On January 31, 1897, the newspaper New York Journal wrote an article about the astonishing fact that many people still believe in a flat Earth and are trying to “prove” it.
The article was illustrated with an image of a flat Earth and today’s flat-Earthers use it as “evidence” we knew Earth is flat since centuries ago. In reality, the article was about the phenomenon there were people who still believed Earth is flat. The article did not endorse the notion that Earth is flat.
The name of the newspaper is also a source of confusion. The New York Journal was a newspaper, not a scientific journal. It is more similar to the “Wall Street Journal” than “American Journal of Physics.”
A quote from the article:
“Strange as it may seem, there are still a great many people on this terrestrial ball who deny that it is a ball of any sort.”
The caption of the illustration:
“If the Earth were flat, this is how the school maps would look.”
- Image 22 of New York journal (New York [N.Y.]), January 31, 1897, (American Magazine) – Library of Congress