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Today in History: Plus ça Change Edition

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I was thinking about doing something slightly different with today?s ?Today in History.? The results had me laughing so hard here at my desk that I was thinking about spinning it off into its own feature.

You see, a few weeks ago we launched a new subsite called ?Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers,? in conjunction with the National Endowment for the Humanities. The site links to a wealth of information about newspapers from 1690 through the present.

But ? and here?s the cool part ? the site contains more than 226,000 searchable and viewable pages from newspapers from the first decade of the 20th century from six states and DC. (See our March news release.) That is just the beginning of a database that will expand both before and after that time period.

William Howard Taft not so large as rumoredSo I decided to check out what was going on this date 100 years ago. I selected The Washington Times because it was a newspaper name I recognized, even though it is different from the current Washington Times, which was founded in 1982. I had been expecting some weighty discourse on, I don?t know, maybe industrialism or America?s nascent role as a world power.

Instead what I got was this: William Howard Taft, the secretary of war who would go on to win the presidency the following year, is ?not so large as rumored.? Ergo, me nearly falling out of my chair. It sounded like something straight out of, if it had existed in 1907.

Check it out for yourself: Chronicling America

As for the real ?Today in History,? it focuses on a battle on this day in 1846 that helped precipitate the Mexican-American War. While we don?t learn about Gen. Zachary Taylor?s ?girth,? we do find out a little about his taste in hats.

Comments (4)

  1. That made me laugh too. I wonder what William Howard Taft has to say about that. Who would have thought that the press actually cared about the girth of politicians enough to feature it? That picture is funny too.

    I was browsing through the “real” today in history, and found the article about Coca-Cola. I didn’t know that coca-cola actually contained cocaine. It just makes me wonder whether it still has cocaine today… I’m just thinking that that’s probably why some of my friends are sort of “addicted” to drinking the stuff.

  2. This is a good approach to what, for some, may be a controversial topic. Very well though out post. – Computers are like Old Testament gods; lots of rules and no mercy. Attributed to Joseph Campbell

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