New Puerto Rico Content Available!

We’re excited to announce that our first batch of Puerto Rican newspapers for this cycle is now up in Chronicling America! This batch contains content for one of our new titles, La democracia from July 1891-Nov 1897.

La democracia was founded and published by the Puerto Rican poet, journalist and politician Luis Muñoz Rivera. It was first published in Ponce, Puerto Rico in 1890.

The paper supported the Autonomist Party of Puerto Rico, was against the imposition of taxes on products (especially sugar), and was in favor of the Farmers Association and Agriculture Bank. The paper published news related to land repossessions, the Foraker Act (1900), Cuban relations (life in, emigration, revolution, and tobacco), the Dingley Tariff Act (increase on import tax for sugar, tobacco, other goods), and the Russo-Japanese war. La democracia also provided a glimpse into life on the island and included notes on celebrations of US Holidays, advertisements for local brands, reported on the new coat of arms, and made frequent reports about feminism and changes to the civil code.

We’ve included a few examples below of the content that is now available online.


 

Estamos emocionados de anunciar que nuestro primer lote de periódicos puertorriqueños para este ciclo ya está en Chronicling America! Este lote contiene contenido para uno de nuestros nuevos títulos, La democracia de julio de 1891 a noviembre de 1897.

La democracia fue fundada y publicada por el poeta puertorriqueño, periodista y político Luis Muñoz Rivera. Fue publicado por primera vez en Ponce, Puerto Rico en 1890.

El documento apoyaba al Partido Autonomista de Puerto Rico, estaba en contra de la imposición de impuestos a los productos (especialmente el azúcar), y estaba a favor de la Asociación de Agricultores y Banco Agrícola. El periódico publicó noticias relacionadas con las tomas de tierra, Foraker Act (1900), las relaciones cubanas (vida en, emigración, revolución y tabaco), Dingley Tariff Act (aumento del impuesto de importación de azúcar, tabaco y otros bienes) y la Guerra ruso-japonesa. La democracia también ofreció un vistazo a la vida en la isla e incluyó notas sobre las celebraciones de las vacaciones de Estados Unidos, anuncios de marcas locales, informó sobre el nuevo escudo de armas e hizo frecuentes informes sobre el feminismo y cambios en el código civil.

Hemos incluido algunos ejemplos a continuación del contenido que ahora está disponible en línea.

 

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La democracia, front page July 9, 1891

 

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Scott’s Emulsion Ad, September 18, 1894. Scott’s Emulsion is a U.S. brand (multivitamin) that is still around.

 

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Revolution attempts in Cuba, March 21, 1895

 

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On April 22, 1895La democracia changed its masthead from “Diario politico” to “Diario autonomista independiente”.

 

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In support of the Partido Autonomista, February 18, 1897

 

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Snippet of a story about Luis Munoz Rivera, November 4, 1897

The Juicy History of Florida Citrus in the News

Lightning Citrus
Image courtesy of the Jerry Chicone Jr. Florida Citrus Label Collection at the University of Florida

While Florida newspapers certainly cover history-making moments, they also serve as a chronicle of the economic and social issues facing readers at the time of publication. Within the pages of papers included in the FPRDNP, few topics are as pervasive as the state’s iconic citrus industry. It may be unsurprising that citrus news dominates a title like DeLand’s Florida Agriculturist, but the reality is news about the citrus industry frequently made headlines across the state.

Although citrus is frequently associated with Florida in terms of cultural memory, it is not native to the state. Prior to European involvement in the Americas, citrus was already a well-known and desired commodity in Europe and Asia. It is believed that “Ponce de Leon, planted the first orange trees around St. Augustine, Florida, sometime between 1513 and 1565” (Florida Citrus Mutual). Although non-native, citrus plants thrived in Florida. In fact, “by 1774, when the naturalist William Bartram traveled up the St. Johns River, he reported finding wild orange groves scattered across the higher regions of land where he camped at night” (Peggy Macdonald). As European Americans settled Florida, cultivation of citrus and transportation methods improved, and by 1893 the state was producing “more than five million boxes” of citrus fruit annually (Florida Citrus Mutual). Due to the important role citrus played in the state’s economy, our newspapers contain articles from a variety of perspectives.

Big Dipper Citrus
Image courtesy of The Jerry Chicone Jr. Florida Citrus Label Collection at the University of Florida

No single dimension of the citrus industry dominates coverage in these papers, and individuals with a variety of historical interests will enjoy searching through the collection. For example, those curious about the agricultural side of things will find stories detailing the agendas of the Florida State Horticultural Society, an organization that was actively involved in developing new and improved methods of fruit cultivation, particularly compelling.  Similarly, University of Florida aficionados may enjoy browsing issues of the Punta Gorda Herald containing the “Farm and Grove in Florida” column. Specifically reporting on research done at the UF College of Agriculture, the column includes stories demonstrating the issues facing UF scientists and Florida growers alike-especially the dreaded whitefly.

Farm and Grove title art
Farm and Grove from the Punta Gorda Herald

Individuals interested in the economic and business aspects of the citrus industry may enjoy reading the articles and advertisements by the Florida Citrus Exchange defending their distribution methods and imploring other growers to join the organization. Founded in 1909, the goal of the Exchange was to organize “Florida growers into one cooperative marketing agency.” The idea behind this was to help “improve production by sharing facilities, technology and manpower” and to “maximize returns on citrus growers’ investment, standardize operations and shipping, and increase collective volumes for nationwide marketing” according to Seald Sweet, the company that grew out of the Florida Citrus Exchange.

Fertilizer with Photo
Punta Gorda Herald May 15, 1913

Despite the technological advances related to citrus cultivation presented in these papers, it is apparent that humans were not the only actors in the citrus industry. One of the biggest adversaries to the citrus industry are the unpredictable natural disasters including hurricanes and freezes. Across all the papers in the FPRDNP, there are reports detailing the losses caused by such events. Notwithstanding the best efforts by growers to cultivate healthy crops, events like the Freezes of 1894-1895 and the 1921 Tampa hurricane were major financial and emotional setbacks. When discussing the hurricane, Ocala Evening Star estimates this particular storm did two million dollars’ worth of damage to the citrus crop in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Polk, Manatee, and Lee counties alone.

Moonbeam Citrus
Image courtesy of the Jerry Chicone Jr. Florida Citrus Label Collection at the University of Florida

Today, some farmers, researchers, and public policy makers are questioning the future of citrus in Florida due to citrus greening and other diseases (NPR). Although citrus trees have thrived overall since their introduction in Florida, our newspapers demonstrate that growers have long had to contend with what nature has thrown at them. Despite nature-based setbacks, our papers tell a story of human determination and perseverance among growers in the state that has helped solidify the association between the State of Florida and citrus production in the public mind.

Citations and Additional Sources

“Citrus Industry History,” Florida Citrus Mutual. accessed April 29, 2016, http://flcitrusmutual.com/citrus-101/citrushistory.aspx.

Macdonald, Peggy. “Liquid Gold: The Rise and Fall of Florida’s Family Citrus Farms.” Linkedin. Last modified August 27, 2014. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140827211124-49745237-liquid-gold-the-rise-and-fall-of-florida-s-family-citrus-farms?trk=mp-reader-card.

Allen, Greg. “How Long Can Florida’s Citrus Industry Survive?” NPR. Last modified November 27, 2015. http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/11/27/457424528/how-long-can-floridas-citrus-industry-survive.

The Jerry Chicone Jr. Florida Citrus Label Collection at the University of Florida http://ufdc.ufl.edu/citruslabel

 

The Unsinkable Legacy of the Titanic in Florida Newspapers

 

Titanic Photo Edited

Few events lead to sensational and speculative newspaper headlines quite like unexpected disasters. One such disaster covered by the papers in our collection is the sinking of the Titanic which occurred April 15th 1912, just hours after the ship struck an iceberg on its starboard side. There are many reasons why this particular disaster is so cemented in public memory, including the public perception that the ship was “unsinkable,” the death toll due to lack of space in escape boats, and even claims that the disaster had been eerily predicted in a work of fiction. In his book Titanic Legacy: Disaster as Media Event and Myth, Paul Heyer states that beginning with the San Francisco earthquake in 1908, sensational disaster reporting increased dramatically. This was due, in part, to rapidly advancing communication technologies including “transcontinental telephone linkups, which increased the information flow beyond what would have been possible using the telegraph alone” as well as the “new mass journalism pioneered by Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst in the last decades of the nineteenth century.”(5) Despite Florida’s physical distance from the sites directly affected by the disaster, news of the Titanic, the fate of her passengers, and the political inquiries that followed nonetheless were front page news in Florida papers in the days, weeks, and years following the disaster.

1910 Titanic being built edited
Daytona Daily News January 8, 1910

Prior to the disaster, news about the Titanic, an engineering marvel, appears sporadically in our papers. While a search for the word will yield many results, because the name of the ship is a common word, most instances of the word prior reports of its demise beginning April 15, 1912 are not related to the ship. However, when the ship is featured in our newspapers during its construction, the accompanying stories are primarily about its immense size. One such story can be found on the front page of the January 8, 1910 edition of The Daytona daily news. Covering the construction of “The World’s Largest Vessel,” the story features an “architectural picture” and demonstrates the immensity of the ship’s 860 feet reported length by juxtaposing its size to that of the Washington Monument (555 feet) and Christopher Columbus’ ship the Santa Maria (60 feet.) Other examples of similar stories can be found in the Pensacola journal and The Ocala evening star prior to its maiden voyage.

News about the disaster trickled in slowly and relied predominantly on wireless radio aficionados picking up signals from boats at sea, relaying them to newspapers, and those papers subsequently being published. Because of this delay, much of the initial news of the incident was speculative and optimistic. According to John P. Eaton and Charles A. Hass, authors of Titanic: Triumph and Tragedy, it wasn’t until “16 April’s evening edition” that papers begin to report that the ship had sunk around 2:20AM on the 15th (203).  In the same book, a caption of a newsboy selling papers reads “the city’s (New York) newspapers find it difficult to keep up with the rapidly changing developments in the North Atlantic.” (208). We can see an example of this confusion in the April 16th 1912 edition of The Ocala evening star. The front page story on the Titanic is titled simply “Titanic is in Trouble” and says that the “greatest steamship afloat” is likely “being towed presumably toward Halifax.” Meanwhile, on the second page of the paper is a story with the headline “All the World Stands Aghast” about the sinking of the great ship which speculates that “more than 1500 persons, it is feared, sank to death.” Likely, the front page had been proofed before the paper received definitive news of the ship’s sinking.

Paul Heyer states that “news about the plight of the Titanic circulated with a rapidity unmatched by any previous event” And that from “15-19 April, the primary goal of the newspapers covering the sinking of the Titanic was to gather and present all possible information pertaining to what had happened. After the Carpathia’s arrival and launch of the American Senate’s inquiry, the burning question became why” (91). That being said, newspapers approached reporting the facts of the Titanic disaster from a variety of different angles from the pragmatic to the social to the conspiratorial to the sensational. In our collection, there exists a smattering of each type of news.

Map and Thrililng Tales
Pensacola Journal April 20, 1912

On a practical level, papers reported the facts about the disaster, including the number of lives lost, photos of the ship, maps showing where the incident was thought to have happened, and the oft repeated story that women and children were taken off first. However, as with any media event of this scale, there were a fair number of more sensational stories about heroism, graphic descriptions of the panic that ensued during the rush to fill lifeboats, as well as reports of “embalmers work all night” on the unidentified bodies of Titanic dead in a morgue in Canada. In the midst of trying to cover the disaster, it seems like no tidbit of information related to the Titanic was unfit to print.

Embalmers
Pensacola Journal May 2, 1912

The predominant human angle that emerges in our papers following the sinking of the Titanic are not tales of the immigrant poor who disproportionately perished in the wreck, but rather stories of well-known members of American and European society. Steven Biel offers an explanation for this in his book Down with the Old Canoe: A Cultural History of the Titanic Disaster saying, “with its interest in celebrity, the commercial press tended to represent the disaster exclusively as the story of the first cabin.” The reason for this, of course, is that like today, tabloid stories of the wealthy and famous sell papers. Of the newspapers in our current collection, The Pensacola journal, whose society pages we’ve discussed in previous pieces, contains the most news on this topic in the days and weeks following the disaster. Before the start of May 1912, no less than three pieces, complete with pictures, had run about the “noted,” “well known,” and “prominent leaders” of society who had been traveling on the ship during its ill-fated maiden voyage.

One of the more conspiratorial headlines after the sinking of the Titanic pertained to the eerie similarities between the 1912 disaster and the fictional disaster that took place in Morgan Robertson’s 1898 short story Futility, or the Wreck of the Titan. In this story, the Titan, a ship of comparable size to the later Titanic, sinks after hitting an iceberg on its starboard side in the North Atlantic. In the story, the Titan, who had also been described as “practically unsinkable” also lacked an inadequate number of lifeboats which lead to the death of over half the passengers and crew. While people interested in the Titanic disaster attribute the short story to psychic phenomenon, Heyer explains that it was a speculative work by a “former seaman and student of maritime developments who, in becoming a pulp fiction writer, applied that expertise to sea adventure stories” which can account for “prediction of the design features that might characterize future ships.” (143)

Wreck of the Titan
Ocala Evening Star May 3, 1912

Sensation, speculation, and conspiracy however, sell newspapers. Because of this, between May 4th and 18th 1912 The Ocala evening star ran the entirety of the Wreck of the Titan as a serial manner. The day preceding the first installment, an advertisement for the story filled most of the front page of the paper. It is described as “a wonderfully prophetic story” and implores readers to “read how a famous author described, over a decade ago, how the S.S. Titanic would sink and drown hundreds of souls.” During this time period, serialized literature was a common feature in newspapers because a hit serial could help grow circulation. Given the immediate impact the Titanic disaster had on American society and culture, it is not surprising that The Ocala evening star would run this particular piece.

Over 100 years later, the Titanic disaster still holds a significant spot in our collective social memory. One reason for this may be because, as Heyer explains it, the disaster was “our century’s first collective nightmare” and, in many ways, it represents the tension between the progress of humanity and the unpredictability of the natural world (ix). Whether your interest is in the factual, sensational, social, or conspiratorial, many facets of the Titanic disaster can be found in our Chronicling America papers.

Citations and Additional Sources

Biel, Steven. Down with the Old Canoe: A Cultural History of the Titanic Disaster. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1996.

Eaton, John P. and Charles A. Haas. Titanic: Triumph and Tragedy Second Edition. New York: WW. Norton & Company, 1998.

Heyer, Paul. Titanic Legacy: Disaster as Media Event and Myth. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger Publishers, 1995.

Library of Virginia Online Newspaper Exhibit on the Titanic http://www.lva.virginia.gov/exhibits/titanic/titanic1.htm

Chronicling America Titanic Topic Page https://www.loc.gov/rr/news/topics/titanicsinking.html