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Topics in Chronicling America - Nikola Tesla

Described as “a genuine poet of electricity,” Nikola Tesla paves the way for scientific and social breakthroughs with his discovery of an alternating current electrical system, creation of “artificial daylight,” and ambitious theories on interplanetary communication. 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.

Picture of Nikola Tesla

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Important Dates:

  • 1883: Tesla came to the United States and began working at Edison’s lab.
  • 1886: He formed Tesla Electric Light & Manufacturing.
  • 1888: Tesla invented the first usable Alternating Current motor.
  • 1893: Demonstration of alternating current generators at the Chicago World’s Fair, lighting thousands of incandescent light bulbs.
  • 1896: The first Niagara Falls hydroelectric plant opened, which Tesla designed to harness the energy of the Falls and convert it to electricity.
  • 1898: Demonstration of Tesla’s remote controlled boat in New York, the first remote control device.
  • 1902: Construction on Wardenclyffe, Tesla’s laboratory facility is completed.
  • 1915: Tesla’s financial problems caused him to lose the lease on Wardenclyffe. It is eventually used for scraps during World War I.

Suggested Search Strategies:

  • [Try the following terms in combination, proximity, or as phrases using Search Pages in Chronicling America.] Tesla, Niagara, coil, ray, electricity, lamp, invention, Edison.
  • Using the full name Nikola Tesla is not as effective, as many contemporaries referred to him as “Dr. Tesla” or simply “Tesla.”
  • Since Tesla had a long and varied career, it is helpful to use inventions as search terms, or restrict the search dates to the desired time.

Sample Articles from Chronicling America:

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  December 11, 2014
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