“The case of Lurancy Vennum, a bright young girl of fourteen years, has been the subject of much discussion in Watseka during the past year, and there is a good deal in it beyond human comprehension.” – “Mesmeric Mysteries,” Cincinnati Enquirer (Cincinnati, OH), Jun. 22, 1878 
Ever since Regan MacNeil crawled backwards down the stairs in The Exorcist, possession has been a cornerstone of American horror movies. The very idea of losing control of ourselves to something otherworldly fills us with fear. The fear of possession, of course, has been around since long before the 1970s. Cases of possession have featured on the pages of newspapers across the country since the Salem witch trials in the 1690s. We don’t have to look far to find one such case.
Continue reading “The Watseka Wonder”
In August 2016 HPNL and Preservation Services received a fourth round of grant funding for the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP), a project supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Library of Congress. The grant supports the funding for the digitization of 100,000 pages of newspapers. For this cycle UIUC focused on immigrant Chicagoland-based newspapers from the late 19th century and early 20th century. As part of this project, I was tasked with producing short essays summarizing the history of two related Czech-American newspapers: Denní hlasatel (Daily Herald) and its weekly counterpart, Týdenní hlasatel (Weekly Herald). The essays were to appear in the Library of Congress powered site, Chronicling America, as well as UIUC’s newspaper portal, the Illinois Digital Newspaper Collections (IDNC).
Continue reading “What can a Czech-American newspaper teach us about the American union?”