Newspaper History presents a poem each day that appeared in an American newspaper 108 years ago.
This website is an exploration of the question: What is worth reading? With a virtually unlimited supply of reading material, how should one focus one’s limited time and attention?
By sheer volume and experience, it is inevitable that great writing will at least occasionally appear in newspaper pages.
Many great works have appeared briefly, to be quickly lost in the churn of constant newspaper production. Some classics are still circulated, such as Casey at the Bat and the Federalist Papers, but many others simply disappeared.
Newspaper History is an algorithm for unearthing these forgotten gems. Each day, a poem is shared that appeared in an American newspaper 108 years ago.
Because poetry is efficient and illuminating and often timeless, it in some ways presents the highest potential of great writing.
Why 108 years?
Material was originally curated from 100 years ago. But this seemed an arbitrary timespan. Looking for different, and possibly more fertile time cycles, periods related to weather, astronomical events, mathematics, business, and religion were explored. Multiples of the Metonic cycle (19 years) produced interesting results, as did planetary return spans. 108 years was tried because it is a significant number in some religious traditions, and has interesting factors: 2233.
Comparing the results of various timespans, 108 years was a kind of sweet spot, with consistently rich results. Newspaper material from 108 years ago is safely in the public domain, and so after some practical research, it became the timespan used for Newspaper History.
This has been a deeply rewarding project, and I hope that you find great pleasure and insight from these curations of America’s newspaper past!