December 30, 2009

New Year's Art

In preparation for the new year, I looked at some old newspapers to see what the front page held on January firsts past. In my brief survey, I found several treatments of the Old Father Time and the baby New Year theme:

Ringing in the New Decade - January 1, 1900
The Chicago Tribune 1 January 1900

The Chicago Tribune Rings in the New Year - 1911
The Chicago Tribune 1 January 1911

A Happy New Year 1922 - The Atlanta Constitution
The Atlanta Constitution 1 January 1922

Poughkeepsie Journal - New Years 1924 Edition
The Poughkeepsie Journal 1 January 1924

And then I came across this very odd image from the San Francisco Chronicle of 1 January 1920
Happy New Year 1920 from the San Francisco Chronicle
I'm not sure who these people are, but they seem happy about starting the 20s.

It was interesting to see the juxtaposition of the Happy New Year messages with the sensational and generally negative headlines on the front pages.

Most of the papers gathered stories of tragedy, murder and death from around the country to spice up the front page, which probably worked on most days, but seem a little out of place on a page with Happy New Year emblazoned across the top of it.

That 1920 San Francisco Chronicle is a good example. Headlines sharing the front page with the strange New Year's revelers include:
  • "35 Poison 'Rum' Cases Bared by S.F. Officials"
  • "Hunter Drowned, Companion Near Death as Result of Boat Mishap"
  • "Poison Whisky Factory Found, Officers Say"
  • "Woman Plunges Knife to Hilt in Man Refusing to Clear Her Name"
  • "Shots Fired at Police Captain"
  • "U.S. Building is Set on Fire"
  • "Four Scalded to Death in Steamer Explosion"
  • "3 Motorists Hurt in Jitney Collision"
  • "Four Women Shot by Baltimore Celebrants"
Happy New Year in deed. Here's hoping 2010 rings in on a better note.

December 7, 2009

Remembering Pearl Harbor

This urgent radiogram to "All ships present at Hawaiin Area" announced the December 7, 1941 attack on the US Pacific Fleet based in Pearl Harbor:
WWII Pearl Harbor attack radiogram

The surprise attack damaged all eight battleships anchored in the harbor and caused over 3,000 American casualties.
Pearl Harbor 13.JPG

1,177 died on the USS Arizona and are remembered with a memorial that was built over the top of the still visible remains of the battleship which lies at the bottom of the harbor.

The memorial includes a wall with the names of those killed on the Arizona in 1941 and a place for those who have died since and had their remains "interred with their shipmates."
page; Pearl Harbor, USS Arizona Memorial

On Footnote, you'll find an interactive image of the memorial wall where you can learn more about those who died or if you have images or stories about someone whose name appears, you can add them.

The day after the attack, President Franklin D Roosevelt delivered his famous "Day of Infamy" speech to Congress. In his speech, Roosevelt asked Congress to declare that, since the attack on Pearl Harbor, a state of war had existed between the United States and the Empire of Japan. You can hear the full six and a half minute speech on this Wikipedia page.

Within an hour of the speech, Congress passed a formal declaration of war which Roosevelt signed, bringing the United States into World War II.
Page 1; Selected Photographs of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1913-1945

In honor of Pearl Harbor Day, Footnote is making their WWII collection free during December. You can read more on the Footnote Blog or see the World War II collection here.

December 4, 2009

The Gunboat Philadelphia

The National Museum of American History's website has this nice page about the Continental Gunboat Philadelphia.

The Gunboat Philadelphia is the oldest surviving American fighting vessel. Built in 1776, it was sunk in Lake Champlain during a naval battle with the British in the same year. The Continental Congress authorized the building of this 54 foot, 29-ton gunboat and eight other similar vessels for the defense of the Champlain Valley - the northern frontier of the colonies considered the key to the success or failure of the American Revolution. In the summer of 1776, under the leadership of the charismatic and controversial Brigadier General Benedict Arnold, Philadelphia and her sister-ships were hurriedly organized into what historians consider “the first American Navy.”
Here's the page from Transcript Journals of the Continental Congress (part of the Papers of the Continental Congress) where congress resolves, "that the president write to governor Cooke requesting him to order fifty ship carpenters to be engaged on the best terms at the expense of the continent and sent to general Schuyler at Albany as soon as possible, in order to build vessels for the defense of the lakes."
Continental Congress hires carpenters "to build vessels for the defense of

You can find some nice pictures of the Philadelphia here and more information about the history of the ship here.

December 3, 2009

UFO Sightings

Today's Document of the Day from NARA is UFO report from the Project Blue Book files.

Here's the image on Footnote where you'll find the other 31 pages of the report:
Page 5; Project Blue Book, 1947-1969

Project Blue Book is full of interesting and mundane reports. Names of people reporting the sightings have been redacted, so you aren't likely to find out if your mother reported a flying saucer, but it's interesting to see the kinds of things that were reported, the way the government collected the data and in many cases, the way they explained the various sightings.

Here are a few other interesting reports from Project Blue Book.

A first hand report of the Flat Woods Monster,
Page 17; Project Blue Book, 1947-1969

A "Special Report on Conferences with Astronomers on Unidentified Aerial Objects,"
Page 39; Project Blue Book, 1947-1969

And the occasional picture of an unidentified flying object:
new york agosto 67

UFO or Photographic anomaly?

I don't know that you'll find proof of alien life in Project Blue Book, but looking for it can be a lot of fun.

December 2, 2009


I meant to post a few tidbits from the history of Thanksgiving last week, but I just never had the time. Here you go, a little late and hoping you had a nice holiday...

The Poughkeepsie Journal publishes President George Washington's declaration of "a Day of Public Thanksgiving and Prayer"
George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation - 1789

The Chicago Tribune prints President Abraham Lincoln's declaration of the last Thursday in November 1863 "as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens."
Proclamation of the President - Thanksgiving 1863

The December 27, 1941 Poughkeepsie Journal reports on President Franklin D Roosevelt (who in the years previous had moved Thanksgiving earlier to extend the Christmas shopping season) signing a law designating the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving Officially Returned to the Fourth Thursday

And here are some folks from the National Turkey Growers Association presenting President Harry Truman with a Thanksgiving turkey, November 16, 1949.
Page 52; Select List of Photographs of Harry S. Truman, 1885-1953