The Rare & Early Newspapers website’s “search” capabilities…

August 30, 2021 by · Leave a Comment 

I memorized the U.S. Presidents in chronological order, based on a theory that we learn new things by attaching them to things we already know.  For example, if Abraham Lincoln is the 16th, then hanging James Buchanan and Andrew Johnson on either side of him creates a bigger building block to which attach Franklin Pierce and Millard Fillmore at the earlier side, and Ulysses S. Grant and Rutherford B. Hayes on the later side. In this way, the framework of established knowledge allows further acquisition.

The Rare & Early Newspapers website encourages that way of learning.  When you search a topic, name, or general time period, all the results appear arranged by the date they were listed for sale, with the most recent listing at the top.  However, by changing “Sort:” from “Date of Addition” to “Issue Date,” a timeline appears that can be further modified by selecting “Newest First” or “Oldest First,” although it defaults to the most recent date at the top, which I find the most helpful order.

This tool is beneficial for a few consumer-based reasons, but my purpose is usually education.  Collectors know way more about their area of focus than I do, but I can learn quickly from the website listings.  For example, “Bonnie & Clyde” are familiar names, but a scroll down through the search reveals listings and images of headlines — the earliest dated May 20, 1933.

The listing reads as follows:  “‘Two Girls Help Men rob Minnesota Bank; Town Raked by Machine-Gun Shots in Escape:  Two young women and two men bearing sub-machine guns robbed a bank of $2,500 today…scattering shots down the main street as they fled… with much more detail. This robbery was reportedly committed by the infamous Bonnie & Clyde, (see Wikipedia) which if true would be the earliest report of their robberies we have found in a newspaper. But another source doubts it was committed by this infamous duo but by the Strain Gang instead, although even this site (see Wikipedia) raises the question: ‘…did the Strain gang take the fall for a Barrow gang job?’ Two sources with different opinions.”

And the newest listing, an August 22, 1938, issue of the Chicago Daily Tribune, says, “First report coverage on the capture of the last of the Bonnie & Clyde gang, Floyd Hamilton.”

That is one small aspect of this feature; I will be sure to fill you in with new ones as I find them. Oh, and I’ve already found the “Advanced Search” feature!

Daniel Webster – “Defender of the Constitution”…

August 27, 2021 by · Leave a Comment 

Daniel Webster, “Defender of the Constitution,” needs no introduction to the collectors of Rare & Early Newspapers.  A search of his name on the Rare & Early Newspapers website brings up over 25 active listings (select “view details” to see the Webster content), including an illustration of his residence, the text of his, Liberty and Union, now and for ever, one and inseparable! speech, and the black-bordered notice of his death.

Among these, however, there is no mention of the six page biography contained in the August 1867 Harper’s New Monthly Magazine.  Prompted by the publication of The Private Correspondence of Daniel Webster, this unsigned submission reflects on the character of the great man.  Of greatest impact to me is the refrain that Webster was the same refined, organized, gentleman in private as he was in public.  And, it seems it was his self-proclaimed standard.  “So rigidly had he adhered to the rule he frequently avowed in his lifetime–never to write anything which he would not be willing to see in print the next morning — that scarcely was there a letter which even delicacy could withhold from the public eye.”

I was fortunate to read this account firsthand, to fill in many details in this larger-than-life figure of American history.  His impact covered three presidencies, and his correspondence –saturated with wisdom and reason– was prolific.  That said, I feel compelled to share a larger than usual portion from the actual text.

No view of this man is at all complete unless regard be had to his love of the grand and beautiful in nature…It has been said: “his face warmed to a fine tree as to the face of a friend.”  The most noticeable feature, it may be, of the Correspondence is the general silence that pervades it concerning the author’s own efforts.  While all other tongues are sounding of his exploits, his is still. Or if he breaks the silence, he does so with such moderation and modesty that refinement even could not torture the allusion into a ray of vanity.

Note: Many of his speeches were printed within contemporary newspapers and are often available upon request.

A Federal Government by Careful Design…

August 23, 2021 by · 2 Comments 

Anyone who studies the founding of our country and has peeked beneath the surface of how our Founding Fathers structured the United States of America’s Federal Government, must stand in awe of the delicate intricacies and broad sweeping stabilities the Founders instituted to keep us balanced. As a lover of American History, I am delighted when I find individual examples of their well oiled machine at work… when I see branches of our government “gird their loins” and bravely step into the role they were given. Such an incident occurred on June 2, 1952 when the Supreme Court decided Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co vs. Sawyer, also commonly referred to as the Steel Seizure Case or the Youngstown Steel case.
“[This] was a landmark United States Supreme Court decision that limited the power of the President of the United States to seize private property. The case served as a check on the most far-reaching claims of executive power at the time and signaled the Court’s increased willingness to intervene in political questions.
In the midst of the Korean War, the United Steel Workers of America threatened a strike, for higher wages, against the major steel producers in the United States. As President Harry S. Truman believed that a strike of any length would cause severe dislocations for defense contractors, Truman seized control of steel production facilities, keeping the current operating management of the companies in place to run the plants under federal direction. Though the steelworkers supported the move, the steel companies launched a legal challenge to the seizure on the grounds that the president lacked the power to seize private property without express authorization from Congress. “ (Wikipedia)
I wonder if sometimes our Founders smile to each other and say, “I love it when a plan comes together”. Here at RareNewspapers,we have great issues covering Supreme Court decisions. I find they make for a fascinating read.  May there always be brave warriors to take up the mantles our Founders designed.

Giant leaps… Baby steps are nice, but every now and then…

August 16, 2021 by · Leave a Comment 

With a large family (husband, 6 kids and a dog), car rides were always interesting and given that you can only play the ABC sign game so often without going crazy, Guy and I would often look for conversation starters to keep the troops occupied. Many of these would begin with the words, “Everyone think of your top 5 favorite…”. As a parent, we would reuse these every so often as it gave us new insight into how each child was thinking. One of my favorites was always, “What do you think the top 5 world changing events in history are?”. Gutenberg’s printing press always made several of our lists. Even before we became involved in the universe of Rare & Early Newspapers, we understood the importance and impact the disseminating of information was on society, and appreciated the transformative milestones in communication. Now, as I work daily surrounded by the gems birthed from his invention, my attention is often grabbed by other such pivotal events. The following event could be seen as a grandchild of Gutenberg’s printing press and therefore, the carrying on of a legacy.
William Bradford was born in 1663 to an English village printer. After apprenticing, he mastered the trade and married his master’s daughter, Elizabeth. The two set off on an adventure to the “New World” and “in 1685, the Bradfords emigrated to Philadelphia. Elizabeth gave birth to their first child, Andrew just one year later. Bradford set up Pennsylvania’s first printing press and, in 1690, helped construct William Rittenhouse’s paper mill, the first in the English colonies.”(wiki) William Bradford had brought the ability to disseminate information and knowledge to the colonies – with one example of his work being the April 3, 1735 edition of THE AMERICAN WEEKLY MERCURY (Philadelphia). With his son’s continuation of his father’s vision, World history was soon to pivot in a new direction once again with the birth of a new nation spurred on by the Founder’s ability to get their their message out to “We the People”.

Baby Steps… A journey of a thousand miles…

August 13, 2021 by · Leave a Comment 

An old Chinese Proverb observes, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. My grandfather would have said, “You can eat an elephant: just one bite at a time”. Perhaps both are true when discussing America’s progression from slavery to the 1st black president. This journey has taken thousands of  steps – some quite noteworthy (ex., Brown v. the Board of Education), moved us forward by leaps and bounds – multiple steps at a time. Others, although relatively unknown (ex., The United States v. Cruikshank) set us back – steps in the wrong direction.  The latter was recently brought to my attention through a report in the March 28, 1876 issue of The New York Times which reported the Supreme Court’s decision in this case which is described by Wikipedia as: “a major blow to Federal efforts to protect the civil rights of African Americans”. Perhaps “2 steps forward, one step back” better describes this journey of a thousand steps – the first which began with the declaration: “We the People”. Thankfully, what started as a crawl, at some point, broke into a sprint. However, the trek continues.

The Women’s Tribune & Sojourner Truth… Still learning…

August 9, 2021 by · Leave a Comment 

In The Women’s Tribune I have seen many important names listed within news columns, announcements, tributes and quotes.  Susan B. Anthony, Louisa May Alcott, Harriet Beecher Stowe are mentioned as the companions they were to the community persisting in the struggle for equality.  This week I came across an announcement concerning Clara Barton and a memorial to Sojourner Truth.  And, as I have helped serve at a soup kitchen named in her honor, it was that latter name that held my attention.

The runaway slave that fought for freedom and credited her new name to “God speakin'” to her, passionately preached on behalf of equality for all.  Unlike Frederick Douglass, she did not think that suffrage for women should be a separate issue from suffrage for black men, that distinctions were not legitimate, but contrived from societal norms.  Her most famous words challenged those mannerly excuses.

“That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages and lifted over ditches and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody helps me any best place. And ain’t I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm. I have plowed, I have planted, and I have gathered into barns. And no man could head me. And ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as man—when I could get it—and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman? I have borne children and seen most of them sold into slavery, and when I cried out with a mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me. And ain’t I a woman?”

In her 110 years of life, she challenged inequality, clothed refugees, addressed conventions of ministers, spoke with a president, and always urged others to examine their lives, to see the magnitude of opportunity contained in the privilege of life.  Sojourner Truth attended many rallies and conventions, and her wise words were marveled at, noted and recorded.  To the women’s movement she was an encouragement and inspiration.

Now here, now there, this wonderful woman was to be found doing good, giving her unfortunate people help.  Strengthening the courage of her white sisters, aiding them in so many ways that it brings back to us her words, “I’m a watchin’, I’m sittin’ among you to watch; and every once and awhile I will come out and tell you what time of the night it is.”

Am I Dating Myself? The B&O Railroad…

August 6, 2021 by · Leave a Comment 

Raise your hand if you spent hours as a kid playing Monopoly. Raise your hand if you can’t imagine why you spent hours as a kid playing Monopoly. Somehow, back in the day before handheld electronics did more than play music, I loved that game. Nowadays it would seem agonizing to play; however, my interest was peeked by a March 5, 1827 issue of The National Gazette and Literary Register which had: “the founding of the historic B & O Railroad, the first common carrier railroad and the oldest railroad in the United States.” Amazingly, this property is able to be purchased for a mere $200 in a Monopoly game – and just think, B&O was not the only railroad made famous by the world’s longest lasting board game.

Big things (sometimes) come in small packages…

August 2, 2021 by · Leave a Comment 

A few weeks ago I was searching for a newspaper covering the Brown vs. the Board of Education case. Such searches can take anywhere from 15-20 minutes to hours, and not all are successful, so jumping in to such an effort is almost always accompanied by an interesting blend of enthusiasm and anxiety. I began my hunt by printing a list of the monthly volumes of the various titles within our archives which spanned May 18, 1954 – the day after the Supreme Court’s landmark decision, and then headed off to our archives to search them one-by-one, starting at the top of the list. The New York Times? Sold. The Detroit Free Press and Detroit News? Both sold. After working through the volumes from the largest cities of the era I moved on to those from smaller locations: The Times-Picayune? Sold as well. The Springfield Union from Massachusetts? Again… sold. I was about to give up when I thought, “I might as well check The Fitchburg Sentinel (from where?)”. Without much hope, I pulled the volume and turned to the date. And in that moment my lesson was learned – sometimes even small city papers have GREAT content! The Fitchburg Sentinel from May 18, 1954  actually contained 2 articles covering the Brown vs. the Board of Education ruling. Fantastic!  If you have interest in this topic or other Supreme Court rulings, historic newspapers may be for you.