Black Friday and Holiday Shopping: a Post-Thanksgiving Tradition

Typical Scenes as Shoppers Make Their Final Christmas Purchases. "At least one bundle is mandatory"; "Summoned by S.O.S."; "Now don't forget Santy"; Money is plentiful in the United States this year, and the stores are doing a big Christmas business. The millions in gold that have poured into this country for the purchase of war supplies have given a firm tone to all lines of trade, and all classes are preparing for a merry Christmas. Some idea of the extent of the shopping may be gained from the accompanying pictures, showing the great throng of shoppers in the centres where holiday gifts are on sale. The man or woman who does not lug a bundle or two around these days is the exception.

Image credit: The Alaska daily empire. (Juneau, Alaska), 23 Dec. 1918. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84020657/1918-12-23/ed-1/seq-1/>

Greetings, all!

Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, many folks are hitting the shopping malls across the country to get a head start on their holiday shopping. Leafing through historic Alaska newspapers, one can find plenty of news items involving holiday shopping, too. Although Black Friday as the “busiest shopping day of the year” and unofficial start of the holiday season did not come into being until about the 1980s, shoppers anticipated a month-long window of time to buy gifts.

Read on to see how newspapers in Cordova, Juneau, and Skagway dealt with the topic of holiday shopping- and making sure its readers were able to find everything in time!

 

Time to do Shopping. But three weeks remain until Christmas, and the offerings of Cordova's enterprising merchants through the columns of the Daily Times should be taken advantage of by doing your shopping early, while you have the choice of articles for gifts. Under the caption of "Why Not Now," the Saturday Evening Post points out the advantage of early shopping in the following excerpt from one of its editorials on that subject: "Christmas shopping several weeks before Christmas is a pleasant adventure; a week before it is a hard trial; a day before it is a calamity. Usually it is mere laziness that puts it off. "In ten years there has been a marked change in Christmas shopping habits in cities, brought about by constant appeals to the public. Yet hundreds of thousands of employees in city shops still look forward to Christmas week pretty much as the boys in the trenches look forward to the order to charge. Among salespeople, deliverymen and bookkeepers the holiday onslaught still leaves a cyclonic trail of wrecked nerves. Like every other bad habit, once it is broken the victim wonders why he suffered from it so long. Do your Christmas shopping now and you will never again wait until near Christmas."

Image credit: The Cordova daily times. (Cordova, Alaska), 09 Dec. 1916. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86072239/1916-12-09/ed-1/seq-2/>

Wednesday, December 15, 1920: Christmas Shopping: Cordova stores are well stocked with pretty things for the Christmas trade and from now on the salespeople will have their energies taxed to serve the public. Don't wait until the day before the holiday to do your Christmas shopping and force the stores to remain open nights. Remember that after clerks have stood upon their feet throughout the day they are entitled to rest, and there is no greater health destroyer than overtaxing strength. Try this Christmas to co-operate in making it as light upon those who serve us as possible. It is a better Christmas spirit than to organize a rush at the eleventh hour and its consequent baleful effects.

Image credit: Image credit: The Cordova daily times. (Cordova, Alaska), 15 Dec. 1920. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86072239/1920-12-15/ed-1/seq-4/>

Only 28 More Shopping Days to Christmas: Juneau Residents Should Be Getting Lists Ready, Start Shopping Early. Have you begun your Christmas shopping yet? No, well there are only 28 more shopping days, do you realize that? Have you even made up your shopping list yet, put down the items you are going to get for Billie, Maggie, or Tom, Dick and Harry, mother, father, sister, or brother? The time is rolling quickly towards the big day, rolling quicker than most people imagine and when one realizes that there are only 28 more shopping days it almost takes ones breath away. The local merchants are already receiving their last Christmas shipments and soon shelves and cases will be filled with articles for gifts. Show windows will soon be decorated and the Christmas trade will be on with a rush. Local merchants, as soon as they get all of their goods unpacked, expect a good holiday trade and hope shoppers will "shop early" to relieve the inevitable grand rush of the few days before Christmas.

Image credit: The Alaska daily empire. (Juneau, Alaska), 20 Nov. 1920. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84020657/1920-11-20/ed-1/seq-7/>

Christmas Shopping: The thought of Christmas shopping is the thing that is under everybody's bonnet just now- or it ought to be. The stores are looking their best just now, the stocks of Christmas goods are yet comparatively complete and it is a delight to just look in upon the glint and shimmer of the show cases and the laden shelves and counters. All merchants alike declare the trade is well under way and bids fair to equal that of any holiday season in the history of Skagway.

Image credit: The daily Alaskan. (Skagway, Alaska), 17 Dec. 1908. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn82014189/1908-12-17/ed-1/seq-4/>

Juneau Trade at Christmas Time is Good: Merchants Report Shopping Has Started Indicating People Are Prosperous. Christmas trading is starting in Juneau and all merchants report that the indications are that the holiday business will equal that of previous years and possibly exceed the business of the past two years. Merchants who do not engage at special holiday business also report excellent financial conditions in Juneau and that trading in general is splendid. W.S. Pullen, manager of the Alaska Electric Light & Power Co., stated today that the business of that house has been good during the fall and was fine at the present time with indications that the Christmas trade will be excellent. There are many new novelties in household goods of an electrical nature being displayed this year. A. J. Ficken, manager of the Frye-Bruhn Market, who recently returned from a business trip to Seattle, stated today that he was surprised at the business being done in Juneau on Thanksgiving day. "Our business has been good this year," said Mr. Ficken today, "and a trip around the Capital City will show the why for. Few men are on the streets in the day time showing that all who care to work are employed. The women folks have been busy with their Christmas sewing at home and have used the telephone for their orders. Now that the greater part of the home work is over, the women folks will start on their store shopping and the holiday season will be a busy one, I am sure. I was glad to get back to Juneau, after visiting several cities in the Pacific Northwest, for conditions here are so much better than outside, that the comparison is all in favor of Gastineau Channel." Simpson & Wright, of the Nugget Shop, report that the holiday business has started off briskly in the jewelry line. M. Michael and George E. Coury, of the Boston Store, are both well satisfied with the first spurt in the holiday trading. Christmas goods in the drug stores are moving rapidly and with shipments expected on the next steamers from the South, these will be unpacked and the goods will be displayed.

Image credit: The Alaska daily empire. (Juneau, Alaska), 04 Dec. 1920. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84020657/1920-12-04/ed-1/seq-7/>

Those who have not already begun to do their Christmas shopping should not put off the task another day. Merchants are displaying their Christmas goods, and those who shop now will be able to get first chance at them, at a time when they will have the time to think clearly and without the confusion and compulsion for hasty decisions that always result when you have to catch a boat with your mail. Salesmen have time now to help make your decisions. They will not have that time if you wait for the rush. Commence your shopping now.

Image credit: The Cordova daily times. (Cordova, Alaska), 13 Dec. 1919. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86072239/1919-12-13/ed-1/seq-8/>

 

However you choose to spend your Black Friday, please do so safely!

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Parts of a Newspaper: The Front Page

In this installment of the Parts of a Newspaper series, we’ll be looking at the part most central- the front page! Contributing to this post was city reporter for the Juneau Empire, Gregory Philson, who helped shed light on differences between century-old front pages to those of today.

Below is a front page from the former Alaska Daily Empire (now the Juneau Empire) almost exactly 100 years ago, in honor of our guest:Juneau Empire 100 years ago

When encountering an older front page, one of the most striking differences to the modern reader is its sometimes-chaotic layout, such as this one below from the January 5, 1923 issue of the Seward Gateway:

Where's the story

Based on this front page, there is no clear visual “path” to the story from its headline. The main headline likely functioned to draw readers into the issue, and to then send the readers in search of the story, while taking them to the other stories. Back then, headlines needed to print every story on its front page, due to the relatively high production costs. Newspapers today typically will have one “central” story surrounded by secondary ones, which may not be as important to that day.

Looking at headlines on a more micro level, an important, if sometimes overlooked, aspect of front page design is in its typography. In addition to the way words look through typefaces, kerning (letter spacing) and letting (spacing between leaders) matters greatly. Letting should allow the reader to not have to think about how the story is physically designed and to enable the content to be understood.

To demonstrate kerning, examine the headline below from the April 21, 1918 issue of The Seward Gateway Daily Edition and The Alaska Weekly Post:

Bad Kerning

Upon first glance, it is difficult to discern the meaning of the sentence when it looks like “DOUBLEMURDERATKENAI“. Being unable to understand a headline at at quick glance is a clear issue. If the reader does not know immediately what something says, they are less likely to want to read it. Moreover, the philosophy behind proper kerning is to make the words easily read by anyone, which is the objective of any newspaper. Readers simply cannot absorb information if the words themselves are not legible.

Front pages prioritize main stories that highlight conflicts (foreign wars and domestic disputes), or people and events of note. The front page can represent a microcosm of one day in history; readers can search newspaper databases like Chronicling America just by the front page of a specific title. Whether a newspaper represents a small town or a major city, its front page often reflects the people, places, incidents, and events its readers value. A front page of a newspaper reflects a singular moment in time.

Many thanks to our guest, Gregory Philson, and the Juneau Empire, for your time and insights!

 

Featured Content: Batch II: What to Expect

The second batch of Alaskan historical newspaper pages has been accepted for ingest in Chronicling America!  Batch II will include two titles, the remainder of Douglas Island News and the beginning of The Daily Alaskan.  These titles will be available on Chronicling America in December.  Currently available titles for searching are the Alaska Daily Empire (1912-1917), Douglas Island News (1898-1907), and The Thlinget (full run, 1908-1912).

Batch II Details:

  1. Douglas Island news, Douglas City, AK, 1907-1922
  2. The daily Alaskan, Skagway, AK, 1898-1905

For more information on these and other titles visit the Alaska State Library’s page on Alaska Historical Newspapers.

 

Featured Content: Batch I: The First 10,000

The first batch of Alaskan historical newspaper pages will become available to the public in Fall 2017!  Batch I will include three titles, The Alaska Daily Empire, Douglas Island News, and The Thlinget.

Batch I Details:

  1. The Alaska daily empire, Juneau, AK, 1912-1917
  2. Douglas Island news, Douglas City, AK, 1898-1907
  3. The Thlinget, Sitka, AK, 1908-1912

For more information on these and other titles visit the Alaska State Library’s page on Alaska Historical Newspapers.

Featured Content: 2016 Newspaper Title Selection

We are pleased to announce the titles selected for the 2016 NDNP grant cycle for the State of Alaska!

  1. The Alaska daily empire (Juneau, Alaska). 1912-1922.
  2. Douglas Island news (Douglas City, Alaska). 1898-1921.
  3. The Thlinget (Sitka, Alaska). 1908-1912.
  4. The daily Alaskan (Skagway, Alaska). 1898-1922.
  5. The Nome nugget (Nome, Alaska). 1901-1922.
  6. The Alaska prospector (Valdez, Alaska). 1902-1918.
  7. The Iditarod pioneer (Iditarod, Alaska). 1910-1919.
  8. The Cordova daily times (Cordova, Alaska). 1914-1922.
  9. The Seward gateway (Seward, Alaska). 1904-1922.
  10. The Alaska citizen (Fairbanks, Alaska). 1910-1920.

* titles listed include title changes within the same paper

 

For more information on selection guidelines please visit the Library of Congress’s Content Selection guide for the National Digital Newspaper Program.

Historic Newspapers Online @ Chronicling America

Chronicling America (chroniclingamerica.loc.gov) is your portal to Alaska’s digitized historical newspapers.

Developed by the Library of Congress, and jointly supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, Chronicling America hosts more than 12 million pages and counting of historical newspapers from across the country.  Newspaper issues digitized range in date from 1690-1963 and cover 43 states and one territory.

To find Alaskan papers on Chronicling America, simply follow the link above and use the drop down menu to select “Alaska” under Search Pages: All States.  For more information on the Chronicling America platform visit chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/about/.