This week I learned a bit more about major stories that were not covered by news outlets, as well as events and people for whom fame was achieved through failure.
Lindbergh ’s flight and the details of his life were a big deal in the world of newspapers. Like Amelia Earhart, many chronicles exist of the events leading up to and including his famous flight path. And those are very popular issues with experienced and novice collectors alike. I enjoy the perspective through the eyes of the reporters of the time – and all of the details on which they chose to focus.
Interestingly, Lindbergh’s renowned success was rivaled by the widely reported failure of Douglas “Wrong Way” Corrigan , who flew to Ireland instead of the return trip to California he had logged in his flight plan. Further research suggests that Corrigan had been denied permission for that “accidental flight” multiple times. My personal opinion is heavily influenced by the photographs I could find which certainly seem to portray the grin of a fellow intent on breaking at least a few rules.
Papers that cover the Chicago Fire of 1871  describe the destruction, the casualties, and even the investigation into Mrs. O’Leary, whose cow is the stuff of campfire songs. The latter made me laugh, as I have always assumed it to be a fictitious rhyme. However, it becomes oddly real when a full column asserts Mr. O’Leary’s adamant claim that the cow was not his, but his wife’s, and he was sleeping at the time of the fire.
Strangely, there is little popular knowledge of fire that burned Peshtigo, Wisconsin, and much of the surrounding area on the same day. It far surpassed the damage to Chicago and is potentially the “deadliest fire in American history”. Two papers, “Peshtigo Times” and the “Green Bay Advocate” appear to have covered it, but the 1500-2500 deaths so far eclipse the three hundred or so that perished in Chicago I am perplexed by the scant notice.
What makes a story newsworthy? In this day of the “24-hour news cycle”, I relish this week’s pause to consider that “truth” has always been in the hands of the publishing houses. Since earliest printings, someone has decided what to tell the general public. The best thing about accessing old newspapers is that each reader can at least verify what was being reported, rather than relying on a current interpretation or paraphrase.
Aldous Huxley said, “Facts don’t cease to exist because they are ignored.” But what about the facts that no one knows?