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December 2011
There are some odd things about the Old Fulton NY Post Cards site. First of all, despite the name, it has nothing to do with old postcards. Second, it's full of strange animations. A goldfish floats around the screen, and there's a head with spider legs that crawls about. There are sounds (such as a cannon and fireworks) that play at random moments, and you can't turn them off.

But these odd things are just the wrapping around the true content of the site, which is 17 million pages of scanned, fully searchable pages of old New York state newspapers. All completely free. There aren't even any ads. If you like doing historical research, it's a goldmine. The site has been around for a while, but I just discovered it last month, and it's now become one of my favorite sites.


The really strange thing about the site is that it's been put together by one guy, Tom Tryniski, who runs the site off of servers in his home. To put this in perspective, Tryniski has managed to put together an online newspaper archive that's larger than the Library of Congress's newspaper archive. Much larger. And far more comprehensive.

Anyway, I've been finding all kinds of old hoax-related material on it, which is why I'm so excited about it. For instance, I found the original text (warning: pdf) of the man-eating tree of Madagascar hoax, published in the NY World on April 28, 1874, which I posted about last month.

But that's just the tip of the iceberg. I've been finding the original texts of lots of old newspaper hoaxes -- stuff that I don't think anyone has seen for over 100 years. I'll be posting some of my finds in the next few weeks.
Categories: Miscellaneous
Posted by Alex on Mon Dec 19, 2011
Comments (5)
Here are some pictures, courtesy of Nettie and Smerk, of the Cardiff Giant enjoying the sights in Perth. (Nettie sent me the pictures about three weeks ago, but Thanksgiving and the moon hoax distracted me. At least, that's the excuse for my slowness that I'm going with.)

So where should the Cardiff Giant go next? Any volunteers to host him? I'm hoping it might be possible to send him somewhere in the general neighborhood of Australia. Japan, maybe? I'll wait a week for responses, and in the meantime I'll also see if I can find any volunteers through non-MoH channels.
Categories: Art, Exploration/Travel, Miscellaneous
Posted by Alex on Fri Dec 16, 2011
Comments (6)
Way back when, in the mid-1990s, the hoax that initially got me hooked on studying hoaxes was the Great Moon Hoax of 1835. I remember coming across a brief reference to it in a book — I can't remember which book anymore — and being so intrigued by it that I immediately started tracking down more information about it. Then I decided to devote a chapter in my doctoral dissertation to it. I never finished the dissertation. Got a bit sidetracked. But I did spend a lot of time researching the moon hoax, and writing up notes about it, before I gave up on the dissertation.

However, all that information then sat on my computer. It never made its way to the Museum of Hoaxes, where I had posted only a short article about the moon hoax — and that article actually had some errors in it.

But recently I was cleaning up the Hoax Archive, and as I was doing so, it occurred to me that I really should have a better article about the moon hoax on the site. After all, I spent a couple of years researching it (though, of course, that wasn't the only thing I was doing during that time), but all I had to show for that effort was a short, error-filled article. Why not take all my moon hoax notes, organize them into a coherent form, and put them online, where they might be of interest to someone. And where they'd definitely be of better use than sitting on my computer, inaccessible to anyone but me.

So that's what I spent the last few weeks doing. I got a bit carried away. My new moon hoax article is, by far, the longest article posted on the site, coming in at around 17,000 words — or about 60 pages, if someone were to print it out, though I've got the entire thing on a single page.

It's definitely more information about the moon hoax than most people want to know. I go into detail analyzing questions such as how many people actually fell for the hoax? Why did people believe it? Did the hoax really cause the NY Sun's circulation to rise dramatically? And why was there speculation that Richard Adams Locke wasn't the only author?

But I feel good that I finally got all that material out there. Like I said, maybe it'll be of use to some future researcher of the moon hoax.

Oh, and one more thing: I noticed that someone is selling an original copy of the moon hoax on eBay. That is, they're selling the actual copies of the NY Sun from 1835. They're asking $488. I thought an original copy of the moon hoax would fetch more, but the copies they're selling are in pretty bad condition, and they're not complete pages. Someone cut out the text of the hoax, so none of the surrounding material is preserved.
Categories: Journalism
Posted by Alex on Fri Dec 16, 2011
Comments (1)