Major newspaper headlines from the year you were born
Long before live-streaming social media reports and crawling news tickers plastered on the bottom of 24-hour cable news channel feeds, the world got its news from newspapers. Today, Stacker’s taking a look at major newspaper headlines from the last 100 years spanning women’s suffrage and world wars to President Trump’s impeachment and COVID-19.
Greener's Law states, "Never pick a fight with a man who buys ink by the barrel," a sentiment designed to convey the sheer power of publishing. Newspapers have brought down corrupt presidents, exposed malfeasance during wartime, and crushed the presumption of benevolence associated with powerful religious institutions. They've also connected generations of average people to the larger world around them and provided critical information the public wouldn't have otherwise had.
From World Series victories to epic naval battles, pop-culture revolutions to actual revolutions, the events that shape the world have long been told through newspaper articles—and the main point of entry to every article is the headline. Great headlines speak for themselves, and long before online clickbait bloggers rendered the headline more important than the actual article itself, carefully chosen words written in the active voice and printed in large, boldface type, compelled the reader to keep reading.
The day of the local newsboy shouting "Extra! Extra!" to passersby eager to gobble up the latest information is in the past, yet the classic newspaper—the beacon of the free press enshrined in our Constitution—continues to stain fingers every morning across the country and the world. Likewise, the stories editors select for front-page, above-the-fold, bold-type headline coverage continue to drive the news cycle.
Here's a look at the headlines that captured the moment, spread the word, and helped shape public opinion over the last 100 years.
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1920: 'U.S. WOMEN GET VOTE'
On Aug. 18, 1920, The San Francisco Call summed up the spirit of the Nineteenth Amendment with a single headline. More than 40 years after it was introduced in 1878, the amendment granted women's suffrage in one of the most significant expansions of the voting franchise in American history.
1921: 'LOOT, ARSON, MURDER!'
On June 10, 1921, The Black Dispatch of Oklahoma City reported on what would go down as one of the most significant instances of racial terror in American history: the Tulsa race riots. Perhaps more fittingly described by the Tulsa Historical Society & Museum as the Tulsa Race Massacre, the blaring headline reflected the fear and confusion felt in Oklahoma's black community when a massive and enraged white mob looted, burned, and destroyed the affluent African American town of Greenwood, killing hundreds along the way.
1922: 'EINSTEIN GETS NOBEL PHYSICS PRIZE FOR 1921'
If you were reading the New York Herald on Nov. 10, 1922, you might have missed this small headline buried on page 11, but the seemingly insignificant article detailed one of the biggest moments in the history of science. Although physicist Albert Einstein was most famous for his theory of relativity, that work never earned him a Nobel Prize. What did, however, was his work explaining the science behind the photoelectric effect, which deals with the transfer of electricity through light. It is the science that drives today's solar-powered energy.
1923: 'PRESIDENT HARDING DEAD END CAME VERY SUDDENLY'
On Aug. 3, 1923, The Boston Post rolled out a blaring headline that reflected the shock of the nation at the sudden death of President Warren G. Harding. It's widely accepted now that Harding died of a heart attack, but at the time, public curiosity, misinformation, and rampant rumors fueled a whirlwind of speculation and conspiracy theories that would endure for decades.
1924: 'LEOPOLD AND LOEB GET LIFE SENTENCE'
Before there was O.J. there were Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb, a pair of privileged, rich, successful young men who murdered a 14-year-old boy named Bobby Franks merely for the thrill and to see if they could pull it off. Dubbed the "crime of the century" in media outlets across the country, the story was a national sensation. Famed attorney Clarence Darrow was hired to plead their case, but Darrow proved less capable than O.J.'s dream team—the pair was convicted and sentenced to life, as reported by The Omaha Evening Bee on Sept. 10, 1924.
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1925: 'SCOPES “GUILTY” IN APE CASE'
On July 21, 1925, The Chicago Daily News reported on the outcome of the Scopes "monkey trial"—which it referred to as the "ape case"—chronicled in the 1960 movie "Inherit the Wind." A little more than 65 years after Charles Darwin published his Theory of Evolution in 1859, a Dayton, Tenn. science teacher named John Scopes was arrested, tried, and convicted for teaching evolution, which was against the law in Tennessee. The sensational trial pitted famed lawyers Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan against each other in a contest that captivated the nation and highlighted an American religious divide that continues to this day.
1926: '2000 DEATHS IN HURRICANE; LOSSES REACH $250,000,000'
By 1926, Southern Florida was booming, but the growing population was dangerously naive to the danger they faced from serious hurricanes in the bustling resort destination. That naivete was shattered when, without warning, a category 4 storm known as the Great Miami Hurricane tore through the Caribbean and crashed into southern Florida, killing hundreds. The lack of hurricane knowledge compelled many to head out of their shelters when the eye of the storm passed over the region because they wrongly believed that the storm was over. Like so many papers during the catastrophe, the San Francisco Chronicle relied on early, unconfirmed reports that exaggerated the death toll.
1927: 'LINDBERGH LANDS IN PARIS'
On May 22, 1927, the Chicago Sunday Tribune printed news of one of the greatest accomplishments in aviation history. On May 20, famed pilot Charles Lindbergh took off from Roosevelt Field in Long Island in the Spirit of St. Louis. About 33.5 hours and 3,600 miles later, he landed safely in Paris after completing the first solo, nonstop trans-Atlantic flight in world history.
1928: 'YANK GIRL FLIES ATLANTIC'
A little more than a year after Charles Lindbergh raised the bar for aviators everywhere, Amelia Earhart earned international headlines of her own when she became the first woman in history to cross the Atlantic Ocean in an airplane. On June 18, 1928, the Wisconsin News summed up the event with a headline that would likely be chided as condescending in modern times.
1929: 'WALL ST. IN PANIC AS STOCKS CRASH'
The Great Depression started on Oct. 24, 1929, when panic selling led to a major stock market crash on what is now known as Black Thursday. By Monday, the market had dropped another 13% and suffered roughly the same losses the next day, known as Black Monday and Black Tuesday. The roaring '20s were over, and across the water from Wall Street in the borough of Brooklyn, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle cooked up a headline that summarized the darkening national mood.
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