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Topics in Chronicling America - Roller Skating Craze

The roller skating craze claims 106 young lives in New York City in a ten-month period in 1912. "Pay[ing] the price for the venturesome pleasure," adventurous kids coast down hills while gaining speed and crash, at times into heavy trucks and automobiles. The fad began in 1905 and spread across the country, contributing to the health and influencing the fashion of Americans despite its dangers. Read more about it!

The information and sample article links below provide access to a sampling of articles from historic newspapers that can be found in the Chronicling America: American Historic Newspapers digital collection ( Use the Suggested Search Terms and Dates to explore this topic further in Chronicling America.


Jump to: Sample Articles

Important Dates:

  • April 1905. Cities in New England and New Jersey open roller skating rinks, beginning a revival of a sport that was last popular two decades prior.
  • November 1905. Roller skating is favored over dancing and other forms of amusement. Health benefits are also linked to the craze.
  • Throughout 1906. The craze works its way into rural areas of the western United States. More and more roller skating rinks open in major cities along the Pacific coast and Hawaii.
  • November 1906. Newspapers begin running stories covering fashions related to the craze.
  • January 1907. Washingtonians embrace the craze (now in the form of steel and ball bearing skates) both in rinks and on asphalt.
  • November 1912. The National Highways Protective Society reports that 106 children in the Greater New York area have died in the first ten months of 1912 due to the roller skating craze.

Suggested Search Strategies:

  • [Try the following terms in combination, proximity, or as phrases using Search Pages in Chronicling America.] Try the following terms in combination, proximity, or as a phrase using Search Pages in Chronicling America: roller skating, roller skate, craze.
  • It is important to use a specific date range if looking for articles for a particular event in order to narrow your results.
  • To narrow results, search between 1905-1912.

Sample Articles from Chronicling America:

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  May 2, 2013
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