You may have noticed a number of posts in the past month discussing content that’s been recently uploaded to Chronicling America. This is because we’re at the point in our digitization cycle where all the pages we’ve so diligently duplicated and coded become usable to the public. We hope you’re as excited as we are about all the great new content available.
Today we want to call attention to the most recent batch to be uploaded, The Daytona daily news. Parts of the run of this particular paper were in our collection previously, but this newest batch contains about 8,000 pages of content. Primarily from January 1911 to February 1922, the pages of this paper cover “the Daytona Speedway attracting fans, rousing stories of moon shining, and coverage of seaside activities in the Sunshine State” (Chronicling America). Below, we highlight some of the headlines and quirky features of The Daytona daily news.
One of the more unique features of The Daytona daily news is that it was a seasonal newspaper. The paper ran only from the first of December or January thru the end of March during its run. The March 21, 1910 edition of the paper referred to it as “its summer hibernation.” For the interested reader, this means that the paper doesn’t ever cover the months June through September, and coverage for April and May as well as October through December is on a year-by-year basis. The reason for this seems largely associated with the winter car-racing season in Daytona, a topic we’ll cover more extensively in a later blog.
Like many papers of the time, The Daytona daily news featured a women’s page with fashion advice, beauty tips, advertisements, and stories for women.
The winter racing season brought in a large number of tourists, many who stayed in Daytona hotels and patronized the restaurants, stores, and theaters in the area. Because of this, the paper contains a considerable amount of advertising with that audience in mind. One local church even dubbed itself “the tourist church” on the reoccurring religious services page of the paper in 1921.
We hope you enjoy exploring The Daytona daily news!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Pensacola Journal April 30, 1912
Pensacola Journal April 24, 1912
Pensacola Journal April 20, 1912
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)
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.
“In Women’s Realm,” “Society,” “People and Events,” “Over the Coffee Cups”- these are just a few of the names that denote women-centric columns in the English language newspapers within the FPRDNP. But to the contemporary user of historic newspaper archives, what does this mean and why should we care? The first of a two part series celebrating Women’s History Month, this blog post will explore the meaning and content of what historian Alice Fahs refers to as “The Woman’s Page.” To do so, I will use the Pensacola Journal exclusively due to the consistent presence of a woman edited society section in the title spanning from at least January 1905 to at the earliest December 1914, when our archives for this particular paper end.
What is a women’s column and what is its place in newspaper history? As journalism scholar Jan Whitt puts it, they “are a product of the late nineteenth century and were designed to draw a large audience for advertisers interested in marketing to women.” (38). There are multiple types of women’s pages, including separate papers for women known by the same name and single pages within broader-interest papers. While the editors of the Pensacola Journal offered both by 1909, we will concern ourselves with the columns contained within the general paper. Historian Alice Fahs claims in her book Out on Assignment: Newspaper Women and the Making of Modern Public Space that these pages have largely been overlooked by newspaper historians. This is a mistake because these “stories offer compelling insight into a lost world of women’s writings that placed women at the heart of a new public life.” (13)
Looking at the women’s section in the Pensacola Journal broadly, the reader can find a vivid portrait of the social calendar in the city. Beyond simply reporting important life events such as births, deaths, and funerals, the column also includes reports of illness, birthday parties, out of town visitors, and club meetings. Unlike the quick local news sections of the paper, the social events found on the “People and Events” page typically contain a paragraph or more description of the headline. For example, the April 3rd 1909 “Society” column devotes four paragraphs to Miss Victorine Kroenberger “a beautiful young Pensacola girl” who left home to “enter the Convent of the Holy Cross at Notre Dame” in order to become a nun. In this respect, the column provides more context for local events than the rest of the paper.
Not just a source for local news, the “Society” page in the Pensacola Journal also offers insight into national cultural concerns for women. This section of the paper houses the syndicated column “Heart and Home Problems,” written by Mrs. Elizabeth Thompson, that also can be found in the Topeka State Journal (KS), Rock Island Argus (Ill.), and the Oklahoma City Times (OK) just to name a few. Beginning in 1912 and continuing through at least December 1914, these columns by Mrs. Elizabeth Thompson provide practical advice to letter writers regarding a wide variety of issues like courtship, hygiene, and their education. In many ways, her column is a precursor to those like “Dear Abby” or “Miss Manners” found in contemporary newspapers and their online counterparts.While the modern reader may expect a column like this to contain fairly traditional advice regarding gender roles, they sometimes deviated from the norm. For example, in the column below from August 1912, Mrs. Thompson says that “many splendid men have helped their wives with the housework, thinking it more dignified for a man to help his wife than it would be for him to let her become a worn-out drudge” in response to a fourteen year old’s query about being responsible for all house work because her mother is deceased.
Women’s pages also address topics related to the body both inside and out. Fashion and beauty are addressed in these columns in the form of editorials, news reports, and advertisements. For example, the Pensacola Journal contains a sub-column known as “The Journal’s Daily Fashion Feature” in many issues. This feature includes drawings and descriptions of cutting edge women’s clothing styles from around the United States and Europe. From this feature, it becomes obvious that Pensacola women in the early 20th century wanted to stay abreast of fashion trends. Beyond wanting to simply know about fashion, they valued the skills of individuals who were able to reproduce the current styles locally. For example, an article from October 7, 1906 highlights Mrs. Nordstrom’s millinery due to the fact that the store has “one of the best St. Louis milliners.” Why was it so important to report on the talent of employee Miss Nobles? Because “St. Louis is where millinery styles are made.” These women’s sections inform readers of trends and also let them know where they can procure the goods discussed.
When it comes to internal issues, women’s papers feature advertisements for products related to problems typically relegated to women such as the care of the sick and cooking. All manner of new and cutting edge products are promoted that promise improvements in health and digestion. For example, an ad by Cotolene claims women should use it to replace lard because it “makes food that any stomach can digest…and is the most healthful and economical cooking fat on the market.” With the tagline “sunshine in the kitchen,” ads for this particular cotton seed oil are a frequent sight on the “Society” page. While women are targets for ads related to feeding their families in these columns, it is clear they are also responsible for their overall health as well. An ad for “California Syrup of Figs” from October 22, 1913 begins with the phrase “Look at the tongue, mother!” before claiming that the mother would soon have “a well, playful child again” after using the product to eliminate constipation and yellow bile. Beyond the health of their families, advertisements also promise cures to obviously misunderstood maladies grouped together as “womanly troubles.” The tonic known as Carudi, for example, promises to “relieve or prevent headache, backache, side ache, dragging sensations, nervousness, irritability, irregularity, and general female weakness and misery.” Like the Cotolene ad, Carudi advertisements span the run of the section. Regardless of if they bought these products or not, women who read “Over the Coffee Cups” and its other iterations were exposed to advertising with considerable cultural subtext.
Pensacola Journal- March 22, 1912
Pensacola Journal-October 22, 1913
Pensacola Journal February 20, 1909
While much more can and should be said about historic women’s newspaper columns, the fact of the matter is there are easily upwards of 500 pages within just this digitized portion of the Pensacola Journal that are edited by women and deal with people and societal events. This overview barely scratches the surface of the available information in just this one title. However, I hope that after reading this blog post it is abundantly clear that even in the early 20th century, women weren’t simply passive consumers of the news. They were a demographic that is explicitly courted by the inclusion of sections like “People and Events,” “Society,” and “Over the Coffee Cups.”
Works Cited and Additional Information
Fahs, Allice. Out on Assignment: Newspaper Women and the Making of Modern Public Space. Chapel Hill, North Carolina: The University of North Carolina Press, 2011.