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Nikola Tesla: Topics in Chronicling America

Nikola Tesla was a Serbian-American engineer and physicist. This guide provides access to materials related to the “Nikola Tesla” in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.


Sketch of Nikola Tesla. March 15, 1896. Omaha Daily Bee (Omaha NE), Image 13. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

Described as “a genuine poet of electricity,” Nikola Tesla paves the way for scientific and social breakthroughs with his discovery of an alternating current electrical system, creation of “artificial daylight,” and ambitious theories on interplanetary communication. 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.


1883 Tesla came to the United States and began working at Edison’s lab.
1886 He formed Tesla Electric Light & Manufacturing.
1888 Tesla invented the first usable Alternating Current motor.
1893 Demonstration of alternating current generators at the Chicago World’s Fair, lighting thousands of incandescent light bulbs.
1896 The first Niagara Falls hydroelectric plant opened, which Tesla designed to harness the energy of the Falls and convert it to electricity.
1898 Demonstration of Tesla’s remote controlled boat in New York, the first remote control device.
1902 Construction on Wardenclyffe, Tesla’s laboratory facility is completed.
1915 Tesla’s financial problems caused him to lose the lease on Wardenclyffe. It is eventually used for scraps during World War I.