Your Uncle, My Uncle, Every American’s Uncle: Uncle Sam!

Introduction: Scott Phillips is a genealogical historian and owner of Onward To Our Past® genealogy services. In this blog post, Scott searches old newspapers to learn more about the origins and history of an American icon: Uncle Sam.

All of us who love genealogy and family history know that every family member seems to have their own “favorite uncle.” I have two favorite uncles: Uncle Chuck Clark and Uncle Jim Vanek. I bet you have a favorite uncle or two as well, so it is only fitting that the entire United States should also have a favorite uncle. And who should that be but “Uncle Sam,” of course!

World War I recruiting poster featuring Uncle Sam, by James Montgomery Flagg, 1916-1917

Illustration: World War I recruiting poster featuring Uncle Sam, by James Montgomery Flagg, 1916-1917. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

September is the month to celebrate Uncle Sam. For the past 25 years, every September 13th has been the National Day of the country’s favorite uncle. And while Uncle Sam Day has only been official since 1989, Uncle Sam has been with us a lot longer than that—and he makes for a colorful story.

Origins of Uncle Sam

This article from a 1910 Michigan newspaper begins with an Uncle Sam truism when it says: “There are nicknames and nicknames, but the most popular and best understood one in the United States is Uncle Sam.” Interestingly, this article also says that there are other national nicknames such as “John Bull” for the English and “Johnny Crapand” (crapand means a toad) for the French. I have to admit that while I do recall a rare use of “John Bull” now and again, the use of “Johnny Crapand” was a new one to me. But Uncle Sam still reverberates with national pride and recognition, even as these other nicknames have fallen out of fashion.

How Uncle Sam Began, Grand Rapids Press newspaper article 23 July 1910

Grand Rapids Press (Grand Rapids, Michigan), 23 July 1910, page 4

So where did the famous patriotic persona Uncle Sam come from? Was he just a figment of some talented artist somewhere or is he rooted in someone’s real history?

If you access the above article in GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives and read it fully, it gives an account of the possible origin of Uncle Sam:

One story is that at the time of the war of 1812 there lived at Troy, N.Y., a man named Samuel Wilson, familiarly known thereabouts as Uncle Sam, who was employed as an inspector of pork and beef bought by the government.

However, the article goes on to say: “The story is so clumsy and improbable that it may safely be classed as untrue.” So I decided to continue looking.

Enter Last Name










As I continued searching the old newspapers, I did note that there were no references to Uncle Sam prior to 1812. An article from an 1814 New York newspaper caught my eye. This article contrasts how soldiers were paid by the U.S. (“Uncle Sam”) and British (“John Bull”) governments. Although it was interesting to learn about “Chequer Bills” and the phrase “Ready Rhino,” there was nothing in the article about Uncle Sam’s origins.

Uncle Sam and John Bull, New-York Gazette newspaper article 6 December 1814

New-York Gazette (New York, New York), 6 December 1814, page 2

This 1817 Rhode Island newspaper article says the expression “Uncle Sam” began during the War of 1812 based on the initials “U.S.” stamped on soldiers’ knapsacks—and goes on to tell this amusing story:

The Indians at the west, from hearing it [Uncle Sam] often used, have imbibed the idea that it is actually the name of the President; and while at Sackett’s Harbor, a considerable number of Indians and Squaws crowded around the President, wishing, as they expressed it, ‘to shake hands with Uncle Sam.’

article about Uncle Sam, Providence Patriot newspaper article 23 August 1817

Providence Patriot (Providence, Rhode Island), 23 August 1817, page 1

Thirteen years later, this Pennsylvania newspaper ran an article about the origins of Uncle Sam. This story relates the earlier story from the War of 1812 and the inspector of meat for the U.S. Army, Samuel Wilson, looking over meat purchased by a government contractor, one Elbert Anderson. On the barrels of these provisions was stamped “E.A. – U. S.”

The old newspaper article goes on:

This work [hauling the meat] fell to the lot of a facetious fellow in the employ [of Samuel Wilson] who, on being asked by some of his fellow workmen the meaning of the mark (for the letters U.S. for United States, was almost then entirely new to them) said ‘he did not know, unless it meant Elbert Anderson, and Uncle Sam’—alluding, exclusively, then to the said ‘Uncle Sam’ Wilson. The joke took among the workmen, and passed currently; and Uncle Sam himself being present, was occasionally rallied by them on the increasing extent of his possessions.

The 1800s news article concludes:

It [the joke about Uncle Sam] originated precisely as above stated; and the writer of this article distinctly recollects remarking, at the time when it first appeared in print, to a person who was equally aware of its origin, how odd it would be should this joke eventually become a national cognomen.

Origin of Uncle Sam, Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper article 15 May 1830

Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), 15 May 1830, page 1

Iconic Artwork of James Flagg

Over the decades, Uncle Sam flourished as a symbol of the United States of America. Perhaps the most memorable image of our Uncle Sam was drawn by the famous pen-and-ink artist James Montgomery Flagg for a recruiting poster during World War I, with a stern-faced Uncle Sam pointing his finger and saying “I want you for U.S. Army!” You can see this famous image above, and also reprinted in this 1992 Alabama newspaper article, along with the attribution of the name to “Uncle Sam” Wilson again.

article about James Flagg and Uncle Sam, Mobile Register newspaper article 29 June 1992

Mobile Register (Mobile, Alabama), 29 June 1992, page 40

In 1960 James Flagg passed away, and his obituary stated:

His greatest work was his World War I recruiting poster of Uncle Sam pointing his finger and saying, ‘I want you.’

obituary for James Montgomery Flagg, Dallas Morning News newspaper article 28 May 1960

Dallas Morning News (Dallas, Texas), 28 May 1960, page 13

Brief Biography of Uncle Sam

This 1961 article from a Massachusetts newspaper gives us further background on “Uncle Sam” Wilson. It says that he was born in 1766 and died in 1854. He ran away from home to fight in the Revolutionary War. After the war he became a successful merchant and meat packer in Troy, New York, was quite a popular fellow and was universally known as “Uncle Sam.”

Tribute to Uncle Sam, Springfield Union newspaper article 9 July 1961

Springfield Union (Springfield, Massachusetts), 9 July 1961, page 47

Who’s the Real Uncle Sam?

An article written by Blake Ehrlich in a 1961 Massachusetts newspaper brings to light the role of one Thomas Gerson in the life of Uncle Sam. Calling from his hospital bed to a reporter for the newspaper, Mr. Gerson explained he was the “Official Uncle Sam Historian and Director of Education for the Troy Area Committee for Uncle Sam.” It seems that Gerson, also “an editorial writer and feature man,” was on a mission to get the United States Congress to recognize his hometown hero, Samuel Wilson, as the “real” Uncle Sam. Interestingly, in this article we are introduced to yet another option for Uncle Sam’s origin. It seems Gerson was working to “triumph over the forces of evil from the state of Indiana, which tried to block the resolution with claims for its own Sam Wilson.”

The Man (Thomas Gerson) Who Carries a Torch for Uncle Sam, Boston Traveler newspaper article 3 November 1961

Boston Traveler (Boston, Massachusetts), 3 November 1961, page 16

It seems that the image of Uncle Sam has changed over the years, according to writer Ehrlich, having first appeared as a cartoon character in The Lantern, a comic weekly drawn by a fellow named Bellew in 1852. That Uncle Sam was dressed in a beaver hat, boots, and striped pants and was “tall, thin, with a clean-shaven hatchet face, much like Sam Wilson.”  In the 1860s, cartoonist Thomas Nast added whiskers and a starry vest.

Enter Last Name










This 1961 Massachusetts newspaper article reported that historians in Indiana were still fighting Mr. Gerson’s efforts to recognize Troy’s Samuel Wilson as the one, true Uncle Sam, saying: “Indiana historians disagree, claiming the Troy meat packer was born in Wilmington, Del., and later moved to Merriam, Ind.”

Troy Bows to Mass. as Home of Archtype for 'Uncle Sam,' Boston Herald newspaper article 30 October 1961

Boston Herald (Boston, Massachusetts), 30 October 1961, page 18

This 1961 New Jersey newspaper reprinted an article from the Congressional Quarterly in Washington, D.C. This article, headlined “Interest Increasing in National Shrine,” tells us that the quibble over the “real” Uncle Sam continued even as “The nation also is about to doff its hat to ‘Uncle Sam,’ although it isn’t quite sure who ‘Uncle Sam’ was.” The article goes on to explain that the dust-up between New York and Indiana continued, reporting:

The New York Congressional delegation backs Samuel Wilson, a meat dealer who supplied the troops during the War of 1812 and who died in New York. The Indiana delegation backs a Samuel Wilson who earned the title of ‘Uncle Sam’ in Troy, but who is buried in Merriam, Ind.

And for good measure Connecticut was now in the act, believing:

the original ‘Uncle Sam’ was Sam Huntington of Connecticut, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and President of the Continental Congress.

And finally, there’s this:

The Texans are touting for ‘Uncle Sam’ none other than Sam Houston, beard and all.

article about Uncle Sam, Trenton Evening Times newspaper article 6 September 1961

Trenton Evening Times (Trenton, New Jersey), 6 September 1961, page 11

While Indiana, Texas, and Connecticut were touting their Uncle Sam versions, New York was fast at work. This 1959 Washington newspaper article reported that then-Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller was declaring September 13th as “Uncle Sam Day” following a resolution passed by the State Legislature.

N.Y. to Observe September 13 as Uncle Sam Day, Seattle Daily Times newspaper article 27 March 1959

Seattle Daily Times (Seattle, Washington), 27 March 1959, page 5

This 1988 Alabama newspaper published a sarcastic article by well-known columnist James J. Kilpatrick, in which he excoriated the recently-adjourned 100th U.S. Congress for accomplishing almost nothing, saying: “We are well rid of this Congress. Be gone! And don’t come back any time soon.”

To drive home his point, Kilpatrick pointed to the creation of Uncle Sam Day as one of the very few things the Congress did manage to do.

article about Uncle Sam Day, Mobile Register newspaper article 6 November 1988

Mobile Register (Mobile, Alabama), 6 November 1988, page 9

While it seems that Congress, in their infinite wisdom, decided for us who the “real” Uncle Sam was, I am now thinking I should really have some fun and start researching National Jukebox Week!

Related Articles about Famous American Icons:

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More Recent Obituaries Are On the Way! New Obits from 7 States

We are excited to announce that this month we will be adding the following 19 newspapers to our Recent Newspaper Obituaries collection, from Florida, Kentucky, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.

photo of a stack of newspapers

Credit: Wikipedia

We thought you’d want an advance peek at the list of newspaper obituaries that will be available to search online soon:

Citrus County Chronicle (Crystal River, FL)

  • Obituaries: 05/13/2008 – Current

Anderson News (Lawrenceburg, KY)

  • Obituaries: 07/18/2012 – Current

Kentucky Standard (Bardstown, KY)

  • Obituaries: 03/25/2012 – Current

Larue County Herald News (Hodgenville, KY)

  • Obituaries: 08/30/2012 – Current

Lebanon Enterprise (Lebanon, KY)

  • Obituaries: 07/13/2012 – Current

Oldham Era (LaGrange, KY)

  • Obituaries: 09/01/2012 – Current

Sentinel-News (Shelbyville, KY)

  • Obituaries: 06/15/2012 – Current

Spencer Magnet (Taylorsville, KY)

  • Obituaries: 08/28/2012 – Current

Springfield Sun (Springfield, KY)

  • Obituaries: 07/16/2012 – Current

Las Vegas Optic (Las Vegas, NM)

  • Obituaries: 08/21/2012 – Current

Los Alamos Monitor (Los Alamos, NM)

  • Obituaries: 05/17/2012 – Current

York Daily Record (York, PA)

  • Obituaries: 06/29/2013 – Current

York Dispatch (York, PA)

  • Obituaries: 06/29/2013 – Current

Chester News & Reporter (Chester, SC)

  • Obituaries: 06/29/2012 – Current

Island Packet (Hilton Head, SC)

  • Obituaries: 03/25/2008 – Current

Lancaster News (Lancaster, SC)

  • Obituaries: 07/02/2012 – Current

Lafollette Press (Lafollette, TN)

  • Obituaries: 06/28/2012 – Current

Bedford Bulletin (Bedford, VA)

  • Obituaries: 06/08/2012 – Current

Galax Gazette (Galax, VA)

  • Obituaries: 05/25/2012 – Current

Celebrate Redlands’ 125th Anniversary & Its Library Archives

Hat’s off to Nathan Gonzales, City Archivist of Redlands, California, for maintaining an extensive collection of genealogical and historical material about Redlands itself and the surrounding San Bernardino County.

photo of the A. K. Smiley Public Library, Redlands, California

Photo: A. K. Smiley Public Library, Redlands, California. Credit: Wikipedia; Amerique.

Watch this video interview (49 minutes) with Nathan, as he describes the extensive genealogical and historical materials gathered over the past 100 years and archived in the Heritage Room at the A. K. Smiley Public Library in Redlands.

Nathan Gonzales: Archivist from A. K. Smiley Library

Want more California genealogical and historical information? GenealogyBank’s online California newspaper archives contain millions of birth notices, wedding announcements, obituaries and local news articles to help you research your family history in “The Golden State.”

Search the history of Redlands and all of California by clicking on these two archive collections:

Search California Newspaper Archives (1846 – 2007)

Search California Recent Obituaries (1983 – Current)

Here is the complete title list of our extensive collection of California newspapers. Each CA newspaper title contains a hyperlink taking you directly to that newspaper’s search page where you can begin tracing your family tree by ancestor first names and surnames, dates, keywords and more.

City Newspaper Date Range Collection
Agoura Hills Acorn 6/22/2000 – Current Recent Obituaries
Agoura Hills Simi Valley Acorn 5/7/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Agoura Hills Thousand Oaks Acorn 7/18/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Alameda Alameda Journal 2/8/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Anaheim Anaheim Bulletin: Orange County Register weekly 5/27/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Anaheim Anaheim Hills News: Orange County Register weekly 5/27/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Anaheim Fullerton News Tribune: Orange County Register weekly 5/20/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Anaheim Orange City News: Orange County Register weekly 8/12/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Anaheim Placentia News-Times: Orange County Register weekly 5/20/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Anaheim Yorba Linda Star: Orange County Register weekly 5/20/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Anderson Anderson Valley Post 5/3/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Antioch Brentwood News 5/9/1997 – Current Recent Obituaries
Antioch East County Times 10/28/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Antioch Ledger Dispatch 3/23/1997 – Current Recent Obituaries
Arroyo Grande Adobe Press 12/21/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Auburn Auburn Journal 12/19/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Avenal Avenal Progress 5/18/2005 – 12/18/2007 Recent Obituaries
Bakersfield Bakersfield Californian 3/25/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Bakersfield Bakersfield Californian, The: Web Edition Articles 8/25/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Benicia California Gazette 3/29/1851 – 2/21/1852 Newspaper Archives
Berkeley East Bay Daily News 10/18/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Berkeley Fuego de Aztlan 3/1/1976 – 12/1/1978 Newspaper Archives
Berkeley Grito 9/1/1967 – 6/1/1974 Newspaper Archives
Beverly Hills Beverly Hills 90210 5/1/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Beverly Hills Beverly Hills Weekly 3/20/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Beverly Hills Canyon News 4/23/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Big Bear Lake Big Bear Grizzly 6/5/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Bishop Inyo Register 10/8/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Burbank Burbank Weekly 6/23/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Calistoga Weekly Calistogan 9/4/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Camarillo Camarillo Acorn 5/12/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Cambria Cambrian 5/10/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Ceres Ceres Courier 2/6/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Chico Chico Enterprise-Record 9/12/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Chino Chino Champion 1/1/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Chino Chino Hills Champion 1/1/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Coachelia Ideal 11/2/1969 – 11/21/1977 Newspaper Archives
Coalinga Coalinga Record 5/6/2003 – 2/7/2009 Recent Obituaries
Colfax Colfax Record 12/16/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Colton Chicano 4/21/1968 – 6/30/1977 Newspaper Archives
Compton Compton Bulletin 8/31/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Concord Concord Transcript 2/22/1996 – Current Recent Obituaries
Crescent City Daily Triplicate 1/15/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Culver City Culver City Observer 7/7/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Cupertino La Voz Weekly: De Anza College 5/15/2000 – Current Recent Obituaries
Danville Danville Times 10/13/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Davis Davis Enterprise 7/18/1999 – Current Recent Obituaries
El Centro Imperial Valley Press 1/2/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Escondido North County Times 1/2/2001 – 3/5/2013 Recent Obituaries
Eureka Humboldt Beacon 4/23/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Eureka Times-Standard 9/15/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Folsom El Dorado Hills Telegraph 11/18/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Folsom Folsom Telegraph 1/21/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Fort Bragg Fort Bragg Advocate News 9/20/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Fountain Valley Fountain Valley View, The: Orange County Register weekly 12/16/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Fremont Argus 9/15/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Fresno Collegian, The: California State University-Fresno 10/30/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Fresno Fresno Bee 2/5/1987 – Current Recent Obituaries
Fresno Fresno Republican Weekly 1/7/1882 – 12/29/1883 Newspaper Archives
Garberville Redwood Times 9/22/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Glendale California Courier 2/15/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Glendale California Courier 8/20/1958 – 12/27/2007 Newspaper Archives
Glendale Glendale Independent Weekly 6/30/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Gridley Gridley Herald 10/18/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Half Moon Bay Half Moon Bay Review 2/15/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Hanford Hanford Sentinel 5/12/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Hayward Daily Review 9/15/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Hemet Hemet News 1/6/1899 – 12/30/1927 Newspaper Archives
Hermosa Beach Beach Reporter 11/4/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Hermosa Beach Easy Reader 10/14/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Huntington Beach Wave, The: Orange County Register weekly 5/27/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Idyllwild Idyllwild Town Crier 1/27/1998 – Current Recent Obituaries
Kingsburg Kingsburg Recorder 7/5/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
La Cañada Flintridge La Cañada Flintridge Weekly 10/20/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Laguna Woods Leisure World News: Orange County Register weekly 5/20/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lake Arrowhead Mountain News & Crestline Courier-News 12/6/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lake Forest Canyon Life – Ladera Post – Rancho Santa Margarita News: Orange County Register weeklies 5/14/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lake Forest Laguna News-Post: Orange County Register weekly 5/13/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lake Forest Laguna Niguel News – Aliso Viejo News: Orange County Register weeklies 5/13/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lake Forest Saddleback Valley News: Orange County Register weeklies 5/14/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lake Isabella Kern Valley Sun 11/16/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lakeport Clear Lake Observer American 11/19/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lakeport Lake County Record Bee 9/23/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lemoore Lemoore Advance 6/11/2003 – 9/17/2009 Recent Obituaries
Lincoln Lincoln News Messenger 11/25/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lodi Lodi News-Sentinel 2/15/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lompoc Lompoc Record 10/2/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Long Beach Downtown Gazette 7/30/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Long Beach Grunion Gazette 2/22/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Long Beach Long Beach Press-Telegram 8/11/1990 – Current Recent Obituaries
Long Beach Uptown Gazette 1/21/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Loomis Loomis News 12/10/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Angeles Aguacero 3/24/1878 – 3/31/1878 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Amigo del Pueblo 11/30/1861 – 11/30/1861 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Argonaut 3/5/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Angeles Bel-Air View 7/11/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Angeles Brentwood News 8/11/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Angeles Cinema 2/1/1935 – 2/1/1935 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Clamor Publico 6/19/1855 – 6/27/1857 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Con Safos 6/1/1968 – 1/1/1972 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Correo Mejicano 10/18/1917 – 10/18/1917 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Cronica 9/12/1874 – 9/12/1874 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Democrata 10/14/1882 – 11/4/1882 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Dos Republicas 3/15/1892 – 9/3/1898 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Eastern Group Publications 8/11/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Angeles Eco de la Patria 2/14/1878 – 2/21/1878 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Eco de Mexico 10/3/1924 – 10/29/1924 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Eco Mejicano 10/29/1885 – 10/29/1885 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Fe en la Democracia 10/29/1884 – 11/3/1884 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Heraldo de Mexico 12/9/1917 – 12/29/1928 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Inter-Faith Churchman 4/20/1941 – 4/20/1941 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles 9/30/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Angeles Joven 9/18/1877 – 4/12/1878 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles L.A. Observed 5/23/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Angeles L.A. Watts Times 4/20/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Angeles LA Alternative 4/2/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Angeles Los Angeles Downtown News 1/17/2000 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Angeles Los Angeles Sentinel 3/22/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Angeles Los Angeles Times 1/2/1985 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Angeles Los Angeles Tribune 9/6/1943 – 4/22/1960 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Malcriado 4/17/1927 – 4/17/1927 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Malibu Beach 7/11/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Angeles Mesazero 12/21/1954 – 12/21/1954 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Monitor Mejicano 10/26/1895 – 10/29/1898 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Our Weekly 9/9/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Angeles Pacific Citizen 3/16/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Angeles Park Labrea News/Beverly Press 12/1/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Angeles Prensa 12/8/1917 – 1/2/1937 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Regeneracion 9/5/1910 – 10/6/1917 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Santa Monica Sun 8/2/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Angeles Teller 3/20/1946 – 3/20/1946 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Union 11/21/1896 – 5/15/1897 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Westside Today 7/4/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Banos Los Banos Enterprise 8/2/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Gatos Los Gatos Daily News 9/22/2006 – 8/19/2007 Recent Obituaries
Madera Madera Tribune 5/8/2002 – 3/10/2009 Recent Obituaries
Mammoth Lakes Mammoth Times 10/9/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Manteca Manteca Bulletin 11/19/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Marina Del Rey Del Rey News 5/1/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Martinez Martinez News-Gazette 1/6/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Martinez, Pleasant Hill Record 4/10/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Marysville Appeal-Democrat 10/25/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Marysville Weekly California Express 11/7/1857 – 10/29/1859 Newspaper Archives
Mendocino Mendocino Beacon 9/20/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Merced Merced Sun-Star 8/22/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Milpitas Fremont Bulletin 6/28/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Milpitas Milpitas Post 8/5/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Modesto Modesto Bee 1/3/1989 – Current Recent Obituaries
Monrovia Arcadia Weekly 9/8/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Monrovia Monrovia Weekly 9/8/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Monrovia Pasadena Independent 9/8/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Monrovia Sierra Madre Weekly 9/8/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Montclair Village Montclarion 11/23/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Monterey Californian 8/15/1846 – 8/15/1846 Newspaper Archives
Monterey Monterey County Herald 1/6/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Moorpark Moorpark Acorn 3/18/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Morro Bay Central Coast Sun Bulletin 11/11/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Mount Shasta Mt. Shasta Herald 10/5/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Napa American Canyon Eagle 9/7/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Napa Napa Valley Register 1/1/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Needles Needles Desert Star 4/9/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Newport Beach, Costa Mesa Current, The: Orange County Register weekly 5/7/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Novato Marin Independent Journal 2/11/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Oakdale Escalon Times 2/6/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Oakdale Oakdale Leader 10/7/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Oakdale Riverbank News 8/16/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Oakhurst Sierra Star 2/21/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Oakland Alambres de N.E.L. 5/21/1975 – 6/21/1977 Newspaper Archives
Oakland Alameda Times-Star 9/15/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Oakland American Sentinel 1/1/1886 – 12/25/1889 Newspaper Archives
Oakland Mundo 1/6/1971 – 12/25/1974 Newspaper Archives
Oakland Oakland Post 11/5/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Oakland Oakland Sunshine 3/20/1915 – 2/25/1922 Newspaper Archives
Oakland Oakland Tribune 9/15/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Oakland Western Outlook 11/7/1914 – 5/26/1928 Newspaper Archives
Ojai Ojai Valley News 1/30/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Ontario Inland Valley Daily Bulletin 4/9/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Oroville Oroville Mercury-Register 1/2/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Pacific Palisades Pacific Palisades 90272 2/5/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Pacifica Pacifica Tribune 8/20/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Palm Springs Desert Star Weekly 9/2/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Palo Alto Burlingame Daily News 9/22/2006 – 9/25/2008 Recent Obituaries
Palo Alto Daily News 9/22/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Palo Alto Daily Post 12/18/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Palo Alto Redwood City Daily News 9/22/2006 – 9/25/2008 Recent Obituaries
Paradise Paradise Post 7/11/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Pasadena Pasadena Star-News 9/15/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Pasadena Pasadena-San Gabriel Valley News Journal 2/25/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Piedmont Piedmonter 3/1/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Placerville Mountain Democrat 3/9/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Pleasanton Pleasanton Times 8/26/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Pleasanton Tri-Valley Herald 9/15/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Pleasanton Valley Times 6/19/1995 – 8/28/2011 Recent Obituaries
Porterville Porterville Recorder 4/15/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Red Bluff Red Bluff Daily News 9/12/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Redding Redding Record Searchlight 3/8/1991 – Current Recent Obituaries
Redlands Redlands Daily Facts 9/16/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Rialto Rialto Record 1/27/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Richmond Berkeley Voice 11/30/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Richmond El Cerrito Journal 11/2/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Richmond West County Times 6/28/1995 – 8/4/2011 Recent Obituaries
Richmond West County Weekly 3/2/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Ridgecrest Daily Independent 4/7/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Riverdale Twin City Times 5/13/2003 – 1/23/2008 Recent Obituaries
Riverside Business Press/California 2/26/1996 – Current Recent Obituaries
Riverside Press and Horticulturist 7/6/1878 – 12/29/1905 Newspaper Archives
Riverside Press-Enterprise 9/28/1992 – Current Recent Obituaries
Riverside Riverside County Record 1/12/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Riverside Riverside Daily Press 6/10/1886 – 3/11/1949 Newspaper Archives
Riverside Riverside Independent Enterprise 3/3/1891 – 12/31/1922 Newspaper Archives
Rocklin Placer Herald 12/2/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Rolling Hills Estates Palos Verdes Peninsula News 12/27/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Roseville Press-Tribune 12/11/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Sacramento Daily Democratic State Journal 8/26/1853 – 4/30/1858 Newspaper Archives
Sacramento Post (El Informador) 11/4/1967 – 12/2/1967 Newspaper Archives
Sacramento Prensa Libre 1/15/1969 – 12/31/1970 Newspaper Archives
Sacramento Sacramento Bee 3/31/1984 – Current Recent Obituaries
Sacramento Sacramento Weekly Union 10/31/1851 – 4/15/1853 Newspaper Archives
Sacramento Themis 2/24/1889 – 6/24/1894 Newspaper Archives
Sacramento Weekly Rescue 2/1/1864 – 9/27/1877 Newspaper Archives
Salinas Valley Adviser 6/3/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Bernardino Colton Courier 12/16/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Bernardino El Chicano 12/16/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Bernardino Sun 9/18/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Clemente Capistrano Valley News: Orange County Register weekly 5/20/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Clemente Dana Point News: Orange County Register weekly 5/27/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Clemente Sun Post News: Orange County Register weekly 5/21/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Diego Daily San Diegan 11/1/1887 – 2/29/1888 Newspaper Archives
San Diego Evening Tribune 12/3/1895 – 9/24/1940 Newspaper Archives
San Diego San Diego Daily Bee 5/16/1887 – 3/30/1888 Newspaper Archives
San Diego San Diego Daily World 1/28/1873 – 7/25/1873 Newspaper Archives
San Diego San Diego Sun 7/27/1881 – 2/29/1888 Newspaper Archives
San Diego San Diego Union 3/20/1871 – 12/31/1983 Newspaper Archives
San Diego U-T San Diego 12/7/1983 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Diego Weekly World 7/27/1872 – 7/19/1873 Newspaper Archives
San Fernando San Fernando Valley Sun 11/11/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Francisco Alaska Appeal 3/6/1879 – 4/15/1880 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Alta California 6/1/1850 – 6/21/1861 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Bay Citizen 6/1/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Francisco California Farmer and Journal of Useful Sciences 1/12/1854 – 9/21/1876 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco California Journal und Sonntags-gast 1/14/1872 – 12/30/1877 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Centro America 2/20/1921 – 8/25/1921 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Cronica 12/15/1854 – 2/28/1855 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Daily Commercial News 1/1/1885 – 12/31/1888 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Daily Globe 1/1/1857 – 8/14/1858 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Daily Placer Times and Transcript 6/28/1852 – 12/4/1855 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Eco del Pacifico 4/9/1857 – 4/9/1857 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Elevator 5/5/1865 – 6/11/1898 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Free Angela 5/1/1971 – 11/8/1971 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Grafico Internacional 2/1/1937 – 4/1/1937 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Hispano America 6/16/1918 – 12/5/1931 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Imparcial 11/20/1931 – 2/1/1935 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Jalamate 12/1/1971 – 6/9/1972 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Mefistofeles 3/9/1918 – 7/20/1918 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Mercantile Gazette and Prices Current, Shipping List and Register 10/2/1863 – 10/18/1867 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Mirror of the Times 12/12/1857 – 12/12/1857 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Nueva Mission 11/27/1967 – 10/1/1969 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco San Francisco Abend Post 1/3/1871 – 12/30/1876 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco San Francisco Bulletin 10/8/1855 – 12/31/1891 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco San Francisco Chronicle 1/1/1937 – 12/31/1942 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco San Francisco Chronicle 1/1/1985 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Francisco San Francisco Evening Journal 5/31/1852 – 5/13/1854 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco San Francisco Vindicator 5/2/1887 – 2/16/1889 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Seminario Imparcial 8/13/1938 – 11/12/1938 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Voz de Chile y de las Republicas Americanas 10/11/1867 – 5/26/1868 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Voz del Nuevo Mundo 3/27/1865 – 9/23/1884 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Weekly Alta California 10/5/1850 – 12/30/1854 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Weekly Pacific News 12/31/1849 – 5/15/1851 Newspaper Archives
San Jose Almaden Resident 10/16/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Jose Campbell Reporter 9/22/1999 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Jose Cupertino Courier 12/27/1995 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Jose Evening News 2/23/1884 – 12/30/1922 Newspaper Archives
San Jose Los Gatos Weekly-Times 3/17/1999 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Jose Rose Garden Resident 4/29/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Jose San Jose Mercury News 11/5/1861 – 12/31/1922 Newspaper Archives
San Jose San Jose Mercury News 6/1/1985 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Jose Sunnyvale Sun 2/21/1996 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Jose Willow Glen Resident 1/10/1996 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Luis Obispo Tribune 1/1/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Mateo San Mateo County Times 9/15/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Mateo San Mateo Daily Journal 6/18/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Ramon San Ramon Valley Times 9/9/1995 – 7/28/2010 Recent Obituaries
Santa Ana Irvine World News: Orange County Register weekly 5/13/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Santa Ana OC Post-Irvine World News: Orange County Register weekly 2/19/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Santa Ana Orange County Register 1/1/1987 – Current Recent Obituaries
Santa Ana Star-Progress: Orange County Register weekly 5/27/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Santa Ana Tustin News, The: Orange County Register weekly 5/6/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Santa Anita Santa Anita Pacemaker 4/24/1942 – 7/29/1942 Newspaper Archives
Santa Barbara Gaceta 8/9/1879 – 7/30/1881 Newspaper Archives
Santa Clarita Signal 12/5/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Santa Maria Santa Maria Times 12/3/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Santa Maria Times Press Recorder 1/5/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Santa Monica Aguila 3/21/1971 – 3/21/1973 Newspaper Archives
Santa Monica Santa Monica Daily Press 3/9/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Santa Rosa Press Democrat 1/1/1995 – Current Recent Obituaries
Saratoga Saratoga News 12/6/1995 – Current Recent Obituaries
Scotts Valley Santa Cruz Sentinel 2/9/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Seaside Monterey County Weekly 4/24/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Selma Selma Enterprise 5/6/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Sonoma Sonoma Index-Tribune 11/29/1996 – Current Recent Obituaries
Sonora Union Democrat 3/4/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
St. Helena St. Helena Star 3/3/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Stanford Atisbos 6/1/1975 – 6/1/1978 Newspaper Archives
State-Wide County California Newswire 7/9/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Stockton San Joaquin Republican 10/27/1855 – 12/8/1860 Newspaper Archives
Taft Midway Driller 11/8/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Tanforan Tanforan Totalizer 5/15/1942 – 9/12/1942 Newspaper Archives
Temecula Californian 7/14/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Torrance Daily Breeze 8/3/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Torrance More San Pedro 2/18/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Turlock Turlock Journal 12/11/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Twentynine Palms Desert Trail 5/7/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Twentynine Palms Observation Post: Marine Corps Combat Center 1/16/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Ukiah Ukiah Daily Journal 9/30/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Vacaville Reporter 1/3/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Vallejo Solano Times 4/20/2000 – Current Recent Obituaries
Vallejo Times-Herald 7/10/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Ventura Ventura County Star 3/5/1997 – Current Recent Obituaries
Walnut Weekly News 8/4/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Walnut Creek Contra Costa Times 6/1/1995 – Current Recent Obituaries
Walnut Creek Lamorinda Sun 2/21/1996 – Current Recent Obituaries
Walnut Creek Walnut Creek Journal 8/5/1999 – Current Recent Obituaries
West Covina San Gabriel Valley Tribune 9/25/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Whittier Whittier Daily News 9/15/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Willits Willits News 9/17/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Woodland Daily Democrat 8/20/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Woodland Hills Daily News of Los Angeles 10/3/1985 – Current Recent Obituaries
Yreka Siskiyou Daily News 5/16/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Yucca Valley Hi-Desert Star 5/7/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries

Eleanor Roosevelt’s ‘My Day’ Newspaper Column: A Public Diary

Introduction: Gena Philibert-Ortega is a genealogist and author of the book “From the Family Kitchen.” In this guest blog post, Gena writes about Eleanor Roosevelt’s popular and long-running newspaper column, “My Day.”

When you think of Franklin Delano Roosevelt what comes to mind? Maybe it’s the fact that he was the only U.S. president to be elected to four terms. Maybe you’re familiar with the programs he helped to establish during the Depression, such as the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Maybe you remember the words from his speech after the attack on Pearl Harbor, calling it “a date which will live in infamy.” Our 32nd president led the nation during the difficult times of the Great Depression and World War II.

What do you know about his wife, Eleanor Roosevelt? She was a crusader for many political and social issues, including women’s and civil rights. Mrs. Roosevelt has a long list of accomplishments in her own right apart from being a first lady. Starting in late 1935 she became one of the most-documented first ladies in U.S. history, due to the fact that she began a syndicated newspaper column that she personally wrote. Eleanor worked on her column “My Day” six days a week, from 1935 to 1962, writing about her daily activities and giving her views on a range of subjects.

This 1935 newspaper notice announced the upcoming “My Day” newspaper column.

Roosevelt Columns, Plain Dealer newspaper article 30 December 1935

Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), 30 December 1935, page 7

Many of Eleanor Roosevelt’s newspaper columns read like diary entries. In some cases, they resemble a letter to a dear friend—filled with her thoughts, conversations and opinions.

Her newspaper columns addressed many different topics; not all were especially poignant. For example, in one early column she discusses how much sleep she got and describes eating a tray of food by herself in her room. But looking at the totality of the columns helps paint a picture of the United States through the mid-20th century, reflecting the important issues our families faced such as war, poverty and racism. These “My Day” columns provide researchers with a social history of life during this time.

One issue that Eleanor Roosevelt was passionate about was civil rights. In her 21 February 1936 column, she mentions that she and her husband enjoyed a concert by African American singer Marian Anderson.

My Day in the White House by Eleanor Roosevelt, Seattle Daily Times newspaper article 21 February 1936

Seattle Daily Times (Seattle, Washington), 21 February 1936, page 6

Three years later in February 1939 Eleanor Roosevelt quit the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) over their refusal to allow Marian Anderson to perform in Constitution Hall. At that time the Hall was segregated and the DAR refused to allow African Americans to perform there.

In her resignation letter, Mrs. Roosevelt stated:

“However, I am in complete disagreement with the attitude taken in refusing Constitution Hall to a great artist. You have set an example which seems to me unfortunate, and I feel obliged to send in to you my resignation. You had an opportunity to lead in an enlightened way and it seems to me that your organization has failed.”

You can view a copy of that DAR resignation letter on the National Archives website.

Thanks to the support of Eleanor Roosevelt and other like-minded individuals, Marian Anderson eventually sang at Constitution Hall at the invitation of the DAR in 1942.

photo of Eleanor Roosevelt and Marian Anderson

Photo: Eleanor Roosevelt and Marian Anderson in Japan. Credit: Flickr: The Commons, U.S. National Archives.

Mrs. Roosevelt’s 27-year newspaper column spanned her time as first lady, when she became a widow, and when she worked with the United Nations. One of her only breaks from writing the columns was in the days following her husband’s death on 12 April 1945.

In her last column, which ran 26 September 1962, Eleanor was once again addressing the issue of civil rights. In that column she discussed the issue of desegregating the schools, saying:

“In the same way, we must realize that however slow the progress of school integration in the South, analogous situations exist over and over again in the Northern states. There the problem of school desegregation is closely tied to desegregation of housing; certainly we are not doing any kind of job that we could hold out as an example to our Southern neighbors.”

With that discussion Eleanor’s “My Day” column came to an end.* She died two months later on 7 November 1962 at the age of 78.

* “My Day” by Eleanor Roosevelt, 26 September 1962. Available on the website My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt. Prepared by the Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project.

Indiana wants me …

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GenealogyBank has Indiana newspapers from 1817 – Today.

Click here and search Indiana historical newspapers 1817-1930
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Click here and search Indiana Death records 1937-2010 (SSDI)

Newspapers in GenealogyBank
American Nonconformist. 11/11/1886 – 4/2/1896
Amigo del Hogar. 11/22/1925 – 4/13/1930
Batesville Herald-Tribune. 10/2/2009-Current
Bremen Enquirer. 10/7/2009-Current
Brookville Enquirer. 2/5/1819 – 12/26/1820
Chronicle-Tribune (Marion, IN). 3/18/1999-Current
Commercial Review, The (Portland, IN). 4/10/2003-Current
Decatur Daily Democrat. 3/11/2008-Current
Elkhart Truth. 12/29/2007-Current
Evansville Courier & Press. 6/19/1991-Current
Evening News and Tribune (Jeffersonville-New Albany, IN). 6/3/2006-Current
Fort Wayne News Sentinel. 6/29/1901 – 2/22/1923
Freeman. 6/12/1897 – 2/4/1899
Goshen News, The. 10/26/2007-Current
Greensburg Daily News. 10/2/2009-Current
Herald Bulletin, The (Anderson, IN). 11/13/2008-Current
Huntington Herald-Press. 5/13/2005-Current
Indiana Centinel. 3/14/1817 – 12/30/1820
Indiana Democrat. 10/30/1830 – 3/9/1838
Indiana State Journal. 6/24/1846 – 12/27/1899
Indianapolis Ledger. 4/13/1918 – 10/28/1922
Indianapolis Sentinel. 7/2/1872 – 9/30/1882
Journal Gazette, The (Fort Wayne, IN). 2/14/1992-Current
Madison Courier, The. 5/1/2001-Current
New Albany Daily Ledger. 2/11/1854 – 9/15/1860
News-Dispatch, The (Michigan City, IN). 4/1/1997-Current
News-Sentinel, The (Fort Wayne, IN). 8/6/1990-Current
Paper of Montgomery County, The (Crawfordsville, IN). 11/26/2004-Current
Pharos-Tribune (Logansport, IN). 10/2/2009-Current
Post & Mail, The (Columbia City, IN). 10/7/2009-Current
Post-Tribune. 9/17/2000-Current
Reporter, The (Lebanon, IN). 6/18/2008-Current
Shelbyville News, The. 6/2/2009-Current
Terre Haute Express. 12/25/1878 – 3/22/1881
Times, The (Noblesville, IN). 10/22/2008-Current
Vincennes Sun-Commercial. 10/7/2002-Current
Wabash Courier. 2/18/1836 – 1/1/1853
Washington Times-Herald, The. 11/5/2007-Current
Zionsville Times Sentinel, The. 10/2/2009-Current

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