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Vanderbilt Cup: Topics in Chronicling America

In the early 19th century, American auto engineering was tested in the fast and dangerous Vanderbilt Cup races. This guide provides access to materials related to the "Vanderbilt Cup" in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.


"The start of the heart-wrecking auto race." September 22, 1906. The Evening World (New York, NY), Image 2. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

A racer himself, William K. Vanderbilt created the Vanderbilt Cup Race as an international event to spark American auto engineers to compete with foreign manufacturers. Attracting the best of the best and huge crowds, the Vanderbilt Cup was an extremely popular event. High speeds were accompanied by deadly accidents and even larger crowds. Forced change of venue opposed William’s original intent for the race, so after 1916 the race was not continued until it was revived much later. 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 8, 1904William K. Vanderbilt establishes the First Vanderbilt Cup, held in Long Island with huge crowds.
October 14, 1905Hermey wins the Second Vanderbilt Cup.
October 6, 1906An American car and driver wins the Cup with expected crowds over 200,000. Later, the winning car goes on tour for interested audiences.
October 1, 1910The race is marred by many accidents and deaths. The Race is also to be moved in following years.
February 27, 1914De Palma wins again in Santa Monica.
February 22, 1915Vanderbilt Cup is held at Exposition in California and De Palma wins for the third time.
October 12, 1916After some doubt, the Vanderbilt Cup is held again, but for the last time until 1936.