Crossword Puzzles since December 21, 1913

Did you know that tomorrow (December 21) is the 100th anniversary of the crossword puzzle? According to Chase’s Calendar of Events, the first crossword puzzle was created by Arthur Wynne, and was published in The New York World. (The New York World is famous in that it was once run by Joseph Pulitzer, who funded the Pulitzer Prizes, and that it was also the workplace of reporter, Nellie Bly, who went around the world in 72 days).
According to our subscription database, Pop Culture Universe (which you can access from home), a version first appeared in Italy in 1890. Wynne’s crosswords were such a hit, that they were published every week, and in 1924, Simon & Schuster published a collection in book form. If you’re curious about how the puzzle has changed, Presidential Historian, Michael Beschloss, tweeted a picture of the December 21, 1913 version.
If you’re a crossword puzzle fanatic, the library is a great place to serve your passion. Did you know that some of our most popular questions that we get at the reference desk involve crossword puzzle clues?

  • Photo copy crossword puzzles from major newspapers, such as The Boston Globe and The New York Times. We keep the Sunday copy of the The New York Times Magazine at the reference desk, so be sure and come to the desk to ask for the copy, there. After you make a copy and complete it, you have my permission to come back to the desk and brag if you finished it in pen. If you’re more my speed, you can also photo copy the crossword puzzles from People and TV Guide magazines.
  • Log in to our subscription database to access historical archives for The Boston Globe and The New York Times and challenge yourself to decades of crossword puzzles. Just type in “crossword puzzle” as a keyword and you will have thousands to choose. Before doing your search, challenge yourself now with the Boston Globe crossword puzzles from April 8, 1917 and January 1, 1970.
  • Check out the documentary, Wordplay, about the 28th annual American Crossword Puzzle Tournament founded by New York Times puzzle master, Will Shortz. Interspersed throughout the documentary are interviews with a variety of celebrities (circa 2006) and their crossword puzzle habits. FYI, former New York Yankees pitcher, former Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees does the Sunday Times crossword in pen! Even this staunch Red Sox fan has to like any (former) Yankees player with intelligence and chutzpah to achieve that accomplishment!
  • Check out the new book, On Crosswords: Thoughts, Studies, Facts, and Snark about a 100-year Old Pastime by T. Campbell
  • Check out the Puzzle Lady mysteries by Parnell Hall, starting with A Clue for the Puzzle Lady
  • Request the CD, Sunday Puzzles, featuring Will Shortz on National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition. While this contains all sorts of puzzles, not necessarily crossword puzzles, it will definitely make you think.

posted by Laura

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