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April Fools' Day: Topics in Chronicling America

Beginning in the late 19th century, newspapers start to publish and celebrate April Fools' Days. This guide provides access to materials related to “April Fools'” in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.


"Some ancient and honorable April Fool jokes." March 28, 1896. The Morning Times (Washington, DC), Image 17. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

The first of April some do say, Was set apart for All Fools' Day: But why the people call it so, Nor I nor they themselves do know" begins the article in the San Francisco Call on April 1, 1900, which discusses the history and customs of "April Fool's Day," also known as "All Fools' Day. Read more about it!

The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.

The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.


April 1 April Fools’ Day celebrated by sending people on fruitless errands, giving inedible treats, and other pranks.