A 1915 newspaper announces an outbreak of plague in France is imminent. The following year a Persian savant predicts a certain White House baby will go on to become “Magistrate Ruler of the World.” How do these prophets know? It’s written in the stars! From palm reading to Ouija boards to zodiac signs, Americans have exhibited a bizarre fascination with demystifying their destinies. Gaining recognition in the late 1800’s the reputation of horoscopes has morphed from an ancient pseudo-science into a respectable discipline—featured almost daily in U.S. newspapers by the early 1900’s. 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.
|1879 - 1890||Newspapers feature skeptical articles about the “so-called science” of astrology and its ancient roots.|
|1891 - 1894||The astrology trend takes off in London and high society American women begin to emulate the ancient tradition “sub rosa,” or in secret.|
|1895 - 1909||Astrology replaces palm reading as the new mystical fad. Newspapers publish more serious information about zodiac signs and Americans start consulting the stars for guidance in their personal lives.|
|1914 - 1921||The popularity of Astrology reaches an all-time high. Famous “prophets” or “astrologists” incorrectly predict major political and cultural events such as the end date of WW1, the birth of the future “World’s President,” and the reappearance of the Star of Bethlehem.|