Never before had a congressional hearing been described as “UPROARIOUS,” until master magician and escape artist Harry Houdini provided expert testimony in which he delivered a lively and compelling case against the supernatural. For years, Houdini had worked tirelessly to debunk spirit mediums who claimed to communicate with the dead. He viewed them as “ghost […]
Could a picture be worth more than a thousand words? For anyone trying to find an elusive photograph, illustration, or comic in a historic newspaper – the answer might be yes! Searching for these types of images is dramatically easier thanks to digitization efforts, such as the National Digital Newspaper Program, which makes millions of […]
If hippopotamus was on the menu, would you try it? That’s what America almost did in 1910! Corporate beef monopolies, stricter regulations, and meat shortages all combined to create soaring meat prices nationwide. Senator Robert Broussard proposed a solution: import African animals to the U.S. for meat (61st Cong. 2nd sess. H.R. 23261). Broussard brought […]
While most children read about Helen Keller’s childhood triumph over the difficulties of her deaf-blindness, many are unaware of her life as an activist and orator.
Dead outlaw, will travel. In life, Elmer McCurdy was a hard-drinking drifter. In death, he crisscrossed the country touring the carnival circuit, hit the Hollywood scene, and even made it to TV! The bizarre tale of Elmer’s journey from varmint to traveling corpse started in Oklahoma when he and his gang of bandits robbed the […]
How could my thoughts not turn to baseball on the day of the Major League Baseball All-Star Game? Plus it’s being played right here in Washington, DC. Plus it’s only a couple weeks after the opening of Baseball Americana, the major exhibit at the Library of Congress. My thoughts often turn to comics and newspapers […]
Elsie de Wolfe was an interior decorator before there was such a thing. And if she wasn’t making headlines for covering 18th century footstools in leopard print, she was in the newspapers for her eccentric blue hair, her affinity for small dogs (see here, here, and here), and unique preferences for physical fitness. Born in New […]
Lost limbs and fingers, burns, blinding explosions, lockjaw and death. In the early 1900s, fireworks had not yet been perfected. Dangerous concoctions of explosives were used as an exciting way to celebrate our country’s independence, but the price was steep. Giant firecrackers, cannon fire, firearms, and rockets were just some of the loud and bright, […]
It takes a thief to catch a thief. That was how imprisoned mob boss Al Capone proposed to bring the kidnapped Lindbergh baby home safely. On March 2, 1932, from his cell in Cook County Jail in Chicago, one day after the son of famous aviator Charles Lindbergh had been kidnapped, “Scarface” Al Capone offered […]
“The significance of this cannot be overstated. It is a new thing in our history” proclaimed President Wilson about the Selective Service Act passed May 18, 1917.