Sensationalism! Yellow Journalism! More, More, More!

It’s the day after Christmas, ho-ho-ho-hum. The presents are already open, your elbows are getting rubbed a little raw with all these relatives around, and you’re sick of holiday cookies and candy and fruitcake. It’s all too tempting to jump on the old cellphone and see what snarky things are being said on social media, or flip on the tube and see what they’re saying on TMZ.

WWI put the year 1914 six feet under

WWI put the year 1914 six feet under

Stop! You can do that anytime. Instead, go to the website “Chronicling America” and check out a newspaper that is 100 years old today – the Philadelphia Evening Ledger of Dec. 26, 1914. There was a lot going on, even though the day being reported on was Christmas:

Old newspapers are addictive. Predating TV, radio and (of course) the internet, they were the go-to public source for entertainment. They do, in fact, serve up “history as it is being written,” but they also show you what our society was like at a brief moment in time. The ads are fascinating (“Newton Coal Answers the Burning Question!” “First Canaries Since the War Arrive on Steamer Sloterdyk from Rotterdam!”). Just looking at the differences and the similarities in what was considered news is fascinating. You can get lost in these old papers. My grandpa Phil, on my mother’s side, served in the U.S. Army infantry in WWI; he probably was in some of the battles reported in this newspaper (after the U.S. got in, of course). These are the kinds of papers he, and my grandma, and their parents would have been getting all of their news out of.

Chronicling America, which offers digitized copies of thousands of newspapers of yore, is a site backed by the Library of Congress and the National Endowment for the Humanities. In addition to the huge trove of searchable papers it offers, the site also selects several papers 100 years old today for your perusal, daily.

Old news is good news. Check it out.

Highlighting the Holidays: Happy Hanukkah

In 2014, December 16 marked the first day of Hanukkah, the Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem after its desecration by the forces of Antiochus IV. Also referred to as the Festival of Lights, Hanukkah recalls the event. According to the Talmud, a central text of Rabbinic Judaism, at the re-dedication […]

LC in the News: October 2014 Edition

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Astrobiology Chair Steven Dick Discusses Research, Tenure at the Library

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A-B-C … Easy as One, Two, Three

On Oct. 16, 1758, Noah Webster, the “Father of American Scholarship and Education” was born. Lexicographers everywhere celebrate his contributions on his birthday, also known as “Dictionary Day.” As a young, rural Connecticut teacher, he used his own money to publish his first speller in 1783. Reissued throughout the 19th century, the 1829 “Blue Back […]

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage: Cultural Contributions

(The following is a guest post by Tracy North, reference specialist in the Library of Congress Hispanic Division.) As Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15 – Oct. 15) comes to a close, now is an excellent time to reflect on the many ways in which Hispanic Americans have contributed to our nation’s cultural and political landscape. […]