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.
Chronicling America is a searchable digital collection of historic newspaper pages from 1777-1963 sponsored jointly by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress.
Included in the website is the Directory of US Newspapers in American Libraries, a searchable index to newspapers published in the United States since 1690, which helps researchers identify what titles exist for a specific place and time, and how to access them.
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.
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.