Databases and Journals, Library Resources, Research

New Database: “Flash Press” Newspapers of the 19th Century

By Laura Childs, Emerging Technologies Librarian

Extra, extra! Fordham Libraries acquire new & unusual database!

American Underworld: The Flash Press is a Readex database now available to Fordham students and faculty. It features rare, short-lived newspapers that cover crime, scandal, blackmail, and the seamier aspects of urban life in the mid-19th century. These publications document tales of “unruly” urban life that researchers may not find in other newspaper databases.

Database Scope

This collection consists of newspapers published between 1826-1876 that were collected by the American Antiquarian Society and are now digitized for the first time ever. You can browse the complete list of titles, many of which were published in New York. Explore publications such as:

  • Criminal Life
  • Hangman
  • New-York Flagellator, and Police Bulletin
  • Prophylactical Star
  • Venus’ Miscellany
  • Broadway Omnibus: a Panorama of Metropolitan Life
  • …and many more!
Newspaper Content

Though the titles and content of the papers were suggestive, the editors typically moralized against the topics they covered and didn’t cross the line into the explicit. Types of content you’ll find include:

  • Satirical and humorous articles on the illicit, low-life aspects of urban life
  • Coverage of police activities, sensational crimes, and trials
  • Original poems and songs
  • Reviews of bawdy theatrical performances
  • Stories about prostitutes, gangs, and other glimpses into the underground economy of the 19th century
  • Reports on gambling, horse racing, and other sporting events (both legal and illegal)

American Underworld will be of particular interest to researchers in the areas of gender studies, 19th-century literature and history, economics, journalism, and media studies, but just about everyone can enjoy this unusual perspective of American history.

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