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Cherry Blossom Trees: Topics in Chronicling America

An early 20th century gift of cherry trees from Japan to the United States became a symbol of friendship. This guide provides access to materials related to the "Cherry Blossom Trees" in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.

Introduction

"Photograph taken last Sunday, showing cherry blossoms around the Tidal Basin." March 27, 1921. Evening Star (Washington, DC), Image 61. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

In 1909, wishing to beautify the city, First Lady Helen Taft planned to plant trees along the Potomac River. Hearing of the plan, the Japanese donated cherry trees in the name of the City of Tokyo. The first 2,000 arrive diseased and tragically had to be burned. Undeterred, Tokyo’s Mayor sent 3,000 more in 1912. As lasting symbols of friendship between the two countries, their fame continues today with more than a million visitors coming to see them each year. 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.

Timeline

1909 - 1912  Gift of cherry trees is given to Washington D.C. by Japan as a symbol of friendship between Japan and the United States. The original 2,000 trees sent from Japan arrive diseased and had to be destroyed. More trees are sent and planted.
1913 - 1920 Planting of cherry trees continues along the Tidal Basin. Visitors begin arriving to see the blossoming trees.