His Superfluous Excellency: Tales of the Vice Presidency

This is a guest post by Valerie Haeder, a reference librarian in the Serial and Government Publications Division. A handful of presidents are remembered for their greatness, but most are relegated to the footnotes of history. Even fewer vice presidents have achieved fame and favor, with one—Vice President John Nance Garner who served under Franklin […]

Harlem Hell Fighters: African-American Troops in World War I

One hundred years ago, on February 17, 1919, the African-American 369th Infantry Regiment, popularly known as the Harlem Hell Fighters, marched up Fifth Avenue into Harlem in a massive victory parade in their honor. “Hell Fighters” was the nickname the German enemy gave the 369th and the name stuck for good reason. They were among the […]

Let’s Talk Comics: Romance

It’s February, Valentine’s Day is around the corner, and love is in the air! Typically you might not think of “romance” and “comics” together – but in the 1940s and 1950s as superhero popularity waned, romance reigned. And it was all started by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby in Young Romance no. 1 (Sept-Oct. 1947). […]

Hello Girls Answer Uncle Sam’s Call

Coined as the Hello Girls as early as the late 19th century, female telephone switchboard operators were widely known as having gentle and polite voices regardless of demanding and impatient callers. During World War I, French-speaking Hello Girls were enlisted to improve wartime communication, transmitting crucial information over a battlefield phone system to troops on […]

The Unsolved Mystery of Aaron Burr’s Daughter

Theodosia Burr Alston, the beloved daughter of disgraced vice president Aaron Burr, left the port of Georgetown, South Carolina on the schooner Patriot in 1812 and was never seen again. Throughout the 19th century, newspapers titillated readers with lurid stories of her alleged fate, including captivity, murder, and deathbed confessions of former pirates. Yet her […]

The League of Nations: Conflicting Opinions in Editorial Cartoons

One hundred years ago, on January 25, 1919, the delegates to the Paris Peace Conference approved a proposal to create the League of Nations. Nearly a year later, on January 16, 1920, the League held its first meeting with its stated principal mission of maintaining world peace. American newspapers presented conflicting views of the League […]

Need a last-minute gift?

Still searching for that last-minute present?  Use Chronicling America for tips/suggestions.  Dolls are so last season.  If you want to win points this year, give a teddy bear instead.   For those with discriminating taste…   Or, how about the gift that keeps on giving? (Be careful what you wish for…)   Treats like chocolates are easy […]

Anatomy of a “Dear Santa” Letter

By the late 19th century, children in the U.S. had begun mailing their Christmas lists in letters to Santa, but the Post Office regarded these letters as undeliverable. Around the same time, newspapers began encouraging children to send their ‘Dear Santa’ letters to them to be published, recognizing the emotional impact the letters would have on their readers.