American Journalism at its Finest

illustration of yellow onionsOne of SPL's most valuable resources for Somerville history is the Somerville Journal, the city's oldest newspaper. We have the complete run of the paper in hard copy and microfilm from the 1870s to the present. Reading old issues is fascinating. Not only do they give a sense of how important newspapers were for news and entertainment before competition from radio, television and the Internet, they also reveal the issues that were on people's minds that seldom make it into the history books.  While looking for an obituary today I happened upon a Journal opinion piece from February 26, 1914, that set the minds of Somervillians at ease regarding the vital question: may a gentleman eat raw onions? The title of the editorial is "The Onion Vindicated."

I won't keep you in suspense, dear reader. Gentlemen (and ladies) may eat onions. They are good for you. Onions kill diploccocci pneumoniae, what we would now call streptococcus pneumoniae, the bacteria that can cause ear infections, sinus infections and pneumonia. The Journal advises its readers that, "As for the members of the family who object to onions--well, a man must not give up his hope of escape from the lurking diploccoccus merely because his sisters, his cousins or his aunts abhor the penetrant perfume of raw onions."

You read it here first.

image: Public Domain

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