May 2019

Dell Rapids Exponent from Saturday, April 2, 1881

Newspaper Artifact

This copy of the Dell Rapids Exponent from Saturday, April 2, 1881, is printed on the back of wallpaper. The winter of 1880-1881 was extremely severe, and trains often struggled to get to towns with supplies. This winter would become even better known when Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote about it in her book, The Long Winter.

As the disclaimer from the paper below indicates, newspapers continued to print the paper on whatever material they could find.  We expected our regular paper for this issue, and to print on Monday, but a Windysota blizzard again filled up the track Thursday in the vicinity of Jackson-at which time this division was clear except 20 miles. Tonight, Saturday, the shovelers will reach Jackson again, but we need not look for trains until about next Wednesday or Thursday night. This is why you are reading your Exponent on wall paper, a handkerchief, perhaps on wrapping paper, in fact, anything that will print! If our paper does not get around in time for next issue (one of our packages is now at Winnebago City) we may print on shingles. However, we will do the best we can.

This example is printed on the back of a blue and orange floral wall paper. Other newspapers from the winter in the museums’ collection were printed on linen material and wrapping paper.

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