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1912: Persian Cannibals, Old Vegans, Does a Girl Need a Bank Account?

The other day I became possessed while stumbling through an antique store. I found an old paper — two of them actually — sitting on a shelf tucked away among old bicycles, antique model tractors and dirty figurines.

The idea that I absolutely must read them suddenly washed over me. Old, rusty, used-up crap doesn’t normally excite me, but after spending a weekend immersed in The Great Gatsby and living it up vicariously through the rich, spoiled high society of the 1920s, I thought it’d be nice to get a little taste of old-school journalism and sense of what reality was a century ago.

So I dropped 15 bucks on a paper that once sold for a single penny. When I removed it from the plastic and carefully read it this morning, pieces crusted and crumbled with each turn of the page. By the time my cereal bowl was empty and I read the last article, bits of yellowed paper had covered the whole table.

I was absolutely fascinated. It was full of misogyny, racism, hilarity, and, of course, the same concerns found in today’s news.

1912 Newspaper front cover, the evening star, top half

The Evening Star, a Washington D.C. newspaper, from February 29, 1912

Headlines from 1912

Hunger-mad Persians eating their own children

Hunger-mad Persians eating own children (click to read)

Wife may take mans money, 1912 newspaper, the evening star

Wife may legally rifle hubby’s pocket and take every last cent (click to read)

Hair can't spontaneously change color, 1912 newpaper article, the evening star

Science proves hair can’t suddenly turn grey due to stress (click to read)

all of Denmark is poor, the evening star, 1912 newspaper

In Denmark everybody is poor, but happy (click to read)

Veganism was alive and well 100 years ago

The surprise was how much the news resonated today. I’m not sure if that’s comforting. Is it hey, we’re all the same throughout the ages, or is it just that nothing changes.

One chief chemist at the Department of Agriculture was being slandered by lobbyists for assisting with the Pure Food Law: “Several of them expressed amazement today when they learned from an authentic source of the activity of this lobby, of the ample funds at its disposal and of the determined efforts it had made to stir up trouble against the government chemist, to stir up some scandal with which he might possibly be connected, to attempt to show favoritism by him toward some particular interest appearing before the bureau of chemistry — in fact, to do anything the might possibly result in his removal from the government service and in a cessation of his watchfulness over the administration of the pure food law.”

Were lobbyist more bold then or was the reporting just more straight-forward? Also, Saccharin was banned 101 years ago! Now it’s everywhere.

On Food:

The Pure Food Law, Chemist Slandered, the evening star, 1912 newspaper

Enemies of Pure Food Law sowing discord (click to read)

Saccharin banned in food, 1912, the evening star, newspaper

Saccharin deemed “not a pure food,” bakers must use real sugar (click to read)

On Animals (both good and bad):

plea for dumb animals, the evening star, 1912 newspaper

A plea for dumb animals (click to read)

animal plea, 1912 newspaper, the evening star

Why it’s okay to care about animals when children are starving (click to read)

Misogyny and Racism on full display

women need bank accounts, 1912 newspaper, the evening star

Should a girl ever get a bank account? Even women may find it useful (click to read)

Whites only, 1912 newspaper, the evening star

White Tenants Only (click to read)

Healthy and skinny were all the rage then too

Fat women, 1912 newspaper, the evening star

Fat women hate society, but for just 75 cents all your troubles will be cured! (click to read)

health medicine, 1912 newspaper, the evening star

Are you weary and depressed? Take this food tonic! (click to read)

Fiction in a newspaper? Racist dialogue?

fiction, short story, 1912 newspaper, the evening star

Fiction in a newspaper! (click to read)

1912 dialogue, the evening star newspaper

Wonderful backwater, ignorant dialogue, so charming! (click to read)

Finally, I wonder if any of these people are still alive?

births 1912

Births from the past 24 hours (click to read)


  1. Oh, what a find! I’m not usually one for rifling through antique stores, but that’s a gem! I’m going to dig through my husband’s pockets for spare change to I can open a bank account!

  2. Thanks for sharing! My grandpa used to keep old stuff like this. I have a couple of his Life Magazines around here somewhere. I love to peak into the past. What I wouldn’t give to go back in time and snatch up a few apartment buildings at $3,100 each!

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