Michael Hill: Hero to the Historians

When Michael Hill opened his mailbox in 1982 and found a letter from renowned historian David McCullough he was astounded, and his life changed forever. Two months earlier he’d sent a letter to Mr. McCullough offering his research services, the envelope addressed only to David McCullough, Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts—no zip code, no street address.  Somehow […]

Champion Cyclist “Major” Taylor

Cyclist Marshall W. “Major” Taylor was the fastest man on earth.  He won thousands of dollars as a bicycle racer and became the most famous African-American in the United States. This was the golden age of cycling, and bicycle racing was a premier sporting event. Thousands of fans packed indoor velodromes to watch races and many […]

Gladys Pyle: American Trailblazer & “Ultra Modern” Woman

This is a guest post by Valerie Haeder, a reference librarian in the Serial and Government Publications Division. South Dakota’s Gladys Pyle was the first woman elected to the South Dakota House and South Dakota’s first female U.S. Senator.  But she wouldn’t have cared about such distinctions as much as she did about getting things […]

Happy International Women’s Day!

This Friday, March 8, 2019, is International Women’s Day and today we return to our historical newspaper archives for stories featuring change-making women in newspapers searchable in Chronicling America, the Library’s freely available database that provides access to historic United States newspapers published between 1789 and 1963. As the Library’s digital collection grows to 15 […]

Sissieretta Jones: World-Famous Black Soprano

Sissieretta Jones sang for kings, presidents, and to audiences around the world, becoming the highest paid African-American entertainer of the late 19th century. She headlined at Carnegie Hall and was hailed as one of the greatest sopranos of her time, yet she never performed on the operatic stage. She was born Matilda Sissieretta Joyner in […]

Mary Pickford in the Press

  Canadian-born Gladys Louise Smith was just 5 years old when her father died, plunging her family into poverty. Gladys’ mother, Charlotte, a classic stage mother of the day, pushed her young children– Lottie, Jack, and “Baby Gladys” — into the theatre in hopes of making money.  Gladys soon caught the eye of Broadway impresario, David […]