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Topics in Chronicling America - Harry Houdini, Master Magician

Harry Houdini escapes from an underwater box in front of fifteen thousand people in New York on July 15, 1914. Houdini, known as the 'Handcuff King,' made numerous notable escapes from the beginning of his career in the 1890's until his death in 1926, including wriggling out of a straightjacket while suspended in the air as well as escaping being buried alive. 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:

  • January 7, 1906: Houdini escapes from a Washington, DC jail.
  • September 29, 1906: Houdini escapes from a piano box.
  • September 23, 1907: Houdini performs his handcuff trick in 8 ½ minutes, baffling police officers.
  • September 29, 1907: Houdini leaps into a lake heavily handcuffed and shackled, escaping death. He writes about his life and career in a full page spread.
  • July 16, 1914: A crowd of 15,000 watches a shackled Houdini escape from a box after being thrown into the water.
  • December 8, 1915: Houdini argues with boxer Jess Willard at an event, winning the crowd over with his witty comments.
  • April 18, 1916: Houdini is set to perform his straitjacket trick 100 feet in air.
  • January 6, 1918: Houdini is set to perform his vanishing elephant trick at the Hippodrome Theatre in New York.
  • December 28, 1919: Houdini preserves his tricks on film for prosperity.

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: Harry Houdini, Houdini, handcuff king, king of handcuffs, jail, Willard, strait jacket, elephant, crowd.
  • It is important to use a specific date range if looking for articles for a particular event in order to narrow your results.

Sample Articles from Chronicling America:

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  February 11, 2013
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