Saturday, February 14, 2009

ON RESEARCH: Old Newspapers

I love reading old newspapers. It still awes me that I can walk into a library in any town, gain access to microfilm machines, read back issues of the local paper, and take home a printout of whatever articles I need.

Yesterday however, at the John D. Rockefeller, Jr Library in Williamsburg, VA I got up-close-and-personal with actual yellowing (bound) copies of the Virginia Gazette from 1942 and 1943.
Be still, my heart!
Newspapers are the ultimate source for much incidental information. A few examples from the Virginia Gazette:

- With money being scarce during WWII, women began crocheting fashion accessories such as gloves and hats. Crocheted tables cloths and children's clothing were also "in".
- During war-time air raid drills, all traffic had to stop. During blackouts, vehicles were allowed to move if they used their parking lights. Blackouts lasted until morning.
- Over 200 Navy recruits per day were given tours of historic Williamsburg to help them gain an appreciation for their heritage and the cause they’d be fighting for.
- 96 cents out of every government dollar was spent on the war effort.
- Eastern State Hospital in Williamsburg got very little coverage in the local press. (at least not until conscientious objectors who worked there advocated for improvements in patient care)

I also learned what new furniture was selling for in 1943.

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