Diary of a Not-Wimpy Ambassador

If you found a diary left open and unguarded, conveniently transcribed, digitized and text searchable, would you snoop? If you said “no,” you’re a better person than I am.   When it comes to gleaning insights about the days of yesteryear—to say nothing of tantalizing gossip—you can’t beat diaries and letters (along with certain newspapers). Read More

The Spy Who Came in from the Sea

“[In 1892,] a young girl singer of bewitching beauty, destined to worldwide fame thereafter, made her debut at the Costanzi Opera House in Rome in “The Huguenots.” She was “billed” alongside the celebrated tenor, Marconi. Her name was Elena Teodorini.” – The Daily News, August 17, 1918 Actually, it was Theodorini, but if that’s the Read More

A Sampler of Courage, Part 1

Courage, n. Mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty. – The Merriam-Webster Dictionary Courage—and the feats humanity achieves because of it—have been on my mind recently. In the face of fear and oftentimes, commonsense, we slay monsters, we venture into uncharted territory, and we rescue kittens from trees. Don’t Read More

Life Lessons from a Centenarian

As Abner and Mary Hammond taught us last year, the early 20th century press was obsessed with stories about the elderly doing anything besides sitting in rocking chairs. That press had a field day with Electa Kennedy. Starting in 1905 with an article anticipating her 100th birthday—in four years’ time—newspapers from California and Montana to Read More

A New Page

On January 12, 1912, Abner and Mary Hammond stepped off a ferry in San Francisco and did what courageous people have done since the dawn of time: They left their old lives behind in search of a fresh start. It wasn’t a unique story. What made them notable, according to the newspapers that covered their Read More