There’s something fascinating about reading old newspapers. The language of the times seemed so poetic compared to the dull, colorless, duty-bound words which fill modern papers. The tragedies seemed somehow more profound and the atrocities more shocking – as if such things weren’t supposed to happen in the alleged “good old days”. Perhaps we think of our ancestors as chaste and stoic – as stiff and unemotional as the photographs they left behind. But the newspapers of the time enlighten their times and point out the trivial and the profound, the eclectic and the mundane, the tragedy and the comedy of their hard lives. If you’ve never explored the world of 19th century newspapers, your modern eyes may be surprised by what you find on these pages: the racism is repellent; the advertisements laughable; and the tragedies horrific. However, I’m sure you’ll agree that there is something genuinely moving about the care taken in the choice of words, and the poetry of the imagery. And perhaps you’ll agree that you can never read a modern newspaper again without a tinge of sadness at the lack of artistry in comparison.
Most of the articles featured on Garretdom were taken from a collection of scrapbooks that were up for sale on Ebay years ago. They were actually old textbooks to which some morbid kindred soul of the 19th century had affixed articles. The scrapbooks, filled with story after story of death and tragedy, were purchased by an enterprising individual at an estate sale in the American northeast in the ’90s and put up on Ebay. I was outbid on all of them – although my friend Alf managed to land at least one of them – but I was able to convince the seller to make photocopies of the scrapbooks to sell me before sending them away to their buyers. He later turned that into a moneymaking idea by selling more copies on Ebay. And I bought a few more of them. They are very handy for putting together these entries – but they also explain why the original sources of the articles are not attributed in most cases. The clippings did not contain the source.
I often wonder who put together those scrapbooks, and why they did so? Morbid curiosity, like us? Or a more sinister motivation? I suppose we’ll never know…
About the Images
The images used for the articles are generally culled from copyright-free clip art books and are (with rare exception) not actually depictions of the events in the articles.