Riddles, Puzzles, and…More Ohio Newspapers Added to Chronicling America!


When looking for a quick laugh to rest your mind or a brainteaser to stretch it, its practically second nature for us to turn to the countless jokes, puzzles and other diversions available on the Internet.  But have you ever looked in an historic newspaper for amusement?  Newspapers were great sources of entertainment for our ancestors and often published conundrums, enigmas and other word games.  Although some were intended for children, they were likely read, solved and shared by people of all ages. An "enigma" published in the November 15, 1870 issue of the Woodsfield Spirit of Democracy (p. 3, col. 3).  This one is intended to be the "simplest" of its kind in order to "aid those who have not been  initiated into these little mysteries."
An “enigma” published in the November 15, 1870 issue of the Woodsfield Spirit of Democracy (p. 3, col. 3). This one is intended to be the “simplest” of its kind in order to “aid those who have not been initiated into these little mysteries.”
In an article that claims that they have met worse conundrums than the following, editors of the Weekly Lancaster Gazette ask What winds would a hungry sailor wish for at sea? and When is a hedge dangerous to walk in?  Through the Ohio Historical Societys latest contributions to the National Digital Newspaper Program and Chronicling America, even more of these riddles of the past (and their answersclick here for the ones above) are easier than ever to access, giving you yet another online resource for humor.  Issues from the following Ohio papers are now freely available and keyword searchable at Chronicling America: From Ashland (Ashland County):

·         From Ashland (Ashland County):

o   Ohio Union, 1852-1854

o   Ashland Union, 1854-1868

o   States and Union, 1868-1871

·         From Canal Dover and New Philadelphia (Tuscarawas County):

o   Ohio Democrat and Dover Advertiser, 1839-1840

A group of conundrums from the April 19, 1850 issue of the Lancaster Gazette (p.1, col. 6).
A group of conundrums from the April 19, 1850 issue of the Lancaster Gazette (p.1, col. 6).

o   Ohio Democrat, 1840-1845

·         From Cincinnati (Hamilton County):

o   Tägliches Cincinnatier Volksblatt, 1914-1918

·         From Cleveland (Cuyahoga County):

o   Toiler, 1920-1921

·         From Eaton (Preble County):

o   Eaton Democrat (1843), 1854-1856

o   Preble County Democrat, 1857-1859

o   Democratic Press, 1860-1865

o   Eaton Weekly Democrat, 1870-1873

o   Eaton Democrat (1875), 1875-1887

·         From Ironton (Lawrence County):

o   Spirit of the Times, 1853-1856

·         From Lancaster (Fairfield County):

o Lancaster Gazette (1846), 1847-1852

o   Weekly Lancaster Gazette (1852), 1852-1855

o   American Lancaster Gazette, 1855-1860

o   Gazette and Democrat, 1860-1860

o   Weekly Lancaster Gazette (1860), 1860-1863

o   Lancaster Gazette (1863), 1863-1870

·         From Pomeroy (Meigs County):

o   Meigs County Times, 1844-1844

o   Meigs County Telegraph, 1851-1859

·         From Portsmouth (Scioto County):

o   Portsmouth Inquirer, 1850-1855

·         From Steubenville (Jefferson County):

o   True American, 1855-1858

·         From Wellington (Lorain County):

o   Wellington Enterprise (1867), 1879-1886

o   Enterprise, 1889-1899

o   Wellington Enterprise (1899), 1899-1899

·         From Woodsfield (Monroe County)

o   Spirit of Democracy, 1844-1886

These papers join over seven million newspaper pages and more than 1,200 newspapers from all over the nation, including over 40 from Ohio, to chronicle United States history from 1836 to 1922.

To find your own riddles, puzzles and other entertainments, type one of the following terms into the Search Pages box on Chronicling America: conundrum, enigma, puzzle, youth department. And while some of the jokes youll find will fall flat and the enigmas may seem impenetrable, it is still enjoyable to read the puns and other items that amused our ancestors over one hundred years ago.

Search Box

Over the coming months, even more of Ohios historic newspapers will become digitized and freely available on Chronicling Americathrough the National Digital Newspaper Program in Ohio.

The National Digital Newspaper Program is a partnership between the National Endowment for the HumanitiesLibrary of Congress and state projects to provide enhanced access to United States newspapers published between 1836 and 1922.  National Endowment for the Humanities awards support state projects to select and digitize historically significant titles that are aggregated and permanently maintained by the Library of Congress at Chronicling America. As part of the project, the Ohio Historical Society contributed over 200,000 newspaper pages to the project between July 2008 and August 2012 and will contribute an additional 100,000 pages by the end of August 2014.

Posted February 18, 2014
Topics: My HistoryDaily Life

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