What’s the Difference Between a Watch Maker and a Jailer? Adventures in Amateur Newspapers (Part I)

If you’re like me and occasionally find yourself lying in bed endlessly scrolling though BuzzFeed quizzes and pop culture articles, then you are no stranger to the modern-day dad joke. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, I like to define a “dad joke” as a cheesy and often predictable pun told by (but ...

America’s Sherlock Holmes


A recently acquired amateur newspaper, Hail Columbia, published in Hartford by W.H. Gillette, sent this serials cataloguer on a hunt for the full name of the editor. The paper itself gave no clues, and it was fairly typical of such things—riddles, poetry, bits and pieces of “news,” notices of other amateur newspapers and the like. ...

A slice of 19th century humor

masthead of Ohioan

The Amateur Ohion, published in Cincinnati, in January of 1878, like many amateur newspapers, contains a short humor column.  This little column contains a very odd little joke. It begins:
Why is an elephant like a steamboat?

We'd love to hear your guesses for the punchline! Send us your comments and we'll reveal the "correct" ...