The Joys of Reading Yesterday's News
Karen M. Vincent
Minnetrista Director of Collections
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Several days ago I needed to find a Ball Stores advertisement celebrating Japan’s surrender, in the Muncie Evening Press on August 14, 1945. I knew that the advertisement was in that particular paper, and I knew exactly where the newspaper was located. Doesn’t seem like a problem, does it? Unfortunately, it was. There were about thirty newspapers in the box dating from the 1920s to the 1990s. The rest of the afternoon was shot. I can’t pass up old newspapers.
Ball Stores advertisement, August 14, 1945
The headlines, the local news, the advertisements, the society news, the gossip—I get caught up in all of it. It’s easy to think that today’s problems and issues belong just to today. They don’t. For example, according to Dr. Oscar Dowling, “Narcotic drugs are the curse of the American nation today. ‘Dope’—cocaine, morphine, heroin, opium to a lesser degree—is undermining the social and physical of America to the point where the menace has become a horror to those who know conditions.” That quote could have been in today’s paper, but it wasn’t. It appeared in the Muncie Evening Press of March 9, 1925. In that same newspaper, there was an article about a clash between members of the Ku Klux Klan and anti-Klan factions in Ohio and another about Democratic Indiana state senators who had fled into Ohio when a bill they opposed came up for vote.
And then there are the burglaries and break-ins. In any edition of The Star Press, you’ll see several stories about burglaries. Nothing new. Ten burglaries took place on October 28 and 29, 1949, including a break-in at the G and M Feed store on South Walnut Street. One thing, though, that you don’t usually see in current articles is the thieves described as “yeggs,” but we might want to bring that term back. It means itinerant burglar, safecracker or thug.
Nowadays, of course, we get much of our news immediately through social media and the internet. But before computers there were extra editions. On D-Day, June 6, 1944, the first edition of the Evening Press noted that “The Allies today sent their invading forces against Adolf Hitler’s occupied Europe.” By the end of the day, at least four editions reporting on the progress of the invasion had been printed. The headline of the last edition of the day was “Beachheads Established and Allied Troops Advance Inland.”
One more entry in the how things stay the same column—in 1936, President Franklin Roosevelt predicted a $1,000,000,000 rise in the federal deficit in 1937. According to dollartimes.com that is about $16,894,642,857 in today’s dollars.