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Radium: Topics in Chronicling America

When radium was discovered in 1898, the market became infatuated with the element. This guide provides access to materials related to the discovery of “Radium” in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.


"New miracles of medicine accomplished by radium." October 26, 1913. The Times Dispatch (Richmond, VA), Image 57. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

When Marie and Pierre Curie discovered radium in 1898, the market instantly became infatuated with the new element. Radium was used in everything from medicine to cocktails, providing useful medical benefits and luminous qualities that were used in consumer products. However, the dangers of radiation exposure were not fully understood at the time. 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.


1898 Radium is discovered by Marie Curie and her husband Pierre Curie in France.
1904 Radium is used in paint, cocktails, and other objects to make them glow.
1913 Radium is reported as an effective treatment in reducing the size of malignant growths.
1918 Due to high demand, many are worried about a shortage of radium.
1919 Radium is used in beauty products and makeup.