Bruce Coggeshall


About Author: 

Bruce has been at NewsBank since 1992. Today, he supervises a team researching topics in U.S. history to prepare entries for the Timeline Edition of America’s Historical Newspapers. His team also selects articles and writes lesson plans for NewsBank’s Special Reports and Hot Topics.

Posts by this Author

The Brief, Wondrous Life of Lafcadio Hearn: Tracking the Author, Journalist and 19th-Century World Traveler through Historical Newspapers

Lafcadio_hearn.jpgAn American author and literary figure in the last quarter of the 19th century, Lafcadio Hearn was known for his fiction and his reportage from the Caribbean and Japan. His own life, however, was as fascinating as fiction itself, and his biography reads like a Charles Dickens novel that morphs into a Hemingway memoir.

Born to a Greek mother and an Irish father, Hearn was brought up in Greece, Ireland, England and France. After moving to Dublin when he was five, his parents divorced. His mother remarried and returned to Greece, while his soldier father was sent to India with his new wife. Hearn was left in Ireland with his aunt, Sarah Brenane, who sent him to a Catholic school in France on the advice of her financial advisor, Henry Molyneux.

495px-Lafcadio_Hearn.jpgFrom there, Hearn went to yet another school in England, but was forced to leave when Molyneux suffers some financial setbacks. His aunt died and Molyneux became her heir. When Hearn turned nineteen, Molyneux gave him a ticket to New York City. From there, he went to Cincinnati, Ohio, where a relative of Molyneux’s was supposed to help him, but didn’t. Hearn lived in abject poverty. But thanks to his multinational upbringing, he was literate and knew several languages.

The Brief, Wondrous Life of Lafcadio Hearn: Tracking the Author, Journalist and 19th-Century World Traveler through Historical Newspapers

“Chiseling the monuments”: Lafcadio Hearn Observes the Statues of Henry Clay and Andrew Jackson in 19th-Century New Orleans

In light of the current spectacle of statues of Confederate leaders being removed from the streets of New Orleans in the dead of night by masked workers, here is journalist Lafcadio Hearn commenting upon two other statues in that city in his article “New Orleans in Wet Weather” published in the Cincinnati Commercial on December 22, 1877.

…shortly after my arrival in the city I paid a visit to the venerable statue of Henry Clay, on Canal street. It stands in the center of the grand thoroughfare, and is inclosed (sic) by a railing. On the eastern face of the quadrangular pedestal I observed following inscription, deeply cut into the stone and blacked. At least two-thirds of the inscription had been well nigh erased by the removal of the black pigment of the letters, but the phrase “deepest stain” was wonderfully distinct, and the word “SLAVERY” as black as the changeless skin of the Ethiopian:

“IF I COULD BE INSTRUMENTAL IN ERADICATING THIS DEEPEST STAIN, SLAVERY, FROM THE CHARACTER OF OUR COUNTRY, I WOULD NOT EXCHANGE THE PROUD SATISFACTION OF WHICH I SHOULD ENJOY FOR THE HONORS OF ALL THE TRIUMPHS EVER DECREED TO THE MOST SUCCESSFUL CONQUERORS.—HENRY CLAY.”

JewelsCanalStreet_View.jpg

 

“Chiseling the monuments”: Lafcadio Hearn Observes the Statues of Henry Clay and Andrew Jackson in 19th-Century New Orleans

‘Nobody had a doubt’: Fake News from the Past

The proliferation of fake news during and after the 2016 U.S. presidential election continues to make fresh headlines. Although today’s delivery system is different, the creation and sharing of fake news itself is not a new problem. Early American Newspapers, Series 1-13, contains dozens of mentions, as seen in these late 19th-century examples.

 

Fake News Cincinnati Commerical Tribune 12.04.1890.jpg

 

Fake News The New York Herald 07.15.1892.jpg

 

Fake News Jacksonian (Heber Springs, Arkansas 05.11.1893.jpg

 

Fake News Plain Dealer  04.10.1893.jpg

 

‘Nobody had a doubt’: Fake News from the Past

The Worst Day for Casualties in British Military History: A Look Back at the Battle of the Somme through Early American Newspapers

July 1, 2016, marks the 100th anniversary of the day the British army suffered the worst losses in its history, the first day of the Battle of the Somme. American newspapers and news services had correspondents in Britain, France and Germany, who were the main opponents on the Western Front, covering the events of the war. This was possible because the United States had not yet entered the war. Readex’s Early American Newspapers contains the accounts those correspondents filed about this battle as well as the rest of World War I.

July 1, 1916: After five days of an artillery barrage intended to destroy the barbed wire and thin out the German defenders, officers blew their whistles at 7:30 a.m. and the British troops went over the top. The plan by the commanding generals was that this attack would cut through the German lines and turn a static war back into a war of movement. Originally expected to be led by French forces, the lengthy battle of Verdun shifted the main attack to the British sector. Planned in late 1915, the attack was planned to coincide with the Brusilov Offensive on the Eastern Front in present-day western Ukraine. 

 

Bobmbardment before battle.jpg

 

The Worst Day for Casualties in British Military History: A Look Back at the Battle of the Somme through Early American Newspapers

The U.S. Presidential Election of 1980: International Perspectives from Open-Source Intelligence Reports

Ronald Reagan campaigning with Nancy Reagan in Columbia, South Carolina. 10/10/80.Every U.S. presidential election attracts worldwide interest, and Reports from the Foreign Broadcast Information Service—available from Readex in a unique digital edition—provide English-language analysis of them from all sides of the political and geographical world.

These open-source intelligence reports can be used to understand how different nations viewed the outcome of the 1980 contest between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. Some of their conclusions are somewhat surprising, especially in light of what actually happened during the eight years Reagan was president.  


The first excerpt below was broadcast in Persian from the Tehran Domestic Service on November 6, 1980. The transcript states at the beginning that this is “Unattributed political commentary.” Its headline is “Carter, Reagan Called Identical.” Some of the language in the opening paragraphs could have seemingly come from an Eastern European or Soviet source. 

The U.S. Presidential Election of 1980: International Perspectives from Open-Source Intelligence Reports

The Memphis Massacre of 1866: As Seen through Local News Coverage and a Government Report found in the Archive of Americana

In the century following the end of the Civil War, brutal assaults on black people and their neighborhoods by mobs of white people, often described as "race riots," were intended, in part, to blunt the demand for equal rights and to enforce white supremacy on former slaves. Another goal was to drive former slaves back to plantations and out of urban areas. The first of these large-scale attacks took place in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1866. 

The terrible state of affairs, between the white and black races, which the teachings of the Radical extremists to the negro have caused the fear of, almost since the cessations of hostilities, commenced in our city about 6 o’clock yesterday, in serious and fatal earnest. The war began on South street, in the extreme southern portion of the Corporation. It originated from a difficulty between a white and negro boy, near the bridge over the bayou, on the street already mentioned.

The Memphis Massacre of 1866: As Seen through Local News Coverage and a Government Report found in the Archive of Americana

Foreign Broadcast Information Service: A Brief Overview of Its Daily Reports and Their Value for International Studies

From 1941 to 1996 the U.S. government published the Daily Report of the Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS). FBIS was begun in 1941 as a means of letting the government know what propaganda was being broadcast into the U.S. by the shortwave radio services of the foreign governments involved in the European war.

Broadcasts deemed of potential interest to U.S. government officials were selected for translation into English. Political, economic and war news dominated the first years of FBIS. Broadcasts were either transcribed in their entirety, in part, or were briefly summarized. Every day a Daily Report was published and delivered. After World War II the number of FBIS sources grew, and the size of the Daily Report ballooned. In the early 1970s FBIS Daily Reports began to be delivered in Regional Reports whose names changed over time. Sources now included newspapers and television news shows as well as radio broadcasts.

Graham E. Fuller, a former C.I.A. official, wrote about FBIS Reports in a Consortium News piece entitled, “Value in Reading Others’ Propaganda,” which was published online on September 29, 2015. In this piece Fuller writes:

Indeed there was an entire branch of CIA which monitored and published on a daily basis a thick booklet of selected broadcast items from around the world—available by subscription. The Foreign Broadcast Information Service provided an invaluable service. It is now sadly defunct, the victim of short-sighted budget cutting—an operation which probably cost less annually than one fighter aircraft and offered much more.

Foreign Broadcast Information Service: A Brief Overview of Its Daily Reports and Their Value for International Studies

Toddies Innumerable and Punches Without Limit

19th-Century Cocktail from The Cocktail Explorer.comOne joy of 19th-century American newspapers is reading the columns devoted to non-news things. The example seen below—published on page three of the Indiana State Journal on August 11, 1897—is entitled “Drinks and Drinkers: What People of Various Lands Exhilarate Themselves With.”

After a quick whip-around describing the drinking styles in various parts of the United States—the Easterner is quick, the Southerner courtly and discursive in conversation, and military men say “How” and down it goes—the unnamed author declares:

It is a world of strange drinks. Americans are supposed to be past masters in the art of mixing singular decoctions. The very names of them give the untraveled Englishman a sense of wonder extreme. We have the cocktail of various kinds, the rickey, the ginsling, the julep, the stone fence, the eye opener, the brain duster, the silver fizz, the golden fizz, the smash, the pick-me-up, the Remsen cooler, toddies innumerable and punches without limit. One barkeeper of New York city, known to newspaper men affectionately as “the only William,” has published a book containing recipes for the making of more than five thousand drinks. Many of them are of his own invention, but they may be had as far west as the Pacific.

Further in, the author explores beyond the U.S.:

Toddies Innumerable and Punches Without Limit

San Francisco Conference Founds the United Nations: A Look Back through Three Readex Collections

From America's Historical Newspapers

Beginning on April 25, 1945, as World War II entered its final months, delegates from dozens of nations gathered at the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco. Their goal was the creation of an international organization that would lessen the chances of a third global conflict.  The meeting’s official name was the United Nations Conference on International Organization (UNCIO), but it was more typically called the San Francisco Conference.  

The participants debated the institutional framework that had been negotiated earlier in the year by the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and the United States at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, D.C.  Chaired by U.S. diplomat Alger Hiss, and addressed by President Harry Truman, the San Francisco Conference ultimately produced the United Nations Charter, which was signed on June 26, 1945.

Readex collections offer three different ways to see real-time accounts of this historic meeting. The first is through the daily press accounts in America’s Historical Newspapers.  The actions of the delegates in the build-up to the final charter can be traced through news stories, editorials, opinion columns, photographs and cartoons.

From America's Historical Newspapers

San Francisco Conference Founds the United Nations: A Look Back through Three Readex Collections

“A newspaper for sensible people or for fools?”: An 1894 Lecture on “The Making of a Newspaper Man”

Charles A. DanaJournalist Charles A. Dana (1819-1897), noted editor of the New York Sun, delivered a lecture on “The Making of a Newspaper Man” at Cornell University on January 11, 1894. This lecture and two related ones delivered in 1888 and 1893 were published the following year in a volume titled The Art of Newspaper Making. On January 19, 1895, the Kansas City Star published this article summarizing his Cornell address. Here’s the Star’s account of what Dana said:

Click to open in PDFThe newspaper profession is certainly a learned profession in one sense, but at the same time there are certainly many newspapers in which learning is very sparsely and very meanly applied. On the whole, the newspaper is very much like human nature—it is right sometimes and it is wrong very often. But the newspaper is not only a necessary institution, but it is a useful and beneficial institution. Just now the business of making newspapers is going through a revolution. It is passing through changes of a very radical and remarkable nature.

That revolution comes primarily from new high-speed printing presses, Dana says, and with that change…

“A newspaper for sensible people or for fools?”: An 1894 Lecture on “The Making of a Newspaper Man”

Pages

Twitter @Readex


Back to top