My name is Michael Scherer, and I work in dementia care near Washington, D.C. I’m a former audiobook narrator and radio broadcaster.
When recording books as a career, I often wondered what was worthwhile reading. With limited time and endless books, where should one concentrate?
Exploring this, I encountered the Chronicling America website, an online archive of American newspapers, going back to the year 1777. Knowing that the Federalist Papers and Casey at the Bat first appeared in newspapers, I wondered what great writing may have disappeared in the fast churn of American newspaper printing.
The texts are interesting and exciting. The newspaper archive has proved an invaluable American treasure trove.
[External link to the Chronicling America website.]
I began narrating columns and stories, sharing them in an audio podcast. But text was easier, so I switched from a podcast to a blog format. Poetry replaced prose, partly for time, and partly for pleasure.
Why 108 years?
At first, I shared writing from 100 years ago. But this is an arbitrary cyclical frequency. Looking for different, and possibly more meaningful time spans for curated writing, I explored natural cycles — related to weather, planets, and astronomical events. Mutliples of the Metonic cycle (19 years) were interesting, as were planetary returns.
I tried going back 108 years, because this number is significant 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 poetry. It is safely in the public domain, and so it became the timespan used for Newspaper History.
The Federalist Papers audio
The Federalist Papers project is a resource to help teach American civics. Hear it here.