Dueling, a trend that emerged in the middle ages as a way to settle disputes among European nobility, persisted among members of the American press, particularly in the South, long after the practice came to be regarded as barbaric to most Americans. The rules for dueling were laid out in 1777, in an Irish document called the “Code Duello”. In 1838, South Carolina Governor John Lyde Wilson wrote The Southern Code of Honor, which was very similar to the Irish code although Wilson claimed not to have seen a copy until after writing his own code. In the North, dueling was already out of fashion around the time of Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr’s famous meeting in 1804. This was not the case in the South, where the practice would not see a decline in popularity until the Civil War. To refuse a duel in the South meant suffering a “posting”, a public notice accusing the refuser of cowardice and other shaming offenses.
19th century newspapers were often aligned with a particular political party, sometimes naming themselves for the party such as the Richmond Whig, the paper edited by William Elam which found itself the target of editorial attacks lobbed by Richard Beirne. Beirne, stalwart Funder and vitriolic editor of the State, was embarrassed by a dueling blunder and determined to prove his courage on the “field of honor”. He aimed an editorial loaded with a racial epithet and charges of corruption … read more »
Readers of Fit To Print know of the Newspaper Project’s growing enthusiasm for preservation microfilming and archiving college as well as some high school student papers. See, for example, the blog entry of last September 10, describing John Marshall High School’s The Monocle. Our latest filming initiative in this category is also, like The Monocle, from Richmond. This time however, the paper originates not from a public, but a private institution-St. Catherine’s School, the longest standing all girls school in the city and a school of equally long-standing high reputation.
Here are some sample images from this new holding:
The Scrap Basket appeared in 1927, some six years after St. Catherine’s relocated to its current site just shy of Three Chopt and Grove, to what was then the city’s far West End and now the very near West End. Our first microfilmed issue (above, click to expand) dates from the Fall semester of the 1930 school year.
Odds ‘n’ Ends addressed the interests of those younger students in the Middle School and published for about ten years beginning in 1932. The copy pictured above is from the close of the school year 1933 and the first we had available to microfilm.
In 1940 it was decided that the title The Scrap Basket on the masthead was a little too divorced from the pride and aspirations of the students responsible for the paper’s content. A poll was conducted of the upper students and the resulting choice, The Arcadian, was inspired by an architectural feature of the campus-its two distinctive arcades. An article from the second page of the May, 1940 issue shown above speaks to the increased ambitions of the student staff.
Cost considerations during the war years shifted The Arcadian from the print shop … read more »
The News Leader was formed in 1903 by a merger of Richmond News and Evening Leader. It became the Richmond News Leader in 1925 and was published until 1992.
The Critic was a weekly society paper bringing “news, society, drama, and history” to Richmond from September 1887 to December 1890. The paper entertained its readers with articles and jokes, household advice, etiquette, and a gossip column called “Society Chat”, while serving as a vehicle for advertisements directed toward women. Columns such as “The Stage”, a theatrical review, and a weekly column dedicated to ladies’ fashion, as well as advertisements for bicycles and sewing machines, and features about bathing and other leisure activities at the seashore, provide a window to the culture of Richmond society during the Gilded Age.
In March of 1890, proprietor and editor William Cabell Trueman transformed the paper into a weekly periodical offering more satire, fiction, and artwork with the intent to appeal to the whole family while still publishing a popular genealogy column and the familiar society, fashion, and household content. Under Trueman, The Critic aspired to rival Life magazine, promising to be a “startling innovation not only in Richmond, not only in Virginia, but in the South!”
While preparing the title history for The Critic, I was amused by similarities in social networking sites of today, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, to the paper. At one point, as I scrolled through the reel of microfilm, I exclaimed to no one in particular, “It’s the printernet!” Thank goodness nobody heard me.
A stroll through your typical Facebook news feed of 1888 might go something like this:
Your friend William Cabell Trueman has shared an article, “Animals that Laugh”.
As you may already know, even as far back as the 1870s humans were obsessed with ridiculous photos of cats. Maybe The Critic didn’t invent LOLcats, but it certainly supplied a demand. Right now … read more »
The most recent Ebay acquisition for the Library of Virginia’s newspaper collection is the Safety News of Omar, West Virginia. Published “monthly for employees of the West Virginia Coal and Coke Corporation,” it focused on topics related to company and employee news. The Library purchased three issues from March-June 1953, but the full publication span of the paper is unknown as there are no cataloged issues outside of these precious few.
Safety was of the utmost concern to the Safety News, hence its motto, “Wise men learn by other men’s mistakes—fools by their own.” The first page of Safety News sometimes included the feature “Safety Pays Everyone” describing recent accidents, injuries and deaths in mines. The brief accounts give a good deal of specific information related to each incident: “Arnold E. Lee, American Machine helper, Omar No. 15 Mine” included one report, “Injured February 4, 1953, at 3:30 a.m. Victim was caught between cutting machine and timber, resulting in fracture of seventh rib on left side. Disability undetermined. Foreman: Billy Bishop.”
Keeping things light, the following joke was printed just below the accident reports of the same issue:
The medical officer at the front was discussing the drinking water supply with the platoon sergeant:
“What precautions do you take against germs?”
“First, we boil it, sir.”
“Then we filter it.”
“And then, just to play it safe, we drink beer.”
Each month the Safety News also included the front page column “Our Board of Directors,” providing a detailed biography of a board member with accompanying photo. The March issue featured Charles R. Stevens, president of the consulting management firm Stevenson, Jordan & Harrison, Inc. “Mr. Stevenson’s firm,” the article explained, “consults to a number of important industrial companies, among which might be mentioned Pittsburgh Plate Glass … read more »
Similar to our friends at the Mecklenburg Times in 1941, above, the Virginia Newspaper Project is taking some time off for the holidays. Best wishes to you and yours! We’ll see you next year!… read more »
If you need proof, simply compare today’s copy of the Richmond Times-Dispatch to an issue of The North American, a newspaper published in Philadelphia in the late 19th century.
We bring to your attention what we believe to be the largest broadside newspaper in the vast newspaper collections at the Library of Virginia, measuring a whopping 30” x 24.5,” which means opened flat the paper spreads out to almost 50 inches in width!
The adjoining photo provides evidence that the paper was large and in truth pretty unwieldy. As Newspaper Project colleague, Silver Persinger, shows, it’s a wonder the average citizen could stand on a street corner and read the publication.
It recalls the great Buster Keaton site gag involving a newspaper in his classic short film, The High Sign. Check out Keaton’s comic hijinks in this excerpt from the movie:
Back to The North American. While the Library generally does not focus its newspaper collecting on out of state papers, it has acquired a select number of papers that provide some depth and texture to the LVA’s strong holdings of original Virginia imprint newspapers.
The North American out of Philadelphia, PA is such an example. The title had a healthy publishing run from 1839 to 1925, with strong Republican tendencies, and it wasn’t shy about announcing boldly on the banner that it is “The Oldest Daily Newspaper in America.”
The issue in hand was published April 14, 1877 and while it contains articles that may interest our patrons, the newspaper’s sheer size is probably one of its most noteworthy features.
The North American came to the Library as part of a larger gift of newspapers with issues spanning many decades and U.S. states, … read more »
The article below was published in the Fall 2012 issue of the Library of Virginia’s Broadside. Check out Broadside for all things LVA related. . .
Voice of Virginia Agriculture: Back issues of Virginia Farm Bureau News are now online
In a welcome public-private partnership, the Library of Virginia and the Virginia Farm Bureau have combined resources to present an online version of the Virginia Farm Bureau News, providing images and full-text searching capability for issues dating back to 1941, the first year of the title’s publication. The current edition of the database offers access to issues through 1999. To quote from the bureau’s website, “With more than 150,000 members in 88 county Farm Bureaus, the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation is Virginia’s largest farmers’ advocacy group. Farm Bureau is a nongovernmental, nonpartisan, voluntary organization committed to protecting Virginia’s farms and ensuring a safe, fresh, and locally grown food supply. The VFB is the chief advocacy group representing the farming community in Virginia.” The Library had significant holdings of the Virginia Farm Bureau News and filled in gaps with the help of the Farm Bureau. The title was microfilmed. While one might describe microfilming as being on the cutting edge of yesterday’s technology, preservation microfilming offers two important and very desirable advantages: it provides a stable preservation medium that can be archived for hundreds of years and it serves as the perfect cost-effective foundation for digital transfer. You can see for yourself by visiting digitalvirginianewspapers.com or virginiachronicle.com to browse through almost 60 years of Virginia farming news.
The Library of Virginia does have the Saturday, April 15, 1865 issue of The Richmond Whig, but the paper made no mention of the assassination attempt from the previous night. In the April 15 issue, the first item on page one is an account of a speech given by President Lincoln on April 11 from a window at the White House on the subject of Reconstruction. Here is one interesting bit from the President’s speech, “The colored man, too, in seeing all united for him, is inspired with vigilance, energy and daring to the same end. Granting that he desires the elective franchise, will he not attain it sooner by saving the already advanced steps toward it than by running backward over them? Concede that the new government of Louisiana is only to what it should be as the egg is to to the fowl, we shall sooner have the fowl by hatching the egg than by smashing it. [Laughter.]”
Richmond has a long history of Whig newspapers, but similarly to The Richmond Times mentioned in the previous post, this edition of The Richmond Whig was a new newspaper, starting up in the days following the conclusion of the war.
Lester J. Cappon wrote about The Richmond Whig in his book Virginia Newspapers 1821-1935: “Publication suspended M[arch] 31, 1865, because of war conditions and ‘resumed this afternoon Ap[ril] 4–new ser., v.1, no. 1] with the consent of the military authorities. The editor, and all who heretofore controlled its columns, have taken their departure. The proprietor [William Ira Smith, April 4 - June 22, 1865] . . . has had a conference with Gen. Shepley, the Military Governor. . . . The Whig will therefore be issued hereafter as a Union paper,’ (cf. issue of Ap 4) the first … read more »