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Great Blizzard of 1888: Topics in Chronicling America

For three days in March of 1888, over three feet of snow fell from Delaware to Montreal. This guide provides information on researching the topic of "The Great Blizzard of 1888" in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.


Blizzard Was King, March 13, 1888. The Sun (New York, NY), Page 1, Image 1. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

BLIZZARD WAS KING. The Metropolis Helpless Under Snow,” reports the Sun on March 13, 1888.  Over a three-day period, upwards of three feet of snow falls as a huge, destructive blizzard roars across the east coast from Delaware to Montreal. Supplies of fuel and food dwindle, power lines snap, trains are buried, and an estimated 800 people are killed in New York City alone. 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.


March 11, 1888 A significant rainstorm develops in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic area.
March 12, 1888 As the rain turns to snow, Washington, D.C. reports the severance of telegraph wires, effectively isolating the city from much of the northeast.
March 13, 1888 Reports from all over the northeast inform citizens of train outages and traffic accidents. Fifteen inches of snow are reported in Saratoga and Albany, New York.  The New York Stock Exchange closes for the day.
March 14, 1888 The snow finally dissipates around midday.
March 15, 1888 Some trains begin moving around parts of New York, but most remain stranded or lost. The New York Stock Exchange resumes business.
March 22, 1888 The first reports of blizzard-induced fatalities are published. Many died in the cold temperatures.