I’m New Here…Week Eight

April 5, 2019 by  
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Perhaps the most significant thing I have learned in my weeks here is that I don’t know much.  And, as that sinks in I feel an urgency to get to work, because there is so much lost ground to cover!  Even if Time stopped right now, it’s too late to catch up on the designations within mechanics, medicine, entertainment, science, culture, and everything else.  Yet, I am optimistic of gaining a bit of yardage as I spend my days surrounded by thin slices of information, accumulated at such quantities that facts could be (by someone math-minded) measured in cubic feet.

“What kinds of things are collectors searching?”  That was my early question, and I see now how gracious everyone was with their oft-repeated, non-committal replies.

People are looking for issues concerning as varied a range of topics or content as there are human beings. Early motorcycle polo matches had me perched fifteen feet skyward, balancing five volumes — each of which is half my height and wider than I can put my arms around.  The issue I was seeking had some key content of wide appeal:  Capone and his gang.

Mobsters are popular.  So are serial killers and crime sprees.  I skipped right over the portions of The Devil in the White City that dealt with the monster Henry Howard Holmes, and was instead caught up in the achievements of the human mind as exhibited in the Chicago World Fair.  Here in our annals we have issues of Scientific American that feature Thomas Edison’s inventions, as well as multiple innovations of the 19th century — some of which were presented at that 1893 event!  My mental censorship was so complete that I forgot  the gruesome killings described in Erik Larson’s book altogether.  But many people, for a myriad of reasons, are fascinated by details of historical mayhem.  Bonnie and Clyde, John Dillinger and Jesse James‘ headlines still hold mass appeal.

But in this case, the Detroit Free Press of 1928 contained something more valuable to some than the headline “Capone Pal Slain”.  The back page photograph of a group from Yonkers was the treasure I unearthed for a research request.  Scheduled to ship today, that paper will replace a photocopy in a transportation museum — which seems a very appropriate destination for a Michigan publication.

Motorcycles, motion pictures, mobsters, and murder…those are a few things that interest collectors, and after this week things of which I now know a very little bit more.

Post Script:  And, as I was reminded by email, there is a world to observe beyond the “m” words — including last week’s glance at suffrage -SRW

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2 Responses to “I’m New Here…Week Eight”

  1. Mark Allan Seifert on May 4th, 2019 12:50 am

    A lot of my collection is story papers, and there I am interested in specific characters, writers, and titles (although I like… all of them), but when it comes to newspapers, “interestingness” is hard to define.

    I’m really a know-it-when-I-see-it collector of a lot of things. But beyond that, I’m looking for ‘lost information’, I think. An example: a group of California conspirators contrived to have a bit of fake news published in a NYC newspaper called “The Truth” in an attempt to throw the 1880. The newspaper is rare, short lived, and seems to have been started expressly for this purpose. Trials were held over this matter, but it’s been largely forgotten (google “Morey Letter”)

    I was surprised to see a CA version of Truth from the period for sale here just now, and grabbed it. I don’t yet know much about that one, but as it was run by a Marxist, fair bet it’s related.

    Another “lost information” example is the Yellowstone Journal which I THINK was actually printed on yellow paper for a time. Regardless, it’s the true origin of the term “Yellow Journalism” because of their advocacy of the gold standard over bimetallism, and you can track that over time and geo well before the Yellow Kid came on the scene.

  2. Stephanie Williams on May 8th, 2019 5:40 am

    That’s a great aspect of research: lost information. I’m just getting to these comments today, but last week I was mulling over a similar theme with the lack of coverage over major events. Please send along any other interesting bits you find, particular in “The Truth”. I’m glad that title struck a chord with you. Enjoy!

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