Morgan Ammunition Depot Explosion: Topics in Chronicling America
On October 5, 1918, explosions rocked the Morgan Ammunition Depot, killing scores of people. This guide provides access to materials related to the “Morgan Ammunition Depot Explosion” 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.
“With scenes graphically resembling those of war-devastated France, a dozen towns in northern New Jersey were in a shattered condition this afternoon as a consequence of the munition disaster,” read the Evening Public Ledger out of Philadelphia on the night of October 5, 1918. With explosions lasting into the next morning, and fires bruning for three days, the Morgan Depot Explosion was a devastating blow to the town of Sayrevile and surrounding neighborhoods. In total, over 300 buildings were destroyed and over $18,000,000 of damage was done, while it is believed that around 100 people lost their lives. 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.
October 4, 1918 7:30PM
Initial explosion sparks a fire at the Gillespie Company Plant in the town of Sayreville in Middlesex County, New Jersey. Fires set off multiple explosions that devastate the plant and nearby buildings in the town.
October 5, 1918 10AM
Explosions persist until the following morning. It was believed that there were over 12 subsequent explosions.
October 5, 1918
The cities of Sayreville, South Amboy, and Perth Amboy were evacuated and a radius of over 10 miles around the plant was deemed unsafe. The fires burn into the next day. US Coast Guardsmen that were stationed nearby were called in to aid in rescue operations.