My name is Michael Scherer, and I work in dementia care near Washington, D.C.
Exploring an online archive of American newspapers, I wondered what great writing may have disappeared in the fast churn of newspaper production. The Federalist Papers and Casey at the Bat were first seen in newspapers, and surely other great writing was printed, but escaped wide notice.
I began an audio podcast, narrating columns and stories from American newspapers a century ago. The writing was surprisingly sharp, funny, and insightful. Over time, this site transformed into a blog format, and began to focus on newspaper poetry. The content selection has been refined and focused, so that today, a 108-year-old poem is curated from the newspaper archive and shared daily on the website, and also via email subscription.
This has been a very rewarding project, and I hope that you find great pleasure and insight from these newspaper poetry selections!
Why 108 years?
I began by curating material from 100 years ago. But this felt arbitrary. Looking for different, and possibly more meaningful time cycles, I explored spans related to weather, astronomical events, mathematics, business, and religion. Mutliples of the Metonic cycle (19 years) were interesting, as were planetary returns. 108 is a significant number in some religious traditions, and is often the number of beads used for mantra cycles. It has interesting factors: 2233.
Comparing the results of various timespans, 108 years seemed a kind of sweet spot, with consistently rich results. Newspaper material from 108 years ago is safely in the public domain, and so it became the timespan used for Newspaper History.