Researchers at Northeastern University explored this old-school viral spread, by studying 41,829 old newspapers to examine how the old gray ladies facilitated the transfer of articles and ideas across America before the Civil War.

Just as with memes, the internet usually gets too much credit for killing newspapers. The newspaper that was left to be felled by Craigslist already had its lunch eaten by the last several disruptive innovations. Before television (which made the pictures obsolete), radio (which made newspaper speed look slow) and even paperback books, newspapers were “people’s one portal to the world,” English professor Ryan Cordell said in his appearance “On the Media.” In addition to news and classifieds, 19th century newspapers carried travel journals, political speeches, recipes, and poetry.