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Edwin Booth: Topics in Chronicling America

In the late 1800s, Edwin Booth was a noted actor and hero but sadly was eclipsed by his brother, John Wilkes Booth. This guide provides access to materials related to "Edwin Booth" in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.


"Edwin Booth." June 7, 1893. New-York Tribune (New York, NY), Image 1. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

Often overshadowed by his infamous younger brother John Wilkes, Edwin Booth was a preeminent actor who was considered the greatest of his time. With unmatched finesse, he set a new theatrical standard on Shakespearean roles such as Hamlet, Richard III and Iago. But his intrigue wasn’t just limited to the stage: Edwin was also the victim of an assassination attempt and saved the life of Abraham Lincoln’s son. 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.


June 1, 1853 San Francisco critics rave about Edwin as an up and coming star.
March 2, 1864 Abraham Lincoln and his wife express interest in seeing Edwin perform.
April 15, 1865 The day after President Lincoln's assassination by John Wilkes Booth, Edwin vows to never return to the stage.
April, 1865 Edwin Booth saves Lincoln’s son from being run over by a train car.
January 3, 1866 Edwin Booth resumes acting again, playing Hamlet at the Winter Garden.
May 1, 1879 A young man named Mark Gray attempts to assassinate Edwin Booth, but fails.
April 15, 1891 Edwin Booth, by now considered America’s greatest actor, announces his retirement.
June 7, 1893 Edwin dies, succumbing to paralysis.
October 16, 1913 A theater in New York opens commemorating Edwin Booth.