I'm one of those historical writers that Michael A. Black mentioned at the end of his great post of yesterday, and I have to say, I'm glad that I'm dealing with history. I can "read all about it" (whatever "it" may be), and by picking up articles from different points in time I can track how a situation changes over time. In this way, I can, if I want, incorporate the beginning, the evolution, and the conclusion of an event. One such that I had great fun with in my Silver Rush series was the coming of the railroad to Leadville, Colorado. When the stampede to timberline first started up in 1878(ish), there was no railroad to Leadville. People who were intent on making their fortunes in "Cloud City" arrived in stagecoach and wagons, on horseback and on foot (or on snowshoe, if it was winter!). But as soon as it became apparent there would be a great deal of mineral wealth coming out of Leadville, the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe faced off against the Denver and Rio Grande.
The newspapers chronicled the rumors, the facts, the turns and twists, and all the excitement that occurred during the "Colorado Railroad War," which was also called the "Royal Gorge Railroad War." (You can read a short summary of it here: http://www.explore-old-west-colorado.com/Colorado-Railroad-War.html)
The other thing that old newspapers offer are REALLY cool advertisements! For instance, here are two I pulled up just now at random, from the Leadville Daily Herald, October 21, 1880, using the Colorado Historic Newspapers site.
One is call from one of Leadville's big theaters for "ladies and children" to be extras (I'm guessing here, as I don't have time to pursue this now) for a play. But wow... look at this. What kind of a play is this? And what kind of parents (this is 1880, remember), would say "Let's go down to the Grand Central Theater and put you up for casting call!" For one thing, the Grand Central was smack dab on State Street... the red-light and (erhem) "entertainment" district of Leadville. Hmmmm... I can see a short story here somewhere.
As for "Warner's SAFE Kidney & Liver Cure," all kinds of questions and musings pop to mind. For one thing, consider this: Folks reading this newspaper not only knew the story of Hercules, but knew who Antaeus was as well. Now, do you know who Antaeus was?? (No peeking! Oh, okay, you can peek... because I did!)
Second, I rather love the "respectful" letter from John G. L. Crawford from Jersey City, who extolls the virtues of this particular cure. I do wonder, though: just want "terrible kidney complaint" caused him such acute pain? Or maybe John G. L. writes these little letters at the behest of various companies, making a tidy little living until.... Well, there you go. Another story in the making.
Now, it's your turn! Three advertisements appear below... but what's with the upside-down placement for the "Fifth National Loan Office"??? A disgruntled typesetter who wasn't happy with the "liberal cash advance" on his family heirloom watch? And you have to admire the copywriter for McMillen & Co. who perhaps would rather be scripting melodramas for the Grand Central Theater...
Anyhow, let your imagination run wild! Leave a comment and let me know what "story" you come up with!