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Old America through the eyes of old newspapers

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lostnfound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 06:54 PM
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Old America through the eyes of old newspapers
One of my hobbies has me reading old newspapers these days, and it's been a fascinating look at America in the 1850s through early 1900s. The newspapers back then were full of vibrant political debate funded by little ads for local businesses or for paid announcements of various sorts. There were capitalists and socialists, and they called themselves such. These happen to be northern newspapers, so there were some anti-slavery editorials, and in later years, women's suffrage discussions.

I also ran across an advertisement for some children's medicine that bragged that it contained lead, which was apparently considered a desirable thing. Frightening, isn't it?

One has the sense from looking at the ads and reading the papers that the people were incredibly hardy and independent, but achieved a level of literacy that is rare today. The writing was littered with references to Shakespeare, there was a fair amount of international news included, and though full of moralizing and stereotypes which would be uncommon today, even some smaller town papers showed intense interest in matters that affected the nation at large.

It is great to get a fresher look at history, through this era which was just a few generations ago.

I hear some people discuss a political spectrum which is collectivist vs individualist, and in reading these old papers, I can see clearly the appeal of individualism. I still want to see national healthcare, environmental protection, etc., but I do admire the raw individual self-sufficiency that is evident in my great-grandfather's time.
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shraby Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 06:59 PM
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1. Another feature of the old newspapers,
they tended to tell an unvarnished story of an event, unlike today when they use "weasel words" do describe something in order to not offend anyone. It's really refreshing to read those old papers. Love em.
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lostnfound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-08-09 10:43 AM
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2. Yes, and far less of it sounded as if it came out of the same Washington think tanks.
The Chicago paper DID have cartoons and writing which was drumming up support for the wars of the time -- Cuba or the Phillipines -- which might as well have been think-tank-created. But there was an awful lot of unvarnished perspectives coming through, particularly in the smaller town papers.

If they want to teach history to kids, there would be worse ways to do it.
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Doremus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-08-09 12:15 PM
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3. They're fascinating reading.
I recently bought a stash of war-era newspapers and haven't had time to do a thorough reading but already I'm surprised how much information was 'out there' in the early '40s about the Nazi atrocities.

Reading old publications lets us cut through the revisionist rhetoric that often gets piled up like layers of sediment over time.

They're also interesting as heck. :)
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onethatcares Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-08-09 01:25 PM
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4. somehow/some way an entire box of Novemeber 9, 2000
St Petersburg Times ended up at the dumpster down the street. I have saved one complete copy after putting the rest in the dumpster(they were on the ground next to it). There was also a box of another date of the same paper that had the headline "* wins (sorry I can't type that name). I tossed all those.
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