“Upon the high and burnished heavens these words: The place to buy hardware stoves and tinsware is at Pierce’s.”

As part of my continuing series digging through the archives of the Internet, I came across the following in the January 30, 1897, edition of The Labor World, a weekly newspaper published in Duluth, MN. The Labor World (which is still around) sought not only to organize the working class within the "Twin Harbors" area of Duluth and Superior, WI, but also reported on local issues. Although I intend to write more about its coverage of Eugene V. Debs' frequent visits to the major port city, I found the following pretty funny. "Roasts the Editor" is an ad in the style of those one occasionally stumbles across that purports to be a Special Report by the magazine's Dentists Hate Him! expert. Maybe more hardware stone companies should follow Mr. "James Wouldbe Riley's" stead. ...

June 28, 1914: “Kills Heir to Throne of Austria”

Today, June 28, 2014, marks the 100th anniversary of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Murdered alongside his wife while traveling through the streets of Sarajevo, it was the catalyst for a series of unfolding events that, one month later, led to Austria-Hungary's declaration of war on Serbia. Within one week, by August 5, 1914, Russia was marching west and Germany was at war with five countries, including France and Britain. As the fabric of Europe frayed, the United States maintained its neutrality. Among historians there is consensus that the shots fired in Sarajevo were the first shots fired in every successive western conflict - the Armistice of the "Great War" set the stage for the spread of fascism, the Spanish Civil War, and World War II. That in turn led to the Cold War and its proxy conflicts within the Middle East and elsewhere. I say this only to highlight the fact that it was an event that set the twentieth century as we know it into motion. Well, this and imperialism.

Minnesota on the Death of Darwin: “If one such man arises in a century, that century is fortunate.”

There's a certain charm about small-town newspapers. In the case of those early publications - long before radio, television, the Internet - this was where a community got its news, entertainment, and gossip. This was Facebook. As an archival historian, let me tell you: there's always something waiting to be discovered. So, after realizing that April 18 marked the anniversary of Charles Darwin's death, I thought I'd do a quick search to see how Minnesotans responded. But, first, I'd like to share something published three months earlier, on January 18, 1882. Now, for those unfamiliar with the evolution-creationism debate, the Nye-Ham debacle was their first exposure to the creationist movement. Far from being a contemporary phenomenon, though, that kind of nonsense proliferated before the ink on The Origin of Species was dry. Fortunately, then as now, there was always someone available to mock the church - before there was PZ Myers there was the small-town editor doing newspaper-vaudeville. In the New Ulm Weekly Review, for example, was published the text of a "sermon" by the fictional Reverence Plato Johnson.