIX, Image 6.

Scientists have also been able to study the effects of the deep ocean ecosystem on the ship and vice versa, which has helped us to learn more about the mysterious ocean. For example, the Titanic was brand new when it sank, and so its current condition is strictly an effect of the ocean environment. Scientists have learned that micro-organisms have been thriving on the shipwreck, basically eating the iron and metabolizing the wreckage. It is predicted that eventually the ship will disintegrate completely, leaving nothing but its legacy, and newspaper articles of course, for future generations.

The times dispatch. (Richmond, Va.) April 18, 1912, Page 7, Image 7.

Countless additional articles and images related to the sinking of the Titanic can be found by searching the keyword “Titanic” in the Chronicling America and Historic Oregon Newspapers websites. For more information on the Titanic centennial, visit the website of the Titanic Historical Society.

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Happy Leap Year!


The times dispatch. (Richmond, Va.) February 29, 1908, Page 2, Image 2,

To some, 2012 is just another year, and February 29th is just another day. But then there are those of us, writer included, who find rare excitement in the 366th day that exists only once every four years in the Gregorian calendar. Well, that is, once every four years unless the year is evenly divisible by 100 and also not evenly divisible by 400…Confusing? This clip from The Daily morning Astorian helps to explain:


The Daily morning Astorian. (Astoria, Or.) February 28, 1884, Image 2,

Leap Years spice up the monotony of the common 365 day calendar, providing reasons for celebration and defiance of social norms, at least during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, as covered by America’s historic newspapers. Dances and balls were often held in support of the tradition of Leap Year proposals, where women would propose marriage to the mate of their choice (discussed in one of our previous blogs: “Searching for Love in All the Right Pages”), and parties were thrown to celebrate the rare day. Leap Year proposals actually date back to the 17th century, and Leap Year newspaper feature writers still speculate about the tradition today.


The Madras pioneer. (Madras, Crook County, Or.) December 21, 1911, Image 1,


The Paducah evening sun. (Paducah, Ky.) February 29, 1908, Page 2, Image 2,

Apparently, if a man were to refuse a woman’s marriage proposal on Leap Year day, he would be obligated to give the woman a silk gown and a kiss…but only if she was wearing a red petticoat when she popped the question. Of course, red petticoats, silk gowns, and strict gender roles are now antiquated notions, generally speaking. In today’s society, women can propose marriage, if they wish, on any day of any year, and women around the world now exercise freedoms that were once reserved for men only. For example, starting on February 29thof this year, the 19th annual Algarve Cup international women’s football tournament will be held in southern Portugal. The United States women’s national soccer team will be in attendance, among teams from several other countries. Also, modern women across the United States are free to vote in all political elections, and in fact, Oregon women have been eligible to vote since 1912, making 2012 the Oregon women’s suffrage centennial.  The political cartoon below illustrates an interesting relationship between leap year, traditions, and votes for women as perceived in 1920:


The Evening herald. (Klamath Falls, Or.) January 13, 1920, Image 1,

Businesses have historically used Leap Year hype for advertising purposes, and consumers were free to celebrate the many sales that were held on Feb. 29thas well. While several businesses continue to offer deals on Leap Year day, it’s doubtful that we will ever see a 29 cent sale in the 21st century.

Los Angeles herald. (Los Angeles, Calif.) February 29, 1908, Page 12, Image 12,

While social traditions and market prices provide interesting food for thought this leap year, it is impossible to overlook the most curious implication of Leap Year day, which applies to all of the people born on Feb. 29th!  What is it like to technically only have a birthday every four years, if that?

Bandon recorder. (Bandon, Or.) March 07, 1901, Image 3,

Surely  you could celebrate on Feb. 28th or March 1st, but would it be the same? The limited occurrence of February 29th must make Leap Year birthdays all the more special…


St. Paul daily globe. (Saint Paul, Minn.) February 29, 1896, Image 1,

While “Leaplings” or “Leapers” – as people born on Feb. 29th are often called – do not have a precise birth date anniversary every year, they do have the privilege of being the only people who can join the Honor Society of Leap Year Day Babies.


The Guthrie daily leader. (Guthrie, Okla.) February 29, 1904, Image 1,

One thing is certain: babies born on February 29, 1916 in Lawrence county, Pennsylvania, gained an advantage over the rest of us thanks to their rare birth date:


The day book. (Chicago, Ill.) February 29, 1916, LAST EDITION, Image 25,

As the world continues to leap and bound into the future, remember that 100 years ago on Feb. 29th, people across the nation were celebrating the special day.

The times dispatch. (Richmond, Va.) February 29, 1912, Page 9, Image 9,

What will people be saying about Leap Year 100 years from now? Will they be looking back at our current newspapers to find interesting Leap Year clips? Perhaps we should start some new Leap Year traditions this year to give them something more to think about? Until then, happy birthday to all of the Leaplings out there, and have a happy and safe Leap Year!


Also, in the spirit and honor of Black History Month, don’t forget that content from the Portland New Age, Oregon’s first African American newspaper, from 1896-1907, is available for searching and browsing online through Historic Oregon Newspapers, and offers a unique perspective on the history of African American culture in Oregon. A brief essay on the history of the New Age can be found here: .

Search and browse through historic African American newspapers from all states here: .

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The case of the fallen mummy

Like the ghosts and jack-o-lanterns we see everywhere this time of year, mummies have become an icon of Halloween.  Although mummies make their appearance alongside the werewolves, vampires, zombies, and Frankensteins in all of the Scooby-doo cartoons, they are rarely the members of the monster community that captivate the imaginations of the modern viewer.  Mummies are typically depicted as being slow, clumsy, and less-exciting versions of zombies.

Mummies were not always the second-class monsters that we think of today.  During the late nineteenth and early twentieth century mummies were the monsters that captivated the minds of authors, artists, musicians, scholars, fashion designers, and homemakers. The interest in Egypt can be seen in every aspect of American culture: the Washington Monument in DC, Louisa May Alcott’s Lost in a Pyramid, or the Mummy’s Curse, or  in the daily news.  Hundreds of articles can be found in Chronicling America and Historic Oregon Newspapers that provides a little more insight into this misunderstood monster.  In the April 22, 1906 Sunday Oregonian, George Ade described his travels in Egypt, where he encountered a young American student of Egyptology who had some experience with mummy trafficking.

According to Ade’s acquaintance, mummy prices varied greatly depending on the state of preservation, the status of the individual who was mummified, and the quality of decoration on the casket.  A Ramesses or Ptolemy would be sold for upwards of $1,000, while the mummies of more modest grandeur would be sold for $60-$125.  Ade’s friend offered to sell him a mummy who was “probably a tourist,” for the bargain price of $7.50.

If you wanted to see a mummy, but lacked the  funds to travel all the way to Egypt, you could visit the Lewis and Clark 1905 Exposition in Portland, Oregon.  There were several mummies on display at the World’s Fair, but it was the “Rockafeller mummy” that seemed to attract the crowds for its uncanny resemblance to the famous oil magnate, John D. Rockafeller.

If the thought of having a real mummy in your living room was a bit too gruesome, there were other ways to bring the fashionable mummy craze into your home.  Several newspapers, including the Saint Paul Globe, ran articles on the scarcity of mummies and the effect on the art world.

Mummies were popping up everywhere and rather than making people jump and exclaim “Jinkies!” they were regarded as a sign of sophistication.  Literature and operas written in Europe and the United States increased the popularity and fascination of the mummy.  Richard Carle and Robert Hood Bower’s 1904 Broadway musical, The Maid and the Mummy, was equally as praised for the music and the acting as it was the costumes.  The mummy was so successful at capturing the imaginations of the general public that its influences could be found in popular fashion.  The November 22, 1908 Washington Times ran this full-page article, which advises ladies not to “tilt a disdainful nose and look offended” if she is referred to as a mummy, but rather “smile with a conscious superiority and accept it as a compliment.”

The demand for mummies was so high that it was difficult for suppliers to fill their orders with the genuine item.  Several articles, like this one from the September 30, 1906 Los Angeles Herald Sunday Supplement, warns of the fraudulent mummies being manufactured and sold to Americans seeking genuine Egyptian antiquities.

Like all celebrities, the mummy fell from stardom and has faded into the collection of monsters roaming the streets on Halloween night in search of treats.  Perhaps it is time for a revival of interest?  Find more exciting Halloween stories in the news at Chronicling America!

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The History of Peanut Butter in the U.S.

The Madison journal. (Tallulah, Madison Parish, La.) January 15, 1921

The origins of certain food items usually make for good conversation. Potato chips were invented in 1853 when a customer complained that his french fries were too thick.  Ketchup is a derivative of a Chinese fish sauce.  Sliced bread became commercially packaged around 1928.

Peanut butter is one of those foods that seems like it has always been around and well-loved by Americans.  Surprisingly enough, not only did peanut butter not become popular until the late 1800s, but even when it did make a widespread appearance, people didn’t necessarily go nutty over the condiment.  It was a tough market to crack and things didn’t always go smoothly for peanut butter marketers.  It took a few years for consumers to come out of their shells and incorporate peanut butter into their daily grind. … Okay, the puns will be finished… in a Jiffy.

Chronicling America affords us with incredible resources to investigate the first commercial appearances of peanut butter.  We can search freely through historic digitized newspapers from across the country to find the very first mentions of this new product.  Of course, advertisements for peanut butter are fascinating in their own respect.  They reflect the economics of the time, the relative value of peanuts and peanut butter depending on national demand and interest.

Corpus Christi caller and daily herald. (Corpus Christi, Tex.) May 15, 1915

Interestingly enough, early peanut butters were used as a protein supplement for vegetarians.  Take, for instance, this early mention from 1898, predicting the rise of peanut butter sales:

The Banner-Democrat. (Lake Providence, East Carroll Parish, La.) April 02, 1898

Or this blurb describing peanut butter as a “butter substitute”:

The evening bulletin. (Maysville, Ky.) December 15, 1897

"Peanut butter is a new article that is expected to crowd the genuine stable. Freedom from dangers which beset animal fat and its wholesomeness are the main points of its excellence." Tombstone epitaph. (Tombstone, Ariz.) October 24, 1897

The general public was skeptic of this new spread at times, as seen in this (somewhat unappetizing) description:

The Wichita daily eagle. (Wichita, Kan.) December 11, 1898

A bit of controversy was sparked when peanut butter hit the market.  This stemmed from the assumption that peanut butter was meant to replace regular dairy butter in all uses and applications. In theory, this could cripple the dairy market.

Lexington gazette. (Lexington, Va.) April 19, 1899

It could be that people were confused by the label “butter” and associated peanut butter with dairy.  For example,

Semi-weekly interior journal. (Stanford, Ky.) May 27, 1898

Eventually, peanut butter gained popularity and became a staple for nearly every kitchen.

The Saint Paul globe. (St. Paul, Minn.) August 19, 1899

And of course, mentions of this new food made their way to Oregon, with one of the first appearing in 1899:

The new age. (Portland, Or.) December 23, 1899


These are just a few examples of articles addressing the creation of peanut butter.  Hundreds of pages exist in Historic American Newspapers for you to search and browse, either on this topic or any other subject that interests you.  I suggest investigating the rise of the peanut and its multitude of new uses at the turn of the century.  You’ll be surprise at what you find. Peanut bread, anyone?  –Sarah E. North  (I’d also like to thank the UO Map/GIS Librarian, Kathy Stroud for the lunchtime conversation that inspired this post.)


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