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A Journal of Media History 

Winter 1999 
Volume 16, Number 1 

J American -j _• 

"Truth Is Our Ultimate Goal": A Mid-1 9th 

Century Concern for Journalism Ethics X7 

Stephen A. Banning 

From Populist to Patrician: Edward H. 
Butler's Buffalo News and the Crisis of 

Labor, 1877-1892 41 

Michael J. Dillon 

Power of the Press: How Newspapers in Four 
Communities Erased Thousands of Chinese 

From Oregon History 5y 

Herman B. Chiu 

Common Forms for Uncommon Actions: 
The Search for Political Organization in 

California's Dust Bowl '7 

James Hamilton 

1998 Presidential Address: The 
Historiographical Tradition in 20th 

Century America 1Q5 

James D. Startt 

Great Ideas: E. W. Scripps Papers Provide 
An Important Journalistic Window for 

Scholars 133 

Gerald J. Baldasty 

Book Reviews. 143 

A Journal of Media History 


Winter 1999 
Volume 16, Number 1 


Editor Shirley Biagi 

California State 
University, Sacramento 

Book Review Editor David Spencer 

University of 
Western Ontario 

Assistant Editor Timi Ross Poeppelman 

California State 
University, Sacramento 

Design GwenAmos 

California State 
University, Sacramento 

Former Editors William David Sloan 

University of Alabama 

Gary Whitby 

East Texas State 

John Pauly 

Saint Louis University 

Wallace B. Eberhard 

University of Georgia 

1999 American Journalism 

Historians Association Officers 

President Eugenia Palmegiano 

Saint Peter's College 

1st Vice President William David Sloan 

University of Alabama 

2nd Vice President David Copeland 

Emory Henry College 

Administrative Carol Sue Humphrey 

Oklahoma Baptist 

Treasurer Dick Scheidenhelm 

Colorado State 

Historian Alf Pratte 

Brigham Young 

Board of Directors David Abrahamson 

John Coward 
David Davies 
Wallace Eberhard 
Kathleen Endres 
John Ferre 
Tracy Gottlieb 
Pat Washburn 
Julie Williams 

Definition of History 

For purposes of written research papers and publications, the term history 
shall be seen as a continuous and connected process emphasizing but not 
necessarily confined to subjects of American mass communications. History 
should be viewed not in the context of perception of the current decade, but as 
part of a significant and time-conditioned human past. 

Editorial Purpose. 

American Journalism publishes articles, book reviews and correspondence 
dealing with the history of journalism. Contributions may focus on social, 
economic, intellectual, political or legal issues. American Journalism also welcomes 
articles that treat the history of communication in general; the history of 
broadcasting, advertising and public relations; the history of media outside the 
United States; theoretical issues in the literature or methods of media history; and 
new ideas and methods for the teaching of media history. Papers will be evaluated 
in terms of the authors systematic, critical, qualitative and quantitative investiga- 
tion of all relevant, available sources with a focus on written, primary documents 
but not excluding current literature and interviews. 


© American Journalism Historians Association 1999. Articles in the journal 
may be photocopied for use m teaching, research, criticism and news reporting, 
in accordance with Sections 107 and 108 of the U. S. Copyright Law. For all 
other purposes, including electronic reproduction and/or distribution, users must 
obtain written permission from the editor. 

Submission Guidelines 

Authors submitting research manuscripts for publication as articles should 
send five manuscript copies (including an abstract with each). Manuscripts 
should follow the Chicago Manual of Style, 14th Edition, and should not exceed 
the recommended maximum length of 20 pages. Research manuscripts are blind 

Great Ideas is designed to showcase new approaches and information about 
the teaching of media history. Great Ideas are typically three to six manuscript 
pages. Authors of Great Ideas should first query the editor. 

American Journalism is produced on Macintosh computers using Microsoft 
Word 6.0.1. Authors whose manuscripts are accepted for publication are asked to 
submit their work on PC or Macintosh disk, formatted in Microsoft Word 5-0 
or 6.0.1. 

Winter 1 999 • American Journalism 

Send Submissions to 

Book Reviews 

Professor Shirley Biagi 
American Journalism 
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. To review or propose a 
book review contact: 
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Canada N6A 5B7 
dspencer@j ulian . uwo. ca 

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A Journal of Media History Winter 1999 

Volume 16, Number 1 


J American \ • 

Editor's Note 9 

"Truth is Our Ultimate Goal" : A Mid- 19th Century Concern for 

Journalism Ethics 17 

Stephen A. Banning 

The author explores the beginnings of the first professional journalism 
organization, established in the mid-1 9th century. 

Edward H. Butler's Buffalo News and the Crisis of Labor, 1877-1892: 

From Populist to Patrician 41 

Michael J. Dillon 

This article chronicles the response of Edward H. Butler, who founded 
the Buffalo Sunday Morning News in 1873, to two great labor conflicts: the 
rail strike of 1877 and the Great Strike of 1892. 

Power of the Press: How Newspapers in Four Communities Erased 

Thousands of Chinese from Oregon History 59 

Herman B. Chiu 

By examining four early Oregon newspapers, the author concludes that 
immigrant Chinese were repeatedly misrepresented and unrepresented in the 

Winter 1999 • American Journalism 5 

Common Forms for Uncommon Actions: The Search for Political 

Organization in Dust Bowl California 79 

James Hamilton 

The author examines mimeographed newspapers published in the late 
1930s and early 1940s in a California migrant labor camp, in an effort to 
explain the attempt of migrant workers to organize for political action. 

1998 Presidential Address: The Historiographical Tradition in 20th 

Century America 105 

James D. Startt 

The American journalism Historians Association Past President examines 
the evolution of historical narratives and concludes that history was alive and 
well in the 20th Century. 

Great Ideas: E.W. Scripps Papers Provide An Important Journalistic 

Window for Scholars 133 

Gerald J. Baldasty 

The author walks us through the enormous manuscript collection ofE. W. 
Scripps, housed at Ohio University, and offers research suggestions. 

Book Review Editor s Note 143 

Book Reviews 1 43 

Editor's Choice: The Black Press: Soldiers without Swords 

(Video) 143 

by California Newsreel 
Reviewed by David R. Spencer 

Joint Operating Agreements: The Newspaper Preservation Act and 

Its Application. 145 

By John C. Busterna and Robert G. Picard 
Review by Jim Mueller 

Media and Public Life 147 

By Everette E. Dennis & Robert W. Snyder (Eds.) 
Reviewed by Michael Ante col 

6 Table of Contents • Winter 1 999 

Museum of Broadcast Communications Encyclopedia of 

Television, 3 Vols 149 

By Horace Newcomb (Ed.) Cary O'Dell (Photo Editor) & Noelle 
Watson (Commissioning Editor) 
Reviewed by Frances Wilhoit 

PR! A Social History of Spin 151 

By Stuart Ewen 
Reviewed by John P. Ferre 

Pragmatic Fundraising for College Administrators and 

Development Officers 153 

By Ralph Lowenstein 
Reviewed by Ted Garrard 

Studies In Newspaper and Periodical History: 1995 Annual . . 154 
By Michael Harris and Tom O'Malley (Eds.) 
Reviewed by Kathy English 

Wireless: Strategically Liberalizing The Telecommunicaitons 

Market. 156 

By Brian J. W. Regli 
Reviewed by James Hamilton 

Winter 1999 • American Journalism 

Digitized by the Internet Archive 
in 2010 with funding from 
Brigham Young University 

Editor s Note 

Historians, like journalists, often reflect the political and 
social agendas of the times in which they live. Today's 
professional standards and news values — good and bad — 
are the direct result of the daily decisions that publishers and journalists 
made in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, according to the authors 
writing in this issue of American Journalism. 

The evolution of press ethics — the standards by which the media 
police themselves — is the subject of "'Truth Is Our Ultimate Goal': A 
Mid- 19th Century Concern for Journalism Ethics" by Stephen A. Ban- 
ning. Most media scholars claim that the first professional press codes in 
America emerged in the early 20th century, but Banning has uncovered at 
least one press association that developed serious concerns about journal- 
ism ethics in the mid- 19th century. 

In "From Populist to Patrician: Edward H. Butler's Buffalo News 
and the Crisis of Labor, 1877 - 1892," Michael J. Dillon explores the 
classic ethical dilemma faced by all American publishers. Can newspapers 
maintain their crusading spirit once they start making money? Dillon 
explains that New York's Edward H. Butler, like many publishers, seemed 
to abandon his affinity for the cause of labor once his newspaper grew 

Publishers also can select which people in a community deserve 
coverage. In the 1800s, mainstream Oregon newspapers ignored the news 
from Chinese communities, says Herman Chiu, in "Power of the Press: 
How Newspapers in Four Communities Erased Thousands of Chinese 
from Oregon History." Chinese immigrants comprised half the popula- 
tion in some Oregon cities, says Chiu, yet news about the Chinese 
population's activities in these cities is virtually invisible in the local 

James Hamilton's discussion of news values extends to 1930s 
California in his article, "Common Forms for Uncommon Actions: The 
Search for Political Organization in California's Dust Bowl." Hamilton 
examined mimeographed newspapers published by Dust Bowl migrants 

Winter 1999 • American Journalism 

to express their outrage at unhealthy working conditions and poor wages. 
The workers, says Hamilton, tried to organize to improve their lives, but 
never found a successful outlet to promote their point of view. 

Just as newspapers can reflect competing news values for the times 
in which they are published, scholarly approaches to history often reflect 
the societies in which historians work. James Startt explains the evolution 
of scholars' historical methods in his 1998 Presidential Address, reprinted 
in this issue from his presentation at the Annual Conference of the 
American Journalism Historians Association in October 1998 in Louis- 
ville, Kentucky. 

Historians can uncover the personality of one of the nation's great 
turn-of-the-century press lords by sifting through the vast E. W. Scripps 
Manuscript Collection, now available to scholars at Ohio University in 
Athens, Ohio. In Great Ideas, Gerald J. Baldasty describes the depth of 
the collection of 200,000 documents and letters, covering the late 19th 
and early 20th centuries. 

For the first time ever, David Spencer ranks a video as his Editor's 
Choice in the Book Review section. And don't forget to check the list of 
available back copies on page 1 1 so you can complete your collection of 
American Journalism, which begins its 16th volume with this issue. 

Shirley Biagi 

1 Editor's Note • Winter 1 999 

American Journalism 

Back Issues 

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are available at the < 

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Nos. 1, 2-3 (com- 
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Nos. 1-2, 3-4 

(both combined issues) 

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Nos. 1-2 (combined issue) 

Volume 11 


Nos. 2, 3, and 4 

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Nos. 1, 2, 3, and 4 

Volume 13 


Nos. 1, 2, 3, and 4 

Volume 14 


Nos. 1, 2, 3-4 (com- 
bined issue) 

Some of these issues are in short supply (Vol. 7, 

Nos. 2 and 4; Vol. 12, 

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Winter 1 999 • American Journalism 


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Winter 1999 • American Journalism 


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Winter 1999 • American Journalism 


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American Journalism Reviewers • Winter 1999 

"Truth is Our Ultimate Goal": A 
Mid- 19th Century Concern for 
Journalism Ethics 

By Stephen A. Banning 

This research examines a mid-1 9th century Missouri press association 
and presents evidence that, contrary to Frederic Hudson's contention that all 
press associations at the time were insignificant social organizations, at least 
one press assocaition had serious concerns about journalistic ethics and the 
future of journalism. In fact, themes in the Sigma Delta Chi and American 
Society of Newspaper Editors' codes of ethics mirror some early press association 
discussions, indicating that concern for ethics in the mid- 19th century may 
have been aprecurser to the first codes of ethics that emerged in the 20th 

The development of codes of ethics in journalism has a 
special significance, as many journalism history and ethics 
writers have viewed codes of ethics as a benchmark of 
journalistic professionalization. Sociologists include codes of ethics as a 
major characteristic of a profession, along with professional associations 
and university education. 1 Thus, finding early association discussions of 
ethics helps establish the time period when interest in journalistic 
professionalization began, 2 as well as provides insights into the motiva- 
tions of journalists in the 19th century. 

Stephen A. Banning is Assistant Professor of Agricultural Journalism in the Department of 
Journalism at Texas A&M University. 

Winter 1999 • American Journalism 17 

To examine journalistic credibility jn the mid- 19th century means 
searching beyond the editorials of the major editors. Historians have 
done and redone studies of the leading journalistic figures of the 19th 
century The rationale has been that only individuals influence the course 
of journalistic history. 

Organizations, however, also can have a profound effect on history. 
Alexis de Tocqueville noted that associations were having a great impact 
on the United States during the mid- and later 19th century. 3 Some 
sociologists see the organization, not the individual, as the primary 
catalyst for professionalization. Sociologist W.J. Reader notes, "An 
occupation's rise to professional standing can be pretty accurately charted 
by reference to the progress of its professional institute or association." 4 
Thus, studying early journalistic associations is vital to an understanding 
of professionalism in general and press codes specifically. 

Evidence has recently been presented which indicates that the 
Missouri Press Association (MPA) was a professional association in the 
19th century 5 and advocated university education. 6 This paper will look 
at primary sources from the MPA to see if the sources reveal some early 
professional discussions of journalistic ethics. The writer also will com- 
pare MPA oration topics in the mid-1 9th century with the American 
Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) and the Sigma Delta Chi (SDX) 
professional ethics codes of the 20th century for possible parallels. 

This research does not seek to determine whether the MPA was the 
first press association to entertain discussions on professional aspects of 
journalism. Rather, this research seeks support for the hypothesis that 
state press associations in the mid- 19th century were concerned about 
journalism ethics. A positive indication that the MPA discussed ethical 
concerns parallel to those eventually codified by the ASNE and SDX 
would support this hypothesis. 7 

Early Roots of Professionalization 

It is important to note that this research does not relate to the scope 
of state press association activity during the mid- 19th century. Even if 
there is evidence that the MPA was involved with ethical discussion at this 
time, this study does not claim that the MPA was the only, or first, press 
association to do so. Still, a positive indication that the MPA was in- 
volved with professional activity is significant because it pushes back the 
roots of journalistic interest in professionalization. If further research into 
primary sources reveals many press associations discussed these same 

Banning* Winter 1999 

ethical principles, journalism historians may need to consider ascribing 
more importance to the role of state press associations in journalism 

If we are to take Frederic Hudson's word in 1876, many press 
associations were not interested in serious matters. 8 This prompts further 
questions of what patterns may exist which characterize the state press 
associations during this period, and how they may have contributed to 
journalism history. 

It should also be noted that the MPA was not the first press associa- 
tion. In 1876, Frederic Hudson described the first press club as begin- 
ning in 1851. However, Hudson describes that club, and state press 
associations in general, as being more in the order of drinking clubs. 9 
Thus, the concept that press clubs were engaged in serious discussion, a 
concept central to this research, is in complete disagreement with 
Hudson's assessment of press clubs at the time. The researcher will use 
primary sources (MPA press association minutes) to investigate Hudson's 

Contradicting 20th Century Beginnings 

The concept of journalistic professionalization beginning in the 
19th century is a new concept, 10 as most journalism history accounts 
indicate the drive for journalistic professionalization began during the first 
part of the 20th century. For instance, in a 1986 article in Journal of Mass 
Media Ethics, John Merrill states journalists did not begin to call them- 
selves professionals until after World War II, stating: 

Journalism has gone a long way toward becoming a profes- 
sion. ...Whereas in the pre- World War II days, journalism 
was known as a "craft" or a "trade" — or simply not given a 
label at all — it is now quite common to hear it referred to 
as a profession." 

Other accounts differ. Mary Cronin and James McPherson, who 
researched state press association codes of ethics, claim journalists com- 
monly referred to themselves as professionals as early as the start of the 
20th century, commenting: 

The professionalism movement sweeping journalism at the 
start of this century also provided some of the motivation 

Winter 1 999 • American Journalism 1 9 

to create the codes. Buoyed by the press' increasing 
predominance in daily life, many journalists began calling 
their work a profession rather than an occupation or trade. 12 

Cronin and McPherson also present a lengthy list of references where 
journalists at the start of this century and thereafter referred to themselves 
as professionals. 13 In Journalistic Standards in 19th Century America, 
Hazel Dicken-Garcia notes professionalism was encouraged in the mid- 
19205. 14 Marion Marzolf in Civilizing Voices saw journalistic profes- 
sionalization as a 20th century phenomenon. 15 Marzolf remarks: 

Efforts to reform journalism in the pre- World War I era 
were strengthened by the formation of the first journalism 
departments and schools and by the start of professional or- 
ganizations to promote common ideals and values. 16 

Other scholars who have shared the view that professionalization is a 
20th century phenomenon include Sidney Kobre, 17 Douglas Birkhead 18 
and William May. 19 

The Historic Tie Between Codes of Ethics and Professionalization 

Past journalism historians such as Bert Bostrom have seen the 
proliferation of press codes in the 1920s as further evidence of a 20th 
century journalistic professionalization trend. 20 In James Melvin Lee's 
1923 book History of American Journalism, Lee called the first few years of 
the 20th century a period where the nation became aware of the need for 
ethics and ethics codes. 21 Lee referred to the journalists' interest in ethics 
as a reflection of the national "trend of the times." 22 He credited the 
moral influence of President Woodrow Wilson, writing: 

Practically every newspaper before 1 900 had been, as 
Mr. Watterson [editor of The Louisville Courier-] ournal\ 
asserted, a law unto itself, without standards of either 
work or duty: its code of ethics, not yet codified like 
those of medicine or of law, had been, like its stylebook, 
individualistic in character. 23 

Despite the historical emphasis on the proliferation of press codes in 
the 20th century, however, press codes did exist prior to the 20th century. 
George Payne in his 1 940 book History of Journalism in the United States 

20 Banning* Winter 1999 

commented that a literary magazine Public Ledger did have a loose set of 
rules as early as 1864, although Payne did not specify what they were. 24 
Hazel Dicken-Garcia pointed out the presentation of six ethical principles 
at the Minnesota Editorial Association in 1888. 25 However, these anoma- 
lies were not the norm of 19th century journalistic behavior. 

The first professional journalistic press code came into existence in 
1911, according to journalism historian Hazel Dicken-Garcia, 26 or 1910, 
according to journalism historian Leon Flint. 27 Sigma Delta Chi (SDX) 
was one of the first national professional press organizations and their 
code was adopted in 1926. 28 According to Clifford Christians, the SDX 
code was an imitation of the ASNE code adopted three years earlier, but 
became the most nationally recognized code. 29 While the codes them- 
selves may have been initially promoted by individual editors, 30 they were 
championed by professional journalism groups. 31 Thus, the historical 
foundation points to professional journalistic codes of ethics originating 
in the 20th century. 

Unearthing Clues from the MPA Minutes 

J.W. Barrett, a founding member of the MPA, 32 its president in 
1987 33 and 1868 34 and the publisher of the Canton Press, recorded and 
compiled the MPA minutes for 10 years. 35 The MPA commissioned 
Barrett to keep a historical record of the MPA's proceedings, which 
included an agenda of events of each meeting, a narrative of the conven- 
tion's highlights, along with the complete versions of the many lengthy 
original poems, and the full texts of the annual "orations." 36 Thus, 
Barrett's minutes consist of outlines of the meetings' agendas along with 
an almost complete record of the highlights, even the poems and ora- 
tions. 37 

After the MPA's tenth convention in 1876, the MPA officials paid 
Barrett to print 300 copies of the full minutes for the MPA members. 
Barrett printed and bound the MPA minutes in volumes 136 pages long. 
Historian William Taft used the minutes in writing Missouri Newspapers 58 
three decades ago, but other than that the minutes have been largely 
forgotten. Within the MPA minutes, discussion of ethics is very evident. 
The first 10 years of MPA minutes are filled with lectures on ethics, and a 
chronological sampling of these speeches illustrates the MPA members' 
passion for ethics. 

For instance, in 1868 MPA member C.B. Wilkinson 39 talks at 
length about current standards of journalism in an oration at the MPA 

Winter 1 999 • American Journalism 21 

annual meeting. He recognizes a higher standard of journalism than in 
times past by comparing MPA members to journalists during the Ameri- 
can Revolution. Wilkinson states, "How far they fell short of our measure 
of public journalism." 40 Wilkinson believes the early journalists merely 
recorded news instead of seeking a deeper analysis of the facts. This 
indicates the presence of a set of standards or, in Wilkinsons words, a 
"measure" of journalism. Later, Wilkinson re-emphasizes the importance 
of ethics in stating: 

In all matters of principle the voice of the editors should be 
the voice which truth and right send up from his inmost 
soul. ...He cannot move counter to his own convictions 
of duty 41 

The Need for Principled Journalism 

The annual address the following year contains a similar reference to 
specific "measures." MPA member Norman J. Colman discusses the 
importance of principled journalism and stresses the need for editors to be 
open to measures which would lead to principled journalism. Colman 42 

The Press either elevates the tone of the public mind or 
debases it — depending upon the manner in which it is 
conducted. If conducted upon high and honorable 
principles, the public mind is elevated in a corresponding 
degree.. ..In all matters affecting the people, they should 
be found willing and eloquent advocates of all measures 
having the good of the people in view. 43 

Later Colman advises, "It is always better to deal with facts and prin- 
ciples." 44 

An address in 1873 contains a more direct reference to an unwritten 
code of ethics. MPA member John Marmaduke 45 says the "moral stan- 
dard" of the press, while already existing, should be higher. He elaborates 
by scorning sensationalism and, after outlining press scandals regarding 
Horace Greeley and Lord Byron, he comments: 

The moral standard of the Press is not compatible with the 
magnitude of its power nor the measure of its responsibility. 
It is too ready to accommodate itself to a perverted public 

22 Banning -Winter 1999 

taste. It has the ability, and ought to create and lead, and 
not follow and pander to public sentiment. 46 

Marmaduke concludes his speech by enunciating a mission state- 
ment for journalists in which he lists a number of specific ethical stan- 
dards. In enumerating ethical standards, Marmaduke states: 

Lastly, we conceive the mission of the Press to be to elevate, 
not debase; to enlighten, not darken; to instruct, not deceive; 
to inform, not mislead; to disseminate good, not evil; to 
propagate truth, not error, — in general, to promote the 
welfare of our race and bear us on to a higher destiny. 47 

Marmaduke assumed he was speaking for the entire MPA with the plural 
pronoun "we." He indicates an MPA mission statement. 

The following year Milo Blair 48 was also concerned about sullied 
journalism and saw good conduct as vital if journalism were to maintain a 
good reputation. In 1874, Blair warns against sensationalism: 

How careful we should be with the manner in which we 
conduct our papers. ...To unsullied journalism shall our 
land look, and to its trumpet tones, march with the noble 
and free, in the van of civilization. 49 

In 1875 Mark DeMotte 50 stresses ethical journalism, the "one true 
foundation," 51 when he comments: 

Give the conduct of such a paper to an educated man of 
good mind and morals — strong in his convictions of right, 
and fearless in the expression of those convictions, and there 
is no end to the good he may accomplish. 52 

MPA Creates Rules of Conduct 

The specific MPA rules of conduct were announced the following 
year. At the June 6, 1876 MPA convention in Macon City, William 
Switzler 53 enumerated four rules which MPA members were to follow: 

First: Allow no temptation to secure your consent to the 
publication of articles long or short, in prose or poetry, 

Winter 1999 • American Journalism 23 

original or selected, which are demoralizing in their 

Second: ....Give the substance. Omit the useless details.... 

Third: ....As preliminary to profitable writing, and as a 
preparation for it, much reading and study is essential. 
Much brain-work, and often exhaustive research and more 
exhaustive thought, all unknown and quite frequently 
unappreciated by those who read newspapers.... 

Fourth, and lastly: We are just entering upon the Centennial 
Presidential campaign.... Great and singular perils and strong 
temptations to bitter words and partisan excesses, will environ 
the press. Let us illustrate a royal virtue by resisting them.... 
while we are sometimes partisans we are always patriots — 
above all, that we are not only editors — but gentlemen.^ 

There is no record that the rules were formally adopted by a vote, 
but the fact that the MPA enumerated proposed rules of conduct does 
indicate advanced thinking along the lines of associational conduct. 

The ethical considerations enumerated above of 1) no demoralizing 
articles, 2) substantive articles, 3) intelligent articles and 4) no bitter 
partisan articles were not the only items of ethical concern. In fact, a 
number of ethical themes reoccur throughout the MPA minutes. These 
ethical themes, reiterated time and time again by MPA orators, closely 
parallel the themes in the so-called "professional" ethics codes of the 
1920s. 55 

Parallels Between Early MPA Ethics and Professional Press Codes 

A point-by-point comparison between the SDX and ASNE press 
codes, and the MPA code reveals strong similarities. This is relevant to 
the MPAs efforts to professionalize because the SDX manual states that 
the purpose of SDX is to promote professionalism. 

Sigma Delta Chi, Professional Journalistic Fraternity, is a 
professional society for men engaged in journalism, 
dedicated to the highest ideals in journalism, and is 
comparable to those professional organizations serving 
the professions of medicine and the law. In this unique 
role, Sigma Delta Chi constantly endeavors to raise the 

24 Banning •Winter 1999 

standards of competence of its members, to recognize 
outstanding achievement by journalists and to promote 
recognition of the fact that journalism is a true profession. 56 

While a group of students founded SDX at DePauw University in 
1909 with the purpose of benefiting "the noblest profession of them all," 57 
the ethics code wasn't adopted until 1926. The SDX press code lists eight 
items relating to accuracy and objectivity. They are: 

1 . Truth is our ultimate goal. 

2. Objectivity in reporting the news is another goal, which 
serves as the mark of an experienced professional. It is a 
standard of performance toward which we strive. We honor 
those who achieve it. 

3. There is no excuse for inaccuracies or lack of thoroughness. 

4. Newspaper headlines should be fully warranted by the 
contents of the articles they accompany. Photographs and 
telecasts should give an accurate picture of an event and 
not highlight a minor incident out of context. 

5. Sound practice makes clear distinction between news 
reports and expressions of opinion. News reports should be 
free of opinion or bias and represent all sides of an issue. 

6. Partisanship in editorial comment which knowingly departs 
from the truth violates the spirit of American Journalism. 

7. Journalists recognize their responsibility for offering 
informed analysis, comment and editorial opinion on public 
events and issues. They accept the obligation to present such 
material by individuals whose competence, experience and 
judgement qualify them for it. 

8. Special articles or presentations devoted to advocacy or 
the writer's own conclusions and interpretations should 
be labeled as such. 58 

The ASNE's "Canons of Journalism" are similar. The Canons of 
Journalism are a list of six articles including "Responsibility," "Freedom of 
the Press," "Independence," "Sincerity, Truthfulness, and Accuracy," 
"Impartiality," and "Fair Play and Decency." 59 

Winter 1999 • American Journalism 25 

Truthfulness Can Scatter Prejudice 

The first item of the Sigma Delta Chi press code listed above, 
"Truth is our ultimate goal," or as the ASNE's Article IV puts it: "Sincer- 
ity, Truthfulness, and Accuracy" was directly referred to in almost every 
MPA address and is evident in a chronological look at references to truth 
through the first 10 years of the MPA. In 1868, in an oration, C.B. 
Wilkinson explicitly advocates truthfulness in one form or another four 
times. He hints at the concept when he remarks, "A well conducted 
newspaper being a record of humanity, a faithful mirror of the pre- 
sent...." 60 He elaborates later in the address, "Men who live after us will 
have the full and truthful history of our times. To be interesting and 
valuable, the newspaper must be truthful." 61 He devotes a full page to 
discussing the importance of having a "full and most reliable report of all 
news of the day up to the hour and moment of their publication," 62 and 
then wraps up the section on truthfulness with this admonition for 
totality of coverage: 

This is undeniably true; and this compels the editor of a 
daily journal to live nearer than any other living man to 
the great throbbing heart of the world. He must catch 
its every pulsation, note its every tremor, and faithfully 
report its every spasm. Not a ripple on the stream of time 
must escape his watchful pen; no voyager launch thereon his 
trembling craft without his notice, and no bark go down in 
its angry foam, without his making the proper entry in his 
diurnal log. 63 

While Wilkinson discusses other issues, he returns to the topic of truth- 
fulness as an instrument to scatter prejudice. In his conclusion, he says: 

In all matters of principle the voice of the editor should be 
the voice which truth and right send up from his soul.... 
The newspaper scatters the mists of ignorance and prejudice 
by flooding the pathway of man with the sunlight of truth. 64 

Thus, Wilkinson stresses the need for truth to be a guide for conduct 
involving "all matters of principle." 

The May 19, 1869 annual address in St. Louis contains more direct 
references to the need for truth as a foundational principle. Norman J. 
Colman instructs the MPA members to avoid vindictive personal attacks 

26 Banning* Winter 1999 

which undermine the truth, 65 expounds on the importance of truth to the 
progress of civilization and reveals his belief that truth is the foundation 
for the elevation of mankind. 66 He also sees truth as a basis of credibility, 

But if untruthful, reckless statements and assertions are 
published as truthful the tone of the public mind is gradually- 
debased, [and] becomes as familiar with falsehood as with truth, 
and pays but little credence to anything that is published.... If 
these lines are true, what a fearful responsibility rests upon the 
Editorial profession! How guarded should they be as to what 
appears in their respective journals. 67 

At the same convention, MPA member Thomas Garrett (unmen- 
tioned in the MPA minutes except as the author of one poem) 68 of the St. 
Louis Republican echoes Colman's sentiments in a poem called "The 
Giants," which refers to the journalist's stature in society. Garrett claims: 

Her [journalism's] purpose pure is hedged by vestal vow, 
And Truth's auroras dawn upon her brow. 69 

Another poem written by P.G. "Jenks" Ferguson of the Missouri 
Democrat, and presented to the 1 870 MPA convention, broaches the 
importance of truthful journalism as a basis for progress: 

Let truth and justice still your motto be, 
Firm in your cause and fearless to its foes; 
Ranging the world of thought in fancy free, 
Kind to the weak, and tender of man's woes. 70 

In 1871, J.C. Moore 71 discusses the importance of truth as a foun- 
dation for progress and vital to the advancement of journalism. In 
emphasizing totality of coverage he states: 

There is no limit to the capabilities of the ideal journal of the 
future.... While it reflects with absolute truthfulness the most 
minute circumstances of the every day life transpiring around 
it.. ..It will follow the merchants' ships around the world. 72 

At the May 22, 1 872 MPA convention in Sedalia, truth was also a 
component of a poem by MPA member J. N. Edwards of the Kansas City 

Winter 1 999 • American Journalism 27 

Times? 1 In his 1872 oration Edwards paints a bleak ethical picture of the 
then current state of journalism, writing: 

There was Chastity faint with the fight, 

Her virtue unaided had won; 

There was Merit, too, pale in the light, 

Lest Justice left duties undone; 

Faith kneeling by altars thrown down; 

And Purity gaudily dressed; 

On Charity's face was mirrored a frown, 

Truth's azure brow had never a crown, 

Nor courage a star on his breast. 74 

The following year John S. Marmaduke's oration also stresses truth 
as one of the principles which constituted the mission of the press as a 
basis for societal progress. Marmaduke says: 

Lastly, we conceive the mission of the Press to be... to 
propagate truth, not error, in general, to promote the 
welfare of our race and bear us on to a higher destiny 75 

Another direct reference to truth takes place in 1 875 in an oration 
by Milo Blair on the importance of independent journalism. 76 In 1876, 
William Switzler admonishes MPA members to seek a high standard of 
truth, saying: "Accuracy of statement, not simply general truthfulness, 
entire reliability of detail is an object worthy of special attention." 77 Thus, 
truthfulness, an important element in the ASNE and SDX journalism 
ethics codes of the 1920s, has been found to be an important element in 
the ethical framework of the MPA in the 1 870s as well. 

The Root of the Objectivity Standard 

The next ethical issue enumerated in the SDX press code is that of 
objectivity; this corresponds to the ASNE's Article V: "Impartiality." 
While this element was not a concern among MPA members as an issue 
by itself, the MPA minutes do stress the importance of gaining the whole 
truth and obtaining accurate reports. Thus, the concern of objectivity is 
addressed in the coverage of the issues of truth and accuracy. 

Additionally, Switzler's call for MPA members to adhere to patrio- 
tism over partisanism in 1 876 shows a concern for the notion of overcom- 

28 Banning* Winter 1999 

ing prejudice to achieve a true perspective. 78 There is no direct correlation 
for this in the SDX code, but this seems to correspond with the ASNE's 
Article III, which calls for independence. This stance was not unusual 
among newspapers, as partisanship was dying nationwide at this time. 79 

Prescriptions for Accuracy and Completeness 

The elements of accuracy and completeness, the third item in the 
SDX press code, and reflected in the ASNE's Article VI, calling for "Fair 
Play," are prescribed numerous times throughout the MPA minutes. C.B. 
Wilkinson delivers the first such admonition in 1 868, stressing the 
importance of accurate reports four different times. In a quote used 
earlier in this paper in discussing truthfulness, Wilkinson emphasizes: "A 
well conducted newspaper being a record of humanity, a faithful mirror of 
the present, a panorama of the active scenes we daily engage in...." 80 

Wilkinson stresses the importance of accuracy in calling the news- 
paper a "faithful mirror," and emphasizes completeness in referring to the 
newspaper's coverage of the "panorama," or landscape, of humanity's 
activities. Wilkinson also describes the breadth of activities a newspaper 
covered as examples of how a newspaper is a "faithful record" of 
humanity's activities. 81 Wilkinson repeats this theme of completeness and 
accuracy again in an extended discussion of the subject two pages later, 

Men who live after us will learn the full and truthful 
history of our stirring times, by perusing the columns of 
our daily newspapers.... Men make equally as serious 
blunders, and shock the good sense of all intelligent observers 
quite as much when they publish in the newspapers grossly 
exaggerated accounts of every-day transactions, or false 
statements affecting the character and true standard of 
men who contemporaneously move on the stage of life. 82 

J.C. Moore also speaks of the value of completeness and accuracy in 
1870. From the content of his words it is clear Moore was promoting 
completeness and accuracy as two ways to achieve truth. Moore says: "It 
[the newspaper] reflects with absolute truthfulness the most minute 
circumstances of the busy every day life transpiring around it." 83 In 1874, 
MPA member Milo Blair bluntly demands accuracy with this admoni- 
tion: "Let all reports be as full as the occasion may require and as accurate 
as you can get them." 84 

Winter 1999 • American Journalism 29 

In 1875, MPA member Mark DeMotte gave the subject of accuracy 
a thorough treatment in his annual address to the convention in a discus- 
sion covering six pages. He warns: 

That a paper is needed in a community is no assurance that 
a poor article will be accepted. We can no more palm off 
upon the people a spurious article, than can a merchant 
or manufacturer. 85 

DeMotte goes on to emphasize the importance of accuracy from an 
ethical and practical standpoint, 86 and concludes by explaining that the 
press' responsibility to be accurate is based on the public's "right to 
know." 87 

In 1876, MPA member William F. Switzler not only discusses the 
accuracy and completeness theme at length, but he also advocates it, 
describes it, and advocates it again. Switzler advises: 

Above all they [correspondents] should be specially instructed 
to be scrupulously correct, even in the smallest details, in all 
their reports; to guess at nothing because people who pay 
for and read newspapers desire them to be reliable. 88 

Here Switzler uses three descriptive phrases to define the term 
"scrupulously correct" so that there is no confusion as to its meaning. 
Also, the word "reliable" comes into use again as it did in earlier references 
to accuracy by Mark DeMotte. 89 

Due to developments in technology, not every specific concern of 
the SDX code in 1 926 can be expected to square with the ethical concerns 
of the MPA during the time period of the decade following 1867. For 
instance, the SDX code deals with the accurate use of photographs and 
telecasts. Not surprisingly, there is no specific reference in the MPA 
minutes to any of these topics due to the fact that those technologies did 
not exist, or, in the case of photography, had not been adequately devel- 
oped for use by newspapers. 

The SDX press code also calls for news reports to be untainted by 
bias; this corresponds to the ASNE's Articles V and VI regarding "impar- 
tiality" and "fair play." This is a concept that has no direct parallel in the 
MPA minutes, although Switzler might have hinted at it in the previously 
mentioned admonition calling for, "entire reliability of detail." 90 How- 
ever, the lack of a direct reference indicates this was a concept that did not 
greatly concern the MPA. 

30 Banning* Winter 1999 

The SDX press code also calls for an end to untruthful partisanship, 
a point which coincides with the MPA's stand on this issue as well. Many 
of the references in the MPA minutes which deal with this issue have 
already been covered in the discussion of the MPA's concern for truth, 
accuracy and objectivity. William Switzler's advice that journalists were 
expected to be patriots, not partisans, is one example. 91 This disillusion- 
ment with partisan reporting was not unusual in Missouri at the time. 92 

Responsibility — The Obligation to Educate 

The SDX code also contains an expectation of the journalist's 
responsibility to present information and editorials to the public regarding 
public issues; this corresponds to the ASNE's Article I, calling for journal- 
istic "Responsibility." This obligation of the press to educate the public 
and elevate their understanding of public events and issues was a major 
topic in the MPA meetings and speeches. 

From the first address of C.B. Wilkinson in 1868, it is evident that 
the MPA saw the newspaper as vital to society, and the publisher's role as 
one of great responsibility. Wilkinson says, "The newspaper.. .must be 
consulted on all occasions. The humanity of this day cannot exist 
without it. It is a prime necessity, and it should be our duty to keep it 
so." 93 The following year Norman J. Colman reiterates Wilkinson's 
concern with the newspaper's responsibility to inform the public. 94 

J.C. Moore also repeats this theme in his address to the convention 
of 1870. Moore places the journalist's obligation to inform above all 
other responsibilities, claiming: "The education and elevation of the 
masses in every department of knowledge will be its [the journalist's] 
special purpose and mission." 95 Later Moore suggests that, "The Press 
will have become the first of the mental agencies, having every re- 
source.. .through which to reach and influence them [the public]." 96 

In 1873 John Marmaduke also emphasizes the press' obligation to 
disseminate information to the public. Marmaduke sees the press as not 
only uniquely qualified to do the job but also extremely effective in its 
efforts. Marmaduke boasts, "It [the press] is doing more to disseminate 
knowledge and to educate people up to a certain standard and at less 
expense than all other instrumentalities of the age." 97 Marmaduke also 
refers to the press' watchdog role in remarking, "By its [the press'] vig- 
ilance and omnipresence Tyranny is anticipated and its purpose de- 
feated." 98 

The following year Milo Blair delivers the annual address and also 
refers to the pervasiveness of the newspaper's ability to inform. Blair 

Winter 1 999 • American Journalism 31 

Journalism has a high and immortal mission to perform. 
Like a wand of a magician, its wing sweeps nearly every 
land, and shall yet penetrate the wildest haunts of the world, 
where the shadow and superstition of ignorance falls heavily 
over the people." 

One year later Mark DeMotte refers to it in more detail. DeMotte 
discusses the power of the press and its corresponding responsibility to 
inform the public in stating: "The vast power of the press — how it 
moulds public sentiment — how it makes and unmakes presidents and 
administrations — how rolling of its cylinders shakes the world and almost 
rules it." 100 Later in his speech DeMotte explains, "[A newspaper ought 
to be] the guardian of the welfare of the community, and the zealous 
advocate of its rights and interests." 101 In 1876 the press' obligation to 
inform the public was the subject of a resolution voted on by the entire 
MPA. 102 

That same year the obligation to inform was also a topic of William 
F. Switzler's 1876 address covering the press' power in its ability to inform. 
Switzler explained: "How it [the Press] has rendered invaluable aid to the 
cause of liberty, religion and literature throughout the world." 103 Switzler 
discusses at length the importance of the watchdog function of the press 
by commenting: 

[The Press is] a reflex of the opinions and an exponent and 
defender of the rights and interests of the people among 
whom it is specially circulated. It is theoretically and ought 
to be practically, an honest and sleepless sentinel of the 
watchtower of their liberties, and a guardian of their special 
interests, industries and activities whatever they may be. 104 

Switzler sees this watchdog aspect of the obligation to inform as a 
cornerstone of democracy, remarking: "I am, therefore, firmly persuaded 
that the perpetuity of our free institutions. ..depends in no small degree 
upon the vigorous existence and fidelity of the country press." 105 

Advocacy As Puffery 

The final item in the SDX press code calls for presentations devoted 
to advocacy to be labeled as such; this concept is also indicated in the 
ASNE's Article I where the journalist is warned against using power for 
"selfish" motives. The MPA minutes address this topic at length as well. 

32 Banning* Winter 1999 

The MPA's discussion of this focuses on the then common practice of 
puffery, the insertion of promotional pieces for people, politicians, or 
products into editorials which purported to be the opinion of the editor. 

References to puffery appear 1 1 times in the MPA minutes. In a 
poem read at the May 10, 1870 MPA convention in Kansas City, P.G. 
Ferguson of the Missouri Democrat describes the then current newspaper 
as one where puffery was common. Ferguson writes: 

Puffs, lectures, meetings, local news complete, 
With now and then a dish of book reviews.... 
Puffs of new books, old cuts of foreign scenes — 
Such is the magazine of modern fashion. 106 

Later in the poem Ferguson compares those who propagated puffery 
with Judas Iscariot. He writes: 

This journal stooped, and like a mousing owl, 
Sold its opinions with unblushing face 
And smeared its sacred robes with offal foul. 
Judas, who sold his Master, we despise, 
Yet poverty, perchance, was his excuse; 
But who can view, with charitable eyes, 
This venal slayer of the golden goose! 107 

The next discussion of puffery occurs in another poem. This one 
was written by C.B. Wilkinson and was delivered in 1871. In the poem 
called "The Editor," Wilkinson pokes fun at the typical editor who 
engages in puffery. Wilkinson writes: 

Who puffs lean men to swelling notoriety, 
And blows up many an office-holding "flat." 108 

In 1874 MPA member Milo Blair challenges the puffery issue head 
on in his address to the convention. Blair warns: 

I am satisfied that the custom of wholesale puffing, as generally 
practiced by the press, is doing journalism no little injury. So much 
of it is done on worthless persons especially, we hardly know where 
or when to look for true merit. 109 

Winter 1999 • American Journalism 33 

Blair also specifically addresses political puffs in a manner parallel to 
that of the SDX press code and ASNE Canons. Blair advises: 

It [a politician's ad] must appear as an advertisement paid for by 
him and not as our judgement and opinion. Our readers have a 
right to know whether what we say of the fitness of a man for party 
nomination is our own belief or the drivel of a hired brain. 110 

The following year, in 1875, Mark DeMotte discusses the impor- 
tance of abandoning the use of puffs. DeMotte states: 

I express the opinion of every practical newspaper man in 
this house, when I say that to print paid personal puffs, as 
our own editorial or local opinion, is a prostitution of our 
paper wholly inexcusable; and if indulged in to any great 
extent, will bring the just contempt of the public upon us. 111 

From the previous references it is clear the MPA advocated doing away 
with the practice of puffery. The speeches showed the MPA's contempt in 
that there were comparisons of editors who engaged in the practice of 
puffery to traitors and prostitutes. 

An Early Standard for Excellence 

The evidence seems to indicate that this state press association was 
involved in discussing serious aspects of journalism. This appears to 
contradict Frederic Hudson's previously mentioned characterization that 
press associations were not of a serious nature. Further research could be 
directed at examining the minutes and other primary records of press 
associations in the 1 9th century for patterns of interest in professional 

It may be that Hudson's characterization, while not universally 
inaccurate, did apply to some press associations. The reasons for differ- 
ences in early press association characterization could reveal how journal- 
ists in different geographic areas perceived themselves and their relation- 
ship to journalism. Perhaps frontier journalists were more or less likely to 
feel a need to professionalize. 

Perhaps the predominance of certain political forces influenced 
editors. A search for patterns among press association minutes could 
begin to fill in pieces of the puzzle regarding the influence of 19th century 
state press associations on journalism history. 

34 Bannning* Winter 1999 


'Marianne AJlison, "A Literature Review of the Approaches to the Professionalization of Journal- 
ists," Journal of Mass Media Ethics 1, no. 2 (spring/summer 1986): 6; A.M. Carr-Saunders, "Profes- 
sions: Their Organization and Place in Society," (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1928), 3; Robert 
Dingwal and Philip Lewis, The Sociology of the Professions: Lawyers, Doctors and Others (New York: St. 
Martin's Press, 1983), 8; Abraham Flexner, "Is Social Work a Profession?" School and Society 1 (1915): 
901-1 1; Ernest Greenwood, "Attributes of a Profession," Social Work 3 (July 1957): 44; Everett 
Cherrington Hughes, Men and Their Work (Glencoe: The Free Press, 1958), 134; Wilbert E. Moore, 
The Professions: Roles and Rules (New York: Russel Sage Foundation, 1970), 123; Talcott Parsons, 
"Professions," International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, ed. David Sills, 12 (New York: 1968): 

Sociologist Wilbert Moore defines stages of professionalization. These include a groups 
attainment as (1) an occupation, (2) a calling, (3) a formalized organization, (4) an organization 
requiring education, (5) an organization with a service orientation, and (6) an organization enjoying 
autonomy. Wilbert E. Moore, The Professions: Roles and Rules (New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 
1970), 4. An overview of the problems of defining journalistic professionalization can be found in a 
dissertation by Patricia Louise Dooley, Development of American Journalistic Work in the 
Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries: Journalists, Politicians, Political Communication, and 
Occupational Boundaries, Ph.D. dissertation, University of Minnesota, 1994, 13-29. 

3 Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America (New York: Vintage Books, 1945), 138; Richard 
Taub, American Society in Tocqueville's Time and Today (Chicago: Rand McNally College Pub. 
Company, 1974), 90. 

4 W.J. Reader, Professional Men (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1966), 161. 

5 Mid-19th century sources indicate MPA members understood professionalization and saw the 
MPA as a professional association. Sources indicate other press clubs at the time were bohemian in 
nature and resembled drinking clubs. Stephen Banning, "The Missouri Press Association: A Study of' 
the Beginning Motivations, 1867 - 1876" (paper presented at the annual meeting of the annual 
American Journalism Historian's Association Conference, Lawrence, Kansas, Oct. 1992), 1-21; 
William Switzler, "Publisher's Convention," Missouri Statesman, May 10, 1867, 2; William Switzler, 
"Lawyers Arrested," Missouri Statesman, May 1867, 4; William Switzler, "Missouri Editor's and 
Publisher's Association," Missouri Statesman, May 15, 1867, 2; John Weeks Moore, Historical Notes on 
Printers and Printing 1420 To 1886 (Concord: Republican Press Association, 1886), 25 1-69; 
Augustus Maverick, Henry J. Raymond and the New York Press for Thirty Years: Progress of American 
Journalism From 1840 To 1870 (Hartford: A.S. Hale and Company, 1870), 328-29; Frederic 
Hudson, Journalism in the United States From 1690 -1872 (New York: Harper and Brothers 
Publishers, 1873). 665; Alfred McClung Lee, The Daily Newspaper in America (New York: The 
Macmillan Company, 1937), 123-24; "Among the Associations," Newspaperdom 1, no. 7 New York: 
Chas S. Patteson (November-December 1892): 16; Gerald Baldesty, The Commercialization of News in 
the Nineteenth Century (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1992), 101; Sidney Kobre, 
Development of American Journalism (Dubuque: Wim. C. Brown Company Publishers, 1969), 725. 

Stephen Banning, "Unearthing the Origin of Journalistic Education" (paper presented at the 
Association of Educators in Journalism and Mass Communication Midwest Journalism History 
Conference, April 1994), 1-13. 

7 The Sigma Delta Chi was founded in 1909; the American Society of Newspaper Editors was 
founded in 1922. The ASNE, however, was the first to adopt a formal code of ethics in 1923. The 
Sigma Delta Chi code was adopted a few years later and paralled the ASNE code. According to 
Clifford Christians, the Sigma Delta Chi code became the most recognized press code. Clifford 
Christians, "Enforcing Media Codes, " Journal of Mass Media Ethics 1, no. 1 (fall/winter 1985-86): 14. 

8 Frederic Hudson, Journalism in the United States From 1690-1872 (New York: Harper and 
Brothers Publishers, 1873). 666. 

'Hudson, 666. 

'"Stephen Banning, "Unearthing the Origin of Journalistic Professionalization in the Mid- 
Nineteenth Century," MA thesis, University of Missouri, 1993, 100. 

"John C. Merrill, "Professionalization: Danger to Press Freedom and Pluralism," Journal of Mass 
Media Ethics 1, no. 2 (spring/summer, 1986): 56; Merrill expresses a similar viewpoint in Imperative of 
Freedom: A Philosophy of Journalistic Autonomy (New York: Hastings House, Publishers, 1976), 123- 

Winter 1 999 • American Journalism 35 

12 Mary Cronin and James McPherson, "Reaching for Professionalism and Respectability: The 
Development of Ethics Codes in the 1920s," (paper presented at the annual American Journalism 
Historian's Association Conference, Lawrence, Kansas, Oct. 1992), 4. 

13 Ibid., 20. 

M Hazel Dicken-Garcia,/oKr7M/zVftV Standards in Nineteenth Century America (Madison: University 
of Wisconsin Press, 1989), 233. 

I5 Marion Turtle Marzolf, Civilizing Voices: American Press Criticism 1880-1950 (New York: 
Longman Publishing Group, 1991), 14. 

,6 Ibid., 50. 

l7 Kobre, Development of American Journalism, 733-36. 

,s Douglas Birlchead, "The Power in the Image: Professionalism and the Communications 
Revolution," American Journalism 1, no. 2 (winter 1984): 3; Douglas Birlchead, "News Media Ethics 
and the Management of Professionals," Journal of Mass Media Ethics 1, no. 2 (spring/summer 1986): 

"William E May "Professional Ethics, The University and the Journalist," Journal of Mass Media 
Ethics 1, no. 2 (spring/summer, 1986): 20. 

20 Bert Bostrom, Talent, Truth and Energy: Society of Professional Journalists Sigma Delta Chi 
(Chicago: Society of Professional Journalists, 1984), 18. 

2, James Melvin Lee, History of American Journalism (New York: Garden City Publishing Co., Inc., 
1923), 388. 

22 Ibid. 

23 Ibid. 

24 George Payne, History of Journalism in the United States (New York: D. Appleton-Century 
Company, Incorporated, 1940), 25 1 - 

25 Garcia, Journalistic Standards in Nineteenth Century America, 257. 

"Ibid., 8. 

27 Leon Nelson Flint, The Conscience of the Newspaper (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 
1925), 429. 

"Clifford Christians, "Enforcing Media Codes," Journal of Mass Media Ethics 1, no. 1 (fall/winter 
1985-86): 14. 

2 >Ibid. 

30 Cronin and McPherson, "Reaching for Professionalism and Respectability," 1. 
31 Christians, "Enforcing Media Codes," 14. 

32 J.W Barrett, comp., History and Transactions of the Editors and Publishers Association of Missouri 
(Canton: Canton Press Print, 1876), 1. 

33 Ibid., 2. 

34 Ibid., 7. 

35 Barrett, an interesting historical figure himself, began the Canton Press in 1862 with reconstructed 
equipment from a paper destroyed by Union soldiers and, along with MPA colleague Norman J. 
Colman, became a University of Missouri curator in 1870. Floyd Calvin Shoemaker, Missouri and 
Missourians: Land of Contrast and People of Achievement (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, 
1943), Vol. 1, 1005; Floyd Calvin Shoemaker, "History of the First Fifty Years of the Missouri Press 
Association," 1917, Unpublished Manuscript, State Historical Sociery of Missouri Library, 161. 

36 Barrett, History and Transactions, Preface. 

37 The one exception to this is the oration given during the convention of 1872, held in Sedalia, 
Missouri. Barrett could not find a copy of this oration and notes in the Minutes preface that the text 
of this oration had to be omitted. There is also no oration for the 1870 convention due to the fact 
that the delegated orator Stilson Hutchins, editor of the St. Louis Times and eventual founder of the 
Washington Post, did not show up at the convention, and the MPA officials dispensed with the annual 
oration for that year. Geo. P. Rowel 1, American Newspaper Directory: 1 871 (New York: Geo. P. 
Rowell & Co., 1871), 84; Edward J. Gallagher, Founder of the Washington Post: A Biography of Stilson 
Hutchins 1838-1912 (Laconia: Citizen Publishing Company, 1965), 7. 

36 Bannning • Winter 1 999 

'"William H. Taft, Missouri Newspapers (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1964). 

39 C.B. Wilkinson published a daily Republican newspaper called the Herald And became MPA 
president in 1871. He later moved to Colorado, published the Denver Republican and became a 
prominent member of the Colorado Press Association. Moore, Historical Notes on Printers and 
Printing 1420 To 1886, 255; Barrett, History and Transactions, 4, 43; Rowell, American Newspaper 
Directory: 1871, 83. 

40 C.B. Wilkinson, "May 24, 1868 Annual Missouri Press Association Address," in History and 
Transactions, 16. 

4l Ibid. 

42 Colman was experienced in the traditional professions. In addition to being licensed to teach and 
practice law, he had also attended a seminary. He published Colman's Rural World, was a University of 
Missouri curator, and ran for lieutenant governor in 1868. He would eventually become the first 
United States Secretary of Agriculture. His journal is still published today under the title The Missouri 
Ruralist. Barrett, History and Transactions, 17, 7; Jonas Viles, The University of Missouri: A Centennial 
History 1839-1939 (E.W Stephens Company: Columbia, 1939), 164; Frank F. Stephens, The History 
of the University of Missouri (University of Missouri Press: Columbia, 1962), 262, 267-68; Shoe- 
maker, Missouri and Missourians, 991; Walter Bickford Davis and Daniel Durrie, An Illustrated History 
of Missouri Comprising Its Early Record, and Civil, Political and Military History (St. Louis: A.J. Hall 
and Company 1876), 490-91. 

43 Norman J. Colman, "May 19, 1869 Annual Missouri Press Association Address," in History and 
Transactions, 23. Historians spell Colman's name "Colman" at times. In fact, it is spelled both ways 
in various parts of the MPA minutes. It is possible that Colman preferred the shorter version for his 
newspaper Colman's Rural World. 

"Ibid., 22. 

'''Marmaduke studied in Europe, at Harvard and Yale, and was known as a scholar. His father was 
a governor of Missouri and his father-in-law a doctor. Marmaduke himself became governor in 1885. 
W.L. Webb, Battles and Biographies of Missourians Or The Civil War Period of Our State (Kansas City: 
Hudson-Kimberly Publishing Company, 1903), 311; Shoemaker, Missouri and Missourians, Vol. 2: 
96, 106. 

■"John Marmaduke, "May 27, 1872 Annual Missouri Press Association Address," in History and 
Transactions, 73- 

47 Ibid. 

48 Milo Blair ran a small newspaper with a circulation of 960. Geo. P. Rowell, American Newspaper 
Directory: 1873 (New york: Geo. P. Rowell & Co., 1873), 120, 126. 

49 Milo Blair, "May 20, 1874 Annual Missouri Press Association Address," in History and Transac- 
tions, 86-87. 

50 Mark DeMotte ran a small newspaper with a circulation of about 1,000. Rowell, American 
Newspaper Directory: 1873, 123. 

51 Mark DeMotte, "May 26, 1875 Annual Missouri Press Association Address," in History and 
Transactions, 99. 

52 Ibid. 

"William Switzler was active both in the MPA and in politics. His newspaper was known as a 
major Whig voice in the state. John Vollmer Mering, The Whig Party in Missouri (Columbia: 
University of Missouri Press, 1967), 103; Shoemaker, Missouri and Missourians, Vol. 1,990-91; 
Barrett, History and Transactions, 1 9, 65, 90. 

"William Switzler, "June 6, 1876 Annual Missouri Press Association Address," in History and 
Transactions, 131-33- 

"Banning, "Unearthing the Origin of Journalistic Professionalization in the Mid-Nineteenth 
Century," 76-99. 

"Victor E. Bluedorn, Sigma Delta Chi Manual (no publisher or publication location listed, 1959), 


57 William Meharry Glenn, The Sigma Delta Chi Story: 1909-1949 (Coral Gables: Glade House, 
1949), 22. 

Winter 1999 • American Journalism 37 

58 Bert Bostrom, Talent, Truth and Energy: Society of Professional Journalists Sigma Delta Chi 
(Chicago: Society of Professional Journalists, 1984), 177. 

"Paul Alfred Pratce, Gods Within the Machine: A History of the American Society of Newspaper 
Editors, 1923-1993 (Connecticut: Praeger, 1995), 205-7; Alice Fox Pins, Read All About It: 50 Years 
ofASNE, (American Society of Newspaper Editors, 1974), 359-61. 

60 Wilkinson, "May 24, 1868 Annual Missouri Press Association Address," in History and 
Transactions, 13- 





s5 Colman, "May 19, 1869 Annual Missouri Press Association Address," in History and Transactions, 

66 This concept of progress through truth was popularized in the mid-nl9th century by John Stuart 
Mill's essay On Liberty (1859). Mill wrote that public criticism was vital and restraining the press was 
tyranny, as he saw truth as a necessary condition in a democracy. G.L. Williams, John Stuart Mill on 
Politics and Society (New York: International Publications Service, 1976), 35-41; R.J. Halliday, John 
Stuart Mill (New York: Barnes & Noble, 1 976) ,117. 

S7 Colman, "May 19, 1869 Annual Missouri Press Association Address," in History and Transactions, 

68 Barrett, History and Transactions, 7; Thomas E. Garrett, "The Giants," in History and Transactions, 

"Garrett, "The Giants," in History and Transactions, 30. 

70 P.G. Ferguson, "The Press," in History and Transactions, 59. 

71 J.C. Moore had a diverse career, serving in the Confederate Army as a Colonel under fellow MPA 
member Major -General John Marmaduke. By the time Moore joined the MPA, he had been 
licensed to practice law, had served in the Colorado legislature, was the first mayor of Denver, had 
worked at the St. Louis Times and had co-founded the Kansas City Times. Webb, Battles and 
Biographies of Missourians, 362; Gallagher, The Founder of the Washington Post, 6 1 . 

72 J.C. Moore, "May 24, 1871 Annual Missouri Press Association Address," in History and 
Transactions, 48. 

73 Edwards was coeditor of the Kansas City Times along with fellow MPA member J. C. Moore 
(Moore and Charles Dougherty had started the Times four years earlier). Edwards was active in the 
MPA, attending the MPA charter formation in 1868, as part of a nominating committee in 1869 and 
as MPA Secretary in 1870. He would become known as one of Missouri's outstanding authors. Geo 
P. Rowell, The Men Who Advertise (New York: Nelson Chesman, 1 870), 68 1 ; Webb, Battles and 
Biographies of Missourians, 363; Rowell, American Newspaper Directory: 1871, 81; Barrett, History and 
Transactions, 18, 42; Walter Williams, The State of Missouri (Columbia: E.W. Stephens Press, 1904), 

74 J.N. Edwards, "The Press," in History and Transactions, 63. 

75 John S. Marmaduke, "May 27, 1873 Annual Missouri Press Association Address," in History and 
Transactions, 73. 

76 Blair, "May 20, 1875 Annual Missouri Press Association Address," in History and Transactions, 99. 

^Switzler, "June 6, 1876 Annual Missouri Press Association Address," in History and Transactions, 

78 Ibid., 133. 

7, Dicken-Garcia, Journalistic Standards in Nineteenth Century America, 175; Michael Schudson, 
Discovering the News: A Social History of American Newspapers (New York: Basic Books Inc, 
Publishers, 1978), 65- 

80 Wilkinson, "M;>y24, 1868 Annual Missouri Press Association Address," in History and 
Transactions, 8. 

81 Ibid., 10. 

82 Ibid., 13-14. 

38 Banning • Winter 1999 

"Moore, "May 24, 1871 Annual Missouri Press Association Address," in History and Transactions, 

84 Blair, "May 20, 1874 Annual Missouri Press Association Address," in History and Transactions, 85- 

85 DeMotte, "May 26, 1875 Annual Missouri Press Association Address," in History and Transac- 
tions, 101. 


87 Ibid. 

88 Swirzler, "June 6, 1876 Annual Missouri Press Association Address," in History and Transactions, 

8, DeMotte, "May 26, 1875 Annual Missouri Press Association Address," in History and Transac- 
tions, 101. 

'°Ibid., 128. 

"Ibid., 133. 

"H.C. McDougal, "A Decade In Missouri Politics 1860 To 1870," 8 March 1904, Manuscript, 
The State Historical Society of Missouri, 13. 

"Wilkinson, "May 24, 1868 Annual Missouri Press Association Address," in History and 
Transactions, 9. 

,4 Colman, "May 19, 1869 Annual Missouri Press Association Address," in History and Transactions, 

95 Moore, "May 24, 1871 Annual Missouri Press Association Address," in History and Transactions, 

"Ibid., 50. 

57 Marmaduke, "May 27, 1873 Annual Missouri Press Association Address," in History and 
Transactions, 71. 

98 Ibid., 72. 

"Blair, "May 20, 1 874 Annual Missouri Press Association Address," in History and Transactions, 86. 

l00 DeMotte, "May 26, 1875 Annual Missouri Press Association Address," in History and Transac- 
tions," 93- 
""Ibid., 99. 

,02 F.A. Jones, "June 6, 1876 Missouri Press Association Miscellaneous Business," in History and 
Transactions, 116. 

l03 Switzler, "June 6, 1 876 Annual Missouri Press Association Address," in History and Transactions, 

""Ibid., 125. 

,05 Ibid. 

l06 Ferguson, "The Press," in History and Transactions, 56-57. 

107 Ibid., 58. 

,08 Wilkinson, "The Editor," in History and Transactions, 50. 

,09 Blair, "May 20, 1874 Annual Missouri Press Association Address," in History and Transactions, 

1,0 Ibid., 104. 

'"DeMotte, "May 26, 1875 Annual Missouri Press Association Address," in History and Transac- 
tions, 102. 

Winter 1999 • American Journalism 39 


Winter 1999 

From Populist to Patrician: Edward 
H. Butler s Buffalo News and the 
Crisis of Labor, 1877-1892 

By Michael J. Dillon 

Edward H. Butler founded the Buffalo Sunday Morning News in 
1873 for two reasons: To fight the entrenched interests that controlled the city's 

politics, economics and journalism, and to fulfill his dream of becoming a 
respected and wealthy newspaper publisher. He succeeded at both. In time, 
however, the twin forces that converged to shape his identity and fuel his rise to 

fame and influence — civic idealism and hardheaded entrepreneurship — 

Butler brought a new journalism to Buffalo — independent, populist, 
defiant, modern. But the success that journalism wrought served to make his 
life and interests remote from the very people he championed. Within two 
decades, Butler was transformed from friend ofworkingmen to foe of labor and 
labor unions. This paper explores the responses of Butlers Buffalo News to the 
great labor disturbances of 1877 and 1892 and shows how the passionate 
reformist editor who championed labor during the first strike grew into a 
wealthy and established member of the elite who denounced labor and called 
for its defeat by arms during the second. 


he "new journalism" of the post-Civil War period left two 
important legacies. With its crusading fervor, political 
independence, and fact-based (if sensational) style of inquiry 

Michael J. Dillon is an Assistant Professor at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 
Winter 1999 " American Journalism 41 

into human affairs, the new journalism established an unprecedented 
social influence for journalism. Its very success as a force of social change 
and advocacy, however, also launched it towards unprecedented profits 
and economic influence. At some point, it was inevitable that crusading 
journalists would cease to crusade against a system that benefited them so 
handsomely. ' 

The period of new journalism left the institution of journalism with 
a conundrum: Is journalism primarily an engine of democracy or of 
commerce? For the historian, the question is more complex: Why did the 
economic legacy of the newspaper press grow so powerful while its 
crusading legacy dimmed as the 20th century dawned? 

Edward H. Butler, who founded the Buffalo Sunday Morning News 
in 1873 and took it daily in 1880, was one of a generation of mavericks 
who created the new journalism. In the years after the Civil War, men like 
Butler, Joseph Pulitzer, Melville Stone, and E.W Scripps melded the 
idealistic spirit of earlier papers like Horace Greeley's New York Tribune 
and the sensational methods of the ante bellum penny press to carve out a 
vital new role in civic life for newspapers. 

Cheap, broad and accessible, the new journalism was predicated on 
political independence and civic leadership. By bringing readers up-to- 
date news heretofore neglected by the party press, and by advocating on 
behalf of those on the margins of power, the new journalists built huge 
and loyal readerships — and accumulated substantial political and eco- 
nomic capital. 

Rejecting partisan support, the commercially-driven new journalism 
found far wealthier sponsors in free-spending advertisers who wished to 
reach the papers' vast audiences. Independent, commercial newspapers 
like the New York World and the Buffalo News became formidable enter- 
prises in their cities. 2 

The conflict between the democratic impulses and the economic 
bounty inherent in the new journalism was played out dramatically in the 
career of Butler, whose evolution as a journalist and entrepreneur offers a 
troubling case study of how the wealth and power the new journalism 
created eventually undermined new democratic possibilities for journalism. 

This article examines a facet of Butler's career that illuminates the 
social and economic conflicts embedded in the age of new journalism: 
Butler's relationship with Buffalo's workers, which changed drastically as 
his newspaper brought him ever greater success and wealth. 

Specifically, the article explores the response of Butler and his News 
to two of the great labor conflicts of the Gilded Age — the rail strike of 

42 Dillon -Winter 1999 

1877 during which Butler vociferously defended laborers and encouraged 
them to exercise their political will against capitalists and the state; and 
the Great Strike of 1892, during which Butler denounced newly orga- 
nized workers and called for the state to break the strike. 3 

Newspapers Promoted Partisanship 

When Butler established the Sunday Morning News in 1873, he 
found a newspaper field crowded with political and commercial journals 
that catered to a small elite. Papers like the Democratic Courier and its 
partisan rival The Republic narrowly defined news as the official acts of 
politicians and the political opinions of editors. 4 

Because of their narrow focus and limited appeal to those outside 
the partisan loop, the combined circulation of the city's commercial and 
partisan papers in 1875 barely exceeded 10,000 in a city of 131,000 
people. 5 Butler aimed his new sheet at those ignored by partisan politics. 
Within two years, he had 1 2,000 readers — more than all his rivals 
combined. 6 

The News grew by attacking political and economic elites on behalf 
of Buffalo's ordinary citizens — shopkeepers, fledgling entrepreneurs, and 
workingmen. In his first editorials, Butler denounced the political 
"rings" — as he and other reformers referred to the parties — and the 
newspapers that supported them. 

The paper boasted it was "The Firm Friend and Acknowledged 
Organ of the People" 7 that "Dares Call a Liar a Liar and a Villain a 
Villain." 8 It described its principles thus: "We desire to see ring rule 
destroyed, we desire to see honest men elected by the people, and held 
responsible to them and not to a party or clique of men." 9 The paper was 
also cheap. The Sunday Morning News cost 5 cents, but did not require a 
subscription, and the daily sheet, which debuted in 1880, cost but a 
penny; both were hawked aggressively in the street. 

The News condemned its partisan rivals as "low scums" who cared 
only for personal or political gain and who "pandered to obsolete ideas." 10 
The News warned that "until new ideas are infused, until a more progres- 
sive race springs up from the ashes of old fogeyism, Buffalo must be far 
behind many of its sister cities." 11 

Creates a Political Constituency 

To that end, the News exposed and denounced municipal graft. In 
1875, it successfully stitched together a bi-partisan "People's Ticket" that 

Winter 1999 • American Journalism 43 

prevented either political party from dominating civic affairs. The cam- 
paign blended the papers' economic and political power as the News recast 
its 10,000 paying readers as "10,000 honest voters." 12 News readers were 
not a mere audience but a constituency. 

From the its earliest days, a progressive social agenda guided the 
paper. In 1874 the paper crusaded against the sale of diseased meat. 13 In 
1876, it exposed patent medicine frauds. 14 In September of 1878 alone it 
exposed the abysmal working conditions and wages of contract sewing 
girls and crusaded for laws to protect Buffalo's citizens from adulterated 
milk being sold in the city. 15 In 1881 it mounted a crusade on behalf of 
impoverished Polish immigrants that rivaled in intensity and literary merit 
the crusades Joseph Pulitzer would become famous for with the New York 
World, which he bought in 1883. 16 

As it built circulation and influence, the News courted, and advo- 
cated for, workingmen. One of the paper's first regular features debuted in 
1874. In the Labor Column, Butler implored workers "to come to the 
front and show your power and independence." 17 

Butler used the Labor Column to guide workers in the acquisition 
of political and economic power and frequently gave it over to labor 
leaders. The inaugural Labor Column announced that, "The workingmen 
have long needed an independent channel for their thoughts — one in 
which all have an equal right to give expression to their views and one 
which is perfectly unbiased." 18 

Butler's affinity for workingmen was not merely political; in many 
respects he was one of them. The son of an itinerant preacher, as a boy 
Butler was apprenticed as a printer's devil at the newspaper in rural 
LeRoy, New York. Later, he was a reporter and editor on a series of 
partisan newspapers in Pennsylvania's hardscrabble anthracite coal region. 
As a fledgling publisher, Butler not only supplied most of the News 
content, but shepherded the paper through the press and then personally 
delivered it to Buffalo's suburbs. 

Butler found both news and an eager audience among the ranks of 
the workingmen. His transformation from populist to patrician can be 
traced to his relationship with these workers over the course of 20 years — 
from his days as a struggling entrepreneur to his ascendance to wealthy 
master of capital and labor. 

By 1 892, when the New York Publishers Association convened its 
annual meeting in Buffalo, Butler was the dean of the city's publishers and 
one of its wealthiest citizens. By the mid- 1890s the News was recording 
monthly revenues of almost $50,000 and Butler was paying himself a 
quarterly salary of more than $1 2,000. 19 

44 Dillon •Winter 1999 

Butler had originally boasted of his "manly independence" 20 in 
politics but two decades after founding his newspaper in opposition to 
partisan politics and journalism he was not only personally convinced of 
the soundness of Republican policies, but a figure of power within the 
parry and served as a delegate to many conventions. 21 

So much had changed. Butler had come to Buffalo to challenge its 
political rings and offer a new style of journalism as a moral beacon for 
the community. In his keynote address to colleagues from around the 
state, however, Publishers Association President Edward H. Butler would 
offer a new and very different vision for his profession. 

Publishing Newspapers for Profit 

At the dais, Butler mocked those who wasted time talking of the 
"loftier mission" of the press — namely moral, political and social leader- 
ship. 22 He congratulated his peers for coming "to the understanding that 
the publishing of a newspaper is a business as well as conducting a dry 
goods store, a grocery or a railroad, and like those enterprises a business 
conducted mainly for profit." 23 

When Butler had declared independence from partisanship nearly 20 
years earlier, he did so because he envisioned a nobler mission for the press: 

The press of the land, the mouthpiece of the nation, should 
be untrammeled by party subserviency; it should be free to 
denounce corruption, to expose dishonest schemes, and warn 
the people at the first tocsin of alarm. If it does so, it 
accomplishes its mission, failing to do so it is a timeserver, 
and its mission is one of evil instead of good to the masses. 24 

Now, however, the pursuit of profit — and the maintenance of a 
civic order designed to protect it — appeared to be Butler's guiding, and 
perhaps only, principle. He told the assembled: 

I don't wish our members to regard this address as all on 
the money side of it, but when you come right down to the 
foundation, it is pretty nearly what you are publishing 
newspapers for. 'Money,' said the elder Bennett, 'is the root 
of all evil, but give me the root.' 25 

As Edward H. Butler's social and economic status had changed, his 
relationships with Buffalo's constituencies also naturally changed and 

Winter 1 999 • American Journalism 45 

none underwent a more radical change than his relationship with the 
workingmen he had originally championed. Uncomfortably for Butler, 
that relationship reached a crisis at the very moment he entertained his 
peers and touted the virtues of Buffalo. 

The publishers who visited Buffalo that summer were treated to 
concerts, tours of the city and a visit to Niagara Falls. In a daily box 
headlined "A Few Cold Facts About Buffalo," the News boasted about the 
33 rail lines that entered the city, its booming population, which was 
approaching 300,000, and its 2,500 factories. Spread out along the 
Niagara River and the shores of Lake Erie, the city was a center for lake 
and rail traffic. 26 Things could not have looked brighter. 

But everywhere that summer, labor warfare threatened the social 
order that made such industrial growth possible. Each day of the conven- 
tion, stories that detailed the publishers' doings ran side by side with 
ominous reports of violent clashes between capital and labor in Home- 
stead, Cleveland, Detroit, Spokane, and Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. 

The labor trouble that haunted Buffalo that summer was hardly the 
work of radicals. The unrest originated at the Homestead Steel Plant 
outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In an attempt to destroy the nascent 
American Labor Federation, Henry Frick, general manager of the Carnegie 
Steel Company, had summarily announced that wages at the plant would 
be cut, and that the company would begin to hire non-union men. These 
moves were deliberately provocative, designed to force a fight with the 
union before it got any stronger. "Frick had patiently tried to force the 
workmen into opposition and he had succeeded." 27 Even before his 
announcement, Frick had Pinkerton guards at the ready to put down the 
protest he was hoping to provoke. 28 

Frick's scheme was ill-considered. The Homestead workers initially 
routed the Pinkertons at Homestead in one of the bloodiest labor clashes 
in US history, prompting Pennsylvania's governor to send in the National 
Guard and igniting strikes that spread along the rail lines that connected 
these plants in a vast industrial grid. 

Butler Opposed Labor in 1892 

Butler feared that the strikes roaring through other cities would 
soon reach Buffalo. When they did, he wanted the city's business and 
political leaders to be prepared. 

On July 13, 1892, in the midst of the Homestead Steel clash, a 
Buffalo News editorial applauded the decision of Pennsylvania Governor 

AG Dillon 'Winter 1999 

William Pattison to call in the state militia to break the strike. 29 The News 
warned that Buffalo's leaders should not hesitate to demand similar 
military protection: 

The business men of Buffalo who have property to lose 
know how to appreciate the respect in which the National 
Guard is held in this and other States. They know what 
inspires that respect ... It is because our State regiments are 
composed of manly, courageous, well-disciplined men that 
they inspire respect when they are called out to prevent 
disorder as well as quell it. 30 

While the editorial held out hope that the violence would not engulf 
Buffalo, it asserted that should it come, "the National Guardsmen are our 
best protection against riot and destruction of property." 31 

Butler looked to the past for assurances that Buffalo's future, and the 
hegemony of its leaders, would not be harmed by rebellious workers. 
"Not a great many years ago — only 1 5," the editorial said, "Buffalo had to 
be protected by the National Guard during the great railroad strikes, and 
the soldiers did their work gallantly and well. Their presence at the point 
of disturbance prevented a serious outbreak, and prevention is always 
better in such cases than cure." 32 

Butler's history lesson was nothing short of astonishing. Fifteen years 
earlier, he had offered a far different vision of the place of workingmen in 
the city, and his newspaper had told a far different story of the militia's 
role in quelling the strike. The difference between the views of the young, 
struggling Edward H. Butler who was scorned in the 1870s by his 
partisan rivals for his populist sympathies, and the older, prosperous 
Butler who was being honored as a leader of the state and city press in 
1892, reveals much about the evolution of the man, his newspapers, and 
the city. 

The militia had become embroiled in the great strike of 1 877, that 
much was true. But little else of the lesson Butler drew from the strike 
corresponded with stories and editorials he had published then. The 1877 
strike had also begun in the Southern Alleghenies, in West Virginia, where 
rail crews abandoned their trains over a wage decrease and refused to let 
trains manned by replacement workers leave the yards. 33 The strike 
quickly spread up the Erie Road, reaching Buffalo in early June. Butler's 
Sunday Morning News declared, "Never before in the history of the city 
did a public demonstration assume so suddenly such formidable propor- 
tions, and so many ugly features." 34 

Winter 1999 • American Journalism 47 

Butler Supported Strikers in 1 877 

When the firemen and brakemen of the Buffalo and Erie Railroad 
stopped working and began to halt all rail traffic into and out of the city, 
state officials rushed to defeat them with force. Many city newspapers 
applauded the decision to send the state militia to Buffalo, and urged 
soldiers to deal with strikers decisively and brutally, to "shoot these men 
down like beasts." 35 

The News, in contrast, defended the workers and condemned 
military intervention. The paper asserted that the rail workers had every 
right to strike in the face of an unfair wage reduction, and castigated the 
governor for allowing railroad management "to call upon the military to 
settle a business question." 36 

The News charged that rather than considering the particulars of the 
Buffalo situation, the governor had acted out of panic and fear because of 
a violent rail strike in Baltimore that preceded, and likely helped spark, 
the Buffalo strike: 

Were it not for the strike following so immediately in the 
wake of the Baltimore and Ohio horrors, it would have 
occasioned but little excitement, and the local public would 
have remained little more than mere spectators of a struggle be- 
tween a railroad company and its employees. 37 

Worse than the decision to call in the troops was their conduct once they 
arrived in the city. The soldiers, the newspaper reported, were ill-trained, 
undisciplined and poorly commanded. 

Indeed, the Sunday Morning News laid the blame for the violence on 
the military: 

The military, in fact, created the mobs which the Buffalo 
police and specials had to step in and disperse. In every 
collision of the military with the mobs, the former were 
beaten . . . even the worst rioters seemed to respect the 
police,while the soldiers were looked upon as men of blood 
and war [and] made the mobs more active and violent. 
Twenty policemen armed with clubs and civil authority were 
more effective in every conflict than a hundred soldiers armed 
with loaded muskets and bayonets. 39 

48 Dillon -Winter 1999 

The News coverage of the strike overwhelmingly favored the 
workers. Even when the paper found proof of violence against the police, 
the military, or the city itself, it ascribed such violence to "not a few 
roughs and tramps" who took advantage of a peaceful strike to cause 
trouble and settle scores. The newspaper concluded: 

The Erie men were temperate and not to be found among 
the gangs marauding about the city; and yet with all this 
expression of sentiment favorable to the strike, not one 
official act was performed to acknowledge the distinction 
between the rioters and the strikers. 39 

In an editorial that accompanied the news stories about the 1877 strike, 
Butler strongly supported the workers' right to strike, but urged them to 
refrain from violence: 

Even the most impracticable idealist — and the ranks of the 
insurgents are full of such — must acknowledge that there is 
small chance of improvement in the condition of unemploy- 
ment growing out of the destruction of the employer. It is hardly 
probable that a mill owner will be induced to add to the wages 
of his employers simply from the fact that the latter have 
burned his mill. 40 

Labor Column Moves to Page One 

While Butler chastised workers as a friend might, he had nothing 
but harsh words for the railroad companies — and for government officials 
and newspapers that aided in their subjugation of workers. His comments 
ranged far beyond the particulars of the strike itself; instead, he articulated 
his core principles on the issues of capital, labor and the role of the state 
in disputes between the two — these were the principles that Butler would 
so vehemently reject 15 years later. 

In the same editorial, which appeared on July 29, 1877, Butler 
pointed out that the coverage of the strike in Buffalo's other newspapers 
had been grossly biased and incomplete, merely trumpeting and applaud- 
ing the pronouncements of political and industrial leaders out to rout the 
strikers. The News scolded that, "There is another side to this question 
that has been completely ignored in the press, which is this: Is the Balti- 

Winter 1 999 • American Journalism 49 

more and Ohio Railroad corporation entirely blameless? Is it not equally 
to blame for bringing this terrible condition of affairs?" 41 

In fact, the editorial concluded, the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad 
bore most of the blame. Butler documented its enormous expansion and 
profits and showed how it was taking advantage of a stagnant labor 
market to exploit workers with "starve to death wages." 42 Worse, the 
B&O was "evading moral responsibility" for its actions. 43 

And, on top of tremendous economic advantages over its rag-tag 
labor force, the B&O was backed up by the political and military re- 
sources of the state: ". . . the way seems hedged up so that the one side 
cannot even get a hearing so powerful has the other side become through 
unprincipled legislators, and so oppressive are its inclinations." 44 Under 
the circumstances, the Sunday Morning News concluded, workers were 
almost being forced to seek justice through violent means. 

If anything good might come of the strike, the News concluded, it 
was that, "when a strike or movement to maintain or secure wages occurs 
in the future, the Railroad companies will feel more disposed to compro- 
mise the difficulties than ever before." 45 

In the aftermath of the 1877 strike, Butler expanded the Labor 
Column and moved it temporarily to the front page. Butler proposed to 
workingmen that they "might hold the balance of power" nationally and 
in Buffalo. 46 In an elegant and passionate summation of the workingmans 
plight, the News declared: 

The workingmen of today are men who think. They have 
cause to think. They are out of work and they wonder why 
it is. They cannot get bread for themselves and their families 
and wonder why that is. They helped elect men to office who 
promised to legislate better times and they wonder why better 
times do not come. Their little property has been eaten up by 
living and taxes, they themselves are on the verge of starvation 
and it is no wonder that they wonder why it is so. 47 

Butler applauded the men for striking, but cautioned that seeking 
short-term pay increases without a larger agenda would not advance 
their cause. They should also "strike at the ballot box," and "shake both 
parties." 48 Only when they ran candidates and held power for them- 
selves would workingmen have the necessary leverage to fight the big 

50 Dillon -Winter 1999 

Butler Adopts Patrician Habits 

Unsettled disputes between workers and the steel and rail oligopolies 
lingered. And when, 15 years later, in 1892, another outbreak of fierce 
strikes brought strife and violence to Buffalo, the workers found no 
champion in Edward H. Butler. Unlike the young publisher who had 
broken bread with his pressmen and helped deliver bundles of the freshly- 
printed news to distant precincts, the older Butler had very little in 
common with workingmen. By 1892, he was a man of substantial 
property. A palatial new building for the News (complete with a private 
Swedish bath for its owner) was in the works. 

An admiring correspondent for the Cleveland Plain Dealer who 
visited Butler in 1886 marveled at the publisher's style: 

Just think of an editor with a telephone ready at hand, with 
electric bells and speaking tubes at his desk, connecting with 
every department of his flourishing business and then, not as 
a romance do we write, coming to his office in a coupe and 
wearing a sealskin coat. 49 

In addition to publishing Buffalo's wealthiest newspaper, Butler had 
also become a director of the American Savings Bank and a member of 
the Buffalo Club, Ellicott Park Club and Country Club in the city, as well 
as a member of the Marchmont Club of New York, the Clover Club of 
Philadelphia and the Capital City Club in Atlanta. 50 

The fate of his business was now inextricably tied, through politics, 
commerce and society, to the vested interests he had once decried. 51 And 
so, when labor conflict descended upon Buffalo in 1892 Butler was in no 
position economically, politically, or temperamentally to rally to the 
workers. In the intervening years since the "Great Upheaval" of 1 877, 
however, the power and wealth of organized labor had also grown. Union 
members could now be found in great numbers in trades throughout the 
city — including the mechanical departments of the News. 

The labor unrest that had been smoldering all summer burst into 
flame on August 14 when striking switchmen — according to the News 52 — 
set more than 50 freight cars ablaze just outside the city limits. 53 While 
the switchmen appealed to other rail workers to strike in sympathy, the 
Lehigh and Erie and Buffalo Creek railroads began transporting replace- 
ment workers to the city. The News devoted little coverage to the strikers' 
demand for a 10 hour day, a demand the rail company had earlier acceded 
to and then reneged on; instead, the newspaper denounced the strikers. 

Winter 1999 • American Journalism 51 

An editorial on August 16, 1892 declared, "Every man in this 
country has a right to work for whom he pleases. He has a right to quit 
when the work or the pay is unsatisfactory. He has no right to seize his 
employer's property, nor has a body of men more right than one." 54 

At the same time, under the huge headline "RIOTING," the 
newspaper expressed sympathy for the rail companies, the replacement 
workers and displaced passengers. It condemned the strikers as "lawless." 55 
The strike, it reported, had "grown from a mere formal demand for 
increased pay and shorter hours into a reign of terror and perpetration of 
acts and unbounded lawlessness and incendiarism." 56 An accompanying 
editorial called the strike a "Bad Business," and demanded that strikers be 
punished. 57 

There can be but one judgement on the events of yesterday and 
Saturday night in the Lehigh Yards at East Buffalo. The burning of 
railroad property, the derailing of trains, the assaults on workmen 
are a CRIME. 58 

The editorial called upon union officials to prevent damage at the 
railyards. If they did not, it warned, "There is sufficient force in Buffalo to 
deal with it effectively." 59 

By far the most dramatic illustration of Butler's turnaround came on 
August 16 when the News called for the state militia to be sent to Buffalo. 
The militia was soon dispatched, and as troop trains speeded towards 
Buffalo, 60 Butler published an editorial entitled "For Workingmen to 
Think Of." 61 Unlike his fiery defense of downtrodden workers in 1877, 
this message to laboring men was stern and unsympathetic. "Do the 
workmen of this country realize that there is such a thing as killing the 
goose that lays the golden egg?" he asked. Speaking from experience, he 
explained that, "It is much easier to pull down than build up business 
prosperity." 62 

Rather than blame the railroads for their economic plight and poor 
working conditions at the yards, the editorial explained lamely that the 
men should resign themselves to "business cycles" of boom and bust that 
governed economic events. Another editorial condemned sympathy 
strikes, arguing that workers not involved in the strike should show 
devotion to their own employers, not their fellow workers. 63 

By Thursday, August 1 7, the strike had spread to other rail yards. 
While a headline declared that "ANARCHY!" reigned in Tennessee, 64 the 
entire New York National Guard — 13,000 strong — arrived in Buffalo to 

52 Dillon 'Winter 1999 

break the strike. 65 As the strike wore on, the News' headlines grew bigger 
and more shrill. News reporters encamped with soldiers and traveled to 
points of conflict on a chartered rail car provided to the press by the 
railroad. 66 

Butler Supports Use of Force 

Soon it was revealed that James Doyle, the National Guard general 
in charge of the troops, was also a high official of the Lehigh Valley-Erie 
Railroad. 67 Butler, who 1 5 years earlier had decried the fact that the power 
of the state unfairly backed the railroads, weakly explained that the 
general's status as an officer of the railroad was not a conflict of interest. 

In response to scathing condemnations of Doyle and the railroad by 
the New York Sun, the New York Herald, and the New York Telegram, Butler 
editorialized that such criticism was "ill-considered. The Telegram seems to 
forget that so far as the public are concerned there is but one side in this 
battle. The soldiers are fighting disturbers of peace and property, that is all. 
The contestant' whose orders General Doyle is obeying is the state of New 
York," 68 and not the railroad. The editorial noted that, "the newspapers are 
cooperating with the National Guard in repressing disorder." 69 

The strike sputtered on, but the appearance of the soldiers got trains 
moving again, ensured protection for replacement workers and effectively 
disarmed the union, which then unsuccessfully tried to make a deal with 
the railroads. On August 25, Grandmaster Frank Sweeney declared the 
strike over. 70 In an editorial, the News crowed that, "all in all it was a good 
day for news, and a good day for readers of the News." 71 

In fact, the strike was doomed when other unions refused Sweeney's 
pleas to walk out. 72 Eugene Debs drew this lesson from the Buffalo strike: 
"Bayonets and bullets, scabs and capitalists won a victory, rode roughshod 
over a principle [labor unity] which must eventually triumph or labor's 
emancipation will never come." Ironically, Debs' words echoed Butler's 
judgment on the 1877 strike. 

Butler had written in 1 877 that the lesson of the Great Strike was 
that workingmen oppressed by huge corporations and legislative toadies 
had a right to strike and should join together to seize political power. He 
drew for his readers a far different lesson from the 1 892 strike: 

Some hasty observers of the trouble at East Buffalo have 
jumped at the conclusion, because it is a big thing, that it 
is the beginning of a life and death struggle between capital 

Winter 1999 • American Journalism 53 

and labor. It is not a struggle between capital and labor at all, 
but between anarchy and law. 73 

"Here is the lesson of the strike," the News concluded. "The militia is the 
one and sole dependence of our citizens for protection from riot and 
destruction to property." 74 

The strikes of 1877 and 1892 shared many similarities — especially 
as they played out in Buffalo. Buffalo was not the epicenter of either 
strike; compared to many other cities it escaped serious damage or 
violence. A logical question one might pose regarding Butler's reaction to 
the two strikes is: Did he side against workers in 1 892 because that 
strike's impact on Buffalo was greater, its violence more widespread, the 
strikers more "lawless"; or because he had become a member of the elite 
with corporate, personal and ideological interests at stake? 

By most criteria, the 1 877 strike had a greater impact on Buffalo than 
the 1892 strike and therefore posed a greater threat to order. The 1877 
conflict, "The Great Upheaval," was more strident in its challenge to the 
power of capital by virtue of coming first and was viewed by many as 
"violent rebellion." 75 In fact, the armories that were at the National Guard's 
disposal in 1892 had been built precisely because of the strike of 1877. 76 

Challenge to the Moneyed Class 

According to labor historian Joseph Rayback, "The railway strike 
thoroughly shocked a large portion of the public. Not since slaveholders 
had ceased to be haunted by dreams of a slave uprising had propertied 
elements been so terrified." 77 

The impact of the strike of 1 877 was also more far-reaching in 
Buffalo and other cities because what began as a railroad strike quickly 
became a general strike. In Buffalo, workers walked off the job at planing 
mills, tanneries, bolt and nut factories, hogyards and the canal works. 78 
Although the workers did not gain all they wanted, they did show they 
had the power to paralyze the city's industries. 

The strike of 1 892 had a narrower focus than the strike of 1 877. 
Rail workers failed to convince their brethren in other industries to walk 
off jobs; each union had its own agenda and they did not work together 
in common cause. A leader of the Switchmen's Union complained bitterly 
in the wake of the strike that "the brakemen and firemen played us 
false." 79 

54 Dillon 'Winter 1999 

The contradictions that ultimately broke Butler's bond with working 
people arose from his growing wealth and influence. As his success as a 
businessman and publisher transformed him into the head of a vast 
enterprise, the city's and the nation's laborers were gaining voice and power. 

Butler Became What He Despised 

The workingmen whom Butler had championed in 1877 were 
unorganized and, to Butler's mind, directionless. He had hoped to 
channel the formidable power and talent among labor's ranks towards 
goals he deemed worthy by giving labor a forum in his newspaper and 
educating the workingmen on how to use it. But ultimately, the strike of 
1 877 had given workingmen a sense of their power to set their own 
agenda; in Rayback's words, the strike gave workers "a class consciousness 
on a national scale." 80 

By 1 892, the labor movement, while still at a huge disadvantage, 
had progressed. The American Federation of Labor was formed in 1886 
and the Amalgamated Association of Iron, Steel, and Tin Workers, which 
represented the ill-fated Homestead workers, had formed soon after that. 81 
These well-organized unions had strong leaders and big war chests. 

The paradox that shaped Butler's destiny — fighting the powerful 
while aspiring to be one of them — illustrates the inherent contradictions 
that shaped modern journalism as it passed from partisan mouthpiece to 
corporate institution. The very financial and political success of Butler's 
populist philosophy inexorably pulled Butler into the city's elite. 

As his wealth increased, his passion for attacking a system in which 
he was rapidly ascending diminished. By the 1890s, Butler had forsaken 
reform and political independence and embraced wealth and influence. 
He became what he had originally despised — a conservative patrician 
whose interests were unambiguously allied with those of Buffalo's elite. 
That shift was most dramatically manifest in his relationship with the 
workingmen he had once championed. 


'Between 1870 and 1880, the number of newspapers in the United States nearly doubled, while 
revenue increased nearly four-fold. In 1879, newspapers also reached their zenith in terms of earnings 
relative to the earnings of all American industries. Jeffrey Rutenbeck, "Newspaper trends in the 1870s: 

Winter 1999 • American Journalism 55 

Proliferation, popularization, and political independence," Journalism and Mass Communication 
Quarterly, Summer, 1995, p. 362-69- 

2 Newspapers, which were started for as little as $500 in capital before the Civil War, might require 
close to $ 1 million in start-up capital by the 1 880s. Gerald Baldasty, The Commercialization of the 
News in the Nineteenth Century (Madison: University of Wisconsin, 1992) p. 5 

3 Butler was not alone in undergoing this transformation. The newspapers of the Scripps brothers, 
who were also key innovators of the "new journalism" - and whose Buffalo Telegraph was vanquished 
by Butler in 1885 - also de- emphasized crusading as their circulations grew. Penny papers like the 
Buffalo News and Scripps' Detroit Evening News built their circulations by appealing to the working 
classes. But as profits grew and competition declined, the content of these papers catered less to the 
working class and adopted a more neutral stance towards politics and social issues - a reflection of the 
fact that their readerships had become more diverse. Richard Kaplan, "The Economics of Popular 
Journalism in the Gilded Age: The Detroit Evening News in 1873 and 1888," Journalism History, 
Summer 1995, pp. 65-74. 

4 By the end of the nineteenth century, partisan affiliation would be out of fashion at many 
American newspapers, but in 1873, when Butler founded the News, this trend away from partisan 
journalism was just beginning; thus, in Buffalo and elsewhere, partisan papers were in the majority. 
For figures on partisan and independent papers in New York at century's end, see Baldasty and Jeffrey 
B. Rutenbeck, "Money, Politics and Newspapers: The Business Environment of Press Partisanship in 
the Late 19th Century," Journalism History, Summer/Autumn, 1988, pp. 60-69. 

'Circulation figures are from a survey done by George P. Rowell and Company which was 
commissioned by and published in the Buffalo Sunday Morning News, 13 June 1875. 

6 In addition to the Rowell & Co. survey, the News submitted an affidavit signed by Butler attesting 
the paper had an average circulation of 10,000 by August, 1874, a mere eight months after its start- 
up. Buffalo Sunday Morning News, 2 August 1874, p. 2. 

'Buffalo Sunday Morning News, 2 October 1875, p. I. 


'Buffalo Sunday Morning News, 3 October 1874, p. 1. 

'"Buffalo Sunday Morning News, 10 January 1875, p.l. October 1874, p.l. 


12 Buffalo Sunday Morning News, 2 

13 "Sale of Tainted Meat," Buffalo Sunday Morning News, 25 January 1874, p. 1. 

"After 1880, advertisements for "Burdick's Blood Bitters" became endemic in the News, but in 
1876 "Dr." Andrews, who sold a potent — and probably alcohol-based — remedy for dyspepsia, was 
exposed and hounded from the city. "'Dr.' Andrews flees," Buffalo Sunday Morning News, 8 
September 1876, p. 1. 

""Peddlers of Bad Milk," Buffalo Sunday Morning News, 8 September 1876, p.l.; "The Poor 
Sewing Girls," 12 September 1876, p.l. 

16 "Anatomy of a Crusade: The Buffalo News' Pioneering Fight for the Polish Immigrants, 1881." 
Unpublished manuscript. 

"Buffalo Sunday Morning News, 1 October 1874, p. 1. 

''Buffalo Sunday Morning News, 10 May 1874, p. 2. 

"Financial records from the News before 1895 are sketchy and incomplete; the salary figure comes 
from a 1895 trial balance. According to a 1909 trial balance, Butler's recorded salary was $130,000 

20 Buffalo Sunday Morning News, 7 December 1873, p.l. 

21 Butler served the party twice as a member of the Electoral College; in 1900 he was named the 
chairman of the board of electors. Information about Butler's political activities can be found in 
numerous papers and letters, as well as his obituary, "Edward Butler dies following operation," 
Buffalo News, 10 March 1914. 

22 Butler speech to New York Publisher's Association, 13 July 1892, Butler papers at SUCB. 


""Our Mammoth Sheet" (editorial), Buffalo Sunday Morning News, 10 March 1874, p. 2. 

56 Dillon •Winter 1999 

"Butler Speech to New York Publishers Association, 13 July 1892. 

26 "A Few Cold Facts About Buffalo," Evening News, 19 August 1 892, p. 2 (and many subsequent 

27 Samuel Yellen, American Labor Struggles (New York: S.A. Russel) p. 81. 

28 Ibid. 

""An Argument That Comes Home," Evening News, 13 July 1892, p. 2. 

30 Ibid. 


32 Ibid. 

"Jeremy Brecker, Strike! (Boston: South End Press, 1972) p. 1. 

34 "The Great Strike," Sunday Morning News, 29 July 1877, p. 1. 

35 "Murderous Purposes," Sunday Morning News, 29 July 1877, p. 1. 

36 "A Review of the Strike," Sunday Morning News, 29 July 1877, p. 1. (editorial) 

37 Ibid. 

3! "Buffalo Policemen," Sunday Morning News, 29 July 1877, p. 1. 

3, Ibid. 

40 "A Review of the Strike," Sunday Morning News, 29 July 1877, p 1. 

4l Ibid. 


43 Ibid. 


45 Ibid. 

46 " Workingmen: The Class that Might Hold the Balance of Power," Sunday Morning News, 2 
September 1877, p. 1. 

47 Ibid. 

48 Ibid. 

4, "E.H. Butler of the Buffalo News," Cleveland Plain Dealer, 6 March 1886. p.3. 

50 "E.H. Butler Dies After Operation . . ." Buffalo Courier, 10 March 1914, p. 1. 

"In addition to political or editorial posts, Butler was a member of the board of the Grosvenor 
Library, originator and president of group charged with erecting a monument to slain president 
William McKinley, a director of the American Savings Bank, and a member of the board of trustees of 
the State Normal School at Buffalo. Municipality of Buffalo, p. 332. 

52 Unlike in the 1 877 strike, when Butler scolded other newspapers for not investigating who 
actually instigated violence and blaming every incident on strikers, the News in 1892 was content to 
assume that any incidents must be the work of strikers. 

53 "More Fires!" Evening News, 15 August 1892, p. 1. 

54 "For Workingmen to Think Of," Buffalo Evening News, 16 August 1892, p.2. 

55 "RIOTING! The Switchman's Strike Becomes Serious," Evening News, 15 August 1892, p. 1. 

56 Ibid. 

57 "Bad Business," Evening News, 15 August 1892, p. 2. 

58 Ibid. 


60 "Bad Business," 15 August 1892, p. 2. 

61 "For Workingmen to Think Of," Evening News, 16 August 1892, p. 2. 



""ANARCHY! Troops Surrender to the Mob at Oliver Springs, Tenn.," Evening News, 17 August 
1892, p. 1. 

Winter 1999 • American Journalism 57 

""STRIKE SPREADING: All Troops in the State Sent," Evening News, 18 August 1892, p. 1 . 

""UNDERARMS!" Evening News, 16 August 1892, p. 1. 

67 When Militia General Doyle's blatant conflict of interest was pointed out by strikers and their 
supporters, the News supported his right to fill both roles. "PERSECUTED: General Doyle Says 
They're After Him and He Doesn't Like It," Evening News, 1 9 August p. 1 . 

""Attacking General Doyle," (editorial) Evening News, 19 August p. 2. 


70 "The Strike is Ended," Buffalo News, 25 August p. 1. 

7l "The First, As Usual," Buffalo News, 25 August p. 2. 

72 This was a position heartily endorsed by the News, which lectured potential sympathy strikers in 
an editorial that other rail workers should rally to the aid of their "natural partners," — their 
employers at the railroad. "Friends and Enemies," Buffalo News, 23 August, p. 2. 

73 "One Lesson of the "Strike," (editorial) Evening News, 26 August 1892, p. 1. 

74 Ibid. 

75 Brecker, Strike, p. 1 . 

76 Eric Foner, History of American Labor, v.7, N.Y.: International Publishers, 1955) p. 253- 

^Joseph Rayback, A History of American Labor, (New York: The Free Press, 1966) p. 136. 

78 Brecker, Strike! p. 6 

79 The union council member was identified only by his last name, Barrett, in the story containing 
his remarks. "The Strike is Ended," Buffalo News, p.l. 

80 Rayback,p.l36. 

81 Ibid, p. 159. 

58 Dillon' Winter 1999 

Power of the Press: How Newspapers 
in Four Communities Erased 
Thousands of Chinese from Oregon 

By Herman B. Chiu 

This article examines four Oregon newspapers' treatment of Chinese 
workers during the 1870s and 1880s. The papers were in Jacksonville, John 
Day, Baker City and Astoria which, according to census reports, had the states 
largest Chinese populations. Results show the Chinese, who arrived as gold 
miners and railroad workers and comprised as much as half the population of 
some towns, were virtually excluded from the press. When they did make it 
into the papers they were rarely named, portrayed as sub-human, and vilified. 
Pronouns such as "yellow vermin" and "filthy rats" were not uncommon. 

The papers that were examined shared one attribute — they shunned the 
Chinese. Racism, inability to communicate, strange appearance, clannishness, 
"strategic silence, "professional standards that were not well-developed, and 
lack of newsroom diversification were some of the factors that could have 
caused the appalling coverage — or lack of coverage — of this immigrant group. 

\ C ~\ yT"ellow vermin," filthy rats," "moon-eyed nuisances" — 
Y these were just a few of the names newspapers in 
JL Oregon hurled at the Chinese during the 19th century. 
But that was only when the papers bothered to acknowledge their 
existence at all. Most of the time, the Chinese were ignored even though 

Herman B. Chiu is the Lee Hills Doctoral Fellow at the University of Missouri, Columbia, 
School of Journalism. 

Winter 1999 • American Journalism 59 

they comprised nearly half of the population of some Oregon cities 
during the 1870s and 1880s. 

The Chinese came to the state seeking the fortunes that had attracted 
countless others before them. These new pioneers faced many of the same 
hardships as earlier settlers. There were crime and illness; there were cold 
winters and occasional Indian attacks. In better days there were banquets, 
social club meetings, days spent kite flying, New Year's activities. But 
unlike those who crossed the continent along the Oregon Trail, the trials 
and tribulations of the Chinese were almost never recorded so that today, 
few records remain of who these immigrants were and what their lives 
were like. 

Chinese Exclusion from Written Records 

The exclusion of the Chinese from written records reflected their 
exclusion from society, and was especially evident in newspapers. In those 
days one of the functions of these four-page publications, mostly weeklies, 
was to serve as a social adhesive to keep readers informed about people 
and events in their communities. Even a cursory review of early Oregon 
papers would reveal hundreds of items about things such as the size of a 
local farmer's strawberries or the latest citizen to visit the East Coast. 

But the Chinese were virtually absent from the press. This was the 
case in Astoria, a city in which they made up 47.2 percent of the popula- 
tion; in Grant County, where they made up 41.6 percent of the popula- 
tion; in Baker City, where they were 24.2 percent; and in Jacksonville, 
where they were 18.5 percent. Perhaps most importantly, an entire group 
was shut out of what contemporary journalists call the "marketplace of 

This article examines the roots of Chinese immigrants in four 19th 
century communities and how they were covered by newspapers of the 
time. Sample periods for each community were purposive and were 
during years when census reports showed the largest Chinese popula- 
tions. Approximately 100 issues of each paper were examined. Chinese 
surnames were used because they are easily distinguishable and seldom 
"Americanized." 1 

The Chinese Lured by Gold 

Gold, historians agree, was what brought the first Chinese to 
Oregon, just as it had lured them to the now-fabled California "gum san," 

60 Chiu- Winter 1999 

or gold mountain in 1848. According to Robert Edward Wynne's history 
of Chinese in the Pacific Northwest, the first Chinese arrived from 
California shortly after gold was discovered in Southern Oregon's Rogue 
and Umpqua valleys in 1852. 2 Along with the Chinese miners came the 
discrimination that was to plague them for generations. 

"It is not surprising," writes Wynne, "that the latter should have 
experienced the hostility of white miners in Oregon Territory. There were 
many settlers from the southern states who brought with them feelings of 
dislike for a colored man be he Negro or Chinese." 3 Then, relates Wynne, 
other ways were found to discourage the Chinese. In 1857, a $2 per 
month mining tax was levied on them. The tax was doubled in 1858, 
along with the imposition of a $4 per month tax on Chinese merchants. 
Jackson and Josephine counties also required Chinese trading among 
themselves to purchase a $50 per year license. 

However, these measures did not dampen the lure of the gold 
mountain. According to Wynne, by 1858 there were more than 1,000 
Chinese in Josephine County. 4 Laws restricting the Chinese differed with 
the locality, according to Wynne. For example, they were permitted to 
purchase mining claims at Wolf Creek. Likewise, Jackass Creek was what 
author V. Blue in 1922 dubbed a "cosmopolitan area with many French 
and Chinese miners." 5 But at Humbug Creek, Chinese were prohibited 
from buying— or even working— mining claims. Curiously, writes Wynne, 
after Oregon became a state in 1859 its legislature levied a $5 poll tax on 
the Chinese even though they were prohibited from voting. 

Chinese miners also suffered at the hands — and boots — of their 
white counterparts. According to Wynne, "An Army captain who traveled 
through Oregon's mining regions in 1862 observed that the valleys 
showed Chinese miners ' . . . moving from one mining locality to the 
next, fleeing from the kicks of one to the cuffs of another, with no abiding 
place.'" 6 

The curtain of discrimination lifted partially in 1864 when the 
legislature repealed the anti-Chinese laws. But it immediately imposed a 
$4 per quarter mining tax on the Chinese and banned them from giving 
evidence or taking legal action against Caucasians. Wynne writes that the 
pressure on the Chinese, at least in Southern Oregon, eased somewhat 
after the late 1850s because much richer gold strikes were made on the 
upper stretches of the Columbia River in Washington Territory and on 
the Fraser River in Canada. 

In 1861 and 1862 strikes were also made in Baker and Grant 
counties in Northeast Oregon. Chinese miners, like whites, became 

Winter 1999 • American Journalism 61 

afflicted with the fever for a bigger pot of gold and headed north along 
with droves of other fortune seekers. Many must have decided to stay in 
Northeast Oregon. 

The Tenth Census of the United States shows that in 1 870 a total of 
940 Chinese lived in Grant County, mostly in the John Day - Canyon 
City area, even though some probably prospected in outlying camps such 
as Granite. In Baker County the population centered around Baker City. 
A story from the Bedrock Democrat, the town's weekly paper at the time, 
indicates a substantial number of Chinese also mined in Sumpter, now 
mostly abandoned. 

John Day and Baker City also hosted "Chinatowns." In John Day 
this was a block-long section that included a store and worshiping temple. 
Today, these are memorialized as the Kam Wah Chung State Historical 

Few Traces Remain of the Chinese Population 

Not much other evidence remains of the Chinese who played so 
large a part in the economy of early Eastern Oregon. Most of them left: 
with the depletion of the mines and the torrent of anti-Chinese feeling 
that inundated the West in the mid- 1880s. Some may have moved to 
other states — rich strikes also had been made in Idaho and Washington. 
Others may have made their way to Portland, which for two decades had 
served as a transit point for Chinese entering or leaving Oregon. 

In just one month in 1868, for example, six ships arrived with 1,995 
Chinese immigrants. 7 There was protection in numbers, and later, with 
the depletion of the mines, there were also alternative opportunities such 
as railroad building. The Portland spur of the Central Pacific Railroad was 
completed almost exclusively with Chinese labor, which caused the 
Chinese population of The Dalles, Oregon, to soar to almost 1,200 
briefly in the early 1880s. Chinese also helped lay tracks for the Oregon - 
California line. Although the Portland area's Chinese population grew, it 
never reached the proportions seen in Clatsop County (47.2 percent in 
1880); Grant County (41.6 percent in 1870); or Baker County (24.2 
percent in 1870). 

Other Chinese, having made a small fortune-at least by 1 870s 
standards-may have returned home. Census statistics show that between 
1882 and 1890 a total of 1 17,286 Chinese left the United States. In those 
years 80,106 Chinese arrived, for a net decrease of 37, 180. 8 

62 Chiu* Winter 1999 

Those who congregated in Portland may have found their way into 
the salmon-canning industry, which reached its economic high-tide the 
same time that mining began to decline. Most of the canneries used 
contract laborers directly from San Francisco or Hong Kong. Port listings 
in The Daily Astorian newspaper in 1876 and 1877 reveal arrivals from 
Hong Kong or Shanghai, China, almost weekly, with some ships carrying 
hundreds of Chinese. However, some contractors also recruited in 

In Oregon the largest salmon-processing city was Astoria, which 
boasted of 14 canneries by 1880. 9 Smaller concentrations of plants were 
located at Westport, Portland, Rooster Rock, The Dalles and Florence. 
Most of the 1,639 Chinese in Astoria's canneries lived in bunkhouses 
behind waterfront processing plants. The town itself also supported 
numerous Chinese entrepreneurs. These Chinese merchants included 
restaurateurs, tailors, pawnbrokers, barbers, clothiers, gardeners and 
laundrymen, according to Chris Fridays account of Asians in Astoria's 
canneries. 10 Later, a second group of plants, also with Chinese workers, 
opened a mile inland. 

Hours at the canneries were long, rewards meager. Friday writes that 
pay for the Chinese-even those who had worked their way up to the most 
important positions of butchering and can testing— was lower than the 
$36 a month railroad workers earned. Meals were served in a common 
mess hall, but contractors who did the hiring were responsible for supply- 
ing provisions and hiring cooks. Protein frequently consisted only of 
scraps from the production lines. To supplement their diets, it wasn't 
uncommon for workers to cultivate vegetable gardens and catch shellfish 
in their spare time. Often the gardens were operated by the contractor for 
a profit. 

A Wall of Racial Bias 

Life in Astoria was undoubtedly better than at rural plants, where 
conditions were more primitive. In Astoria, as in the rest of Oregon and 
indeed, the nation, nearly 100 percent of the Chinese were male." Many 
of those who arrived during the initial wave had planned to make a quick 
fortune and return home to marry. Others, who already had families, came 
to the United States in an attempt to better support them. All Chinese 
were prohibited from entering the United States by the 1882 Exclusion 
Act, so for those not already attached, life could be quite lonely. 

The result was a Chinese population that, unable to regenerate, 
plummeted until, by 1930, only 164 remained in Clatsop County, and 

Winter 1 999 • American Journalism 63 

only 11 in Grant County. In Multnomah County, only 1,471 remained 
out of a total population of 338,241. 

The biggest restrictions on the Chinese, however, were not cultural. 
For wherever they worked, whether in rural plants or in city canneries, 
they faced a wall of racial bias. "The prejudice of European American 
residents, added to the canners' placement of bunkhouses," writes Friday, 
"severely restricted Chinese settlement patterns." Indeed, the editor of the 
Weekly Astorian newspaper on May 23, 1879, wrote that "... we cannot 
possibly colonize the Chinese in any one place in the city, but it should be 
done if possible . . . . " 12 

Friday and newspapers of the period agree that anti-Chinese fervor 
in Astoria and other Oregon communities was more muted than in the 
Northwest in general. There was an Anti - Chinese Society in Astoria to 
which many leading citizens belonged. But there was a marked absence of 
violence. This may have been because even the most ardent chinophobes 
realized that the town's canneries could not operate without the Chinese. 
Thus, the Chinese in Astoria, as in other parts of the state, were viewed as 
not much more than a necessary evil. 

Hostility to the North and South 

Sentiments were not so muffled among Oregon's neighbors, how- 
ever. According to historian Elmer Clarence Sandmeyer, in California the 
Chinese were prohibited from working, banned from living in incorpo- 
rated cities and denied the rights to own land or vote along with "idiots, 
insane persons and persons convicted of infamous crimes or of the 
embezzlement of public money." 13 Then, about the same time as the 
September 1885 attack in Rock Springs, Wyoming, where "more than a 
score" of Chinese were killed, anti-Chinese riots took place in more than a 
dozen California towns. 14 

About 150 miles north of Astoria, opponents of the Chinese staged 
riots in Tacoma, Squak Valley (now Issaquah), Black Diamond, Seattle 
and a handful of other locales. The most extreme measures were seen 
during 1885 and 1886 in Tacoma and Seattle, where the Chinese were 
evicted from their homes and forced onto trains or ships out of the city. 
In both cities, local newspapers printed a series of vitriolic anti - Chinese 
editorials. 15 

It is against this backdrop that the stage is set for an examination of 
the coverage four early Oregon newspapers gave to their local Chinese 
populations. Findings show that the community papers in Grant County, 

64 Chiu- Winter 1999 

Baker City, Astoria and Jacksonville reflected the biases of white popula- 
tions. On a few occasions, they even choreographed anti - Chinese 
sentiment and activities. 

Immigrants Were Anonymous 

Newspaper coverage of the Chinese in frontier Oregon was skimpy, at 
best. When it did occur these immigrants were anonymous, faceless, and 
portrayed as sub-human, at least as far as the press was concerned. With a 
few exceptions newspapers of the period did not refer to them by name. 
They were simply "Chinamen," "John Chinaman" or "celestials." 16 

In some cases more derogatory terms such as "pigtails" or "celestial 
brutes" were employed. The Morning Oregonian in 1865 had referred to 
Oregon's newly arrived Chinese as "filthy and abominable," and a year 
later called them "long-tailed, moon-eyed nuisances" and "filthy rats." 17 

According to Wynne, the paper with Harvey Scott at its helm was 
ardently Chinophobic until 1 867. Wynne writes that when Californians 
began a "fierce anti - Chinese campaign the Morning Oregonian realized 
that the employers of Chinese belonged to both political parties; the 
Democrats insisted that only Republicans did such wicked things. Next, 
the editor discovered that white labor was not available for domestic 
service or for railroad construction, the latter problem occupying the 
minds of Oregonians very much just then. 

"Slowly," Wynne writes, "the great newspaper began to look at the 
Chinese less contemptuously and defended the proposed use of Chinese 
labor by the Oswego Iron Company a few miles up the Willamette River. 
The editor now explained that the company had to compete with Eastern 
firms that used pauper labor which, presumably, was only a step removed 
from coolie labor." 18 

Despite its venomous language, the Morning Oregonian probably 
played a smaller role in the history of the Chinese in Oregon than other 
papers because Portland's Chinese population was more transitory, and 
comprised a much smaller percentage than in towns such as Astoria. But 
the degree of invective in the Portland paper was a good example of the 
extent of anti - Chinese fervor during the period. 

Headlines in the 1870s and 1880s were usually nothing more than 
upper-case letters on the first line of a story, and frequently were used to 
editorialize. In one blatant example the words "Good Chinamen" were 
used for two April 26, 1882 Baker City stories about incidents in which 
two Chinese were killed and one injured. 

Winter 1 999 • American Journalism 65 

Similarly, opinion and fact were often blended in copy. When 
Chinese miners were involved in an accident, for example, it was not 
uncommon to find comments such as "It's a pity they were only injured." 

Chinese Conspicious by Their Absence 

Previous literature has shown that historians disagree on the reasons 
the Chinese were so poorly treated, and that none apparently explored 
whether this vilification was intentional. Reasons and intent, however, 
seem less important than the fact that omission of the Chinese erased an 
important part of Oregon's history. It was not until well after World War 
II that a new group of Chinese students was able to parlay educational 
advances into improved coverage. Even then, coverage and amount of bias 
were uneven. As late as 1963, for example, The Oregonian used the word 
"celestial" in a banner headline. 

But whatever else can be said, during the 19th century the papers in 
Canyon City, Baker City, Astoria and Jacksonville shared one attribute — 
they shunned the Chinese. Degree of anti - Chinese sentiment, rather 
than difference, was what separated their coverage when indeed it did 

The Oregon Sentinel Covers "Celestials" 

The Oregon Sentinel in Jacksonville, a weekly, provided only sparse 
coverage of the Chinese who immigrated to Southern Oregon in the 
1 860s even though they comprised as much as 1 8 percent of the popula- 
tion of Josephine and Jackson counties. 19 Only 14 stories concerning the 
Chinese population appeared in the paper during 1866-70. But the 
Sentinel would finish No. 1 if vehemence of anti-Chinese rhetoric rather 
than volume of coverage were measured. 

Some items demonstrated the paper's strong anti - Chinese stance by 
mocking their subjects. For example, a Feb. 24, 1866 story reported that 
a "near relation of the Sun and Moon," after experiencing language 
difficulties at the telegraph office, left with a poor impression of the 
"Mellican." Stories employed such a tone even when the subject was 
serious. On April 7 of that year, the lead-in "Damaged Celestial" was used 
to introduce a story describing a Chinese who drank camphor after being 
jailed for tax evasion. Yet a third example occurred February 29, 1868. 
That report told of how a Chinese called at a local household asking if a 
"cookee" were needed. The answer was "No," but the inquirer apparently 
stole $80 before departing. 

66 Chiu- Winter 1999 

The most blatant example of the paper's and - Chinese sentiments 
occurred on May 23, 1868 in a local editorial. The paper agreed with the 
Democrats' opposition to the Chinese, and declared that, "Nothing could 
so much damage and degrade the labor interests of Oregon as the intro- 
duction of those yellow vermin." 

Other stories on February 8, 1868 and February 22, 1868 reported 
on Chinese involved in a robbery and an assault. In an item involving the 
latter, a Chinese convicted of burglary was reported to have carefully 
sculpted a handle into a heavy piece of wood, which he used to club a 
cellmate on the head. In addition, an item on March 3, 1866, in which 
the editor admitted forgetting to report three Chinese had drowned in 
Cow Creek "three weeks ago" suggested that the Chinese weren't consid- 
ered part of the community. 

Three stories of the 14 in the sample were relatively "neutral." In 
other words, Chinese were portrayed doing things other people would 
normally do. The first example occurred on Jan. 27, 1 866, when readers 
were informed that area Chinese had converged on the town for a cere- 
mony that was "mysterious and unintelligible enough to the unini- tiated 
to belong to the mysteries of the ancient Greek." However, in an apparent 
contradiction, the story concluded by reporting that the ceremony "very 
much resembled an auction sale." One could assume from the date that 
this event marked the Chinese New Year. But the story didn't say. 

Then, on February 8 of that year, a matter-of-factly written item 
indicated a local Chinese had a broken leg set by a Dr. Greenman. It's 
unknown whether it would have been unusual for a Chinese resident to 
visit a Caucasian doctor in Jacksonville in 1866. However, the story seems 
to indicate that at the time the Chinese were still a curiosity. The paper 
did not, for example, report the setting of Caucasian patients' broken legs. 
Finally, on Feb. 27, 1 870, the paper noted that area Chinese often flew 
kites in their leisure time, and were highly skilled at the practice. 

Grant County Papers Rarely Mention the Chinese 

Grant County hosted three weekly papers— the Grant County Express, 
Grant County Times and Grant County News. The first two were short- 
lived. The Express published for two weeks, March 18 and 25, 1876, and 
the Times only on March 26, 1877, after which the News took over. 

The first two papers' brief lives were not surprising. Frontier editors, 
like prospectors, went wherever the "gold" was. And if the gold became 
more plentiful elsewhere, the editors left along with their presses. 

What was surprising was that between 1876 and 1884, the years 
during which the county's papers were studied, there were only five 

Winter 1999 " American Journalism 67 

stories about the Chinese in Eastern Oregon. The 1 870 census showed 
940 of Grant County's population of 2,251, or 41.6 percent, were 
Chinese. In 1880, the numbers were 905 out of 3,384, or 26.6 percent. It 
would have been expected that a far larger number of the names in the 
three papers would have been Chinese. Instead, the Chinese were rarely 

Perhaps the invisibility of Grant County's Chinese could account for 
the unusually low number. Many mined in outlying towns such as 
Granite or prospected in rural areas. In addition, the county's papers did 
not publish continuously, resulting in fewer stories. But even in view of 
this, five in eight years would be an amazingly low number. 

When the Chinese did make it into Grant County's papers they 
were cast in a negative light and remained unnamed. For example, the 
Grant County Express on March 18, 1876, published a story with the 
lead-in, "Gold Watch Found." It became clear that Mr. E. E. Turk, a local 
resident, lost a "valuable gold watch three years ago." The watch was 
found, according to the story, in the possession of a "Chinaman" who was 
"slow to part with it." But in the end, it was recovered through some 
unspecified means. In another flagrant case of anti-Chinese editorializ- 
ing, the lead-in "Well-Planted" was chosen for a May 26, 1 877 Grant 
County Times story about a Chinese miner buried alive in a cave-in at 

The tone of the stories sometimes varied with the paper. The March 
25, 1876 Grant County Express, for example, reported two Chinese 
renting a mine from a white, and on March 6, 1884, the Grant County 
Times matter-of-factly reported the funeral of a Chinese resident of John 
Day. The one-paragraph obituary provided few details and did not 
identify the deceased. 

In perhaps the most absurd example, a story in the April 24, 1884 
Grant County Times reported that a Chinese laundry had burned to the 
ground in Canyon City. The story focused on the fire department's quick 
work but said nothing else about the laundry. Who was the owner? Was 
he injured? What was the amount of property loss? The story gave no 
clues to the answers to these questions. Curiously, the fire department was 
enthusiastically congratulated for its efficiency. 

Bedrock Democrat Gives More Coverage to the Chinese 

Baker City's four-page weekly, the Bedrock Democrat, provided 
generally negative coverage of the Chinese just as its Grant County 
counterparts did. However, it also contained the largest number of 

68 Chiu« Winter 1999 

"positive" or "neutral" stories of the four papers in the study. But the 
number probably remains insignificant if the length of the sample period 
and Baker City's Chinese population (680 out of 2,804, or 24.2 percent 
in 1870 and 787 out of 3,817, or 20.5 percent in 1880) are taken into 

In seven four-month periods from 1873-1882, the Democrat 
contained 23 stories about local Chinese, six of which were "neutral" or 
even slightly "positive." On January 28, 1874, for example, a story 
matter-of-factly reported that a Chinese store at Mormon Basin had been 
robbed. However, it also indicated that opium was taken. This was 
followed on April 8, 1874 by another matter-of-factly written story that 
reported the discovery of gold in Connor Creek by Chinese prospectors, 
and by two other mining stories in 1878. 

The first story, on February 13, 1878, reported that the Griffin's 
Gulch mine eight miles west of Baker City was now owned by Chinese, 
and yielded $5 per day. Griffin's Gulch was where gold was discovered in 
Baker County in 1861. The second story, two weeks later on February 
27, 1878, was a summary of county mining activity that mentioned 
Chinese ownership. 

Four years later, on February 22, 1882, an item in the "Bedrock 
Nuggets," the papers local - briefs column, indicated that Chinese in the 
town had begun to celebrate Chinese New Year. A second story reported 
that the Chinese ushered in the new year with "the firing of fire crackers, 
offerings to the spirits, lancantations, prayers etc. A Chinaman informed us 
that their festivities continued as long as their money lasted." Though the 
stories did not openly attack the Chinese, reference to the "spirits" and 
celebrating until funds were exhausted made them appear mysterious and 

The only story in which the name of a Chinese was used was on 
April 24, 1874, when the Bedrock Democrat reported that Gee Sing, a 
local merchant, had died and left what was in those days a princely sum of 
$2,000 to his wife. The Bedrock Democrat did, however, print its share of 
stories which, whether by design or not, reinforced a negative image of 
the Chinese. One such example, on January 14, 1880, told of two 
Chinese who snuck into a hotel room without paying. In a similar vein, 
the paper reported on March 10, 1880 that the marshal was "making it 
red hot" for Chinese evading the city's laundry tax by throwing them in 

Another story in the March 31, 1880 paper told of a La Grande 
resident's Chinese servant. But a bold headline above the story read, "Mac 
and His Pet Chinaman," which made the Chinese sound like a dog or 

Winter 1 999 • American Journalism 69 

other household animal. That was followed on April 28, 1880 by a report 
of a new gambling game in Baker City's Chinatown that attracted the 

Like the papers in Jacksonville and Grant County, the Bedrock 
Democrat also launched direct assaults on the Chinese. On March 17, 
1880, it included in its news section an editorial stating that "It is a pity 
that low fares to the East could not have been kept a little longer so that 
the Mongolians could have a chance to exit." Stronger language was used 
on April 5, 1876 to report a shooting incident at Auburn between two 
Chinese, neither of whom was injured. The story concluded: "Unfortu- 
nately, they both escaped with their lives." 

The Daily Astorian Highlights Chinese Criminals 

Demographics would seem to indicate that Astoria's daily paper, one 
of the state's first, should have taken the lead in covering the town's 
Chinese. After all, in 1880 a total of 2,317— or 47.2 percent— of Clatsop 
County's residents were Chinese. And unlike Grant, Baker and Jackson 
counties, where the Chinese population was scattered, Clatsop County's 
Chinese were concentrated in Astoria. 

So a substantial number of names in the paper should have been 
Chinese. But the 108 issues sampled between 1876 and 1877 contained 
only 22 stories about local Chinese. In addition, not once was a Chinese 
resident named except on August 14, 1877, in the Circuit Court docket 
published in the paper and on August 29, 1877, when judgments in two 
lawsuits and verdicts in three criminal cases were listed. 

In Hop Chung v. Chung Hing, the lawsuit was dismissed, with the 
defendant paying court costs. Wong Sam v. Chin Ah Ung, on the other 
hand, resulted in a judgment for the defendants with costs being paid by 
the plaintiff. In the criminal case State v. Chung Sing and nine others 
charged with assault with a deadly weapon, Sing You was found guilty 
and fined $50 and costs. There was no mention of the fate of the other 
defendants, however. State v. Chung Ah Yem was dismissed on motion of 
the prosecutor, and State v. Chin Wot resulted in a hung jury. One other 
listing, Louis Park v. Chung Hong, deserves mention because the parties 
were ordered to give testimony to O. E Bell who, according to the June 9, 
1 876 paper, had been elected vice president of the city's Anti - Chinese 
Society. 20 

For the most part, The Daily Astorian, a six-day- a-week paper that 
published Tuesday through Sunday, treated the town's Chinese as if they 
didn't exist. Though they were an integral part of the town's economy, 

70 Chiu- Winter 1999 

they were frequently blamed for all of Astoria's economic ills. Indeed, on 
May 3, 1876, an editorial declared that the Chinese ". . . pauperize white 
people wherever they go." 

More frequently, the paper made efforts to make them seem unintel- 
ligent or dishonest, or mock them. On May 8, 1876, for example, a story 
reported that a new machine at Booth's Cannery could attach labels at a 
rate of 1,000 per hour. The last sentence of the story read, "Apropos the 
imitative genius of the Chinaman, it was curious to note how readily a 
heathen mastered the intricacies of this really complicated machine." The 
implication was that the Chinese could imitate, but not think. Just short 
of two weeks later, on May 20, 1876, the paper reported that, "Two 
heathenish celestial brutes had been jailed for a shameful and intolerable 
nuisance in open day time." However, it did not describe what this 
"nuisance" was. In another story that focused on illegal activity, the town 
deputy marshal was reported on June 22, 1 877 to have escorted two 
Chinese to Portland, presumably to jail, for selling whisky without a 

Stories about how to deal with Chinese were also frequently seen. 
On May 16, 1876, for example, residents were advised to use "red hot 
pokers, cayenne pepper and clubs" if Chinese workers went on strike. But 
just a month later, on June 14, the paper issued an apparently contradic- 
tory editorial when it cautioned Astorians to restrict themselves to non- 
violent methods when expelling Chinese, "lest men of clear minds with 
pure purposes are made to appear in a role not at all suited to their cause." 
Chinese also were reported to be inept at simple tasks such as transporting 
wood (August 2, 1877); and a Chinese with a cut was reported to have 
been treated by a doctor using a "garden hose" (August 10, 1877). 

Most of the other stories concerned incidents such as strikes or 
accidents. For example, the May 4, 1 876 paper reported that Chinese at 
the Booth's and Badollett canneries had refused to work without a $2 a 
month increase, but abandoned their strike after just a few hours. And a 
Chinese at Kinney's was reported on June 22, 1 977 to have lost "one or 
two fingers" to a tin-cutting machine. Thus, it seemed odd that on July 
17, 1877, The Daily Astorian reported that J. N. Armstrong, a prominent 
resident, invited the town's elite to admire a collection of Oriental art he 
had just brought back from Peking. 

Two of the only mildly "neutral" stories were on June 12, 1876 and 
July 6, 1 877 about the opening of a Chinese lodge and takeover by 
Chinese of a slaughterhouse. But some bias was apparent even in these. 
The lodge item referred to the founder as a "white-haired descendant of 

Winter 1999 • American Journalism 71 

Confucius." The other story reported that a "gang" of Chinese was 
operating what once was the Bergman and Berry facility, but that they 
made "a great deal more stink." 

The paper contained dozens of stories about meetings of other 
fraternal organizations. These usually included details of the business 
transacted and the members who attended. 

Chinese Invisibility 

Aside from coverage of routine news, two events occurred that were 
sufficiently cataclysmic and close enough to the Astoria and Baker City - 
Canyon City areas that they should have received major coverage from 
papers in those cities. 21 These were the exclusion of Chinese from Tacoma 
and Seattle in 1885 and 1886 and the Snake River massacre on the 
Oregon - Idaho border in June 1887. As many as 3,000 Puget Sound - 
area Chinese had sought refuge in Astoria starting in October 1885- 22 
That would have meant about 5,300 Chinese in Clatsop County, mainly 
in Astoria, to about 2,500 whites, a frightful scenario for a county that 
blamed the Chinese for all of its economic ills. 

Yet between September 1, 1885 and February 20, 1886 The Daily 
Astorian printed only one paragraph, on October 1 6, about the flood of 
refugees, while at the same time using 20 stories about region-wide anti- 
Chinese meetings and firing of Chinese, and departures of Chinese on 
Pacific steamers. It would be difficult to believe the paper didn't know 
Chinese were streaming into the city. It seems more likely, at least in this 
case, that the omission was intentional. Perhaps the paper hoped that, if 
ignored, this "problem" would go away. 

In the second event, seven whites attacked a camp at Log Cabin Bar 
on the Snake River, murdered 1 Chinese miners, and stole about 
$10,000 in gold dust. Four of the seven were ultimately arrested; one died 
in jail. The three who remained in custody were tried beginning May 1 5, 
1888, and found not guilty on September 1. The trial took place in Baker 
City. It would have been expected that because of the depth of anti- 
Chinese feeling, the relevance of mining to the Canyon City area, and its 
proximity to the trial site, the Grant County News would have at least 
mentioned the start of the proceedings or their result, but between May 
15 and July 26, 1888 it uttered not a word on the topic. 

Distance apparently could not have been a reason for the omission. 
In the 10 weeks after the start of the trial, pages of the News contained, 
among others, stories about a circus in Baker City; a man convicted in 

72 Chiu- Winter 1999 

Pendleton for biting off another's nose in a bar room brawl; and a man 
who was hanged in Portland for murdering and dismembering his 

And during the month following the acquittal the paper printed 
several stories from Baker City and other distant parts of the state. 
Subjects included the return of the Grant County clerk from Baker City; 
a "disastrous fire" there the week of Sept. 6; and the beginning of the 
rebuilding process. There was also an item indicating that 500 patients 
now resided at the state mental hospital in Salem. Perhaps the most telling 
evidence occurred on July 12, 1888, when the paper reported the gunshot 
killing of a white miner on the Snake River. Apparently, the killing of a 
white miner was more important "news" than the trial of suspects in the 
robbery and killing of 10 Chinese miners. 

Issues of the Bedrock Democrat were not available for the months 
following the murders or the trial. However, another paper, the Baker 
County Reveille, was available for the six weeks after the murders. The 
Reveille reported the incident on June 29, which would not be considered 
an unreasonable delay considering the fact that Baker City is 75 miles 
from the Oregon - Idaho border. But the initial report appeared as part of 
a story that a team of Chinese investigators had been dispatched from San 
Francisco to track down the killers. 

This indirect dissemination of news would seem to suggest that the 
murders were common knowledge in Baker City, but for various reasons, 
did not make it into the papers of the period. 

Economic Decline Fueled Distrust 

The most striking common characteristic of these four papers' 
coverage of local Chinese was its absence. In addition to the extremely low 
number of stories when population is taken into consideration, none of 
the papers included Chinese in listings of births, marriages, deaths, or 
society news. 23 

Frontier papers served as a social archive, providing a record of the 
culture and history of a town. If a town had no paper, or one that ignored 
a segment of the population, it would be more difficult to reconstruct 
part of that segment's heritage. The June 12, 1876 Daily Astorian lodge- 
opening story, for example, did not describe what kind of organization 
was started, who could join, where the group met, or even the name of 
the "white-haired descendant of Confucius." 

Winter 1999 • American Journalism 73 

Similarly, ads for the Chinese physician Ah Moo appeared weekly in 
the Bedrock Democrat from January 1880 to March 1882, along with reports 
that the doctor had cured Caucasian patients of blood poisoning and 
diphtheria. Little else is known about Ah Moo except that he was in Baker 
City about two years and cured at least two patients. But what was his 
position in the community? That information is lost forever. Also lost is the 
heritage of one-fourth of the population of 1870s and 1880s Baker County. 

It seems unlikely, despite the anti - Chinese hysteria of the 1870s 
and 1880s, that editors made a conscious effort to exclude the Chinese 
from their newspapers and cities. However, a number of factors could 
account for the way these early newspapers treated the Chinese. 

The first and most obvious reason is racial bias. Bias was undoubt- 
edly present because in the late 19th century, society itself was racist. 
Evidence of anti - Chinese bias was seen in the press and in society in 
the form of discriminatory laws. Historian Robert Edward Wynne, for 
example, mentioned bias in Jackson County mining laws. More re- 
cently, Portland State University professor Charles A. Tracy took a look 
at discriminatory laws and selective enforcement in Portland, Oregon, 
that resulted in the arrests of a disproportionately large number of 
Chinese, 24 but this alone would not explain why early papers shunned 
the Chinese. As Wynne wrote, at least some editors initially welcomed 
the new immigrants. 25 

Far more likely is that the papers turned on the Chinese because of a 
combination of reasons, as Wynne and authors Stuart Creighton Miller, 
Ronald Takaki, Shih-Shan Henry Tsai and Sucheng Chan suggested. 26 
They seem to agree that the economic declines of the 1880s, exacerbated 
by racism and strange appearance and customs, turned the white popula- 
tion against the Chinese. 

Five More Important Contributing Factors 

In addition, there are five factors they did not touch on but which 
would be integral to a study of the relationship between newspapers and 

The first and most important is that, as Gaye Tuchman and later 
Richard Lentz wrote, editors (and for that matter non-editors) tend to 
move in social circles in which they feel most comfortable. 27 In frontier 
Oregon, newspaper editors and publishers were usually among a town's 
most prominent citizens. Bedrock Democrat publisher J. M. Shepherd, for 
example, was a Baker City lawyer who served as a delegate to state politi- 

74 Chiu* Winter 1999 

cal conventions. It would appear that because editors and publishers in 
Jacksonville, Canyon City, Baker City and Astoria were among their 
towns' "movers and shakers," they felt more comfortable associating with, 
and reporting the affairs of other movers and shakers. 

On the other hand, Chinese miners or cannery workers also may 
have felt more at ease with other Chinese. They came to the United States 
as sojourners, hoping to make a small fortune and in a few years return 
home wealthy by Chinese, if not American standards. As such, they may 
not have cared that newspapers of the period ignored them. In addition, 
their inability to speak English and thus, communicate, and their differ- 
ent appearance were undoubtedly factors in the sparse attention they 

Second, as Barbara Cloud wrote, frontier newspapers were fre- 
quently one-man operations in which the printer was also editor, and 
professional standards as we know them today did not exist. Conse- 
quently, the editor's political leanings also became the paper's. This 
apparently was true in Oregon as well as in other parts of the West. 28 

Third, the finding that the Chinese were rarely mentioned, even 
though surprising, was not inconsistent with what Chilton R. Bush and 
R.K. Bullock found in 1952. Their study of two San Francisco-area daily 
papers revealed that the names of people in different occupations do not 
appear in the news in the same proportion as their distribution in the 
population. 29 Thus, politicians were much more likely to make it into 
news columns than plumbers. The Chinese in early Oregon, it should be 
remembered, were almost all laborers and servants. 

Fourth, the problem of focusing on whether silence is intentional, 
and thus "strategic," Lentz writes, is that doing so may "... miss the 
larger point cited by Monica B. Morris when discussing the lack of 
coverage of the women's liberation movement during its early days. The 
absence of stories could not, she said, "lightly be construed as a deliberate 
and calculated strategy of social control.... Nonetheless, ... the result of 
lack of coverage would be much the same as if it were a deliberate 
strategy: the movement would remain unknown to the general public; it 
would be prevented from becoming news." 30 

And finally, "Chinese bashing" seems to have been popular in the 
late 1 9th century. The movement toward fairness— if not objectivity— in 
journalism did not begin until decades later, and there certainly wasn't 
pressure to diversify newsrooms and along with them coverage, in the 
1870s and 1880s. 

Winter 1 999 • American Journalism 75 


'Chinese surnames are, with two exceptions, always monosyllabic. The exceptions are Soohoo and 
Owyang. (sometimes spelled Ouyang). Common examples of Chinese surnames are Chiu, Chen and 
Wong. Japanese surnames, on the other hand, are always multisyllabic. Examples of Japanese 
surnames are Kawasaki, Yamamoto, Musashi and Honda. 

2 Robert Edward Wynne, Reaction to the Chinese in the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia 
1850-1910 (New York: Arno Press, 1978), 43. 

3 Wynne, 43. 

4 Wynne, 44. However, the mines in Josephine County were depleted quickly, and the Chinese 
population there was transitory. The Ninth Census of the United States shows that 634 Chinese lived 
in Jackson County, but only 223 remained in Josephine County in 1870. 

5 V. Blue, "The Mining Laws of Jackson County," Oregon Historical Quarterly, 23, (1922). 

'Wynne, 45. 

7 Port listings show that in August 1868 the Jeanne Alice arrived from Hong Kong with 430 
Chinese. She was followed shortly by the Edward James with 380, the Garibaldi with 210, the Alden 
Besse with 180, the Forward with 330 and the Manila with 425- The passengers on these ships 
probably did not remain in Portland for very long. The Ninth Census of the United States in 1870 
showed only 508 Chinese in the city. The situation changed along with conditions in other parts of 
the state, however. The Eleventh Census of the United States in 1890 showed that the Chinese 
population of Portland had snowballed to 5,184, whereas the number of Chinese in Eastern Oregon 
dropped precipitously. Only 326 remained in Grant County, and only 398 in Baker County. In 
Jackson County, there were only 224 Chinese in 1 890. 

8 Shih-Shan Henry Tsai, The Chinese Experience in America (Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University 
Press, 1986), 194, from the Bureau of Census. 

'Chris Friday, Organizing Asian-American Labor: The Pacific Coast Canned-Salmon Industry, 1870- 
1942 (Philadelphia, Pa.: Temple University Press, 1994), 56. 

'"Friday, 57. 

"Fewer than 9,000 Chinese females entered the U.S. mainland berween 1852 and the enactment 
of the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Law, according to Sucheng Chan, Asian Americans: An Interpretive 
History (Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1991), 104. Chan estimates that during that 30- year period 
there were never more than 5,000 Chinese women in what are now the 48 contiguous states at any 
one time. 

"Friday, 57; from 23 May 1879, Weekly Astorian. 

13 Elmer Clarence Sandmeyer, The Anti-Chinese Movement in California (Urbana, 111.: University of 
Illinois Press, 1939), 57-77. 

,4 Other sources indicate the number killed Rock Springs was 28. According to Tsai, China and the 
Overseas Chinese in the United States, 1868-191 1, 72, a total of 15 were also injured and $147,000 of 
property destroyed in the Wyoming Territory town on 2 September 1885- The California towns were 
Los Angeles, San Francisco, Red Bluff, Yuba City, Redding and Chico. 

15 Jules Alexander Karlin, "Ami - Chinese Outbreak in Tacoma, 1885," Pacific Historical Review, 23 

,6 The term "celestial" apparently came into use because the Emperor of China was said by the 
Chinese to be the "Son of Heaven." It is now considered to be derogatory. 

17 Wynne, 66; and Morning Oregonian, 17 February 1865, and 10 July 1 865- 

l8 Wynne, 67; and Morning Oregonian, 6 March 1867, and 10 April 1867. 

"The Ninth Census of the United States, 3, indicated that in 1870 a total of 18.1 percent of the 
population of Josephine County and 13 percent of the population of Jackson County was Chinese. 

20 The Daily Astorian, 9 June 1876. 

2 According to Richard Lentz, "The Search for Strategic Silence," American Journalism (Winter 
1991), 13, "Locating instances of strategic silence may be accomplished by reasoning from the 
visibility of the actors; the nature or circumstances of the event; the availability of knowledge to the 
writer or editor; deviations from journalistic practices; and the characteristics of medium, genre, or 
particular media organization." An example of this silence, he writes, was Newsweek neglecting to 

76 Chm« Winter 1999 

mention that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was present when President Johnson signed the 1965 Voting 
Rights Act. 

22 According to Friday, 58, Astoria became a safe-haven because anti-Chinese feeling there never 
turned violent, as it did in numerous other cities in the West. He quotes the Weekly Astorian as 
reporting on 13 February 1886, that the town became "a sort of jumping off place . . . and they 
congregate here in the same fashion and for about the same reason that they cluster in San Francisco 
- because they are driven off elsewhere and have no place else to go." Further, many Astorians 
probably refrained from anti-Chinese activities because they feared the laborers might abandon the 
canneries, causing the local economy to collapse. 

"Exclusion laws and the "sojourner" status of early Chinese immigrants meant that most of frontier 
Oregon's Chinese were single males. However, that would not explain their almost total absence from 
news of record and society columns. 

"Charles A. Tracy, "Race, Crime and Social Policy: The Chinese in Oregon, 1871- 1885," Crime 
and Social Justice, (Winter 1980), 11. Tracy found that as a result of these laws, arrests of Chinese for 
"victimless" crimes such as prostitution, opium smoking and too many people in not enough space 
were as much as 10 times higher than for whites. It is unclear whether this adversely affected the 
image of the Chinese because they were excluded from newspapers. Thus, the arrests did not become 
public knowledge. 

25 Wynne, iv. 

2 'Stuart Creighton Miller, The Unwelcome Immigrant: The American Image of the Chinese, 1785- 
1882 (Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 1969); Ronald Takaki, Strangers from a Different 
Shore: A History of Asian Americans (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1989); Sucheng Chan, Asian 
Americans: An Interpretive History (Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1991); Shih-Shan Henry Tsai, The 
Chinese Experience in America (Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 1986). 

27 Gaye Tuchman wrote in Making News: A Study in the Construction of Reality (New York: Free 
Press, 1978), 138, that news events must "resonate" with a reporter's experiences. More recently, 
Lentz in "The Search for Strategic Silence," American Journalism, (1991) 10, wrote that "The version 
of reality . . . relies upon the production of meanings based not only upon published content but 
upon ways in which some things are not 'seen,' or if seen, not recorded . . . ." He continued, 
"Intention may not always explain the reason for editorial silence .... Silence may reflect not the 
journal's (or reporter's) intention so much as the power of ideology, customs, traditions, and mores in 
force at a given time." 

2S Barbara Cloud, The Business of Newspapers on the Western Frontier, (Reno, Nev.: University of 
Nevada Press, 1992). 

2, Chilton R. Bush, R.K. Bullock, "Names in the News: a study of two dailies," Journalism Quarterly, 
29 (Spring 1952) 150, 151. 

30 Lentz, 12; and Monica B. Morris, "Newspapers and the New Feminists: Black Out as Social 
Control?" Journalism Quarterly, 50 (Spring 1973) 42. 

Winter 1 999 " American Journalism 77 

78 Winter 1999 

Common Forms for Uncommon 
Actions: The Search for Political 
Organization in Dust Bowl 

By James Hamilton 

This study addresses the forms of social criticism penned by migrant 
farmworkers who worked the California fields in the late 1930s and early 
1940s through the examination of mimeographed newspapers published in a 
California migrant labor camp. It concludes that the inability of migrants to 
organize for effective political action was due not only to lack of resources or 
the strength of the status quo (which was sizable), but also to a failure to find 
a cultural means by which migrants could collectively see their situation, 
organize, and work to change it. 

From 1935 until the beginning of WW II, the Dust Bowl 
migration was widely regarded as evidence of the failure of 
the United States' market economy to generate decent jobs 
and decent lives for all its citizens. 1 By the late 1930s, more than 500,000 
people had left the south central states of Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas, and 
Missouri, with more than 300,000 making their way to California, only 
to find infrequent, low-paying work amidst widespread persecution and 
inescapable poverty. 2 

Neither the presence of migrant farmworkers nor the living condi- 
tions they endured were new to Californian farms or to the 1930s. To the 

James Hamilton is an Assistant Professor in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass 
Communication at the University of Georgia. 

Winter 1999 • American Journalism 79 

contrary, they had been long-standing features of state as well as national 
agriculture. 3 Yet what was new was the comparative legitimacy of alterna- 
tive political movements and their organizational strength. Therefore, 
chances for widespread improvements in the migrant farmworkers' 
situation rested largely on their ability to join with these political move- 
ments and apply enough pressure to the rigid and reactionary agricultural 
industry and state political elite to bring about significant change. 

The present study grapples with the complexities of producing an 
effective political movement, both in this case and in general, and the role 
of journalism and communication in this process. It is a contribution to 
recent work about alternative journalism, alternative political movements, 
and the alternative cultural forms they use. 4 Upon examining the cultural 
forms used by a selection of Anglo migrant farmworkers who worked the 
California fields in the late 1930s and early 1940s, the study addresses the 
usefulness of these forms for making sense of the situation in which Anglo 
migrant farmworkers found themselves, then to assess to what degree such 
cultural forms aided or inhibited their ability to organize politically. 5 
Although this is a story of a proto-movement that never coalesced, much 
can be learned about strategies of alternative politics and the role of 
communication and culture by investigating failures as well as successes. 6 

Tension Between Individualism & Collectivism 

The creation of an effective political alliance between labor and 
migrants depended on reconciling two distinctive and in many ways 
opposed traditions of labor activity. As Hyman Berman notes about the 
history of radical labor movements in the United States, the tension 
between individualism and collectivism constitutes the core of a "major 
problem [:]... whether it was [ever] possible for a Leninist [-style] 
movement with its centralized authority and its quasi-military discipline 
to coexist in a region [such as the American West] where the [labor] 
traditions are individualistic and even anarchistic." 

In an investigation of such issues in the early 20th Century, Berman 
concludes that no synthesis was possible between "the individualist, 
iconoclastic spirit which characterized the frontier radical tradition" and 
"the building of a truly American working class revolutionary movement." 7 
This major problem in radical organization was at the center of the difficul- 
ties between migrants and labor organizations. Overcoming this difference 
was a Herculean challenge for labor organizers and migrant activists — one 
that, in this case, was not met and that continues to this day. 8 

80 Hamilton • Winter 1999 

What makes such an examination possible is the survival of mimeo- 
graphed newspapers that were published in migrant labor camps in the 
1930s and 1940s. For purposes of this essay, the Weed Patch Cultivator, 
later named the Tow-Sack Tattler, provides the material on which one case 
can be documented. 9 The newspaper appeared from 1938 to 1942 in the 
federally run Arvin Migratory Labor Camp near Bakersfield, California. 10 
Although the scattered issues and haphazardly preserved archival material 
that have survived do not allow one to make definitive statements about 
such matters as editorial practice and newspaper/management day-to-day 
relations, they begin to reveal a complex situation that speaks directly to 
the issues. 

Although many government camps also published newspapers 
during this time, this particular camp newspaper deserves attention for 
two reasons. First, it was conceived and produced in the inaugural federal 
government camp, which served as the blueprint for all federal camps to 
follow. 11 By 1941, the federal Farm Security Administration (FSA) ran 53 
camps in 1 1 states from California to Florida, Washington State to Texas, 
and many camps came to publish newspapers at a later date, likely relying 
on the Camp Arvin newspaper as the basic template as much as they did 
for other camp matters. 12 

Second, the camp in which this newspaper appeared was located in 
Kern County in the San Joaquin Valley — an area of high labor activity 
and a time during some of the largest agricultural strikes in the country. 13 
Kern County constituted what Devra Weber calls "a relatively hospitable 
atmosphere for Anglo organizing." Remnants of earlier labor, populist, 
and socialist movements persisted, as did the Communist Party, which 
"found enough members there to become the strongest branch in the [San 
Joaquin] Valley," and the Socialist Party. 14 In autumn 1938, the largest 
strike in the state was staged by cotton pickers in Kern County, where 
some 3,000 workers stayed out of the cotton fields for two weeks. During 
1939, although there were fewer strikes, those that did take place were 
larger than in the previous year, with the largest one involving the entire 
San Joaquin Valley, the conflict again over pay for work in the cotton 
fields. 15 Hence, efforts to fashion an alliance between migrant 
farmworkers and the labor movement had a great chance of occurring 
here, with the residue of such efforts more likely available for study 
today. 16 

The issue of how to examine such a process remains a topic of 
debate among journalism historians. Whatever position taken, these 

Winter 1999 • American Journalism 

debates suggest that journalism historians are not immune to siding with 
a particular theoretical perspective concerning the nature of communica- 
tion and its role in social life. 17 Accordingly, this study also seeks to 
demonstrate the usefulness of a cultural perspective vis-a-vis other, 
mainstream perspectives. 18 

Instead of seeing newspaper items as means of persuasion or propa- 
ganda, as mechanically integrating individuals into social systems, or as 
individual expressions of unique views competing in a free and open 
marketplace of ideas, a cultural perspective seeks to detect and understand 
commonly held world views that made such items intelligible and mean- 
ingful in the first place, and how they may become a common basis of 
legitimacy and action. 19 

Creating a "Meaningful Cultural World" 

Carey characterizes communication in this sense as "the construc- 
tion and maintenance of an ordered, meaningful cultural world that can 
serve as a control and container for human action." 20 It is the production 
of this "meaningful cultural world" and the shape of its primary contours 
that are of interest here. 21 Correspondingly, the purpose of analysis is not 
to investigate whether attitudes were changed as a result of reading the 
newspaper, whether a supposedly singular migrant culture became 
integrated with an equally singular labor movement, nor to attempt to 
simply document what various people at that time and place ostensibly 
thought. Rather, it is to suggest in what ways previously unseen and 
unrecognized conditions of subjugation were made visible, palpable, and 
important enough perhaps to be recognized and acted upon collectively. 

To do this, one studies forms in the historical context of their 
production and reception in order to understand how they provided the 
cultural basis for collective action. Cultural forms in this sense, writes 
Raymond Williams, are regarded as "common property, to be sure with 
differences of degree, of writers and audiences or readers, before any 
communicative composition can occur." 22 

Thus, forms constitute a social relationship (the requirement for 
collective action) in at least two ways. The first is that any form makes use 
of established social conventions if it is to be understood. Even the most 
avant-garde work depends on (an) already established set(s) of conven- 
tions in order for viewers or readers to judge its avant-gardism. Forms in 
this sense renew mutual assumptions, expectations, obligations, and 
understandings. 23 A second sense in which forms constitute a social 

82 Hamilton 'Winter 1999 

relationship is in terms of what they accomplish: the evoking, positing or 
proposition of a relationship, and, also, the evoking, positing or proposi- 
tion of, in the words of Williams, "an active relationship to the experience 
being expressed." 24 

Therefore, when understood as a social relation, form is the means 
by which the making and understanding of social relations is attempted 
and always variably achieved. By implication, journalism and language use 
in general must be seen ultimately and fully as, again in Williams' words, 
"a special kind of material practice: that of human sociality." 25 Such a 
position suggests that, far from camp newspapers' being simply an inert 
"record of the process" of "subcultural construction" (as one historian of 
this situation puts it), they themselves were a major cultural mode of the 
production of social relations. 26 

Attention to form is of particular usefulness when addressing 
alternative media. As David Spencer points out, cultural forms such as 
songs, verse, stories, and fables generally have received little attention 
from labor historians in comparison to the more "serious" forms of essays, 
tracts, and speeches. However, cultural forms used by the rank and file are 
of immense importance in assessing social movements, because they are 
vernacular expressions of non-elite world views, thereby suggesting more 
defensibly popular instead of elite experience. 27 

The forms that migrant criticism of living and working conditions 
took in the newspaper included blustery personal statements and turgid, 
simplistic essays composed of labor union cliches. However, forms such as 
verse, personal commentary, and jokes had their basis in everyday migrant 
experience. Because they emerged from migrants' experience, if used to 
give shape and meaning to working and living conditions in which all 
labored, such forms had a greater potential of compellingly dramatizing 
exploitative conditions and therefore more of a chance of achieving 
widespread collective awareness and action. 28 What potential existed in 
forms used — and what did not — are the topics discussed in this article. 

The Inescapable Reality of Beans & Dust 

Living and working conditions of migrant farmworkers in Califor- 
nia during the 1930s were generally acknowledged as desperate and 
unconscionable, but they were as inescapably a part of day-to-day reality 
as beans and dust. Despite these persistent conditions, little had been 
done to change them. 29 Although migrant laborers had worked California 
fields since the later 1 800s, attempts to organize them had failed largely 

Winter 1 999 • American Journalism 83 

because of the difficulty of organizing such a scattered and mobile 
workforce. As a result, radical activity earlier in the century had been 
limited to areas of high concentration of workers, such as timber camps 
and anarchistic activities of the Industrial Workers of the World 
(IWW). 30 

By the 1930s, with the renewed legitimacy of labor, organizing 
activity among farmworkers picked up, beginning with the efforts of the 
Cannery and Agricultural Workers Industrial Union (CAWIU). Few long- 
term gains were made, however, before organizational difficulties and 
wave after wave of vigilante repression beat the union down to the point 
where, by the mid-1950s, it disbanded. 31 What made organizing so 
difficult was the federal government's and labor's shunning of migrant 
farmworkers and their plight. 

The American Federation of Labor (AFL) strongly resisted any 
attempt to create an affiliated farmworkers' union because it emphasized 
its heritage of supporting skilled craftsmen, not manual laborers. Also, 
non-farmworker members were much more desirable for union-building 
activities because, as Cletus Daniel notes, they were "overwhelmingly 
nonmigratory, able to afford modest union dues, and eligible to claim the 
rights and protections afforded by the National Labor Relations Act," the 
last reason a particularly damning one for farmworkers, the only labor 
group excluded from the protection of federal legislation. 32 

Agricultural Industry Growth Spurs Union Activity 

However, the industrial-scale growth of California agriculture 
created a similarly industrial-scale work force in size and concentration, 
thereby making organization more possible than it had been. During the 
late 1 9th and early 20th centuries, few areas of the economy had been 
more affected by the growing efficiency of industrial capital than agricul- 
ture. 33 Furthermore, such industrialization had become the dominant 
practice in California, where concentrations of mobile workers were 
needed in increasingly large numbers to service the state's labor-intensive 
cash crops. 34 The concentration of wage workers, combined with increas- 
ingly desperate living and working conditions, led to an explosive situa- 
tion, which organized labor saw as an opportunity and that those who ran 
the state's agricultural industry saw as a substantial threat. 35 

Both government and labor became involved in this emerging 
situation. Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal government attempted to 

84 Hamilton •Winter 1999 

address it through the Resettlement Administration, later becoming the 
Farm Security Administration (FSA). 36 Organized labor in the form of 
the Congress of Industrial Organization (CIO), under the leadership of 
John L. Lewis and his seeming tolerance of Communist Party of the 
United States of America (CPUS A) members and activities, also commit- 
ted resources to organizing migrant farmworkers. 37 In particular, the 
political potential of tens of thousands of alienated farmworkers con- 
vinced some in the CIO to try to merge migrants into a larger national 
organization. Therefore, the increasing industrialization of the California 
agricultural industry, combined with the reformist stance of the federal 
government and the emergence of the CIO and its initial willingness to 
work on behalf of migrant farmworkers, helped provide an institutional 
basis for the agrarian radicalism in California of the late 1 930s. 

While the federal government started its migrant labor camp 
program, union organizers for the CIO-affiliated United Cannery, 
Agricultural, Packing and Allied Workers of America (UCAPAWA) set out 
to organize migrant workers into a potent national political force aligned 
with the goals of labor. As noted earlier, initial results — large strikes in 
1938 and 1939, with the epicenter being the San Joaquin Valley — were 
important. 38 Migrants lived and worked, and the camp newspaper was 
initially written, produced, distributed, and read in this explosive context, 
with the federal camp project and labor unions aligned against the 
agricultural industry and state government supporters. 

Camp Newspapers Emerge 

The government-funded camp newspaper was but a recent example 
of the long-standing government practice of self-promotion, to which 
substantial financial resources had long been channeled and that were at a 
high level in the 1930s. 39 Organized labor's involvement in the camp 
newspaper continued a long-standing tradition of using newspapers to aid 
the organization of its activities, and was linked to similar uses as the labor 
press and the radical press. 40 Yet, due to institutional requirements, each 
was limited to working through the migrant social formation instead of 
controlling content directly. 

Far from being an indigenous response by migrant farmworkers, the 
newspaper was established, supported, and encouraged by the Farm 
Security Administration (FSA) for two reasons. The first is that it played a 
part in the official FSA goal of "rehabilitating" migrants from "rootless 
wanderers" to responsible, wage-earning citizen-consumers. 41 The other 

Winter 1999 • American Journalism 85 

side of this seemingly altruistic goal was the political need for incorporat- 
ing an increasingly desperate, disenfranchised portion of the populace that 
had nothing to lose and everything to gain from radical, if not revolution- 
ary, activism. 42 An important component of this rehabilitation was the 
camp newspaper, which migrants were supposed to read and produce in 
order to learn the role of news in a liberal democracy and the boundaries 
within which such activity "properly" occurred. 43 

The second reason the FSA established and supported the camp 
newspaper was for institutional survival. In addition to playing a role in 
the rehabilitation program, the newspaper was intended to provide 
evidence to a skeptical Congress of migrant "rehabilitation" and, there- 
fore, that money appropriated by Congress was being well-spent. From 
the beginning of the program in 1935, congressional opponents of New 
Deal policies found the FSA a highly visible example of a government 
program run amok. FSA directors therefore spent a good deal of resources 
to document activities and to build public approval and political support 
for the camp program as humanitarian aid. 44 Camp newspapers were 
important to these efforts, as well. 

However, there were problems with having the FSA support and 
promote camp newspapers. The Associated Farmers and other opponents 
to organized agricultural labor felt that, should migrants organize, it could 
threaten their control of the industry. Government migrant labor camps 
already gave laborers a chance to live with and get to know each other, 
thereby creating more of an opportunity to organize. 45 If camps became a 
base of labor activity (newspapers being one important means of organiza- 
tion), growers would have to apply political pressure to undercut the FSA 
camp program, thereby eliminating this protective environment for union 
activities. 46 The camp education program therefore contained fundamen- 
tal contradictions. It helped the FSA meet its pedagogical goals by 
supposedly helping to build a self-governing democratic community. But 
the more successful the program was, the more it threatened growers' 
control of the agricultural industry, thereby antagonizing a powerful 
coalition of interests that had the power statewide and nationally to 
reduce or end the FSA's funding. 4 ' 

Camp newspapers therefore came to occupy a very important 
ideological role that had potential effects far beyond the boundaries of 
Camp Arvin. Opposition to the camp program could be minimized if the 
newspaper successfully transformed rootless migrants into rooted, wage- 
earning middle-class citizens, but opposition would certainly increase if 
the newspaper helped build a serious labor movement. Because of these 

86 Hamilton 'Winter 1999 

high stakes, the FSA not only helped establish camp newspapers, but the 
institutional imperative was to shape them in very particular ways. 
Certain roles had to be promoted and others excluded if the 
(re) educational program was to succeed and the FSA survive. 

Although explicit controls on content could not be legally insti- 
tuted, Camp Arvin management still attempted to control the paper 
indirectly from the very first issue through the (re)educational program 
and related regulations. Despite the reported Camp Committee decision 
to start the paper, its editorial policy stated in the first issue suggests 
substantial management involvement. 48 In addition to emphasizing the 
democratic function of using the paper to "discuss ideas" (thereby indicat- 
ing its kinship with the education program already in place), the use of 
"your" and "them" (instead of "our" and "us") makes clear the distinctness 
of the writer from the migrant population: 

[The newspaper] should serve the people of Camp in these 
ways: (1) to inform them of working conditions in general 
and in this district; (2) to make it possible for them to discuss 
ideas or events which are important to them; (3) to let the 
campers know what is going on in Camp, and above all feel 
that it is your paper; and lets have your ideas, jokes, poetry 
etc. Any contributions should be left with Earl Stone [the 
camp secretary]. 49 

Another passage further in this statement directly addressed the kind 
of stories to be allowed: "Any camper with something to say, as long as it 
has interest for the Campers in general, entertaining or serious, may have 
space" 50 [emphasis added] . Who is doing the deciding is never made 
explicit, but, as the newspaper is being produced in government offices 
and by government-hired workers, and based on how the educational 
program was managed, it is reasonable to assume that the camp manager 
would be called in to decide. 

Camp Manager Controls Content 

The camp manager had many ways of controlling the newspaper, 
thereby keeping it within the limitations dictated by the FSA goals of 
maximizing its educational value and minimizing its threat to California 
growers. Methods included appointing the editor; supplying all materials, 
including paper, a typewriter, and access to a mimeograph machine; and 

Winter 1999 • American Journalism 87 

making available the camp secretary to transcribe migrant-donated items, 
and to type and produce the newspaper. 51 Material aid included allowing 
the newspapers to be sent through the mail free of charge. 

Camp newspapers were routinely sent to other migrant camps as 
well as to area libraries and to the FSA home office, which used stories 
from them for its own public relations materials. 52 Of course, this support 
served as a control because it could be withdrawn at any time, thus 
silencing the paper. Although the campers' fund (generated by a 1 cent 
per site per day fee) soon paid for the paper on which the newspaper was 
printed, the government continued to provide production support. 53 The 
FSA regarded the overall value of the newspaper highly enough that, 
when migrant interest was low, management kept it going. As September 
and October were peak work times of the year, few migrants had the 
energy or interest to carry on the newspaper during these months, and so 
the duty to keep the paper going was assumed and exercised by manage- 
ment. 54 

Despite these efforts to shape and control the newspaper, the 
relationships between labor, the migrants, and the FSA were such that 
complete FSA control of the newspaper was, at least, impractical and, at 
most, impossible. If the extent to which its officers directed efforts toward 
the FSA camps is any indication, the UCAPAWA felt that the government 
camps were of great strategic value. At least five FSA camps (Arvin, 
Gridley, Marysville, Shafter, and Visalia) had active locals of the 
UCAPAWA, the Worker's Alliance of America (a national pressure group 
aligned with the UCAPAWA), or both, and during strikes the UCAPAWA 
used several FSA camps as strike headquarters without interference from 
government employees. 55 

In addition, labor activity in the government camps was possible 
largely because of the sympathy most FSA personnel — especially those in 
the field — had for the goals of organized labor. Many FSA workers, 
including the camp managers (mostly liberals, some socialists), personally 
supported efforts by the migrants to organize. 56 However, no federal 
worker could publicly take such a stance for fear of antagonizing the FSA's 
powerful political opponents. 

Publicly, the official FSA position toward the camp newspaper and 
toward the struggle between unions and growers was neutral. Whenever 
the newspapers and their control were mentioned, public relations officer 
Frederick Soule stressed that the papers were "community institutions 
over which the Farm Security Administration has no control." 57 However, 
in practice, the two qualities most characteristic of the FSA camp manag- 

88 Hamilton 'Winter 1999 

ers — sympathy toward the workers' struggle for bargaining power, and the 
goal of teaching migrants the ways of democratic self-reliance — allowed 
the newspaper to work toward a far greater than intended range of goals. 

Labor presence in the camp paper was sporadic, but it peaked 
during the 1939 strike, assisted by Sam Birkhimer, the editor of the 
newspaper by October 1939, and a UCAPAWA organizer. 58 In addition 
to explanatory essays about the purposes of the UCAPAWA and the 
WA of A, he penned and printed accounts of how the organizing in the 
fields was conducted as well as pep talks to try to maintain likely flagging 
interest and support near its end. 59 

Developing Migrant Cultures 

The newspaper therefore took shape within these sets of conditions. 
It consisted of a single sheet, 8 inches wide and 15 inches deep. The 
masthead was hand-drawn, and stories consisted of typed columns, with 
copies produced by mimeograph. 

Although conditions and the institutional support existed for the 
formation of a migrant farmworker union and an alliance with the CIO, 
the complexity of those labeled "Dust Bowl migrants" worked against 
such formulaic responses. Historian James Gregory describes them as 
"Southwestern 'plain-folk'," whose culture and outlook was linked to a 
long-standing heritage of anti-monopoly and citizen-producer ideas, 
agrarian and working class radicalism, and nationalist and sometimes 
racist attempts to preserve the country's white male Protestant dominance. 
As Gregory notes, catechisms in this heritage typically stressed "the 
dignity of hard work and plain living and promised deliverance from the 
forces of power, privilege, and moral pollution, near and far." 60 Thus, 
nationalism, populism, racism, and an often evangelical religiousness were 
complexly blended. 61 

While sympathetic to critiques of industrialists and others in 
authority, migrants also shared a belief in a white Protestant and an often 
intensely patriotic nationalism, and, in this way, held deeply and simulta- 
neously radical and conservative views. 62 One can make sense of these 
contradictions by understanding them in terms of individualism and 
collectivism. By doing so, their social implications become clearer. 

Intensely individualistic, their approach toward living stressed 
individual strength and persistence — fitting the saying "God helps those 
who help themselves." Individualism spawned such diverse responses to 
often desperate living conditions as stoic fatalism and resignation, reluc- 

Winter 1999 • American Journalism 89 

tance or heated resistance to pressure to join a group, or the favoring of 
disorganization rather than taking the chance of worsening one's lot 
through aligning with the wrong people or the wrong cause. 

Yet many also shared a collectivism in terms of a sentimental, 
homespun regard for one's family, hometown, people, state, region and 
nation. Where individualism typically underwrote inaction or resistance, 
collectivism helped constitute a source of pride while it underwrote 
voluntaristic activity. It legitimized taking pride in being American, an 
"Okie" or "Arkie" (a term of derision turned into a term of pride when 
used by a migrant), a member of a union, or as a farmer. 

Individualism Versus Collectivism 

Such a dynamic was the basis for contradictory responses to a 
sociologist's interviews during the late 1 930s and early 1 940s with 
migrants who lived in Kern County — some of whom lived for a time at 
Camp Arvin, the camp at which the newspaper analyzed for this study 
was produced. 63 Even while professing pride as Americans, migrants still 
advocated the kinds of ideas promoted by politically radical labor organiz- 
ers to correct the injustices suffered in a failing American society. 

If they cut that relief off in California they will have a 
revolution in California. They'll [migrants will] fight fer 
it, they always have .... And by-god I ain't no Communist, 
but I may sound like one though. 64 

It also was the basis for conflict between generations. In 1936, a 
supporter of organizing migrant labor noted this disagreement within one 
family. Oklahoman Jim Killen, reported the writer, "believed in organiza- 
tion as the devout believe in religion," although he was not entirely 
committed to labor. However, there was substantial disagreement within 
his family about the best attitude and action to take, indicating differing 
generational, gender and political alignments in terms of individualism 
and collectivism. 

His brother talks violence; his father industrial democracy; 
his mother mumbles. 

His father: "There kaint be any recovery until the workingman 
gets paid enough so he can buy what there is to sell." 

His mother: "It's been worser than this in Oklahoma. There's 

90 Hamilton •Winter 1999 

been times when we'd been glad to work for 10 cents a day." 
His brother: "Blast their God damn fields with dynamite." 65 

In the same way that they could be patriots while finding severe 
faults with the American system, migrants could champion the cause of 
labor while at the same time denouncing it. Many were skeptical of the 
CIO because of its (as they put it) Communism, disorganization, lazy 
members who joined only to avoid working, and high-rolling union 
leaders' exploitation ot the rank-and-file. However, many also found value 
in collective action as part of the union, which they saw as the only way to 
bring about better pay, prevent starvation and help those on relief get 
their fair share. 66 

Thus, collectivism - individualism as articulated within populist and 
radical labor traditions comprised the cultural context of migrants' 
activity. Migrants were not of a single mind, but instead rallied and 
fragmented in contradictory ways, sharing with the FSA a patriotism and 
the belief that migrants' problems in America were due to the corruption 
of a sound, egalitarian political system rather than to defects inherent in 
that system. The migrants shared with the UCAPAWA an anger at 
migrants' economic subjugation. Their goal was to achieve, in Oklaho- 
man, folk-singer and migrant- and labor-spokesman Woody Guthrie's 
words, "a good job at honest pay," which would require widespread 
changes in the status quo. 67 

What made this situation particularly complex was the fact that 
points of agreement were also polarizing differences. Migrants often 
chafed within the authoritarian, patriarchal FSA educational program, 
which addressed symptoms rather than causes of the migrants' plight, and 
this individualism complicated efforts by the portion of migrants who 
were union-minded to build a collective consciousness that might become 
the basis for collective political action. 68 Also, despite the Popular Front 
strategy of the Communist Party of America (CPUSA) which called for 
collaboration with trade unions rather than revolution, the UCAPAWAs 
revolutionary rhetoric offended many migrants' deep-seated faith in the 
United States and confirmed their equally deep fear of "creeping" 
communism. 69 

"Don't Be What You Ain't" 

Although the FSA placed official notices of various kinds in the 
newspaper (a perk from its role of providing support), most items came 

Winter 1999 • American Journalism 91 

from migrant farmworkers who lived in the camp. These contributions 
took many forms, ranging from letters to the editor, anonymous gossip 
columns, and one-liner jokes to lengthy essays about the labor situation. 
By seeing these items in social terms, how they did or didn't fit with the 
aim of organizing into a self-aware political force becomes clearer. 

The individualism of migrant culture was expressed in a variety of 
items, but, most evocatively, in verse which expressed a rugged, good- 
natured self-sufficiency and unpretentiousness: 

Don't be what you ain't 

Jes' be what you is 

If you is not what you am 

Then you is not what you is 

If you're just a little tadpole 

Don't try to be a frog 

If you're just a tail 

Don't try to wag the dog. 

You can always pass the plate 

If you can't exhort and preach 

If you're just a little pebble 

Don't try to be the beach. 

Don't be what you ain't 

Jes' be what you is, 

For the man who plays it square 

Is a-goin' to get "his." 

— Juanita Davis. 70 

This often became a fatalism, underscored by religious resignation, 
such as in a poem that concluded: "It is not for us to understand / Just 
leave it all in jessus (sic) hand." 71 

Individualistic items also addressed the specific situation of farm 
laborers in California, but they often took the form of personal statements 
that justified only individual actions. Reluctance to appear "uppity" by 
telling others what to do undercut their collective potential, such as in a 
personal statement by a farmworker with a family who, during the 1 938 
strike, mentioned the inequity of some people staying out only for a few 
days, then returning to work in the fields before the strike achieved its 
goals. As he explains, "I don't know whether to call them scabs or not," 
because they had to work to get food to eat. He concludes that his family 
has enough food to hold out longer, and that "my family has no intention 

92 Hamilton 'Winter 1999 

of going back to the cotton fields until this strike is over," thereby explain- 
ing his reasoning only for himself and his family, which others could take 
or leave. 72 Such reluctance to tell others what to think and what to do — 
and regarding such people as bossy and know-it-alls — ran deeply in many 
items, such as a poem that poked fun at "grumblers," who complained 
about everything. The advice given to people who were confronted with 
grumblers was to "turn a deaf ear, and pretend you can't hear." 73 

Calls for Collectivism Failed 

However, as organized action can only take place and be represented 
in collective terms, cultural forms that presented the common situation 
and case were essential for this mobilization to have a chance. The editor 
of August 1939 appealed to migrants for more contributions to the 
newspaper, and her explanation suggests the general awareness of the 
ability of newspaper items to evoke common experience. 

If you've been moved, either to laugh or cry by something 
that's happened to you or around you, it's pretty certain 
that some of your neighbors would be moved in the same 
way if they saw the story in print. 74 

With some exceptions, the potential of working collectively for 
change was never realized. Although collectivist appeals were often made, 
such expressions either did not address the immediate, concrete situation; 
were simplified (and therefore easily discounted as empty slogans or pie- 
in-the-sky wishes); or were too abstract, therefore not linking effectively 
the day-to-day working reality of individual migrants with the structural 
conditions of subjugation. 

Collective calls that did not address the specific situation attempted 
to organize migrants socially, but not in the service of labor activism. 
Many migrants saw no necessary role for a radical critique of the United 
States' political and economic system, and items in the newspaper that 
expressed this version of collectivism, such as the poem that follows, did 
so in uncritical terms. 

Makes no difference where you wander, 
Makes no difference where you roam. 
You don't have to stop and ponder, 
For a place to call your home. 

Winter 1 999 • American Journalism 93 

When they ask you where you were born lad, 
Speak right up - be proud to say, 
That your home's the land of Uncle Sam, 
The good old U.S.A. 

— A Camper. 75 

A collective-minded religious confession in verse also countered 
individualism, but in a way that made the current, earthly situation 
irrelevant when compared to greater goals. 

Lord help me live from day to day, 
In such a self and helpful way, 
That when I kneel to pray, 
my prayers may help others. 
Help me Lord in all the works I do, 
To ever be sincere and true, 
And know that all I do for you, 
must need be done for others. 

— Mrs. Shatwell. 76 

Appeals that simplified the situation did not address the depth of 
the problem or the difficulty of the solution. For example, after a writer 
notes the inequity of cotton growers getting $14 per hundredweight 
while those who pick it get 75 cents, he concludes that the industry sets 
the price and that, only if workers were organized, "your trouble would be 
over." 77 Another item on the same page concludes "you people who are 
picking this 80 cent cotton surely can't expect a lot of favors from the 
good people of California." The solution was simply to "wake up and git 
in line don't sleep all your life." 78 

Poems and song lyrics urged migrant laborers to "get off the row" 
and join the CIO. 79 Reprinted lyrics to songs sung on the picket lines as 
well as those penned by Woody Guthrie appeared often. 80 Some of these 
songs parodied or appropriated others, such as in "Associated Farmer Has 
a Farm." 81 Hand-drawn pictures were used as well, such as one example 
that consisted of the head and shoulders of Woody Guthrie, with a 
caption: "The Dust Bowl Kid says: Prices is High wages Low I A man that 
would pick / 80 cents cotton is a slave / and nothing more! — Woody." 82 
But, whatever value they may have had in terms of momentary morale, 
none served as a deeper critique which might have sparked sustained 

94 Hamilton 'Winter 1999 

Examples of simplified and abstract appeals include a series of self- 
described "weekly letters from the editor" which were penned by a recent 
arrival to Camp Arvin from another camp nearby and appeared during 
the 1939 strike. His aim was to "explain what different organized groups 
are and what they stand for," beginning with the Workers Alliance of 
America and continuing with the UCAPAWA. Overall goals of the 
WA of A were to "bring about real economic recovery, to assure useful 
work at decent wages for all willing workers, to promote greater purchas- 
ing power among the people and to provide real social security for all" — 
laudable, yet entirely future, abstract goals that spoke little to farmworkers 
concerned with where to find food immediately. 83 

Later the same month, the editor attempted to explain how unions 
work by using examples such as how a team of horses can accomplish 
more by working together and how a car runs well when all parts are 
working. Such appeals still did not explain why it continued to be so 
difficult to organize, instead simply proposing "wouldn't it be wonderful if 
we were all joined together in one or more organizations and cooperated 
with each other in times like we are not having." 84 

The key to producing a collective consciousness was not in ignoring 
individualism or in simply asserting an automatic, abstract collectivism, 
but in overcoming the polarization altogether by recognizing migrants' 
situation as, paradoxically, a collective experience of alienation. Wander- 
ing and working as a purposeless, isolated individual was a typical theme 
of individualistic items, yet some items were able to dramatize alienation 
as a collective experience encouraged by specific conditions. 

One of the few examples of this is a remarkable verse titled "Cotton 
Fever" which depicted the alienating experience of toiling as an individual 
in the cotton fields. Its form is a square dance call. The square dance was 
the primary cultural form of popular (as opposed to authoritarian) 
gatherings. Weekly square dances that attracted workers from camps miles 
around were staples of camp life. In this way, its use relied upon the 
intimate knowledge of all farmworkers. However, this square dance was 
not for enjoyment. The caller was not a person, but cotton bolls, setting 
the cadence and dictating pickers' every move. The poem ends with the 
cotton bolls still calling, reminding the pickers that this life was hard, but 
that this work was better than dying as a pauper, which would put one's 
surviving relatives into debt. Farm labor in current conditions was the 
only choice allowed. 

Winter 1 999 • American Journalism 95 


Along the road on either side 
Cotton green and two miles wide. 
Fields fan out in rows string-straight, 
And a boll flings out his wadded bait 
And grins at me and seems to say: 
"You'll be a grabbin' at me one day 
At six bits a hundred weight." 

Then the bolls started rustling, 

Shouting in the air 

Just like as if they was callin' 

Off a square: 

"Chase that possum, chase that coon, 

Chase that cotton boll around the moon. 

Crawl down a row and stand up straight 

On a six-bit whirl for a hundred weight 

Hunker on along and grab 'er all around. 

Lint's heaped up an' a record yield; 

Gin's chuck full so gin 'er in the field. 

You can live on the land till the 

Day you die, — 

Jus' as long as you leave when the 

Crops laid by. 

So pick 'er on down to the end in the gloam, 

Then swing up your sack and promenade home. 

Meet your baby, pat him on the head 

Feed him white beans an' a piece of corn bread. 

No need to worry, he'll go freight — 

At jus' six bit a hundered weight." 

And so I mosey down the hill 
Cotton bolls a-callin' still: 

"At Long Row's End the Boss Man wait, 
Nail you up in a wooden crate. 
At six bits a hundered livin's hard, 
But dyin's dear in the County Yard — 
At twenty-five bucks a hundered weight!" 
— A Camper. 85 

% Hamilton* Winter 1999 

Migrants earned money in the cotton fields, but precious little of it 
and at the price of dehumanization. They best fit this system when they 
didn't think, but just listened to the call of the bolls and worked as 
isolated individuals. It was a "fever," a sign of sickness, not of well-being. 

No other item worked culturally in the same way as this verse. 
Similar poems about working in the fields neglected to talk about the 
relationship between workers and conditions, emphasizing instead 
individual reactions to it. 86 Others criticized corrupt institutions, such as 
"the kept press," but neglect to link migrants' everyday experience to the 
case. The issue of why a corrupt, commercial press matters to migrant 
farmworkers who are wholly concerned with simply feeding their families 
from day to day was never broached. 87 Although a cultural solution to the 
problem of organization momentarily surfaced, it was far too little and far 
too late. 

Keys to Cultural Change 

Upon the end of the 1939 growing season and the onset of WW II, 
the institutional milieu changed substantially. Many conditions and 
developments caused the UCAPAWA's provisional presence to wane. The 
continual problem of organizing migrant farmworkers was never solved, 
and CIO head John Lewis' disinterest in it made finding a solution even 
more difficult. 88 CPUSA moral credibility was seriously impaired by the 
signing of the non-aggression pact between the Soviets and the Nazis. 
Combined with the wartime improvement in the nation's economy 
(which meant large numbers of new war-related jobs for unskilled workers 
in southern California), and increased nationalism which undercut 
oppositional positions, labor's appeal and effect in the California fields 
was generally neutralized. 89 After the high season of 1939, labor activity 
quickly dissipated. 

The FSA stepped into the void left by the collapsed labor move- 
ment. Under constant threat of congressionally mandated disbandment, 
the FSA opportunistically settled on a new, unassailably patriotic goal of 
aiding wartime food production. 90 Consequently, the FSA became far less 
tolerant of migrant uses of the newspaper that were contrary to this new 
purpose. With organized labor virtually gone from the institutional scene 
and disinterest in aiding the new FSA goal tantamount to being labeled a 
traitor, the FSA soon exercised its authority unopposed. From the end of 
1939 to the end of the camp newspaper in 1942, with the collapse of the 
influence of organized labor and the radical left, hegemonic identification 

Winter 1999 • American Journalism 97 

of migrants with the FSA and the existing American political system was 
largely achieved. 

The fashioning of a cultural means of bridging the contradiction 
between individualism and collectivism and rallying it for political 
organization constituted a need that, with only a few exceptions, was not 
met. Migrant resistance was at most unorganized, with union organizers 
more often scrambling after wildcat strikes than planning them. 91 The 
case described in this study suggests that such failures were not due only 
to lack of resources (although money to support strikes was always in 
short supply), living and working conditions that weren't as bad as many 
portray them to be (they were often far worse), or the strength of the 
status quo (which was sizable), but in a failure of a means by which 
migrants could embody the situation culturally, organize, and work to 
change it. 


'Widely read and cited examinations/polemics include Carey McWilliams, Factories in the Field; 
The Story of Migratory Farm Labor in California (Boston: Little, Brown, 1939); John Steinbeck, The 
Grapes ofWrath (New York: The Viking Press, 1939); and the tremendous volume of photographs 
generated by Roy Stryker, Dorothea Lange, and others photographers of the Farm Security 
Administration, which appeared in popular magazines and newspapers across the country. See Carl 
Fleischhauer and Beverly W. Brannan, (eds.), Documenting America, 1935-1943 (Berkeley: University 
of California Press, 1988). 

2 Mc Williams, Factories; James Gregory, American Exodus; The Dust Bowl Migration and Okie 
Culture in California (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989), 3-35; U.S., Congress, Senate, 
Committee on Education and Labor, Violations of Free Speech and Rights of Labor, reprint ed. (New 
York: Arno Press, 1975); Walter J. Stein, "A New Deal Experiment with Guided Democracy: The FSA 
Migrant Camps in California," Canadian Historical Papers 1970, 132-146; James Hamilton, 
"Educating Patriots, Recruiting Radicals: The Migrant Camp Newspaper at Arvin, California," 
Communication 13 (1993), 255-275. 

'More moved in the 1920s than in the 1930s, but circumstances had changed drastically. 
McWilliams, Factories, 7-8, 293; S. Rexford Black, Report on the California State Labor Camps (San 
Francisco: California State Unemployment Commission, 1932), 9; Don Mitchell, The Lie of the Land; 
Migrant Workers and the California Landscape (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996). 

4 See, for example, David Ralph Spencer, "Rhymes and Reasons: Canadian Victorian Labor 
Journalism and the Oral Tradition," Journal of Communication Inquiry 16 (Winter 1992): 72-90; and 
various essays in Hanno Hardt and Bonnie Brenncn. eds . Ntutuvrken, Toward a History of the Rank 
and File (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. 1995) 

5 For greater depth, see James Hamilton, "(Re)Wrmng Communities Dust-Bow! Migrant Identities 
and the Farm Security Administration Camp Newspaper at Arvin, California, 1938-1942," (Ph.D. 
diss., University of Iowa, 1993)- 

6With a similar intention, Todd Gitlin investigates the ft agmrntation of left politics in the last 25 
years, with the hope of identifying resources for its renewal See The Twilight of Common Dreams 
(New York: Metropolitan Books, 1995). See also David Trend, "Rethinking Media Activism: Why the 
Left is Losing the Culture War," Socialist Review 23:2 (1993): 5-33. 

7 Hyman Berman, "Communism and the Frontier Tradition," European Contributions to American 

98 Hamilton • Winter 1999 

Studies 16 (1989): 139, 148. See also Eric Foner, "Why is There No Socialism in the United States?," 
History Workshop Journal 17 (1984): 57-80. Agricultural radicals often aligned with various forms of 
anarchism, while industrial activists were more often aligned with collective action, and this difference 
has a long heritage. For an analysis of this conflict during the late 19th Century, see Theodore 
Saloutos, "Radicalism and the Agrarian Tradition," in Failure of a Dream? Essays in the History of 
American Socialism, rev. ed., John H.M. Laslett and Seymour Martin Lipsett, eds. (Berkeley: 
University of California Press, 1984), 52-81. 

8 Evidence of the continued problems includes Gregory, Exodus, 102-20; Susan Ferriss and Ricardo 
Sandoval, The Fight In The Fields: Caesar Chavez And The Farmworkers Movement (New York : 
Harcourt Brace, 1997); Richard Griswold del Castillo and Richard A. Garcia, Caesar Chavez: A 
Triumph Of Spirit (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1995); and Ronald B. Taylor, Chavezand 
the Farm Workers (Boston: Beacon Press 1975). An early bibliography of the movement is Beverly 
Fodell, Caesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers; A Selective Bibliography (Detroit: Wayne State 
University Press, 1974). 

The run of the Arvin camp newspaper is in places very sparse, due to uneven publication and 
somewhat haphazard preservation. Largely complimentary holdings of surviving issues are held at the 
National Archives-Pacific Sierra Region in San Bruno, California and at the University of California 
at Berkeley. 

l0 No end-date for the newspaper is listed in The National Union Catalog Pre- 1956 Imprints, v. 617 
(Chicago: American Library Association, 1979), 661. The most recent issue that can be located is 
dated 5 February 1942. 

"Camp Arvin was a continuation of an existing State of California camp. See State Relief 
Administration of California, Division of Special Surveys and Studies, Migratory Labor in California 
(San Francisco: State Relief Administration of California, 1936); Albert Crouch, Housing Migratory 
Agricultural Workers in California, 1919-1948 (Ph.D. diss., University of California, 1948; reprint San 
Francisco: Rand E Associates, 1975). 

12 Camp newspapers were circulated among the various camps. U.S. Department of Agriculture, 
Farm Security Administration, Report of the Farm Security Administration, 1941 (Washington, D.C.: 
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Farm Security Administration, 1941), 38; Jerome Wilcox, 
correspondence with Frederick Soule, 9 April and 12 April 1940; File 163-01, "Genl (Jan. to June 
1940] [1]"; General Correspondence, 1940-42; Farm Security Administration, San Francisco/ 
Berkeley; Records of the Farm Security Administration, Record Group 96; National Archives — Pacific 
Sierra Region, San Bruno, California [hereafter referred to as General Correspondence, FSA]; 
Katherine Deitz, "Community and Family Services Activities Described in Narrative Reports from 
Regions VI and XII, 1941"; File 934, "Jan 1935-1939 Dec. inclusive [1]"; General Correspondence, 
FSA. In an August 1936 report to FSA Region IX director Jonathon Garst, sociologist EricThomsen 
emphasized the importance of the pioneering efforts of Thomas Collins, the initial manager of Camp 
Arvin, in conceiving of and putting together not only the Camp Arvin educational program, but the 
value such efforts have for camps to follow: "I can't help [but] think of Collins' work as absolutely 
standard-forming; I can think of no possibility of setting up a desirable camp program for migratory 
workers anywhere which ignores the basic principles that govern Collins' work. . ." See Eric Thomsen, 
"Preliminary Report on Arvin Migratory Camp," 3 August 1936; File RF-CF-16-918, "Arvin, reports 
prior 7-1-40"; Coded Administration Camp Files, 1933-45 — Arvin; Farm Security Administration, 
San Francisco/Berkeley, Record Group 96, Records of the Farm Security Administration, National 
Archives — Pacific Sierra Region, San Bruno, California [hereafter cited as Arvin Camp Records]. For 
more on the educational program and its development, see Stein, "New Deal Experiment"; and 
Hamilton, "Educating Patriots." 

,3 Devra Weber, Dark Sweat, White Gold; California Farm Workers, Cotton, and the New Deal 
(Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994), 165, 181. 
"Weber, Dark Sweat, 153-161. 

15 Weber, Dark Sweat, 1 83; Linda C. Majka and Theo J. Majka, Farmworkers, Agribusiness, and the 
State (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1982), 128-129. 

"United States, Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Labor Unionism in American 
Agriculture, by Stuart Jamieson, Bulletin No. 836 (Washington: GPO, 1945; reprint New York: Arno 
Press, 1975); Cletus E. Daniel, Bitter Harvest; A History of California Farmworkers, 1870-1941 
(Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1981); and Majka and Majka, Farmworkers. 

l7 For example, James D. Starrt and William David Sloan argue that interpretations should arise 
from the material rather than be imposed upon it {Historical Methods in Mass Communication 

Winter 1999 • American Journalism 99 

(Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1989), 19-39). However, although this advice is in a more basic sense 
to not use a theory rigidly, the situation is more complex than these and other commentators make it 
out to be. How they decide which facts are more relevant than others is by relying on a theoretical 
perspective to sift the relevant from the non-relevant, however implicit that perspective may be. That 
all historical writing is from a theoretical perspective is persuasively argued in James A. Henretta, 
"Social History as Lived and Written," American Historical Review 84 (December 1979): 1293-1323; 
Hanno Hardt and Bonnie Brennen, "Introduction: Communication and the Question of History," 
Communication Theory 3 (May 1993), 130-136; and Hanno Hardt, "Without the Rank and File: 
Journalism History, Media Workers, and Problems of Representation," in Hardt and Brennen, eds., 
Newsworkers, 1-29- 

18 Examples of traditional perspectives used in similar topics include John Stevens, "From Behind 
Barbed Wire: Freedom of the Press in World War II Japanese Center," Journalism Quarterly 48 
(Summer 1971): 279-287; Jay Friedlander, "Journalism Behind Barbed Wire, 1941-1942: An 
Arkansas Relocation Camp Newspaper," Journalism Quarterly 62:2 (1985): 243-246, 271; and Lauren 
Kessler, "Fettered Freedoms: The Journalism of World War II Japanese Internment Camps," 
Journalism History 15:2/3 (1988): 70-79. 

"Of course, there are many cultural perspectives, and quite a number of disagreements between 
them. Among the many discussions, see Paul Duncum, "Approaches to Cultural Analysis," Journal of 
American Culture 10:2 (1987): 1-15; Stuart Hall, "The Rediscovery of 'Ideology': Return of the 
Repressed in Media Studies," in Culture, Society and the Media, reprint ed. (New York and London: 
Routledge, 1988), 56-90; and Raymond Williams, "The Uses of Cultural Theory," New Left Review 
158 Ouly/August 1986): 19-31. 

20 James Carey, "A Cultural Approach to Communication," in Communication and Culture (Boston: 
Unwin Hyman, 1989), 18-19. 

2l Although a variety of cultural approaches are gaining currency, most studies in journalism history 
work from behaviorist, functionalist, or idealist perspectives, explicitly or not. See Hanno Hardt, 
"Newsworkers, Technology, and Journalism History," Critical Studies in Mass Communication 7 
(1990): 346-365. Of relevance to this study is the work of Raymond Williams — in particular 
Marxism and Literature (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977) — and of the Bakhtin Circle and 
commentaries upon it, especially Mikhail Bakhtin, The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays, ed. Michael 
Holquist, transl. Caryl Emerson and Michael Holquist (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1981), V.N. 
Voloshinov, Marxism and the Philosophy of Language, transl. Ladislav Matejka and I.R. Titunik 
(Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1986), and Michael Gardiner, The Dialogics of Critique; M.M. 
Bakhtin and the Theory of Ideology (London: Routledge, 1992). 

"Williams, Marxism and Literature, 187-188. 

"Ibid., 166. 


25 Ibid., 165. 

"Consistent with the notion that communication simply reflects reality, Gregory cites traditional 
structural-functional, Parsonian sources for his conceptions of culture and ethnicity. See Gregory, 
American Exodus, 304, fn 30. 

27 Most edited collections are a result of this preference. An example is "Yours for the Revolution"; 
The Appeal to Reason, 1895-1922 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1990), which is a valuable 
collection of essays, but not of alternative forms. Of course, collections of labor songs of the 1930s 
exist, such as Alan Lomax, ed., Hard-Hitting Songs for Hard-Hit People (New York: Oak Publications, 
1967), but they await their Eric Foner and their version of Foner's work American Labor Songs of the 
Nineteenth Century (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1975), and they are generally not addressed 
as part of a scholarly exploration into working-class consciousness. A landmark study that takes this 
view is E.P. Thompson, The Making of the English Working Class (New York: Vintage, 1966). 

28 odd Gitlin makes a similar point when addressing the cultural role of rock-and-roll music in the 
student movements of the 1960s. See Gitlin, The Sixties; Years of Hope, Days of Rage (New York: 
Bantam, 1987), esp. 195-221. 

"Gabriel Kolko, Main Currents in Modern American History (New York: Harper and Row, 1976; 
reprint, New York: Pantheon Books, 1984), 147. 

3C Standard works include David Brundage, The Making of Western Labor Radicalism: Denver's 
Organized Workers, 1878-1905 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994); Melvyn Dubofsky, We 
Shall Be All; A History of the Industrial Workers of the World (Chicago: Quadrangle Books, 1969); and 

1 00 Hamilton • Winter 1999 

Philip Foner, The Industrial Workers of the World, 1905-1917 (New York: International Publishers, 
1965)- Cultural investigations include Stewart Bird, Dan Georgakas, and Deborah Shaffer, Solidarity 
Forever: An Oral History of the IWW (Chicago: Lake View Press, 1985), and Salvatore Salerno, Red 
November, Black November: Culture and Community in the Industrial Workers of the World (Albany: 
State University of New York Press, 1989). Of particular relevance to the topic of this study are such 
sources as Songs of the Workers: On the Road in the Jungles and in the Shops (Spokane: The Industrial 
Worker, [191-?]) and The Complete Joe Hill Song Book (Stockholm: Prisma/FIBs Lyrikklubb, 1969). 

3l Majka and Majka, Farm Workers, 74, 85; and Vicki L. Ruiz, Cannery Women, Cannery Lives; 
Mexican Women, Unionization, and the California Food Processing Industry, 1930-1950 (Albuquerque: 
University of New Mexico Press, 1987). 

32 Bitter Harvest; 258-261, 273-281. 

33 Mc Williams, Factories; Paul S. Taylor and Tom Vasey, "Historical Background of California Farm 
Labor," Rural Sociology 1 (June 1936), 281-295; Paul S. Taylor and Tom Vasey, "Contemporary 
Background of California Farm Labor," Rural Sociology 1 (December 1936), 401, 404; Alan L. 
Olmstead and Paul Rhode, "An Overview of California Agricultural Mechanization, 1870-1930," 
Agricultural History 62 (Summer 1988), 86-1 12. 

34 McWilliams, Factories. 

35 Jamieson, Labor Unionism, Daniel, Bitter Harvest, Majka and Majka, Farm Workers. 

3 'Sidney Baldwin, Poverty and Politics; The Rise and Decline of the Farm Security Administration 
(Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1968). 

37 Klehr points out that, despite the important alliance of Comintern with the CIO during the 
1930s, its role could hardly be described as dominant or even unproblematic. See Harvey Klehr, The 
Heyday of American Communism; The Depression Decade (New York: Basic Books, 1984), 136-146, 
223-251- See also Harvey A. Levenstein, Communism, Anti-Communism, and the CIO (Westport: 
Greenwood, 1981.) 

38 Majka and Majka, Farmworkers, 128-129. 

3, James L. McCamy, Government Publicity; Its Practice in Federal Administration (Chicago: 
University of Chicago Press, 1939). 

40 Elliott Shore, Talkin Socialism: J.A. Wayland and the Role of the Press in American Radicalism, 
1890-1912 (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1988), 94-1 14. 

41 Hamilton, "Educating Patriots"; Stein, "New Deal Experiment." 

42 EricThomsen, "Why Plan Security for the Migratory Laborer?" (paper presented to the 
California Conference of Social Work, San Jose, 12 May 1937), National Agricultural Library, 
Bethesda, Maryland. The global case is summarized in Eric Hobsbawm, The Age of Extremes (New 
York: Pantheon, 1994), 85-108. 

43 Stein, "New Deal Experiment"; Hamilton, "Educating Patriots." 

"Baldwin, Poverty and Politics. 

45 Stein, "New Deal Experiment," 133; Mc Williams, Factories, 294-300. 

46 The overall situation (from a reformer's point of view) is described in McWilliams, Factories, 152- 

47 By 1938, the economy was sluggishly recovering from a recession, and by 1939 Congress was 
moving aggressively to dismantle the New Deal. See William E. Leuchtenberg, Franklin D. Roosevelt 
and the New Deal 1932-1940 (New York: Harper and Row, 1963), 265-272. 

46 "Camp to Have a Weekly Paper" Weedpatch Cultivator, 2 September 1938, 1. "Weed Patch" was 
the name of the camp when it was under state management. 

^Weedpatch Cultivator, 2 September 1938, 1. Direct quotations from the newspaper are quoted or 
referred to insofar as they exemplify the use of specific forms. They are reproduced verbatim, except in 
cases were minimal clarification in punctuation or spelling is needed. 

50 Ibid. 

51 Ibid.; Katherine Dietz, "Some Worthwhile Things a Council Can Do," File 934, "[Jan. 1940-May 
1940]"; General Correspondence, FSA. 

"Jerome Wilcox to Frederick Soule, 12 April 1940, file 163-01, "Genl [Jan. to June 1940] [1]," 
General Correspondence, FSA. 

Winter 1999 • American Journalism 101 

"Charles Todd, "The 'Okies" Search for a Lost Frontier," The New York Times Magazine, 27 August 
1939: 10-1 1, 17; Frederick Soule to John Fischer, 2 August 1939, File 160, "Public Relations, 
General, Jan. 1939-Dec. 1939," General Correspondence, FSA. 

54 R.L. Adams, "Agricultural Labor Requirements and Supply, Kern County," (Berkeley: Giannini 
Foundation of Agricultural Economics, 1940), 6; Irving Bernstein, Turbulent Years: A History of the 
American Worker, 1933-1941 (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1969) 144; Frederick Soule to Jerome 
Wilcox, 19 October 1939, file RF-CF-25-160, "Arvin; Public relations," Arvin Camp Records; Fred 
W. Ross to Frederick Soule, 29 September 1939, file RF-CF-25-160, "Arvin; Public relations," Arvin 
Camp Records. 

"Majka and Majka, Farm Workers, 111, 127-129; Weber, Dark Sweat, 164-165- 
5<; Ibid. Examples of privately held sentiments suppressed publicly include Collins' refusal to review 
Mc Williams' book Factories in the Field. See Thomas Collins to L.W Harvison, 15 September 1939, 
file 160, "Public Relations, General, Jan. 1939-Dec. 1939," General Correspondence. Unofficially, 
however, Factories in the Field and The Grapes ofWrath were highly regarded by the FSA. See Frederick 
Soule to John Fischer, 2 August 1939; and John Fischer to Frederick Soule, 1 June 1939, 8 August 
1939, and 8 September 1939, File 160, "Public Relations, General, Jan. 1939-Dec. 1939," General 

57 Frederick Soule to Jerome Wilcox, 4 December 1939, File 163-01, "Newspapers and magazines, 
article and press releases, Jan. 1939-Dec. 1939," General Correspondence. 

58 Walter Stein, California and the Dust Bowl Migration (Wesport: Greenwood Press, 1973), 252. 
Birkhimer and his family had been in California for three years, and he had started a chapter of the 
Workers' Alliance at Camp Indio in 1938. "Wage Hearing is Held," untitled letter, Towsack Tattler, 29 
September 1939, 4; "This and That," Towsack Tattler, 6 October 1939, 9. 

"Sam Birkhimer, "Our Strike," Towsack Tattler, 28 October 1939, 4-5; Birkhimer, "Our Strike," 17 
November 1939, 5- 

'"Gregory, American Exodus, 1 4 1 - 1 42 . 
"Weber, Dark Sweat, 137-151. 
"Ibid., 150-154. 

63 James Bright Wilson, "Social Attitudes of Certain Migratory Agricultural Workers in Kern 
County, California" (MA. thesis, University of Southern California, 1942). 

"Ibid., 277. 

65 "Shafter- Wasco potatoe [sic] district, Kern Co. 5-6/36"; folder "History of AFL Agricultural 
Unions"; carton 6, "FSA"; Simon J. Lubin Society Papers, Bancroft Library, University of California, 

"Wilson, "Social Attitudes," 322-343. 

67 Guthrie uttered this phrase often. One place it appeared in the camp paper was in untitled, Tow- 
Sack Tattler, 28 October 1939, 3. 

68 Majka and Majka, Farm Workers, 130-132; Sheila Goldring Manes, "Depression Pioneers: The 
Conclusion of an American Odyssey; Oklahoma to California, 1930-1950, A Reinterpretation," 
(Ph.D. dissertation, University of California, Los Angeles, 1982), 3; and Wilson, "Social Attitudes." 

65 Wilson, "Social Attitudes," 332-333; John Diggins, The Rise and Fall of the American Left (New 
York: Norton, 1992), 173-174; Levenstein, Communism, 36. 

70 "Be What You Is," Weed Patch Cultivator, 1 1 November 1938, 1. This poem appeared widely in 
other migrant labor camp newspapers. See Gregory, American Exodus, 1 52. 

7, "Leave It In Jesus's Hand," Weed Patch Cultivator, 12 May 1939, 2. Early in the camp's existence, 
manager Tom Collins also commented in a weekly report on the religious core of migrant fatalism: 
"The campers 'Trust in the Lord.' That is good of course, [. . .] However we cannot encourage them 
to become dependent with the hope that the ravens will feed them or that Jonah will come along with 
his whale and swallow all their troubles." See Thomas Collins, "Kern Migratory Labor Camp, Report 
for week ending March 7, 1936," 7; file RF CF 26 918-01, "Arvin [Report] [March 1936]"; Arvin 
Camp Records. 

72 "To Them This May Concern," Weed Patch Cultivator, 21 October 1938, 1. 

73 "'A Grumbler'," Weed Patch Cultivator, 1 1 November 1938, 2. 

74 "Prize for Best Poem or Idea," Tow-Sack Tattler, 24 August 1939, 1. 

1 02 Hamilton • Winter 1 999 

""'Wandering'," Weed Patch Cultivator, 21 October 1938, 2. 

7<s Untitled, Weed Patch Cultivator, 21 October 1938, 2. Another example is "What Do They Say!," 
Weed Patch Cultivator, 25 November 1938, 2. The religious nature of migrant culture is noted in 
depth by Wilson, "Social Attitudes," 359-375, and summarily by Gregory, American Exodus, 150. 
Such items appeared most often during major Christian holidays. For examples, see "'Bible Reading'," 
Weed Patch Cultivator, 30 December 1938, 2; "Bible reading for the week:- Acts-20-19 to 21," Weed 
Patch Cultivator, 27 January 1939, 3; and "Bible Reading of the Week," Weed Patch Cultivator, 3 
February 1939, 3. 

^"Here Goes don't Git in a Hurry and Stracks Back," Tow-Sack Tattler, 6 October 1939, 4. 

78 Untitled, Tow-Sack Tattler, 6 October 1939, 4. 

''Untitled, Tow-Sack Tattler, 20 October 1939, 3- Woody Guthrie, who noted that he had "made 
the Arvin Camp lots of times with the old trusty guitar, and listened to the Campers sing in their 
churches and at their dances, and pie suppers and speakins," later set this verse to music. In a 
published collection of songs in which it was included, Guthrie mentioned hearing "a little fourteen 
year old boy's poem called 'I'd Ruther To Die on My Feet than Live on My Knees . . .' Can you beat 
that? No, you can't. It leapt out of this boy's mind like a young mountain lion, and the road was lined 
with cops in their big black sedans, laughing, grunting, and talking, and a listening to jazz music on 
their radios." The 14-year-old boy — George Tapp — also authored the cited poem. See Lomax, 
Hard Hitting Songs, 225- 

80 "Join the Union," Tow-Sack Tattler, 28 October 1939, 16; "'Greenback Dollar' (streamlined)," 
Tow-Sack Tattler, 11 November 1939, 4. 

81 It was signed "composed by Bill Kindle, Omah Colo and Ruby Rains." See "Associated Farmer 
Has a Farm," Tow-Sack Tattler, 17 November 1939, 7. It was Guthrie's tactic as well to "take old folk 
songs or tunes and write new words to them and to rework the melody when necessary." See Guy 
Logsdon, introduction to Woody Sez, by Woody Guthrie (New York: Grosset and Dunlap, 1975), xiv. 

"Untitled, Tow-Sack Tattler, 1 1 November 1939, 10. As Guthrie was an accomplished illustrator in 
the homey style of this illustration, it is likely that Guthrie drew it and signed it. At least one notice 
appeared of an impending visit of Guthrie and Hollywood actor Will Geer to the Arvin Camp. See 
"Woody and Gear [sic] to Entertain," Tow-Sack Tattler, 22 September 1939, 2. 

83 " Weekly Letter from the Editor," Tow-Sack Tattler, 6 October 1939, 2; "Weekly Letter from the 
Editor," Tow-Sack Tattler, 13 October 1939, 4. 

""Editor's Weekly Letter," Tow-Sack Tattler, 20 October 1939, 2. 

85 "Cotton Fever," Tow-Sack Tattler, 24 August 1939, 5- Cotton was weighed and pickers were paid 
by "hundredweight" — 100 pounds of picked cotton. The common price for a hundredweight was 
75 cents, hence the "six bits." The "tow-sack" of the newspaper's title is the fabric bag dragged by the 
picker in which picked cotton was placed prior to dumping it out to get paid. 

86 For example, see "Pea Picking Blues," 8 September 1939, 1; and "Just Around the Corner," Tow- 
Sack Tattler, 29 September 1939, 3. 

87 "Only the Kept Press," Tow-Sack Tattler, 8 September 1939, 3- 

88 Levenstein, Communism (68) notes that Lewis lent little support to the UCAPAWA. In January 
1938, he stopped CIO aid. 

8 'Bert Cochran, Labor and Communism; The Conflict that Shaped American Unions (Princeton: 
Princeton University Press, 1977), 143-144. An able overview is Anthony J. Badger, The New Deal; 
The Depression Years, 1933-1940 (New York: Noonday, 1989), 286-290; Ruiz, Cannery Women, 55; 
Daniel, Bitter Harvest, 281. 

'"Baldwin, Poverty and Politics, 325-33 1 . The FSA's stance toward its programs can be labeled one 
of "careful liberalism" — meaning advocating change, but without antagonizing and putting into 
danger its increasingly scarce Congressional support. The source of the phrase (and a brief overview of 
the administrative milieu of the FSA) is Nicholas Alfred Natanson, "Politics, Culture and the FSA 
Black Image" (Ph.D. diss., University of Iowa, 1988), 100. 

"Jamieson, Labor Unionism. 

Winter 1999 • American Journalism 103 

104 Winter 1999 

1998 Presidential Address 

The Historiographical Tradition 
in 20th Century America 

By James D. Startt 

Editor's Note: This President's Address was delivered on October 22, 1 998 at the annual 
convention of the American Journalism Historians Association in Louisville, Kentucky. 

Reports of the death of history, to paraphrase Mark Twain 
are greatly exaggerated. 1 Evidence to the contrary is over- 
whelming. Consider the public reaction to the Smith- 
sonian's exhibit on the Enola Gay and the end of World War II, or to the 
recent report of the National Council for History Standards. 2 In fact, 
we encounter proof that history lives every day. The Constitution says 
this, or our Founding Fathers believed that, or moving farther back in 
time, Rome fell because of this. How often have we heard such state- 
ments? Or how often have we heard Mr. Everyman say, "History proves 
that. . . ." As Gerda Lerner comments: "All human beings are practic- 
ing historians." 3 

There is, of course, no reason to think that ordinary references to 
history are always wrong nor that references by scholars are always 
correct. Nevertheless, myths about the past and history, invented for 
purposes either innocent or ill, seem to acquire a reality of their own. 
Misconceptions about the past abound, and knowledge about it is far 
from complete. Considering the vastness of human experience, it could 
not be otherwise, but that is no reason to think that one version of 
history is as good as another. The state of present knowledge about the 
past and adherence to the standards that assure each generation the 
opportunity of knowing it make the difference. Historiography, used 
here to mean the practice and principles of history, is about making that 
difference. 4 

James D. Startt, Past President of the American Journalism Historians Association, is Senior 
Research Professor of History at Valparaiso University. 

Winter 1999 • American Journalism 105 

What Constitutes the Practice of History? 

As historians we think seriously about history more than most 
people do, but not more than we should. The same is true of historiogra- 
phy, for few people pause to consider all that constitutes the practice of 
history. That alone is an involved topic, but by restricting it to mean the 
practice and principles associated with the practice of history, we reduce it 
to manageable dimensions. Moreover, that limited meaning makes it 
difficult to refute the claim that historians are "almost always historiogra- 
phers." 5 Of course we are, since we are aware of how we function in our 

In fact, we work at the current edge of an old historiographical 
tradition with modern roots in this country going back to the late 19th 
century and perhaps earlier. Since it influences our conscious effort to 
engage our subject, consideration of that tradition is always pertinent for 
historians. Where to start? Colonial Americans wrote a number of 
histories, but they were mostly of the "saintly" or promotional variety. 
The idea of mission that flourished in those histories would not be lost on 
a later generation of American writers. Nevertheless, the modern historio- 
graphical tradition had its origin elsewhere. 

Historiography's Roots in Greece 

It has roots traceable to ancient Greece. They reach back to 
Herodotus and his famous history, The Persian Wars, which he wrote to 
preserve "the remembrance of what men have done." 6 In modern times, 
Renaissance and Enlightenment scholars broke the hold religion had 
gained over history in subsequent centuries and put into place elements 
that would endure in its modern shape. We find, for instance, an En- 
lightenment historian like David Hume beginning his famous History of 
England with the promise that he would disregard "fables" and concen- 
trate on those parts of history that can be "well ascertained." 7 Hume's 
great contemporary, Edward Gibbon, concurred with that sentiment and 
declared in his Autobiography that "Truth — naked, unblushing truth" 
must be "the first virtue of . . . serious history." 8 Gibbon's monumental 
Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, one of the greatest historical works 
in the English language, took him 20 years to research and write, and it 
proves that the Age of Reason, which he personified, was also an age of 
elegant style. His great work explored how institutions change over time, 
included multiple causation, and offered interpretation. 9 Consequently, 

1 06 1998 Presidential Address • Winter 1 999 

by the 19th century, an historic-graphical tradition began to acquire some 
of the elements of shape familiar to us — focus on the object, the separa- 
tion of history from philosophy, religion and fable, the search for truth 
about the past, the presentation of history as a time conditioned inquiry, 
and history as an interpretative but documented subject. 

The European influence on the writing of American history has 
continued to this day, and it was present in the 19th century, "The 
Golden Age of History." 10 American history flourished during the 
"Golden Age," and while not discounting the European influence, it 
manifested a genius of its own. Historians like George Bancroft and 
Francis Parkman elevated history in this country to unprecedented levels. 
These romantic-nationalist, patrician historians allowed current concepts 
about nation and national mission to frame their historical consciousness, 
and their works had powerful appeal. They reflected rigorous research 
and skilled literary artistry and have lasting appeal, but were they objec- 
tive? Toward the end of the century, a new group of historians gained 
ascendancy and answered that question with a resounding "No." 

Introducing Scientific History 

These historians rejected the specious, dramatic history of their 
patrician predecessors in favor of a more scientific explanation of the past. 
Writing at a time when industry and urbanization were transforming the 
nation and when the country was rising as a young power in the commu- 
nity of states, these scholars sought to make history one of the growing 
number of professionalizing inquiries. Moreover, the great expansion of 
education at that time, especially in colleges and graduate schools, 
afforded them the opportunity to do so. Like so much else at the time, 
education acquired the prefix "new," and "new" meant scientific. To be 
modern was to be scientific, and in education this impulse extended into 
non scientific areas. 

The new, "professional" or scientific historians, in contrast to the 
"amateurs" of previous generations, found in the expanding graduate 
schools an opportunity to devote themselves to full-time teaching and 
writing, and under the banner of science they guided history into a more 
narrow, in-depth, record and archive based enterprise. They introduced 
the graduate seminar in history; in 1884 they inaugurated the American 
Historical Association; in 1895, the American Historical Review. 11 Influ- 
enced by a number of European historians such as Henry Thomas Buckle, 
Jacob Burckhardt, and mainly Leopold von Ranke, they became preoccu- 
pied with objectivity, preferred dealing with institutions rather than 

Winter 1 999 • American Journalism 107 

individuals, and chose to write specific monographs rather than the 
sweeping historical narratives of the Parkman type. 

The scientific historians thought of their work in contrast to that of 
the older (or "old-fashioned") writers. Now historians examined a wide 
variety of original sources in which they attempted to separate truthful 
from questionable evidence. They claimed to march in step with the 
"scientific and realistic spirit of the age in which" they lived. 12 In their 
works, a progressive national theme can be detected, and with the passing 
of years their scope became somewhat wider than later critics would 
acknowledge. 13 It should also be noted that some of the historians who 
wrote major works at the end of the century (e. g., James Ford Rhodes 
and Theodore Roosevelt) cannot be considered members of the profes- 
sional guild. It is, indeed, easy to exaggerate when discussing any school 
of historians and the history written at the time it flourished. The same 
can be said of Ranke, whom the early scientific historians so admired. 
Latter day historians have often portrayed him in too narrow terms. His 
greatest works were much broader than they allowed. 

Regardless, having established history as an autonomous academic 
field, the scientific historians discovered that they could not agree about 
the identity that history should have. Some preferred to identify them- 
selves as social scientists and to pursue a focused and presentist study of 
"the State at rest" and "the State in action." 14 They formed the American 
Political Science Association in 1904. Others, though a minority, resisted 
departure but considered themselves social scientists within history's ranks 
with a mission to ally history to the social sciences. 15 James Harvey 
Robinson was their vanguard. In 1912, he published The New History in 
which he argued that historians should approach the past in a selective 
way that would allow it to serve the present, that rather than concentrat- 
ing on political events they should broaden the scope of their inquiries, 
and that they should "utilize the tools and concepts of the social scien- 
tists." 16 Like their more conservative associates, they did not question the 
scientific base of history, nor did they think that the incompleteness and 
relativity of the historical record made history less than scientific. In fact, 
it had only been scientific if the word "science" was softened. 

Scientific history was more of a common sense, realistic approach to 
the past, and at a time when libraries and archives were growing, it was 
based on comprehensively gathered and examined material. As one of its 
founders put it, history was "truth about Conditions and Causes under 
which and because of any person, institution, custom, or what-you-please 
originated, developed, attained maturity, decayed. . . ." 17 Once the 

1 08 1998 Presidential Address • Winter 1 999 

New Historians tried to depart from the quasi-scientific persuasions of 
their elders, they were in trouble. Searching for specific laws, for scientific 
uniformities, in history, they pushed the claims of scientific history too 
far. Moreover, the contradiction between probing for history's regularities 
while subordinating the pail to the present confused their cause. 18 

The New History Stresses Relativism 

Their plight worsened as the relativist persuasion of Carl Becker 
gained credence. Already in 1910 he began to turn his skepticism on the 
foundation of scientific history and later made it the subject of his well- 
known 1931 Presidential Address to the American Historical Association 
(AHA), "Everyman His Own Historian." 19 The cultural disillusionment 
following World War I, confusions emanating from the Great Depression, 
and the misuse of science practiced in Nazi Germany, called into question 
confidence in scientific approaches to history, and stimulated interest in a 
more relativist probing of the past. 

Even the powerful spokesman of progressive history, Charles Beard, 
came to bemoan the cause of the scientific history he had once champi- 
oned. Now he insisted that the Rankean historical method was bankrupt. 
"Slowly it dawns" upon the practitioners of that method, he said, that 
"the human mind and the method employed were not competent to the 
appointed task . . . that if all human affairs were reduced to law ... a 
chief end of the quest, that is, human control over human occurrences 
and actions, would itself become meaningless. Should mankind discover 
the law of its total historical unfolding, then it would be imprisoned in its 
own fate . . ." 20 

Nevertheless, the New History, with its stress on relativism, present- 
mindedness, and on discovering the deeper forces that caused political 
and social change, did enliven the debate about the shape of history. It 
also distorted that debate. Objectivity versus subjectivity, the real past 
versus the presentist past, and other such parings of opposites exaggerate 
positions. All such terms rest on definition; few of the historians Beard 
attacked had the positivist views of history that he suggested. 

Controversy May Be Overstated 

In retrospect, it is easy to overstate the place of controversies about 
the methodology of the New History in shaping the practice of history in 
this country during the first half of the 20th century. First of all, there is 

Winter 1999 • American Journalism 109 

the term the New History to question. Its origins can be found among 
historians writing before Robinson, and it might be more accurate to label 
most of his renowned contemporaries "progressive historians." Among 
them were scholars like Frederick Jackson Turner, Charles A. Beard, and 
Vernon Louis Parrington who did for the historiographical tradition, as 
Richard Hofstadter argued, what the muckrakers did for journalism. 2 ' In 
the case of history, however, their progressive spirit remained predomi- 
nant. The retreat from idealism and the widespread materialism of the 
1 920s and the great economic travail of the 1 930s encouraged the 
reformist bent of their writing until the eve of World War II. 

Ironically, at the very time that the progressives' fondness for 
stressing economic and political conflict in history became increasingly 
unrealistic, it was Beard who demonstrated the limits of relativism by his 
intemperate attacks on the Roosevelt administration, his failure to 
understand that Hitlerian aggression in Europe was a concern of the 
United States, and by his severe defense of isolationism. Thus, the New 
History and progressive history, if a separation of terms is preferred, 
ground to a halt with the return of world war. Some historians, more- 
over, never did fit well into either category. Allan Nevins, for example, 
the classic case of a journalist becoming an historian, emerged as a leading 
figure among historians in the 1930s and wrote about business and 
political leaders in an appreciative way uncommon to the progressive 

There are other historiographical developments of this half century 
that deserve recognition. There is the obvious expanding of the scope of 
American history to acknowledge. During this 50 year period, for 
instance, political, diplomatic, and economic history flourished and 
gained broader definition while fields like intellectual, social, and labor 
history experienced significant growth. Important work contributed to 
the growing maturity of black history and women's history. Biographies 
were numerous and popular. New scholarship stimulated interest in fields 
like journalism history. 22 Did the work of the great systematizers of 
history like Oswald Spengler and Arnold Toynbee, which gained influence 
in Europe after World War I, have a transatlantic impact? No. They may 
have attracted interest, but most American historians resisted the deter- 
minism and reductionism implicit in those grand theories. 

The case of the influence of Marxism was different due to economic 
conditions that begged for explanation and to the progressive historians' 
fondness for economic and conflict interpretations. Marxism did have 
some influence, mostly indirect and not in its complete form. Some 

110 1998 Presidential Address • Winter 1 999 

American scholars used parts of his theories in their interpretations and 
responded to his emphasis on economics. But they shied away from his 
dialectic materialism and the timeless, universal, and revolutionary 
contentions of full-blown Marxism. As Carl Becker put it, "I have no 
faith in the infallibility of any man, or any group of men, or of the 
doctrines or dogmas of any man or group of men, except in so far as they 
can stand the test of free criticism and analysis." 23 Even Charles Beard, 
renowned for his Economic Interpretation of the Constitution, denied that 
his work was based on Marx. 24 The great portion of the expanding 
American history occurred with the help of orthodox methodology. 

Journalists Expand the Public Appeal of History 

Another development apparent by 1950 deserving of attention was 
the fate of the historical narrative. Although the great narrative historians 
wrote until the end of the 19th century, their style of writing failed to last 
in the 20th. The early scientific historians, moreover, had a dulling effect 
on history as literature. Already in 1912, Theodore Roosevelt addressed 
this trend in his 1912 AHA Presidential Address. He deplored the way 
science was deadening history and stated that the great appeal of a work 
of history was "as a masterpiece of literature." 25 While it is fair to say that 
a pedantic trend had appeared and would continue in historical writing, 
some of the leaders of the discipline resisted it. Without trying to emu- 
late the Bancrofts and Parkmans, they insisted that good literary quality 
be a standard of historical literature. Thomas A. Bailey, Samuel Eliot 
Morison, Allan Nevins, the young Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., Walter 
Prescott Webb, and C. Vann Woodward were among the historians 
writing at this time who exemplified that idea. 

Moreover, after World War I, a new audience of "middlebrow" 
readers who appreciated nonfiction emerged. This afforded historians a 
wonderful opportunity to widen their outreach. Some did, but it was 
journalists who led in responding to this opportunity. Their production 
of history and biography in the decades after World War I was remark- 
able. The name Carl Sandburg, of course, comes to mind, for his biogra- 
phy of Lincoln is a modern classic. Among others were: Frederick Lewis 
Allen, Claude Bowers, Wilbur J. Cash, Douglas Southall Freeman, 
Marquis James, Walter Millis, George Fort Milton, and Henry Pringle. 
They all wrote outstanding history or biography while holding respon- 
sible positions in journalism — a tribute to their industry and to their 
passion for history. 26 

Winter 1999 • American Journalism 1 1 1 

It is apparent that by mid-century history had acquired its modern 
20th century shape. Having assumed a secure place in academe, it also 
appealed to a wide public audience. World War I may have been the 
formative event of the century and did stimulate interest in history, but 
World War II popularized it far more. Curiosity about that war and its 
causes, the country's assumption of greater international responsibilities, 
and the opening of the cold war helped history to resonate among the 
informed public. As college enrollments surged thanks to postwar 
prosperity and the GI Bill, the size and number of history classes 
mounted. Their place in college curricula reflected their acquired shape. 
Except as a matter of convenience, they were listed neither as humanities 
nor social sciences. 

Practice proved that history was more method than science, more 
interpretative than theory, more inductive than deductive in its reasoning, 
and more factual than creative in its narration — though it enjoyed kinship 
with all of these opposites. 27 If historians now questioned the belief in 
progress of their 1 9th century predecessors, they remained optimistic in 
their writing. And, in the spirit of Edward Gibbon, they still believed in 
truth as a guide and object of history. "No person without an inherent 
loyalty to truth, a high degree of intellectual honesty, and a sense of 
balance, can be a great or even a good historian. Truth about the past is 
the essence of history and historical biography. . . ," Samuel Eliot 
Morison told the American Historical Association in 1950. 28 

Consensus History Emerges 

All considered, history's place in American society and culture 
appeared settled and secure in the postwar years. Its content, moreover, 
seemed to reflect the current mood of the country as its prewar progres- 
sive spirit waned. The belief grew among historians that progressive 
history with its prevailing theme of internal conflict had ill-prepared the 
nation to grasp the significance of the totalitarian movements of the 
1920s and 1930s. The belief that the present needed a different historical 
grounding led Samuel Eliot Morison to declare: "The age of 'debunking' 
has passed, ... a new generation both here and in Europe is sounding 
and elucidating national and sectional traditions. But much harm was 
done, and little good." 29 Although a liberal historian himself, Morison 
claimed that balance should be a hallmark of history, that the liberal 
interpretation had too long guided history, and that the country now 
needed a "sanely conservative" but not "nostalgic" writing of history. 30 

112 1998 Presidential Address • Winter 1 999 

Perhaps ideas do have a history of their own and pass out of fashion; 
perhaps the prewar progressives' association with isolationism discredited 
their cause; perhaps the idea of national unity needed to be stressed as the 
cold war continued; perhaps after all they had experienced in the last 20 
years, Americans needed to rediscover past traditions suggesting unity, 
continuity, and consensus rather than discord. Thus there occurred an 
historiographical turn toward a more positive view of the past, personified 
by historians like Daniel Boorstin and Clinton Rossiter. It had been 
prefigured earlier. 31 Of course, no single idea represents historical 
thought of any time no more than a single idea expresses the thought of 
any decade or generation, but a conservative or "consensus" view of 
history ascended to redirect its basic shape. That ascendancy would be 

Consensus history fit the first period of postwar American life, from 
1945 into the early 1950s, but it encountered stormy times during the 
ensuing years. Between the mid 1950s and the mid 1970s, new forces 
emerged to challenge and divide the national mood that consensus history 
reflected. 32 A spirit of reform with a rebellious edge grew and became 
more radical as the 1960s proceeded. If the cold war was the central 
international event for Americans at that time, the civil rights movement 
was its domestic equivalent. It occupied a pivotal position in the nation's 
thought and action, and as it struck against segregation, it vitalized or 
revitalized other reform movements. By the end of the 1 960s a strong 
women's liberation movement appeared that would soon produce dra- 
matic social changes. Peace, poverty and the environment all became 
targets of reform and often inspired protest demonstrations. As the 
Vietnam conflict escalated, politics became more confrontational and a 
"counterculture" youth movement that attacked many traditional values 
gathered momentum. 

New Left Historians Emphasize Conflict 

Much of the temperament of the '60s appeared in the practice of 
history as it did in other disciplines. Between the early years of the 
century when the New History appeared with its progressive thrust until 
World War II, discord and insurgency had been a major part of the 
nation's history, but the post World War II consensus historians 
deemphasized it. Now a group of New Left historians emerged who 
wanted to restore themes of conflict, struggle, and exploitation to Ameri- 
can history. These historians, William Appleman Williams, Walter La 

Winter 1999 • American Journalism 1 13 

Feber, Staughton Lynd and others, probed into diplomatic as well as 
domestic history, and in some cases they searched for a usable, radical past 
to serve as a political weapon against present maladjustments of society. 

Never a homogeneous group, the New Left declined as a group in 
time, but their passion and spirit can be detected in later causes historians 
championed. Unlike historians who promoted other causes, most of the 
New Left historians remained traditional in terms of methodology. 
Historians involved in black history and especially women's history were 
more willing to experiment with new techniques and approaches to 
history. While the expanding social interests associated with the '60s 
broadened the scope of history, the sequence of new approaches emerging 
threatened to change its character. 

Judging from the number of fields of history that acquired the 
adjective "new" to their name, a wave of newness appeared to be sweeping 
through the contours of the inquiry. In part, this can be explained by the 
nature of the generational feeling widespread among the youth of that 
time, and in part it can be seen as a response to recent historical events. 
Already in 1953, Hannah Arendt went so far as to pronounce that history 
was unable to provide understanding of the then present evil of totalitari- 
anism since it was a world movement without precedent that exposed to 
ruin traditional "categories of thought and standards of judgment." 33 
Although extreme, her statement captured the turn of mind a number of 
historians were experiencing. 34 

Examining the "Precariousness of Human Effort" 

In pursuit of new problems in history or new answers to old ones, 
many historians were attracted to new methodologies and approaches 
being advanced by other disciplines. Acceptance of these practices, 
however, was far from complete and would occasion debates among 
historians for the next several decades. Specifically, the debate turned on 
three sequential but overlapping developments: 1) certain practices 
gaining currency in the social sciences; 2) the expansion of the new social 
history; and 3) a composite development that I shall refer to, for lack of a 
better term, as "postmodernism." 

Regarding the first item in the sequence, it should be pointed out 
that the question was not the old one regarding whether or not history 
was a social science. Long before it had been resolved by most historians 
that history was not a social science as such but rather a study that could 

114 1998 Presidential Address • Winter 1 999 

have much in common with social sciences. 35 The new social history 
might call that assumption into question, but at the start of the renewed 
debate regarding the social sciences attention was focused on particular 
practices. For example, as social scientists applied their techniques to 
human behavior and sought to perfect their understanding of specialized 
and often small units of research, they seemed to part company with 
historians, who, however specified their research might be, were expected 
to relate it to larger categories of knowledge. Consequently, the generali- 
zations they reached were not as sharply defined as those of the social 

Richard Hofstadter explained the difference in this way. As the 
historian moves beyond the small units of his research to engage the larger 
questions of the past, he "confronts the precariousness of human effort, 
sees the passing not only of great states and powerful institutions but of 
militant faiths and, most pertinent for him, of the very historical perspec- 
tives that were identified with them. At this point he is persuaded to 
accept the imaginative as well as the cognitive side of his own work . . . 
and he realizes more fully than before how much history is akin to 
literature." 36 Many other historians continued to consider narrative a 
defining characteristic of history. 37 

In fact, orthodox historians questioned that a number of social 
science techniques, which had gained currency since World War II, had 
great applicability to history — "model building" for one, quantification 
for another. Moreover, devotees of these methods sometimes angered 
historians by referring to history as only a descriptive and impressionistic 
exercise. At times historians responded with little tact to such inferences. 
It was, for instance, the president of the AHA, Carl Bridenbaugh, who 
countered, "The finest historians will not be those who succumb to the 
dehumanizing methods of social sciences, whatever their uses and values, 
which I hasten to acknowledge. Nor will the historian worship at the 
shrine of the Bitchgoddess, quantification. History offers radically 
different values and methods." 38 

While other historians criticized claiming too much for quantifica- 
tion, they admitted that when carefully used it had a place in history. 39 
After all, historians had counted for ages. Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. probably 
struck the proper balance when he summed up the case of quantification 
in history in this manner. "As an humanist, I am bound to reply that 
almost all important questions are important precisely because they are 
not susceptible to quantitative answers. The humanist . . . does not deny 

Winter 1 999 • American Journalism 1 1 5 

the value of the quantitative method. What he denies is that it can handle 
everything which the humanist must take into account; what he con- 
demns is the assumption that things which quantitative methods can't 
handle don't matter." 40 

The Use of "Collective Mentalities" 

The case of using psychological methods as tools of history requires 
more explanation. Already in 1958 William Langer in his AHA Presiden- 
tial Address urged historians to use the concepts of modern psychology to 
perceive "collective mentalities" related to historical inquiries. He used 
the psychological effects of a traumatic event, the Black Death, to make 
his point. 41 Langer, like Preserved Smith long before, also expressed an 
interest in psychoanalytical biography 42 That interest, in fact, had been 
growing for sometime, not surprising given the impact that Sigmund 
Freud has had on the thought of this century. When handled with care 
and kept within reasonable boundaries, it appeared to have much to 
offer. 43 Erik Erikson's contributions to the field stimulated even more 
interest in it. However, his Young Man Luther attracted some sharp 
criticism by historians as did a popular study of Woodrow Wilson by 
Sigmund Freud and William Bullitt. 44 

The skeptics worried that the psychoanalyzing of historical figures 
produced claims that could not be proven since these people were no 
longer alive and the possible cure that would prove the analysis was no 
longer possible. Some complained that appropriate evidence for such 
conclusions was missing, or that such evidence when found was not time 
conditioned. Others, like Jacques Barzun wondered if the process placed 
too much emphasis on "fixations," "deep attachments," and on character- 
istics of adulthood dredged up from speculations, or even facts about 
one's youth. Or, it might encourage an old historical error, allowing an 
event to define cause. "Chainsmoking," he reasoned, "may well express a 
regressive desire to suck the breast, but sucking the breast does not lead to 
lung cancer, and our hero's death has to be explained by chain-smok- 
ing." 45 More recently, as they discover more about the biological makeup 
of the brain and the relationship between a person's genetic history and 
human behavior, scientists are questioning the emphasis Freud placed on 
the irrational processes of individual thought. 46 

As for the broader, cultural implications of Freud's theories, they too 
occasioned skepticism among historians. Freud's claim, for instance, that 
private religion was obsessional neurosis and that religion itself was mass 
obsessional neurosis, was bound to disturb historians. It was as reduction- 

116 1998 Presidential Address • Winter 1 999 

istic as Marxism. If Marx traced human behavior to economic forces and 
considered the "personal" or "private" factor only as a manifestation of 
those forces, Freud traced it to psychological roots. In both cases, histori- 
ans had reason to question the devaluation of culture, politics, and various 
social realities in such grand schemes. 47 

For a variety of reasons, then, orthodox historians were uneasy about 
the viability of certain social science methodologies for history unless they 
were properly qualified. Nevertheless, by the 1960s the old tension 
between history and the social sciences appeared to be waning. Orthodox 
historians often acknowledge that advances in the social sciences must be 
considered for their possible enhancement of historical accuracy and for 
their use in probing into undeveloped areas of the historical past. 48 The 
social sciences, moreover, were acquiring a renewed appreciation of 
historical perspective. The rapprochement had been long in coming but 
would prove illusory. A new challenge to historical orthodoxy was already 
mounting. Although quite diverse, the challenge can be appreciated by 
observing the rise of the new social history. 

The Rise of the New Social History 

As in the case of so many of the "new" histories that appeared in the 
1960s and 1970s, the new social history had significant antecedents. 49 
Major historians in the 19th and early 20th centuries had advanced the 
cause — especially J. R. Green and G. M. Trevelyan, two English historians 
who influenced their American counterparts, and John Back McMaster 
and Arthur Schlesinger, Sr. in this country. It was Trevelyan who de- 
scribed this brand of history as "the history of a people with politics left 
out." 50 

Moreover, the New History that James Harvey Robinson and 
Charles A Beard championed two generations before had a social compo- 
nent. Social history, however, only became a separate field in the 1950s. 51 
The rising interest of historians in quantification and other current social 
science methodologies provided the tools that, in many cases, would be 
needed to explore various subjects of this "new" inquiry. It is also worth 
remembering that it was cast against the backdrop of one of the momen- 
tous transformations of modern centuries, the decolonization of Africa 
and Asia, the corresponding successful national movements in those areas, 
and the relative reduction of Western Europe's political world position. 

An even more immediate context for this new history can be found 
in the temper of the '60s noted previously in relation to the growth of the 
New Left. The spirit of tension and rebelliousness associated with that 

Winter 1999 • American Journalism 1 17 

decade and its attachment to anti-institutional causes reverberated among 
groups of other historians who, as a result both of their frustration and 
idealism, became dissatisfied with many aspects of the social and intellec- 
tual order, including consensus history. They rejected its portrayal of 
unity in history when so many people were omitted from consideration. 
They questioned the habit of understanding politics through the study of 
political elites when grassroots movements like the civil rights movement, 
the feminist movement, and the antiwar protest of their time were prov- 
ing the contrary. 

Transatlantic influences also inspired the new social history. A 
renewed interest in Marxism was part of this inspiration as was the work 
of some distinguished British and French contemporary historians. 
Among the British were several scholars who had been attracted to 
Marxism (e. g., Christopher Hill, Eric Hobsbawn, and E. P. Thompson), 
whose reputation among American intellectuals was great. 

The influence of the Annates school of historians in France may have 
been even greater. 52 According to Fernand Braudel, whose efforts to 
spread the influence of the school far beyond France cannot be overstated, 
Annates historians rejected specialized history and sought a "science of 
history" that would keep the entire social spectrum and all levels of 
consciousness within its domain." 53 No wonder its influence was inspir- 
ing. Furthermore, in the hands of a Braudel, with his interest in geogra- 
phy, demography, and economics, the new history could even be an 
expansive exploration of entire societies, empires, and civilizations. It was 
exciting. However, he had few imitators among American historians. 

The new social history again illustrates the risks involved in efforts 
to define historical schools or labels. In some respects, however, references 
to it as "history from below" and as "populist history" are helpful, because 
they make the distinction between this history and "history from above" 
or "elitist" history. Whereas orthodox history stressed political, diplo- 
matic, and military studies, focused on events, and was narrative in style, 
the "new" history moved away from the political to embrace every field of 
human activity and contended that reality was a social and cultural 
phenomenon. Instead of great ideas, it explored collective mentalities, 
and in terms of style tended towards the analytical rather than the narra- 
tive. 54 

The new social historians studied topics usually absent in main- 
stream historical writing — topics such as: illiteracy, ethnicity, gender, 
criminality, sexuality, overlooked protest movements, and the family. 
They insisted that the historical experience of women be taken seriously, 

118 1998 Presidential Address • Winter 1999 

that previously overlooked people who were "disinherited from American 
heritage" be accorded their due place in history, that ethnic groups be 
recognized in the American past, and that the lives of ordinary people be 
brought into the fabric of history. 55 Historians writing black history and 
the history of women, fields that were rapidly changing at the time, were 
drawn to the openness as well as to the current social science techniques 
of the new social history. 56 "Without the growing sophistication of 
contemporary social history," one of the new women historians explained, 
"the history of the New Women's History could not be written." 57 

The achievement of the new social history in its heyday was consid- 
erable. It helped to democratize history, to explore hitherto overlooked 
private sectors of the past, to explore social conflicts, and more. Some of 
our foremost contemporary historians (e. g., David Hackett Fischer and 
Eugene Genovese) produced major works writing in this genre. Yet, while 
it still retains a position in historiography and has its devotees, uncertainty 
can be detected in its ranks and its sometimes implied or even expressed 
intent to replace orthodox history has given way to a search for more ways 
to interact with the mainstream of history. 58 There are several explana- 
tions for its present status. 

Devaluing "Traditional" History 

First of all, at the peak of the field's popularity in the 1970s, some of 
its practitioners made excessive claims about its potential and displayed 
irritating, short-sighted arrogance in the manner in which they advanced 
their cause. Social history was superior history, the only really meaningful 
history, the only one that dealt with "deeper realities" and could, there- 
fore, be comprehensive. Older history was devalued as "archaic," "narra- 
tive" (implying a lack of analysis), or "failed sociology," or as "tradi- 
tional." 59 The last term is a curious code word to use in a disparaging 
way in reference to historians! Such charges appeared ill-fitted to reality 
since they were made at a time when Hitler's Germany and Stalin's Soviet 
Union were fresh in memory and when China was reeling under the 
direction of Chairman Mao. It could be argued that World War II, an 
historical-military event, shaped attitudes alive in the then present cold 
war. Moreover, despite the enthusiasm associated with the new social 
history, political history persisted — even in France, the home of the 
Annates school. That school, in fact, has experienced fragmentation and 
introspective doubts. 60 The same can be said of the "new" history in this 

Winter 1999 • American Journalism 1 19 

Indeed, as numerous historians have commented, fragmentation 
became a basic problem for the new social history. Given the prolifera- 
tion of its subfields and their bent towards over-specialized focus, their use 
of narrow quantification analysis, their propensity for theorizing, and 
their use of problem solving techniques of the social sciences, fragmenta- 
tion was unavoidable. "Most of the new social historians," Alice Kessler- 
Harris observes, "have chosen to elaborate the microcosm [of particular 
aspects of history] in the hope that their own tiny contribution to the 
jigsaw puzzle will ultimately help to construct a new interpretation of our 
past." 61 A fine hope, but it has not been realized except in particular 
cases. There were too many pieces with edges that did not match, and 
some pieces were not entirely part of the puzzle. 

It can be argued, for instance, that while women's history has 
expanded social history, that many new social historians have ignored 
questions germane to women's history. 62 Unlike numerous other sub- 
fields of social history, women's history intercepts with general history at 
so many points that it might well qualify as a field of its own rather than 
as a subfield of social history. Moreover, compared to the abundance of 
quantitative sources available for the related subfield of family history, 
those available for the study of women's history are inadequate. Practitio- 
ners of women's history, therefore, turned to and found literary evidence 
to inform their research. 63 In many respects, the same can be said of 
black history. A rich array of traditional historical sources beyond statis- 
tics exist for it. Should subfields such as these really be subfields or, 
contrary to the centrifical drift of some of the other categories of social 
history, do they have a natural connection with the historical mainstream 
in terms of both content and methodology? 

Equally troublesome for the subfields of the rubric was their deliber- 
ate disassociation with the political content characteristic of orthodox 
historiography. Thus the subfields tended toward a particularism that 
resisted assimilation with larger historical patterns, not only with their 
universalist norm that, notwithstanding its shortcomings, had shaped 
American history but also with their encompassing interpretations of 
political persuasion, polity, and power. In the spirited language of Eugene 
Genovese and Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, writing already in 1976, "as 
admirable as much of the recent social history has been and as valuable as 
much of the description of the life of the lower classes may eventually 
prove, the subject as a whole is steadily sinking into a neoantiquarian 
swamp. . . ." 64 Writing from a Marxist perception, they were lamenting 
the lack of class confrontation in current social history, but their com- 
ment addresses a central problem of the rubric. 

1 20 1998 Presidential Address • Winter 1 999 

Looking for a National Narrative 

It might even be acknowledged that in their sometimes overemo- 
tional reaction to the new history that its public critics made some viable 
arguments. They protested that the new history neglected important, 
especially political, aspects of the American past. Where was the national 
narrative? Was proper attention given to "the individual" or to the 
progressive force (or hope) that previously had been a part of our his- 
tory? 65 The new social history had, in fact, placed the "group" over the 
individual and did not manifest much of the old progressive spirit. By 
stressing "history from the bottom up" it appeared to overlook the salient 
fact, that much of history and indeed much of life in its social-political 
setting, is influenced from the top down. As Leon Trotsky once said, 
"While you may not be interested in the State, the State is interested in 
you." 66 

The fragmentation and inwardness found in the new social history 
are clues that take us to the edge of the third source of debate among 
contemporary historians — that associated with the ill-defined term, 
"postmodernism." As various historians point out, postmodernism is "a 
notoriously slippery label." 67 Indeed it is. Is it synonymous with struc- 
turalism (if structuralism is taken to mean semiology), with post- 
structuralism, or with deconstruction? Is it the same as "the new histori- 
cism" or "the new cultural history?" Is it postmodernity (e. g., modern 
life) or post-modernism (e.g., a movement in the arts and architecture)? 
Some authorities on postmodernism claim it defies precise definition. It 
appears at least as a case of what Winston Churchill once referred to as 
"terminological inexactitude. " 68 

Nevertheless, postmodernism represents a critique of the historio- 
graphical tradition, one that has occasioned emphatic responses from 
historians. The roots of this critique reach back at least to the 1 9th 
century philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche and have grown amid those 20th 
century forces manifesting cultural disillusionment alluded to earlier. 69 
Once again the influence of transatlantic thought was of major conse- 
quence, most notably that of Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida. Their 
reputation in this country spread after the Vietnam War, with the waning 
of the cold war, and with the rise of the multicultural questioning of the 
norms of national identity, which at times became associated with politi- 
cal action. 70 

Notwithstanding the complexity of their theories, certain elements 
in them are striking. Foucault saw discontinuity rather than continuity in 

Winter 1999 • American Journalism 121 

history, rejected the idea that knowledge grew through time, and targeted 
submerged communities and marginalized groups rather than larger ones 
like the state to study. He was concerned with the heterogeneity of life 
and with the techniques of power that he detected in it. Contrary to the 
humanist idea of the individual as a rational being, he claimed that the 
mind was not free, that it was controlled by the structure of language. 
Regarding Derrida, he advanced a "deconstructionist" approach to 
language in which a "text" has endless meanings, none of which explains 
what the author meant. 71 As a form of literary criticism, deconstruction 
overturned the traditional value attached to literature, but its influence 
extended to other studies as well. In history it represented a "linguistic 
turn" that was hardly what the orthodox champions of historical narrative 

Postmodernist theories strike at the core of history. Its extreme 
cultural relativism negates history's pursuit of objective truth, the validity 
of historical evidence, and the idea of discovering reality beyond dis- 
course. They deny that the historical narrative describes an actual past. 72 
Hayden White, an advocate of these theories, claims that historical 
narratives are as much " invented zs found," that they are "verbal fic- 
tions." 73 Although much is left unsaid in this brief introduction of 
postmodernism as it relates to history, and while it is only fair to mention 
that postmodernists are not all of one mind, the challenge the movement 
poses for history is unmistakable. With its extreme references to the 
presentist meaning of texts and with its dismissal of historical truth, as 
well as historical causation, context, and continuity, it appears to be 
incompatible with the historiographical tradition. 74 

Is Elvis Dead? 

While some social and some feminist historians have found 
postmodernist theories congenial to their inquiries, the bulk of practicing 
historians reject them, indeed, with greater vigor than they used in 
references to other departures from orthodoxy. Joyce Appleby, G. R. 
Elton, and Lawrence Stone are among the better known historians whose 
criticism could be cited. 75 One example, offered by the preeminent Eric 
Hobsbawn, will have to suffice. He argues that historians are duty-bound 
to oppose "the rise of 'postmodernist' intellectual fashions . . . which 
imply that all 'facts' claiming objective existence are simply intellectual 
constructions — in short, that there is no clear difference between fact and 
fiction. . . . There is . . . for instance, even for the most militantly 
anti-positivist ones among us, the ability to distinguish between the two. 

1 22 1998 Presidential Address • Winter 1 999 

. . . We cannot invent our facts. Either Elvis Presley is dead or he 
isn't." 76 

That the postmodernist thrust challenges the historiographical 
tradition at its core, is hard to deny. Unlike other challenges covered in 
these comments, if its extreme claims are taken seriously, they would 
repudiate history as it is known. 77 With some exception, its influence, 
which was never widespread among most practicing historians, appears to 
be waning. 78 This does not mean that the historiographical tradition can 
expect to proceed unfettered in the future. As we have seen, at every turn 
in the unfolding of the tradition, problems appeared, and no doubt that 
will continue to be the case. 

Since the 1950s, there has been the problem of "sprawl" of content, 
and the practices of historians since then have intensified it. Until the 
1960s, there was a coherence or a unity (sometimes referred to as grand 
narrative) in American history. That has passed and historians are at 
present discussing the impact this has on the perceived significance of 
history. 79 The recent popularity of "microhistory" only worsens the 
problem. Regardless, the search for some type of new larger framework 
proceeds. It is worth noting that throughout the century the narrative 
element never disappeared from the historiographical tradition; in fact, it 
remained quite alive and retains the potential for broadening the scope of 
that tradition. How far, no one can say at this time. 

Historians Reflect Their "Climate of Opinion" 

As it stands, however, the historiographical tradition reveals a great 
deal about historians and the study of history. Historians, for instance, do 
reflect what Carl Becker labeled "the climate of opinion" of their time in 
their writing. They have demonstrated a willingness to experiment with 
new methodologies and principles in their work, and the substance of 
history has benefited from that experimentation. With their emphasis on 
the scientific pursuit of history, however qualified that term needs to be, 
the late 19th century historians made history a major subject in American 
education, saved it from romantic flights from reality, and provided 
incentive for historians to exploit the great expansion of the sources, 
particularly the archival sources, of knowledge of their time. 

The progressive historians broadened the inquiry and restored spirit 
and vision to it. Consensus historians distanced history from the crusad- 
ing impulses of the 1930s and sought to address the needs of a generation 
seeking, in the words of J. Rogers Hollingsworth, to understand "the 

Winter 1999 • American Journalism 123 

uniqueness and essence" of America. 80 For all of their radicalism, New 
Left historians redirected historical inquiry to the quite real conflict in the 
American past that consensus historians had deemphasized. New social 
historians and historians working in the fields of black history and 
women's history have corrected many older ideas about race, gender, age, 
and much more. As a result of their efforts, we are considerably more 
aware of cultural diversity in our past. Even in the case of postmodernist 
historians, it can be argued that they will sharpen the practices of verifica- 
tion and credibility in historical criticism and will lead historians toward a 
deeper examination of their rhetoric and their interaction with their 
subject. Consequently, it is apparent that in their practice of history, 20th 
century historians have enriched the historiographical tradition. 

They also shaped that tradition by their resistance to various 
approaches to history. For instance, they have treated applying theory to 
history with caution. I find it interesting that Herbert Butterfield, whose 
The Whig Interpretation of History has influenced historians to this day, 
liked to compare his preferred historical methodology to the methods that 
Sherlock Holmes employed. 81 How often we discover Holmes telling the 
good Dr. Watson, "It is a capital mistake to theorize before you have all 
the evidence. It biases the judgment." 82 More than to theory, however, 
historians have been adverse to reductionism and determinism, notwith- 
standing the presence of some notable Marxists in their ranks. They have 
also been cautious in their association with the social sciences. Although 
some historians prefer that label, most do not. History's relationship with 
the social sciences, in the main, has been of an almost-but-not-quite type 
and can be described best as symbiotic. It appears, moreover, to proceed 
through time in a cyclical fashion. 

Providing An "Index to the Mind" 

At its core, the historiographical tradition is a moderate and open 
one that resists extreme positions in terms of either content or methodol- 
ogy. If the goal of complete objectivity that historians once pursued now 
seems unreachable, that of plausibility does not. Belief in it, in fact, leads 
historians to reject the idea that texts have no relation to reality in favor of 
the idea that through a critical examination of source materials, historical 
reality can be reconstructed. It is moderate, too, in the manner in which 
it establishes causal relationships, in the inferences it draws from evidence, 
and in the restraints it places on presentist persuasions. Its broadening of 
content shows it is far from being iconoclastic while the appeal it has to a 

1 24 1998 Presidential Address • Winter 1 999 

great variety of scholars illustrates its openness. At universities today, 
scholars practicing history can be found in various academic departments. 
Furthermore, it is only necessary to recall Barbara Tuchman's many 
excellent books to know that independent historians continue to produce 
outstanding works. That fact not only attests to the great appeal of 
history as an exploration of the human past but also to the viability of the 
narrative component of the historiographical tradition. 

Finally, it can be seen that the historiographical tradition is capable 
of engaging us in a personal way. What is there in the practice and 
principles of history that fascinate you the most? Perhaps it is the sense of 
discovery; perhaps, the satisfaction of carefully exploring a human prob- 
lem. Perhaps it is, as John Hope Franklin believes, knowing that history 
pursued honestly can provide people the basis for making sound judg- 
ments. 83 Perhaps its fascination is due to Gerda Lerner's simple observa- 
tion, "history matters" in "life and thought." 84 The question is worth our 
best attention, and it is one that elicits an individual response. 

In my own case, the narrative element in history has particular 
appeal. Veronica Wedgwood once reflected that the style of narration is 
"an index to the mind." 85 Quite right. In expressing history, we give 
form and structure to our particular subjects. The art of narration tests 
our capacity to be honest in dealing with the men and women who enter 
our stories, and it forces us, as much as possible, to discern the difference 
between objectivity and subjectivity, between opinion and bias. In 
constructing narrative, we know that history must argue from evidence, 
but we know, too, that such evidence must be, to our best knowledge, 
truthful. Composing an historical narrative vitalizes self-awareness; it 
leads us to look into and beyond ourselves. It forces considerations of the 
full range of conditions that shaped past life. In short, creating historical 
narrative encourages the search for truth — past and present. 


'The idea of a dead past was popularized by the British historian, J. L. Plumb who actually wrote 
about the past as it was conceived for centuries before our time. See his The Death of the Past (1969; 
reprint, Harmondsworth, Eng: Macmillan & Co., Penguin Books) 1969. Also, in 1989 Francis 
Fukuyama's article announcing history's end received widespread attention. With the end of the cold 
war, he argued, "we may be witnessing . . . the end of history as such: that is, the end point of 
mankind's ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final 
form of human government." What would replace it? He found it plausible to reason "that there is 
some larger process at work, a process that gives coherence and order to the daily headlines, "The 

Winter 1 999 • American Journalism 125 

End of History?" In A Look at "The End of History?" e&. Kenneth M. Jensen (Washington, D. C: 
United States Institute of Peace, 1990): 1-2. First published in National Interest 9 (summer 1989): 3- 
18. Fukuyama's thesis, through which runs a suggestive if democratized Hegelian dialectical 
reasoning, appears to be disproven by events in the 1990s. See also Georg G. Iggers, "The 'Linguistic 
Turn': The End of History as a Scholarly Discipline," in Historiography in the Twentieth Century: From 
Scientific Objectivity to the Postmodern Challenge (Hanover, N. H.: Wesleyan University Press, 1993), 

2 Gary B. Nash, Charlotte Crabtree, and Ross E. Dunn, History on Trial: Culture Wars and the 
Teaching of the Past (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1997), 188-258. 

3 Gerda Lerner, Why History Matters: Life and Thought (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), 

4 Historiography can also mean the writing of history, topical interpretation in history, philosophical 
approaches to history, or the whole body of historical literature. 

'Bert James Lowenberg, American History in American Thought: Christopher Columbus to Henry 
Adams (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1972), 11. 

'Herodotus, The Persian Wars, The Modern Library (1942), 3- Although it is sometimes claimed 
that the origins of history should be located either with the ancient Hebrews or perhaps with the even 
more ancient Sumarians, I believe it should be placed with the Greeks. The modern historical 
tradition includes critical thought not just thought about the past. Hebrew history (i. e., the Old 
Testament) contains too much uncriticized content, too many things like the creation story for which 
no evidence is provided, and repeatedly refers to God or God's will as explanation for cause or 
motivation. This is not to say that verifiable data cannot be found in the Old Testament nor that it 
failed to offer vision that many future historians would adopt. The point is discussed in Peter Gay 
and Gerald J. Cavanaugh, eds., Historians at Work, 4 vols. (New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 
1972-75), 1: XV. As for the Sumerians, they wrote no history as we think of it in its modern form, 
but they did begin the gathering of historical materials and the production of records to be kept — 
mainly for religious or political purposes. (Samuel Noah Kramer, The Sumerians: Their History, 
Culture and Character [Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1963], 33-39). 

7 David Hume, The History of England, vol. 1 (1754; reprint, Philadelphia: Porter & Coates, 1776), 

8 'The Autobiography of Edward Gibbon, ed. Dero A. Saunders (1794; reprint, New York: Meridian 
Books, 1967), 27. 

'Peter Gay and Victor G. Wexler, eds. Historians at Work, 4 vols. (New York: Harper & Row, 1972), 
2: 353. 

,0 In the course of this essay, the influence of European historians on American scholars will be 
apparent. This influence was never more obvious than in the nineteenth century when German 
philosophers and historians (e. g., Johann G. Fichte, Arnold Heeren, G. W. F. Hegel, Johann G. 
Herder, and Immanuel Kant) affected American romantic and national historians like John L. Motley, 
Francis Parkman and especially George Bancroft. Later in the century, Leopold von Ranke's influence 
on historical scholarship in this country would become legend. Meanwhile, English historians like 
Thomas Babington Macaulay, Thomas Carlyle, Henry Thomas Buckle, and J. R. Green and French 
historians like Jules Michelet and Alex de Tocqueville exerted a transatlantic influence. Though a 
nineteenth century figure, Karl Marx's influence was mainly of consequence after the turn of the 
century. He did, however, have an impact on a few nineteenth century American historians like 
Henry Adams. 

"Herbert Baxter Adams was the real founder or the American Historical Association and was its 
secretary for its first 16 years. As director of historical studies at Johns Hopkins, his Seminary in 
Historical and Political Science introduced German seminary practices of fact-finding in original 
sources and rigorous textual analysis. One of his assistants was John Franklin Jameson, who would 
become an outstanding early "professional" historian, and among his early students were Woodrow 
Wilson and Albert Shaw, the future editor of the American Review of Reviews from 1 89 1 - 1 937. The 
term "amateurs" refers to the well-educated but nonprofessional historians who wrote in the early and 
mid nineteenth century and who worked at some other professions or livelihood (e. g., as clergymen, 
lawyers, physicians, journalists). The term "professional historians" is not entirely satisfactory since it 
implies that those historians who were not in their academic ranks were a lesser breed of historians. It 
is, however, a commonly used designation for this group. Also, I have chosen not to use the term 
"historicism" in reference to this group. Although it is sometimes used to identify them, it has 
acquired too many meanings and has lost whatever precision it may have had. 

1 26 1998 Presidential Address • Winter 1 999 

l2 John Fiske, Essays Historical and Literary, 2 vols. (1902; reprint, New York: Macmillan Company, 
1925), 2: 6 and 16. 

l3 Consider, for instance, Albert Bushnell Hart's American Nation Series, published in 26 
individually authored volumes between 1904 and 1906. The volumes were divided into five groups: 
Group I, "Foundations of the Nation;" Group II, "Transformation Into a Nation;" Group III, 
"Development of the Nation;" Group IV, "Trial of Nationality;" and Group V, "National Expansion." 
In the first volume this definition of history appears. "The purpose of the historian is to tell what has 
been done and, quite as much, what has been purposed by thinking, working, and producing people 
who make public opinion. . . . This is not intended to be simply a political or constitutional history: 
it must include their social life, and their schools. It must include their economic life, occupations, 
labor systems, and organizations of capital. . . ." True history, Hart continued, must include 
"dramatic episodes" that "inspired the imagination of contemporaries, and stir the blood of their 
descendants." And, regarding the "condensed" citations, they represented a "constant reference to 
authorities, a salutary check on the writer; and a safeguard to the reader." The Scientific school was 
pushing out its borders: Albert Bushnell Hart, ed., Edward Potts Cheyney, European Background of 
American History: 1300-1600 (New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1904), XVII-XVIII. 

M Frank J. Goodnow, "The Work of the American Political Science Association," Proceedings of the 
American Political Science Association 1 (1905): 37. See also, Albert Shaw, "Presidential Address," The 
American Political Science Review 1 (Feb. 1907): 184. 

15 John Higham, Leonard Krieger, and Felix Gilbert, History (Englewood Cliffs, N. J: 1965), 1 10- 

"James Harvey Robinson, The New History (1912; reprint, New York: The Free Press, 1965), XV. 

l7 Quoted in Dorothy Ross, "On the Misunderstanding of Ranke and the Origins of the Historical 
Profession in America," Syracuse Scholar 9 (1988): 38. 

18 Higham, Krieger, and Gilbert, History, 111 and 116. 

"Carl Becker, "Everyman his own Historian," American Historical Review 37 (Jan. 1932): 221-36. 

20 Quoted in Henry Steele Commager, The American Mind: An Interpretation of American Thought 
and Character Since the 1880s (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1950), 308. 

2 'Richard Hofstadter, The Progressive Historians: Turner, Beard, Parrington (New York: Alfred A. 
Knopf, 1968), XII. 

"Exemplifying the rich variety in historical writing in these years was the work of Howard K. Beale 
(Political history) , Thomas A Bailey (diplomatic history), Charles Beard (economic history), Perry 
Miller and Vernon Louis Parrington (intellectual history), John R. Commons (labor history), W. E. B. 
Dubois and Carter Woodson (black history), Mary Beard (women's history), and Lucy Salmon and 
William Bleyer (journalism history). 

"Quoted in Harvey Wish, The American Historian: A Social-Intellectual History of the Writing of the 
American Past (New York: Oxford University Press, I960), 313- 

"Charles A. Beard, "That Noble Dream," American Historical Review 41 (1935): 85- Regarding 
Marx's limited influences on American historians at this time, see Oscar Handlin, Truth in History 
(Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1979), 70 and 73- 

25 Higham, Krieger, and Gilbert, History, 104-5. 

26 Ibid., 73-77. 

27 The elements of the practice of history are apparent in the standard works on historical method in 
use at that time. See, for example, Louis Gottschalk, Understanding History: A Primer on Historical 
Method (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1950), and Joseph R. Strayer, ed., The Interpretation of History 
(1943; reprint, New York: Peter Smith, 1950). 

28 Harvey Wish, ed., American Historians: A Selection (New York: Oxford University Press, 1962), 

25 Ibid.,391. 

30 Ibid., 393. 

31 See, for example, Henry Osborn Taylor, "Continuities In History," American Historical Review 44 
(Oct. 1938): 1-19. 

"William H. Chafe, "America Since 1945," in The New American History, ed. Eric Foner 
(Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1990), 144-46. 

Winter 1 999 • American Journalism 127 

33 Hannah Arendt, "Understanding and Politics," Partisan Review 20 (July-Aug. 1953): 388 and 
380-94. Considering the rich historical accounts about the background and rise of Nazism published 
since she made this statement, it appears she was mistaken. 

34 See, for example, C, Vann Woodward, "The Age of Reinterpretation," American Historical Review 
AG (Oct. I960): 1-2, and H. Stuart Hughes, "The Historian and the Social Scientist," in Generaliza- 
tions in Historical Writing, eds. Alexander V. Riasanovsky and Barnes Riznik (Philadelphia: University 
of Pennsylvania Press, 1963), 20-21. 

35 See, for example, representative historiographic studies such as Gottschalk, Understanding History, 
33-37, Allan Nevins, The Gateway to History, rev. ed. (Garden City, 

N. Y: Doubleday & Company, Anchor Books, 1962), 332-35; and Page Smith, The Historian and 
History (1960; reprint, New York: Random House, Vintage Books, 1966), 136-37. 

36 Richard Hofstadter, "History and Social Science," in The Varieties of History: From Voltaire to the 
Present, ed. Fritz Stern (Cleveland: World Publishing Company, Meridian Books, 1956), 371. 

37 See, for example, Catherine Drinker Bowen, "Biography, History, and the Writing of Books," and 
Allan Nevins "The Old History and the New," The Art of History (Washington: The Library of 
Congress, 1967), 15-19, and 29; Gabriel Jackson, Historian's Quest (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 
1969), 25; and Louis O. Mink, "Narrative Form as a Cognitive Instrument," in The Writing of 
History: Literary Form and Historical Understanding, eds. Robert H. Canary and Henry Kozicki 
(Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1978), 129-49. 

38 Carl Bridenbaugh, "The Great Mutation," American Historical Review 68 (Jan. 1963), 326. 
Bridenbaugh was criticized for the anti-Jewish implications of some of his other comments in this 
address. See, Peter Novick, That Noble Dream: The 'Objectivity Question and the American Historical 
Profession (1988; reprint, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1989), 339- For a critique of 
quantification see, Eugene Genovese and Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, "The Political Crisis of Social 
History: A Marxian Perspective," Journal of Social History 10 (Winter 1976): 210-1 1. In this article 
the authors speak of the "disastrously short-lived cliometric revolution." Indeed, by 1976, the rush to 
quantification had passed its peak. 

"See, for example, Handlin, Truth in History, 223-26; Paul K. Conkin and Roland N. Stromberg, 
The Heritage and Challenge of History (New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1971), 111-12; Hughes, 
"The Historian and the Social Scientist," 42; and Jerome M. Clubb and Howard Allen, "Computers 
and Historical Statics" Journal of American History 54 (Dec. 1967): 599-607. 

40 Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., "The Humanist Looks at Empirical Social Research," American Sociological 
Review 27 (Dec. 1962): 770. 

""William L. Langer, "The Next Assignment," American Historical Review 63 (Jan. 1958): 290-95. 

42 In 1913 Preserved Smith published an article, "Luther's Early Development," in which he 
attempted a psychoanalytical study of Martin Luther, whom he considered a "highly neurotic 
personality. Jacques Barzun, Clio and the Doctors: Psycho-History, Quanto-History and History 
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1974), 7. 

43 Higham, Krieger, and Gilbert, History, 228-32. 

""Erik H. Erikson, YoungMan Luther: A Study in Psychoanalysis and History (New York: W W. 
Norton, 1958), and Sigmund Freud and William Bullitt, Thomas Woodrow Wilson: Twenty-Eighth 
President of the United States, A Psychological Study (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1967). Both of these 
books are seriously flawed, and both received abundant response from historians. See, for example, 
Roland Bainton, "Psychiatry and History: An Examination of Erikson's YoungMan Luther," in 
Psychohistory and Religion: The Case of "YoungMan Luther" ed. Roger A. Johnson (Philadelphia: 
Fortress Press, 1977), 19-56; and Barbara Tuchman, "Can History Use Freud? The Case of Woodrow 
Wilson," The Atlantic Monthly, February 1967, pp. 39-44. 

45 Barzun, Clio and the Doctor. 72-73- 

"Edward O. Wilson, Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1998), 254- 

47 Philp Rieff, "Psychoanalysis," in American History and the Social Sciences, ed. Edward N. Saveth 
(New York: The Free Press of Glencoe, 1964), 112 and 118-19. 

48 Higham, Krieger, and Gilbert, History, 139. See also, Edward N. Saveth, "The Conceptualization 
of American History," in American History and the Social Sciences, 3-24; Thomas C. Cochran, "The 
Social Sciences and the Problem of Historical Synthesis," in Pendleton Herring, ed., The Social 

1 28 1998 Presidential Address • Winter 1 999 

Sciences in Historical Study, Bulletin 64 (New York: Social Science, Research Council, 1954, 157-71; 
and Hughes, "The Historian and the Social Scientist," 18-59- 

4? I decided to pursue the new social history rather than any of the other "new" histories because it 
was the most comprehensive of the lot, and because it was trying to replace political history as the 
mainstream of history. For the same reason, I chose to pursue it rather than black history or the 
history of women. 

50 Gertrude Himmelfarb, The New History and the Old: Critical Essays and Reappraisals (Cambridge: 
Harvard University Press, The Belknap Press, 1982), 15. 

5l Two of the landmark books in the new social history, Peter Laslett's, The World We Have Lost and 
Lawrence Stone's The Crisis in Aristocracy were published in 1965. Also, Peter N. Stearns began 
publication of the Journal of Social History in 1967. There was an unmistakable attitude among social 
historians at this time that their history was different from social history as it was previously written. 
Sometimes they referred to the latter, rather unfairly, as "pots and pans" history or in some other 
belittling way. They did, of course, recognize the individual prestigious historians like Marc Block 
who preceded them. 

52 The Annates school is the historical writing associated with the publication of the journal, Les 
Annales: Economics, societe's, civilisations. Marc Block and Lucien Febvre founded the journal with a 
slightly different title in 1929. The editors dropped the reference to economics in the title in the 
1950s and focused exclusively on the social element. The Annales approach rejected the centrality of 
politics in history as it did narrative history and progress in history These historians were interested 
in structuralism and drew from Karl Marx's study of economic forces in history and from Emile 
Durkheim's work on collective behavior. Fernand Braudel, the editor of the journal from 1956-1972, 
claimed the real founder of the school was Henri Barr, a French intellectual whose work can be traced 
back to 1890. See, Fernand Braudel, "Personal Testimony," Journal of Modern History 44 (June 
1972): 454-5. 

53 Ibid., 462, and Fernand Braudel, The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of 
Philip II, 2 vols., 3d ed., trans. Siin Reynolds (1946; reprint, New York: Harper &C Row, 1972). In 
his monumental study, Braudel covers geography, economics, empires, societies, war, and events, 
politics and people — in that order. It is interesting to note, that in Part Three, when he turns to 
discussing events, politics and people, he opens with this observation: "It [this section] has strong 
affinities with frankly traditional historiography Leopold von Ranke, if he were alive today, would 
find much that was familiar, both in subject matter and treatment, in the following pages." (Vol. 2: 

^Himmelfarb, New History and the Old, 1 4. 

55 Joyce Appleby, Lynn Hunt, and Margaret Jacob, Telling the Truth about History (New York: W. W. 
Norton & Company, 1994), 154-55. 

56 John Hope Franklin, "The New Negro History," The Journal of Negro History 42 (April 1957): 89, 
and Carroll Smith-Rosenberg, "The New Woman and the New History," Feminist Studies 3 (Fall 
1975): 185. 

S7 Ibid., 188. 

58 Alice Kessler-Harris, "Social History," in Foner, The New American History, 178-9. John Higham 
observes, "The new social history produced a mighty outpouring of social description and analysis; 
but the gain in concreteness did not yield a greater coherence. An enormous fragmentation ensued. . 
. . Each network developed its own scholarly journal, its own energizing question, its own agenda. . 
. . Often these groups were entirely out of touch with one another; concepts that interested one set 
of scholars were rarely articulated with the problems that interested other sets. . . . Somehow social 
historians would have to find a subject . . . large enough to embrace . . . the confusing multiplicity 
of groups and identities standing before us. . . ." Higham, "From Process to Structure: Formula- 
tions of American Immigration History," in American Immigrants and Their Generations: Studies and 
Commentaries on the Hansen Thesis after Fifty Years, eds. Peter Kivisto and Dag Blanck (Urbana: 
University of Illinois Press, 1990), 13- Peter Burke was even more explicit. ". . . There are some 
encouraging signs of Rapprochement, if not of synthesis. . . . It is now possible to observe a . . . 
search for the centre. . . . Most important of all, perhaps, the long-standing opposition between 
political and non-political historians is finally dissolving." Burke, "Overture: the New History," in 
New Perspectives on Historical Writing," ed. Burke (University Park, Pa.: Pennsylvania State University 
Press, 1992), 19. In 1996, Peter Stearns, one of the pioneers in the field wrote of the need for 
reconciliation with other branches of history. "Clio, a muse of balance and perspective, deserves the 
broader vision," he stated. "A Cease-fire for History?" The History Teacher 30 (Nov. 1996): 81. 

Winter 1999 • American Journalism 129 

"Social historians' disparaging comments about orthodox history were, in fact, quite common, as I 
recall. See also, Himmelfarb, The New History and the Old, 27; Joyce Appleby, "The Power of 
History," American Historical Review 103 (Feb. 1998): 6; Charles Tilly, As Sociology Meets History 
(New York: Academic Press, 1981), 5-6; and Lawrence Stone, The Past and the Present (Boston: 
Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1981), 30. 

'°Lynn Hunt, "French History in the Last Twenty Years: The Rise and Fall of the Annales 
Paradigm," Journal of Contemporary History 21 (1986): 213-14, and Theodore Zeldin, "Social History 
and Total History," Journal of Social History 10 (Winter 1976): 240. 

61 Alice Kessler-Harris, "Social History," in Foner, New American History, 178. 

"Carroll Smith-Rosenberg points out that "despite its [contemporary social history] emphasis on 
institutions and events of greatest concern to women, the New Social Historians, with few exceptions, 
have ignored women. . . . contemporary social historians have also ignored one of the most basic 
forms of human interaction — that between sexes." "The New Woman and the New History," 189. 

63 Carl N. Degler, "Women and the Family," in The Past Before Us: Contemporary Historical Writing 
in the United States, ed. Michael Kammen (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1980), 310. 

"Eugene Genovese and Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, "The Political Crisis of Social History," 214. 
Among the other one-time enthusiasts of the new social history who later lamented its failures are two 
of its founders, Lawrence Stone and Peter Stearns. See Stone's oft cited comments in The Past and the 
Present, 30-44, and Stearns "A Cease-fire for History?" 73-81. 

65 Nash, et al., History on Trial, 5, 16, 26, 76, 82. 

"Quoted in, William E. Leuchtenburg, "The Pertinence of Political History: Reflections on the 
Significance of the State in America," Journal of American History, 73 (Dec. 1986): 600. 

67 Appleby, Hunt, and Jacob, Telling the Truth about History, 200. 

68 Churchill invented the term in 1906 when he rose in parliament to say that his own Liberal 
party's reference to "Chinese Slavery" (a reference to Chinese labor in South Africa) had been 
overstated. The term "slavery," he said, could apply to Unionist policy in South Africa only at the risk 
of "terminological inexactitude." 

"Friedrich Nietzsche, On the Advantage and Disadvantage of History for Life, trans. Peter Preuss 
(1874; reprint, Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 1980), 21 and 35. 

70 Richard Rorty, "Deconstruction," in The Cambridge History of Literary Criticism, vol. 8, From 
Formalism to Poststructuralism, ed. Raman Selden (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 

7, Ibid., 166-74; Christopher Falzon, Foucault and Dialogue: Beyond Fragmentation (London: 
Routledge, 1998), 36-46; Sidney Monas, "Introduction: Contemporary Historiography: Some Kicks 
in the Old Coffin," 3 and 5; and Georg G. Iggers, "Rationality and History," 35, in Developments in 
Modern Historiography, ed. Henry Kozicki (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1993); and John M. Ellis, 
Against Deconstruction (Princeton, N. J.: Princeton University Press, 1989), 52, 65-66, and 113-21. 

72 Appleby, Hunt and Jacob, Telling the Truth about History, 204, and Georg G. Iggers, Historiogra- 
phy in the Twentieth Century, 118. 

73 Hayden White, Tropics of Discourse: Essays in Cultural Criticism (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins 
University Press, 1978), 82. 

74 Gerald N. Izenberg, "Text, Context, and Psychology in Intellectual History," in Kozicki, 
Developments in Modern Historiography, 4 1 . 

75 Appleby, Hunt, Jacob, Telling the Truth About History, \97-237; G. R. Elton, Return to Essentials: 
Some Reflections on the Present State of Historical Study (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1991), 
27-49; and Lawrence Stone," History and Post-Modernism," Past and Present (Aug. 1991): 217-18. 
See also, Keith Windschuttle, The Killing of History: How Literary Critics and Social Theorists Are 
Murdering Our Past (New York: The Free Press, 1996), 132-54. 

76 Eric Hobsbawn, On History (New York: The New Press, 1997), 6. 

^Ibid. 195; Appleby, Hunt, and Jacob, Telling the Truth About History, 227 and 233; and Iggers, 
Historiography in the Twentieth Century, 100. 

78 Elton, Return to Essentials, 13, and Richard Rorty, "Deconstruction," 167, n. 2, and Bryan Palmer, 
"The Condition of the Poststructuralist Challenge to Political Meaning," The Maryland Historian 24 
(Spring/Summer 1993): 67. 

1 30 1998 Presidential Address • Winter 1 999 

7 Thomas Bender, "Wholes and Parts: The Need for Synthesis in American History," American 
Historical Review 73 G une 1986): 120-36; John Higham, "The Future of American History," Journal 
of 'American History 81 (March 1994): 1286-1307; Leuchtenburg, ibid., 73 (Dec. 1986): 585-600; 
and Georg G. Iggers, Historiography in the Twentieth Century, 141-44. 

80 J. Rogers Hollingsworth, "Commentary on 'Consensus and Continuity' in Post-War Historical 
Interpretation," in The Historian and the Climate of Opinion, ed. Robert Allen Skotheim (Reading, 
Mass.: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, 1969), 95. 

8, Adam Watson, ed., Herbert Butterfield: The Origins of History (New York: Basic Books, 1981), 8. 

82 Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, A Study in Scarlet in The Complete Sherlock Holmes, ed. Christopher 
Morley (Garden City, N. Y.: Doubleday & Company, 1930), 27. Many such references can be found 
in the Sherlock Holmes stories. 

s3 John Hope Franklin, "The Historian and Public Policy," in The Vital Past: Writings on the Uses of 
History, ed. Stephen Vaughn (Athens, GA.: University of Georgia Press, 1985), 359. 

84 Gerda Lerner, Why History Matters, title page. 

85 C. V. Wedgwood, The Sense of the Past: Thirteen Studies in the Theory and Practice of History (New 
York: Macmillan Company, Collier Books, 1967), 81. 

Winter 1999 • American Journalism 131 


Winter 1999 

Great Ideas 

E. W. Scripps Papers Provide An 
Important Journalistic Window 
for Scholars 

By Gerald J. Baldasty 

The E.W. Scripps Papers at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, 
provide an unusually detailed view of American journalism 
in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The manuscript 
letters in this collection cover key journalistic, business and political 
concerns in the first national newspaper chain, provide extensive informa- 
tion on day-to-day operations of newspapers and provide a window into 
the personality of one of the country's great press lords, E.W. Scripps 

This manuscript collection is extensive, constituting approximately 
200,000 letters and documents (70 cubic feet in 187 boxes). Charles E. 
Scripps, grandson of E.W. Scripps, donated the papers to Ohio 
University's Alden Library in August 1988. After extensive processing, 
the collection was opened to the public in March 1990. 

Scripps' career spanned a golden age of American journalism. In the 
40 years straddling the turn of the century, the number of daily newspa- 
pers nearly trebled, and newspapers reached virtually every home in the 
country. Scripps pioneered the model of modern newspaper organization 
— the newspaper chain — demonstrating that a group of newspapers 
could operate more efficiently than individual newspapers. 

During his career, Scripps established or purchased more than 40 
newspapers, created a telegraph news service (United Press Associations), a 
news features syndicate (Newspaper Enterprise Association) and Science 
News Service. By the early 1900s, Scripps commanded the nation's 

Gerald J. Baldasty, Professor of Communications at the University of Washington, is the 
author of E. W. Scripps and the Business of Newspapers. 

Winter 1 999 • American Journalism 133 

Nackie Holsinger Scripps with her saddlehorse at Miramar, 1907 - 1910. [Miramar was the Scripps' 
home in San Diego County, California.] E. W. Scripps Papers, Ohio University 

largest media company. He ranks with William Randolph Hearst and 
Joseph Pulitzer as one of the great press lords of the late 19th and early 
20th centuries. 

The Scripps papers at Ohio University provide an unusually detailed 
view of newspaper operations from Scripps' era. Scripps was an avid letter 
writer, so his thoughts and actions are well detailed. Moreover, he spent 
much of the 1 890s and the early 1900s — key years for his chain — at his 


Great Ideas • Winter 1999 

California estate near San Diego. Because he was physically distant from 
his newspapers, letters to and from him dealt with virtually all aspects of 
newspaper operations. The reliance on letters was further underscored by 
his refusal to do business by telephone and his extreme reluctance to use 
telegrams. Most of Scripps' outgoing correspondence was saved in 
letterbooks; carbon copies were also made for distribution to the chain's 
Central Office (in Cincinnati) and to middle managers. Scripps' chief 
lieutenants and the chain's middle managers also circulated carbons of 
their letters to one another, thus improving the chance that key letters 
have been saved. 

The Scripps papers are organized into four key categories: 

• Letters written to E.W. Scripps (Series 1, subseries 1.1). There 
are 40 boxes in this section of the correspondence; letters cover 
the period 1876 to 1926 but are heavily weighted to 1889- 

• Letters written by E.W. Scripps (Series 1, subseries 1.2 and 
Series 2). There are 74 boxes in this section of the correspon- 
dence; the material draws primarily on the period from 1888 
to 1917. 

• Letters between other Scripps employees (Series 3, subseries 3-1, 
and 3.2). There are 36 boxes in this section of the correspon- 
dence; letters cover primarily the period from 1889 to 1919. 

• Scripps' various writings, including his autobiography and his 
Disquisitions — which are a series of essays on journalism and a 
host of other subjects (Series 4). There are 12 boxes in this 
section of the correspondence. 

The first three sections provide the most detailed information for 
journalism historians, providing information on each of Scripps' newspa- 
pers, his telegraph news service, his news features service (Newspaper 
Enterprise Association) and the Science News Service. 

Letters to E.W. Scripps 

This portion of the Scripps papers includes letters from a wide range 
of employees in the Scripps newspaper chain — from Scripps' chief 
lieutenants to individual editors and reporters. Among those writing to 
Scripps are the chain's treasurer (Lemuel T Atwood); his letters often 

Winter 1999 • American Journalism 135 

E. W. Scripps takes time out for lunch on 1907 Grand Canyon trip. [Other photos state the trip was 
made during September & October.] E. W Scripps Papers, Ohio University 

provide extensive financial information about the various papers in the 
chain. Other correspondents include Robert F. Paine, the chain's editor- 
in-chief, and various regional managers (such as E.H. Wells and E.F. 
Chase in the Pacific Northwest, W.H. Porterfield in California and A.O. 
Andersson in Texas). 

For journalism historians, these letters provide an excellent source 
on newspaper operations: costs for starting and running newspapers, 
circulation strategies and battles, general competition for news, relations 
(and problems) with advertisers, personnel issues, and so on. Scripps 
required monthly financial statements from his papers and some of these 


Great Ideas • Winter 1 999 

are included in this part of the correspondence. His employees regularly 
informed him of other key developments at individual newspapers or in 
chain-wide institutions (such as the telegraph news services or the news 
features service). 

For example, one letter — from the editor of Scripps' Seattle Star to 
Scripps — describes that paper's reliance on NEA and provides informa- 
tion about staff sizes for Seattle papers: 

Here in Seattle, it [NEA] is the greatest possible help in 
holding up and making progress. Without this exclusive 
service we would have to largely increase our editorial 
expenses, something that would be extremely difficult to do. 
Our contemporary the Times employs a very large force of compe- 
tent men, including 13 of the best reporters that 
can be found, and spends money like water to get news near 
and far. Against this effort, we can put half as many reporters 
and the NEA. And we can win out with the NEA. 1 

Another letter to Scripps contained the mission statement of the 
Tacoma Timer. "It shall be the first principle of this publication to be the 
organ, the mouthpiece, the apologist, the defender and the advocate of 
the working class." 2 

Scripps received letters from a host of others, too, including family 
members, political figures (such as Theodore Roosevelt, Robert LaFollette, 
Amos Pinchot, Woodrow Wilson and William Jennings Bryan), journalists 
(Lincoln Steffens) and scientists (William J. Ritter). Scripps gave strong 
and steady support to the Progressive movement and particularly to 
LaFollette and Wilson. Ritter developed the Scripps Marine Biology 
Institute (later called the Scripps Oceanographic Institute). 

Letters from E.W. Scripps 

Scripps was autocratic in personality, an advocate of "one man 
power" in running his chain. Consequently, letters from him are plain 
spoken and unequivocal; he demanded that his papers serve the working 
class and that they be profitable. He created strategies for building a 
newspaper chain and held forth on the state of the newspaper industry. 

Business concerns — expansion of the chain, creation of the tele- 
graph news services, cost controls, the role of advertising, etc., — dominate 
his outgoing letters through 1908 (although political issues receive some 
attention). Scripps began his first retirement in 1908. 

Winter 1999 • American Journalism 137 

In 1904, Scripps outlined his view of journalism to the editor of his 
San Francisco Daily News: "Hook yourself tight and close the heart of the 
common people. Be always with them and of them." 3 Another letter 
reveals the business rationale behind Scripps' close attention to working 
class readers: "The wage earning class is by far the largest purchasing class 
of Los Angeles and however much the advertisers may respect the carriage 
trade and desire it, they are absolutely dependent upon the basket trade 
and dinner pail brigade for their prosperity." 4 On another occasion, 
Scripps outlined his bare-bones approach to newspaper operations to the 
business manager of one of his newspapers: 

The first thing you, as a young business manager, have to 
learn is how to save money. Demonstrate to the company 
that you have got that capacity first. Never buy anything 
today that you can put off until tomorrow or next year. 
Never add any expense for anything until you shall have 
felt the supreme necessity of such an expenditure for at 
least three months. Be a skin-flint in every other matter but 
circulation. 5 

Another letter outlines one of Scripps' chief rules — that newspapers 
demonstrate a 15 per cent cash profit. In 1899, he wrote to his partner 
Milton McRae, "You only had to do one thing, and that was to cut down 
your expenses to a point where they would reach 85 cents on a dollar 
received." 6 When one of his papers failed to make the required 15 per 
cent profit, Scripps wrote: 

It is useless to send me detailed figures showing why your 
expenses were increased or reduced. In a former letter, I 
have indicated to you my intention of requiring nothing 
much more of the Star management than to do decent, 
gentlemenly, business and make a reasonable profit. So 
long as you show a profit and have a clean paper, there will 
be mighty few kicks coming. 7 

After 1908, Scripps' letters deal more than before with political 
issues. His newspapers were heavily involved in promoting reform 
politicians in California (Hiram Johnson, Francis Heney) and in Wash- 
ington state (Miles Poindexter) as well as on the national level (LaFollette 
and Wilson). 

1 38 Great Ideas • Winter 1 999 

Letters Among Scripps Employees 

Letters among the Scripps employees provide an excellent overview 
of upper and middle management as well as other aspects of day-to-day 
operations of the Scripps newspaper chain. Scripps' chief lieutenants 
provided extensive advice to the editors and business managers who ran 
the individual newspapers in the chain; in turn, those editors and manag- 
ers reported extensively on their problems and successes to those above 
them in the corporate organization. 

Minutes of the Editorial Advisory Board of the Scripps - McRae 
League in the 1890s provide extensive information on meetings of the 
Midwest Scripps papers' editors, plans on coverage of political conven- 
tions (in 1892, 1896) and news coverage in general. 8 Lemuel T. Atwood, 
the chain's treasurer, sent a compilation of financial records from Scripps' 
key Midwest papers (in Cleveland, Cincinnati and St. Louis) to the 
chain's attorney in 1901; the letter listed profits (or losses) for each paper 
since the early 1880s. 9 In another letter, the editor of Scripps' Tacoma 
Times outlined a newspaper crusade he was about to start: 

City/copy desk of the Cincinnati Post in 1910. O. O. Mclntyre (seated at the one o'clock position) 
was city editor and a famous New York columnist. E. W. Scripps Papers, Ohio University 

Winter 1 999 • American Journalism 


I expect to take up a "gas fight" here within a few days. The 
conditions are favorable — high priced gas. It was with a "gas fight" 
in Seattle that I first gained circulation for the Star. I believe 
our gains there, traceable to the gas campaign, which was 
successful, netted us some 4,000 additional circulation. 10 

The chain's attorney, Jacob Harper, advised one editor that libel suits 
could be very beneficial: "A libel suit, and particularly when it affects 
public affairs, is often the greatest opportunity presented to a newspaper. 
The Cincinnati Penny Paper was dragging along almost unknown in 
Cincinnati until criminal libel proceedings against its Editors were begun. 
A great jump in circulation followed those proceedings."" 

Scripps' Autobiography and Disquisitions 

The fourth section of the Scripps papers includes his Autobiography 
and Disquisitions. The Autobiography is a particularly strong source on 
the early years of his career, when he was working with family members in 
Detroit (at the Evening News) and as he moved on to the Cleveland Press 
and the St. Louis Chronicle. The Disquisitions (for which an index exists) 
reflect Scripps' thoughts on a wide variety of topics — from journalism to 
socialism and reform. [Oliver Knight's I Protest: Selected Disquisitions of 
E. W. Scripps (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1966) provides an 
excellent introduction to the Disquisitions.] 

In his Autobiography, Scripps recalled the impact of the Detroit 
Evening News, which had been established by his older brother, James. 
This "formula" for news would provide the foundation for the Scripps 
newspaper chain: 

Rich rascals, rich men who were affected by petty meanness, 
so called respectable men in political offices who were doing 
wrong things, clergymen who had faults that unfitted them 
for church service or even decent society, professional men — 
doctors, lawyers and even judges on the bench — who had 
depended upon the cloak of their respectability, or position, 
to cover a misdeed, and many other citizens, soon found 
that, as far as the reporters of the Evening News were con- 
cerned, they were living in glass houses and that they had 
no means of protecting themselves from public exposure. 12 

1 40 Great Ideas • Winter 1 999 

The Ohio University Archives and Special Collections 
Department has begun to scan part of the Scripps Papers; 
on-line viewing of the correspondence will eventually be 
available. At least part of the collection will be searchable (key 
words, subject headings, date, collaborators, geographical area,) 
through OhioLINKs new multimedia database linked to the 
Ohio University Archives/E.W. Scripps website address 
mssl 17.htm>; Ohio University's website <http:/>; and Ohio University's on-line library catalog. 
The OhioLINK <> central catalog is open to 
users everywhere through the Internet. 

Check with Dr. George Bain, Head Archivist at Ohio 
University, for the status of this project or for any questions 
about the Scripps papers: Dr. George Bain, 504 Alden Library, 
Ohio University, Athens, OH. 45701-2978. Telephone: (740) 
593-2710. FAX: (740) 593-0138. E-mail: 

A finding aid is available at the Ohio University Archives. 


' E.H. Wells to E.W. Scripps, 1 February 1906, series 1, subseries 1.1, box 26, folder 6. 
2 E.H. Wells to E.W. Scripps, 1 July 1903, series 1, subseries 1.1, box 21, folder 4. 

3 E.W. Scripps to W.D. Wasson, 23 January 1904, series 1, subseries 1.2, box 5, folder 3. 

4 E.W. Scripps to J.C. Lee, 30 July 1902, series 1, subseries 1.2, box 5, folder 1. 

5 E.W. Scripps to Hyacinth Ford, 7 November 1906, series 1, subseries 1.2, box 8, folder 8. 

6 E.W. Scripps to Milton McRae, 13 March 1899, series 1, subseries 1.2, box 3, folder 11. 

7 E.W. Scripps to E.F. Chase, 12 January 1901, series 2, box 5, letterbook 7, 66. 

'Minutes of the Editorial Advisory Board, Scripps McRae League, 30 July 1896, series 3, subseries 
3.2, box 3, folder 3. 

'L.T. Atwood to Jacob C. Harper, 22 April 1901, series 3, subseries 3.2, box 4, folder 9. 
10 E.H. Wells to L.T. Atwood, 22 December 1904, series 3, subseries 3-1, box 17, folder 7. 
"J.C. Harper W.D. Wasson, 10 January 1907, series 3, subseries 3.1, box 23, folder 5. 
12 E.W. Scripps Autobiography, series 4, box 11, 177. 

Winter 1 999 • American Journalism 141 

142 Winter 1999 

Book Reviews 

As we open Volume 16 ^American Journalism, we find ourselves with 
a mixed bag of literature. If there is a common theme to these books (and 
sometimes we have to stretch to find it) there is an emphasis on the work of 
modernity. I point to Ted Garrard's review of one of the masters of the fund- 
raising business, a position that is taking on increasing importance and 
assuming increasing controversy in our universities and colleges today. The 
emergence of cash crises not only affect higher education, as James Mueller's 
review notes, but newspapers have been forced to combine some functions in 
common communities in order to survive. 

And of course, one cannot speak of modern situations and at the same 
time ignore the impact of telecommunications policy, which we note in this set 
of reviews. Lest one think, of course, that we are deviating from our historical 
mission, we have included a number of interesting volumes beginning with 
Kathy English's look at Harris and O'Malley's collection of reporting master- 
pieces. Frances Wilhoit reviews one of the newest in a collection of television 
encyclopedias. We are also taking a look at the social history of public relations 
and finally, the media in public life in a review by Michael Antecol. 

/ Editor s Choice 

The Black Press: Soldiers Without Swords (Video) 

California Newsreel, San Francisco, California, 1998. 

It has not been our habit in the past to review video productions for 
the simple reason that very few of them deal with aspects of journalism 
history. The ones that do regularly find their way to the Public Broadcast- 
ing System receiving exposure that is far more universal than a scholarly 
journal can deliver. However, in this issue, the editor's choice is a recently 
released video by California Newsreel on the history of America's black 
press. And of course, before it arrived on my desk, it received a first 
viewing on PBS. Nonetheless, prior exposure does not invalidate com- 
ments in a journal devoted to scholarly publishing. 

This hour-and-a-half study of the rise and fall of America's black 
press should be required viewing in classrooms across the nation. We can 

Winter 1999 • American Journalism 143 

thank the rise of social history and those who practice it for revealing the 
long kept secrets of those struggling journalists who were out of step with 
the dominant ideological forces of their times. Had these people not 
taken it upon themselves to study the impact of the African American 
press, the labor journals, the monetary reform papers and the gay and 
lesbian press to name just a few, students today would grow up "secure in 
the knowledge, deprived as it may be, that press barons such as Pulitzer, 
Hearst, Bennett and their ilk were the true journalistic heroes of a time 
gone by. Soldiers Without Swords gives us a brilliant, artistic and somewhat 
provocative look at a press that helped make America a different place for 
minority participation in the past century. 

In many ways, the format of the program is predictable. It has been 
constructed in true Ken Burns style, thankfully without the dramatic 
cheerleading that infects Some of Burns' better works. It is a combination 
of vintage film, artistic re-creations and interviews with media historians 
such as AJHA members Jane Rhodes and Patrick Washburn. The story 
has style and a keen sense of drama. When I showed it to a class here at 
the University of Western Ontario who are not at all familiar with 
American media history, let alone African American history, the 85 
minutes and 54 seconds passed without a murmur or whisper or a rattling 
of paper in the classroom. When one considers that we now live in a day 
and age when maintaining concentration through a 1 5 second commer- 
cial is a challenge, this is an accomplishment indeed. Yet during the entire 
film, subject matter is dealt with in depth; information is never sacrificed 
to style. 

The main thesis of the program is that the African American press 
rose as part and parcel of a community attempting to legitimize its place 
in American society. Before the Civil War, the press concentrated on 
abolitionist issues. Following the war and throughout the period of 
Reconstruction and the reaction to it, the press continued the demand for 
full citizenship for its constituency. And, of course, in the 20th century, 
the question of civil rights began to dominate the front pages of the press 
known as Soldiers Without Swords. 

The program closes with a sense of nostalgia bordering on sadness. 
The producers conclude that the black press began to wither and die 
because it was no longer living in a day and age when African Americans 
could be defined by their communities in a world of separateness. More 
and more African Americans were joining the media corporations, giving 
a second expression beyond that of the exclusiveness of the black press. 
One could certainly argue with this contention, while noting that large 

144 Book Reviews • Winter 1 999 

black newspapers such as New York's Amsterdam News continue to publish 
because they do have a defined black community in America's largest city 
which extends beyond cultural issues to ones of geographical definition. 
Harlem may not be a legally defined community, but it is real in terms of 
its culture and its geography. 

My only regret is that the program did not include journalist cum 
lawyer Mary Ann Shadd Cary. Considering that Professor Rhodes, who 
appeared on the program, has just written a substantial and qualitative 
study of this abolitionist who moved to Canada prior to the Civil War to 
establish the Provincial Freeman, it is an interesting omission. But perhaps 
I am assuming too much. Soldiers Without Swords is a project with 
considerable merit. It manages to bring together the many and diverse 
studies now lining library shelves which deal with the integration of the 
press and minorities striving to find a place in an often hostile and rigid 
environment. This film has made a major contribution to our under- 
standing of this process. Let us hope the producers do not stop making 
such fine films. 

>David R. Spencer, University of Western Ontario 

Joint Operating Agreements: The Newspaper Preserva- 
tion Act and Its Application 

John C. Busterna and Robert G. Picard, Norwood, New Jersey: Ablex 
Publishing Corporation, 1993. 171 pp. 

The authors of this book did not set out to write a history of joint 
operating agreements, but their historical analysis of that facet of the 
newspaper industry may well be the true worth of the book. The authors, 
however, state in the preface to Joint Operating Agreements: The Newspaper 
Preservation Act and its Application that the book's "greatest practical 
value" may be in informing owners of competing newspapers that there is 
an alternative to the NPA. Busterna and Picard suggest that competing 
newspapers would be better off combining some operations before one of 
them qualifies as "failing" under the NPA. This solution is an interesting 
idea, yet it is really too late because there are so few competing daily 

The true worth of the book is in the authors' excellent historical 
critique of the Newspaper Preservation Act as an example of "public 

Winter 1999 • American Journalism 145 

policy gone awry." The book, which is readable despite dealing with a 
rather dry topic, includes a history of newspaper joint operations, a 
thorough analysis of the Citizen Publishing case that provided the genesis 
of the NPA and a review of the literature and theory on the topic. The 
book demonstrates that the NPA has not been effective in saving dying 
newspapers or saving weak newspapers that were in joint operating 
agreements before the act was passed. That previous sentence might seem 
confusing, but the authors' history of joint operations clears up a miscon- 
ception that there were no joint operations before the NPA was passed in 
1970. The book points out that joint newspaper operations go back to the 
1930s, and that most cost-sharing measures that joint operating newspa- 
pers use were legal under US antitrust laws before the NPA was adopted. 
The authors argue that even some activities like price fixing and profit 
pooling would have been permitted in a limited fashion before the NPA 
was approved. 

The authors' exhaustive analysis of the 1 965 US Department of 
Justice suit against the joint operating newspapers in Tucson, Arizona, 
(the Citizen Publishing case) and the subsequent development of the NPA 
show the newspaper industry and the country missed a great opportunity 
to have alternatives other than the present law. Without going into detail 
here, the authors convincingly argue that the alternatives may well have 
been better. Busterna and Picard point out that the failing newspaper 
requirement is one of the main problems with the NPA because a newspa- 
per that is already failing through poor circulation is almost impossible to 
save. They argue that it would be better to allow competing newspapers to 
enter cost-sharing and limited cartel arrangements before one of them is 
truly failing. 

But reading the authors' review of literature on the effect of compe- 
tition on editorial content makes one question whether preserving 
newspapers will do much to preserve diversity. The authors argue that 
research shows there is little diversity in editorial content even between 
competing newspapers because newspapers seek to appeal to the mass in 
the middle and will not want to upset the "narrow band extending 
between liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans." 

St. Louisans might take issue with that assertion. For example, the 
conservative Globe-Democrat trumpeted the invasion of Grenada as a 
justified rollback of Communism, while the liberal Post-Dispatch con- 
demned it as the worst sort of gunboat diplomacy. That difference of 
opinion hardly seems a "narrow band" and yet was typical of the way the 

1 46 Book Reviews • Winter 1 999 

papers reacted to the major and minor issues of the day. They provided a 
clear choice of views in St. Louis until the Globe's death in 1986. Such 
distinct viewpoints were published in competing newspapers in a number 
of other cities, including Shreveport, which continues to have editorial 
diversity under a unique agreement whereby the surviving newspaper is 
publishing a second editorial page produced by the publisher of the failed 
newspaper. Busterna and I'icard only lightly touch upon the Shreveport 
model which, like the authors' suggestion for a modified NPA, may well 
be too late to provide much editorial diversity in the American press. 

The next few years are likely to see more newspaper closings and 
the terminations of JOAs rather than attempts to form new ones. The El 
Paso Herald-Post, which was in a JOA with the El Paso Times, was closed 
while this book review was being written. El Paso was the last major city 
in Texas to have competing dailies; such competition ended in Dallas in 
1991, San Antonio in 1993 and Houston in 1995. The situation in Texas 
reflects that in the rest of the country. The trend is clear, and it seems the 
best bet for editorial diversity may be the establishment of new online 
newspapers. Nevertheless, Joint Operating Agreements is well-written, well- 
researched, and is quite valuable for anyone interested in the history and 
economics of the newspaper industry. 

>Jim Mueller, University of Texas at Austin 

Media And Public Life 

Everette E. Dennis & Robert W. Snyder (eds.), New Brunswick, New 
Jersey: Transaction Publishers, 1997. 190 pp. 

This compilation represents the best articles from a decade's worth 
of the Freedom Forum's Media Studies Journal. It contains over 20 pieces 
that may be characterized simply as short in length but large in stature. 
This is true both in terms of the contributors themselves and the thoughts 
evoked by their articles. Included in this volume are such wide-ranging 
topics as television in public life, the history of newspapers, gender and 
race equality in the media, the relationship between news and public 
relations as well the future of both the media in general and the news 
media in particular. The authors, drawn from academic, governmental 
and professional domains, include Newton Minnow, Christopher Lasch, 
Herbert Gans, Maureen Dowd, Robert MacNeil and Leo Bogart. 

Winter 1999 • American Journalism 147 

Reading this book brought me back to my first semester as a Ph.D. 
student. As part of my course load for that semester I was required to take 
an introductory seminar in mass communications. Despite the course title 
and despite the fact that we read hundreds and hundreds of pages from a 
variety of sources, the course rather simplistically dealt with only two 
complementary issues: what was thought to ail the news media and what 
could be done to remedy the supposed ailments. The major ills of the 
news industry were summarized simply as the corporate ownership 
structures (in the Altshull vein) and the growing distance between news 
consumers and news providers. Civic journalism was offered to the class 
as a quick and simple remedy to those ills. 

Although studies of the news media, and indeed the media in 
general, can be easily dichotomized in such a context-less problem/ 
solution-type fashion, what the chapters in Media And Public Life make 
clear is that whatever problems in the news media system one chooses to 
focus on, those problems are neither so simple or so easily rectified. 
Rather, the news media must be seen in the context of the larger media 
systems from which they draw their existence. Accordingly, the successes 
and failures of the news media can be seen as interpolations of the overall 
media system. Likewise, any media system can only be seen as part of the 
society in which it resides. Thus, the issue of racial equality in the news- 
room is similarly an issue of equality in the overall media system and of 
equality in general society. 

Despite the fact that it is often done, then to partition the media in 
general or the news media in particular from the rest of society is to 
commit a serious error. In the language of the social sciences, such a 
partitioning would lack both internal and external validity. Whether one 
agrees or disagrees with any specific idea put forward in the book, the 
strength of Media And Public Life as a whole is that it does not undertake 
such a partitioning. In doing so it paints a more representative picture of 
the role the media can and do play in the lives of American citizens. 

One may, of course, ask why it is necessary to purchase a book that 
represents only a compilation of previously released work. There is some 
validity in that question. But, in response, I would argue that nowhere has 
such an interesting and thought-provoking body of work by such a 
diverse group of authors been brought together in one easily accessible 
place. These articles contain many of the enduring questions that con- 
tinue to haunt media practitioners, those of us who study the media, and 
indeed many in the general public. It represents a focused attempt to 

1 48 Book Reviews • Winter 1 999 

direct attention to those issues and as such should be required reading for 
all those beginning their work with the media and recommended to all 
those, both private or professional, who express an interest in this 
vast topic. 

>Michael Antecol, University of Missouri,Columbia 

Museum of Broadcast Communications Encyclopedia of 
Television, 3 vols. 

Horace Newcomb (ed.)> Cary O'Dell (Photo Editor), Noelle Watson 
(Commissioning Editor), Chicago and London: Fitzroy Dearborn 
Publishers, 1997. 1,948 pp. 

(Volume 1: encyclopedia entries A-F; Volume 2: encyclopedia entries 
G-P; Vol. 3: encyclopedia entries QjZ, notes on contributors, index.) 

A project of Chicago's Museum of Broadcast Communications, this 
extraordinary encyclopedia was edited by Dr. Horace Newcomb, the 
Heyne Professor of Communication at the University of Texas at Austin, 
who consulted with an advisory board of 14 scholars to define the project. 
They reduced the possible topics to about 1 ,000 entries focused on the 
work on "major English-speaking, television producing countries, and for 
that reason the bulk of the material presented here deals with television 
programs, people, and topics drawn from the United States, Britain, 
Canada, and Australia." 

The encyclopedia, a project requiring three years of preparation and 
contributions from more than 300 authors, has produced a carefully 
edited and beautifully created historical presentation and interpretation of 
television as produced in the United States, Britain, Canada, and Austra- 
lia. The Museum of Broadcast, founded in 1987 under the direction of 
Bruce DuMont, has a collection of radio and television artifacts and offers 
a series of public forums and interactive programs about the social effects 
of television programs, and the development of the technology underpin- 
ning the medium. The museum's resources also include the A.C. Nielsen, 
Jr., Research Center, "a collection comprising thousands of hours of 
programming, commercials, newscasts, and special events." These 
materials are available to anyone who wishes to listen to, or view the past 
of, broadcast communication at the museum. 

Winter 1999 • American Journalism 149 

Though most of the entries in the encyclopedia are for programs, 
persons, and corporations, there are included wonderfully descriptive 
entries about developments in the industry, such as "Color Television," 
"Fairness Doctrine," "Educational Television," and "Cable Television." 
The encyclopedia has been carefully and beautifully created. The subject 
matter is riveting. The entries are interesting, descriptive, factual, schol- 
arly, and illustrated with black and white photographs and corporate 
logos. The entries include a broad range topics, persons, television 
productions, products, and developments. The entry for "I Love Lucy" 
illustrates the detail and quality of information provided in the encyclope- 
dia. "I Love Lucy," U.S. Situation Comedy, is followed by a lengthy, 
descriptive and insightful essay discussing the themes, successes, the 
cultural setting of the program, and the detail of the series, persons and 
institutions involved in its production. 

As in all the entries about television programs, the information 
includes a list of the cast and characters, the producers, the programming 
history in number of episodes, the network, a chronology of the broad- 
casts by month and year, and a bibliography for further reading. Refer- 
ences to related entries are given, such as, "See also Arnaz, Desi; Ball, 
Lucille; Comedy; domestic Settings; Family on Television." The entries 
for television actors describe their styles and careers, and present a full 
listing of performances in broadcasting, detailing the years of the various 
television series, mini-series, and made-for-television movies. 

The entry for " 'I Love Lucy' describes the details of the creation and 
success of the show. For example, " 'I Love Lucy' debuted on CBS in Octo- 
ber 1951 and was an immediate sensation. It spent four of its six prime-time 
seasons as the highest-rated series on television and never finished lower than 
third place." The success of "I Love Lucy" is described and analyzed in detail 
and illustrated with photographs. The encyclopedia's entries describe corpora- 
tions involved in the television industry. The "Cable Networks" entry, for 
example, defines cable networks by describing the services, illustrating the 
entry with network logos, and summarizing the complex environment in 
which the networks competed and developed. 

The encyclopedia includes many entries about the companies 
involved in television produced and broadcast in the English-speaking 
countries. The entry entitled "Cable Networks" is an example of the 
encyclopedia's holistic approach to the subject of television. A definition 
and description of the cable network system introduces the entry. The 
channels (25)on most cable systems are listed. The list begins with Arts 
and Entertainment (A & E),continues with Black Entertainment Televi- 
sion (BET), and Home Shopping Network, and Nickelodeon ("children's 

1 50 Book Reviews • Winter 1 999 

and family programming,") and ends with The Weather Channel, ("24 
hours a day of weather information"). The entry describes how the cable 
networks operate. Pay networks, pay-per-view networks, regional net- 
works, and a history of networks are included in this entry. The history 
begins with the first cable network, Home Box Office. The cable logos 
provide the topic's illustrations and, as with all entries, a bibliography for 
further reading is included. 

> Frances Wilhoit, Indiana University 

PR! A Social History of Spin 

Stuart Ewen, New York: Basic Books, 1996. 480 pp. 

Just how slippery is the definition of PR is clear to anyone who tries 
to identify the PR activities at, say, the White House or the Pentagon — or 
the Vatican or the Sears Tower for that matter. Every message and every 
activity takes on aspects of PR. To avoid drawing the unhelpful conclu- 
sion that public relations is in fact the whole wide world, one will be 
forced to create categories that, however reasonable, will bear his or her 
stamp. By the end of this exercise, we're likely to learn as much about the 
person examining PR as about PR itself. 

That has certainly been true for PR historians. Textbooks for 
courses in public relations use an onward-and-upward model as they 
describe PR beginning with press agentry and the ballyhoo of P. T. 
Barnum, gaining a measure of respect at the hands of Ivy Lee and Edward 
Bernays, and evolving into the professionalism apparent in the Public 
Relations Society of America and the International Association of Busi- 
ness Communicators. In Corporate Public Relations, free marketeer Marvin 
Olasky documented a century of big business/government collaboration. 

And in The Unseen Power, PR education pioneer Scott Cutlip 
focused on the careers of more than a dozen pioneering practitioners, 
many whom he knew. So it is not surprising that in PR! Hunter College 
social historian Stuart Ewen sees public relations largely as an anti- 
democratic enterprise. 

This enterprise began, according to Ewen, with the populism of the 
Progressive era, when muckraking journalists exposed the myriad oppres- 
sions of big business. Progressives viewed the public as rational, and they 
believed that social conditions would improve if the public was presented 
with reasonable arguments based on fact. Corporations responded with 

Winter 1999 • American Journalism 151 

information campaigns of their own. During those trust-busting times 
AT&T successfully "educated the public" into approving its monopoly 

Faith in a rational public eroded in the 1920s as the social psychol- 
ogy of Gustave Le Bon gained the acceptance of opinion shapers like 
Walter Lippmann and Edward Bernays. In The Crowd, Le Bon had 
proclaimed, "To know the art of impressing the imagination of crowds is 
to know at the same time the art of governing them." Embracing this 
insight, corporate public relations learned to use market surveys and 
opinion polls to forge a conceptual link between public welfare and free 

Democratic impulses revived after this link broke in October 1929. 
Big business grew increasingly alarmed as FDR used his public relations 
savvy to align the middle and working classes with the federal govern- 
ment. So big business fought back. Campaigns of the National Associa- 
tion of Manufacturers used radio, films, and billboards — even the New 
York World's Fair in 1939 — for one overarching purpose: to co-opt the 
democratic expectations that grew with the New Deal. 

Ewen's history of spin in the 20th century shows democratic move- 
ments thwarted by massive corporate propaganda, populism corrupted 
into acquiescence. But despite corporate capitalism's resources and skills, 
Ewen believes that democracy can re-awaken if the isolating spell of 
demography can be broken and the work of imagination, organization, 
and education can unite a people for the causes of freedom and equality. 

To say that PR! is the most compelling history of public relations 
that has been written is to damn it with faint praise. Books about PR, 
historical or not, tend either to support the practice of public relations 
uncritically or to condemn it unmercifully. Ewen's book deserves superla- 
tives because it is more measured and historically nuanced. If a person 
were to read only one history of public relations in America, Ewen's would 
be the best choice. 

Not that the book is without flaws. It begins with breezy first- 
person accounts of getting publicity in the New York /Wand of inter- 
viewing Bernays. But these accounts give way to a denser, third-person 
history after a few dozen pages in a remarkably abrupt shift in tone and 
direction. Moreover, Ewen's focus on the grand narrative of capitalist PR 
ignores the workaday world of most business public relations, not to 
mention that of nonprofit and charitable concerns. It is important to 
remember that the first book published about public relations, Herbert 
Heebner Smith's Publicity and Progress, dealt not with business but with 

1 52 Book Reviews • Winter 1 999 

religion, education, and social work. Nevertheless, Ewen has written a 
provocative history, one that deserves to be widely discussed. 

>John P. Ferre, University of Louisville 

Pragmatic Fundraising For College Administrators 
And Development Officers 

Ralph Lowenstein, Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1997. 132 pp. 

Ralph Lowenstein won a reputation as a highly successful fund 
raising dean during his 18 years as Dean of the College of Journalism at 
the University of Florida. By the time he left his post in 1994, Lowen- 
stein's efforts resulted in 68 different endowment funds valued at more 
than $20 million. 

Pragmatic Fundraising is part memoir and part self-help guide in 
which Lowenstein shares with readers strategies and techniques for 
successful fundraising, for example: how to recognize and approach a 
potential donor, how to organize a fundraising committee, how to 
approach foundations, and how to write compelling proposals. The book 
also contains more than 20 exhibits ranging from letters of invitation, to 
proposal cover letters, and even a letter of condolence. 

From a professional fundraiser's perspective, what is refreshing about 
Pragmatic Fundraising is Lowensteins understanding that college adminis- 
trators must increasingly play a highly active role in fund development 
activities. Lowenstein, as it turned out, not only liked fundraising but 
ended up spending half his time involved in fundraising activities. What 
makes Lowenstein a good fundraiser is his ability to form relationships 
with potential donors, cultivate their interest, respond to their needs and, 
most importantly, know when to ask for the order. Indeed, Pragmatic 
Fundraising is full of helpful examples and anecdotes of this "high-touch" 
form of fundraising, which obviously has been so successful for 

However, fundraising today goes beyond "high touch" and has 
become very "high tech," something to which Lowenstein pays little 
attention and which is a major shortcoming of the book. Fundraisers 
today require a high degree of knowledge in the areas of data manage- 
ment, market segmentation, and tax and legal areas. Unfortunately, little 
attention is given in the book to these matters or to highly used fund- 
raising vehicles such as telemarketing, direct mail or planned gifts, 

Winter 1999 " American Journalism 153 

including annuities, bequests or charitable uni-trusts. These are important 
elements of fundraising that every development officer or administrator 
must come to understand to be successful. 

In conclusion, Pragmatic Fundraising is a useful introduction to the 
do's and dont's of fundraising. However, in reading the book, college 
administrators and fundraising wanabees must themselves be pragmatic in 
understanding its limitations. 

>Ted Garrard, The University of Western Ontario 

Studies in Newspaper and Periodical History: 1995 

Michael Harris and Tom O'Malley (eds.), Westport, CT: Greenwood 
Press, 1997. 264 pp. 

The range of scholarship collected in Studies in Newspaper and 
Periodical History: 1995 Annual is vast indeed. Spanning the period from 
1 700 through the 1 970s, with articles covering the United States, En- 
gland, Wales, Germany and Australia, this book addresses the very role of 
serial publication within the wider sphere of cultural history. In its 
examinations of serials ranging from the 18th century's Tatler through to 
the emergence of the late 20th century's Rolling Stone, this collection seeks 
to establish the serial as a core element in the historical study of print. 

The work is edited by Michael Harris, a Lecturer in History at the 
University of London and founder of the Journal of Newspaper and 
Periodical History from which this work is culled, and Tom O'Malley, 
Senior Lecturer in Media Studies at the University of Glanmorgan, Wales. 
Both scholars contribute articles to this book, with Harris' opening essay 
Locating the Serial providing the raison d'etre for the entire collection. 
Harris' piece raises questions about the manner in which serial publica- 
tion has been historically studied, suggesting a need for wider debates 
about the role of the serial in print culture. He argues that a "worn-out 
form of cultural elitiara" has placed the central components or serial 
publication — the newspaper and magazine — secondary to book publica- 
tion as a source of study. Happily though, he argues, "like a long-unused 
engine, the 18th century printed serial is spluttering into life." 

Following that introductory essay, much of the rest of this book 
seeks to prove the importance of serial publication in establishing shared 
concerns over social issues. This covers a wide range of specific issues of 

1 54 Book Reviews • Winter 1 999 

various eras and locales. New York University's Amy Beth Aronson 
discusses the role at "Lacelles" magazines and women's self-representation 
in the early years of American democracy, effectively arguing that the 
American women's magazine promised revolutionary possibilities in 
providing redress for women's enforced silence in the public sphere. In 
another piece, Tom O'Malley and his Wales' colleagues Stuart Allan and 
Andrew Thompson explore the relationship between the newspaper press 
in Wales and issues of national identity, pointing out a need to recognize 
the way in which the press reflected conflict within Welsh society over the 
meaning of Welsh identity. Twentieth century, post- World War II Ger- 
many is discussed in Jessica Gienow-Hochfs fascinating study of the 
influence of the American newspaper Neue Zeitung's coverage of the 
Nuremberg Nazi war criminal trials in the establishment of a collective 
German guilt for the crimes of Adolph Hitler. 

Researchers of a certain dominant demographic will most certainly 
enjoy reading Cleveland State University David Atkins' analysis of Rolling 
Stones coverage of the American New Left during the late 1960s. Atkins 
discusses the role of the underground press in general in the turbulent late 
'60s and the myth of Rolling Stone in particular. He documents the 
publication's evolution from its genesis as an "underground" alternative 
voice that espoused both political and cultural change through to its later- 
day mainstream commercial popularity when it sought to distance itself 
from radical politics. Ultimately, he concludes that the goal of incisive, 
partisan reporting is incompatible with a serial's economic success; in 
essence telling us, Rolling Stone sold out. 

This book concludes with an engaging essay by Acadia University's 
Glenn Wilkinson on the use of the newspaper as a serious source for 
historians. Wilkinson discusses the mental and physical problems of 
newspaper research, including the researcher's tendency to get side tracked 
within the spiraling spools of microfilm by tales of gruesome murders or 
the score in the Cup final. He offers practical advice for the historian new 
to the newspaper as a source: take a sweater (microfilm rooms are always 
cold); don't read at lunch (your eyes need a rest). Wilkinson is clearly an 
advocate of mining the newspaper for research gems. Indeed he states that 
exploring the newspaper can provide great value to "those willing to get 
their historical hands dirty." 

Wise words indeed for those of us engaged in the pursuit of under- 
standing the role of serial publications through history. 

>Kathy English, Ryerson Polytechnical University 

Winter 1999 • American Journalism 155 

Wireless: Strategically Liberalizing the Telecommuni- 
cations Market 

Brian J.W. Regli, Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1997. 296 pp. 

In these times, when market forces are close to automatically 
championed as a panacea for society's ills, it's notable to come across a 
mainstream work of telecommunications policy that doesn't mindlessly 
jump on the same bandwagon — and that also attempts to ground its 
analysis and recommendations in historical and comparative terms. 
Author Brian J.W. Regli (most recently employed at a management and 
communications consultancy that serves such clients as NYNEX, Bell 
Atlantic, and BellSouth) attempts to move the telecommunications policy 
debate past the dichotomizing choices of market regulation versus state 
regulation. Neither a mob of companies scrambling to do each other in 
nor a lumbering state monopoly has in his view achieved the sustainable 
growth of telecommunications services nor the goal of broad access 

The absence of large infrastructural investments of the kind needed 
by telephony and other cabled services makes the wireless systems of the 
book's title (such as cellular telephone, paging systems, and their variants) 
uniquely positioned to finally deliver the promises of access, accessibility, 
and increased democracy, provided that governments and corporations 
make the proper decisions today. His policy proposal is what he labels 
"strategic liberalization" — a broad-based regulatory framework shared and 
put into practice by government and industry to promote wireless and its 
role in economic development. Regli argues for "a more pro-active role for 
government institutions and regulatory bodies worldwide," not in terms 
of limiting activities of telecommunications developers, but "to further 
liberalize and develop" certain areas of the economy — such as wireless 
telecommunications — that are seen to benefit entire societies. In this way, 
he attempts to set himself apart from the free market radicals as well as 
from what he calls leftist protectionists. 

Of primary relevance for communication historians are his policy 
analyses of telecommunications laws and regulation in four countries 
from generally the 1960s through the mid-1990s. While recent develop- 
ments in the US, Britain, Russia, and Brazil illustrate the problems 
associated with swinging too far toward state or corporate control, Regli 
sees opportunities in all these countries to beneficially moderate these 
extreme responses. His overview of relevant acts, policies, and their legal 
milieus is useful for anyone with interests in the recent history of telecom- 
munications policy. However, some features of the book limit its useful- 

1 56 Book Reviews • Winter 1 999 

ness for communication historians, not the least of which is its constant 
use of cute "green'analogies which, in this case, tend to trivialize the 
matter — for example, equating telecommunications markets to different 
ecologies and describing their growth and development as needing the 
nutrients of capital, customers, and the like, or concluding the book with 
a call for "telecommunications bio-diversity." 

More seriously, a conspicuous absence in a book on global regula- 
tion and economics is an analysis of the imperatives of capitalism as they 
shape this process and its priorities. Telecommunications companies, 
governments, and other constituencies are presented here as autonomous 
players in a giant game of "Let's Make a Deal," instead of as positioned 
and working within the global capitalist system and its drive toward 
increasing concentration of power and resources. Corporations, technolo- 
gies, and their needs are therefore presented as natural, autonomous, or as 
self-evident instead of as produced and pressured by goals of profit- 
maximization and expansion. More engagement with the vast literature of 
political economy and communications (recent representatives include 
Mosco, Garnham, Murdock, Wasko, McChesney, and Golding) would 
deepen the analysis made and the conclusions reached. 

A second shortcoming is the book's reliance on two theoretical 
perspectives which mesh nicely with the absence of remarks about 
capitalism: technological determinism and modernization theory. The 
notion that communication technology is the source of social change 
makes it easier to promote technology alone (in this case, wireless tele- 
communications) as the means of achieving economic development. To 
find such a perspective in this work is not surprising. Regli intends this 
book as a combination of academic study, policy analysis, and corporate 
strategy (in practice, it is more of the latter two). For its intended audi- 
ence of mainstream North American telecommunications scholars, 
think-tank members, and CEOs worried about the bottom line, this mix 
is (all too often) suitable. 

In sum, the book is useful for its description of different policy 
orientations regarding telecommunications and its account of recent 
developments in telecommunication regulation and policy in a handful of 
countries. However, for conclusions more complex and troubling than we 
simply need to get together to make the best decisions, one should go to 
work that is grounded more clearly in the historical dynamics of 
corporatization, capitalism, and the intricate realities they seek more 
successfully to understand. 

>James Hamilton, SUNY Geneseo 
Winter 1999 • American Journalism 157 





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A Journal of Media History Spring 1999 

Volume 16, Number 2 

American *. 


Editor Shirley Biagi 

California State 
University, Sacramento 

Book Review Editor David Spencer 

University of 
Western Ontario 

Assistant Editor Timi Ross Poeppelman 

California State 
University, Sacramento 

Design Gwen Amos 

California State 
University, Sacramento 

Former Editors William David Sloan 

University of Alabama 

Gary Whitby 

East Texas State 

John Pauly 

Saint Louis University 

Wallace B. Eberhard 

University of Georgia 

1999 American Journalism 
Historians Association Officers. 

President Eugenia Palmegiano 

Saint Peter's College 

1st Vice President William David Sloan 

University of Alabama 

2nd Vice President David Copeland 

Emory Henry College 

Administrative Secretary. Carol Sue Humphrey 

Oklahoma Baptist 

Treasurer Dick Scheidenhelm 

Colorado State 

Historian Alf Pratte 

Brigham Young 

Board of Directors .David Abrahamson 

John Coward 
David Davies 
Wallace Eberhard 
Kathleen Endres 
John Ferre 
Tracy Gottlieb 
Pat Washburn 
Julie Williams 

Definition of History 

For purposes of written research papers and publications, the term history 
shall be seen as a continuous and connected process emphasizing but not 
necessarily confined to subjects of American mass communications. History 
should be viewed not in the context of perception of the current decade, but as 
part of a significant and time-conditioned human past. 

Editorial Purpose 

American Journalism publishes articles, book reviews and correspondence 
dealing with the history of journalism. Contributions may focus on social, 
economic, intellectual, political or legal issues. American Journalism also welcomes 
articles that treat the history of communication in general; the history of 
broadcasting, advertising and public relations; the history of media outside the 
United States; theoretical issues in the literature or methods of media history; and 
new ideas and methods for the teaching of media history. Papers will be evaluated 
in terms of the authors systematic, critical, qualitative and quantitative investiga- 
tion of all relevant, available sources with a focus on written, primary documents 
but not excluding current literature and interviews. 


©American Journalism Historians Association 1999. Articles in the journal 
may be photocopied for use in teaching, research, criticism and news reporting, 
in accordance with Sections 107 and 108 of the U. S. Copyright Law. For all 
other purposes, including electronic reproduction and/or distribution, users must 
obtain written permission from the editor. 

Submission Guidelines 

Authors submitting research manuscripts for publication as articles should 
send five manuscript copies (including an abstract with each). Manuscripts 
should follow the Chicago Manual of Style, 14th Edition, and should not exceed 
the recommended maximum length of 20 pages. Research manuscripts are blind 

Great Ideas is designed to showcase new approaches and information about 
the teaching of media history. Great Ideas are typically three to six manuscript 
pages. Authors of Great Ideas should first query the editor. 

American Journalism is produced on Macintosh computers using Microsoft 
Word 6.0.1. Authors whose manuscripts are accepted for publication are asked to 
submit their work on PC or Macintosh disk, formatted in Microsoft Word 5.0 
or 6.0.1. 

Send Submissions to Professor Shirley Biagi 

American Journalism 
Studies Department 
6000 J Street 
Mendocino 5014 
Sacramento, CA 
Telephone: (916) 278-5323 

Book Reviews To review or propose a 

book review contact: 
Professor David Spencer 
Graduate School of 
University of Western 

London, Ontario 
Canada N6A 5B7 

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A Journal of Media History Spring 1999 

Volume 16, Number 2 

J American < . 

Editor's Note 9 

"Those Who Toil and Spin ": Female Textile Operatives' Publications in 
New England and the Response to Working Conditions, 1840-1850 . . 17 
Mary M. Cronin 

The author explores the nations first factory publications which were 
predominantly written and edited by women. 

Dissent and Control in a Woman Suffrage Periodical: 30 Years of the 

Wisconsin Citizen 39 

Elizabeth V. Burt 

Through her study of the Wisconsin Citizen, the author observes that 
the role of reform publications had a positive as well as negative impact on the 
women's movement. 

Flying Around the World in 1889 — In Search of the Archetypal 

Wanderer 63 

Paulette D. Kilmer 

This article attempts to illuminate how and why Nellie Bly, and not 
Elisabeth Bisland, became a cultural icon as the archetypal wanderer. 

Spring 1999 • American Journalism 5 

"There is Nothing in This Profession . . . That a Woman Cannot Do" : 

Doris E. Fleischman and the Beginnings of Public Relations 85 

Susan Henry 

This article focuses on pioneer Doris E. Fleischman's role during the 
early days of public relations. 

Great Ideas: Rethinking Objectivity in Journalism and History: What 

Can We Learn from Feminist Theory and Practice? 113 

Carolyn Kitch 

The author suggests viewing journalists and the practice of historical 
research through the lens of feminist theory. 

Book Review Editor's Note 121 

Book Reviews 121 

Editor's Choice: Big Trouble 121 

By J. Anthony Lukas 
Reviewed by David R. Spencer 

Dispatches From The Revolution: Russia 1916-1918 124 

By Morgan Phillips 
Reviewed by Roy E. Blackwood 

Fleet Street Around The Clock 126 

By Gordon Allan London 
Reviewed by J. O. Bay Ian 

French Newspapers' Opinion on the American Civil War .... 129 
By George M. Blackburn 
Revieiued by Andrew C Holman 

Rampant Women Suffragists and the Right of Assembly .... 130 
By Linda Lumsden 
Reviewed by Tamara Baldwin 

Table of Contents • Spring 1 999 

Robert Worth Bingham and the Southern Mystique: 

From the Old South to the New South and Beyond 132 

By William E. Ellis 
Reviewed by John P. Ferre 

The World According to Hollywood: 1918 to 1939 134 

By Ruth Vasey 
Reviewed by G. Tom Poe 

Tombstone's Epitaph 136 

By Douglas D. Martin 
Reviewed by Joseph A. Russomanno 

Spring 1999 • American Journalism 

Spring 1999 

Editor s Note 

'omen — more than 100 years of their role in the history of 
''American mass media — is the single focus of the articles in 
this issue of American Journalism. Traditional histories of mass media in 
America still overlook the important role that many women played in 
journalism's formation. The articles in this issue add substantial scholar- 
ship on the subject, spanning two centuries — from the publication of 
activist labor periodicals of the 1800s to the development of public 
relations strategies in the 1900s. 

"Those Who Toil and Spin" is the subject of Mary Cronin's exami- 
nation of textile factory workers' publications, which writers used to rally 
women to change working conditions in the textile industry. Lamonica 
says these New England periodicals, including The Lowell Offering and 
The Voice of Industry, may have been the first labor publications for 

Activists in the women's suffrage movement are chronicled by 
Elizabeth Burt in her article, "Dissent and Control in a Woman Suffrage 
Periodical: 30 Years of the Wisconsin Citizen." The women who published 
the Citizen chose to downplay disagreements among their members, Burt 
says, rather than become an outlet for conflicting constituencies. 

A comparison of the lives of two early female pioneers is the focus 
of Paulette Kilmer's "Flying Around the World in 1889 — In Search of the 
Archetypal Wanderer." Kilmer examines the portrayal of two pioneering 
adventurers — Nellie Bly (Elizabeth Cochrane) and Elizabeth Bisland — to 
explain why Bly attracted so much media attention and Bisland was left 
largely unnoticed. 

The early career of Doris E. Fleischman, a woman who is central in 
the history of public relations, is the focus of Susan Henry's study, "There 
Is Nothing in This Profession. ..That A Woman Cannot Do." Henry has 
published extensively on the lives of Fleischman and her husband, 
Edward L. Bernays, but here Henry gives specific attention to 
Fleischman's early working years to capture the working collaboration 
Fleischman and Bernays and the impact of that relationship on the 
development of the public relations profession. Included with this article, 

Spring 1999 • American Journalism 

courtesy of Henry, are two stunning photographs of Fleischman, 
published here for the first time. 

This issue's Great Ideas, written by Carolyn Kitch, is a description 
of her personal journey, using feminist theory as a different lens to help 
focus her study and teaching of journalism history. Kitch asks, "What 
Can We Learn from Feminist Theory and Practice?" 

David Spencer presents another interesting collection of book 
reviews, beginning on page 107. His Editor's Choice, Big Trouble by J. 
Anthony Lukas, offers unusual insight into media in the Gilded Age. 
Other reviews cover books about the suffragist movement, overseas media, 
stories about the history of some significant US newspapers, and a 
chronicle of the early years of Hollywood. 

This is the sixth issue of American Journalism published at Califor- 
nia State University, Sacramento, and the initial flood of Great Ideas that 
I received at the beginning of my tenure as Editor has dimished to a 
trickle. I know that many of you have Great Ideas to share with our 
readers, so this is a plea to you to sit down and write them out and send 
them to me — six pages double-spaced of your best teaching, learning or 
research hints for those of us who care about media history. Great Ideas 
are always welcome at American Journalism. 

Shirley Biagi 

10 Editor's Note • Spring 1999 

American Journalism 

Back Issues 

The following back issues of American Journalism 

are available at the 

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combined issue): 

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Nos. 1 and 2 

Volume 8 


Nos. 1, 2-3 (com- 
bined issue), and 4 

Volume 9 


Nos. 1-2, 3-4 

(both combined issues) 

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Nos. 1-2 (combined issue) 

Volume 1 1 


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Spring 1999 • American Journalism 



Spring 1999 

American Journalism Reviewers 

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Spring 1 999 • American Journalism 


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Spring 1999 • American Journalism 


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American Journalism • Spring 1999 

'Those Who Toil and Spin": 
Female Textile Operatives' 
Publications in New England and 
the Response to Working 
Conditions, 1840- 1850 

By Mary M. Cronin 

This article examines the publications produced by antebellum 
female textile operatives in New England and, specifically, their responses 
to working conditions. The article examines arguments for the 10-hour 
day, concerns about wages, work speedups, the dignity of labor and, 
related, discontent over class distinctions and middle class hegemony. The 
research highlights how the unique, gendered nature of these publications 
influenced the topics of discussion and the rhetoric used. 

In May 1846, a writer for the Lowell, Massachusetts-based Voice 
Of Industry admonished the Massachusetts legislature after it 
failed to approved a 10-hour day for laborers. Factory workers, 
many of whom toiled 12 to 14 hours a day in poorly ventilated cotton 
mills with only brief meal breaks, had lobbied the legislature on several 
prior occasions without success. Despite this, workers redoubled their 
efforts and sent a 15,000-signature petition to lawmakers. It, too, failed to 

Mary M. (Cronin) Lamonica is an Associate Professor of Communication at Stonehill 
College in Easton, Massachusetts. 

Spring 1 999 • American Journalism 1 J 

spur legislation, and caused a Voice Of Industry writer, (known only as 
E.R.) to state: 

The legislative Committee have recently told 1 5,000 of us, we are 
fools — that the evils we have petitioned them to remove, do not 
exist, notwithstanding we have worked day after day and experi- 
enced all these evils — that their valuable time is of too much 
importance to waste in the manner, and in fact, if some evils do 
exist, they are so very few that they area of not much consequence, 
and are just what we must expect; and further, the generous corpo- 
rations will look after these things, so there is no fear but we shall 
have our just dues and they might have added (as they no doubt 
thought) that we were poor and consequently beneath notice. 1 

The article demonstrated that factory workers understood that 
important changes in social, political, and economic relationships had 
occurred in antebellum society. The pre-industrial society of their parents' 
and grandparents' generations had disappeared, and in its place a class- 
based society emerged, many of whose members equated money with 

These first generations of factory workers recognized that, like 
artisans and mechanics before them, newspapers were a necessary vehicle 
to lobby for social, political and economic goals." Such journals allowed 
workers to regularly publicize their agenda to broader audiences than 
lectures or broadsides could reach. 

First Labor Publications for Women 

The majority of the nation's first factory publications were estab- 
lished by those operatives who had the least power in society — women. 
These journals — which emerged only in New England's large, planned 
textile cities in which female labor predominated — also appear to have 
been the first labor publications for women. 3 Labor publications for male 
artisans and mechanics first appeared in the late 1820s, the products 
primarily of unions and political parties. 4 

Despite having only two to three free hours a day, New England's 
female textile operatives produced many literary and labor publications. 
The first and most widely known was The Lowell Offering ( 1 840- 1 845). 
Four other publications subsequently emerged in Lowell: The Operatives' 
Magazine ( 1 84 1 - 1 842) , The Operative ( 1 843-45) , The Voice of Industry 

Cronin • Spring 1999 

(1845 - 1848), and The New England Offering (1847 - 1850); in 
Cabotville (Chicopee), Massachusetts, The Olive Leaf and Tactory Girls' 
Repository (1 843); in Fall River, Massachusetts, The Wampanoag and 
Operatives' Journal (1 842); and another, The Tactory Girl's Advocate 
( 1 845) , possibly was published in Boston. Five other journals were 
published in New Hampshire: The Tactory Girl { 184 1-43); The Tactory 
Girl and Ladies' Garland ( 1 842); The Tactory Girl's Garland ( 1 844); The 
Tactory Girl's Album and Operatives' Advocate (1846); and The Tactory 
Girls' Album and Mechanics' Offering (1846-47), all based in Exeter. 5 

The Lowell Offering gained acclaim when author Charles Dickens 
visited Lowell and was surprised to find the operatives both literate and 
literary. He praised The Lowell Offering, stating "It will compare advanta- 
geously with a great many English annuals." 6 Since then, contemporary 
historians studying the industrial revolution, women's issues, and labor 
history frequently have cited the publication. The other factory publica- 
tions have rarely been examined, however, leaving them largely unknown 
to both scholars and the general public. 7 

This research examines female operatives' responses to working 
conditions in both the labor and the genteel publications. More specifi- 
cally, the article examines arguments for the 10-hour day, concerns about 
wages, work speedups, the dignity of labor and, relatedly, discontent 
about growing class distinctions and middle class hegemony. The author 
sought to examine how the unique, gendered nature of these publications 
influenced the topics of discussion or the rhetoric used. The author also 
sought studies of the predominantly-male labor press of the time to 
examine those publications' concerns and rhetoric. 

Unfortunately, few studies which focus specifically on the artisans' 
and mechanics' press prior to 1850 exist. Two studies (which examined 
several of the publications) have shown that the topics which concerned 
the early labor publications for mechanics and artisans included attempts 
"to unify the working classes in their struggle to become part of middle 
America"; free, tax-supported public schools; suffrage for all free men; free 
trade; abolishment of the armed forces; direct taxation; fully equipped 
militias; an end to capital punishment; government protection of the 
working classes; repeal of chartered monopolies; and changes in lending 
and borrowing laws. 8 

The author examined the entire content of every existing issue of 
five of the publications which emerged in antebellum New England 
factory communities. Those five journals include three that were labor- 
oriented — The Voice of Industry, The Tactory Girl's Album and Operatives' 

Spring 1 999 • American Journalism 19 

Advocate, the Factory Girl's Album and Mechanics' Offering, and two 
genteel litetary magazines, The Lowell Offering and The New England 
Offering. These were chosen because all had lengthy publication runs and 
most of the issues are still available for study. Some publications, such as 
The Factory Girl and The Wampanoag and Operatives' Journal, are barely 
extant; only scattered or single copies are available. Others, such as The 
Factory Girl's Advocate, are no longer extant. 

Women and the Industrial Revolution 

Although the nation's earliest textile mills established by Samuel 
Slater in Rhode Island in 1790 relied on whole families for their labor 
force, Slater's model wasn't followed by the larger industrial concerns 
which emerged in the next two decades. 9 The leading textile corporation 
in antebellum America in the 1820s, the Boston Manufacturing Com- 
pany, purposely recruited single farm women for the majority of its 
workforce. The Boston Associates, as the group became known, revolu- 
tionized textile production and urban industrialization in America 
through its creation of planned factory communities and textile opera- 
tions which housed every step in cloth production, from the raw materials 
to the finished, printed cloth, in one building. 10 The Boston Associates 
furnished the capital, planned the communities, built the factories, 
recruited the labor pool, and marketed their finished goods." 

The Associated planned every aspect of their industrial communities 
in the hopes of avoiding the grinding poverty, filth, and disease that were 
prevalent in Britain's textile cities. As such, the Associates' textile opera- 
tions were located in rural areas near rivers to take advantage of the clean 
water power. The workforce was planned with particular care. Cognizant 
of the shortage of male labor, and wanting to avoid potential union 
activity, management recruited women. Single farm women, in particular, 
were sought by factory owners because they were available in large 
numbers, were used to working long hours, had some experience helping 
their mothers produce cloth via spinning and weaving at home, were 
literate, seen as highly virtuous and most importantly, were viewed as 
deferential to patriarchal authority. 12 Women were readily available and 
they needed the work, since the goods they once produced at home — 
clothing and household items — were now being made more inexpensively 
and faster by industry. 

Despite these facts, other emerging industries had largely ignored 
women. Textile managers recruited the women by initially offering 

20 Cronin • Spring 1 999 

relatively high wages and clean, well-run boarding houses with female 
matrons and strict codes of conduct for occupants. City planners also 
built educational, cultural and religious facilities for the workers. Their 
efforts paid off. The emerging mill cities, such as Lowell, had largely 
homogenous workforces that were almost 80 percent female, under 30 
years of age, and from rural origins. 13 

This group assumed that if they created a model city — one with 
clean, well-supervised housing, schools, lecture halls, cultural activities, 
churches, and a benevolently paternal system of overseers — a harmonious 
atmosphere would prevail.' 4 Initially it did. The first wave of female 
operatives to live in the planned community of Lowell, Massachusetts, 
starting in 1823, appeared to have few grievances against the factory 
system. But as the 1830s and 1840s progressed, operatives complained 
about work speedups, wage cuts, and increased boarding house charges 
and conditions, as well as the hours of labor. 15 

The very fact that Lowell was largely a female city allowed operatives 
to develop a sense of labor and gender solidarity relatively easily. Given 
what the Boston Associates thought was careful planning, Lowell's factory 
managers were taken by surprise in February 1834 when one-sixth of their 
female employees struck to protest wage cuts brought on by overproduc- 
tion and a slow market. 16 Rumors of the impending salary reductions 
were enough to cause the women to hold meetings, circulate petitions 
and, in some factories, completely stop work. Rallies and pledges by the 
women that they wouldn't return to work until the pay cut was rescinded 
were short-lived. The strike collapsed within a week after the strikers 
found themselves financially drained and evicted from their boarding- 
houses. 17 Most of the women returned to work, while others returned 
home. 18 

A financial panic in 1837 ended this first organizing effort. A more 
systematic effort wouldn't appear until 1845, led by Sarah Bagley, who 
later served as editor of The Voice Of Industry, with the formation of the 
Female Labor Reform Association. Although the group's concerns in- 
cluded health and safety issues, increasing wages, and boarding house 
conditions, the group's primary goal was achieving a 10-hour day. By the 
1840s, however, much of the labor agitation had shifted from street 
corners and meeting houses and into the pages of the press. 

Voices of Reform 

The publications emerged as the textile cities fell into an economic 
decline, the victims of their own industrial success. Rapid over-expansion 

Spring 1 999 • American Journalism 2 1 

in less than two decades flooded the marketplace with cheap textiles, 
forcing drastic cost-cutting. Operatives denounced the long hours of 
labor, low pay, and subsequent health and educational concerns in their 
journals. They also used their journals to address their disenchantment 
with class divisions. 

Labor historian Philip Foner has noted that the publications' 
importance "cannot be overemphasized. Workers smuggled them into the 
mills and they were eagerly read and passed along. These magazines 
stimulated and helped build the Female Labor Reform Associations of the 
forties [1840s]." 19 

The publications were largely helmed by men, despite the fact that 
numerous women wrote for, and served as co-editors of, the publications. 
Initially, The Lowell Offering, The Operatives' Magazine, and The Voice of 
Industry were supervised by male editors, although women later ran the 
publications. The Voice Of Industry only devoted substantial space to 
women operatives' issues during the year of 1846-47 when textile worker 
Sarah Bagley assumed the editorship. The Factory Girl and Ladies' Garland 
and The Factory Girl's Album and Operatives' Advocate also were established 
and run by a man, Charles Dearborn. Despite Dearborn's overall supervi- 
sion, an early editorial in The Factory Girl's Album and Operatives Advocate 
stated that it was: 

edited by an association of females who are operatives in factories, 
and consequently are well qualified to judge the wants of those 
whose cause they will advocate; and having borne in common with 
them their burdens and afflictions, are proper judges to administer 
an antidote that will alleviate their wrongs, and prevent a relapse of 
those abuses which have so long been heaped upon them. 20 

Dearborn changed the publication's name in May 1847 to The Factory 
Girl's Album and Mechanics' Offering in an attempt to broaden its appeal 
and readership. The new publication billed itself as the "devoted cham- 
pion, not only to the operative of the mills, but to the laboring classes 

Circulation figures for most of the publications are largely un- 
known. Most had subscription agents throughout New England and 
some, such as The Lowell Offering, claimed subscribers in most states and 
in several countries overseas. 21 Who those subscribers were — other 
operatives, artisans and mechanics, early supporters of labor or women's 
rights, or simply the curious — remains unknown, as the publications 
never addressed the issue and no records exist. Similarly, most of the 

22 Cronin • Spring 1999 

publications never listed their circulations. Of the two that did, The Olive 
Leaf and Factory Girl's Repository claimed a circulation of nearly 1,000 
copies in 1843." In 1846, The Voice of Industry claimed a weekly circula- 
tion of 2,000 copies. 23 

Magazines Never Opposed Hard Labor 

Literature and poetry on non-labor topics predominated in the 
genteel magazines, although some editorials, stories and poetry occasion- 
ally dealt with labor topics. The female labor reform journals stood in 
contrast to these literary publications by devoting virtually all of their 
space to labor issues and concerns. Like their genteel counterparts, the 
labor publications also offered readers serialized novels, short stories and 
poetry, yet virtually all of the copy focused on the plight of factory 
operatives, especially females. 

It should be pointed out that even the pro-labor publications' 
editors never opposed hard labor. Rather, they denounced what many 
considered to be the unhealthy conditions and poor treatment which 
resulted from such labor. Most of the operatives (writers and editors 
included) had worked from an early age on their parents' farms and were 
willing to do the same textile work (i.e., spinning and weaving) that their 
mothers had done at home. 24 Then, too, they did not oppose the estab- 
lishment of factories and subsequent mechanization of the nation. As 
historian Walter Licht notes, unlike Europeans, antebellum Americans 
welcomed machines with great enthusiasm. "Machines replaced few 
workers; with an expanding agricultural base and with labor therefore 
lured to the land, machines filled a vacuum. The machine did not emerge 
as a phantom in the midst of the new American republic, as a threat 
necessarily either to livelihoods or social order." 25 

Like the editors of the artisans' and mechanics' press, the greatest 
concern of many of the editors at the operatives' journals (particularly the 
pro-labor publications) was achieving a 10-hour day. 26 Labor agitation for 
the 10-hour day dated to 1791 when a group of Philadelphia carpenters 
struck, demanding a shorter day. 27 The demands did not become regular 
for three decades, however, until President Martin Van Buren approved a 
10-hour day in 1840 for federal workers, thus giving hope to other 
workers, who increased their lobbying efforts. 28 

As labor historians Philip Foner and David Roediger have noted, 
reducing work hours "constituted the prime demand in the class conflicts 
that spawned America's first industrial strike, its first citywide trade union 

Spring 1999 •American Journalism 23 

councils, its first general strikes, its first organization uniting skilled and 
unskilled workers, its first strike by females, and its first attempts at 
regional and national labor organization." The issue unified "workers 
across the lines of craft, race, sex, skill, age, and ethnicity." 29 

Both the labor and the genteel literary publications were uniform in 
their reasons why a 10-hour day was necessary — workers' health would 
improve and the extra time would allow operatives to better themselves 
educationally. The Voice of Industry used both arguments in its quest to 
obtain the 10-hour day. The newspaper was the joint product of the New 
England Workingman's Association and the Female Labor Reform 
League. Virtually every issue, both under its male editor, William Young 
(1845-46), and later its female editor, Sarah Bagley (1846-47), contained 
editorials, articles, and letters to the editor supporting the 10-hour day. 
The newspaper never minced words about labor conditions or its disen- 
chantment with middle class hegemony, living up to its slogan "Hearken 
to me, I also will show mine opinion." 

A December 26, 1845 editorial, for example, stated factory opera- 
tives labored longer than other members of the working classes, yet also 
played to a commonly-held belief that women were more fragile than 
men. 30 "Day laborers in the fresh air only work 10 hours the longest day 
in the year .... But here are poor, tender girls, in a confined atmosphere, 
drawing into their lungs the floating fibers of materials, forced to labor 13 
hours in a day — rise in the dark and go home amidst snow and sleet — 
and some of them children." 31 

Later articles in The Voice of Industry were even more pointed about 
health concerns. One said, "The human frame with its delicate machinery 
is more worn and broken by too many hours' labor, than by hard labor 
itself .... It is the long hours of weary standing or sitting in the bad air of 
the factories which destroy and slowly undermine the human condition, 
and produce premature debility and finally death." 32 Another stated, 
"Children and young persons require considerable recreation in the open 
air in order to produce a proper development of the physical structure. 
Variety of motion is one of the principal agents in the establishment of 
good corporal health." The article added that "extreme toil . . . has also a 
debilitating effect upon the mind." 33 

The Voice of Industry s editors also made clear that reduced hours of 
labor would allow operatives to devote themselves to educational im- 
provement, thus elevating the working classes and society as a whole. 
Artisans' and mechanics' publications made similar arguments, stating 
that education would allow the working classes to enter the ranks of the 

24 Cronin • Spring 1999 

middle classes. 34 Voice of Industry writer Huldah J. Stone said the 10-hour 
day would let operatives "cultivate all our faculties in that way and 
manner which shall most increase our own usefulness — add to the good 
of our fellow creatures and honor the great Creator." 35 

The newspaper's editors and writers were highly critical of operatives 
who sped back to the factory gates before meal breaks were over rather 
than spending their free minutes reading. One article stated, "Have they 
been so long accustomed to watching machinery that they have actually 
become dwarfs in intellect — and lost to all sense of their own God — like 
powers of mind — yea, more, have they any minds more than the beasts 
that perisheth? If so, why are they not in their rooms storing their minds 
with useful practical knowledge which shall fit them high and noble 
stations in the moral and intellectual world?" 36 The issue was a personal 
one for Editor Sarah Bagley, who was angered that long work hours made 
her unable to improve her education. 37 Bagley, like many of the opera- 
tives, initially found the mill cities attractive because they offered culture, 
something her rural town of Laconia, New Hampshire, could not. 
Libraries, evening classes, lyceum lectures, and literary circles flourished in 
many industrial cities. 38 

Argued for Health and Education 

The Factory Girl's Album and Operatives' Advocate also used health 
and education arguments in supporting the 10-hour day. A February 
1 846 article noted: 

Look at the mere child not 1 1 years of age, that is . . . 
compelled to labor from five o'clock in the morning till 
seven at night, making 14 hours for a day's work. And 
I would ask what opportunity a person thus situated has of 
improving, and cultivating her intellectual faculties. While 
on the other hand, had they but 10 hours to labor, they could 
secure for themselves a comfortable maintenance, without 
impairing their health, and a privilege of obtaining a good 
education, whereby they might become useful and respectable 
members of society. 39 

The publication noted that it "has heretofore been the unflinching 
advocate of the T 0-hour system,' and of all other measures of reform, 
which we have thought would tend to the alleviation of the present 
wrongs of factory operatives." 40 

Spring 1999 • American Journalism 25 

The Factory Girl's Album and Operatives' Advocate often used class 
rhetoric in its lobbying efforts for the 10-hour day. For example, a 
September 1846 article stated: 

Our cause is a just one .... The 10 hour system is already in success- 
ful operation in some parts of New England, and the day is not far 
distant when the corporations in New Hampshire will have to adopt 
it. This enlightened age will not admit of so much servility as now 
exits, and has existed for ages; and unless the tyrants speedily forsake 
many of their wicked ways, they will be left alone in their wickedness; 
and their shops of brick and stone will become desolate. 41 

The Factory Girl's Album continued to use working class rhetoric, 
but also drew upon the image of the frail female to lobby for shortened 
hours. For example, in an article titled "The Evils of the Factory System," 
the author criticized the factory owners' policy of 14- and 1 5-hour days: 
"The movers of our factory system, are without doubt, an enterprising 
class of men, and as such ought to be commended." Yet, the writer added, 
"Shame on you ye devotees to gold, ye pretended lords of creation. Hang 
your heads, and blush with shame and confusion, when you reflect upon 
your wicked tyranny and oppression; and that oppression exercised upon 
poor and helpless females." 42 

Although the pro-labor papers lobbied regularly for a shortened 
work day, New England's factory operatives were far from being the 
leaders in the 10-hour movement, however, and would not see their goal 
achieved until the 1850s — after their publications had all ceased. Female 
operatives faced great difficulty in convincing the public, particularly the 
upper classes, that workers were both deserving of a 10-hour day and that 
they would make good use of their free time. 

A Voice of Industry article noted in 1846 that the middle and upper 
classes believed that reducing hours of labor and providing more leisure 
time would allow operatives to "give themselves over to all manner of 
wickedness and degradation." The journal's staff disagreed firmly and 
proclaimed factory workers to be virtuous and "free from vicious hab- 
its." 43 After 15 minutes were added to meal breaks in 1847, another 
article made clear most workers used the time to better themselves: "And 
what horrible things do you suppose they were doing? Most of them were 
reading books or newspapers, others were chatting with their friends or 
greeting new comers . . . ." 44 

26 Cronin • Spring 1999 

The middle and upper classes firmly opposed shorter work hours, 
however, and refused to support the petitions and calls for the shorter 
workday, particularly when mill owners claimed that free time would 
increase "crime, suffering, wickedness, and pauperism." 45 The Voice of 
Industry issued calls for operatives to unite and remain united to achieve 
the resolution of their labor grievances: 

Some say that 'capital will take good care of labor,' but don't believe 
it; don't trust them. Is it not plain, that they are trying to deceive the 
public, by telling them that your task is easy and pleasant, and that 
there is no need of reform? Too many are destitute of feeling and 
sympathy, and it is a great pity, that they were not obliged to toil one 
year, and then they would be glad to see the '10-hour Petition' 
brought before the legislature. This is plain, but true language. 46 

Despite factory women's lack of franchise, New England's textile 
operatives used legislative petitions as their main tool to gain the 10-hour 
day. The Voice of Industry's editors took the lead in publicizing petition 
efforts. 47 Petition drives in 1843, 1844, 1845 and 1846 sent thousands of 
signatures to the Massachusetts legislature but failed to motivate the 
politicians, particularly the 1846 drive, because a large number of the 
signers were women. 48 Operatives persevered, however. 

The Voice of Industry editor, Sarah Bagley, who also was a leader of 
the Lowell Female Labor Reform Association which sponsored the 
petition drive in 1845, and six other women defied the then-social taboo 
of public speaking and testified before a Massachusetts legislative commit- 
tee investigating labor conditions. 49 No legislative actions resulted, despite 
Bagley s testimony on the effects of long workday hours on operatives' 
health. The committee to whom Bagley spoke acknowledged that the 
legislature could regulate hours of labor, but insisted that "It could not 
deprive the citizen of [the right to make his own] contract. " ,0 Operatives 
were outraged. A Voice Of Industry article accused the legislature of being 
unable "to break the chain of corporation influence, that now binds 
them." 51 

Operatives in New Hampshire had somewhat greater success. 
Similar petition drives were staged, led by Mehitabel Eastman, president 
of the Manchester Female Labor Reform Association and co-editor of The 
Voice Of Industry. New Hampshire's legislature passed the first 10-hour 
law in New England in 1847. Despite being hailed by the operatives' 
publications, textile workers quickly discovered the law had so many 

Spring 1999 • American Journalism 27 

loopholes that their hours of labor did not significantly decrease. 52 An 11- 
hour day eventually was adopted by most of New England's textile mills, 
but not until the 1850s. 53 

The genteel publications' editors, by contrast, took a passive ap- 
proach to the issue, claiming they had no power to bring about change 
and told operatives they should rely instead on patriarchal beneficence to 
change the system. A November 1842 editorial in The Lowell Offering 
said, "With wages, board, etc., we have nothing to do — these depend on 
circumstances over which we have no control." 54 The New England 
Offering's editor, Harriet Farley, echoed Whig support of factory owners 
over operatives on the 10-hour day issue. "I have no doubt that in their 
own good time, they will introduce the 10-hour system; and will not this 
be a noble deed?" Farley said. The article added that it was not "inherent 
corruptions of the factory system" that caused workers' ill health. Instead, 
Farley blamed the workers themselves, claiming that directly or indirectly, 
they neglected themselves. 55 

Rather than lobby for worker's rights, both the editors of The Lowell 
Offering and The New England Offering instead devoted most of their 
publications' space to essays, poems, stories, and serialized novels. Neither 
magazine's policy was anything but literary. The Lowell Offerings sole 
purpose, according to its editors, was to demonstrate to the upper classes 
that factory operatives were educated, intelligent, literate, and refined. 56 
The periodical's editors could not afford to be critical, since a major 
source of the journal's funding came from Lowell textile magnate Amos 
Lawrence. As a result, The Lowell Offerings editors rarely lobbied for 
changes in operatives' working or living conditions. 

The journal's editors also chose to say little about labor conditions 
because they were convinced that factory conditions were no worse than 
those at any other job. The Lowell Offerings editors conceded that "there 
are causes existing here unfavorable to constant and perfect health," then 
cited the long workdays, the lack of ventilation, and the brief meal breaks 
in cold rooms. However, the editorial stated that textile workers were no 
less healthy than other workers throughout New England, "because those 
physical laws which are violated in the mills, are almost equally violated 
throughout New England." 57 The Offering stressed that factory work was 
actually better than other jobs available to women because operatives were 
paid regularly. 58 

The few editorials which commented on working conditions that 
appeared in the Offering did just that — comment — not criticize. For 
example, the final editorial written by the Offerings editor, the Reverend 

28 Cronin- Spring 1999 

Charles Thomas, did call for changes, including shorter work hours, 
better ventilation in boarding houses, and the creation of mill libraries. 59 
The article laid no blame, however, and was not accusatory. 

Promotes the Image of "The True Woman" 

Both publications promoted the rights of women to work, yet did so 
genteelly. The magazines attempted to work largely within the confines of 
the middle class image of the "true woman," and thus portrayed opera- 
tives as pious, pure, submissive, domestic, and imbued with a sense of 
duty to family. 60 Women were regularly portrayed in both fiction and 
essays as working primarily to support parents and other family members 
back home. A Lowell Offering article said that "another great source of 
pleasure" for operatives was to send money home to their parents. 61 
Similarly, an 1848 editorial in The New England Offering told the story of 
a mill operative from Ireland whose starting pay was much less than the 
more experienced operatives. Yet, in only a 10-month period she managed 
to save $50 which she dutifully sent home to her parents. 62 

Neither journal supported labor agitation to improve conditions, 
however. The Lowell Offerings editor, Harriet Farley, believed that factory 
rules and hours were not too demanding: "Neither have I ever discovered 
that any restraints were imposed upon us, but those which were necessary 
for the peace and comfort of the whole, and for the promotion of the 
designs for which we are collected, namely, to get money, as much of it 
and as fast as we can." 63 Similarly, The New England Offering told opera- 
tives eight years later that they could leave the mill and become teachers 
or undertake "less influential positions" if they sought to improve their 
conditions. 64 

The pro-labor journals were angered at the passive nature of the 
genteel publications. The Voice ofLndustrys editors were severely critical of 
The Lowell Offering. 

This unfortunate publication roves over the country, even 
to other lands, bearing on its deceptive bosom a continual 
repetition of notes, less valuable to the reader than to the 
writer, but destructive to both; leaving behind the abuses 
and downward progress of the operatives, the very part 
which becomes their life, liberty, and greatness to give to 
the world, even if they were compelled to write the record 
with blood from their own veins. 65 

Spring 1999 •American Journalism 29 

Creating a Permanent Female Working Class 

For many operatives, labor reform publications provided a more 
accurate view of factory conditions and workers' economic realities. The 
labor journals viewed operatives as a distinct working class, whereas the 
genteel journals' editors viewed such labor as temporary. The Lowell 
Offerings editors frequently stated that factory work was a means to an 
end (such as to earn money for an education) for most women, rather 
than an end in and of itself. 66 

The distinction was important for many operatives, since changes in 
agriculture, particularly the transition from subsistence to market-economy 
farming, had increased the number of women and men during the 1840s 
who considered themselves members of the permanent laboring class. 
Although some women entered the factories to gain financial indepen- 
dence, other women had little choice but to take permanent positions in 
the mills. Conditions were different before the 1840s. Many female 
operatives in that era worked only part of the year, or for just a few years 
in the factories. Others returned home for a few months of the year to 
help with harvests or berry picking. 67 

Female operatives also used their publications to react to the grow- 
ing class distinctions, particularly the middle class attempts to dominate 
socially, culturally, politically and economically. Mechanics and artisans 
also criticized middle-class hegemony in their publications, using Jackso- 
nian language to denounce "the aristocracy of wealth" and exclusive 
privileges for the rich. 68 

The factory women of the 1830s and 1840s, only a few generations 
removed from their revolutionary War ancestors, stated that they were 
"proud daughters of freemen" who viewed themselves as equals to all 
other members of society. 69 Thus they were critical of members of the 
middle class who had cast aside the Puritan work ethic (with which the 
operatives were raised) and believed instead that proper women should 
embrace idleness and the sanctity of the home. 70 

The editor of The Factory Girl's Album arid Mechanics Offering 
promoted the dignity of labor and the nobility of the working class. A 
slogan in the journal's masthead said: "Honor and Shame from no 
condition rise — Act well your part — there all honor lies." Similarly, an 
article in the first issue of The Factory Girl's Album and Operatives' Advo- 
cate denounced both class-based distinctions and the middle class' feelings 
of superiority. "There is far too much of an aristocratic feeling existing 
among our people," said Sarah, the article's author. She added that there is 

30 Cronin • Spring 1999 

"groundless prejudice" against factory girls, whom she commended as 
industrious. She called class distinctions a grievous wrong. "That is the 
difference in caste which the employers create between their sons and 
daughters and the sons and daughters whom they employ to increase their 
wealth. We are opposed to this distinction. It is wrong; it is unjust to give 
the latter a supremacy in society over the former." 71 

Later articles in The Factory Girl's Album and Operatives' Advocate 
were more pointed, denouncing both class distinctions and the unequal 
distribution of wealth among classes. A March 1846 article noted: 

The laborer has occupied [a] too low and unworthy position in 
society .... Those whose gains have generally been the least, have 
been compelled to toil the hardest and longest, while others, who 
live in ease and affluence, have upon labors, amassed their immense 
wealth. Nature designs no such unjust, unequal distribution of her 
blessings, and she has fearfully placed the seal of her disapprobation 
thereon. 72 

Although they lacked the class rhetoric, editors of both The Lowell 
Offering and The New England Offering also voiced support for the dignity 
of labor and women's right to work. The Lowell Offering, for example, 
defended women's fight to work in factories after Orestes A. Brownson, 
editor of Boston Quarterly Review, claimed factory girls had been 
"damn[ed] to infamy." The Offering framed its support of factory women 
by drawing on operatives' Puritan heritage and describing operatives as 
"girls who generally come from quiet country homes, where their minds 
and manners have been formed under the eyes of the worthy sons of the 
Pilgrims, and their virtuous partners . . . . 73 

The New England Offerings editor also claimed that labor was 
dignified and did not make operatives any less feminine. Yet, the 
Offerings editor pointed out that her support for labor was less out of a 
sense of feminism and more for religious reasons. Work, said Harriet 
Farley, was "one of our great preparations for another state of being .... 
Work we all must, if we mean to bring out and perfect our natures." 74 

Workers Protest Production Speed-ups 

As textile mills overproduced and the economy suffered downturns 
in the 1840s, operatives also used their publications to denounce work 
speed-ups, increases in the hours of labor, and pay cuts. 75 Increases in the 

Spring 1 999 • American Journalism 3 1 

work day were one of the biggest grievances. Between 1829 to 1841, 15 
minutes were added to the working day. Operatives viewed the increase 
not as an increase in the workday, but as a decrease in leisure time. More 
importantly, as operatives had to tend more than one loom, the faster 
pace changed working conditions by decreasing operatives' autonomy. 
Articles in the publications noted that women had less time to converse, 
and that factory mangers banned both the books operatives once brought 
in to read during free moments and the potted flowers that once adorned 
the factories' windows. 76 

Speed-ups continued throughout the 1840s. Operatives who once 
tended two looms at a time were expected to tend four by the mid 1840s. 
Articles responding to the changes in The Voice of Industry pointed out 
that far from losing money, the Boston Associates were increasing rev- 
enues at the expense of the operatives. The newspaper printed statistics on 
women's wages, factory dividends, yards of cloth produced, number of 
employees, and numbers of spindles in operation in 1844 and 1845. 

A Voice of Industry article claimed corporate dividends in the Lowell 
mills increased almost 200 percent between the two years, then stated, 
"This is the natural result of the state of things in New England. — The 
more wealth becomes concentrated in a few hands, the poorer the great 
mass becomes." 77 Mill records supported the newspaper's claim. Between 
1840 and 1843, Lowell's mills had indeed suffered a downturn in profits, 
recording between 2.3 to 7.9 percent decreases in profits. The factories 
rebounded between 1844-46. Profits rose substantially, ranging from 17.1 
and 19.1 percent, during those years. 78 

Not surprisingly, then, the two wage decreases which occurred 
between 1841 and 1845 angered workers. An operative named Sarah who 
wrote about operatives' wages in the first issue of The Factory Girl's Album 
and Operatives' Advocate echoed the working class' concern that employers 
were profiting at the expense of workers: 

Her industry is to be commended — she toils from morning 
until night at the loom, or on some portion of the work which 
goes to make up the whole. But does she receive an adequate 
pay for her services? Not so. Her pay is too little in comparison 
to the profits derived from the work; and when it is taken into 
consideration that oftentimes the health is destroyed by over 
work, it must be acknowledged that the employer receives too 
much, the operative too little. 79 

32 Cronin • Spring 1999 

The journal's editors and writers regularly spoke out about wages, 
often providing facts and figures for its readers. A June 1846 article stated, 
for example: "Think of girls being obliged to labor 13 hours each working 
day, for a net compensation of two cents per hour, which is above the 
average net wages, being $1 .56 per week. Two cents per hour for severe 
labor!" 80 

Even the normally silent Lowell Offering found its voice on the wage 
issue. An October 1843 editorial noted, ". . . it is much easier to instill a 
feeling of self-respect, of desire for excellence, among a well-paid, than an 
ill-paid class of operatives. There is a feeling of independence, a desire to 
form and retain a good character, a wish to do something for others." 81 
The staff of The Factory Girl's Album and Operatives Advocate went 
further, lobbying for equal pay for women. "The labor of one person 
ought to command the same price as the labor of another person, pro- 
vided it be done as well and in the same time, whether the laborer be man 
or woman." 82 

The publications also occasionally commented on differences 
between factory and farm labor. For the first time in their lives, these 
formerly rural women had their lives governed by the clock. Many chafed 
at the system of factory bells which woke them, freed them for meal 
breaks, and sent them home at night. Even the editors of The Lowell 
Offering, who rarely commented on labor conditions, published an article 
titled "The Spirit of Discontent" in 1841, by an operative who stated, 
"Up before day, at the clang of the bell — and out of the mill by clang of 
the bell — into the mill, and at work in obedience to that ding-dong of a 
bell — just as though we were so many living machines." 83 

Similarly, The Factory Girl's Garland reprinted a resolution from 
Peterboro, New Hampshire, workers who called for factory managers to 
end the practice of requiring workers to arrive at their stations before 
dawn and continue until after dusk: "Resolved, That although the evening 
and morning is spoken of in Scripture ... no mention is made of an 
evening in the morning. We therefore conclude that the practice of 
lighting up in the morning and thereby making two evenings in every 24 
hours is not only oppressive but unscriptural." An article in The Factory 
Girl's Garland stated "We trust the girls . . . will rise up against this 
outrageous custom." 84 Behind the workers' concerns also was the reality 
that oil lamps polluted the air, increasing both the temperature in the 
mills and the fire risk. 83 

Spring 1999 • American Journalism 33 

Textile Publications Rallied the Working Class 

The journals disappeared in the early 1850s as the mill town went 
into protracted declines spurred by overproduction, causing native New 
Englanders to leave the mills in large numbers. Their Irish replacements 
did not continue the publications or start their own. 86 

Although these publication only lasted for a decade, their impor- 
tance to labor history, women's history, and communication should not be 
trivialized. These periodicals were not only the nation's first factory 
publications, but they were written and edited predominantly by women. 
The journals provided vehicles for women's literary aspirations and also 
allowed them to voice their discontent at industry conditions. Behind 
their concerns was a growing awareness that class distinctions had 
emerged permanently in society and furthermore, that the working classes 
were governed for the first time by a system of wage labor based on supply 
and demand. 87 

Like their counterparts, the artisans' and mechanics' press, the labor- 
oriented operatives' publications tried to rally the working classes into a 
unified whole on issues such as wages, hours of labor, and working 
conditions. Editors also sought solidarity to unite workers against middle- 
class hegemony. Both the genteel and the labor publications told readers 
that the key to middle class acceptance was education for the working 
class as a whole. 

Although the pro-labor operatives' publications denounced the 
emerging class distinctions as in opposition to the nation's perceived 
egalitarian origins, many operatives viewed themselves as a separate, 
distinct class. Female factory operatives responded to their changing 
social, economic, and political environment with a mix of both rural and 
urban philosophies. While welcoming the machine age and hoping to fit 
into the emerging urban industrial society, the factory girls clung firmly to 
their Puritan values and the Revolutionary War rhetoric of their fathers 
and grandfathers. They blended their rural beliefs with the realities of 
urban industrial life to argue that women who worked should be allowed 
entry into middle class. Rather than viewing middle class entrance in 
financial terms, these operatives judged individuals based on character 
and ability. The pro-labor journal's image of the acceptable woman — one 
who was employed, intelligent, physically fit, self-sufficient, and finan- 
cially self-reliant — was largely in opposition to the middle-class vision of 
true womanhood. 

34 Cronin • Spring 1999 

Hopefully more scholars will discover these early female voices. A 
comprehensive study of all antebellum labor publications — produced by 
both males and females — is necessary to properly assess the role these 
early women's publications had in establishing and promoting 19th 
century labor issues and rhetoric. 


'E. R., "10 Hour System," The Voice of Industry, 15 May 1846, 4. 

: C. K. McFarland and Robert L. Thistlethwaite, "20 Years of a Sucessful Labor Paper: The Working 
Man's Advocate, 1829-48, "Journalism Quarterly, vol. 60 (1) (Spring 1983): 35. 

'Hundreds of small mills existed in New England, however, the publications emerged inthe towns 
where the Boston Manufacturing Company, and other corporations which mirrored the Boston 
Associates' practices, established planned factory communities where women employees predomi- 
nated. For more on the smaller factories, see: Jonathan Prude, "The Social System of Early New 
England Textile Mills: A Case Study, 1812-40," in Herbert G. Gutman and Donald H. Bell, eds., The 
New England Working Class and the New Labor History (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1987). 

"•John R. Commons, et al., History of Labour inthe United States 4 vols. (New York: The MacMillan 
Company, 1926), 1:181. 

s The Operatives' Magazine was jointly published in 1845 in both Lowell and Manchester, N. H. 
Similarly, The Factory G»/was jointly published in New Market and Exeter, N.H. The Voice of 
Industry began again breifly in June 1848 under the m\e,Neiv Era of Industry. Its exact publishing 
histiry is uncertain. Lobor historian Philip Foner, in his work Women and the American Lobor 
Movement, also makes reference to a factory girl publication call the Factory Girl's Voice. No record of 
it could be found inany library or research institute despite extensive searching. 

Unfortunately, little is known of the women who wrote for the magazines, with the exception of 
those who wrote iorThe Lowell Offering. Offering writer Harriet Robinson's biography, Loom and 
Spindle, discusses those women — approximately 70 — in some length, particularly those who went 
onto literary careers after leaving the mills. The rest of the mill girl writers — even an actual count of 
numbers — remain unknown. Fearful of losing their jobs, many wished to remain anonymous and 
signed their articles only by their initials or first names. 

f 'Charles Dickens, American Notes And Pictures From Italy (New York: E. P. Dutton and Co., 1871), 
vol.2, 67. Similarly, another prominent British visitor, the Reverend William Scoresby, vicar of 
Bradford, Yorkshire, marvelled that female operatives would produce such a magazine, calling it "an 
incident so curious and novel." See: William Scoresby, American Factories And Their Female 
Operatives; With An Appeal On Behalf Of The British Factory Population, And Suggestions For The 
Improvement Of Their Condiiton, (London; Longman, Broan, Green, Longmans, 1845; reprint, New 
York; Burt Franklin, 1968), 69 (page reference is to reprint edition). 

7 Only a few historians have examined the other factory publications. See: Bertha Monica Stearns, 
"New England Magazines for Ladies," New England Quarterly, 3 (October 1930): 627-659. Philip S. 
Foner, ed., The Factory Girls (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1977). 

"McFarland and Thistlethwaite, "The Working Man's Advocate:" 39-40; C.K. McFarland and 
Robert L. Thistlethwaite, "Labor Press Demands Equal Education In the Age of Jackson, "Journalism 
Quarterly, vol. 65 (3) (Fall 1988): 600-608. 

''Barbara M.Tucker, Samuel Slater and the Origins of the American Textile Industry, 1790-1860 
(Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1984). 

"Thomas Bender, Toward An Urban Vision: Ideas and Institutions in 1 9th Century America 
(Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1975), 32. Twenty two mills existed in Lowell by 1835. 
That number increased to 502 by 1855. Approximately 8,800 women and 4,400 men helped produce 
2.25 million yards of cloth each week in Lowell, alone. See: Walter Licht, Industrializing America 
(Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1987). 

Spring 1999 • American Journalism 35 

"For a history of the Boston Associates, see: Robert F. Dalzell, Jr. Enterprising Elite: The Boston 
Associates and the World They Made (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1987). 

15 Bender, Toward An Urban Vision, 35. 

l3 Licht, Industrializing America, 58. For a contemporary account of operatives' desire to earn 
money, see: "Factory Girls," The Lowell Offering, December 1840, 17. 

l4 Dalzell, Enterprising Elite, 26-74. 

I5 A number of the journals addressed boarding house issues. For one of the lengthier articles, see: 
"Factory Boatding Houses," The Voice Of Industry, 25 Septembet 1845, 2. 

"Ticht, Industrializing America, 58. 

l7 Philip S. Foner, Women and the American Labor Movement (New York: International Publishers, 
1979), 35. 

l8 Licht, Industrializing America, 58 

19 Philip S. Foner, History Of The Labor Movement in the United States, vol. 1 (New York: 
International Publishers, 1975), 196. 

2 "No Headline, The Factory Girl's Album and Operatives Advocate, 14 February 1846, 2. 

2 '"Editorial," The Lowell Offering, vol. Ill (1843), 282. 

22 No headline, The Olive Leaf And Factory Girl's Repository, 25 April 1843, 14. 

23 "Our Financial Affairs," The Voice Of Industry, 20 November 1846, 2. 

24 Edith Abbott, Women In Industry: A Study in American Economic History (New York: D. 
Appleton, 1910), 112-113. 

25 Licht, Industrializing America, 47. 

2f, McFarland and Thistlethwaite, "20 Years of a Sucessful Labor Paper," 37. 

27 David R. Roediger and Philip S. Foner, Our Own Time: A History of American Labor and the 
Working Day (New York: Verso, 1989), 7. 

2s Roediger and Foner, Our Own Time, 44. 

2v Roediger and Foner, Our Own Time, vii. 

3 "A commonly-held belief at the time — the ideal of "true womanhood" — held that women were 
more tender and delicate than men. See: Frances B. Cogan, Ail-American Girl: The Ideal of Real 
Womanhood in Mid-I9th Century America (Athens, GA: The University of Georgia Press, 1989), 3. 

31 "Lowell Factories," The Voice Of Industry, 26 December 1845, 2. See also: "Evils of The Factory 
System," The Factory Girl's Album and Mechanic's Offering, 2. 

32 "Hours Of Labor In England And The United States," The Voice Of Industry, 19 February 1847, 4. 
,3 "-pQ-p^g p e0 pl e Of the United States," The Voice Of Industry, 19 February 1847, 4. 
34 McFarland and Thistlewaite, "Labor Press Demands Equal Education," 601. 

35 H.J. Stone, "Our Real Necessities," The Voice Of Industry, 18 September 1845, 3. 

36 "Lowell Girls — Standing At The Gate," The Voice Of Industry, 7 May 1847, 2. 

37 Elfrieda B. McCauley, "The New England Mill Girls: Feminine Influence In The Development 
Of Public Libraries In New England, 1820-1860" (Ph.D. diss., Columbia University, 1971), 282. 

38 Abbott, Women In Industry, 117. 

39 "The 10-hour System," The Factory Girl's Album and Operatives' Advocate, 28 Febraury 1846, 3. 

411 "Another Change," The Factory Girl's A/bum and Mechanics' Offering, 5 December 1846. 

41 "10-hour System Again," The Factory Girl's Album and Mechanics' Offering, 19 Septembet 1846, 2. 

42 "Evils OfThe Factory System," The Factory Girl's Album and Mechanic's Offering, 17 October 
1846, 2. Compare this rhetoric to that of the genteel publications. See, for example, "Duties and 
Rights of Mill Girls," The New England Offering, May 1848, 48. 

43 No headline, The Voice Of Industry, 13 November 1846, 3. 

44 "How Will The Operatives Employ Their Time?" The Voice Of Industry, 18 June 1847, 3. 

45 Licht, Industrializing America, 74; Foner, Women and the American Labor Movement, 75. 
46 No headline, The Voice Of Industry, 24 April 1846, 3. 

47 "10 hours, 10 Hours!!" The Voice Of Industry, 26 December 1845, 3. 

36 Cronin • Spring 1 999 

48 Roediger and Foner, Our Own Time, 55. 

■•"Walter Licht notes the 1845 petition had more than 5,000 signatures. See: Industrializing America, 60. 

''"Foner, Women and the American Labor Movement, 78. 

s '"10-hour System," 4. 

52 "All Hail New Hampshire," The Voice of Industry, 9 July 1847, 2. 

"Roediger and Foner, Our Own Time, 78. 

54 "Editorial," The Lowell Offering, November 1842, 48. 

55 "Duties and Rights of Mill Girls," 3. 

56 "Editorial: The Aim of the Offering," The Lowell Offering, vol. V (1845), 22-23. Also see: 
"Editorial," The Lowell Offering, August 1843,284. 

57 "Editorial," The Lowell Offering, May 1845, 191. 

58 "Editorial," The Lowell Offering, September 1844, 262. 

s '' "Editor's Valedictory," The Lowell Offering, December 1842, 380. 

""Barbara Welter, "The Cult of True Womanhood: 1820-1860," American Quarterly, vol. 18 
(Summer 1966): 151-174; Nancy F. Cott, The Bonds of Womanhood: 'Woman's Sphere in New England, 
1780-1835 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1977). 

61 "Editorial Corner: Plants and Flowers In the Mills," The Lowell Offering, October 1840, 32. 

f ' 2 "Editor's Table," The New England Offering, June 1848, 71 . 

63 "Factory Girls," The Loiuell Offering, December 1840, 17. 

" "Editor s Table," The New England Offering, July 1848, 95. 

'''Quoted in Helen L. Summer, History of Women in Industry in the United States (New York: Arno 
Press, 1974), 90. 

M> The Voice of Industry regularly referred to operatives as a working class. See, for example, "The 
Editor of the Voice, and Ourself," 15 May 1846, 2. Compare this to "Editorial," The Lowell. Offering, 
September 1844, 262. 

'"Foner, History of the Labor Movement, 193. 

''"McFarland and Thistlewaite, "20 Years of a Sucessful labor Paper," 36-37. 

<w "To Our Friends And Readers," The Voice Of Industry, 7 November 1845, 2. 

7 "Welter, "The Cult of True Womanhood," 151-153. 

7l Sarah, "Aristocracy," The Factory Girl's Album and Operatives' Advocate, 14 February 1846, 2. 

72 N. L., "The 10-Hour System," The Factory Girl's Album and Operatives' Advocate, 28 March 1846, 2. 

3 "Factory Girls," The Lowell Offering, December 1840, 17. 

74 "Duties and Rights of Mill Girls," 102-103. 

75 "High Wages," The Factory Girl's Album and Operatives' Advocate, 6 June 1846, 2; "Ventilation," 
The Voice of Industry, 27 August 1847, 4. 

7,, Roediger and Foner, Our Own Time, 5 1 . 

77 "The Factory System," The Voice Of Industry, 19 June 1845, 4. 

"TJalzell, Enterprising Elite, 52. 

7 ''Sarah, "Aristocracy," The Factory Girl's Album and Operatives 'Advocate, 14 Febraury 1846, 2. 

" "The Operatives' Life," The Factory Girl's Album and Operatives' Advocate, 20 June 1846, 2. 

81 "Editorial," The Lowell Offering, October 1843, 48. 

S2 "Female Labor," The Factory Girl's Album and Operatives' Advocate, 25 April 1846, 2. 

"AJmira, "The Spirit of Discontent," The Lowell Offering, vol. 1 (1841), 114. 

''''Roediger and Foner, Our Own Time, 5 1 . 

8S Roediger and Foner, Our Own Time, 5 1 . 

86 H. M. Gitelman, "The Waltham System And The Coming Of The Irish," Labor History, vol. 8 (3) 
(Fall 1967): 227-253. 

s7 Bender, Toward An Urban Vision, 64. 

Spring 1 999 • American Journalism 37 

Spring 1999 


Dissent and Control in a Woman 
Suffrage Periodical: 30 Years of the 
Wisconsin Citizen 

By Elizabeth V. Burt 

This article finds that, contrary to the expectation that reform publica- 
tions provide a place in the "marketplace of ideas" for reformers excluded from 
the mainstream press, the Wisconsin Citizen often suppressed debate among 
its constituents in the interest of maintaining an appearance of unity within 
the movement and the dominance of movement leaders. 

Ignored, excluded and ridiculed by the mainstream press, reform 
organizations and social movements often establish their own 
publications in the attempt to reach the public with their 
message. 1 Scholars analyzing these publications have found they typically 
seek to inform the general public of the goals and developments within a 
reform or social movement and also serve as vital channels of information 
for members of the movement who are often geographically separated. In 
this role, reform and social movement publications act as community 
bulletin boards for their constituencies. They announce upcoming 
activities, call for action and activism, report progress or setbacks, and 
record structural changes within the social movement organization. 2 As 
historian Lauren Kessler notes in regard to feminist periodicals, they serve 
as "organizational tools, morale boosters, consciousness-raisers, philo- 
sophical and political forums, and propaganda organs. " 3 One of their 

Elizabeth V. Burt is an Associate Professor in the School of Communication at the University 
of Hartford. 

Spring 1 999 • American Journalism 39 

major functions, according to historian Jean Folkerts, is to form "the core 
of a communications network" that helps members of the movement 
develop a sense of community. 4 

As noted by social movement scholars, various constituencies within 
a social movement often differ as to basic ideologies as well as tactics and 
strategies for achieving the movement's goals. Unless resolved, these 
differences can splinter the movement into separate factions, which can 
lead to duplication of effort at best and disempowerment and 
delegitimization at the worst. 5 These divisions can sometimes be dis- 
cerned in the various publications issued by different groups or factions 
within a social movement. The split within the anti-slavery movement 
over Constitutional or extra-Constitutional reform, for example, can be 
found in the opposing positions taken by William Lloyd Garrison and 
Frederick Douglass in the pages of their respective publications, the 
Liberator and the North Star. 6 In the case of the suffrage movement, the 
more than two dozen suffrage periodicals published over the years by a 
variety of state and national organizations presented varying and some- 
times conflicting concepts of womanhood and woman's role as a citizen. 7 

Another important role of social movement publications, therefore, 
is often that of mediator among factions. They may attempt to resolve 
discord by publishing the actual debate between conflicting constituen- 
cies, thus airing the debate and publicly seeking participation and even- 
tual resolution. This could be facilitated by the sheer number or variety of 
publications within a social movement, each adding its voice to the 
debate. It also could be facilitated by individual publications willing to air 
diverse views. The Genius of Liberty, the feminist journal published by 
Elizabeth A. Aldrich from 1851 to 1853, for example, welcomed diverse 
positions, including those opposing Aldrich's. This policy was announced 
to readers, in fact, in Aldrich's promise: "[Genius of Liberty] is not one's 
but belongs to ALL; every one will be heard in her own style, principle 
and want..." 8 

Dissenting Views May Be Suppressed 

Not all social movement publications are so magnanimous, however. 
Because they are often dominated by one or more leaders of the move- 
ment, in fact, their views often reflect those of these leaders. 9 Especially in 
cases where the prevailing views of the movement's leaders are being 
challenged within the movement, those dissenting views may be sup- 
pressed. In these cases, those aware of the conflict may find evidence of 

40 Burt 'Spring 1999 

dissent in its exclusion from rather than its inclusion in the social move- 
ment publication. As textual scholars point out, what is missing in the 
record is sometimes as important as what is included.™ 

This article examines the Wisconsin Citizen, which from 1887 to 
1917 served as the official organ of the Wisconsin Woman Suffrage 
Association and for much of that time succeeded in managing the various 
conflicts within the movement. First the article provides a brief review of 
the long campaign for woman suffrage in Wisconsin and the founding of 
the Wisconsin Citizen. Next, the article examines how the editors of the 
publication attempted to control the various controversies within the 
movement and then how those controversies were reflected (or not) in its 
pages. In conclusion, the author discusses the role of dissent within a 
social movement and considers whether the free expression of such dissent 
serves as a positive or negative factor in the health of the movement. 

Women Organize in Wisconsin 

Woman suffrage was first considered and rejected in Wisconsin at 
the territory's first and second constitutional conventions in 1846 and 
1848." It was not until 1867 that suffragists began to organize, and in 
the next year women suffragists created the Wisconsin Woman Suffrage 
Association (WWSA) with physician Laura Ross as its first president. Like 
suffrage associations formed in other states and territories, the association 
had a sporadic existence during its early years. Chapters in a dozen 
communities scattered across the sparsely settled state met irregularly, 
rallying briefly to descend on the state capitol to lobby for suffrage 
legislation. They had no official organ during these years, relying instead 
on the pro-suffrage Wisconsin Chief, a temperance sheet published in Fort 
Atkinson from 1856 to 1889 by Emma Brown, and the Boston-based 
Woman's Journal, established by the American Woman Suffrage Associa- 
tion in 1870. 12 

The WWSA was energized in 1884 when the Reverend Olympia 
Brown assumed the presidency. 13 A veteran organizer, the 49-year-old 
Brown immediately launched a campaign for a woman suffrage amend- 
ment to the state constitution. A suffrage bill was eventually passed by 
both the state legislature and the required popular referendum, but when 
women attempted to vote in the elections of 1 887, they were told they 
could only vote in elections on school issues. .' 4 

Brown brought the case to court, and between hearings toured the 
state to gather popular support. It was during this period, in 1887, that 

Spring 1999 • American Journalism 41 

she established the Wisconsin Citizen to counter "newspaper sensational- 
ism and idle or malicious gossip" being provided by the general circula- 
tion press. Despite her attempts, the case was lost. 15 

Brown remained the president of the WWSA until 1913 and saw to 
it that the Wisconsin Citizen continued publication. Under her leadership, 
the WWSA proposed suffrage legislation in the state capital during nearly 
every session, but it was not until 1911 that a bill for full suffrage was 
passed in both houses. The bill, however, also needed to pass a popular 
referendum, to be held November 1912. During the ensuing 19-month 
campaign, a group of younger suffragists challenged Brown's leadership of 
the Wisconsin movement. They established a second suffrage organiza- 
tion, the Political Equality League, frequently referred to as the PEL. 16 

Despite a vigorous and highly publicized campaign, the 1912 
referendum was defeated. Recognizing the need for unity, the WWSA and 
PEL resolved their differences, reunited under a reorganized WWSA, and 
replaced their leadership. The 78-year-old Brown grudgingly yielded the 
presidency; her place was eventually taken by journalist Theodora Winton 
Youmans, the former press organizer for the PEL. In 1914 Youmans 
became editor of the Wisconsin Citizen. 17 

Under Youmans' leadership and national directives from the Na- 
tional American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), the WWSA 
gradually shifted its focus toward campaigning for a national rather than a 
state suffrage amendment. 18 Despite this concentration of effort else- 
where, the WWSA routinely introduced suffrage bills to the Wisconsin 
legislature and in 1919 a bill for presidential suffrage was approved by 
both the legislature and the governor. In the same year, before that state 
law could take effect, the federal suffrage amendment was passed by 
Congress, and Wisconsin was the first state to ratify. Thus, in 1920, 
Wisconsin women were able to vote for the first time in all elections. 19 

Wisconsin Citizen Provides a Voice 

Like many reform and social movement publications, the 
Wisconsin Citizen was established to provide a voice for the ideas of a 
minority social or political reform at a time when those ideas were often 
silenced or ridiculed in the general circulation press. 20 "Modest in appear- 
ance but brave in its [intentions]," an article proclaimed in the first issue, 
"this little sheet comes before the public for the purpose of setting forth 
some of the work, industrial and reformatory, in which the unrecognized 
citizens of this State are engaged." 21 

42 Burt "Spring 1999 



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The front page of The Wisconsin Citizen as it appeared in May 1889. 

Spring 1999 • American Journalism 


From that moment in 1 887 until its last issue was published in 
1917, the Wisconsin Citizen served as the official voice of the Wisconsin 
woman suffrage movement. The paper was between four and eight pages 
in length, was available for a subscription price of 25 cents a year, and was 
published first as a monthly, occasionally as a bimonthly, and finally as a 
quarterly. 22 Its circulation varied over the years, sinking to as low as 70 in 
1902 to perhaps as high as 250 in 1914. 23 For its first 26 years the Citizen 
was published under a series of editors chosen by Olympia Brown and, 
indeed, was often referred to as "Mrs. Brown's paper." In its last four years 
it was published under the editorship of WWSA president Theodora 
Winton Youmans. 24 An accomplished journalist, Youmans was an 
assistant editor of her husband's weekly newspaper, the Waukesha Freeman, 
where she also wrote a weekly suffrage column. Publication of the Citizen 
was discontinued in January 1917, at which time it was replaced with a 
typed bulletin mailed to more than 100 newspapers throughout the state 
until 1920. 25 

The Wisconsin Citizen kept suffragists up to date on the latest 
suffrage developments in Wisconsin as well as in other states, reported 
news concerning state and national suffragists, and commented on press 
coverage of the movement. It chronicled the advance of woman suffrage, 
praised its champions, and lashed out against its opponents. It heralded 
the advances and successes of women, argued for more access to education 
and the professions, and in general supported the broad platform of 
women's rights. It attempted, in its own words, to serve as a "text book for 
the instruction of women in the methods and principles of... govern- 
ment." 26 

For most of its years of publication, the Citizen focused on suffrage 
in Wisconsin, but it occasionally addressed other issues affecting women 
such as labor and divorce laws, white slavery, and child labor. Debates on 
specific topics ran from issue to issue, frequently using members' letters 
and references to articles that had appeared in the general press. Poems 
and the verses of suffrage songs were printed and even an occasional 
cartoon appeared. 27 

Like other reform publications, the Wisconsin Citizen did not always 
present a seamless account of a well-organized and unified movement; it 
also served as a window to some of the controversies that raged within the 
suffrage movement. The window, however, was opaque. Although the 
Citizen allowed some of the debate over these controversies to appear on 
its pages, more often than not this debate was suppressed to create an 
appearance of unity. Only a close examination of the publication reveals 

44 Burt 'Spring 1999 

evidence of these controversies, often revealed by innuendo or omission. 
Examination of organizational correspondence and contemporary ac- 
counts, on the other hand, reveal that three major areas of contention 
existed over the years. These were the nature of campaign strategies and 
tactics, leadership of the organization, and support of a national rather 
than state suffrage amendment. 28 

Dissent over Campaign Strategies and Leadership 

Debate over campaign strategies often led to conflict within the 
Wisconsin woman suffrage movement, and this debate was closely linked 
to the nature of the movement's leadership. When Brown became presi- 
dent in 1884, she pumped new energy into the organization. Trained as a 
minister, Brown was not only a superb speaker, but also was an activist 
who was not afraid to get out among the general population to promote 
her ideas. 29 After the disappointing court decision in 1889, however, 
Brown failed to maintain this energy. In the years between 1889 and 
1902, county chapters died off, meetings were held rarely, and annual 
conventions were attended only by a loyal cadre. In some years, in fact, 
the Wisconsin Citizen was the only evidence of a surviving suffrage 
sentiment among Wisconsin women. 30 

In these years, Brown contented herself with periodic appearances 
before state legislators, trips to Washington, and regular columns in the 
Citizen. In late 1910, however, her routine was shattered when a group of 
younger women within the WWSA challenged her low-key campaign 
tactics which, they charged, had brought "meager results." 31 In an effort 
to pacify this group, Brown reluctantly accepted an offer by Mary Swain 
Wagner, an ambitious suffragist from New York, to hold meetings 
throughout the state and to organize a lecture bureau at her own expense. 
Little of Brown's reluctance was initially reflected in the Citizen. In its 
October 1910 report of the organization's annual meeting, the publication 
simply recorded that Wagner's proposal had been "favorably discussed," 
that the board had authorized it, and that Brown was "pleased" with the 
plan for additional suffrage meetings. 32 

Wagner Plots to Oust Brown 

Within just a few months, however, Wagner was plotting with 
younger members of the WWSA to oust Brown from the presidency. 33 

Spring 1 999 • American Journalism 45 

She challenged Brown openly in suffrage meetings and made the contro- 
versy even more public by giving interviews to the press in which she 
called Brown and her contemporaries within the WWSA "doddering 
females." 34 At first the Citizen addressed the challenge indirectly. In the 
March 1 1 issue, in a signed column entitled "An Explanation," Brown 
defended her campaign tactics without being too specific or mentioning 

The writer understands that the Wisconsin Woman's Suffrage 
Association has been criticized on the ground that so few 
of its officers have been in Madison this season interviewing 
legislators. Now it is most desirable that we show the legislators 
that we desire the ballot and that we are watching the attitude 
of every member on this subject and that we give them all 
information possible. But we can overdo this sort of work. It 
is not agreeable to men, nor does it conduce to the advance- 
ment of our cause to be always nagging and buttonholing 
members in regard to it.... We have never neglected our 
legislature but have always sent literature. The chairman of 
our legislative committee... has had opportunities of speaking 
to members in a quiet and unobtrusive way... The president 
of the society has been in constant communication with... 
members of the legislature.... On the whole the legislature 
has had plenty of attention and the criticism of our officers 
is very unjust. 35 

In a brief article in the same issue, the Citizen reported somewhat 
hopefully that Wagner had completed her work in Wisconsin and would 
"probably go to some other state." 36 Wagner did not leave Wisconsin, 
however, and unable to either remove her from the state campaign or 
silence her challenges, Brown complained bitterly to suffrage workers in 
personal correspondence. 37 In April she reported Wagner's demands in the 
Citizen. "[Wagner] wrote several letters demanding that the President of 
the association should at once send her resignation to her (not a member 
of the association, and a recent comer to the state) as she intended to 
reorganize the association or to organize an opposition to it," Brown told 
Citizen readers. "She accompanied her demand by threats and denuncia- 
tions which applied to nearly all the officers of the association." 38 

46 Burr 'Spring 1999 

Dissenters Form a Second Organization 

Brown succeeded in maintaining the loyalty of the majority of the 
members and retained the presidency. She failed, however, to quell the 
rebellion. In April 1911 the dissenters formed a second suffrage organiza- 
tion, the Political Equality League, with former WWSA vice-president-at- 
large Ada James at its head. 39 The Citizen acknowledged the split only 
obliquely. In June 1911, for example, in a long article rallying support and 
contributions for the WWSA, Brown reported that there were in the state 
"a number of societies," "clubs," or "leagues" endorsing and even working 
for woman suffrage. These put some other subject with or even before 
suffrage, she warned, and only the WWSA had for many years alone stood 
for woman suffrage. "The ballot first, other things afterwards," she wrote. 
"We do not aspire to political equality.' We only ask for the ballot. Then 
political equality will come." 40 On the few occasions that the Citizen 
referred to the Political Equality League, it identified the organization as an 
opponent rather than an ally in the suffrage cause. 41 

The Citizen refused to acknowledge the Political Equality League for 
the duration of the campaign. Although the organization's campaign 
activities were highly visible and attracted public attention, they received 
no notice in the paper. Thus excluded from the Citizen, the PEL began to 
publish its own newsletter, the Press Bulletin, edited by Waukesha journalist 
and suffragist Theodora Winton Youmans. The Bulletin went out to some 
500 state and regional newspapers and succeeded in getting stories in the 
state general circulation press and the national suffrage press. 42 

Throughout the 19-month campaign for the 1912 referendum, 
campaign strategies remained a major point of contention between the two 
suffrage organizations. Brown continued to insist on waging a low-profile 
campaign that would not arouse opposition, and waited until shortly 
before the November referendum before launching a more visible and 
active campaign. 43 The PEL, instead, organized motor tours, street rallies, 
and highly publicized debates — all activities that received coverage in the 
Press Bulletin and the general circulation press, but scant mention in the 
Citizen. 44 

Brown stubbornly held on to the WWSA presidency throughout the 
campaign, always attributing her position to the will of the membership. 
After the defeat of the 1912 referendum, however, old allies urged her to 
step aside so that the WWSA could reorganize under new leaders un- 
tainted by the recent rivalry. Brown reluctantly resigned her position as 
president. 45 Although it is clear from her private correspondence that she 
yielded unwillingly to pressure, the report that appeared in the Citizen 

Spring 1999 • American Journalism 47 

made it sound as if Brown had resigned voluntarily and for the noblest 

Rev. Olympia Brown declined election to the office of state 
President, which she has held for more than 20 years. It was 
not because she is old... Certainly it was not because of 
feebleness... But in absolutely refusing to be re-elected she was 
joined by all the old officers... to leave the way open for future 
coalition between the old state society and the political equality 
league which was formed at the opening of the recent campaign. 46 

WWSA and PEL Reach a Compromise 

With Brown's resignation, the WWSA and the PEL were able to 
reach a compromise and agreed upon a revised constitution. After two 
false starts, the membership elected Youmans president. A journalist by 
profession, Youmans believed the Citizen should play a key role in the 
reorganization by easing the transition, healing the breach, and informing 
the membership of the changes. She began to publish a monthly 
"President's Letter," first signing these columns with her full name, 
"Theodora Winton Youmans," later simply with her initials, "T.W.Y" 
With these letters, she was able to subtly but constantly remind the 
membership of the change in the WWSA and her own role as president 
while at the same time analyzing the latest developments affecting the 
movement. 47 

But while Brown might have stepped down from the presidency, she 
still exerted indirect control over the Citizen through its editor Lena 
Newman, a loyal member of the old guard who had held the position 
since 1899. It soon became clear that with Newman as editor, Youmans' 
impact could be restrained through editorial decisions; although Youmans 
might express her ideas through her "President's Letter," she had no 
control over where the column would be placed in relation to other 
material, or what else might appear in the same edition. Brown continued 
to write signed columns for each issue and these often appeared on the 
front page, while Youmans' articles, even her "President's Letter," often 
appeared on the second or third. 

Youmans Takes Control 

Youmans succeeded in removing the last traces of Brown's control of 
the WWSA and the Citizen when Newman's contract with the WWSA 

48 Burr -Spring 1999 

came up for renewal in late 1913. Pleading economic necessity and the 
need to make the Citizen more efficient, Youmans suggested its place of 
publication be moved from Brodhead, where Newman lived, to 
Waukesha, where it could be printed at the Waukesha Freeman. Since 
Youmans already worked at the Freeman as assistant editor, it would make 
perfect sense for her to become the Citizens editor. This was proposed as 
both a practical and financial improvement of the papers production. At 
the same time, Youmans also proposed that the Citizens format and 
purpose be changed. The paper could either be reduced to an official 
bulletin for board members and county organization officials only, or it 
could be altered to serve as a source of news for the general press, much as 
the PEL's Press Bulletin had done during the 1911-1912 campaign. 48 

Brown did not willingly relinquish her control of the Citizen and, 
backed by her remaining supporters, vehemently opposed the changes. 
Despite her opposition, the board agreed to move the publication to 
Waukesha and appoint Youmans editor. It did not, however, approve the 
changes in format. 49 In the next issue of the Citizen, Youmans smoothly 
explained the change as part of the board's "general policy of concentrat- 
ing the administrative work of the state association" and the desire to 
bring the various offices of the association "under one roof." She ex- 
plained what was to become Newman's effective removal from the power 
structure as a voluntary step: 

Old friends of the Wisconsin Citizen will be pleased to learn 
that Miss Lena V. Newman, so long its faithful and efficient 
editor, has recently inherited land in North Dakota and expects 
to spend part of her time in that state. She retires from the 
editorship of this paper with a record of good work done and 
with the warm personal esteem of all Wisconsin suffragists. 50 

The uneasy transition from the old guard to the new was thus 
complete. Although Brown continued to publish occasional columns in 
the Citizen as honorary president, it was clear that her days of influence in 
the WWSA were over and her presence in the Citizen gradually faded. 51 
As for the Citizen, it survived under Youmans until 1917 when, citing 
financial and organizational hardship, she reduced it to a single-page 
newsletter to be sent to the general circulation press. 

National Versus State Suffrage 

The debate over whether suffrage could best be attained through a 
state or federal amendment was another area of controversy that often 

Spring 1 999 • American Journalism 49 

The Wisconsin Citizen. 




I have a great piece of news foi 
CliiiAn readers nils month— ni Joast 
li serms great -to- mo. iSoih Mrs. 
llalKht sua it^seK arc ,jing 10 Now 
York lo worn ... i in- woman sutTrngc 
campaign 'or n mon I It, I go tir llocli 
ester, .leaving on September '-".. 
and Mrs. Hindu goes to lint- 
fnlo a week later. Mrs. Ha I ell I boos 
under contract wiih.iho Empire Slato 
Campaign iommitt'ec anil I wis rep- 
resentative of the. Wisconsin Woman's 

: Snffrase association. ,\t the meeting 
ol the Executive hoard i'i Ihis pity 

, .recently a rcso'lution was passed aulh- 
-orlzing nje 10 no and nppropriailnK the 
necessary fitnils for expenses, Tins 
action whs taken on ihe uudoisland- 
ing Hint in woman suffrage work, the 
yt el tare of one is the welfare of all. 
It is tremendously important lor Wis- 
consin 'that New York shall uNi, and, 

I our Executive hoard helieves thai in 
sending a worker lo that stare !t is 
Indirectly, but possibly most eJToct- 
Ively. fighting its own hatlles. as well 
as adding Its. mile of assistance in .the 
tremendous campaign the N'ew York 

The Empi 



mitiee represents the Nev 
an Suffrage association. 

Suffrage party, the Coll.' 
Hie Equal Franchise sacii 
League tor Woman Su 
work Is divided into FA 
puhlicity. oreaniz'alien, 
and lilerale. . , The slat 
'into rnmpa'gn districts. 


I have n letter from Mrs. Clements 
chairman of the Seventh Cmigre-sim 
at district, in which Rochester is Ij 
rated. ; Some idea of the oomprehcii 
Blve scoiie of the work may' he in 
ferred from Jlrs. Clements' leticr: 

"U'e have arranged for a big Vote; 
For Women week, beginning Sep- 
tember 20. We start in Monday with tiioni have lo havi> helpers 
an all-day speech .from 10 a., m. to 10 lections and ilislrilnilioi! o!' 
p. m„ with the following speakers: .and enrollments. In addifiu 
Josephine Shayiie, Helen Todd, Jane "1° Sozodont campaign starts 
Thompson. Alice Pierson. Mary New- »>"> 'en ilccorcilod More wii 

comb, and Mr. Perkins of Michigan.- Mai" street and two booths in iv.ii ' tfini andlfllf eo 
Following that enrh -day there will Ye MR depannioni stores, p'.ieu i:i which iniiiing In. hut 
st\ factory meetings and six open-air must have a capable woman in oh.-ngej lire greajer! nei 
meetings each night in different sec- "Me l0 l:l "' suffrage and . 
lions of the city. Alt cf these meet- tiortrs 
ings have to be advertised from house A great parade is nr^an 



nh for 


to house 1n the neighborhood. All o! York, city (Jclolu 

ell work 

Halgh ■ and myself lo 

is- jisnk with the state conven- 

ildjthe congressional conferences 

oilier yleids lo 

s Harriet Ilain. 

Icnoshal has kindly consented to take 

barge of jbeado,uar(ers work during 

or ahseme. She may he consulted as 

u detail); «jf the convention, the con- 

This September 1915 edition of The Wisconsin Citizen featured an article written by Mrs. 
Henry M. Youmans as well as a photograph of her. 


Burt 'Spring 1999 

threatened the unity of the Wisconsin movement. The first generation of 
feminists of the 1850s and 1860s had hoped to bring about woman 
suffrage on a national level and lobbied to include the concept of univer- 
sal suffrage in the 14th Amendment. When that plan was defeated in 
1868 and subsequent campaigns for a federal suffrage amendment were 
defeated, suffragists began to focus their energies on winning the right to 
vote state by state. Thus, while the federal amendment languished in 
Washington, state organizations lobbied for suffrage at the local level. In 
the meantime, the national suffrage associations, which united as the 
National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) in 1890, kept 
a continued presence in the national capital. Whenever congressional 
action seemed imminent, the NAWSA would call on the state organiza- 
tions for campaign workers. 52 

Like most other state suffrage associations, the WWSA divided its 
energies between campaigning for legislation in Wisconsin, supporting 
similar campaigns in other states, and sending delegates to Washington to 
lobby for a federal amendment. This diffusion of energy had both positive 
and negative effects on the Wisconsin movement. On the positive side, 
the WWSA had much to gain from the resources of the national move- 
ment and stronger state organizations. It was a series of lectures by Susan 
B. Anthony in 1 867, for example, that sparked the surge of interest that 
led to the organization of the WWSA two years later. And in later years, 
the Wisconsin movement gained considerable support from other state 
suffrage organizations that contributed both funds and the services of 
suffrage workers such as Catherine McCulloch, Harriet Grim, Emma 
Smith DeVoe, and May Wright Sewall. 53 

On the negative side, participation in other state campaigns as well 
as the national campaign drained energy from the Wisconsin movement. 
After the 1890 defeat of the 1886 Wisconsin suffrage bill in the courts, 
for example, Brown was frequently absent from the state to devote her 
energy to lobbying for the federal suffrage amendment in Washington, 
D.C.. During these periods, as the membership in the WWSA gradually 
shrank, she administered the WWSA in absentia, delegating her daughter, 
Gwendolen B. Willis, to carry out some of her duties, including the 
production of the Citizen.^ Similarly after NAWSA, in 1915, decided to 
devote all its energy to winning suffrage in key campaign states such as 
New York, Ohio, and Illinois, and to cut back in what it regarded as 
hopeless states such as Wisconsin, Youmans and other WWSA officials 
were frequently absent from the state for increasing periods. 55 

Spring 1 999 • American Journalism 5 1 

Disputes Often Not Reported 

The decision to devote their energies elsewhere was not lightly 
reached and caused disputes among members that sometimes came to a 
head during the WWSA's annual conventions, when they were dutifully 
reported in the minutes of the convention published in the Wisconsin 
Citizen. 56 These disputes, however, more often were not reported in the 
paper. The diffusion of energy to outside campaigns, instead, can be 
discovered in the number of articles about campaigns being waged 
elsewhere as well as topics not even remotely connected to the state 
movement. Between 1901 and 1910, for example, when interest in the 
WWSA was at its lowest, only one or two columns per issue were devoted 
to local developments. The remainder of the paper typically carried 
articles and short items reprinted from other newspapers or suffrage 
publications. 57 

During the period of the 1910-1913 Wisconsin campaigns, the 
Citizen focused once again on local affairs. In these years the publication's 
pages were filled with news of the campaign for the suffrage bill and its 
victory in 1911, the campaign for the referendum and its defeat in 1912, 
and the proposal of a second bill in 191 3. 58 But with the fate of this 
second bill still being debated in the legislature, the Citizen shifted its 
attention to the national front, where congress had just passed a joint 
resolution calling for the submission of a federal suffrage amendment. 59 
In April 1913, with the Wisconsin bill awaiting the governor's approval 
(which was denied), the newly elected Youmans signaled this shift in her 
President's Letter: 

If the unexpected should happen and the measure [for the 
1913 suffrage bill] should fail, we should still of course, 
continue our work, though in a somewhat different way. It 
is not always in so-called campaign states — that is those in 
which an election is pending — that the best campaign work 
is done. Witness the splendid efforts of the Chicago women, 
continued year after year, though the Illinois legislature has 
never passed a woman suffrage measure .... In any event, 
Wisconsin women must prepare for continued and vigorous 
activity in the suffrage cause ... in whatever direction it may 
be exerted . . . . 60 

That "direction" was increasingly away from Wisconsin and toward 
other states. In the fall of 1915, for example, Youmans went for a month 

52 Burt -Spring 1999 

to work for the Empire State Campaign in New York, leaving the Citizen 
under the temporary management of Harriet Bain. "This action was 
undertaken on the understanding that in woman suffrage work, the 
welfare of one is the welfare of all," Youmans explained in the Citizen. "It 
is tremendously important for Wisconsin that New York shall win . . . ." 61 

After Congress revived the Anthony Amendment in the same year, it 
became equally important to follow the federal amendment. Youmans 
frequently reported on the results of hearings and votes in Washington 
and in one article advised that local agitation should be directed toward 
the Wisconsin congressmen who would be voting on the amendment: "It 
is up to you, Madame Suffragist in Mr. Blank's district, to secure his vote 
for justice for women." 62 

For the next five years, Wisconsin organizers temporarily deserted 
the state for other campaigns, and these national activities were duly 
reported in the Citizen. (Likewise, the vacuum that resulted in state 
activism was reflected in the little mention given to state activities by the 
paper.) In late 1916, for example, Maude McCreery campaigned for two 
months in South Dakota. In early 1917, Alice H. Curtis was dispatched 
to New York City to work at the NAWSA headquarters. In late 1916 and 
again in early 1917 Jessie Jack Hooper left for Washington, D.C. to serve 
in NAWSA's congressional lobby. 63 

At the same time, some suffragists abandoned the WWSA to join 
Alice Paul's militant Congressional Union, which in 1916 became the 
National Woman's Party. 64 These out-of-state activities took a toll on the 
WWSA leadership, especially on Youmans. In addition to maintaining her 
position as editor of the Citizen and assistant editor of the Freeman, the 
WWSA president frequently found herself traveling between Waukesha, 
Milwaukee, Madison, New York and Washington for speaking engage- 
ments and campaign activities. 65 

One way for Youmans to reduce the workload was to streamline the 
WWSA organization and focus her energies on the campaign for the 
national amendment. Streamlining the WWSA had dire consequences for 
the Wisconsin Citizen, however, for Youmans returned to her earlier plan 
of changing the publication's format and publishing schedule. In June 
1916, she reduced the Citizen from a monthly to a quarterly, and in 
January 1917 discontinued publication altogether. The newspaper was 
replaced with a one-sheet monthly bulletin to be sent monthly to some 
1 00 state newspapers and local societies. 66 Youmans' rationale for this 
move was that since so little was actually happening on the Wisconsin 
front, suffrage developments could effectively be covered by this news 

Spring 1999 • American Journalism 53 

bulletin and the national suffrage publication, the Woman Citizen. Not a 
hint of the changes to come appeared in the pages of the final editions of 
the Wisconsin Citizen.** 7 

WWSA Focus on the Federal Amendment 

Although state suffrage bills continued to be submitted and heard in 
the Wisconsin legislature for the next two-and-a-half years, the federal 
amendment remained the focus of WWSA efforts in these last years of the 
movement. This is clearly stated in the December 1918 bulletin. After 
mentioning that the WWSA's annual suffrage convention had been 
postponed by an influenza epidemic, it announced: "The federal amend- 
ment continues to hold the center of the stage, and our deepest interest." 
Suffragists should no longer limit themselves to writing their representa- 
tives and senators, Youmans advised, but should "make a direct appeal to 
Senators from other states." And they should make their will known to 
their state representatives so that if the federal amendment were approved, 
it would be ratified by the Wisconsin legislature. 68 

Thus, in the final two years of the fight for suffrage, the WWSA had 
no real local voice other than the bulletin and Youmans' column in the 
Freeman. It appears ironic, then, that in 1919 Wisconsin women won a 
double victory. First, they won presidential suffrage in the state legislature, 
then they won the distinction of being citizens in the first state to ratify 
the federal amendment. 69 

Grappling With the Truth 

Reformers typically believe in the power of the written word to 
change public opinion, often quoting Milton's maxim that if truth and 
falsehood are allowed to grapple, truth will prevail. 70 Thus for reformers, 
freedom of the press is a necessary tool in their attempt to win public 
opinion and bring about change or, as they see it, the truth to light. 71 
Excluded and ridiculed by the mainstream press, reformers typically 
establish their own publications to reach the public as well as their own 

It is ironic, then, that these publications do not always allow 
expression (which may be considered the essence of freedom of the press) 
to all members within their own constituency. As becomes clear from this 
study, even the press of a reform movement can be dominated by elites 
who suppress the free flow of ideas. 

54 Burt -Spring 1999 

In the case of the Wisconsin woman suffrage movement and the 
WWSA, it is clear that its organ, the Wisconsin Citizen, was dominated by 
two leaders — one succeeded (or better, ousted) by the other — who used 
the paper to support their own vision of what the organization should be 
and how it should carry out its goals. Although dissent within the Wis- 
consin suffrage movement was occasionally given voice in the Citizen, 
more often than not, it was suppressed in the interest of the movement's 
unity and, perhaps, the preservation of the established leadership. 

Thus Olympia Brown, who founded the paper in 1887 and ap- 
pointed a series of editors over the years, was able to maintain control of 
the Citizen as well as the leadership and campaign tactics of the WWSA 
for 26 years. Convinced that the "still hunt" was the best campaign tactic, 
Brown believed more flamboyant tactics such as persistent lobbying, street 
speaking, and suffrage tours would alienate the very people suffragists 
were trying to persuade. When dissenting members of the WWSA 
challenged her tactics and leadership, their criticisms were not published 
in the paper and the only evidence of this dissent — other than the 
correspondence among suffragists and articles published in mainstream 
newspaper stories — is found in the few articles the Citizen published 
answering these "unjust" charges. 

Even after open revolt split the WWSA into two factions, the 
Citizen refused to recognize the rebel group. It spoke obliquely of the 
inappropriateness of the terms "political equality" and "league," but never 
legitimized the rebel group by using its name, the "Political Equality 
League." In 1913 Brown was forced from her position, but even here, the 
struggle was masked and her "resignation," as that of the Citizens editor in 
the following year, was presented in the paper as a graceful departure for 
calmer waters. 

Under Theodora Youmans' stewardship, the Citizen continued to 
suppress dissent. The struggle over the appropriate site of activism for 
Wisconsin suffragists was muffled by the battle cry for success on the 
national front. Painful debate over the allocation of meager resources was 
buried in the enthusiasm to assist in the highly visible campaigns, 
marches, and rallies in New York and Washington, D.C.. Although 
Youmans later called the Citizen "a doughty defender of the faith for three 
decades," she sacrificed it when she had to choose between devoting her 
energies to the national or the state suffrage movement. 72 

What is perhaps most striking is that the demise of the Wisconsin 
Citizen was completely unannounced. If there was any debate over what 
appears to have been a very abrupt death, it was once again stifled in the 
very pages of the victim. 

Spring 1999 • American Journalism 55 

Publications As a Tool For Control 

This study, in fact, confirms observations made by other scholars of 
reform and social movement publications that such publications do not 
always express a unified or representative voice, whether in regard to 
ideology, goals or tactics. Perhaps more to the point, this study contradicts 
observations by some scholars that women's reform publications, both of 
the 19th and 20th centuries, emphasized an "open forum," and a coop- 
erative rather than a competitive approach. 73 The communities created 
and sustained by reform publications, as identified by Folkerts in her 
study of the Farmers' Alliance and by Steiner in her study of suffrage 
publications, in fact are not always inclusive. 74 In the case of the Wisconsin 
Citizen and the WWSA, those who did not adhere to the ideas of first 
Brown and then Youmans found themselves excluded from the debate in 
the publication. To find a place to express their views and find like- 
minded women, their only option was to join other organizations such as 
the PEL in 1911 and the National Woman's Party in 1916. 

These observations suggest a further consideration of the role played 
by reform publications. Often viewed as a liberating factor by organiza- 
tional leaders and constituents, these publications also serve as a tool for 
dominant groups or individuals within a movement to control the flow of 
ideas, create an illusion of consensus, and suppress dissent. 

This of course can have positive effects — unifying the movement, 
making it more effective, allowing it to reach stated goals. But it also can 
have negative effects — discouraging or eliminating the free flow of ideas 
within the movement, excluding the ideas of those who would challenge 
the movement's elite perhaps for the better, forcing dissenters from the 
movement, and ultimately distancing the leadership from the constituency. 

Social movement scholars have noted that as social movements 
mature they become bureaucratized and rigid, controlled by a few leaders 
rather than a fluid and creative grass roots constituency. 75 If, as this study 
indicates, movement publications can come to serve as an organ for 
movement leaders rather than constituents, this would suggest one 
explanation for the rigidity within maturing social movements and the 
gradual disenfranchisement of their members. In this scenario, rather than 
serving as a community sounding board, reform publications become 
mere mouthpieces for the elite within the movement. 

56 Burt -Spring 1999 


'Lauren Kessler, The Dissident Press: Alternative Journalism in American History (Newbury Park, 
SAGE: 1984), 8-20; Harvey Molotch, "Media and Movements," in The Dynamics of Social 
Movements, ed. M. Zald and J. McCarthy (Cambridge: Winthrop, 1979). 

: See, for example, Sherilyn Cox Bennion, "Woman Suffrage Papers of the West, 1869-1914," 
American Journalism 3 (1986): 2-14; Linda Steiner, "Finding Community in 19th Century Suffrage 
Periodicals," American Journalism 1 (Summer 1983): 1-15; Lynne Masel- Walters, "A Burning Cloud 
by Day: The History and Content of the Woman's Journal' Journalism History 3 (1986): 103-108; 
Nancy L. Roberts, "A Preliminary Profile of the Nineteenth-Century U.S. Peace Advocacy Press," 
presented to American Journalism Historians Association, Salt Like City, October 1993; Sharon 
Murphy, "Neglected Pioneers: 19th Century Native American Newspapers," Journalism History 4:3 
(Autumn 1977): 79-82, 98-100. 

'Kessler, The Dissident Press, 74. 

4 In her study of the Farmers' Alliance newspapers of the 1880s, Folkerts also identified two other 
major functions of the reform press: to provide information neglected or ignored by the mainstream 
press, and to confer a sense of legitimacy on the movement's opposition to the dominant economic 
and political structure. Jean Folkerts, "Functions of the Reform Press," in Media Voices: An Historical 
Perspective, ed. Jean Folkerts (New York: MacMillan, 1992), 207. Steiner also refers to the sense of 
community created by reform journals in her study of suffrage periodicals. (Steiner, "Finding 
Community in 19th Century Suffrage Periodicals.") 

Tor discussion of the splintering of a social movement, see Jo Freeman, The Politics of Women's 
Liberation (Palo Alto: Manfield, 1975); Todd Gitlin, The Whole World is Watching (Berkely: University 
of California Press, 1980), and Mayer Zald, "The Trajectory of Social Movements in America," 
Research in Social Movements 10 (1988): 19-41. 

^Bernell Elizabeth Tripp, "The Antebellum Press," in The Media in America: A History, 3rd ed., ed. 
Win. David Sloan and James D. Startt (Northport, AL: Vision Press), 187. Julius Thompson observes 
similar splits in the black press over militancy and accommodationism from the 1890s through the 
Civil Rights era. (Julius Thompson, The Black Press in Mississippi, 1865-1985 (University Press of 
Florida, 1993.) 

7 See, for example: Janet M. Cramer, "Woman as Citizen: Race, Class, and the Discourse of 
Woman's Citizenship, 1894-1909," Journalism Monographs 165 (March 1998); Linda Steiner, "19th- 
century Suffrage Periodicals: Conceptions of Womanhood and the Press," in Ruthless Criticism: New 
Perspectives in U.S. Communication History, ed. William S. Solomon and Robert W McChesney 
(Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993). 

"Quoted in Steiner, "19th-century Suffrage Periodicals," 92. 

''Examination of various histories of social movement publications reveals examples of this 
tendency. Reform and alternative publications, in fact, often became known as the paper of the 
founding editor or editors. A few examples that come readily to mind are Frederick Douglass Paper, 
Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony's Revolution, Amelia Bloomer's Lily, and Benjamin 
Flower's Arena. 

"'Dominick LaCapra, "Rethinking Intellectual History and Reading Texts," in Modern European 
Intellectual History: Reappraisals and New Perspectives, ed. Dominick LaCapra and Steven L. Kaplan 
(Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1982), 47-84. 

"The territorial conventions rejected it as "impractical and unnecessary." Theodora W Youmans, 
"How Wisconsin Women Won the Ballot" Wisconsin Magazine of History 5(1921): 3-4. 

'Taura Ross Wolcott, "Wisconsin," in History of Woman Suffrage v. 3, 1 876- 1 885, ed. Elizabeth 
Cady Stanton, (New York: Arno and the New York Times, 1969), 640-41; Youmans, "How 
Wisconsin Won the Ballot," 8-11; Olympia Brown, "Wisconsin's Fight for Suffrage," Milwaukee Free 
Press Sunday Magazine, 23 July 1911, 1 . For discussion of Emma Brown and the Wisconsin Chief, see 
Genevieve G. McBride, On Wisconsin Women: Workingfor Their Rights from Settlement to Suffrage 
(Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1993), 22-37; 106-1 10. 

l3 Brown was a graduate from Antioch College (class of 1860) and was the second female minister 
to be ordained in the United States. She founded the New England Woman Suffrage Association in 
1868 and helped found the American Equal Rights Association in 1866. In 1878, she moved to 
Racine whete she took the pulpit in a Universalis! church and where her husband, John Henry Willis 

Spring 1999 • American Journalism 57 

became part owner and business manager of the Times Publishing Company. (Charles E. Neu, 
"Olympia Brown and the Woman's Suffrage Movement," Wisconsin Magazine of History 43 [Summer 
I960]: 277-79.) 

u Brown, "Wisconsin," 989-91; Youmans, "How Wisconsin Women Won the Ballot," 16-17; 
William Francis Raney, Wisconsin: A Story of Progress (New York: Prentice Hall, 1940), 325. 

l5 "To Timid Friends," Wisconsin Citizen, February 1888, 3; Brown, "Wisconsin's Fight for 
Suffrage." During its earl)' years The Wisconsin Citizen was printed at the Times-Call press, where 
Brown's husband, John Henry Willis, was part owner. 

"■Brown, "Wisconsin's Fight for Woman Suffrage"; Youmans, "Wisconsin," 701; Ada Lois James 
Papers, reel 4, doc. 1074, State Historical Society of Wisconsin Archives and Manuscripts Collection, 
Madison, Wis. (hereafter ALJ Papers). 

17 Youmans, "Wisconsin," 703-4; Genevieve G. McBride, "Theodora Winton Youmans and the 
Wisconsin Woman Movement," Wisconsin Magazine of History 71 (Summer 1988): 248. 

"Because of highly organized opposition from the brewing industry and the German-American 
Alliance, Wisconsin had been identified as a "losing proposition" by the NAWSA. 

'''Youmans, "Wisconsin," 705-08. 

2 "Here the word "minority" is used to describe the concept of powerlessness rather than a numerical 
percentage of less than half. 

1 '"Salutatory," Wisconsin Citizen, August 1887, 1. 

"It was published as a monthly and bimonthly 1887-1914; as a monthly 1914-1916, and as a 
quarterly 1916-1917. Membership in the WWSA was one dollar per year. 

23 Under Youmans's editorship, the Citizen was sent to other suffrage periodicals and newspapers as 
exchanges in addition to being circulated to subscribers. Efforts were also made to boost circulation 
by combining subscriptions to the Citizen with those to the Woman's Journal. "Report of Headquar- 
ters," Wisconsin Citizen, February 1915, 5. 

"Editors and places of publication were: Mrs. M. P. Dingee, Racine (1887-1894); Mrs. H. H. 
Charlton, Brodhead (1894-1906); Lena V. Newman, Brodhead (1906-1914), and Theodora Winton 
Youmans, Waukesha (1914-1917). ("Preface," in microfilm collection of The Wisconsin Citizen, in 
Woman's Press Collection, Memorial Library Microfilm Collection, University of Wisconsin, Madison.) 

''McBride, "Theodora Winton Youmans," 246-61; "Preface" to Wisconsin Citizen Collection. 

lh Wisconsin Citizen, 1887-1917, passim; "Our Editor," Wisconsin Citizen, November 1889, 1. 

"Wisconsin Citizen, passim. 

^Wisconsin Citizen, passim. The majority of records and correspondence of the WWSA and the 
PEL are contained in the Ada Lois James Papets and the Wisconsin Woman's Suffrage Association 
Papers at the State Historical Society of Wisconsin in Madison. 

"'Neu, 279-81. 

3 "Brown, "Wisconsin's Fight for Suffrage," 1; Lawrence L. Graves, "The Wisconsin Woman 
Suffrage Movement, 1846-1920," (Ph.D. Diss., University of Wisconsin, 1954), 111; "Report of the 
Wisconsin Woman's Suffrage Association," Wisconsin Citizen, May 1910, 2. 

31 Josephine Kulzick to Olympia Brown, 23 March 191 1, ALJ Papers, box 5, folder 1. 

3 -"Report of Annual Meeting," Wisconsin Citizen, October 1910, 2. 

"Mary Swain Wagner to Ada James, Match 8, 1911, ALJ Papers, box 5, folder 1 . 

34 'Milwaukee Journal, 1 April 1911, 8; Olympia Brown, "To the Wisconsin Woman Suffrage 
Association," April 191 1, 3. 

35 Brown, "An Explanation," Wisconsin Citizen, March 1911, 1. 

3fl " Meeting of WS. A. in Madison," Wisconsin Citizen, March 1911, 1. 

37 See, for example, Brown to James, July 1911, ALJ Papers, box 6, folder 1 . 

38 01ympia Brown, "To the Wisconsin Woman's Suffrage Association," Wisconsin Citizen, April 

3 'Youmans, "Wisconsin," 700-01; "The Launching of the Ship," Milwaukee Journal, 1 1 April 
191 1, 1. Wagner's machinations soon alienated the rebel faction as well. She withdrew briefly to New 
York, then returned to Wisconsin and in November 1911 organized her own group, the American 

58 Burt • Spring 1999 

Suffragettes, in Milwaukee. This group, however, was small and disorganized. (See: "Miss Mary 
Back," Milwaukee Journal, 27 June 1911, 1; Gwendolen B. Willis, "The Co-operative Committee," 
Wisconsin Citizen, June 1912, 5.) 

""Olympia Brown, "Wisconsin to the Front," Wisconsin Citizen, June 1911, 3. 

4l "The Wis. W.S.A.," Wisconsin Citizen, July-August 1911,3. This article mentioned that James 
had resigned her position with the WWSA to become president of an "opposing society." 

4 'The Press Bulletin is described in "Wisconsin Active Along Many Lines," Woman's Journal, 4 May 

1912, and "Press Work in Wisconsin," Woman's Journal, 14 September 1912. The last issue of the 
Bulletin was published on 28 November 1912. 

"""Address of Rev. Olympia Brown," Wisconsin Citizen, October 191 1, 3; Gwendolen B. Willis, 
"What Methods," Wisconsin Citizen, December 1911, 1-2. Brown reiterated her position in a letter to 
Ada Lois James, warning her that her "untimely and most injurious movement" (the PEL) would 
defeat the suffrage referendum. (Brown to James, July 1911, ALJ Papers, box 6, file 1.) 

44 One exception was an article about an auto tour by Illinois suffragist Catherine Waugh 
McCulloch in summer 1912. McCulloch and Brown had been friends and suffrage allies since the 
1890s and in 1891 Brown had christened McCulloch's oldest son. (See "The McCulloch Tour," 
Wisconsin Citizen, April 1912, 5.) 

* iS In her farewell address, published in the December 1912 -January 1913 issue of the Citizen, 
Brown referred to the recent division of the WWSA, the "first sign of serious disagreement in all the 
years since the society was founded in 1882." Referring obliquely to Wagner, she placed the blame for 
the division on "influences and persons outside the state." (Brown, "Farewell Address," Wisconsin 
Citizen, December 1912 -January 1913, 1-2.) 

46 " Wisconsin Women at it Again," Wisconsin Citizen, November 1912, 1. 

^Wisconsin Citizen, 1913-1917, passim. Having a column specifically labelled as the "President's 
Letter" was a departure from tradition, for although during her presidency Brown had typically 
published signed columns in the Citizen, these were not marked as coming from the president. Brown 
probably felt this was superfluous, as everyone knew she was the president. Because Brown continued to 
publish signed articles in the publication after her removal as president, it is possible that Youmans 
felt the need of establishing her own position and authority by labelling her own columns as the 
official voice of WWSA leadership. 

' l8 James to Youmans, 17 June 1913, Wisconsin Woman's Suffrage Association Papers, box 2, folder 
2, State Historical Society of Wisconsin Archives and Manuscripts Collection, Madison, Wis. 
(hereafter WWSA Papers); "Annual Meeting of the Wisconsin Woman's Suffrage Association," 
Wisconsin Citizen, November-December 1913, 2-3. 

""''Brown, "How 'The Citizen' Could Be Made Self-Supporting," Wisconsin Citizen, September 

1913, 2; "Annual Meeting of the Wisconsin Woman's Suffrage Association," Wisconsin Citizen, 
November-December 1913, 3-4; Willis to Youmans, 12 January 1914, WWSA Papers, box 3, folder 
1; Brown to Youmans, 14 January 1914, WWSA Papers, box 3, folder 1. 

s "Youmans, "Salutatory," Wisconsin Citizen, June 1914, 1. 

"Brown remained a member of the WWSA, although she devoted her energies increasingly to the 
campaign for a federal amendment and eventually aligned herself with Alice Paul's National Woman's 
Party. In 1920, at the age of eighty-five, she was allowed to vote for the first time (Neu, 284-85.) 

'Tlexner, 145-51, 159-81,222-31. 

53 In 1887, for example, Mary Livermore and Lillie Devereux Blake of New York and Rev. Anna 
Garland Spencer of Rhode Island, spoke at meetings throughout the state ("The Work for August," 
"Mrs. Mary Livermore," Wisconsin Citizen, August 1887, 1, 3). In 1894, Emma Smith DeVoe of 
Illinois gave a series of suffrage lectures ("Mrs. DeVoe's Lectures," Wisconsin Citizen, November 1894, 
4). And during the 191 1-1912 campaign, the participation of Harriet Grim and Catherine Waugh 
McCulloch of Illinois was financed by the NAWSA ("Miss Harriet Grim of 111.," Wisconsin Citizen, 
July-August 1911,8; "The McCulloch Tour," Wisconsin Citizen, April 1912, 5; "Mrs. DeVoe's Visit," 
Wisconsin Citizen, October 1911, 4; "Generous Friends," Wisconsin Citizen, July 1912, 1.) 

54 Graves, "The Wisconsin Suffrage Movement," 111. 

"Clara Bewick Colby to My Dear Mrs. Proudfoot, 1 May 1915, Clara Bewick Colby Papers, box 4, 
folder 1, State Historical Society of Wisconsin Archives and Manuscript Collection, Madison, Wis.; 
Flexner, 273-276, 286-301; McBride, "Theodora Winton Youmans and the Wisconsin Woman 
Movement," 263-70. 

Spring 1999 • American Journalism 59 

5f, In 1910, for example, a proposal from rhe NAWSA thar the WWSA reorganize along Congres- 
sional voting lines was seen as a challenge to the authority of the various chapters scattered around the 
state. The WWSA voted to delay such a plan until it was "more fully developed," but did make a 
resolution that the NAWSA should push for a federal amendment. ("Report of Annual Meeting," 
Wisconsin Citizen, October 1910, 3.) 

57 See, for example, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, "Progress is the Law," (From the Boston Investigator), 
reprinted in Wisconsin Citizen, January 1901, 2; "The Federation of Women's Clubs in Michigan," 
Wisconsin Citizen, January 1900, 1; Ida Husted Harper, "Women in Congress," Wisconsin Citizen, 
January 1902, 1. It was a common practice for newspapers during this period to share material 
through "exchanges." 

5 The 1913 bill was subsequently approved by the legislature and then vetoed by the governor. See: 
"The Governor Vetoes the Bill," Wisconsin Citizen, June 1913, 3. 

^'"Resolution of the 63rd Congress," Wisconsin Citizen, April 1913, 1. 

"Youmans, "Our Most Pressing Need," Wisconsin Citizen, April 1913, 1. 

61 Youmans, "Going to New York," Wisconsin Citizen, September 1915, 1. 

"Youmans, "The Vote in the House," Wisconsin Citizen, January 1915, 1; Youmans, "Our 
Congressmen and Our Cause," Wisconsin Citizen, February 1915, 1; "Lenroot and the Amendment," 
Wisconsin Citizen, December 1915, 2; Youmans, "Your Responsibility," Wisconsin Citizen, January 
1917, 1. 

,,3 "Four Hundred Dollar Hat," Wisconsin Citizen, January 1917, 4; "Suffrage Headquarters," 
Wisconsin Citizen, September 1913, 4; "Personal," Wisconsin Citizen, January 1917, 4; "Mrs. Hooper 
in Washington," Wisconsin Citizen, January 1917, 2. 

'""McBride, "Theodora Winton Youmans," 263-69. 

""Swinging 'Round the Circle," Wisconsin Citizen, January 1917, 2. 

f 'The bulletin retained the name The Wisconsin Citizen, with a subtitle, "Monthly Bulletin of the 
Wisconsin Woman's Suffrage Association." It is clear, however, that it was not published on a regular 
monthly basis, for in the December 1918 issue, Youmans apologized for missing several weeks as the 
result of an illness. 

fi7 In 1917, the Woman's Journal, which had been the official organ of NAWSA since 1890, merged 
with the Woman Voter and the National Suffrage News to become the Woman Citizen. 

''"Wisconsin Citizen, December 1918. 

''''Youmans, "Wisconsin," 706. 

7 "John Milton, Areopagitica, \6AA. See for example, an editorial cartoon published in the Woman's 
Journal, "Wall of Public Opinion," that shows a suffragist building a wall of positive public opinion 
with individual stones labelled "Suffrage News," Editorial," and "Cartoons." ("Wall of Public 
Opinion," Woman's Journal, 2 Oct. 1915.) Another reform organization, the Anti-Saloon League, used 
the same metaphor. An editorial cartoon published in the American Issue, "Publicity Will Kill Him," 
shows a knight with a sword labelled "truth" confronting a dragon representing "Demon Rum." 
("Publicity Will Kill Him," American Issue, 17 July 1915.) 

7l These sentiments are clearly expressed in many reform publications of the period, including the 
Woman's Journal and the American Issue, the journal of the Anti-Saloon League. See Elizabeth V. Burt, 
"An Arena For Debate: Woman Suffrage, the Brewing Industry, and the Press, Wisconsin, 1910- 
1919," (Ph.D. diss, University of Wisconsin, 1994), 430-431. 

72 Youmans, "How Wisconsin Women Won the Ballot," 17. 

73 In her study of 19th-century periodicals, Steiner concludes that Aldrich's invitation to diverse 
ideas (cited above) was typical of 19th-century suffrage editors and was "remarkably prophetic of the 
continuing commitment of feminists to let women express themselves in their own way..." (Steiner, 
"19th-century Suffrage Periodicals," 93.) In an analysis of women's media between 1963 and 1983, 
Martha Leslie Allen attributed eight characteristics to women's communication networks, which 
included women's publications. These included: allowing women to speak for themselves; using a 
sharing instead of a competitive approach; using a non-attack approach toward different views; and 
emphasizing an "open forum." (Quoted in Maurine H. Beasley and Sheila J. Gibbons, A Documentary 
History of Women and Journalism, 2nd ed. [Washington, D.C.: American University Press, 1993], 

60 Burr -Spring 1999 

7, Folkerts, ""Functions of the Reform Press;" Steinet, "Finding Community in Nineteenth Century 
Suffrage Periodicals." 

7, Jo Freeman, The Politics of the Women's Liberation, 551; Suzanne Staggenborg, "The Consequences 
of Professionalization and Formalization in the Pro-Choice Movement," American Sociological Review 
53 (August 1988): 585-606; and John D. McCarthy and Mayer N. Zald, The Trend of Social 
Movements in America: Professionalization and Resource Mobilization (Morristown, N.J.:General 
Learning Press, 1973): 24-25. 

Spring 1999 • American Journalism 61 

Spring 1999 


Flying Around the World in 
1889— In Search of the 
Archetypal Wanderer 

by Paulette D. Kilmer 

Two young "ladies" challenged traditional definitions of a woman's place 
by racing against each other to beat the time set by Jules Verne's hero, Phileas 
Fogg. Their quest reflects the often nebulous line between fiction and reality. 
Their trek symbolizes the fascination with wanderers deeply imprinted within 
the American mindset. This essay analyzes the archetypal significance of 
women flying (speeding) around the world in 1889. 

Once upon a time, 20 blind historians went on a picnic to 
the zoo. Their tour guide invited them to feel the crea- 
tures so they could appreciate each ones unique character. 
Soon a guessing game started. The fangs and halitosis gave away the tiger. 
The thick bumps and big, leathery grin elicited a chorus of "crocodile"! 
Then, the experts at inferences based on tactile information got stumped. 
One, tugging on the beast's tail, swore it had to be a snake! The one 
feeling the ear, deduced it could be none other than a stingray. The one 
petting the side declared the keeper had pulled a trick on them; actually, 
they were being shown a wall. The fellow with the trunk insisted the 
critter was an anteater. Not until they stopped wrangling and pooled their 
evidence did they figure it out — the mystery animal was an elephant. 

Paulette D. Kilmer is an Assistant Professor of History, Ethics and Law at the University 
of Toledo. 

Spring 1999 • American Journalism 63 

In some ways, all historians are blind. None of us has the expertise 
to understand all the fields our colleagues investigate. We divide ourselves 
quickly into qualitative and quantitative factions but actually we comprise 
many threads of insight: feminism, biography, critical studies, cultural 
studies, economics, and a myriad of other subtopics, each vital in its 
contribution to the tapestry of the past. When historians first proposed 
studying women's history, some denounced the idea as trivial. We must be 
open to new areas of inquiry because what doesn't grow, dies. New 
approaches and focuses revitalize the standard ways of doing historical 

I write about archetypes and values. My work is crucial because I use 
interdisciplinary resources to evaluate experiences in terms of motivations 
that arise from the bedrock of American values. I study the public lives of 
people because the public stories they tell about themselves shape cultural 
perceptions of what it means to be an American. The mass media are 
innately emotional. My work objectively analyzes those feelings and 
patterns of symbols that teach us our society's mores. My evidence 
includes newspaper and magazine articles, biographies, and an avalanche 
of excellent historical studies contributed by other historians as well as by 
cultural scholars. 

This essay provides a different perspective for viewing Nellie Bly. It 
is not the only way to assess her accomplishments. Nevertheless, until we 
consider together Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland (her rival for the title 
of America's globe-trotting sweetheart) we will not appreciate how they 
reflected the turmoil of changing expectations and challenges that con- 
fronted women at the turn of the century. 

The Fascination of Distant Places 

A hundred years ago, "flying around the world" meant circling the 
globe swiftly. The implosion of inventions in the late 19th century stirred 
up interest in rapid travel as a moneymaking venture. However, the idea 
of journeying to distant places fascinated ordinary people more than 
profit motives. In the 1870s, Jules Verne's story about an English gentle- 
man, Phileas Fogg, who wins a wager at his club by dashing Around the 
World in 80 Days, captured the imagination of the multitude in the 
United States. 1 In fact, Fogg's adventures inspired the Neiv York World, the 
most powerful newspaper in 1889, to send a reporter, Nellie Bly [Eliza- 
beth Cochrane], to beat Fogg's time. The editor of Cosmopolitan magazine 
bet $1,000 that his writer, Elizabeth Bisland, would finish before Bly. 

64 Kilmer -Spring 1999 

Thus, the figment of Verne's imagination, Phileas Fogg, lived once 
again — this time on the pages of newspapers around the world. Of course, 
the furor created a demand for the science fiction novel and for products 
bearing Bly's name or likeness. Feminists have concentrated on the impact 
of Bly's feat on the treatment of women and the development of political 
agendas. To discover the real woman behind the legendary figure, biogra- 
phers have focused on Bly's struggles as well as her triumphs. Because 
other scholars have analyzed the social and cultural implications of the 
race, it is possible to examine this historical event as a saga in the mythol- 
ogy of the United States of America. The flesh-and-blood globe-trotters 
inspired an American legend and, therein, revived an old archetype 
(repeating pattern) in the bedrock of national consciousness. 

Bly And Bisland As Cultural Myths 

In this essay, I will apply Jungian concepts to the facts others have 
already established as well as to some primary sources. The purpose of this 
venture, then, is to illuminate why Nellie Bly's flight around the world 
became a cultural myth and how she embodied the icon for pluck. Bly 
and Bisland both defied the customs of their day and achieved fame for 
their courageous trek. But, while Bly became a footnote in history, 
Bisland vanished. 

This essay will answer three questions to explain why the World's 
daring stunt girl and not Cosmopolitans dainty writer left an indelible 
mark on the American mindset: How did Bly reflect the invasion of 
women into male domains? How did Bisland epitomize the rebuff of 
female advancement into public arenas by traditionalists? How did Bly 
crystallize into the icon for pluck and her story become a legend? Answer- 
ing these questions entails expanding on three themes: women's break 
from the gingham ghetto; women's view of themselves as trailblazers, and 
one woman, Nellie Bly, as the archetypal wanderer. 

Out of the Kitchen, Into the World 

During the late 19th century, women struggled to discover their 
identity by "[leaving] the known for the unknown." 2 When Elizabeth 
Cochrane, who had already added an "E" to the end of her name, crashed 
the newsroom, she took Nellie Bly as her pen name. This plucky upstart 
served as a role model for those aspiring to be "new women" and reporters 
rather than recipe editors or fashion critics. 3 Her rival, Elizabeth Bisland, 

Spring 1 999 • American Journalism 65 

defended hearth and home against rebels like Bly. Both the modern girl, 
Bly, and her old-fashioned challenger, Bisland, shattered the image of 
women as helpless vessels incapable of retaining their sanity if thrust into 
public spheres. 

However, although their dash around the globe was remarkable, it 
was not a fluke. This publicity stunt reflected the upsurge of nonconfor- 
mity that prompted women in numerous walks of life to question stale 
social conventions. In 1887, the famous muckraker, Ida M. Tarbell, 
declared that journalism offered women a wide-open field of opportunity. 4 
By 1890, 4,500 women served as physicians, surgeons, osteopaths, 
chiropractors, healers, and medical service workers. Another 2,500 
graduated with bachelor of arts degrees from colleges and universities, and 
250,000 women taught in a variety of institutions. 

Women's clubs and professional organizations also emerged during 
the late 19th century. Of course, settlement houses and consumer leagues 
as well as the temperance and suffrage crusades proved that women could 
assume responsibility for guiding social change. 5 Bly covered woman- 
suffrage events, interviewed Susan B. Anthony (whom she praised for 
being both brainy and well-dressed), and limited her support of the cause 
to setting an example for others to follow. 6 Bisland warned in a short 
story, "The Coming Subjugation of Man," that human males might find 
themselves consigned to drones in the hive of humanity if women ever 
attained equality. 7 On this issue of women's rights, indeed on most 
points, the two globe-trotters disagreed vehemently. 

Events in 1889 and 1890 showed that women could participate 
productively in many arenas once considered appropriate only for men. 
For example, while Bly raced against time, settlers in Wyoming refused 
to accept statehood unless their wives, mothers, sisters, and daughters 
were allowed to enter with voting rights. For 20 years before Wyoming 
attempted to join the Union, women there had participated as enfran- 
chised citizens and served on juries. "When Wyoming celebrated its newly 
won statehood in Cheyenne on July 23, 1890, the flag honoring the 
occasion was presented to the Governor by Mrs. Esther Morris, 'the 
mother of woman suffrage in Wyoming.'" 8 

In that same year, Ida B. Wells, editor of the Memphis Free Speech, 
lost her teaching job when she criticized the inferior schools run for 
African American children. She fled the city when her crusade against 
lynching precipitated death threats from the Ku Klux Klan. Despite a tide 
of public disapproval, Wells published her two-year investigation of 
lynching and lectured in Great Britain, where she organized anti-lynching 

66 Kilmer 'Spring 1999 

societies. Perhaps her journey of the soul was more remarkable than Bly 
and Bisland's global chase. Wells certainly proved to be just as dedicated 
and courageous as Bly, whom Mayor Cleveland of Jersey City credited 
with "[adding] another spark to the great beacon light of American 
liberty, that is leading people of other nations in the grand march of 
civilization and progress." 9 During the last years of her life, Bly devoted 
her newspaper column to finding homes for orphans. She wrote passion- 
ately about the Pullman Strike, the drought in the Midwest, and Eugene 
Debs' commitment to social justice. 10 Both Wells and Bly cared passion- 
ately about reform, and their lives as well as their deeds provided examples 
of how women of vision could change the world. 

A Stage for Experimenting with Progress 

Newspapers followed both Bly's and Wells' efforts to change society. 
Such stories related facts but also incorporated the community's shared 
narratives about a woman's place, role, and rightful aspirations. Moreover, 
the popular press, including dailies and magazines, offered writers a stage 
for experimenting with the consequences of progress and for revamping 
traditional plots to accommodate the advancement of women into civic, 
political, and professional circles. Browsing through editions of the 
Detroit Evening News that appeared during Bly's sojourn to immortality 
revealed that, besides detailed accounts of wrecks and fires, journalists 
then as now sought news of unusual individuals who dared to be uncon- 
ventional. Of course, Bly's triumph generated lively copy. 

Two articles about the "girl reporter" who outwitted Father Time 
appeared toward the end of her quest. In one item, the editors lamented 
that Bisland had missed her connections and, therein, her chance to beat 
Bly." While Rittenhouse suggested that Verne had promised to applaud if 
Bly made the journey in 79 days and had declared that if she did it in 75 
days, it would be a miracle, the Michigan editors reported on November 
24 that the French author had tried to discourage the "sylph" of the New 
York World. 

Beneath the article about Bly, an item recounted the fate of an 
aeronaut who flew into the skies over Honolulu in a balloon. The wind 
blew him two miles out to sea. He parachuted into the rough waves. A 
boat sped to rescue him. "[But] not a trace was found. No doubt he was 
eaten by sharks." 12 Other items depicted disasters at sea and the possibil- 
ity of creating a tubular train engine that would whisk passengers to their 
destinations at record-breaking paces. Bly took off for foreign ports in 
risky times indeed. 

Spring 1 999 • American Journalism 67 

Sir Henry Morton Stanley's search for Dr. David Livingstone 
commanded about four times as much coverage as Bly's bid "to put her 
girdle 'round the earth." l3 These stories about journeys reflect the interest 
in transportation even in small city dailies. The realization that vacation- 
ing helped people stay healthy generated an avalanche of copy about 
travel in the late 19th century. Bly and Bisland both relied upon commer- 
cial carriers, showing that remote locales could be safely reached. 

The stormy seas and the number of shipwrecks between November 
1889 and late January 1890 did not discourage the drove of adventurers 
who followed Bly's example. Bly returned a heroine, toasted on five 
continents. However, before her victory over Bisland and the stopwatch, 
some editors criticized the stunt reporter. For example, the trade maga- 
zine, The Journalist: Devoted to Newspapers, Authors, Artists and Publishers, 
predicted Bisland would finish first and, later, accused the World of 
playing dirty tricks to ensure Bly's victory. Although in November 1889, 
The Journalist gushed that the race would serve some "great humanitarian 
purpose," when Bly won, the editor scoffed, "Today we have the lightning 
press, the paragraph-long editorial, the special railroad train, the Atlantic 
Cable, the telephone, the phonograph, and Nelly [sic] Bly — What of it? 
Forsooth." 14 

Newspapers often overlooked in historical studies also slammed Bly. 
For instance, on January 12, 1890, the Detroit Neivs solved "The Mystery 
of Nellie Bly" by relating the "History of the Girl Who Is Flying Around 
the World." The headline also declared that she was "an Eccentric Young 
Man-Hater Who, to Support a Widowed Mother, Has Undergone 
Dangers and Experiences Without Parallel in the Annals of Woman- 
hood." Moreover, "Not one newspaper reader in a thousand is quite sure 
whether Nellie Bly is of the feminine gender." 15 

Facing the Jealousy of Her Colleagues 

Biographer Brooke Kroeger concluded that The Journalist and 
editors snubbed Bly because many of her colleagues seethed with jealousy. 
The rumors surrounding Bly's identity included allegations that she wore 
trousers and drank "absinthe frappe in inordinate quantities." Some 
insisted that the real Nellie Bly was the father of "an interesting trio of 
bouncing baby boys" whose wife wrote the columns. 16 

However, The Journalist inferred, "No doubt she has performed feats 
worthy of the sterner sex, but she is eminently feminine in her appearance 
and manners." 17 The Journalist preferred Bisland over Bly. For example, 

68 Kilmer -Spring 1999 

the January 25, 1890 issue briefly told readers Bly was Pink Cochrane 
who had started her career with the Pittsburgh Dispatch and noted that the 
Nellie Bly game rivaled Parcheesi and Fifteen Puzzle in popularity. A few 
pages later, the editors gushed in a lengthy paragraph over Bisland's dainty 
and distinctive style "quite aside from her observant and receptive facul- 
ties as a gleaner of news . . . ." 18 

The Michigan paper dispensed these false tales: Bly was, in fact, a 
woman — "past the school-girl age and not yet at the quarter post of old 
maidism [sic]." She was "a very ordinary, everyday young woman, rather 
slight in form, leaning to eccentricity in dress, masculine in her tastes and 
ideas...." Not only was this maverick unladylike, but she "had never been 
in love with any human being on the face of the earth except her 
mother." 19 The article cast Bly's adventures invading the newsroom, 
gallivanting to Mexico, and crusading for reform into a twisted parable 
about how dangerous escapades and unfeminine behavior — all just to get 
the story — had ruined Bly's demeanor and social life. 20 

Although the feature about Bly reflects the Detroit daily's frantic 
scramble to keep things the same by denying women public roles, news 
items about women in Detroit — indeed, in the nation — begin to erode 
that very stance against female participation. For example, Susan B. 
Anthony's speeches on behalf of suffrage generated several sympathetic 
stories. However, the most fascinating pieces dealt with ordinary women 
right in the city. Some acted out of passion or conviction. Others felt the 
pinch of economic necessity. All joined the ranks of Bly and Bisland as the 
path-breakers of changes that, ultimately, would empower women to 
become spiritual as well as physical wanderers. Through their quests, 
women would attain enough wisdom to balance their need for commu- 
nity ties with their equally compelling need for solitude. 

"Lady" Trail Blazers 

Although today the word "lady" connotes foolish affectation, a 
century ago even nonconformists, like Nellie Bly, still feared losing their 
status as ladies. Olga Stanley denounced the "mannish woman," conclud- 
ing that successful women journalists made it their priority to be attrac- 
tive and "beloved by . . . co-workers and fellow-beings generally." 21 
Venturing out of the home exposed women to the glare of public scrutiny, 
and, therein, the risk of losing their social status. Often, men did most of 
the shopping, and some business districts remained virtually closed to 
women. Books prescribed strict rules of conduct to maintain the shield of 

Spring 1999 •American Journalism 69 

privacy that protected a woman's virtue. In Rudeness and Civility: Manners 
in 19th Century Urban America, John F. Kasson noted that rebels who 
played a role in shaping community life "continued to be branded 
shameless and unwomanly. If the ideal for both men and women was to 
be completely inconspicuous in public, for women the stakes were much 
higher and the possibilities for transgression much greater." n 

Nevertheless, despite the risks, women broke the rules. Like Bly, 
they responded to psychological needs for attaining a balance between 
personal fulfillment and social expectation, for developing a sense of self 
as a character in the community's ongoing story. To understand them- 
selves and others, they relied upon archetypes (repeated patterns embed- 
ded deep within the mind and spirit, often via narratives). 

Wanderers Instead of Shadows 

Thus, the resolve to forge ahead by assuming unconventional roles 
arose from inner conviction. Myths, including the story of the Pleiades, 
indicate the quest for self-improvement began eons ago. Like the heroines 
in that Australian story of sisters who conquered darkness by becoming 
stars, ordinary women as well as remarkable achievers, like Nellie Bly, 
dispelled ignorance by proving themselves capable of performing astonish- 
ing deeds. She and other brave women accepted the call to be wanderers 
instead of shadows. In the Century of Struggle: The Woman's Rights Move- 
ment in the United States, Eleanor Flexner explained how improvements in 
the standard of living enabled women to venture outside of the home 
without neglecting domestic responsibilities. 

It was an era of gee- whiz gizmos. The introduction of gas lighting as 
well as municipal water systems and indoor plumbing, the promotion of 
canning, the commercial production of ice, the development of efficient 
stoves, and the invention of time-saving homemaking tools instilled in 
many a respect that bordered on awe for modern things. "From 1865 on, 
a veritable domestic revolution was under way, which freed those able to 
take advantage of it for pursuits other than housework." 23 

While inventions facilitated changes in women's roles, they do not 
entirely explain it. These "ladies" drew strength from the rich reservoirs of 
traditional stories woven within their psyches. Bly and Bisland invaded 
territories of accomplishment designated for "men only." A maverick who 
learned from 19th century trailblazers, Jane Wheelright described the 
force that drives people to fulfill their potential despite the odds. This 
Jungian analyst explained, "A woman with courage, a woman who's 

70 Kilmer • Spring 1999 

adventurous, a woman who speaks her mind is supported by the ani- 
mus." 24 The animus represents the male side of a woman's personality just 
as the anima embodies the female side of a mans personality. To be 
healthy, individuals must balance these polar dimensions of self. 

The editors who ridiculed Nellie Bly when she girdled the earth, no 
doubt, did not understand this psychological equilibrium. Henrik Ibsen 
illuminated the clash of traditional expectations and human needs \nA 
Doll's House. That drama depicts Nora's rebellion against being cast in the 
suffocating role of helpless mate and childish mother. 

Some critics denounced A Doll's House. In fact, Bisland, who 
shocked her social circle by accepting the assignment from Cosmopolitan 
to race against Bly without chaperones, twice condemned Ibsen's depic- 
tion of women's need for self-fulfillment. She blamed "The Abdication of 
Men" for the defection of wives from the domestic kingdom and deplored 
"the triviality of a drama fit only for wooden puppets." 25 Bisland decried 
the "criticism of the marriage relation. The stage concerns itself almost 
exclusively with that topic for the moment, Ibsen having struck the key to 
which all the playwrights are pitching their chorus of echo. Every book- 
stall is heavy with similar discussions in dialogue carried on by the 
puppets of fiction." 26 

Bisland was one of many women who found themselves straddling 
two intellectual pinnacles — on the one hand, the writer expressed the 
traditional desire to serve silently a magnanimous master but, simulta- 
neously, she felt the urge to express her feelings and to test her potential in 
ways entirely inconsistent with being the Victorian home angel. In fact, 
by 1889, Bisland was "[working] early and late producing an average of 
50,000 words a month and earning some $5,000 a year." 27 Ibsen's 
timeless story shook the complacency of 19th century audiences because 
Nora embarked upon an inner quest to find herself that took as much 
courage as the magazine editor (Bisland) and the stunt reporter (Bly) 
summoned to beat Phileas Fogg's record. 

From Goddess to "Journalistic Daisy" 

Her victory over time earned Bly many titles, including "journalistic 
daisy," that subconsciously draw upon that symbolic turf of myth where 
pretty girls prefer being transformed into blossoms to being deflowered. 
Reconstructing the 1 889 race in archetypal terms emphasizes its cultural 
and emotional significance. Archetypes are patterns of behavior, imagery, 
or attitudes of subconscious significance that endure and, through 

Spring 1 999 • American Journalism 71 

repetitions over time, saturate culture. In her study of the origins of the 
great goddess archetype, Susan Lichtman explained that people often 
overlook vibrant female paragons whose adventures delineate what it 
means to be a woman. Literature and history record female experience 
according to unspoken assumptions about reality that automatically 
relegate past generations of sisters to passive, submissive roles. Many 
feminine models of courage and greatness have been forgotten. "For 
woman to have a future in modern society, she must first have a past that 
contains her own traditions, her own folklore, and her own heroes." 28 

Bly certainly qualifies as a role model, a heroine for all ages whose 
example inspires others to turn dreams into action. Articles about both 
Bly and Bisland appear in The New York Times Index. The obvious 
references, a trip, a tour around the world, describe all the articles. This 
language fits the psychic need to cull the story down to its essential 
nugget so that the main points are not buried in an avalanche of detail. 29 

Slipping Into Fantasy 

In folklore and formula tales, heroines complete quests fraught with 
perils. Persevering over incredible odds forces them to develop inner 
resources and, thus, prove themselves worthy of emulation. The sacred 
quest of Bly and Bisland invited readers to vicariously prevail over forces 
of evil — despair, loneliness, and disease. Just as magically as protagonists 
in fairy tales persevere far away from home, the flesh-and-blood sojourn- 
ers triumphed over the supernatural, faceless foe of fear. Newspapers 
around the world as well as around the nation chronicled the adventures 
of Bly and Bisland as they conquered time itself. Of course, whenever 
reporters recorded the progress of either globetrotter, they inadvertently 
enabled readers to slip into the realm of fantasy. 

Moreover, readers translated the sprint around the planet into 
personally relevant terms. Although they embraced the news stories as 
proof of the march of progress, they also subconsciously filed images in 
their internal library of mythology. Members of a community inherit a 
body of archetypes that preserve values and celebrate individual's contri- 
butions to ventures greater than self. In The Wisdom of the Dream, 
Stephen Segaller and Merrill Berger point out that all humans are con- 
nected by a pool of symbols and archetypes called the collective 
unconscious. 30 

72 Kilmer -Spring 1999 

Despite the differences between newspaper articles (like the lively 
accounts of the 1889 race between Bly and Bisland) and fiction (like 
Verne's Around the World in 80 Days), one inevitable commonality links 
both forms of expression. Both provide readers with imagery, evidence, 
and emotional grounding at a subconscious level. Pearson explains that 
people find meaning in their lives by weaving their experiences into 
narratives that supply scripts for living. Every sequence of action contains 
a beginning, middle, and end. The stockpile of plots enables citizens to 
recycle ancient archetypes into modern events, thus sustaining the moral 

Pearson notes that not all plots merit exploration. Some lie dormant 
deep within the subconscious. However, others stay on the surface and 
greatly affect people. "For an archetype to have a major influence upon 
our lives, there must be some external duplication or reinforcement of the 
pattern, an event in one's life or stories recounted in the culture that 
activates the pattern." 31 

The media have always generated narratives that trigger the recogni- 
tion of archetypes in public spaces as well as in private homes. Although 
reporters seek facts, ultimately readers subjectively interpret the content of 
even the most objective account according to its archetypal salience. "For 
many, however, the newspaper is the main institution that provides a 
sense of belonging." i2 Those who read papers find repeated in truncated 
form the patterns that reinforce the value system dominant in their 

James W. Carey has pointed out that all writing, including journal- 
ism, tells a story built upon character, plot, action, dramatic unity, and 
purpose. 33 To appreciate any narrative, readers decode the archetypes 
within it and, therein, understand their own experiences. Bly and Bisland 
both generated news that invited readers to assess the meaning of their 
own as well as of women's lives in general. 

Bly, the Eternal Wanderer — Not Bisland 

The journey around the world took Bly and Bisland much farther 
than simply around the globe. It must have been a trek of the heart like 
those psychologist Carl Jung took in the 1920s to learn about himself by 
seeing how people in faraway places lived and thought. 34 Both women 
saw themselves reflected in the eyes of strangers in exotic places. Although 
Bisland did not want to go, she decided later that the trip had enriched 
her as a writer and expanded her vision of humanity. 

Spring 1 999 • American Journalism 73 

The intrepid globetrotters followed Phileas Fogg's route. Neverthe- 
less, their quest echoed the universal desire to discover self through 
encountering others that had inspired American authors, including 
Herman Melville and Mark Twain. When the narrator of Melville's novel, 
Moby Dick, invites readers to call him Ishmael (which means wanderer) he 
invokes an archetype as old as the human race. 35 

Ishmael watches hatred consume Captain Ahab and his ship. Ahab's 
obsession with killing the great white whale casts mythological themes of 
hero quests gone awry into early 19th century American experience. The 
image of the outcast determined to complete a journey for noble reasons 
has always permeated our popular culture via melodramas, paperbacks, 
and newspapers. Bly, willingly, and Bisland, unintentionally, fit this 
paradigm because few women traveled anywhere alone and few dared to 
defy rules that restricted exciting news coverage to men. 

Bly's name still conjures up images of the eternal wanderer, the 
seeker who discovers self-worth and identity by exploring mysterious 
terrains. Only an American girl could perform such a feat, according to 
European papers. Moreover, just as fictional protagonists narrowly avert 
disaster, on the last lap of her journey, Nellie Bly's train "almost hurled to 
destruction. The escape is a miraculous one, and section men who 
witnessed the train flash over the straw-like structure (washed out bridge) 
regard the escape as one of the most marvelous in railway history." 36 
Notice the dramatic wording of the quotation. Heroines never persevere 
in a humdrum fashion. 

Pearson points out that the cowboy, the knight, and the explorer 
represent the desire to shed the conventions imposed by society long 
enough to traverse unknown realms. ,7 The prize is inner peace rather 
than material treasures. The process of mythology strips individuals of 
their humanity to transform them into icons for archetypes, thus connect- 
ing the culture to its values. Nellie has ceased to be a mere woman. She 
embodies pluck, chutzpah, and rebellion. Bisland's name is often inter- 
changed with Bly's, but her name alone does not symbolize anything. The 
opposite natures of the two women considered together illuminate both 
Bly's contributions and Bisland's counterclockwise journey around the 

In real life, no woman could have been as glamorous or outrageous 
as the heroine of the "Tales of Bly," the mythic version of the girl who 
turned New York upside down with her exposes of madness and her 
conquest of prize fighters and New York's aristocrats. The legends high- 
light incidents that fill the intrinsic, human need for role models. As the 

74 Kilmer •Spring 1999 

feminist movement has emerged in the last quarter of the 20th century, 
the litany offemme has resurrected the stories of women who deserve to 
be respected for their accomplishments. A few, like Nellie Bly, transcend 
history because their experiences echo the archetypal skeleton of the 
nation. Comparing the lives of the two globetrotters reveals the difference 
between history and cultural memory. 

Bly Respected Her Granduncle's Adventure 

Elizabeth Cochrane followed in the footsteps of her granduncle, 
Thomas Kennedy, who toured the world in three years. Unfortunately, he 
died shortly after completing the amazing journey that destroyed his 
health. The same spirit of adventure that inspired him to risk his life to 
encounter the unknown also fired the imagination of his grandniece. 
Kroeger could not document the origin of the spellbinding assignment, 
but most accounts insist that Bly forced the editors at the World to send 
her — not a man — on the dangerous mission. "But as usual Nellie had 
iron determination behind her sweet face." 38 Giving Bly full credit 
reflects her personality and adds to her legendary stature. 

Elizabeth Bisland, on the other hand, called the global dash a 
ridiculous wild goose chase. 39 Initially, she refused to accept the assign- 
ment. "In the first place, I didn't wish to. In the second place, people were 
coming to my house to tea on the following day." 40 Can anyone picture 
the indefatigable Bly uttering such heresy? 

The contrast between the personalities of the two globetrotters 
inadvertently reflects the extremes in modern and traditional choices 
women made during the Gilded Age (1870-1914). Nellie Bly: "The New 
York World's correspondent who placed a girdle around the earth in 72 
days, 6 hours and 1 1 minutes burst like a comet on New York, a dynamic 
figure, five feet three, with mournful gray eyes and persistent manners." 41 
While Bly rushed to her tailor's to order special clothing — her famous 
checkered coat and cap — that she could pack into her valise, Bisland 
fretted about not having "appropriate garments" and packed a "good-sized 
steamer trunk, a large Gladstone bag, and shawl strap" as well as "a second 
larger box with everything [she] could possibly require." 42 

Even their pseudonyms reflected their different outlooks. Bly, the 
flamboyant tomboy, took her pen name from the Stephen Foster song, 
"Nellie Bly." Bisland, the pragmatic lady, published items as B. L. R. 
Dane. Both worked for newspapers, but Bisland stayed in the literary 
department. Bly, on the other hand, put aside the niceties of the woman's 

Spring 1 999 • American Journalism 75 

turn of phrase in poems, short stories, and essays to crash the newsroom 
as a stunt reporter. While Bly was not the first of her sex to work as a 
reporter, she was outspoken about her goals in the newsroom. Bly pursued 
stunt reporting to prove that she could do the same work men did — a 
ghastly notion for many, including Bisland, in 1889. 

Although seeing her name in headlines reminded Bly of her success 
as a journalist, Bisland felt "distress" when she read her name in a headline 
while she worked for the New Orleans Times-Democrat and from then on 
wrote unsigned columns. 43 In fact, Bisland secretly mailed her poetry 
from a nearby village, fearing that the pseudonym alone would not 
protect her identity. 44 Bly relished having her name repeated three times 
in headlines that announced her latest pursuit for social justice. Her 
column in the New York World in the 1890s not only featured her name 
above the copy but included her photo, which also was labeled. Necessity 
prodded both women. 

According to Frances E. Willard and Mary A. Livermore (her 
contemporary biographers) Bisland worked only because while she was a 
child her parents had lost all of their property during the Civil War. She 
helped support her relatives with her writing, the one potentially commer- 
cial talent she had discovered during the prosperous years when the family 
still had enjoyed its status as one of the oldest and finest in Louisiana. 45 
After going to New York, Bisland sought a position as a magazine con- 
tributor partly because she disliked being associated with newsrooms 
which, like saloons, were forbidden turf for ladies. 

"What Are Girls Good For?" 

Despite this social taboo, Bly sought a career in journalism. Like 
Bisland, she, too, felt compelled to earn money to pay her expenses and 
help her family. But unlike the southern author, she relished conquering 
the newsroom. Her fiery persona and gutsy stunts caught the public's 
imagination. She was the stuff of dreams and wrote fittingly about 
Cinnamon Gardens, elephants, and eating Christmas lunch in the Temple 
of the Dead in Canton, China. Bisland described suffering from the cold, 
fatigue and hunger. She made long literary references and described 
sunsets, Chinese playing fantan, going to Japanese theater, watching flying 
fish, and everywhere the salutary impact of British rule on heathens. She 
feared being lost in the fog or getting influenza. 

Meanwhile, Bly visited Jules Verne, bought a monkey, and danced 
with princes. Once Bisland asked a man to make arrangements for her 

76 Kilmer -Spring 1999 

Courtesy of Library of Congress 

Elizabeth Cochrane (Nellie Bly) pictured in a photograph dated 1890. 

Spring 1999 • American Journalism 


because she was far away from home, afraid, and exhausted. Bly, on the 
other hand, emphasized the thrills awaiting those who flew around the 
world solo on regular commercial carriers — ships, trains, sampans, 
elephants, or rickshaws. Both of them undoubtedly got seasick. To Bly it 
was just another dramatic episode in a splendid romp to best Father Time. 
Bisland wrote realistically about the agonies of shipboard illness in 1889. 
Nevertheless, both had fun and made friends as they sped across the 

Although both women's styles seem stilted today, each had an 
audience. Bly wrote emotionally and transcribed interviews into lively 
dialogues. She proved herself capable of doing a man's job by responding 
to an article in the Pittsburgh Dispatch, "What Are Girls Good For?" In 
her first assignment as a member of the news staff, she examined divorce, 
an unseemly topic for a maiden to contemplate. 

While Bly focused on the legal problems confronting women 
trapped in deplorable domestic situations, Bisland concluded that the 
security and comforts of marriage made women "honored priestesses;" 
moreover, the noble duty of bearing children negated any possibility of 
equality with men. 46 Both women expressed themselves powerfully. Bly's 
stories reflected the metamorphosis of women in the Gay 90s from the 
traditional, sheltered Madonnas in aprons praised by Bisland to the 
brazen, modern women like Bly who challenged the bromide — it's a man's 

Bisland and Bly both sought fame as literary writers. Bisland 
published short stories, essays, and novels. Her name appears in a half- 
dozen biographical dictionaries of writers. 47 Bly left The World to pursue 
a literary career after her triumphant trip around the world. For six 
months, Bly lectured about her experiences. Nellie Bly's Book, Around the 
World in 72 Days, rapidly sold out the first printing. The Journalist 
predicted that Bly would make more money on her memoirs than English 
explorer Sir Henry Morgan Stanley. "Stanley has sold his forthcoming 
book [about finding Dr. David Livingston] for $200,000, but we have 
already perused his accounts of African exploration. Miss Bly will come 
back from a novel enterprise, and her account of her journey should make 
a book more salable than Stanley's. The wise publisher will be prepared to 
meet the fair traveler at the depot." 48 

Bly signed a contract with N. L. Munro's New York Family Story 
Paper for three years at the awesome salary of $10,000 a year. However, 
she either found the stay-at-home life boring or just did not have any 
talent for writing fiction. 49 Bly published books drawn from her newspa- 

78 Kilmer -Spring 1999 

per writing: her experiences in Mexico as a correspondent for the Pitts- 
burgh Dispatch, her expose of Blackwell Island {Ten Days in a Mad House) 
for The World and, of course, her book about girdling the globe. 

While Bly excelled in the newsroom, Bisland earned respect in 
literary circles. She contributed essays to The Atlantic Monthly as well as to 
The North American Review, beginning as the protege of Frank Hatton in 
the literary department of the Washington Post. Later, she sent pieces to the 
New Orleans Times-Democrat and, eventually, published these books: A 
Plying Trip Around the World, A Candle of Understanding, The Secret Life, 
Life and Letters ofLafcadio Hearn, At the Sign of the Hobby Horse, Seekers 
in Sicily, and The Case of John Smith. Bisland stopped writing about 13 
years before she died. 

Both Bly and Bisland married. Bly's husband, a hardware store 
tycoon, was nearly four decades older than his bride. Bly wrote for The 
World off and on until she felt secure in her marriage. After the first 
stormy year, she found happiness with Robert Seaman. 50 "There were no 
more bylines or brass bands." 5I However, a whirlwind of parties, ex- 
tended vacations, and luxurious business trips with her husband kept her 
busy and contented until Seaman died in 1904, leaving Bly a very rich 

Bisland's tycoon started out a lawyer but soon left the legal profes- 
sion to pursue corporate connections in the steel industry and mining 
speculations in the Midwest. While Bly chose a father figure for her 
partner, at the age of 30, Bisland wed a yachting enthusiast just seven 
years older than herself. Neither Bly nor Bisland bore children, but for 
several years after her husband's death Bly took in street orphans until she 
could arrange adoptions for them. 

Bisland's Obituary Duller Than Bly's 

By 1919, Bly returned to writing for newspapers to support herself 
because litigation with former employees had consumed most of her 
fortune. Her old friend, Arthur Brisbane, offered her a job at the New 
York Pvening Journal. Times had changed enough so that, on the eve of 
the Roaring 20s, Bly's once thrilling style seemed quaint. Nevertheless, she 
crusaded for reforms (particularly in the treatment of children) and shook 
up the whole nation with her eyewitness account of an execution that 
depicted graphically her opposition to capital punishment. "She died still 
in harness, doing the work she loved best. There were no close survivors. 
The Journal said, simply, "She was considered the best reporter in 
America." 52 

Spring 1 999 • American Journalism 79 

Although Bly has become an icon and Bisland has been forgotten 
The Neiv York Times gave Bisland, who died on January 9, 1929, on her 
estate near Charlottesville, a thorough and upbeat but nevertheless, dry 
obituary. Kroeger points out that, overall, New York newspapers ad- 
equately saluted Bly, who died nearly penniless in a New York City 
hospital on January 27, 1922. They both succumbed to pneumonia. 53 
The Associated Press wire story concluded Bly's life "was more active than 
falls to the lot of more than one woman in 10,000." 54 

Two Women But One Myth 

Although two flew against time to beat Phileas Fogg in 1889, 
usually historians mention only the triumphant one. They often check 
coverage in The New York Times because it is the newspaper of record, the 
daily with national circulation. The New York Times obituary for the loser 
was certainly as complimentary as the winner's death notice; nevertheless, 
a century later, Nellie Bly's star blazes amidst the novas of other immortals 
whose lives embody sacred cultural tenets. "Creating a character part 
dream, part reality, she bettered the world for others while fulfilling her 
own destiny. In a startling fashion, she made seemingly impossible hopes 
come true." 55 

Bly traveled farther faster on new forms of commercial transporta- 
tion than anyone had ever imagined possible and, unlike her granduncle, 
lived to tell the tale. "The Amazing Nellie Bly" became a part of American 
folklore and "a larger-than-life figure" who deserved to be respected for 
her contributions as a first-person reporter in an era when men still 
dominated newsrooms. 56 Ross credited that "small tornado" with making 
"America conscious of the woman reporter" and emphasized Bly's indomi- 
table spirit. 57 Frank Luther Mott called her trip around the world "the 
most spectacular stunt" performed by any woman in the 1 880s to prove 
herself a capable journalist. 58 

Jean Folkerts and Dwight Teeter do not use the term stunt reporter. 
Instead, they recognize Bly as one of Pulitzer's "able staff." 59 Their list of 
Bly's crusades reveals why she has become an icon for the wanderer. The 
outrageous Nellie Bly did all those things Americans in the 20th century 
have come to respect — at least from afar. She defied authority for the sake 
of justice. She went to jail. She broke bread with lunatics to help victims 
of the system escape from the crudest, most terrifying label of her day — 
insanity. She stood her ground even when her knees shook and her heart 
pounded. As foreign journalists noted, only an American girl would dare 

80 Kilmer 'Spring 1999 

fly around the world. Americans like to think of themselves as singular, as 
chosen by God for special missions. Nellie Bly fits that conceit. 

Bly, not Bisland, remains a symbol of the archetypal wanderer 
because she broke the rules creatively to improve society. She persevered. 
Had Bly merely beat Phileas Fogg, she probably would have been forgot- 
ten as quickly as Bisland. Bly fought corruption in government in Mexico 
and among lobbyists in New York state, campaigned for rights for factory 
girls, and exposed mashers as well as testified before grand juries about the 
conditions in prisons, tenements and hospitals. She married a millionaire 
but died penniless and alone — nevertheless contented — demonstrating 
that while, ultimately, earthly treasures rust, spiritual riches endure. That 
sort of cosmic justice appeals to the American mindset. 

However, the loss of her fortune gained its archetypal significance 
because through determination and luck, even though she was in her 50s, 
Nellie Bly made a comeback. She did not rise to her former celebrity 
status as a reporter, but she did arrange homes for orphans and write her 
column until she died, which indicated that wealth had not corrupted her. 
Rather than accept charity, the widow went to work, an action frowned 
upon in 1919, but highly commended today. Bly maintained her respect- 
ability and her autonomy by supporting herself with her pen. 

Strength from External and Internal Journeys 

Bly's life story offers the moral that those who answer the call to 
stray from traditional paths transform dreams into reality. In fact, true 
wanderers gain strength from essential external and internal journeys. 
"Nellie Bly seemed to embody the romance of journalism, the lure of 
travel and the pluck of the American girl." 60 Perhaps, her greatest 
achievement was in attaining the goal of all wanderers — finding out who 
she was while doing the work she loved best. Bly was not an upstart who 
broke the rules to shock old fogies. Bly was not one of a kind, unnatural 
and unfeminine. Bly was not a solitary woman born into the wrong 
century. Her hour of glory transpired, simultaneously, with the awakening 
of many sisters driven by inner visions of possibilities that most could not 
see. That is why Nellie Bly ceased being Elizabeth Cochrane in cultural 
memory. She has become the icon for informed risk-taking that enhances 
the self by enabling the soul to grow. She is a legend, a mythic heroine. 

The New York Times obituary emphasized Bly's daring exploits, like 
testing a diving bell. To eulogize Bisland, The Times declared that an 
author had died in the South. Thus, Bly's flamboyant adventures eclipsed 

Spring 1 999 • American Journalism 8 1 

Bisland's quiet accomplishments. 61 Nevertheless, the mistake is intriguing 
because while history records two bold deeds, mythology and, albeit 
inadvertently, the Times index recall but one noble quest fraught with 
peril and worthy of emulation. Both women contributed to the history of 
transportation by stirring up interest in commercial travel. Moreover, they 
proved that both "tomboys" and "nice girls" could complete a task that 
required rational thought and physical stamina as well as self-confidence. 


1 Jules Verne, Around the World in 80 Days (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1956). 

2 Carol S. Pearson, The Hero Within: Six Archetypes We Live By (San Francisco: Harper, 1989) 54. 

3 In the same year, Bly and Bisland raced against time, Mary Twombly urged women to cheerfully 
and gratefully accept their place in the women's department, the only suitable work for them on 
newspapers. See "Women in Journalism," The Writer, 3:8 (Aug. 1889) 169-172. Ida M. Tarbell, in 
The Chautaiiquan: A Monthly Magazine Devoted to the Promotion of True Culture, Organ of The 
Chautauquan Literary and Scientific Circle, 7:8 (April 1887), concluded that some reporting, like 
morgues and the police beat, are impossible for women, 393. 

"Tarbell, 393. 

'For information about the number of women who participated in ventures outside of the home, 
see Eleanor Flexner, The Century of Struggle: The Woman's Rights Movement in the United States 
(Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University, 1975) "Chapter XIII: The Growth of 
Women's Organizations," especially 179-181. 

''Brooke Kroeger, Nellie Bly: Daredevil, Reporter, Feminist (New York: Random House, 1994) 193, 

7 Elizabeth Bisland, "The Coming Subjugation of Man," Belford's Magazine (October 1889) in 
Science-Fiction: The Early Years by Everett E Bleier with assistance from Richard J. Bleier (Kent, Ohio: 
Kent State University Press, 1990), 68. 

"Flexner, 181. 

''Mignon Rittenhouse, The Amazing Nellie Bly (New York: Dutton, 1956) 209. 

10 Kroeger, Nellie Bly, Pullman Strike, 229-237; Eugene Debs, 251; the drought in the Midwest, 
252 and her reform efforts through her newspaper column during her last years as a reporter, 455- 

1 ' "The Globe Trotters [sic] Miss Bisland Deprived of Victory By a Mistake," The Detroit News, 19 
January 1890, p. 1., c. 6. 

12 "An Aeronaut's Fate. Drops Into the Sea With a Parachute and Devoured by Sharks," Detroit 
News, 24 November 1889, p. 1, c. 1. 

13 The first story, "Nellie Bly 's Trip," appeared in the Detroit News, 23 November 1889, p. 1, c. 1. 

14 Allan T Forman, "By-the-Bye", The Journalist: Devoted to Newspapers, Authors, Artists and 
Publishers, 16 Nov. 1889. 10:9, 9; Also, see "The Two Globe Trotters" [sic], 23 Nov. 1889, Vol. 
10:10, 9; Allan T Forman, "By-the-Bye," 1 February 1890, 10:20, 8. 

15 "The Mystery of Nellie Bly. History of the Girl Who Is Flying Around the World. Eccentric 
Young Man-Hater Who, to Support a Widowed Mother, Has Undergone Dangers and Experiences 
Without Parallel in the Annals of Womanhood," Detroit News, 12 January 1890, p. 3, c. 1. 

ir, "The Mystery of Nellie Bly," Detroit News, 12 January 1890, p. 3, c. 1. 
>'■ 'The Journalist, 1 1 January 1890, Vol. 10:17, 6. 

'"AllanT Forman, "By-the-Bye," The Journalist, 25 January 1890. 10:19, Two short sentences 
about Bly, 5; long paragraph about Bisland, 9. 

82 Kilmer • Spring 1999 

'''This comment in the Detroit Neivs article, "Mystery of Nellie Bly," proved eventually to be 
tragically ironic because disputes over ownership of a steel barrel manufacturing concern resulted in 
Bly being abandoned by the very mother whom she had supported and taken care of for years. 
Kroeger describes the decay of Bly's family ties in the chapters on bankruptcy and on Bly's final years, 
"Bankruptcy", 329-388 and "The Journal", 455-512. 

2 ""The Mystery of Nellie Bly," Detroit News, 12 January 1890, p. 3, c. 1. 

21 Olga Stanley, "Personalities of Literary and Journalistic Women," The Outlook, 57:7 (16 October 

22 John F. Kasson, Rudeness and Civility: Manners in Nineteenth Century Urban America (New York: 
Hill and Wang, 1990) 117-118. 

2, Flexner, 182. 

u Stephen Segaller and Merrill Berger, The Wisdom of the Dream: The World ofC J. Jung (Boston: 
Shambahla, 1990) 115. 

25 Elizabeth Bisland, "The Abdication of Man," The North American Review 167 (August 1898) 

2(1 Elizabeth Bisland, "Notes and Comments: The Modern Woman and Marriage," The North 
American Review 160 (June 1895) 48. 

27 Olga Stanley, "Personalities of Literary and Journalistic Women," The Outlook, 57:7 (16 October 
1897) 427. Katherine Verdery, "Elizabeth Bisland Wetmore, 1861-", in the Library of Southern 
Literature: Compiled Under the Direct Supervision of Southern Men of Letters, ed. Edwin Anderson 
Alderman et al, Vol. 13 (New Orleans: Martin and Hoyt, 1907) 5770. 

28 Susan Lichtman, The Life Stages of Woman Heroic Journey: A Study of the Origins of the Great 
Goddess Archetype (Lewiston, Wales: Mellen, 1991) 3. 

2 ''The articles appear in January of 1890 as the two globe trotters are hurrying to complete the race. 
The 1966 New York Times Index in the University of Wisconsin Memorial Library indicates that the 
Times ran three items about Bisland (Bisland, Miss., "Tour Around the World," 19 January 1890 1:6; 
22 January 1890 2:5, and 23 January 1890, 9:6.) The Index lists one article about Bly: "Trip Around 
the World, Arrival at New York," 26 January 1890, 8:3. Since the New York Times tried to avoid the 
sensationalism that made Bly's paper The New York World popular; the editors may have hoped 
Bisland would beat the stunt reporter. 

"'Stephen Segaller and Merrill Berger, The Wisdom of the Dream: The World of C J. Jung (Boston: 
Shambahla, 1990) especially Chapter Seven: "Travels in Time and Space," 126-153. 

"Carol S. Pearson, The Hero Within: Six Archetypes We Live By (San Francisco: Harper, 1989) xxv- 

32 Daniel C. Hallin, "Where? Cartography, Community, and the Cold War," in Reading the News, 
Robert Carl Manoff and Michael Schudson, eds. (New York: Pantheon, 1986) 117. 

33 James W. Carey, "Why and How? The Dark Continent of Journalism," in Reading the News, 149. 

34 Segaller and Berger, 136. 

35 Herman Melville, Moby Dick or the Whale (New York: Random House, 1930). 

v ' "Nellie Bly's Escape. Her Special Train Almost Hurled to Destruction. Going at a Rate of Over 
Fifty Miles an Hour, Track Repairers Fail to Stop It Where the Rails Were Not Spiked Down — The 
Train Went Over Safely," The Detroit Evening News, 23 January 1893, p. I.e. 2. 

'Pearson, 51. 

3 *Madelon Golden Schilpp and Sharon M. Murphy, Great Women of the Press (Carbondale: 
Southern Illinois U P, 1983) 140. Also, see Kroeger, Nellie Bly. 

'"Elizabeth Bisland, "A Flying Trip Around the World: Second Stage," The Cosmopolitan 9:1 (May 

■"'Elizabeth Bisland, "A Flying Trip Around the World: First Stage, "The Cosmopolitan, 8:6, (April 
1890) 692. The series ran from April through October. See The Cosmopolitan, "A Flying Trip Around 
the World: Second Stage," 9:1 (May 1890), 51-61; The Cosjnopolitan, "A Flying Trip Around the 
World: The Third Stage," 9:2 (June 1890), 173-184; The Cosmopolitan, "A Flying Trip Around the 
World: Fourth Stage," 9:3 (July 1890), 272-284; The Cosmopolitan, "A Flying Trip Around the World: 
Fifth Stage," 9:4 (August 1890), 401-413; The Cosmopolitan, "A Flying Trip Around the World: Sixth 
Stage," 9:5 (September 1890), 533-545; The Cosmopolitan, "A Flying Trip Around the World: Last 

Spring 1999 • American Journalism 83 

Stage," 9:6 (October 1890), 666-577. She also published her memoir as a book, A Flying Trip Around 
the World. 

41 Ishbel Ross, Ladies of the Press: The Story of Women in Journalism by an Insider (New York: Harper 
1936) 48. The page across from the title page featured a photo of Bly in her traveling costume. 

42 Bisland, "First Stage," 693. 

43 Bisland, "First Stage," 692-693. 

""Verdery, 5770-5771. 

45 Frances E. Willard and Mary A. Livermore, American Women: 1500 Biographies, 1 ,400 portraits; A 
Comprehensive Encyclopedia of American Women During the Nineteenth Century (Detroit, MI: Gale 
Research, 1973 reprint, orig. printed in 1897) 86. 

46 Elizabeth Bisland, "Notes and Comments: The Modern Woman and Marriage," The North 
American Review 160 (June 1895) 755. 

47 Surprisingly, Bisland's name does not appear in Notable American Women or other modern 
biographical sources. However, her life receives lengthy consideration in the Library of Southern 
Literature previously cited and standard paragraph-long mention in The Bibliophile Library of 
Literature, Art and Rare Manuscripts: History, Biography, Science, Poetry, Drama, Travel, Adventure, 
Fiction, Little-Known Literature from the Archives of Great Libraries of the World, compiled and 
arranged by Nathan Haskell Dole, Forrest Morgan and Caroline Ticknor, New York: International 
Bibliophile Society, 1904; Library of the World's Best Literature, Ancient and Modem, ed. Charles 
Dudley Warner (New York: International Society, 1898) 61; Who Was Who Among North American 
Authors, 1921-1939, 2 (K-Z) (Detroit: Gale, 1976) originally published by the Golden Syndicate, Los 
Angeles. The Journalist also ran a photo and valentine profile of her, "Miss Elizabeth Bisland of The 
Cosmopolitan Magazine," 30 November 1889, 2. The writer praised Bisland's beauty and talent but 
spent about half of the article talking about The Cosmopolitan magazine as "really a competitor of the 
Century, Harpers and Scribner's." 

48 "Book Makers and Others," The Journalist, 10:17 , 1 1 January 1890, 6. 
4 '' Kroeger, Nellie Bly, 186. 

5 "Kroeger, Nellie Bly, 268-292. 

51 Schilpp and Murphy, 146. 

52 Kroeger, 509. 

53 See Kroeger for information about Bly's death 507 and The Neiv York Times obituary for Bisland: 
"Mrs. E. B. Wetmore, author, dies in South: Former Elizabeth Bijsland of this city' to be buried in 
Woodlawn: 9 January 1929, 31:4. 

54 Kroeger, 507. 

"Rittenhouse 107-108. 

% Lea Ann Brown, "Elizabeth Cochrane (Nellie Bly)", Dictionary of Literary Biography 58. 
Rittenhouse entitled his biography, The Amazing Nellie Bly. 

57 Ross 48, 50. 

"Frank Luther Mott, American Journalism: A History 1690-1960 (New York: MacMillan, 1972), 
437. Also, see Edwin and Michael Emery, The Press and America: An Interpretive History of the Mass 
Media (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1984). 

59 Jean Folkerts and Dwight L. Teeter, Voices of a Nation: A History of the Media in the United States 
3rd ed.(New York: MacMillan, 1989) 268. 

''"Bernard A. Weisberger, "Elizabeth Cochrane Seaman," Notable American Women, 1971, 254. 

'''"Nellie Bly, Journalist Dies of Pneumonia, famous lor Rapid Trip Around the World and other 
Daring Exploits," The New York Times, 28 January 1922, 13:4. 

84 Kilmer* Spring 1999 

"There Is Nothing in This 
Profession . . . That a Woman 
Cannot Do": Doris E. Fleischman 
and the Beginnings of Public 

by Susan Henry 

Between 1913 and 1922, public relations began to be formed as a 
profession, and the life of one of its previously unacknowledged pioneers — 
Doris E. Fleischman — changed in remarkable ways. This article charts 
Fleischman's early career as a publicist, fundraiser and newspaper reporter, 
and then as the first employee hired by Edward E Bernays ivhen, in 1919, he 
opened an office providing "publicity direction." It describes some of their key 
early campaigns, the rapid development of and changes in their business, and 
the increasingly productive collaboration betiveen them until 1922, when 
Fleischman became an equal partner with Bernays in the firm of Edward L. 
Bernays, Counsel on Public Relations. 

When she graduated from Barnard College in spring 1913, 
Doris E. Fleischman said, she was "shoved into the 
ocean without having learned to swim." 1 Although she 
was a talented singer and athlete, she had never read a newspaper, knew 
little about the world and felt "bewildered" when her father asked her 
what she planned to do after graduation. At age 21, she knew she would 

Susan Henry is a Professor of Journalism at California State University, Northridge. 

Spring 1999 •American Journalism 85 

"do something" but had no clear idea what that would be and no confi- 
dence that she was prepared for any career at all. 2 

A decade later, she was excelling in a profession that had not been 
invented when she graduated from college, leading a life that would have 
been unimaginable to her at that earlier time. In September 1922 she 
became an equal partner, with its founder, in one of the country's earliest 
and most successful public relations agencies, having helped it first thrive 
as a publicity service and then evolve into a public relations firm. She did 
this with almost no public recognition, in contrast to the firm's founder, 
Edward L. Bernays, who cultivated the limelight from the start and, 
throughout his career, usually received sole credit for the agency's accom- 
plishments. When he died in 1995, the headline of his New York Times 
obituary labeled him the "father of public relations," 3 but his partnership 
with Fleischman in the birth and development of the field has only 
recently been acknowledged. 4 

This article looks at the beginnings of Fleischman's career and the 
beginnings of the profession she helped form. It charts the work she and 
Bernays did before they joined together, the growth of and changes in 
their new agency, their development of public relations techniques that 
were to become mainstays, and some of the reasons their early collabora- 
tion was so successful. The scarcity of published information about how 
early agencies operated (and the fact that the first years of this particular 
firm have received only cursory attention) made it worthwhile to examine 
some of Bernays' work in addition to Fleischman's. This gives context to 
information about Fleischman as well as helping to provide a broad 
picture of the nascent agency itself. 

Thus, this study adds an understanding of public relations' early 
years, a time that has not yet been well-documented, in part because the 
behind-the-scenes nature of many of the activities carried out makes them 
difficult to investigate. Similarly, although the advantages of collaboration 
in today's public relations activities are widely understood, little is known 
about the ways early collaborators worked together. This largely is due to 
the still-further-behind-the-scenes interactions of collaborators, which 
make researching them doubly problematic. And while the contributions 
of many individual men to the development of public relations have been 
at least generally sketched, women's early work rarely has been studied. A 
male-female collaboration seems worthy of particular attention. 

Fleischman was by far the most important of the field's women 
pioneers, and this period is a significant one for understanding both her as 
an individual and the patterns of what was to become her 62-year-long 

86 Henry 'Spring 1999 

collaboration with Bernays. Because their business was relatively simple 
when it began and the bulk of her work was precisely defined, it is much 
easier to identify her skills and responsibilities then than it is during the 
remainder of their partnership, when their work essentially merged. 
Separating out key components of her work at this time reveals what she 
brought to the business from the start and how she helped it develop. 
Several new findings also correct inaccurate claims repeatedly made by 
Fleischman and Bernays about her activities before as well as after they 
joined together. 

From Little Direction to Publicity Direction: 1913 to 1919 

Fleischman's life changed during the period of this study largely due 
to fundamental career decisions made by her friend, Edward Bernays. 
First, he almost accidentally became a theatrical press agent in 1913 
when, while editing two small medical magazines, he also ingeniously 
promoted a controversial play about syphilis, "Damaged Goods," which a 
physician had praised in one of Bernays' magazines. 5 He later explained 
the effect of this experience: "I had had so much pleasure from what I 
had done that I said to myself, 'This is what I want to do.' I became a 
press agent." 6 

For the next five years he was a highly successful publicist for 
Broadway plays, actors, musical performers such as Enrico Caruso, and — 
during three years that he said "taught me more about life than I have 
learned from politics, books, romance, marriage and fatherhood in the 
years since" — Diaghilev's Ballet Russe. He described this work as "one 
thrill after another" and loved what he did. Yet as exciting to him as the 
glamour and sophistication of the performing arts world was his own 
success. He had found his calling and quickly learned that he was very 
good at it. 7 

In June 1918, he happily stopped this work to join the many 
journalists, press agents and advertising people working for the US 
Committee on Public Information (CPI). Headed by George Creel, this 
huge propaganda operation was extraordinarily effective in building 
nationwide public support for this country's World War I efforts and 
spreading US government views to the rest of the world. Bernays worked 
out of the New York office of the CPI Foreign Press Bureau until, when 
the war ended in November, he went to Paris for the Versailles Peace 
Conference as part of the official press mission. 8 

Spring 1 999 • American Journalism 87 

The CPI has been widely credited with vividly demonstrating the 
power of organized, well-funded public opinion manipulation. The 
general public increasingly became aware of this power, as did businesses 
and other organizations, and many of the people who had worked for the 
CPI were particularly struck by its effectiveness, Bernays among them. 9 
He also was affected by his experiences at the Peace Conference. "Paris 
was swarming with ethnic entities that had been promised independence 
in Wilson's Fourteen Points," he explained, and "I couldn't but observe 
the tremendous emphasis the small nations of the world placed on public 
opinion." Having "seen this world picture emphasizing the power of 
words and ideas," he decided that when he returned to New York in 
March 1919 he "would go into an activity that dealt with this force of 
ideas to affect attitudes." 10 

Bernays' CPI connections soon resulted in contracts to do publicity 
work for two organizations. On March 20, 1919, the Lithuanian National 
Council hired him to help in its efforts to obtain US support for recogni- 
tion of the country as an independent republic, and 10 weeks later he 
began working with the US War Department on its campaign for the re- 
employment of former servicemen. He initially operated just as he had as 
a theatrical press agent^out of his clients' offices or his parents' home, 
where he lived. But on July 28, 1919, he made a second career change 
when he opened his own office. That same day, he hired Doris 
Fleischman as a staff writer." 

In 1919 Fleischman had much less to show for the preceding years 
than did her new boss. After graduating from college in 1913, she appar- 
ently worked as a fundraiser and publicist for a charity on New York's 
lower east side. 12 The next year, Bernays helped her get a job at the New 
York Tribune, where she began as a women's page writer, then was pro- 
moted to assistant women's page editor and assistant Sunday editor. 
Sometimes writing as many as three long feature stories a week, she 
interviewed many well-known people, traveled to San Francisco to report 
on the Women's Peace Conference at the 1915 Panama- Pacific Interna- 
tional Exposition, and claimed to be the first woman to cover a prize fight 
for a major newspaper. Although she seems to have done well and greatly 
enjoyed this work, she left the Tribune sometime in 1916. 13 

Exactly when and why she left remains a mystery. In interviews, 
Bernays was very reluctant to acknowledge that she stopped working at 
the newspaper before 1919, while in her own published and unpublished 
writings and in interviews, Fleischman seldom admitted that she left 
before this date. One friend from the 1970s with whom she sometimes 
discussed her early career speculates that she left for family reasons. 14 

Henry* Spring 1999 

Imprecise as it is, this interpretation makes sense and helps explain her 
reticence in discussing this period of her life. 

In 1916 she was living at home with her parents. Her mother, 
Harriet Rosenthal Fleischman, was a pleasant, compliant woman — in 
many ways a typical late- Victorian upper-middle-class wife and mother — 
while her father, Samuel E. Fleischman, was a rigid, authoritarian man 
who exerted firm control over his family. A prominent lawyer who was 
conservative in most of his views, he nonetheless encouraged Doris to 
attend a good college and then get a job when she graduated, but she did 
not accept the offer from the Tribune until she had asked his permission 
to do so. And, fearful that she would be hurt, he accompanied her when 
she covered the prize fight. l5 Her father was by far the strongest force in 
her life, and she certainly would have left the Tribune if that was what he 

Little more is known about her professional life following her 
departure from the Tribune, but it is clear that it included freelance 
publicity and fundraising jobs. 16 One client for which she apparently did 
considerable work was a hospital, the Spring Street Infirmary, which she 
later called "a terrible place."' 7 None of this work seems to have been very 
satisfying, and it certainly was a step down from the Tribune. She must 
have been delighted when Bernays offered her a full-time writing position 
in July 1919. 

Both Fleischman and Bernays consistently asserted that he hired her 
directly away from the Tribune. This claim both obscures how she spent 
the three years after she left the newspaper and neglects to recognize one 
additional freelance job she held during this time. A careful examination 
of the work Bernays carried out for both the Lithuanian National Council 
and the War Department in spring and early summer 1919 reveals that 
Fleischman wrote press releases for him before he opened his own office 
and officially hired her. 18 

Certainly she was a logical choice. She was looking for freelance 
work and Bernays had thought she was a talented writer since reading her 
high school fiction. They had lived around the corner from each other (he 
on West 106th Street, she on West 107th Street) since 1912. He had 
helped her make the contacts that led to her Tribune job, and she had 
gone with him to see "Damaged Goods" and other theatrical productions 
he promoted. 19 She also said that, during the time he edited the two 
medical magazines, "I wrote reviews and stories for him for fun." 20 

At the same time, his work was extensive enough to require help. In 
addition to organizing promotional events for the Lithuanian National 

Spring 1999 • American Journalism 89 

Courtesy of Susan Henry 
Doris E. Fleischman and Edward L. Bernays, dressed for a night out, probably mid 1 920s. 


Henry • Spring 1999 

Council, he had agreed to produce six weekly press releases, which often 
required extensive research. His War Department work was more sophisti- 
cated and complex, involving the production of new programs, slogans 
and large numbers of press releases. Because he had both clients' releases 
typeset, bound into pads, and sent to newspapers and other publications, 
he also had to work extensively with printers and mailers. And he was 
quite well-paid, receiving $150 a week from the Lithuanian National 
Council and $100 (plus a large expense budget) from the War Depart- 
ment. So he certainly could afford to pay a freelancer.' 1 

By the end of July, he also realized he could afford to rent his own 
three-room office on the fifth floor of an old building at 19 East 48th 
Street. He calculated his first month's expenses for rent and furniture at 
$1,357, and his first employee, Fleischman, was a bargain at $50 a week. 
She quickly helped him hire a secretary, a mail clerk, an office boy and his 
brother-in-law Murray C. Bernays, who was paid $75 a week to do 
research and some writing. 22 

Fleischman later blamed herself for not asking for a higher salary 
(she actually had requested $45), saying she knew little about money since 
she lived at home and her father supported her. Her salary "was extra and 
unimportant." 23 That for three years she had had no full-time job, and 
probably modest freelance income, also may have led her to give little 
thought to her salary when she was offered this position. 

(In fairness, it seems possible that she might not have asked for more 
even if she had carefully considered her situation. A 1921 book about 
professional women noted that salaries for "experienced publicity consult- 
ants" were "around $50 a week, and are said to be about 10 per cent lower 
than those for men." 24 A 1920 book describing careers for women 
quoted a "director of one publicity agency" as saying that women "free- 
lance workers" could earn from $50-100 a week. 25 When she left the 
Tribune, Fleischman had been making $22 a week. 26 ) 

Bernays had struggled with what to call his new business, finally 
settling on "Edward L. Bernays Publicity Direction." He hoped this 
would differentiate him from press agents by indicating that he would 
"direct actions of my client to get publicity and win public support." 27 
But much of his work during the rest of 1919 seems to have been little 
different from his pre-war press agent activities in which he simply called 
attention to his clients (albeit often cleverly). One reason for this may 
have been that he had numerous theatrical clients. "I accepted these 
assignments because I was not yet well enough established not to," he 
explained. 28 

Spring 1 999 • American Journalism 9 1 

Other clients that year included the American Civil Liberties Union, 
Best Foods Company (for which he helped launch a new salad oil), and 
the Federation for the Support of Jewish Philanthropies (which was 
conducting a large fundraising drive). The Lithuanian National Council 
and War Department continued as clients through the summer. 29 By the 
end of December, Bernays had 10 employees and had earned about 
$11,000. 30 

Publicity and "Aggressive Publishing" 

His largest client during his first year in his new office, and the one 
for whom he went on to work the longest, was the book publisher Boni 
and Liveright. It is useful to examine portions of this campaign because 
they typify key strategies Bernays and Fleischman were to use for many 
years and show how well-developed these techniques were at the start of 
their business. Specific contributions by Fleischman also can easily be 

Fleischman seems to have played a role in obtaining this client, since 
it was her much-adored older brother Leon who urged the firm's founder, 
Horace Liveright, to hire Bernays. A poet and former newspaper reporter, 
Leon had recently bought into the firm as a vice president and also served 
as its secretary and treasurer. 31 According to Bernays, Leon insisted that 
Bernays "could give the firm and the authors an imaginative type of 
publicity other publishers had not dreamed of using, that this would sell 
books and upgrade the list of authors by attracting good new ones." 32 

Whatever his sister's role, the match was an excellent one. Liveright, 
who hired Bernays in fall 1919, was a daring young publisher who was 
willing to gamble on unknown authors and controversial books. He had 
recently lured a few established authors like Theodore Dreiser to his firm, 
but he also was anxious to publish works by the Greenwich Village 
intellectuals who had been ignored by his rival publishers. 33 

"Other publishers deplored him, some envied him, and all had to 
admire his list," according to book historian John Tebbel. "If Liveright did 
not invent the literary renaissance of the '20s, he was at least its chief 
conductor." 34 And he was enthusiastic about shattering the old, staid 
molds of book publishing as well as the musty conventions of bookselling. 
He had, in Bernays' words, "faith in aggressive publishing." Bernays, in 
turn, was "eager to try out our strategies and tactics on books." He 
believed "books should respond more quickly to our techniques than 
almost any other commodity." 35 

92 Henry • Spring 1999 

During the year-long campaign, Bernays and Fleischman focused on 
expanding the book-reading public beyond the narrow audiences previ- 
ously identified by most publishers. They prepared an attractive supple- 
mentary catalog highlighting the most important books — those that 
would be discussed wherever "men and women, who are interested in life 
and the books that express life, gather" — and bombarded 300 bookstores 
with weekly circulars on different books. In addition to mailing out 
constant short press releases, they sent 100 feature articles related to Boni 
and Liveright books to newspapers throughout the country. 36 

In what Bernays said was an application of a technique used in his 
government CPI work, these 1,000 to 1,500-word features were offered as 
exclusives to one newspaper in a town. 37 Editors first received brief 
synopses of articles "prepared for your free publication by our Doris 
Fleischman, who was until recently on the staff of the New York Tribune, 
and by other experienced feature writers." They returned postcards 
indicating the articles they wanted, which then were sent to them. 38 

A small number of books were singled out for special publicity 
efforts. One was Christopher Morley and Bart Haley's satire on Prohibi- 
tion, In the Sweet Dry and Dry. Copious feature stories and shorter releases 
were supplemented by the creation of a booklovers tavern in New York's 
Majestic Hotel, whose bar had been closed by Prohibition. Books by Boni 
and Liveright authors replaced bottles behind the bar while some of these 
authors, as well as the president of the New York County chapter of the 
Women's Christian Temperance Union, were in attendance at its well- 
covered opening. This was the beginning of a campaign to turn "corner 
saloons" in 10 medium-sized towns into bookstores, and it also led to the 
creation of an American Council for Wider Reading, devoted to stimulat- 
ing more reading by Americans. 39 

This work is a good example of a frequently used technique that 
Bernays variously labeled "the overt act," "created circumstances" and "the 
created event." As he explained it in 1923, with such activities the public 
relations practitioner "is not merely the purveyor of news; he is more 
logically the creator of news." 40 Working for Boni and Liveright, he said, 
"I studied each book not as literature, but to find ideas that might be 
emphasized to increase public interest in the volume. I then looked for a 
current news idea that could be correlated with the ideas I had isolated. 
Then I tried to dramatize these ideas." 41 

The campaign for Iron City by M. H. Hedges illustrates another 
technique — the "segmental approach" — that Bernays and Fleischman 
went on to repeatedly use. This strategy, Bernays explained, required the 
practitioner to "subdivide the appeal of his subject and present it through 

Spring 1 999 • American Journalism 93 

the widest possible variety of avenues to the public." 42 Set on a college 
campus, Iron City dealt with a wide range of issues that Fleischman 
"subdivided" into features with titles such as "Can the College Woman 
Love?", "The Insecure Tenure of the College Professor — How He Is Pried 
Loose from His Job" and "Big Business and the American College — What 
Will Happen When the Two Are Divorced?" One release even asked the 
question, "Are the Children of College Parents Puny?" 43 

Other releases connected the book to current news events, including 
fall 1919 strikes in the coal industry and a strike by professors at the 
Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh (the book portrayed a professors' strike). 
Author Hedges was asked to identify college professors who would be 
willing to talk with newspaper reporters about issues raised in the novel, 
letters extolling the book were sent to teachers unions, and attempts were 
made to obtain cooperative publicity with the Stutz Motor Car Company 
and Chicago's Marshall Field and Company (both prominently men- 
tioned in the book). 44 

Another effective strategy was the association of specific books with 
well-known people — whether or not they had any real connection to the 
books. For example, to call attention to Adriana Spadoni's The Swing of 
the Pendulum, a novel dealing with a professional woman and her lovers, 
releases were prepared describing contemporary women activists like Alice 
Duer Miller and Helen Rogers Reid. Similarly, anarchist writer Hutchins 
Hapgood's novel, The Story of a Lover (written anonymously), was publi- 
cized with quotes from movie stars like Mary Pickford and Lillian Gish, 
who had supplied Fleischman with their definitions of love. Within six 
months, 1 1 ,000 copies were sold. 45 

The Boni and Liveright campaign bears examination in part because 
of its effects. Intellectual historian Ann Douglas said that it "made sellers 
out of books that were not natural sellers" and proved it was possible to 
"create market receptivity and revenue." 46 Not everything they tried was 
successful, and no doubt much of this steady stream of publicity was 
ignored. 47 But they did succeed in helping to expand the appeal of books, 
and certainly excitement was generated for some Boni and Liveright titles 
that otherwise would have received little attention. Horace Liveright must 
have believed these kinds of actions were productive, for during the 
remainder of the decade he went on to spend over a million dollars 
promoting his books through public relations and advertising. 48 

More important, many other publishers began to adopt much more 
dynamic sales techniques aimed at broader audiences, while new compa- 

94 Henry • Spring 1999 

nies publishing books for previously neglected markets were born. 
Bookselling changed. 4 '' By the end of the decade, according to John 
Tebbel, "Publishers were at last convinced of the value of promotion and 
publicity, much more so than they had been before the war, and for the 
first time they were willing to spend money on it."' 

"A Nose for News and a Steady Compulsion to Write" 

Bernays later wrote, "My work with Liveright represented a divide 
between what I had done — my press-agentry, publicity, publicity direc- 
tion — and what I now attempted to do: counsel on public relations." 51 In 
1920 Fleischman played at least one significant role in this change when 
she helped him coin the phrase "counsel on public relations" to describe 
what they saw as a new role: "giving professional advice to our clients on 
their public relationships, regardless of whether such advice resulted in 
publicity." 52 Bernays frequently credited Fleischman with being co-creator 
of this new title, also noting that she earlier had helped him develop the 
label "publicity direction" for the services he provided when he opened his 
office in 19 19. 53 

She called on different talents in 1920 when the National Associa- 
tion for the Advancement of Colored People hired Bernays to stage a 
campaign for its Atlanta national convention, planned for late May and 
early June. This was the first NAACP convention ever held in the South, 
and the decision had been controversial among the organization's mem- 
bers. The city had been the scene of fierce race riots in 1906, lynchings 
and mob violence had increased since that time, and antagonism against 
local NAACP chapters had grown in other areas of the South. 54 

Hurriedly brought in after the regular NAACP publicity person 
became ill in early May, Bernays and Fleischman were largely ignorant 
about the problems faced by African Americans, particularly in the South. 
And because the convention would begin soon, they had to act quickly. 
Their only instructions were to get extensive good publicity into southern 
newspapers (most of which had previously shown little support for the 
NAACP). Otherwise, they were on their own. 55 

Bernays stayed in New York to work with northern media and, a 
week before the convention began, sent Fleischman by herself to Atlanta. 
Since they knew little about the situation in the city, her job was essen- 
tially to be an advance person — to "probe the territory from the stand- 
point of public opinion" and also, Bernays said, "to make arrangements 
for news coverage and to try to assure that some top Georgian political 

Spring 1999 • American Journalism 95 

figures would attend our meetings so that we could publicize the sanction 
our cause was receiving in Atlanta by their presence." 56 

Bernays explained that one reason he gave Fleischman this assign- 
ment was that he thought she would be able to avoid antagonizing the 
individuals she was trying to persuade to take actions they no doubt 
would have preferred not to take. He also believed the people she encoun- 
tered would like her. 57 And her innocence meant that "no one could 
possibly mistake her for a propagandist for Civil Rights in the South." 58 

She first met with the city's mayor and the state's governor. Accord- 
ing to Bernays, after the governor warned Fleischman that he thought 
whites were likely to cause trouble, she asked him to put the National 
Guard on reserve, which he did by phone as she sat in his office. Still, 
neither he nor the mayor ultimately agreed to attend the convention (the 
mayor did send an official welcome). 59 

She had more success when she next met with men at Atlanta's daily 
newspapers and wire service bureaus. They all agreed to either cover 
conference meetings or write reports based on news releases they received. 
The Atlanta Constitution's city editor both consulted with Fleischman on 
how to cover what was for him an unusual event and asked her to provide 
stories on individual meetings and interviews with key participants. All of 
these media went on to provide substantial positive coverage. 60 According 
to Fleischman, "Their calm and matter-of-fact handling helped to make 
the community accept this invasion from the North quietly." 61 

Fleischman had received no NAACP briefing on the likely situation 
in Atlanta and was, Bernays said, "oblivious to the dangers of her mis- 
sion." 62 Indeed, it was many years before she learned from NAACP 
Assistant Secretary Walter White that she had been accompanied by four 
bodyguards each time she left her hotel. Branded a "nigger lover" by some 
whites, she also had failed to notice the men standing around the hotel 
lobby who threw pennies at her feet to tell her they thought she was no 
better than a prostitute who would sell herself for pennies. 63 

She did express her relief that the city had stayed calm in a news 
release she prepared after the convention had ended. "Atlanta is breathing 
easier now . . . and so are the delegates," she wrote. She quoted one 
delegate as saying she couldn't wait to get home because "I feel as if I were 
sitting on a volcano." 64 

Bernays met her in Atlanta during the week of the convention and 
together they worked out a plan to guide their remaining work. After 
deciding on a "publicity platform" stating three themes they would stress 
in their releases, they set about "preparing copy for the newspapers under 

96 Henry 'Spring 1999 

constant deadlines. ' 6 ^ Mary White Ovington, the NAACP chairman of 
the board who attended the conference, said that their technique "was to 
make friends with the reporters and do all their work." 66 They also 
telegraphed numerous stories to New York and Chicago newspapers. 67 

Their efforts appear to have been successful. Ovington remarked 
with surprise at "how fully and correctly the Atlanta Constitution reported 
our meetings." 68 Soon after the convention, the NAACP's Walter White 
informed Bernays that "the amount of publicity secured, largely through 
your efforts, was greater than at any other of the ten conferences preced- 
ing, although all of these conferences were held in northern cities." 69 
Similarly, The Nation reported that this convention had received more 
publicity than any held previously. 70 

The convention also had strong personal meaning for Fleischman. 
When the meetings were over, she and Bernays met members of the 
NAACP northern delegation at the Atlanta railroad station and she 
insisted on joining the black delegates in the Jim Crow sleeping car for 
the trip north, even though it was illegal. 71 Forty years later, she said of 
her Atlanta experience, "No work I have ever done has had so deep and 
lasting an effect on me." 72 

Her work for other clients during this time was more routine, but 
they did keep her very busy writing and placing stories. She described 
herself during this time as having "a nose for news and a steady compul- 
sion to write." 73 A fast writer (and typist) with an exceptional vocabulary, 
she also was an excellent editor. She often wrote between 1 5 and 20 
stories a week, then took them to newspaper offices and worked to get 
them placed. Bernays said she was good at placing because, if editors 
wanted changes, she was able to quickly modify what she had written for 
them. 74 

Clients added in 1920 and 1921 included several theatrical produc- 
ers and performers, Good Housekeeping and Cosmopolitan magazines, 
Cartier jewelers, the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, the Dort Motor Company, an 
accounting firm, a clothing company, and the National Council of 
American Importers and Traders. 75 Their "first big business client," in 
Bernays' words, was the U.S. Radium Corporation, which hired them in 
1920 to promote radium's luminous properties for commercial use and its 
application in cancer therapy. Fleischman's stories, which were distributed 
in printed clip sheets for immediate use, had titles like "The Royal Jewel 
of Today," "Radium Becoming a Household Aid" and "Radium Bank for 
Those Who Bank on Radium." 76 The latter story described a service their 
client had established at their suggestion: a national radium bank, which 

Spring 1 999 • American Journalism 97 

made radium accessible to physicians treating cancer patients (and called 
attention to the element's medical value). 77 

In addition to doing extensive writing during this time, Fleischman 
was the firm's office manager. From the start, Bernays said, she was "the 
balance wheel of our operation." 78 Thus she interviewed all job candi- 
dates, set up schedules, charted the work being done for different clients, 
kept the books and paid bills. 79 

One of the few surviving office memos between Fleischman and 
Bernays from this time nicely illustrates some of her responsibilities. 
Probably written in early 1921 when Fleischman planned to be briefly 
absent, it brought Bernays up to date on their campaigns for four key 
clients, left instructions for following up on specific tasks, explained the 
work others in the office would carry out, and detailed payments received 
and bills due. She said monthly vouchers had not yet been checked, but 
"Please do not do anything about this until I get back, because I'm not 
happy unless I do it myself." 80 No wonder Bernays asserted that her work 
"took the burden off me." 81 She certainly knew much more about how 
their office operated than he did. 

Collaboration and a Changing Business 

Fleischman likely took care of many of the details when in 1921 
they moved from their three cramped rooms in an old building to newer, 
larger, more attractive offices at a "prime address" next to the elegant Ritz- 
Carlton Hotel on 46th Street and Fifth Avenue. 82 With the move she 
gained her own office, rather than sharing a crowded space outside of 
Bernays' office with other staff members, as she had previously. 83 Appar- 
ently, though, their staff stayed the same size it had been in 1919, when 
Bernays had 1 employees. 84 

Their staff may not have increased but their income certainly had. 
When they began, they tried to set their rates at a minimum of $75 a 
week, but by the early 1920s they were earning between $12,000 and 
$25,000 a year from most clients. 85 They certainly were able to afford 
nicer quarters, particularly since their business continued to expand. 
Clients added in 1922 included Macy's department store, the Hotel 
Association of New York (which hired them to publicize New York as a 
friendly place to visit), the National Prosperity Bureau, the Venida 
Hairnet Company, and numerous performers and event organizers. 86 

Occasionally, Fleischman was in charge of entire small campaigns. 
For example, in January 1921 she planned, carried out all of the publicity 

98 Henry • Spring 1999 

Courtesy of Anne Bernays 

Doris E. Fleischman, working at her desk in the firm of Edward L. Bernays, Counsel on 
Public Relations, late 1910s or early 1920s. 

for and worked closely with the organizers of two charity fundraisers. 
(Her earlier fundraising work must have made these kinds of activities 
very familiar to her.) The first event was a musical review presented by the 
Cardiac Committee of the Public Education Association. The other, for 
which she obtained excellent advance coverage, was a symphony concert 
at Carnegie Hall to benefit the Babies Hospital of New York. 87 All 
surviving news releases for the latter activity are identified as "From Doris 
E. Fleischman, 19 East 48th Street." They contain no reference to 
Bernays. 88 

These are among the few examples of client contact that can be 
found for Fleischman. Indeed, Bernays repeatedly maintained that she 
never had client contacts. 89 But it is clear that, particularly in the early 
1920s, she did have at least a small number of such contacts. 

For example, in 1922, she made the initial contact and then met 
with the publisher of American Agriculturist to plan a campaign for his 
weekly magazine. Her notes from the meeting show that, among other 
things, she suggested ways of attracting more young readers through new 

Spring 1 999 • American Journalism 


kinds of stories and the formation of boys and girls clubs, proposed a 
more scientific-sounding name for the magazine's testing department, 
advised that more articles be run about new patents (since this might 
encourage new advertising), and recommended that well-known public 
officials be solicited for articles, which then could be widely distributed to 
media organizations and interest groups. 90 

A year later, when she traveled to Europe by herself, she met with a 
French colonial official to work out a plan for "tout le service de publicite 
en vue d'une campagne de propaganda intensive, "which would promote US 
tourism to North Africa. 91 Since part of the purpose of her European trip 
was to meet with business and government officials who could help the 
firm, it seems likely that she made other client contacts there as well. 
Much later, Bernays denied that she met with any clients on this trip 
although that may simply be traced to faulty memory. 92 

There is no doubt, though, that her client contacts were limited. 
This was despite her extensive knowledge of public relations tactics and 
her demonstrated competence in working with people outside their 
agency. In addition to having been the contact person for at least a few 
small clients, she had worked successfully with New York newspaper 
editors as a "placer" and had been persuasive with the Atlanta editors 
making decisions about NAACP coverage. 

She offered her own explanation for her lack of client contacts when 
she wrote, "Many men resented having women tell them what to do in 
their business. They resented having men tell them, too, but advice from a 
woman was somewhat demeaning." She feared "if ideas were considered 
first in terms of my sex, they might never get around to being judged on 
their merits." 93 Bernays closely echoed her explanation in his memoirs, 
using similar words to explain why clients didn't meet with Fleischman. 94 

Yet in interviews he gave a more pragmatic reason. "If it had been 
known I was linked up with a woman, I would have been considered an 
imbecile or somebody strange." Indeed, he believed that if her involve- 
ment had been known "when we started in 1919, it would have meant, I 
am sure, that we wouldn't have had any clients at all." 95 He also main- 
tained that, since she was a woman, most clients would not have believed 
her, so it made no sense for her to work directly with them. Rather, her 
good ideas should be filtered through him so they would be accepted. 96 

Certainly she became more qualified to advise clients in the early 
1920s as she spent less time writing and more time working with Bernays 
on campaign strategies. "I decided early on that writing was the least 

100 Henry • Spring 1999 

important part of public relations," Bernays explained. 9 He said that 
about two years after they began, having realized that "actions spoke 
louder than words," they "changed from thinking that announcements to 
people were of value." As a result, Fleischman's writing skills became 
much less vital than her ability to "originate and develop programs for 
action." She thus wrote fewer and fewer news releases, Bernays said, since 
"I found her brain was a much greater talent than her writing, because as 
we moved along from that early period, we gave advice, and the advice is 
what they paid us for." 98 

Bernays was not able to explain precisely when these changes 
occurred and the written record is sketchy, but it does show Fleischman 
continuing to write and place stories at least as late as 1922." Still, he was 
adamant that, from the firm's beginnings in 1919, the two of them 
developed campaigns together. As Bernays put it, "I had the advantage of 
[Fleischman] having a mind that I thought was as good as mine that I 
could always play with" in campaign development. After he met with 
clients, the two often brainstormed together — suggesting alternatives, 
identifying critical issues, speculating on outcomes, critiquing each other's 
ideas, talking through strategies. 100 No doubt one reason the agency could 
increasingly offer advice was that Bernays had someone with whom to 
collaborate in forming complex plans. 

One additional change in 1922 can be much more precisely identi- 
fied. On September 22, 1922, Fleischman and Bernays were married, and 
shortly afterwards they signed legal documents making them equal 
partners in the firm of Edward L. Bernays, Counsel on Public Rela- 
tions. 101 They both came to refer to their life and work together after this 
time as their "24-hour-a-day partnership." It continued until Fleischman's 
death in July 1980. 

"The Best Move I Ever Made" 

Forty years after beginning his new firm, Bernays looked back over 
his career and wrote that hiring Fleischman in 1919 was "the best move I 
ever made in my life." 102 This article has shown some of the ways Bernays 
benefited from that decision during his firm's beginnings and early growth 
as well as the ways that decision changed Fleischman's own life. 

In 1919 and 1920, when much of their work involved gaining 
publicity for their clients through news releases, Bernays relied on 
Fleischman to produce large numbers of them. She proved to be very 

Spring 1 999 • American Journalism 1 1 

good at both writing and placing, and her ability to write diverse stories 
even about narrow subjects helped them use the "segmental approach." 
Her Tribune background also was used as a selling point in placing 
national stories for Boni and Liveright, and probably in other campaigns 
as well. Additionally, she freed Bernays from many practical day-to-day 
concerns by serving as his office manager. 

Her value increased as she learned from her work experiences and 
they moved from doing "publicity direction" to the expanded "counsel on 
public relations" — a phrase they coined collaboratively in 1920. Bernays 
was an expert at publicity, but once he was moving beyond that, he 
needed someone with whom he could talk through possible new ap- 
proaches, especially someone who had excellent ideas of her own. Their 
complementary abilities and personalities, evident from the beginning of 
their work together, help explain the highly productive synergy of their 
long collaboration. 

They did differ significantly in their perceptions of their own 
strengths and roles. Bernays quickly came to see himself as a scientist, 
theoretician and philosopher. Anxious to apply techniques and ideas from 
the behavioral and social sciences to public relations, he loved developing 
principles, thinking broadly, intellectualizing. In interviews and his own 
extensive writings, he pontificated at length about his theories, finding 
meaning in them far beyond their immediate results. 

Two public relations historians have aptly noted some of the most 
conspicuous qualities of his mind and personality. Scott Cutlip described 
Bernays as "a man who was bright, articulate to excess, and most of all, an 
innovative thinker and philosopher of his vocation. " 103 Stuart Ewen called 
Bernays "the most important theorist of American public relations" and 
relied heavily on his key 1920s publications to describe the field's under- 
pinnings. Yet Ewen still noted the "customary bombast" of those writ- 
ings. 104 

Fleischman, though, was devoid of bombast. In contrast to her 
forceful, confident collaborator, she was modest and somewhat shy, 
seeming to have little need for the approval or attention of others. At the 
same time, she was far more organized and practical than Bernays (as 
shown, in a simple example, by her work as their office manager). She was 
able to help him translate his broad ideas into workable strategies and also 
had a particular talent for anticipating how the public would react to 
these strategies. ,0:> 

102 Henry 'Spring 1999 

An excellent listener and a quick, perceptive judge of people, she 
had much stronger interpersonal skills than Bernays. People tended to like 
her when they first met her, in part because they often found she under- 
stood them and was sensitive to their needs. 106 Daughter Anne Bernays, 
who noted that her father often had trouble reading people accurately, 
called Fleischman his "personal antennae forjudging people." 107 He 
admitted that "her insight and judgment are better than mine." 108 

Given these strengths, it seems very likely that she would have 
contributed even more to the firm if her responsibilities had included 
consistent client contacts. But these contacts were minimal in the early 
years covered here, and by the end of the 1920s she apparently had none 
at all. 109 According to both Bernays and Fleischman, there was a simple 
reason for this: Clients would have either refused to work with her or 
disregarded her advice. 

Yet this rationale contradicts what they said when they wrote about 
women working in public relations, rather than about their own work. 
Here, they expressed confidence that women could — and should — do 
everything men did. Thus in the three pieces Fleischman published about 
women public relations practitioners, she consistently described their 
client contacts and never mentioned any circumstances under which they 
shouldn't expect to have these contacts. 110 Similarly, when he wrote a 
chapter on public relations for inclusion in his 1927 book on careers, 
Bernays asserted, "Theoretically, there is nothing in this profession that a 
man can do that a woman cannot do." A woman, he said, "is limited 
mainly by her personal ability to make the men she deals with realize that 
she is as capable as if she were a man." 111 And a decade later, in a co- 
authored article on public relations careers, Fleischman and Bernays 
together declared, "There is nothing in this profession that a man can do 
that a woman cannot do." 112 

Clearly neither Fleischman nor Bernays believed other women 
working in public relations should avoid client contacts, and it must have 
been obvious that Fleischman was highly capable of carrying out such 
contacts. Indeed, despite their denials that she ever worked directly with 
clients, a few examples of her doing this can be found in the early 1920s. 
It seems likely that other cases also exist for this period, although docu- 
mentation has not survived. Why, then, did they maintain that she 
neither had nor should have had these contacts? And why were the 
contacts she did carry out so minimal in importance and number? 

Spring 1999 • American Journalism 103 

Bernays Reluctant to Share the Spotlight 

Their daughter Anne offered a forthright answer: "He didn't want 
her to get the credit." 113 It also is a persuasive answer. Bernays was an 
exceedingly strong, assertive, dynamic person who loved his work and 
loved being recognized for it. His early background in theatrical publicity 
no doubt was an influence here. It is hard to believe that, if he could 
avoid doing so, he would have willingly shared credit for their work. 
Sharing credit with a woman at a time when professional women were not 
widely accepted was even more problematic. 

The invisibility of Fleischman's role also was advantageous to 
Bernays because it helped him do something that he said was a priority in 
the early 1920s: "Make the word 'Bernays' stand for advice on public 
relations." 1 ' 4 He very consciously promoted not only his clients but 
himself, while even as he was selling himself, he was selling the new field 
of public relations. As he put it, "Public relations would become a con- 
tinuing free client." 115 He carried out two of his most significant early 
efforts to bring visibility and respectability to this free client (and himself) 
in 1923. In February, he began teaching the first university course on 
public relations (at New York University). And later that year, his Crystal- 
lizing Public Opinion — this country's first book on public relations — was 
published by Boni and Liveright. (Bernays orchestrated its elaborate 
promotional campaign.) 116 

Business historian Alan R. Raucher succinctly described Bernays as 
"an aggressively self-confident man, as sure about the social value of 
public relations work as he was about his own contribution to that 
field. "" 7 This description helps capture his own stake in being identi- 
fied — as often as possible — as a major figure in the profession and in 
holding a position that would let him mold the field. There is no doubt 
that Fleischman helped him gain this influence, work successfully with 
clients and, when he was writing Crystallizing Public Opinion, form its 
ideas." 8 On a few occasions when he was unavailable, she even (very 
nervously) taught his New York University course. 119 But he was not 
about to give up the attention, authority and credit he received from 
client contacts by sharing them, as he no doubt would have had to do if 
his partner had been a man. 

One significant finding of this article is that the patterns that were 
to characterize their partnership after their marriage were evident in 1919 
and firmly established by the time they married in 1922. From the start, 
Fleischman brought much-needed writing skills to the business. Soon 
afterwards, she began collaborating with Bernays in developing strategies 

104 Henry • Spring 1999 

and even naming their new profession. Then for six decades, Bernays 
admitted, her work was as vital to their business as his own, and she did 
everything he did except have client contacts. But, thanks to her public 
invisibility and his own prodigious talents for self-promotion, he was the 
focus of the frequent attention he made sure the firm attracted, receiving 
virtually all of the credit for its achievements. He benefited from their 
partnership in ways that were more than practical. 120 

Fleischman's rewards also were substantial, if more straightforward, 
and they are clarified by this examination of her early years with Bernays. 
Most important, she gained a career, and a chance to grow and succeed in 
it to an extraordinary degree. Although she had earlier been an accom- 
plished newspaperwoman, she seems to have had little career direction and 
few firm options at the time Bernays hired her. She could not have 
anticipated that she would obtain the kind of rewarding, challenging, 
exciting position her job quickly became. In the beginning, Bernays taught 
her a great deal even as he took full advantage of her abilities. Most clients 
may not have known about or appreciated her work and talents, but he 
certainly did. She felt valued, and must have delighted in seeing measur- 
able results of her work in their growing revenues and list of clients. 

A close look at these early years also helps explain why, during the 
rest of her life, she consistently deferred to him in both their business and 
their marriage. In 1919 Bernays was Fleischman's boss. He had envisioned 
the new business that was to suit her skills so well, while it was his 
reputation — based on his initial remarkable success in theatrical public- 
ity — that attracted many early clients. He offered her a good job, he 
determined the work she would do, he was her teacher. He also was 
supremely self-confident. It makes sense that he dominated their relation- 
ship at the start, while this early dominance is part of the reason why, 30 
years later, she still maintained: "Eddie's word is final and he casts the 
deciding vote in our partnership. I have elected him Chairman of the 
Board and Executive President in our personal life and ... in our public 
relations office." 121 

Looking back, she also pondered her lack of client contacts, saying 
that when she first joined with Bernays in 1919, "I decided that I would 
not try to compete with men because the hurdles were too great." Yet she 
admitted, "I surrendered without having seen an enemy. I wonder if I 
would try to avoid all conflict with men if I were to begin today." 122 
These wistful words also might apply to her continuing personal and 
professional relationship with Bernays. 

Spring 1 999 • American Journalism 1 05 

Still, she must always have thought she owed him a gteat deal. Fot, 
despite her 1913 fears of the ocean, she learned to swim exceedingly well 
and found the water far more agreeable than it had appeared when she 
graduated from college. It did not seem to matter greatly to her that she 
swam in the wake of a much more visible, powerful swimmer, since 
without him, she might well have sunk. And without her as his collabora- 
tor, he certainly would made a far less spectacular and enduring splash in 
this new profession. 

Susan Henry thanks Rodger Streitmatter for his unflagging encour- 
agement and good ideas during the many years of this research on Doris E. 
Fleischman, and for his superb Washington, DC, accommodations, which 
made it possible to collect much of the data for this article. 


'Doris Fleischman Bernays, "Plus Ca Change, Plus C'Est La Meme Chose," Phantasm, Sept. -Oct. 
1977, 3. 

TJoris Fleischman Bernays, A Wife Is Many Women (New York: Crown Publishers, 1955), 167-68. 

3 "Edward Bernays, 'Father of Public Relations' and Leader in Opinion Making, Dies at 103," New 
York Times, 10 March 1995, A12. 

4 The only published scholarly works on Fleischman have appeared within the past two years: Susan 
Henry, "Anonymous in Her Own Name: Public Relations Pioneer Doris E. Fleischman," Journalism 
History 23 (Summer 1997): 50-62, and Susan Henry, "Dissonant Notes of a Retiring Feminist: Doris 
E. Fleischman's Later Years," Journal of Public Relations Research 10 (Winter 1998): 1-33. 

The 1 997 article is a very compressed biography of Fleischman, broadly covering all of her life. As a 
result, occasional duplication can be found in the information and analysis in it and in this American 
Journalism piece. The 1998 article looks at Fleischman during the three decades before her death in 

Fleischman also is discussed sporadically in the recent (and only) biography of Bernays, Larry Tye, 
The Father of Spin: Edward L. Bernays and the Birth of Public Relations (New York: Crown Publishers, 
1998). Despite having had access to much of this author's research, though, Tye says only a little 
about Fleischman's professional contributions to the firm and, in his many descriptions of individual 
campaigns, presents them as the work or Bernays alone. Fleischman most often is portrayed as a 
victim — a dramatic device to call attention to Bernays' failings. Tye's book also contains very little 
information about the public relations work Bernays and Fleischman carried out during the time 
period covered in this article. 

5 Edward L. Bernays, Biography of An Idea: Memoirs of Public Relations Counsel Edward L. Bernays 
(New York: Simon and Schuster, 1965), 49-62. 

'Transcript of Edward L. Bernays oral history (1971), Oral History Research Office, Columbia 
University, New York, N.Y., 448. 

7 Bernays describes these early years at length in Biography of An Idea, 62-1 52. The quotes are on 
pages 102 and 75. 

"Ibid, 155-78. For a good description of the work of the CPI, see Stuart Ewen, PR' A Social History 
of Spin (New York: Basic Books, 1996), 102-27. 

''See, for example, Ewen, 126-33; Scott Cutlip, The Unseen Power: Public Relations. A History 
(Hillsdale, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1994), 105-06; Alan R. Raucher, Public Relations and 

106 Henry • Spring 1999 

Business, 1900-1929 (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1968), 73-74; Richard S. Tedlow, Keeping 
the Corporate Image: Public Relations and Business., 1900-1950 (Greenwich, Conn.: JAI Press, 1979), 

"'Bernays oral history transcript, 60-62. 

"Ibid, 61-66; Bernays, Biography of An Idea, 187-94. Specific dates are from a chronology of his 
activities prepared by Bernays in box 1:498, Edward L. Bernays Papers, Library of Congress, 
Washington, D.C. (hereafter LC). 

'-In her published and unpublished wrirings, Fleischman never mentioned any jobs she held before 
1914. She always began describing her employment history by discussing her 1914 New York Tribune 
work. In interviews with this author, though, Bernays said her first job was doing fundraising and 
publicity for a "charity" devoted to "taking care of women." But he said he told her "she could learn 
nothing there," encouraged her to enter journalism, and introduced her to a reporter at the New York 
Telegram, who helped her get her job at the Tribune. See interviews with Edward L. Bernays, 
26 March 1988, and 29 March 1988, Cambridge, Mass. 

"It is exceedingly difficult to clearly chart the details of Fleischmans professional work before she 
was hired by Bernays. In most interviews and in their own writings, both Fleischman and Bernays 
maintained that she worked at the Tribune between 1914 and 1919, when she left to join Bernays. 
(Occasionally, she said she had started at the Tribune in 1913, soon after graduating from Barnard.) 
But her donated clippings files contain no Tribune articles with her byline before 1 November 1914; 
the last is dated 19 March 1916. See carton 1, file 2, Doris Fleischman Bernays Papers, Schlesinger 
Library on the History of Women, Cambridge, Mass. (hereafter Schlesinger Library). (Although it 
does not contain all that Fleischman wrote for the Tribune, this file does give a good sense of how 
productive she was during some weeks. ) 

Stronger evidence that she left the Tribune in 1916 is found in the brief biographies she (or 
Bernays) wrote to accompany her chapters in two books each of them edited in the 1920s. Both 
sources describe her as working at the Tribune from 1914 to 1916. See Doris E. Fleischman, ed., 
Careers for Women: A Practical Guide to Opportunity for Women in American Business (New York: 
Doubleday, Doran & Company, 1928), 384, and Edward L. Bernays, ed., An Outline of Careers: A 
Practical Guide to Achievement by Thirty-Eight Eminent Americans (New York: Doubleday, Doran & 
Company, 1927), opposite page 423. 

Fleischman describes her Tribune work in Doris Fleischman Bernays, A Wife Is Many Women, 167- 
69, and in unused notes for A Wife Is Many Women, carton 1, file 33, Doris Fleischman Bernays 
Papers, Schlesinger Library. Her press pass for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition is in box 
1:3, Edward L. Bernays Papers, LC. 

'"Telephone interview with Camille Roman, 20 November 1995. 

"Interview with Edward L. Bernays, 26 May 1986, Cambridge, Mass; Doris Fleischman Bernays, A 
Wife Is Many Women, 167-68; Doris Fleischman Bernays, "Plus Ca Change, Plus C'Est La Meme 
Chose," 3; Doris E. Fleischman, "Woman at the Lightweight Championship," New York Tribune, 14 
March 1915. 

"Interview with Edward L. Bernays, 29 March 1988, Cambridge, Mass. A small amount of 
material related to this work is in addenda, file 1, Doris Fleischman Bernays Papers, Schlesinger 

'Audiotape of interview with Doris Fleischman Bernays by MaryAnn Yodelis, July 1973, 
Cambridge, Mass. A few documents about the New York Dispensary are in addenda, file 1, Doris 
Fleischman Bernays Papers, Schlesinger Library. 

18 Fleischmans byline appears on articles about Lithuania and the servicemen's re-employment 
campaign published by newspapers in April, June and July-all before Bernays opened his office. See 
clippings in box III: 3, Edward L. Bernays Papers, LC, and addenda, file 1, Doris Fleischman Bernays 
Papers, Schlesinger Library. 

'''Doris Fleischman Bernays, A Wife Is Many Women, 169; "Doris and I" (a section in Bernays' notes 
for Biography of An Idea), 1-4, box 1:462, Edward L. Bernays Papers, LC. 

: "Doris Fleischman Bernays, A Wife Is Many Women, 170. 

2l Bernays, Biography of An Idea, 188-92; "Finding My Way" (a section in Bernays' notes for 
Biography of An Idea), 1-22, box 1:461, Edward L. Bernays Papers, LC; Edward L. Bernays oral history 
transcript, 61-66. 

Spring 1 999 • American Journalism 1 07 

"Bernays, Biography of An Idea, 193-94; interview with Edward L. Bernays, 29 October 1989, 
Cambridge, Mass. Murray Bernays, born Murray Cohen, married Bernays' sister Hella in 1917. 
Shortly afterwards, he had his name legally changed to Murray C. Bernays to keep his wife's family 
name alive, since Edward, her only brother, had said he would never marry. Murray Bernays was 
divorced from Hella in 1924 but kept her last name. See "Murray Bernays, Lawyer, Dead; Set 
Nuremberg Trials Format," New York Times undated clipping, box 111:6, Edward L. Bernays Papers, 

23 Doris Fleischman Bernays, A Wife Is Many Women, 38. 

'"•Elizabeth Kemper Adams, Wome?t Professional Workers (New York: The Macmillan Company, 
1921), 307. 

"Catherine Filene, ed., Careers for Women (Cambridge, Mass.: Riverside Press, 1920; repr., New 
York: Arno Press, 1974), 19. 

26 Doris Fleischman Bernays, A Wife Is Many Women, 38. 

27 Bernays oral history transcript, 72. 

'"Bernays, Biography of An Idea, 195. 

29 Bernays describes some of his clients during this time in Biography of An Idea, 194-99. Also see 
chronology, box I: 498, Edward L. Bernays Papers, LC, and receipt from H.P. Inman of the 
Lithuanian National Council for work done by Bernays, 19 August 1919, box 111:6, Edward L. 
Bernays Papers, LC. 

3 "Bernays, Biography of An Idea, 1 99. 

"Walker Gilmer, Horace Liveright: Publisher of the Twenties (New York: David Lewis, 1970), 19; 
"Liveright" (a section in Bernays' notes for Biography of An Idea), 1-2, box 1:458, Edward L. Bernays 
Papers, LC. 

32 "Liveright," 1. 

33 Gilmer, Horace Liveright: Publisher of the Twenties (New York: David Lewis, 1970), 10-20. 

"John Tebbel, A History of Book Publishing in the United States, vol. Ill (New York: R.R. Bowker 
Company, 1978), 136, 138. 

35 Bernays, Biography of An Idea, 277-78. 

3r 'Ibid, 284; "Boni and Liveright-Book Publishers-Publicity Campaign" (a section in Bernays' notes 
for Biography of An Idea), 8-11, box 1:457, Edward L. Bernays Papers, LC; the quote, taken from the 
foreword to the First Supplementary Catalog, is on p. 11. 

37 "Liveright," 17. 

3tl Letter from Edward L. Bernays to the feature editor of the Detroit Free Press, 13 November 1919, 
box 1:120, Edward L. Bernays Papers, LC. 

"Bernays, Biography of An Idea, 280-81; "Boni and Liveright-Book Publishers-Publicity 
Campaign," 21-26, 37-39. 

4 "Edward L. Bernays, Crystallizing Public Opinion (New York: Boni & Liveright, 1923; repr., New 
York: Liveright Publishing Corporation, 1961), 195. 

4, "Liveright," 10-11. 

4 Tbid, 137. 

43 "Boni and Liveright-Book Publishers-Publicity Campaign," 12-15; Bernays, Biography of An 
Idea, 282. Some of these releases are in box 1:120, Edward L. Bernays Papers, LC. 

44 "Boni and Liveright-Book Publishers-Publicity Campaign," 14-20. 
45 Ibid, 74-75; Gilmer, 26, 63; Bernays, Biography of An Idea, 282-83. 

46 Ann Douglas, Terrible Honesty: Mongrel Manhattan in the 1920s (New York: Farrar, Straus and 
Giroux, 1995), 68. 

47 Bernays admitted, for example, that although the Majestic Hotel's "booklovers tavern" received 
extensive coverage in New York newspapers, In the Sweet Dry and Dry y/ as not mentioned in any 
articles. See "Liveright," 16-17. 

48 Gilmer, 90. A large in-house advertising staff apparently took over all further promotional 
activities during the rest of the 1920s. 

^'Douglas, 67-71; Bernays, Biography of An Idea, 286. 

1 08 Henry • Spring 1 999 

"Tebbel, 335-36. 

"Bernays, Biography of An Idea, 287. 

"Ibid, 288. 

5, See, for example: ibid; Edward L. Bernays, Public Relations (Norman: University of Oklahoma 
Press, 1952), 78-79; Edward L. Bernays, "Emergence of the Public Relations Counsel: Principles and 
Recollections," Business History Review 45 (Autumn 1971): 301-02; interview with Edward L. 
Bernays, 28 May 1986, Cambridge, Mass; 

'"Charles Flint Kellogg, NAACP: A History of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored 
People, vol. 1 (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1967), 137, 245-46; Mary White Ovington, The 
Walls Came Tumbling Down (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1947; repr., New York: Arno 
Press, 1969), 177. 

"Bernays, Biography of An Idea, 208-1 1; "The NAACP- 1920" (a section in Bernays' notes for 
Biography_pfAn Idea), 1-16, box 1:459, Edward L. Bernays Papers, LC. 

w The NAACP-1920," 17. 

'"Interview with Edward L. Bernays, 29 March 1988. 

'""National Association for the Advancement of Colored People" (a section in Bernays' notes for 
Biography of An Idea), 3, box 1:459, Edward L. Bernays Papers, LC. 

""The NAACP-1920," 19-20; Bernays, Biography of An Idea, 211-13; Bernays oral history 
transcript, 236; 

'"'Bernays, Biography of An Idea, 212-14; "The NAACP-1920," 20-22, 32-39. 

'''Doris Fleischman Bernays, A Wife Is Many Women, 170. 

'•-"The NAACP-1920," 18. 

'''Bernays, Biography of An Idea, 211. 

''"Quoted in "The NAACP-1920," 39. 

"Ibid, 25A-27, 29. 

''''Ovington, 178. 

'' "The NAACP-1920," 35-37; "National Association for the Advancement of Colored People," 4, 

''"Ovington, 178. 

'"'Walter White to Mr. E. L. Bernays, July 13, 1920, box 111:6, Edward L. Bernays Papers, LC. 

'"According to Bernays in "The NAACP-1920," 53. 

'Bernays, Biography of An Idea, 215. 

7: Doris Fleischman Bernays, transcript of a speech to the Radcliffe Club, 31 January 1961, 1 1, 
carton 1, file 39, Doris Fleischman Bernays Papers, Schlesinger Library. 

7, Ibid, 11. 

'"Interviews with Edward L. Bernays, 31 March 1988, and 28 May 1986, Cambridge, Mass; 
interview with Anne Bernays, 27 May 1986, Cambridge, Mass. 

"Scattered information on clients for these years can be found in the alphabetically arranged client 
files, boxes 1:56-421, Edward L. Bernays Papers, LC, and in Bernays, Biography of An Idea± 187-252. 

7 ''Bernays, Biography of An Idea, 188. The release titled "Radium Becoming a Household Aid" is in 
box III: 3, Edward L. Bernays Papers, LC. 

77 Bernays, Public Relations, 8 1 . 

7 "Bernays, "The Emergence of the Public Relations Counsel," 301. 

"Interview with Edward L. Bernays, 29 March 1988; "Doris and I," (a section in Bernays' notes for 
Biography of An Idea), 7, box 1:461, Edward L. Bernays Papers, LC. 

""Undated (probably February 1921) memo from Doris E. Fleischman to Edward L. Bernays, box 
1:4, Edward L. Bernays Papers, LC. 

"'Interview with Edward L. Bernays, 29 March 1988. 

" : Bernays oral history transcript, 99. 

"'Interview with Edward L. Bernays, 28 May 1986. 

Spring 1999 •American Journalism 109 

84 Although Bernays wrote very specifically about his 1919 staff and facilities, lie had little to say 
about his later offices, so they cannot be described in the same kind of detail. The best evidence of the 
size of his 1921 office is in a memo dated 9 January 1923, which is addressed to 10 employees. See 
"Memorandum to Organization from E.L.B. and J.M.T. [J. Mitchel Thorsen]," box 1:5, Edward L. 
Bernays Papers, LC. Significantly, one person listed on that memo — Kathleen Goldsmith — was a 

"Edward L. Bernays, Your Future in Public Relations (New York: Richards Rosen Press, 1961), 142. 
Also see the report on work for the Dort Motor Company, which shows that they were paid $600 for 
four weeks' work. ("Dort Motor Company, Inc." [a section in Bernays' notes for Biography of An 
Idea], box 1:458, Edward L. Bernays Papers, LC.) 

"''See client files, boxes 1:56-421, Edward L. Bernays Papers, LC, and Bernays, Biography of An Idea, 

s7 "Junior League of the Cardiac Committee of the Public Education Association" and "Babies 
Hospital Benefit-1921," (sections in Bernays' notes for Biography of An Idea), box 1:461, Edward L. 
Bernays Papers, LC. 

8S See box 1:105, Edward L. Bernays Papers, LC. 

"''Bernays was adamant about this whenever it came up in several interviews with this author. 
Similarly, in his memoirs, he wrote that Fleischman "has done everything in public relations, except 
get into the direct client relationships." (Biography of Ah Idea, 220.) 

In her own published work, Fleischman was vague about client contacts, only hinting that she met 
with some clients in early years. (See A Wife Is Many Women, 171.) Her unused notes for this book are 
more explicit. An outline listing some of the advantages and disadvantages of working with her 
husband includes the statement: "I made contacts before marriage, but not after." (Doris Fleischman 
Bernays Papers, carton 1, file 19, Schlesinger Library.) But in every interview with her this author has 
located, she denied ever having had any contacts at any time. 

'"'Doris E. Fleischman to Henry Morganthau, Jr., 9 May 1922; Henry Morganthau, Jr., to Doris E. 
Fleischman, 10 May 1922, and Fleischman's follow-up-notes from their May 12 meeting, box II: 1, 
Edward L. Bernays Papers, LC. 

'"[First Name Illegible] Saint-Charbin to Mademoiselle Fleischman, 30 June 1923, box III: 2, 
Edward L. Bernays Papers, LC. (My thanks to Elizabeth Burt for the translation from the French.) 

'^Interview with Edward L. Bernays, 29 March 1988. 

''•'Doris Fleischman Bernays, v4 Wife Is Many Women, 171. 

'"''Bernays, Biography of An Idea, 221. 

'^Interview with Edward L. Bernays, 26 October 1989, Cambridge, Mass. 

'""'Interviews with Edward L. Bernays, 28 May 1986 and 29 March 1988, Cambridge, Mass. 

'^Interview with Edward L. Bernays, 26 May 1986. 

'"Interview with Edward L. Bernays, 29 March 1988. 

''""Memorandum to Organization from E.L.B. and J.M.T.," probably written in 1922, discusses the 
need for Fleischman to be free at set times during the week to meet with Bernays to discuss clients. It 
also refers to the need to hire new people to take over "a portion of the stories and releases Miss 
Fleischman is now burdened with." Additionally, an 28 April 1922, invoice itemizes costs related to 
production of one news release, listing the charge for "Miss Fleischman placing story" as $25.00. See 
box 1:4, Edward L. Bernays Papers, LC. 

lOOInterview with Edward L. Bernays, 26 May 1986. (Bernays discussed their extensive collabora- 
tion throughout their partnership in many interviews with this author. In this one, he explicitly stated 
that they strategized together from the start.) 

""Interview with Edward L. Bernays, 24 May 1986. 

'"-Bernays, "The Emergence of the Public Relations Counsel," 301. 

""Cutlip, 169. 

'""Ewen, 163 and 170. 

'"'Interviews with Doris Bernays, 27 May 1986, Cambridge, Mass., Anne Bernays, 27 October 
1989, Cambridge, Mass., and Edward L. Bernays, 29 May 1988. 


1 JO Hcnty • Spring 1 999 

"'•Interview with Anne Bemays, 18 October 1995, Cambridge, Mass. 

'""Bernays interview with Scott Cutlip, 12 March 1959, quoted in Cutlip, 169. 

'"''See footnote 89 above. 

""Doris E. Fleischman, "Public Relations," in Doris E. Fleischman, ed.,An Outline of Careers for 
Women, 385-95; Doris E. Fleischman, "Public Relations: A New Field for Women," Independent 
Woman, Feb. 1931, 58-59, 86; Doris E. Fleischman, "Keys to a Public Relations Career," Independent 
Woman, Nov. 1 94 1 , 332-33, 340. 

'"Edward L. Bernays, "Public Relations," in Edward L. Bernays, ed.,An Outline of Careers, 296. 

" J Edward L. Bernays and Doris E. Fleischman, "Public Relations as a Career," Occupations. The 
Vocational Guidance Magazine, Nov. 1937, 133. 

'"Interview with Anne Bernays, 27 October 1989. 

"''Interview with Edward L. Bernays, 28 May 1986. 

"'Bernays, Biography of An Idea, 289. 

"'Tedlow, 42-44. The original course descriprion is in box 1:462, Edward L. Bernays Papers, LC. 
Tedlow describes the final exam on p. 54, f72. Bernays' salary for teaching the course was $200; 
student tuition was $20. 

" 7 Raucher, 103. 

" s In his 1971 oral history (transcript, p. 77) Bernays calls Crystallizing Public Opinion "our first 
book." Two secondary sources also refer to Fleischman's involvement in conceptualizing this book: 
Cutlip, 178, and Eric F. Goldman, Two-Way Street: The Emergence of the Public Relations Counsel 
(Boston: Bellman Publishing Company, 1948), 18. But these assertions of her contributions seem to 
be based more on the authors' assumptions than on explicit statements from Bernays. My own 
conclusion, based on knowledge of their relationship in 1921 and 1922, is that they discussed much 
that went into the book as he wrote it, and that she helped a great deal in forming its key ideas. 

"Audiotape of Doris Fleischman Bernays interview with MaryAnn Yodelis. 

l2 "For a detailed description of their "24-hour-a-day partnership" following their 1922 marriage, see 
Henry, "Anonymous in Her Own Name: Public Relations Pioneer Doris E. Fleischman," 54-60. 

'-'Doris Fleischman Bernays, A Wife Is Many Women, 167. 

l:: Unused notes (or A Wife Is Many Women, carton 1, file 25, Doris Fleischman Bernays Papers, 
Schlesinger Library. 

Spring 1 999 • American Journalism 1 1 1 

Spring 1999 


Great Ideas 

Rethinking Objectivity in 
Journalism and History: What Can 
We Learn from Feminist Theory 
and Practice? 

By Carolyn Kitch 

Over the past several years, panels on objectivity — an 
ongoing series of debates over whether or not journalists 
can achieve this goal — have become common offerings on 
conference programs, just as they make for lively classroom discussions. 
This theme also underlies the practice and teaching of "public journal- 
ism," a professional model in which the role of journalists moves away 
from detached objectivity and toward an acknowledgment of involvement 
in the stories they cover. Such debates are almost always spirited, fre- 
quently controversial, and rarely conclusive. 

This essay is an expanded version of my own comments on objectiv- 
ity panels at both the Association for Journalism and Mass Communica- 
tion (AEJMC) and American Journalism Historians Association (AJHA) 
1998 conferences, in which I explained how reading feminist theory in a 
variety of scholarly disciplines has helped me to think critically about 
objectivity in my own work, as a journalist, a historian of journalism, and 
a journalism educator. These thoughts draw not only on disciplines 
outside journalism, but also on the work of female scholars in our own 
field, among them Catherine Covert, Brenda Dervin, and Linda Steiner, 
who have suggested that feminist theory and the history of women's 
experience are useful lenses through which to re-evaluate our understand- 
ing of the journalistic present and past. 1 The essay deals to a great extent 
with journalism today, yet it also is about history in two senses: it consid- 

Carolyn Kitch is an Assistant Professor at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern 

Spring 1 999 • American Journalism 1 1 3 

ers the ways in which, throughout the American past, some female 
journalists have rejected the rhetoric of objectivity; and, in a broader 
sense, it discusses ideals that govern the practice of historical research as 
well as the practice of journalism. 

At the start, I'd like to clarify my goal in offering these thoughts. 
After the AJHA session, one audience member expressed concern that I 
had painted a dichotomous picture of both gender and objectivity 
suggesting, essentially, that women are subjective and therefore good for 
journalism, while men are objective and therefore bad for journalism. 
This was not my intention at all. My exploration of this subject has been 
prompted by the fact that I do research on gender; in other words, I have 
gained a new perspective, which I bring to the classroom as well as to my 
research because of the specific nature of the scholarly literature in my 
own subfield. 

Yet my thoughts on objectivity in both journalism and history are 
not exclusively feminist (or feminine). 2 This essay suggests not that 
objectivity itself is gendered, but rather that the work of some women — as 
journalists and as scholars — offers interesting ways for anyone to think 
about professional ideals. It further explores how debates about objectivity 
taking place in other fields, including the mainstream of the history 
discipline, can inform our own continuing discussions in journalism 

Objectivity Defined As Presence and Proximity 

Traditional definitions of objectivity turn on metaphors of physical 
presence and promixity, of the literal positioning of oneself with regard to 
"the facts." According to professional standards, as they are usually taught 
in journalism schools, an objective journalist is unbiased, neutral, impar- 
tial, detached, balanced and invisible. (While this essay is primarily about 
journalism, it is worth noting that the ideal method of historical research 
is discussed in much the same terms.) These attributes characterize 
objective inquiry and lead to the revelation of "the news," which itself 
exists somewhere in a realm of its own, outside or beyond our own lives. 
This model for professional practice was neatly summed up by television 
journalist Daniel Schorr who, in his book Clearing the Air, described his 
work this way: "I remained the untouched observer, seeing the whole 
picture because I was not in the picture. The notion of being the invisible 
stranger always appealed to me." 3 

1 1 4 Great Ideas • Spring 1 999 

These kinds of words characterized my own journalism education 
and the mainstream of professional practice during the years I worked in 
the magazine business. Even though I worked in a field (women's maga- 
zines) that routinely challenged the notion of objectivity, I did not think 
critically about the central ideals of journalism until I began to do schol- 
arly research that required me to read widely in interdisciplinary feminist 
theory. This time in my career happened to coincide with the beginning 
of debate about objectivity within both the journalism profession and 
journalism scholarship. What struck me about the reading I was doing 
was that, while it came from seemingly unrelated fields, the professional 
ideals these writers challenged were articulated in the very rhetoric of 

In history, I read Joan Scott, one of the first scholars to question the 
definition of history as "that knowledge of the past arrived at through 
disinterested, impartial investigation and available to anyone who has 
mastered the requisite scientific procedures. " 4 I also read Bonnie Smith, 
who rejects the historical trajectory of great men, institutions, and events, 
noting that in this story there is no place for women and women's lives — 
which do not "fit professional historical procedures and categories." 5 

In literature, I read Jane Tompkins, who laments the idea that the 
only professionally-legitimate subjects through which she might make a 
contribution to "knowledge" in her field are "impersonal" ones and must 
be discussed in an "authoritative language [that] speaks as though the 
other person weren't there." 6 In law, I read Carol Smart and Kathleen 
Lahey, who contend that law as a "method to establish the truth" gener- 
ates a discourse of "reasonableness" that silences dissent and diminishes 
the legitimacy of alternative views that differ from precedent. 7 

In sociology, I read Dorothy Smith, who notes that "although 
sociological inquiry is necessarily a social relation, we have learned to 
dissociate our own part in it. We recover only the object of our knowledge 
as if it stood all by itself." In fact, she argues, "The only way of knowing a 
socially constructed world is knowing it from within. We can never stand 
outside .... Even to be a stranger is to enter a world constituted from 
within as strange." 8 

In science, I read Sandra Harding, who writes that "value-free 
objectivity . . . requires a notion of the self as a fortress that must be 
defended against polluting influences . . . .The self whose mind would 
perfectly reflect the world must create and constantly police the borders of 
a gulf, a no-man's-land, between himself as the subject and the object of 

Spring 1 999 • American Journalism 1 1 5 

his research. . . " 9 And I read Donna Harraway, who argues for a new kind 
of scientific standard based on "positioned rationality," not "the view from 
above, but the joining of partial views. . . into collective subject position 
that promises a view. . . from somewhere." 10 

I realized that all of these scholars are concerned with two aspects of 
professionalism that are also at the heart of debate about journalistic and 
historical objectivity: what subject matter is considered professional, and 
what role the researcher/ reporter plays in how those subjects are researched 
and written about. I also was intrigued by how closely these scholars 
examined the professional language of their fields. Their analyses helped 
me think about the language of journalism. 

Analyzing the Language of Journalism 

Chief among the spatial metaphors we use to talk about journalistic 
objectivity are two seemingly contradictory ideas: journalists position 
ourselves as being outside the news while also situating ourselves at its 
center. The very word "media" suggests a central position, just as television 
journalists "anchor" the news. Yet key to this notion of being at the center 
of the news is the assumption that we have no actual contact with it — 
almost as if we were in the eye of a storm swirling around us. 

Though this removal is psychological, it is described as physical. We 
speak of maintaining a professional "distance" from our sources and the 
events we write about. The word dis-tance suggests that we have no stance, 
no opinion on the news. Instead, we are "neutral" (a word that means 
"without color"). In the same breath that we talk about getting the "inside 
scoop," we position ourselves as non-participants in the story; we remain 
"unbiased" (not slanted in one direction or another). Our coverage is 
"balanced," the fulcrum point between two "sides" of the story. We are 
without an agenda, and thus, presumably, without agency. We avoid 
writing in the first person, using what Virginia Woolf called "the T that 
casts a shadow across the page." 11 

In these ways, we are simultaneously inside and outside the story. Yet 
sometimes we are above it, as Schorr implied in claiming to "see the whole 
picture." A similar perspective is invoked when we say that we "cover" 
stories. We see them from overhead, and, like a bird, we see the entire 
picture, which is not clear to the actors mired in the details and passions of 
the event itself down below. Even when we admit our presence at a news 
event, we say that we are on rather than in the scene. 

Of course, all of this language, and journalists' claims of detachment, 
are frequently undermined by the realities of professional practice. It is 

1 1 6 Great Ideas • Spring 1 999 

impossible to be the invisible stranger when we arrive with news trucks 
and lights and cameras and when we appear on videotape quite literally in 
the picture. Yet even in print journalism, there are consistent departures 
from our detachment ideals, and, ironically, some of these departures are 
among the most celebrated aspects of journalism. One is the claim of 
"eyewitness" status, a process of reporting from one's own literal perspec- 
tive. Another is "literary journalism" (which shaped practice in the early 
1900s as well as the 1960s), the use of narrative techniques to provide 
interpretation and meaning. A third example is the most venerated form of 
journalism, investigative reporting, an active rather than reactive practice 
in which reporters "wwcover " scandal, thus creating rather than merely 
covering news that is out there happening all by itself without our help. 

The Rhetoric of Objectivity in Journalism History 

I've been better able to understand these contradictions in journal- 
ism from my readings of other scholars who are struggling to understand 
the rhetoric of objectivity in their fields. It so happens that they are 
feminist scholars. Actually, any scholars in their fields could have come up 
with a similar critique of objectivity, just as one doesn't have to be female 
to think about the rhetoric of journalistic objectivity. So why focus on the 
writings of women? Because they have been at the forefront of debates 
about objectivity. "Objective" knowledge across disciplines has frequently 
left out women, women's experiences, and women's interests entirely. 
Consequently, many scholars interested in women's lives have questioned 
the usefulness of objectivity. 

So too have some female journalists questioned the nature, content, 
and voice of "objective" news throughout the American past. A look back 
at their work illustrates not only a women's perspective on journalism, but 
also the long history of tensions over the norms of journalistic practice. 
During the mid- 19th century, newspaper writers such as Fanny Fern and 
Jenny Croly wrote about "women's" (social rather than political) topics, 
and often wrote with "empathy" or "sentiment" (subjectively). 12 In 1896, 
in a speech titled "How to Make a Newspaper Interesting," 23-year-old 
reporter Willa Cather told the women's division of the Nebraska Press 
Association that good journalism "must go beyond the dishing-out of 
facts" and instead offer personal commentary' 3 In the 1940s, syndicated 
newspaper columnist Dorothy Thompson referred to her work as "alto- 
gether female," meaning that she spoke her mind and didn't hide her 
identity. 14 Documenting the fraying American social fabric of the 1970s, 

Spring 1 999 • American Journalism 1 1 7 

Joan Didion redefined what people and places were "newsworthy" and, in 
magazine articles, recorded her own reactions to the scenes she encoun- 
tered. 15 Not all of these journalists thought of themselves as "women 
writers," yet all wrote subjectively, connecting with their subjects as well 
as their readers. 

For more than 1 50 years, subjectivity has been the editorial founda- 
tion of women's magazines, from Godey's Lady's Book to Ms., and this may 
be one reason for their journalistic marginalization. Their common use of 
first person and the overt connection their editors make with readers 
(these magazines are nearly a conversation: there is definitely someone on 
the other end) remove their content from the realm of objectivity, as does 
their subject matter — relationships, parenting, health, and other service 
material — which is rarely considered "news" or "real journalism." 

Yet in other contemporary settings, some female journalists have 
been taken more seriously when they've rejected the rhetoric of objectiv- 
ity. Yunghi Kim, a female photojournalist who has won international 
honors and has been a Pulitzer finalist for her depiction of poverty in 
Africa, believes that her success is due in large part to the fact that she 
empathizes with the people she photographs: "There has to be a bonding 
with my subjects," she says. Another female journalist did Win the Pulitzer 
Prize when she put herself into the story. When she began working for 
The New York Times in the 1970s, Anna Quindlen believed "that I was 
meant to be hidden from the reader, a byline without a face, a voyeur 
without a point of view."" She later changed her mind and wrote her 
prize-winning, highly-personal "Life in the 30s" column, which cast a 
mother's life — her own life — as journalism. 

The Other Side of the Mirror 

Quindlen uses the metaphor of a one-way mirror, through which the 
examiners can see the examined, but not the other way around, to describe 
the journalistic objectivity she found less and less useful. She writes: "I 
slipped to the other side of the mirror. It was an odd thing to do. Even I 
disapproved of it somewhat. I grew up holding a third person to my chest, 
like a shield, having no political party affiliation, no public persona, no 
expressed opinions. Suddenly I dropped the pretense, and week after week 
I said things that third persons do not say." The fact that she won the 
Pulitzer Prize for doing so raises the interesting notion that subjectivity 
may not only be not a bad thing; it might actually be a good thing. 

1 1 8 Great Ideas • Spring 1 999 

When I was doing women's studies coursework during my doctoral 
studies, I was struggling through the writing of an essay that asked the 
same question we tend to ask at our conferences and in our classrooms: 
Can journalists really be objective? A fellow graduate student, who was an 
anthropologist and a filmmaker, read a draft of this work and offered a 
margin comment that I (being, after all, a journalist) found astounding at 
the time. She wrote: "Maybe the question isn't whether 'objective truth' is 
or is not possible. Maybe the question is: Why is the concept of a 'subjec- 
tive truth' devalued? Why is it associated with lack of truth?'"' 

Scientist Sandra Harding, whom I quoted earlier in this essay, makes 
a similar point. She advocates what she calls "strong objectivity," a 
methodology that is informed, rather than tainted, by the researcher's 
acknowledgment of his or her point of view. This is otherwise known as 
standpoint epistemology, the theme of the most recent work I've read by a 
feminist scholar on this subject in our field, an article in the May 1998 
Communication Theory in which Meenakshi Gigi Durham calls for new 
journalistic standards requiring reporters to "summon a critical, reflective 
consciousness as part of reporting." In this view, incorporating one's own 
bias becomes part of professional method. 

Durham's theoretical critique echoes the debates underway in other 
disciplines; it is also remarkably similar to Quindlen's description of her 
work for The New York Times. None of the writers whose work I've 
discussed in this essay has suggested abandoning professional ethics. Yet 
they all envision a reformulation of the goal of objectivity into one of 
accountability, a model for practice that turns on metaphors of connec- 
tion rather than detachment, of visibility rather than invisibility. And the 
journalists among them have done so for some time — suggesting that 
what we think of as a modern debate may in fact be a historical one. They 
ask us, as my classmate did, to consider the value of "subjective truth." 
They call for our willingness to see our own shadow on the page. As 
journalists and as scholars, we might consider, and encourage our students 
to imagine, how that shadow shapes both news and history. 


1. Catherine L. Covert, "Journalism History and Women's Experience: A Problem in Conceptual 
Change," Journalism History 8, no. 1 (Spring 1981), 2-6; Brenda Dervin, "The Potential Contribu- 
tion of Feminist Scholarship to the Field of Communication ," Journal of Communication 37, no. 4 

Spring 1 999 • American Journalism 1 1 9 

(Autumn 1987), 107-121; Linda Steiner, "Feminist Theorizing and Communication Ethics," 
Communication 12 (1989), 157-173. Covert suggested a reconsideration of historical time in light of 
women's life experiences. Dervin notes that feminist scholarship offers a model of work that is "self- 
reflexive about the relationship and responsibility of the researcher to the researched" (109), while 
Steiner considers the usefulness of feminist theory in re-evaluating journalism ethics, including what 
she called "the 'objectification' of mass media 'subjects'" (169). 

2. Nor, clearly, is the critical analysis of objectivity solely a feminist enterprise. Many of the 
questions I raise here have previously been raised by male scholars who have taken a historical view 
(and on whose work I also draw) including Michael Schudson, Origins of the Ideal of Objectivity in the 
Professions (New York: Garland, 1990); Jay Rosen, Getting the Connections Right: Public Journalism and 
the Troubles in the Press (New York: Twentieth Century Fund Press, 1996); and David T Z. Mindich, 
Just the Facts: How "Objectivity" Came to Define American journalism (New York: New York University 
Press, 1998). 

3. Daniel Schorr, Clearing the Air (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1977), viii. 

4. Joan Wallach Scott, "Women's History," in American Feminist Thought at Century's End, ed. 
Linda S. Kaufman (Cambridge, MA: Blackwell, 1993), 238-39. 

5. Bonnie G. Smith, "Gender, Objectivity, and the Rise of Scientific History," in Objectivity and Its 
Other, ed. Wolfgang Natter, Theodore R. Schatzki, and John Paul Jones III (New York and London: 
Guilford Press, 1995), 64. 

6. Jane Tompkins, "Me and My Shadow," in The Intimate Critique: Autobiographical literary 
Criticism, ed. Diane P. Freedman, Olivia Frey, and Frances Murphy Zauhar (Durham: Duke 
University Press, 1993), 31. 

7. Carol Smart, Feminism and the Power of Law (New York: Routledge, 1989), 10; Kathleen A. 
Lahey, "Reasonable Women and the Law," in At the Boundaries of Law: Feminism and Legal Theory, 
ed. Martha Albertson Fineman and Nancy Sweet Thomdsen (New York: Routledge, 1991), 5. 

8. Dorothy E. Smith, The Conceptual Practices of Power: A Feminist Sociology of Knowledge (Boston: 
Northeastern University Press, 1990), 22-23. 

9. Sandra Harding, Whose Science? Whose Knowledge? Thinking from Women's Lives (Ithaca, NY: 
Cornell University Press, 1991), 158. 

10. Donna J. Haraway, "Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege 
of Partial Perspective," in Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature (New York: 
Routledge, 1991), 196. 

11. Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1929), 103. 

12. Among a number of sources that recount the careers of Fern and Croly is Maurine Beasley and 
Sheila Gibbons, Taking their Place: A Documentary History of Women and Journalism (Washington, 
DC: American University Press, 1993). 

13. Bernice Slote, ed., The Kingdom of Art: Willa Cather's First Principles and Critical Statements, 
1839-1902 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1966), 27, based on accounts of the speech in the 
Nebraska State Journal (31 January and 1 February 1896) and the Beatrice [NE] Weekly Express (6 
February 1896). 

14. Quoted in Anna Quindlen, Thinking Out Loud: On the Personal the Political, the Public and the 
Private (New York: Random House, 1993), xvii, xxvii. 

15. Many of these articles, which originally appeared in The Saturday Evening Post, Esquire, Life, 
Vogue, and other magazines, are collected in The White Album (New York: Pocket Books, 1979) and 
Slouching Towards Bethlehem (New York: Pocket Books, 1981). 

16. Quoted in Sherry Ricchiardi, "Getting the Picture," American Journalism Review (January/ 
February 1998), 29. 

17. Quindlen, Thinking Out Loud, xix. 

18. Anna Quindlen, "Life in the 30's," The New York Times (1 December 1988), CI. 

19. This comment was made by Francesca Soans of Temple University during the 
spring of 1996. 

20. Harding, Whose Science?, 16 1. 

21. Meenakshi Gigi Durham, "On the Relevance of Standpoint Epistemology to the 
Practice of Journalism: The Case for 'Strong Objectivity,"' Communication Theory 8, no. 2 (May 
1998), 133. 

1 20 Great Ideas • Spring 1 999 

Book Reviews 

In this issue, we are returning to our roots to take a long look at some 
recent publications in journalism history. As always, the field is enriched with 
a treasure ofinew goods including a fine study of the suffragist movement and 
the press, memories of an editor who worked on Fleet Street in London, the 
tale of the Binghams of the Louisville, Kentucky, press family, a collection of 
dispatches issued during the Russian Revolution, a study of the relationship of 
the French press and the US Civil War,, a fine study of the Fombstone, 
Arizona, wild west journal The Epitaph and a look at Hollyivood betiveen 
1918 and 1939. Of course, we will open with the editors choice, a book that 
pays homage and respect to media historians by a journalist with a creative 
bent relating to one of the most significant events in early 20th Century 

> David R. Spencer, Book Review Editor 

/ Editor's Choice 

Big Trouble 

By J. Anthony Lukas, New York, N.Y.: Touchstone Books, 1998, 875 pp. 

When I first picked up a copy of J. Anthony Lukas' Big Frouble at 
the Pittsburgh Airport, I did not think at the time that the work would be 
one which I would want to bring to the attention of media scholars. After 
all, this heavyweight, 875 page volume is the history of the murder trials 
of three western miners' union leaders in early 20th century Idaho. So, 
what do Big Bill Haywood, Charles Moyer and George Pettibone have in 
common with the press? Plenty, it turns out. But before launching into 
Lukas' interesting perspectives on Gilded Age media, a summary of the 
book's contents are in order. 

Fundamentally, the book tells the story of the murder of retired 
Idaho Governor Frank Steunenberg at Christmastime in 1905. 
Steunenberg had presided over one of the most difficult periods of Idaho 
history when miners in the Coeur d'Alene region rebelled violently 
against the autocratic rule of the area's mine owners. Although his loyalties 
were never clear, miners thought that the Governor was the agent of the 
owners. And of course, the owners were unhappy with Steunenberg over 

Spring 1999 • American Journalism 121 

what they felt were fairly lenient approaches to the miners. Then, some- 
one planted a bomb at the ex-Governor's gate, sending him into eternity 
and igniting a class struggle for the heart of America which eventually 
superseded the intensity of the Haymarket Affair and its aftermath. 

I can say with sincerity that Anthony Lukas is a gifted writer. This 
book puts to bed the concept that only professional scholars can research 
and write meaningful history. Lukas has the touch that made William L. 
Shirer's many writings so vivid, so colorful and so exciting. As we know, 
Shirer's German memoirs of Adolf Hitler in The Rise and Fall of the Third 
Reich were treated with a disdain bordering on contempt by leading 
members of the Northeastern historical establishment who implied that 
such a work by an amateur must be filled with errors and conjecture. 
After all, Shirer was a journalist, not a historian. 

Lukas begins his tale by taking us to the scene of the activity. He 
paints a vivid picture of life in Caldwell, Idaho, the home town of Frank 
Steunenberg. One by one, the major characters in the ex-Governor's 
political and business careers begin to appear, each given sufficient space 
that the reader begins to think he/she will eventually know these people 
on a familiar if not intimate basis. After "coloring" life in Idaho, Lukas 
takes us to rough and ready Denver, Colorado, where the Western 
Federation of Miners, under its bombastic leader Big Bill Haywood, is 
headquartered. It is here that the story begins to unfold with Haywood 
and his cronies pitted not only against the government of Colorado and 
the mine owners but a man who is referred to throughout the text as "The 
Great Detective," Pinkerton agent James McParlan. McParlan had 
become a legend in his own time for his work in infiltrating the Molly 
Maguires in Pennsylvania some years previous. It is McParlan who 
succeeds in orchestrating the abduction of Haywood, Moyer and 
Pettibone who are spirited by rail from Denver to Boise throughout the 
night to an uncertain fate in front of a jury. 

So why should this book mean something to journalism historians? 
For one, Lukas uses newspapers as sources to define many of the lesser 
known but critical factors in the case. But more significantly, he devotes 
55 pages titled "Gentlemen of the Press" to discuss the behaviour of the 
journalism community at Haywood's trial. The chapter is gripping, as is 
much of Lukas' dialogue. It is here that we see the pursuit of story, the 
commercialization of the press and the implications of what it means to 
have a press war take place thousands of miles from the scene of the 
action. Lukas lines up the characters on two sides of an imaginary line, 
those journalists who favor Haywood and write for his acquittal and those 

122 Book Reviews • Spring 1999 

who seem to be in the back pockets of the mine owners and their friends 
in the political establishment who are advocating conviction and execu- 
tion. In one instance, he tells the tale of how a group of leading reporters 
for metropolitan dailies get access to Harry Orchard, a convicted criminal 
and the leading state witness against Haywood while the socialist papers, 
in particular Julius Augustus Wayland's The Appeal to Reason are not 
invited to share the moment. Lukas notes that the newspaper reporters are 
seated in the courtroom by their specific approach to the trial. Those 
sympathetic to conviction are given the best seats and the best facilities 
while those writing in favor of the accused are shuffled off to the back of 
the courtroom. 

This is in reality a book about characters. Throughout its pages, we 
are introduced to Ethel Barrymore, baseball great Walter Johnson, 
Theodore Roosevelt, railroad entrepreneur E. H. Harriman, William 
Allen White, Eugene Debs and of course Haywood's defense attorney 
Clarence Darrow. This is both one of the book's major strengths, but also 
one of its weaknesses. There were many times when the Haywood story 
took a back seat to what the author must have considered enriching 
information. Without significant powers of concentration, it is highly 
likely that the reader could get lost in what seemed to be a multiplicity of 
sub-plots and diversions. 

Reading this book takes work. It is best to digest it in small pieces. It 
is very dense, almost a complete lesson in American history in the com- 
pact period between Haywood's arrest and his acquittal. Yet, it is worth 
the effort. It is a finely crafted piece not only of scholarship but of 
journalism. Its 57 pages of notes in what appears to be six point Times 
Roman type speak to the work that Lukas put into researching and 
writing this story. He notes that the murder "sets ofTa struggle for the Soul 
of America" in a time period when the threat of class warfare was looming 
on the horizon of a society in the creation process. It is not often that we get 
this kind of intense contribution by a journalist who speaks to journalism 
history as a major player in a major event. Let us hope we get more. 

> David R. Spencer, University of Western Ontario 

Spring 1999 • American Journalism 123 

Dispatches From The Revolution: Russia 1916-1918 

By Morgan Philips Price & Tania Rose, (eds.), Durham, NC: Duke 
University Press, 1998. 175 pp. 

It is hard to imagine how anyone could have been more qualified to 
cover the Russian Revolution than Morgan Philips Price. When he 
became the Manchester Guardians special correspondent to Russia in 
1914, he was 29 years old, had traveled extensively throughout Russia 
since he was 25, and spoke fluent Russian. He stayed in Russia through 
1918, writing for the Guardian even after his dispatches had stopped 
appearing by demand of the British censors. When he could no longer 
depend on money from Britain, he took a job as a translator for the 
revolutionary government. At the end of 1918, he moved to Berlin, 
where he served as correspondent for the Daily Herald until he returned 
to Britain in 1923. 

His coverage of, and later participation in, the revolution caused a 
great change in Price. When he first went to Russia, it was as a capitalist, 
representing his family's timber business. By the time he left, he was 
firmly convinced that the world's salvation lay in the rise of the working 
classes to dominate governments. As his political views changed near the 
end of the revolution, he even began writing propaganda pamphlets for 
the revolutionary government. This gradual change in attitude is reflected 
in his dispatches, and adds complexity to a fascinating view of one of the 
most critical events in history. 

In his foreword to the book, Eric Hobsbawm points out that Price's 
writings about the Russian revolution have been largely forgotten, and 
that this book, edited by Price's daughter, Tania Rose, "is an extraordinar- 
ily valuable compilation of Price's published and unpublished writings 
about the Russian Revolution, many of them hitherto virtually or entirely 
inaccessible." The purpose of the book, however, is not entirely clear. It 
does, in fact, include many unpublished letters, but much of the most 
critical content is reprinted from his previous books and newspaper 

On the other hand, the book could not stand alone as a comprehen- 
sive history of the Russian Revolution, but is most valuable as contextual 
material for people already familiar with events of the period. It is, rather, 
like a series of snapshots. Rose, recognizing the need for more historic 
information, provides introductory essays to each chapter, an epilogue, 
biographical notes, and explanatory notes and references. These elements 
do provide historical context, but unfortunately they also tend to make 

124 Book Reviews • Spring 1 999 

for a lot of paging back and forth. The difference in writing style between 
Rose's connecting sections, Price's articles, his formal letters, and his 
informal notes and postcards adds to the problem. One result of this 
disjointedness is that concepts are sometimes introduced and either never 
pursued, or followed up so much later that the original reference has been 

The notes and index are generally quite good, and add to the book's 
usefulness as a reference work, but are not without gaps. For example, 
Rose, in her introduction, refers to Arthur Ransome and John Reed, two 
other correspondents in Russia during the time Price was there. The 
biographical notes include helpful background information about Reed, 
but Ransome is excluded. Rose's writing in the introduction, historical 
sections in each chapter, and epilogue is functional, solid and businesslike, 
but not very exciting. Price's writing is varied, sometimes a bit workman- 
like, but more often quite colorful and evocative. Not surprisingly, he is at 
his weakest when compiling factual information from the Russian press to 
keep his British audience appraised about political and economic events 
in Russia. It doesn't help non-British readers that he sometimes likens 
these events to British situations of the time. For example, to explain a 
particularly complex political point, he says, "A similar situation would be 
created in England if the Conservatives and Liberal Imperialists ceased to 
exist and the Radicals and the Labour Parry were defending the national 
idea of British democracy against the Independent Labour Party and the 
British Socialist Party, standing for the dictatorship of the Trade Union 
Congress and the international Parliament of labour." Oh, right! 

When giving eyewitness accounts, however, his writing is much 
more expressive, as in his description of Kerensky's rebuttal of Lenin: "He 
paused and walked slowly across the platform towards the corner where 
the group surrounding Lenin sat. Not a sound was heard in the great hall, 
and we waited spellbound for the next sentence. 'I will not be the dictator 
that you are trying to make,' and so saying he turned his back scornfully 
upon Lenin, while the assembled delegates thundered their applause." It is 
when Price leaves the city, however, to travel throughout the Asian 
provinces and give the common peoples' reactions to the revolution, that 
his work really shines. For 20 pages in the middle of the book, he evokes a 
picture of the people — their situations and their surroundings — so 
compelling as to draw readers in completely. It is in this section that it 
becomes clear just how different the situations were for the various 
groups, from the peasants of the northern Volga region who lived under 

Spring 1 999 • American Journalism 1 25 

such tyrannical rule of the landlords that they couldn't kill them and 
divide up their land quickly enough, to the Cossacks of the East who 
already held their land communally, even redistributing it every 25 years. 

Despite a few inherent shortcomings, Dispatches from the Revolution 
is a fascinating insider's look at events surrounding the Russian Revolu- 
tion. It provides insights on some aspects of the period that might not be 
available through other means. In discussing the effect of World War I on 
the revolution, for example, Price says: "The war and the desire to end it 
is the one thing that links the confused social mass together in this third 
stage of the Revolution, and as soon as there is peace it will break up into 
its component parts and create new combinations and coalitions for the 
political struggle in the fourth stage." 

Price offers political insights informed both by the fact that he 
was — for the most part — an objective observer, while, concurrently more 
knowledgeable about the situations of the various groups than almost 
anyone else at the time. It was this dual role that allowed him, for ex- 
ample, to say about the Moslems in Turkestan: "Needless to say, they are 
quite unaffected by the programme of the Russian Socialist Revolutionary 
Party. 'Land and Liberty' has no meaning for them. No one in Turkestan 
wants land because it is all desert. But everyone wants water, and no party 
has come forward promising 'Water and Liberty' because the water in 
Turkestan depends not on the political situation in Petrograd but on the 
snowfall in the Pamir plateau. "This book offers a perspective on the 
Russian Revolution that only a person such as Price — and he may have 
been unique in the situation, a foreign journalist living as a Russian 
during the revolution — to see the reality of the situation in terms such as: 
"Let it be remembered that we are dealing here with 180 million people 
covering the greater part of two continents, in which the industrial system 
of Western Europe has only just begun to exist. Now three years of war 
has simply destroyed this tender plant and has reduced the country to the 
economic state of Europe in the Middle Ages. This is indeed a fact." 

>Roy E. Blackwood, Bemidji State University 

Fleet Street Around the Clock 

By Gordon Allan, London, England: The Alpha Press, 1998, 75 pp. 

As Gordon Allan asserts in the preface, "This is the story, different 
in detail, but no different in kind from many others, of one provincial 

126 Book Reviews • Spring 1999 

who came to Fleet Street when it was Fleet Street ..." But this brief 
memoir is also about "Newspaper life before laptops replaced typewriters 
and hot metal now relegated to the past . . . the days when Fleet Street — 
the real Fleet Street — was the goal of every young journalist with . . . 
ambition . . . [and] . . . the sense of learning the craft of writing for a 
newspaper was paramount." 

Allan was one of these aspiring young men in post- World War II 
Britain who entered journalism directly from secondary school (in Allan's 
case, the Aberdeen Grammar School) and who, after an apprenticeship on 
two Scottish newspapers, migrated to London. In the metropolis, his 
career in Fleet Street was spent mostly on The Times before the 
"Thunderer" left "The Street of Ink" for Wapping in the resuscitated East 
London. Working mostly as a sub-editor (often laboring in exhausting 
night shifts) and stints as a sports reporter and columnist, Allan was able 
to observe and know prominent newspapermen and editors. He provides 
some very perceptive thumbnail sketches of these worthies. Equally 
important are his accounts of the year-long closure of The Times in 1979 
and, as ordered by the newspaper mogul, Rupert Murdoch, the overnight 
move of the paper from Gray's Inn Road to Wapping. 

Always interested in creative writing as a youth, Allan primed 
himself for a career in journalism by studying the Kemsley Manual of 
Journalism and Whitaker's Almanack and began work as a low ranker on 
the Aberdeen Evening Express, the Press and Journal, and the Weekly 
Journal. His first job in London was in the Daily Telegraph's sub-editors 
room, which was not a "happy office", especially under the irascible Brian 
Roberts and his successor, the dreadful, ruthlessly ambitious Peter 
Eastwood. As Allan wryly notes of these notorious Fleet Street ogres, 
Roberts and Eastwood had charming sides, but that was forgotten when the 
other side was so objectionable. Under Eastwood, "the harassed sub-editors 
were forced to waste much time going back over previous work to correct 
alleged mistakes and contravention of style pounced on by Eastwood." As 
Allan notes, ". . . it is a miracle the paper ever came out . . . ." After a year 
of this tyranny, Allan left the Telegraph for a year of work on the Edinburgh 
Scotsman in the early 1960s, but he returned to London to work briefly 
with the Press Association and Reuters before joining The Times in 1965 as 
sports sub-editor and occasional columnist and here he remained until 
retirement and work as a free-lancer. 

In these reminiscences, Allan also provides some interesting portraits 
of that accomplished Times Sports Editor, John Hennessy, and the gifted 

Spring 1 999 • American Journalism 1 27 

team of sports correspondents he had assembled who made The Times. 
one of the best British papers on sports news. Another one of Allan's great 
heroes is the renowned doyen of cricket writers and music critics, Neville 
Cardus. And, of course, there is Allan's appreciation of Louis Heren, the 
son of a Times printer, brought up in the rough East End, who spent a 
lifetime in the service of The Times rising from messenger boy to star 
foreign correspondent and Deputy Editor. He died a disappointed man 
because the Editorship which would have crowned his life's work, eluded 
him because of his plebeian background and, no doubt, his lack of 
Oxbridge credentials. 

One of Allan's most interesting accounts is his work as a "stone sub" 
— the sub-editor who remains behind, after every one has gone, to work 
with the notoriously rough and independent-minded printers on page 
changes for later editions of the paper. He also endured industrial mal- 
practice and unofficial strikes in the production and clerical departments 
which led to the year long closure of The Times and the move to Wapping. 
According to Allan, the move and Rupert Murdoch's proprietorship did 
not make the paper better. 

Allan also has some interesting things to say about novels based on 
the Fleet Street experience and what they depict of the reality of journal- 
ists and their work in London. Thus, while some deem Philip Gibbs' 
Street of Adventure (1909) as probably having persuaded more young men 
to take up journalism as a career than any other book of the same genre, 
Allan rates Alphonse Courlander's Mightier than the Sword (1912) as far 
better than Gibbs' work because it views a journalist's life and career in 
terms of tragedy rather than romance. Courlander knew his subject well, 
as a result of his long work on the Daily Express under the legendary 
editor, R. D. Blumenfeld, and as the paper's ace Paris correspondent. But 
despite Courlander's view of Fleet Street, Allan is convinced that newspa- 
per life does not seem to lend itself to fiction, and when journalists do 
appear in novels "they are usually cliche characters, unhappily married 
and potential alcoholics 

Allan concludes his discursive memoir with some pessimistic 
observations on present day journalism, such as the "death" of the news- 
paper essayist, "killed by the hysterical desire of modern journalists to be 
topical on all subjects and at any cost." Yet, with (and despite) all of its 
innovations, Allan is convinced that The Times is [still] "the paper that . . . 
does . . . things best." 

>J. O. Baylen (Emeritus), Eastbourne, England 

128 Book Reviews • Spring 1999 

French Newspapers' Opinion on the American Civil War 

By George M. Blackburn, Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1997, 176 pp. 

In this book, George M. Blackburn confirms an assertion that 
historians of Europe in the 1860s have made convincingly for decades: 
the French, like other Europeans, were fascinated by the causes and 
contours of the American Civil War, and followed with great interest the 
events of the conflict. In France, a considerable amount of journalists' ink 
was spilled in covering the War Between the States, a fact that reveals 
much about French ideology and statesmen in the age of the Second 
Empire (1852-71), when executive authority outweighed democratic 
voice. " [Politically aware Frenchmen perceived the American Civil War 
as an acid test of the legitimacy and viability of democratic institutions 
not only in America, but also in France." 

Blackburn approaches French attitudes through an examination of 
war coverage in 75 newspapers, Parisian and provincial. In their treat- 
ments, the issue of slavery was not the decisive factor: all French newspa- 
pers seemed clearly to denounce the practice. The most important 
division between newspapers, the author asserts, was ideological: conser- 
vative editors and writers (Legitimists, pro-Bourbon Catholics, and 
supporters of Napoleon III) decried the War as bald northern aggression 
and an assault on constitutional right and social order; liberal editors and 
writers (Orleanists, liberal Catholics, and republicans) viewed the conflict 
as a just war for democracy, individual freedom and economic liberalism. 

This depiction of 1860s French political thinking is not new; several 
antecedent studies have long identified these patterns. The novel assertion 
in Blackburn's work is that contemporary newspapers serve as a reliable 
index to those views. Previously dismissed by scholars as "unfree," venal, 
and inordinately coloured by domestic political ramifications, French 
newspapers contained instead genuine reflections of their editors' and 
writers' views, and the consistency of their treatments of the War attest to 
this fact. Blackburn traces conservative and liberal editorial coverage of 
the War chronologically in eight chapters from the 1 860 American 
election, through the Trent Affair (1861), the Cotton Crisis (1862-3), 
French overtures in mediation (1862-3), and the consequences of the 
war's conclusion. 

The book's argument is generally credible: French newspapers did 
reflect the discourse in French politics generated by the American Civil 
War. Even so, this book contains several faults that, put together, reduce 
the overall impact that this book will have in the study of foreign views of 

Spring 1999 • American Journalism 129 

the Civil War and in journalism history. Blackburn's book fails to establish 
the significance of French newspaper opinion on the Civil War, either as it 
related to the United States, or as it related to France. Ultimately, one 
wonders: did French views matter much to American combatants? (and 
relatedly, if not, why has this volume been placed in a series entitled 
"Contributions in American History"?) Perhaps more pointedly, did the 
War effect any long-term change in French political culture? Extending 
the analysis to the mid- 1870s, or beyond, might have afforded the author 
the opportunity to make a broader and more meaningful assessment. As a 
result, the book's conclusion seems obtuse. 

In terms of method, Blackburn's examination does not seem to 
differentiate between types of newspaper coverage. Did differences in 
format — editorial versus routine news coverage — matter qualitatively? 
Finally, most lacking in this analysis is a sense of the personalities involved 
in newsmaking, normally one of the most colorful and influential aspects 
of journalism history. Notably absent in Blackburn's treatment of French 
journalism is a sense of the characters of editors and writers. If the press, 
as the author argues, was demonstrably free, who exercised this liberty and 
in what ways were their personal judgments and characters reflected in 
their journalism? Blackburn's book makes a contribution to the history of 
mid- 19th century journalism, but one ultimately that falls short of its 
potential to illuminate fully the role of French newspapers as a medium 
connecting the Civil War's "discussion" about republican liberty and 
French political culture. 

>Andrew C. Holman, Bridgewater State College 

Rampant Women Suffragists and the Right of Assembly 

By Linda Lumsden, Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1997, 273 pp. 

In her introduction, Linda Lumsden states that the right of assem- 
bly provided the foundation of every step of the suffrage campaign. This 
crucial link between the right to peaceably assemble and women's struggle 
for the right to vote is explored by the author in this well-written and 
engrossing book. 

The book details the painstaking struggle of women to overcome 
numerous obstacles to win the right to vote. Not only were there legal 
hurdles to overcome, but perhaps even more in evidence were deeply 
ingrained social barriers. Women's attempts to assemble in public and to 
attain the right to vote and the full citizenship those rights implied were 
seen as threats to the social order and to the way women were viewed by 

1 30 Book Reviews • Spring 1 999 

society. The right to assemble was one the Founding Fathers intended for 
men, not necessarily women, and women exercising this right met with 
criticisms and sanctions. Lumsden provides a review of women's early 
attempts to exercise the right to gather and speak publicly in a male- 
dominated society. She describes Anne Hutchison's attempt to gather 
women in her home to study religion in 1630, which led to Hutchison's 
banishment by the authorities, and she credits the abolition movement's 
key role in winning women their right to speak in public, noting the 
contributions of particular southern women abolitionists and the criticism 
of their efforts. 

The book's organization follows the progression of women's use of 
the right of assembly. The author devotes a chapter each to the right of 
association and women's use of it in suffrage mass meetings, delegations, 
and conventions; their use of open air meetings; their use of petitions; 
their use of parades to build support for the movement; their staging of 
pageants to gain middle and upper-class support, and their use of pickets 
to further their cause. She notes the importance of the suffrage conven- 
tions as the movement's heart and as gatherings where women gained the 
skills and confidence they needed to take their message to a wider audi- 
ence. She describes the spread of the open air meetings, first held in New 
York and then around the country, and the problems suffragists had in 
getting legal permits to speak on street corners. She explores in detail how 
the issues of race and class affected the suffrage movement, paying close 
attention to the racism that African American women were subject to not 
only from police and the public, but from white suffragists as well. 

Of particular interest to journalism historians are Lumsden's detailed 
discussions of the reactions of the newspapers of the period to the suffrag- 
ists' efforts to bring their message to the public. Newspapers often ridi- 
culed their early efforts and their public gatherings, as evidenced by the 
editorial the New York Herald carried in 1853, from which Lumsden 
quotes: "The assemblage of rampant women which convened at the 
Tabernacle yesterday was an interesting phase in the comic history of the 
19th century." However, by the turn of the century, newspapers began to 
change the tone of their coverage, and Lumsden describes how the 
newspapers, as the most influential mass medium at the time, provided 
the movement a national forum by covering the suffrage parades as 
serious news stories with front page coverage. 

Modern readers, in this age of instant visual communication, may 
find it difficult to comprehend fully the absolutely vital role the right to 
assemble played in the advancement of the suffrage movement. The 

Spring 1999 • American Journalism 131 

women Lumsden describes literally took their arguments to the people by 
the only means open to them — their hard-fought right to assemble, and 
to petition, parade, speak, and picket in public to often uninformed, 
indifferent, and hostile audiences in cities across the nation. Lumsden 
brings these women's words and arguments to life in this account. 

This book is a must-read for many reasons. It is written in a compel- 
ling fashion and is based on extensive research using numerous primary 
sources, archival materials, legal cases, and secondary sources. The bibliog- 
raphy alone is worth a look, as are the extensive notes provided for each 
chapter and the appendices regarding major figures, events, and chronol- 
ogy of the suffrage movement. 

Rampant Women has wide appeal. It should appeal to anyone 
interested in understanding the integral role the right of assembly plays in 
the struggle of any disenfranchised group in American society. 

>Tamara Baldwin, Southeast Missouri State University 

Robert Worth Bingham and the Southern Mystique: 
From the Old South to the New South and Beyond 

By William E. Ellis, Kent, OH: Kent State University Press, 1997, 258 pp. 

William E. Ellis of Eastern Kentucky University has set out to 
accomplish two difficult tasks. The first is to dispel, once and for all, the 
rumor that dogged Robert Worth Bingham (1871-1937) to his grave and 
well beyond that he killed his second wife for her money so that he could 
buy The Courier-Journal and. Times of Louisville, Kentucky. Ellis' second 
task is to show that the life of this lawyer and local officeholder who 
bought the two newspapers and eventually served as ambassador to 
England is the stuff of compelling biography. Because of his thoroughness 
and attention to detail, Ellis accomplishes his first task: He convincingly 
lays the scandal to rest. But despite his exhaustive research, the second 
task proves insurmountable. The subject of this careful report never 
emerges as a vital force that can propel a narrative from beginning to end. 

It's not that Bingham lacked for passion. He was a progressive with 
resolve living in unjust times, a man with motive and opportunity who 
was determined to do good. As interim mayor of Louisville for several 
months in 1907, Bingham stopped local saloons from flouting the Sunday 
Closing Law, removed policemen and firemen from a system of political 
patronage, encouraged police vice raids of downtown prostitution and 
gambling operations, and exposed the filthy facilities of City Hospital. As 

1 32 Book Reviews • Spring 1 999 

a circuit court judge appointed to serve a vacated post, Bingham reduced 
a backlog of cases to a manageable level. As publisher of The Courier- 
Journal and Times, Bingham supported prohibition, women's suffrage, and 
the League of Nations, and he helped tobacco farmers organize coopera- 
tives to get fair prices for their produce. And as FDR's ambassador to the 
Court of St. James, he increasingly denounced Nazi Germany as "people 
who regard war as a cult and blood and honour as something to teach 
little children, and who only listen to the argument of force." 

Most of this history is lost on people today. Thanks to a spate of 
tawdry exposes from The Binghams of Louisville in 1987 to The Patriarch 
in 1991, Robert Worth Bingham is remembered as a media mogul who 
poisoned his wife for an inheritance. The truth, as Ellis carefully points 
out, lacks the intrigue but none of the tragedy. In 1913 Bingham's wife 
Eleanor died when a commuter train slammed into her car. Three years 
later, he married the widow of multimillionaire Henry M. Flagler, Mary 
Lily Kenan Flagler. There was no prenuptial agreement, nor was there 
provision for Bingham in her will, but a codicil signed just six weeks 
before Mary Lily died unexpectedly (after only seven months of marriage 
to Bingham) left him $5 million. Rumors swirled, claiming that Flagler or 
Bingham had given syphilis to Mary Lily and that Bingham had drugged 
her and pushed her down a flight of stairs. These rumors were unfounded. 
What few people knew was that when Mary Lily died, Bingham was 
searching for a treatment for her alcoholism. The family secret was that 
Mary Lily was a binge drinker who, according to Dr. Hugh Young of 
Johns Hopkins University Hospital, would "lock herself up and drink 
many bottles of gin." Young confirmed that alcohol abuse, and not 
"poisoning or foul play," had killed Mary Lily. 

Bingham received his inheritance one year after Mary Lily died, and 
within days he had purchased 71 percent of the shares of The Courier- 
Journal and Times. He purchased the remaining 29 percent two years later. 
The total cost was $1.5 million. Bingham ran the papers until 1933, 
when he left Louisville to serve as ambassador to St. James' Court. His 
two oldest children were alcoholics and unreliable, so leadership of the 
papers went to his youngest child Barry, who became publisher at the age 
of 27. 

Throughout this book, Ellis points out that Bingham's progressive- 
ness did not extend to the issue of race, hence the title Robert Worth 
Bingham and the Southern Mystique. Bingham supported African Ameri- 
can educational institutions and he opposed the Ku Klux Klan, but his 
Courier-Journal continued to publish the racist comic "Hambone" 
throughout the 1920s. Bingham did little, Ellis says, "to overturn the 

Spring 1999 • American Journalism 133 

racial mores of the community." It's a stretch to call this support of the 
racial status quo "the southern mystique" — what was the support of the 
racial status quo called in New York, Boston, or Chicago? — but that's the 
only lapse in this otherwise authoritative book that sets the record straight 
on Robert Worth Bingham. 

> John P. Ferre, University of Louisville 

The World According To Hollywood 1918-1939. 

By Ruth Vasey, Madison, Wisconsin: The University of Wisconsin Press, 
1997, 299 pp. 

From the flickering beginnings of the Nickelodeon to today's hi-tech 
film industry, attempts to regulate movie content have been as much a 
part of film history as the rise of the Hollywood studios, the coming of 
sound, or wide screen projection. The control of movie content by state 
and local censorship boards, and after 1 920, the Hays Office, and later 
still, the Production Code Administration (PCA), was a well known fact 
to generations of moviegoers. Indeed, the press reported that American 
audiences often booed the PCA seal when it appeared on their local 

Even so, establishing the who, what, when, where, and why of film 
censorship is something of a Johnny-come-lately to the field of film 
history. Scholarly attention to the actual operations of film censorship 
began in earnest only after the records of the Production Code Adminis- 
tration were opened to scholars in 1983. Ruth Vasey 's The World According 
to Hollywood, 1918-1939 is the latest contribution to a growing library 
devoted to the history of film censorship. 

A Professor of Film Studies at the University of New South Wales, 
Australia, Vasey correctly notes that recent books on censorship largely 
ignore the impact Hollywood's financial reliance on foreign markets had 
on shaping American film content. Indeed, Hollywood's financial health 
depended on a global economy long before the phrase gained its present 
currency. As Vasey notes, following the end of World War 1,35 percent of 
the studios' gross revenue was generated from rentals outside the United 
States. With millions of foreign dollars at stake, Hollywood was as 
concerned to pacify foreign censors as it was to placate its domestic critics. 
In turn, Hollywood films depicted a world devoid of political strife, 
tyranny or terror. In short, the world according to Hollywood was an 
idealized, romanticized, exotic version of Andy Hardy's Main Street, USA 

134 Book Reviews • Spring 1999 

If Hollywood's product proved simpleminded, the process involved 
in making pictures for world wide distribution while avoiding political 
controversy and cultural offense became increasingly complex, particularly 
with the introduction of the sound film. Throughout the silent film era, 
dealing with the knotty intricacies of foreign political and cultural 
sensibilities was fairly easy. As Vasey explains, offending material could be 
cut without destroying the narrative structure of the film. For example, 
the Japanese routinely cut out scenes that showed kissing, while the 
British cut scenes featuring religious ceremonies. In fact, foreign distribu- 
tors often inserted new title cards that completely changed the original 
intent of the story. 

The coming of sound in 1927 presented a new challenge. Cutting 
scenes from a synchronized sound film destroyed its narrative coherency. 
Thus, Vasey argues, after the advent of talking pictures, Hollywood has 
forced to create a single international standard for film content that 
eliminated as much as possible the need for censorship. This need was, 
Vasey contends, a chief motivating factor behind the 1930 adoption of 
the Production Code. Clearly, American film censorship was the product 
of a number of interactive forces. Amidst economic depression, threats of 
government oversight of Hollywood's monopolistic business practices, the 
specter of Legion of Decency instigated boycotts, and a fear of losing 
foreign revenues all played their part. Vasey's book gives a good overview 
of the particular impact of foreign markets on American film censorship, 
even if one wishes for more detailed analysis of how the various foreign 
censors worked in specific situations. What did different foreign govern- 
ments specially object to? What internal political, religious, and cultural 
pressure groups were foreign censors themselves subject to? 

If Vasey's study raises more questions than it answers, it does make 
plain that studio self-censorship was as determined to avoid political 
controversy as it was to eliminate immorality. As Vasey notes, the pressure 
to circumscribe the terms of Hollywood's political discourse, arising from 
worldwide institutions of censorship helped to reinforce the perceived 
status of Hollywood movies as objects of entertainment devoid of political 
significance. Vasey makes one assertion about the final effect of censorship 
that civil libertarians might find dubious. She contends that censorship 
threw the responsibility for interpretation squarely onto the audience 
providing a wider range of imaginative options. As the argument goes, 
censorship thus produced gaps in the text that offered more open rather 
than closed interpretations. 

Spring 1999 • American Journalism 135 

No doubt film audiences became adept at reading between-the-lines, 
but, I fear, in a rush to valorize so-called active audiences, over against 
passive receivers of media messages, many film historians inadvertently 
turn a historical necessity into a theoretical virtue. In any event, Vasey's 
work opens up an area of research that is important to an understanding 
of the political and social impact, at home and abroad, of Hollywood's 
depiction of a world that never was. 

>G. Tom Poe, University of Missouri, Kansas City 

Tombstone *s Epitaph 

By Douglas D. Martin, Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 
1997,287 pp. 

Listen closely as you turn the pages of Douglas D. Martin's 
Tombstone's Epitaph. You will swear that you can hear Wyatt Earp's spurs 
jingle with each of his steps, the gunshots at the OK Corral, and horses' 
hooves pounding Tombstones dirt streets. Reading this book is like 
stepping into a time tunnel and taking a quantum leap into the Wild 
West of the late 19th century. If journalism is the first draft of history, as 
many claim it is, then Tombstones Epitaph is a compilation of a truly rich 
source of Old West lore. By compiling and categorizing numerous articles 
from this frontier newspaper, and then weaving them with his own 
narrative, Martin provides a series of verbal snapshots, transporting the 
reader deep into Tombstone of the 1880s. In effect, the book is the 
product of an ethnographic study, using written documents in this case, 
articles from the Tombstones Epitaph as a window into this world. 

Founded in 1880, the Epitaph is Arizona's oldest continuously 
published newspaper. Martin meticulously combed the pages of editions 
from the early 1880s, piecing together a portrait of life in legendary 
Tombstone. As revealed in the pages of the Epitaph, it is a world rich in 
both the expected and unexpected. While the focus of late 19th century 
Tombstone as well as Tombstone's Epitaph is the stereotypical image of 
shoot-outs and the infamous OK Corral, there was much more to Tomb- 
stone. In addition to news of holdups and murders, one can also find other 
"flavors" of Tombstone society in these pages, including news of ice cream 
socials, restaurant menus, church bazaars, the annual New Year's Eve dance 
hosted by the town firefighters, concerts and other entertainment. 

The frontier style of journalism exemplified by the Epitaph not only 
included detailed accounts of happenings, but also a sort of community 

136 Book Reviews • Spring 1999 

cheerleading, sometimes carried to the point of less-than-objective 
accounts of developments. Founder and editor Jack Clum established an 
editorial policy that each of his successors adhered to: rallying the spirits 
of the people and renewing their faith in the greatness of their hometown. 
It was common to editorialize within articles, and also to attack compet- 
ing newspapers. The editor of the competing Tombstone Nugget once 
wrote, "The utterances of the old Drunkard who runs the Epitaph at 
present do not bother us in the least." As Martin writes, the fear of libel 
never held a Tombstone editor back. 

Clum used his lofty position at the Epitaph to become Tombstone's 
first mayor. In turn, he used the newspaper as a vehicle for community 
boosterism. At times that meant downplaying the coverage of image- 
damaging events such as natural disasters. Martin suggests it was probable 
that Clum and his successors did not want to discourage the investment 
of new capital and an increase in population. The editor/mayor would 
also use his position to chastise those who failed to invite him to impor- 
tant social events. In the midst of reporting on one Thanksgiving Day 
dinner, for example, Clum wrote that "Lack of space and an opportunity 
of personal observance forbid a more detailed account of the evenings 

Another aspect of Tombstone life that is typically not associated with 
this town of the Old West is sports. Coverage of sports stories, especially 
Tombstone's favorites sport, baseball, was commonplace. The Tombstone 
nine would travel the Arizona territory, with game results sometimes 
taking days to reach the paper's offices. Once after some tough losses at the 
territorial fair in "Phenix" (sic), the editor was so carried away in his 
lament that he neglected to mention the scores in the Epitaph's Sunday 
edition. And with no Monday edition, the paper could not remedy the 
oversight until Tuesday. Sports coverage also extended to events such as 
cockfighting and boxing, with the Epitaph often encouraging the latter, 
providing space for the issuance and acceptance of challenges. 

But based on the selections that Martin includes in his book, the 
primary "sport" in Tombstone seems to have been gun fighting. Perhaps 
no town was ever more appropriately named. As Martin writes, "Surely no 
other paper in the history of American journalism ever carried more 
reports of crime than the Epitaph published in its first 10 years." While 
the laws were enforced a bit more loosely than today, Tombstone and the 
southeastern part of the Arizona territory did not exhibit the lawlessness 
that many assume. In fact, the infamous gunfight at the OK Corral which 
plays a prominent role in Tombstones Epitaph was the culmination of an 

Spring 1999 • American Journalism 137 

effort to combat the "cow-boy situation." Tombstone's two newspapers 
disagreed over how to best handle the situation. The Republican Epitaph 
called these men a curse to the country and to business while the Nugget 
belittled efforts to control them. 

After the OK Corral shoot-out occurred on October 26, 1881, there 
was a sharp division not just among the townsfolk, but also between the 
newspapers over whether the three Earp brothers and Doc Holliday were 
justified in killing three people. The Nugget led the criticism of Marshall 
Earp, while the Epitaph ultimately defended the need to uphold the law. 
As the debate raged, so did federal attempts to investigate and possibly 
intercede in Arizona. When President Chester Arthur later issued a 
proclamation admonishing those in the Territory of Arizona from taking 
part in any unlawful proceeding the Epitaph, by then under a new 
Democratic publisher, replied with an editorial stating that Arizona was 
one of the most peaceful parts of the country and all it wanted was to be 
left alone. 

But the damage to Wyatt Earp had already been done. The "Lion of 
Tombstone" left the town in March 1 882. The Epitaph had clearly been 
supportive of Earp, calling his appointment as deputy sheriff in 1880 an 
"eminently proper one," and a week later noting that he is "ever to the 
front when duty calls." After Earp was appointed US Marshal, the Epitaph 
reported that "the town has been noted for its quietness and good order." 
Remember, this was a newspaper whose philosophy was to develop good 
will, particularly among the business community. Investors would be 
reluctant to sink capital into ventures in a town that could not protect 
their investment. No wonder the paper supported Earp, his brothers, and 
Doc Holliday. But that could not stop the investigation of the OK Corral 
incident. The Epitaph carried the testimony in full. While the Earps and 
Holliday were exonerated, they were marked men. When Morgan Earp 
was killed, the Epitaph headlined the story "The Deadly Bullet: The 
Assassin at Last Successful in His Devilish Mission" in its March 20, 1882 
edition. It was shortly thereafter that Wyatt left town. The last mention 
of his whereabouts was in the April 14, 1882 edition of the Epitaph. 

Given the nature of Tombstone life, hangings were not uncommon, 
nor were the Epitaph's accounts of them. The same kind of detailed 
reporting that was the rule of the day with other kinds of stories also 
prevailed here. The pages of the newspaper would contain items such as 
what the condemned ate for dinner the night prior to their executions, 
what they wore, and the attendance at the hanging: "The prisoners last 
night regaled themselves with a hearty supper of oysters and other delica- 
cies furnished by the sheriff. As they were being attired in grave clothes an 

1 38 Book Reviews • Spring 1 999 

occasional grim joke at the appearance of some of their comrades was 
indulged in by the bandits. Over 500 tickets of admission to the jail yard 
to witness the execution were issued." Nor was the detailed reporting 
confined to pre-execution festivities. It included highly descriptive 
accounts of the hanging itself, including how long each body pulsated 
from the moment the trap door fell with a "swish." 

The Epitaph was not immune from many of the realities of contem- 
porary journalism, including the economic imperative of advertising. In 
fact, there were long stretches when the front page carried nothing but 
advertising. The primary advertisers were saloons, restaurants, and not 
surprisingly undertakers. There was also what, from a late 20th century 
perspective, seems to be a sort of naivete or innocence in the Epitaph's 
writing. But not unlike contemporary journalism, it also reflected a "what 
are people talking about" approach to coverage. Articles included the 
following: "It won't do any harm to go to church today. Try the experi- 
ence." After the death of a citizen: "The body was not well embalmed and 
the stench was beginning to get so great it was feared the express company 
would not ship it." "A hair-pulling match occurred on Fifth street yester- 
day between two parties of the weaker sex. During the melee various and 
numerous articles of feminine wearing apparel were flying wildly through 
the air and total annihilation of everything present seemed imminent." 
"Beautiful day yesterday." "Another crank has been toying with a Gila 
monster, with the result that he is likely to die." 

According to one story, the Epitaph acquired its name based on the 
theory newspapers, like epitaphs, were generally a collection of lies. One 
hopes that philosophy extends only to that story and not to the publica- 
tion itself. Otherwise the newspaper and consequently Martin's book is 
largely a compilation of untruths. While that seems unlikely, it does point 
to the potential pitfalls in writing a book that relies on a solitary source 
like the Epitaph. Not only is it dependent on the accuracy of the docu- 
ments, but what is not in the record can be as important as what is. Other 
minor defects include that the author does not provide the reader with 
information regarding his method of deciding what he included, nor is it 
made clear that this 1997 edition is largely a reprint of a work originally 
published in 1951. Nonetheless, Tombstones Epitaph is a fascinating work, 
symbolic of the notion that the products of journalism although them- 
selves possibly flawed provide a one-of-a-kind, "You are there" glimpse 
into historical periods like few other sources can. 

>Joseph A. Russomanno, Arizona State University 

Spring 1 999 • American Journalism 1 39 

00 ON 

A Journal of Media History 

Summer 1999 
Volume 16, Number 3 

J American -j _• 

"In Common with Colored Men, I Have 

Certain Sentiments": Black Nationalism and 

Hilary Teage of the Liberia Herald 

Carl Patrick Burrowes 

Women's Moral Reform Periodicals of the 

19th Century: A Cultural Feminist Analysis 

of The Advocate 

Therese Lueck ?! 

Redefining Racism: Newspaper Justification 

for the 1924 Exclusion of Japanese Immigrants -~ 

Bradley J. Hamm 

Project Chariot, Nuclear Zeal, Easy Journalism 

and the Fate of Eskimos 

John Merton Marrs 7r 

Great Ideas: My Newspaper is Older 

Than Your Newspaper! 

Michael R. Smith ??. 

Book Reviews 

A. Journal of Media History Summer 1999 

Volume 16, Number 3 


J American * _• 

Editor Shirley Biagi 

California State 
University, Sacramento 

Book Review Editor David Spencer 

University of 
Western Ontario 

Assistant Editor Timi Ross Poeppelman 

California State 
University, Sacramento 

Design Gwen Amos 

California State 
University, Sacramento 

Former Editors William David Sloan 

University of Alabama 

Gary Whitby 

East Texas State 

John Pauly 

Saint Louis University 

Wallace B. Eberhard 

University of Georgia 

1 999 American Journalism 

Historians Association Officers 

President Eugenia Palmegiano 

Saint Peter's College 

1st Vice President William David Sloan 

University of Alabama 

2nd Vice President David Copeland 

Emory Henry College 

Administrative Secretary Carol Sue Humphrey 

Oklahoma Baptist 

Treasurer Dick Scheidenhelm 

Colorado State 

Historian Alf Pratte 

Brigham Young 

Board of Directors David Abrahamson 

John Coward 
David Davies 
Wallace Eberhard 
Kathleen Endres 
John Ferre 
Tracy Gottlieb 
Pat Washburn 
Julie Williams 

Definition of History . 

For purposes of written research papers and publications, the term history 
shall be seen as a continuous and connected process emphasizing but not 
necessarily confined to subjects of American mass communications. History 
should be viewed not in the context of perception of the current decade, but as 
part of a significant and time-conditioned human past. 

Editorial Purpose 

American Journalism publishes articles, book reviews and correspondence 
dealing with the history of journalism. Contributions may focus on social, 
economic, intellectual, political or legal issues. American Journalism also welcomes 
articles that treat the history of communication in general; the history of 
broadcasting, advertising and public relations; the history of media outside the 
United States; theoretical issues in the literature or methods of media history; and 
new ideas and methods for the teaching of media history. Papers will be evaluated 
in terms of the authors systematic, critical, qualitative and quantitative investiga- 
tion of all relevant, available sources with a focus on written, primary documents 
but not excluding current literature and interviews. 


© American Journalism Historians Association 1999. Articles in the journal 
may be photocopied for use in teaching, research, criticism and news reporting, 
in accordance with Sections 107 and 108 of the U. S. Copyright Law. For all 
other purposes, including electronic reproduction and/or distribution, users must 
obtain written permission from the editor. 

Submission Guidelines 

Authors submitting research manuscripts for publication as articles should 
send five manuscript copies (including an abstract with each). Manuscripts 
should follow the Chicago Manual of Style, 14th Edition, and should not exceed 
the recommended maximum length of 20 pages. Research manuscripts are blind 

Great Ideas is designed to showcase new approaches and information about 
the teaching of media history. Great Ideas are typically three to six manuscript 
pages. Authors of Great Ideas should first query the editor. 

American Journalism is produced on Macintosh computers using Microsoft 
Word 6.0.1. Authors whose manuscripts are accepted for publication are asked to 
submit their work on PC or Macintosh disk, formatted in Microsoft Word 5.0 
or 6.0.1. 

Send Submissions to Professor Shirley Biagi 

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Studies Department 
6000 T Street 
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Telephone: (916) 278-5323 

Book Reviews To review or propose a 

book review contact: 

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Canada N6A 5B7 


dspencer@j ulian. 

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A Journal of Media History Summer 1999 

Volume 16, Number 3 

J American * . 

\ Editor's Note: Media History As a Reflection of Ideological 
Diversity 9 

"In Common with Colored Men, I Have Certain Sentiments": Black 

Nationalism and Hilary Teage of the Liberia Herald 17 

Carl Patrick Burrowes 

The author subjects the writings of former Liberia Herald editor Hilary Teage 
to a "discourse analysis. " This analysis seeks to understand the thought process 
behind Teage's writings. 

Women's Moral Reform Periodicals of the 19th Century: A Cultural 

Feminist Analysis of The Advocate 37 

Therese Lueck 

Using cultural feminism as its theoretical framework, this study attempts to 
show how the mission of The Advocate, to reform and retrain prostitutes into 
composers and typesetters for The Advocate, significantly contributed to 
feminist ideology in the 19th century. 

Redefining Racism: Newspaper Justification for the 1924 Exclusion of 

Japanese Immigrants 53 

Bradley J. Hamm 

This article discusses editorials about the Immigration Act in six daily 
newspapers — The New York Times, the New York Herald Tribune, the 
Chicago Daily Tribune, the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Francisco 
Examiner, the Louisville Courier-Journal — during the congressional debate 
over the Act in April and May 1924. 

Summer 1 999 • American Journalism 

Project Chariot, Nuclear Zeal, Easy Journalism and the Fate of 

Eskimos 71 

John Merton Marrs 

This article focuses on the newspaper coverage of Project Chariot, a proposal to 
detonate five nuclear bombs in northwest Alaska in the 1960s. 

Great Ideas: My Newspaper is Older Than Your Newspaper! 99 

Michael R. Smith 

The author discusses the debate and controversy over which newspaper is the 
nations oldest. 

Book Review Editor's Note 103 

Book Reviews 1 03 

/ Editor's Choice: Comic Strips and the Consumer 

Culture: 1890-1945 103 

By Ian Gordon 

Reviewed by David R. Spencer 

American Photojournalism Comes of Age 1 06 

By Michael L. Carlebach 
Reviewed by Ronald E. Ostman 

As Long As Sarajevo Exists 1 09 

By Kemal Kurspahic 

Reviewed by Owen V. Johnson 

The Carnivalization of Politics: Quebec Cartoons 
on Relations with Canada, England, and France, 

1960-1979 112 

By Raymond N. Morris 
Revieived by Mary Vipond 

Darwinian myths: The Legends and Misuses of 

a Theory 114 

By Edward Caudill 
Reviewed by David R. Davies 

6 Table of Contents • Summer 1999 

The Electronic Grapevine: Rumor, Reputation and 

Reporting in the New On-Line Environment 115 

By Diane L. Borden and Kerric Harvey 
Reviewed by David Abrahamson 

Masterpieces of Reporting: Volume 1 117 

By William David Sloan and Cheryl S. Wray 
Reviewed by Kathy English 

War of the Black Heavens: The Battles of Western 

Broadcasting in the Cold War 118 

By Michael Nelson 
Reviewed by Craig Allen 

Summer 1999 • American Journalism 

Summer 1999 

Editor s Note 

Media's rich, diverse past is the subject of this month's journal, 
covering a period of more than 100 years. In all cases, the authors of the 
articles in this issue focus on media history that is outside the mainstream, 
hoping to add new faces and perspectives to the stories that scholars can 

"In Common with Colored Men, I Have Certain Sentiments" by 
Carl Patrick Burrowes is the story of Hilary Teague, editor of the Liberia 
Herald from 1835 to 1850. Born in the US, Teague emigrated to Africa as 
a teenager. He became a landowner, a merchant, and an influential voice 
in Liberia's move from a colony to a republic. Burrowes documents 
Teague's accomplishments in an attempt to "rescue Teague from unde- 
served obscurity." 

As a voice for reform for 19th century women, The Advocate "was 
the foremost messenger for moral reform," according to Therese L. Lueck. 
In "Women's Moral Reform Periodicals of the 19th Century: A Cultural 
Feminist Analysis of The Advocate," Lueck says that the role of female 
reform societies has been minimized by some feminist scholars, as tangen- 
tial to women's history. This is a mistake, says Lueck, citing scholar Susan 
Henry's important observation that the journalism produced by these 
women "developed shared, female-identified values, rituals, relationships 
and modes of communication that were sources of satisfaction and 

While the women at The Advocate were working for z'wclusion in 
American society, 1920s US newspapers found themselves in the position 
of trying to justify the exclusion of Japanese immigrants. In "Redefining 
Racism: Newspaper Justification for the 1924 Exclusion of Japanese 
Immigrants," Bradley J. Hamm focuses on the way several newspapers 
treated the Immigration Act of 1924 as a way to analyze attitudes toward 
the Japanese in this country before World War II. Besides the traditional 
arguments for exclusion, says Hamm, one newspaper even found itself in 
the unusual position of editorializing that the Japanese should be pre- 
vented from joining the nation's workforce because they were equal, even 
superior to US workers. 

Nearly 40 years later, the media's actions actually helped stop an 
Atomic Energy Commission proposal to detonate five nuclear bombs to 
excavate a harbor in Northwest Alaska. John Merton Mars, in "Project 
Chariot, Nuclear Zeal, Easy Journalism and the Fate of Eskimos," says 

Summer 1999 • American Journalism 

that media coverage of the issue, although both late and lazy, brought 
enough visibility that eventually the government scrapped the plan. "The 
press," says Mars, "seems to be willing to treat oppositional news fairly, so 
long as the opposition brings the news to the press." 

In Great Ideas, Michael R. Smith talks about the difficulty of 
defining just which newspaper is the nation's oldest. And David Spencer's 
book review selections maintain the theme of presenting diverse ideas 
with reviews of a wide range of topics, including comic strips, photojour- 
nalism, Sarajevo, and online journalism. 

The subject of this issue — diversity — was very important to one of 
AJHA's most ardent supporters, Donna Allen. Donna died this summer. 
As founder of Media Report to Women, she was a pioneer. I remember the 
first AJHA Women's Roundtable luncheon I attended. We all sat around 
one small, circular table and Donna Allen was the honoree. After shyly 
acknowledging the honor, she spent the rest of the time speaking on 
behalf of the importance of media history for and about women. AJHA 
will miss her exuberance, her energy and her commitment to media 
history, to diversity and to women. 

The focus of the next issue 0$ American Journalism will be conserva- 
tive media, with Rodger Streitmatter serving as Guest Editor. Also, as the 
journal begins to turn the corner on the next century, David Mindich has 
agreed to serve as Guest Editor for the journal's special issue scheduled for 
fall 2000. "The Buzz: Technology in Journalism and Mass Communica- 
tion History" is the title David has given this special issue. Don't miss the 
Call for Manuscripts (with a February 1, 2000 deadline) on page 11. 

Shirley Biagi 

10 Editor's Note • Summer 1999 

Call for Manuscripts 
The Buzz: Technology in Journalism 
and Mass Communication History 

American Journalism, the quarterly journal of the American 
Journalism Historians Association, announces a call for manuscripts for 
a special theme issue focusing on technology and history. 

The issue, edited by David T. Z. Mindich, called The Buzz: 
Technology in Journalism and Mass Communication History, is sched- 
uled for Fall 2000. The deadline for submissions is February 1, 2000. 

The theme of technology is inclusive. Topics could include but 
are not limited to: 

• how printing, the telegraph, or other devices changed or 
challenged journalism; 

• implicit comparisons between older technologies and newer ones, 
including ways in which the public viewed future technology; and 

• the role of technology in formulating or reformulating minority 

The term "technology" itself could be approached in a number of 
ways, including electronic, electric, and pre-electric (including 
printing) communication aids. Manuscripts that include graphics 
and/or photographs are encouraged. 

Manuscripts should follow the American Journalism guidelines for 
submissions, and be sent to: 

David T Z. Mindich 

Dept of Journalism and Mass Communication 

Saint Michael's College 

Colchester, VT 05439 

For more information, please contact David Mindich at or phone (802) 654-2637. 

Summer 1 999 • American Journalism 1 1 

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American Journalism Reviewers • Summer 1999 

"In Common with Colored Men, I 
Have Certain Sentiments": Black 
Nationalism and Hilary Teage of 
the Liberia Herald 

By Carl Patrick Burrowes 

As editor of the Liberia Herald from 1835 to 1850, Hilary Teage 
exerted a profound influence on events in Liberia and his reputation reverber- 
ated among blacks across the Atlantic. In addition to writing Liberia's 
declaration of independence, he published over 100 articles, editorials, poems, 
sermons and speeches. Three persistent and pervasive themes in Teage s writings 
were: aesthetic romanticism; black nationalism, an ideology that emerged 
during the era of the early American republic; and liberal republicanism, ivith 
its emphasis on empirical analysis and limited government. 

Born in 1805 at the lowest rung of Virginia slave society, 
Hilary Teage emigrated at age 17 to West Africa where he 
went on — in the words of one of his contemporaries — to 
make the single greatest personal contribution to the "framing and 
establishment" of the Republic of Liberia. 1 Founded in 1820, Liberia was 
operated by the American Colonization Society (ACS), an organization of 
powerful and influential whites, 2 as a colony for American free blacks 
until 1847, when the repatriates declared their independence. 

While Liberia was a colony, it encompassed nine scattered coastal 
towns with a population of 2,390. Only 27 percent of the people were 
locally born, including some indigenous persons who had adopted 

Carl Patrick Burrowes is Associate Professor of Mass Communication, School of Communica- 
tions, Howard University in Washington, DC. He can be reached at: 

Summer 1 999 • American Journalism 17 

Liberian ways. By 1868, the country had expanded to encompass a two- 
mile strip along the coast, and the population had increased to 15,000, 
consisting of 12,000 emigrants and 3,000 indigenous Africans. 3 Through 
the end of the 19th century, the country attracted some 19,000 blacks 
from various parts of Africa and its Diaspora. Over this commonwealth, 
Teage cast a long shadow, as Baptist minister, merchant, elected official, 
president of the Liberia Lyceum, and especially as editor of the Herald 
(1835-1850), which he used to spearhead the drive for Liberia's indepen- 

In serving as editor of the Liberia Herald for 1 5 years, Teage left a 
detailed, colorful and rare record of journalistic conditions in 19th 
century Africa. In addition, he had what probably was the longest journal- 
ism career of any black in the antebellum era. In contrast, John B. 
Russwurm, who proceeded Teage as editor of the Herald and is better 
known for having co-founded the first African American newspaper 
{Freedom's Journal) had a journalistic career of seven years. Even Samuel 
Cornish, who edited four newspapers — a record for any African American 
during that period — only served a combined five years and two months in 
journalism. 4 

Extended the Enlightenment to Africa 

More important than longevity of service, Teage made a distinctive 
intellectual contribution by applying Enlightenment ideas to the black 
race and extending them to the continent of Africa, both of which had 
been viewed as beyond the scope of the humanities. Also evident in his 
writings are all the defining elements of an ideology known as black 

As the author of Liberia's declaration of independence, Teage was 
called "the Jefferson of Liberia," 5 a comparison that was intended to be 
flattering but nonetheless was diminutive because it consigned him to the 
shadows of a republican slaveholder, without recognition for his own 
distinctive contribution to the struggle for human liberty. Despite Teage's 
myriad accomplishments, his ideas, his contributions and his reputation 
have faded over the years, like the newsprint through which they were 

The Search for a Recurring Pattern 

This study seeks to rescue Teage from undeserved obscurity by 
providing a sketch of his life, along with an analysis of a major theme in 

18 Burrowes • Summer 1999 

his writings. Data was assembled by examining every surviving issue of 
five periodicals that reported intensively on 19th century Liberia, 6 along 
with a similarly exhaustive examination of letters from African American 
repatriates to their relatives, friends and former masters in the United 
States in two published collections. 7 In addition to many items by a 
variety of authors on the life of Teage, this search process uncovered 112 
substantive documents written by the subject, including 71 news articles 
and editorials, six poems, two sermons, two major speeches, a treatise on 
self-government by blacks, and — his magnum opus — Liberia's declaration 
of independence. 

Among his works that apparently did not survive were a journal in 
which he kept records of his travels, 8 a contemplated history of Liberia 9 
and copies of sermons. 10 Some 20 research collections with holdings on 
African colonization, Liberia and Baptist history were searched, of which 
eight yielded significant primary materials." Sources were selected on the 
basis of availability, relevance and reliability. To guard against unconscious 
or deliberate biases, each document or set of documents was checked 
against others drawn from different individual, political and institutional 

But this study goes beyond a recounting of events to concern itself 
with "the thought within them" which, as journalism historian James 
Carey has suggested, should be the goal of cultural historians. 12 To achieve 
this objective, Teage's writings were subjected to "discourse analysis," 
meaning the search "to uncover the codes, constructions, cultural assump- 
tions, connotations, values, and beliefs embedded in the text by locating 
correspondences between a text and social structures and identities, 
noting recurring patterns, such as the repetition of certain themes, 
phrases, rhetoric, and so on in the discourse." 13 

Black Nationalism a Consistent Theme 

One persistent and pervasive theme uncovered in Teage's writings 
was black nationalism. This ideology emerged during the era of the early 
American republic, when the contradiction between the revolutionary 
sentiments of America's founders and their willingness to compromise 
with slavery 14 engendered a black reaction against white rejection, a sense 
of racial identity and a belief that people of African descent share a 
historical mission. 15 In the early 19th century, the phrase "black national- 
ism" was not used to describe what was then an emerging phenomenon; 
nonetheless a sense of racial identification among blacks was common. 
When the American Colonization Society's president wrote Teage in 1841 

Summer 1 999 • American Journalism 1 9 

to complain about an "offensive" article in the Herald, for example, the 
editor responded: 

In common with colored men, I have certain sentiments ... I 
should be altogether unworthy of your confidence and respect, 
if I should at any time forget for a moment that this is my 
indefeasible right, or so base and mean-spirited as not to claim 
to exercise it whenever circumstances should demand it. 16 

Undergirding this response was the essence of black nationalism, 
evident in his reference to "certain sentiments" that he shared with other 
people of color. 

Given the anomalous situation of African Americans, consisting of 
geographic dispersal across the country, coupled with legal segregation 
from others on the basis of race, their "nationalism" has always been 
racially defined, "premised on the assumption that membership in a race 
could function as the basis of a national identity." Because of its racial 
composition, black nationalism easily elides into the kindred ideology of 
pan-Africanism which, in its broadest interpretation, refers to a "general 
sense of sympathy and mutual supportiveness among Africans and peoples 
of African descent." 

Like other nationalisms, however, black nationalism is anchored in 
the belief among a group of people that they are "bound together by ties 
of kinship, history and heritage," which distinguishes them from others 
by their commonly held beliefs, behaviors and ways of thinking.' 7 As a 
belief system that was consciously elaborated during a time of social strain 
and, over time, achieved integration, black nationalism has all the charac- 
teristics of an "ideology," as defined by anthropologist Clifford Geerzt, 
who contributed considerably to focusing scholarly attention on the 
concept during the past several decades. 18 

Rising in the State of Being 

Teage was born in 1805 to slave parents on a plantation in 
Goochland County, Virginia, halfway between Richmond and 
Charlottesville, not far from the home of Thomas Jefferson. Two years 
later, his artisan father, Colin, was sold to the owners of a saddle and 
harness factory in Richmond, a move that significantly widened the 
family's vistas. By 1819, Colin had paid $1,300 to purchase his family of 
three 19 and, one year later, held property in Henrico County, outside the 
city limits. 20 

In Richmond, the Teage family attended the racially mixed but 
segregated First Baptist Church, where in 1815a tri-weekly night school 

20 Burrowes • Summer 1999 

was organized for about 17 leading black members, including Colin. 21 
Several white Baptist tradesmen and merchants, who had supported Colin 
in his quest for manumission and literacy skills, also assisted in the 
creation of the Richmond African Baptist Missionary Society in 1815 and 
the ACS Richmond auxiliary in 1823. 22 This was the context in which 
Colin opted in 1821 to become a missionary to Africa, taking his wife, 
Frances; Hilary, then age 16, and a 15-year-old daughter, Colinette, all of 
whom were literate. 23 

Two years before leaving for Africa, Hilary and his sister were 
described as having "been to school considerably." Their education was 
organized in part by William Crane, a fellow Baptist and native of 
Newark, New Jersey, who had coordinated a night school for their father 
and other black adults. 24 At this time, schooling for blacks was frowned 
upon in Virginia, and there were no public schools, even for whites. The 
curriculum of private schools in Richmond then included Latin, Greek, 
mathematics, history, geography and natural philosophy. 2 ' Hilary later 
showed some familiarity with all of these subjects. 

Teage brought considerable intellectual powers and energy to his 
various pursuits, including a trading business, which he inherited after his 
father's death in 1838 and quickly expanded. By 1845 he owned five 
buildings in Monrovia, was earning an annual commission of $7,000, and 
had five warehouses along the coast worth $30,000, with about $20,000 
in trade stock. Between 1827 and 1853, he owned at least eight vessels 
that were engaged in the West African coasting trade. 26 

However, his commercial fortunes declined in the late 1840s, as he 
poured his energies into the campaign for independence. 27 Teage was 
elected colonial secretary in 1835, a member of the colonial council and 
commissioner for Montserrado County five years later, member of the 
Constitutional Convention in 1847, and senator for Montserrado County 
one year later. In addition, he served as attorney general (1850-51) and 
secretary of state (1852-1853), with a stint in May 1852 as acting chief 
executive, while President Joseph Jenkins Roberts was abroad. 28 

Pride of Place Among Liberian Intellectuals 

During the crucial period of 1830 to 1847, when Liberia moved 
from being a colony to a republic, Teage occupied — by virtue of his age, 
activities and early arrival in the colony — pride of place among local 
intellectuals. His contemporaries in 1845 elected him the first president 
of the Liberia Lyceum, which until about 1850 sponsored public speeches 
and debates as a means of energizing and educating the larger commu- 
nity. 29 He was said to have been "remarkable for his abilities, his acquisi- 
tions and his influence," 30 "one of the ablest and best read men in 

Summer 1 999 • American Journalism 2 1 

Liberia," 31 and one of Liberia's "brightest and most cultivated intellects." 32 
West African writer Edward Wilmot Blyden (who would come to be 
better known through the hundreds of essays and countless letters he 
wrote to a large and influential circle of correspondents in Africa, England 
and the United States) described Teage as having "genius." 33 

As pastor of the Providence Baptist Church in Monrovia, Teage filled 
his days with such routine ministerial cares as preaching, ordaining and 
meeting with his flock and other clergymen. From his warehouse on the 
river front, he had a direct view of the St. Paul River, which was also the 
site on many Sundays of the deep immersion baptisms preferred by 
emigrants from the South. In 1848 alone, he baptized 61 people — more 
than any other minister in the country. 34 Teage was what sociologist 
Antonio Gramsci termed an "organic intellectual," being the thinking and 
organizing element of a particular social group. More than a mere elo- 
quent mover of feelings on a momentary basis, he was a "permanent 
persuader." 35 

Although Teage was rigid in his commitment to the cause of republi- 
canism and repatriation, he displayed none of the acerbity and self- 
righteousness that characerizes many ideologues. A traveling companion 
on a sea trip from the United States to Liberia nored, "He was never 
disposed to urge his opinions upon others, well knowing that the best and 
most thorough converts to the truth usually become such through the 
force of their own reflections and convictions." 36 He described Teage as 
"highly accomplished in his manners, very agreeable, various, and win- 
ning in his conversations; of a kind, obliging and generous disposition, 
and earnestly intent upon building up the cause of civilization and 
Christianity in Africa." About Teage's personality, he said, "Amid trying 
reverses in his pecuniary affairs his vivacity and cheerfulness continued 
without abatement." 37 

Teage As Romantic Empiricist 

Teage's tenure as editor of the Liberia Herald began in 1835, follow- 
ing the resignation of John B. Russwurm, the paper's founding editor and 
one of the first blacks to graduate from an American college. 38 Four years 
later, Teage acquired ownership of the paper from the ACS, which led the 
editor of the rival Luminary to comment, "We speak advisedly when we 
say that the editor, who is also publisher and proprietor, is making new 
and judicious effort to improve it in every respect." 39 In an editorial, Teage 
described the newspaper office as quaint and somewhat rustic: 

a little sooty apartment of six by eight. Beneath (the editor's) 
dingy foolscap a portion of deal lies supinely on an empty 

22 Burrowes • Summer 1999 

barrel. A few odds and ends of books and newspapers lie in 
hopeless confusion around. At his side an inkstand, not of 
china, nor of bronze, but the small end of a cow's horn, on his 
left a quiver of quills rifled from the upper surface of a 
porcupine .... The walls are duly chalked, not with mechani- 
cal design, nor geometrical diagrams, but with mathematical 
momentos of the kroos 40 of potatoes of which he has relieved 
the farmer. This is his blotter; ledger, he keeps none. 41 

True to the temper of the times, Teage's writing showed the impact 
of two dominant intellectual orientations. On the one hand, his social 
perspective was anchored by 18th century liberal republicanism, with its 
emphasis on empirical analysis, free enterprise economics and limited 
government. On the other hand, his aesthetic was linked to romanticism, 
the leading Western literary trend from about 1789 to 1839. 42 His 
commitment to objectivity was rooted in an empiricist theory of knowl- 
edge — then emerging as the sine qua non of scientific thought. As Teage 
explained in an 1845 lecture to the Lyceum, "Knowledge is derived from 
without. After all that has been said about innate ideas and principles, it 
will, I think, be no easy matter for anyone to show, that we have one 
single idea that we did not originally receive by perception or sensation." 
Later he added: "The object of the modern philosophy is to collect facts, 
unlike the ancient which was to explain phenomena." 43 

In keeping with his scientific cast of mind, Teage's reports in the 
Herald were detailed and colorful. He distinguished between various types 
of local termites on the basis of physical characteristics and used a micro- 
scope to scrutinize such oddities as the "witch" recovered by a traditional 
African healer. 44 Among English-language writers, he admired the "vigor, 
precision or copiousness" of John Milton, Edmund Burke, Sir Isaac 
Newton, Sir James Hall, and "the almost immortals that signed the 
Declaration of American Independence. " 4S Teage was modernist even in 
his choice of type for the newspaper, which consisted of pica and bour- 
geois faces, 46 in contrast to the Old English and various classical faces 
favored by other editors of the Herald. 

Eclectic, Sardonic and Witty 

Concerning aesthetics, he was eclectic, finding value and pleasure in 
sources as diverse as American oratory, African cuisine and 18th century 
British poetry. His own poetry, mostly on nature and patriotic themes, 
contained many allusions to Africa's past grandeur. One of the poets most 
often cited by Teage was England's Edward Young, whose work — like 
some of his own — was laced with tinges of melancholy and meditations 

Summer 1 999 • American Journalism 23 

on mortality. 47 ButTeage's most masterful pieces were his speeches, which 
combined systematic argumentation and flourishes of poetry delivered 
with the full powers of a Baptist pastor. These often were laced with 
poetic repetition, as in a section of a speech on the displacement of a 
martial ethos by a civil era: 

He who would embalm his name in the grateful remembrance 
of coming generations — he who would secure for himself a 
niche in the temple of undying fame — he who would hew out 
for himself a monument of which his country may boast — he 
who would entail upon heirs a name which they may be 
proud to wear, must seek some other field than that of battle 
as the theatre of his exploits. 48 

Taken as a whole Teage's works reveal a knowledgeable and witty writer 
who could be self-deprecating at times yet devastatingly sardonic, if 
crossed. 49 

In picturesque, self-mocking terms, Teage described an editor's 
duties in his poverty-stricken society: 

the boy comes for copy. He draws on a well backed trestle, for 
which he is indebted to the carelessness of the carpenter, and 
seats himself in front of the barrel. Seizing the fearful quill, he 
thus begins: 

'The press, the omnipotent press, is the most powerful 
engine which it has ever been the lot of mortals to 
possess. It is the scourge of tyrants, the pillar of 
religion and the Palladium of civil liberty. From it, as 
from an impregnable rampart, the fearless independent 

But this self-congratulatory rumination by the editor is 
suddently interrupted by the copy boy, whose concerns are 
more mondane: 

There is no cassado 50 for breakfast, sir. 

Well, go and get some, and don't bother me. 

/ have no money, sir. 

Well go and collect some money. 

/ have carried out the bills, sir. 

Have you collected any money? 

24 Burrowes • Summer 1999 

No sir. 


Mr. — says he has no money, and you need not be afraid 

of the small amount. Mr. — says he don't like the paper 

now; you are too polite . Mr. — says your paper is 

scurrilous. Mr. — says there is too much religion in it and 

too little politics. Mr. — says there is too much politics 

and too little religion, and Mr. — says you have insulted 

his fathers tenth cousin. They say they will not make the 

paper any longer, and they will pay when they get the 


That will do; go and call again in an hour for copy. 

With this dismissal, the editor briefly resumes his rumination: 

And though there is no class of men to whom the 

world is under more immense obligation, yet, there is 

none . . . 

Jambo has come to get his pay for the palm oil, sir 

Be gone, sir, don't you see I am engaged . . . there is 

none we respect that is doomed to a more hopeless . . . 

The ram has gnawed the rollers, sir. 

Well, cast another. 

We have no molasses, sir. 

Well, shut up the office, and go to dinner. 51 

In keeping with journalistic standards in an era when copyright 
conventions were not strictly observed, Teage published samples from his 
diverse readings. The November 7, 1845 issue of the Herald, for example, 
carried a letter from a correspondent in Haiti, along with articles culled 
from the Republican-leaning New York Tribune, published by Horace 
Greeley; the Federalist Evening Post, founded by Alexander Hamilton; the 
New York Sun, the first successful penny press and an ally of the Demo- 
cratic Party; London's iconoclastic Punch; and England-based Westminster 
Review, an outlet for the writings of Jeremy Bentham and James Mill, two 
founders of British utilitarian economics. 52 

Adhered to Journalistic Standards 

Stemming from his avid reading, Teage revealed a keen understand- 
ing of journalistic standards of his day. In an appeal to his patrons for 
support, he noted differences between the news environment of Africa 
and more industrialized countries, bemoaning the absence in Liberia of 

Summer 1 999 • American Journalism 25 

"the privilege of arraigning and abusing public men and measures." This 
was lacking, he noted: 

not perhaps from a virtuous disposition in us, or that we write 
with a pen less wayward than others, that we do not make 
occasional drafts on this fruitful subject, but rather because 
our men and measures are known within a circle so circum- 
scribed that any thing we could say with respect to them, 
would be uninteresting to our distinct readers. 

Also absent from his environment were those "striking events" that 
journalists of the day considered newsworthy, events which: 

vary and enliven the dull and monotonous narration of 
ordinary life. No mobs affording columns of matter in 
accounts of heads broke, houses rifled, magistrates resisted, 
laws defied, or any other of those brilliant events which 
generally mark the reign of mobocracy 

"To this degree of refinement," he added with no small measure of 
sarcasm, "the citizens of Liberia have not as yet arrived; it is left, therefore, 
to some more fortunate Editor to describe them, when futurity shall bring 
them forth. " 53 The type of society promoted by Teage was one rooted in 
reasoned consensus, which could be achieved only through "free and 
dispassionate discussion." 14 Enlightenment would result, he argued, from 
vigorous public debate, the kind sponsored by the Liberia Lyceum and 
conducted in the pages of the Herald: 

Let the whole popular mind, with its 'Press' and various civil 
institutions, concentrate on any one subject, and truth will 
rise prescient. For proof, notice the progress which the subject 
of slavery has made. As soon as public attention is fixed itself 
upon the evils and dangers it is likely to entail on the Ameri- 
can people, a great and prevailing change was evident to all. 
This general and popular agitation may throw up much strife 
and delusion, but, nevertheless, error, whose certain fate is 
inevitable, will sink and give place to truth. 55 

The Grand Object of a Republic on Africa's Soil 

As Liberians moved to declare their independence in 1847, Teage — 
the man who had done more than any to further the process — cited the 

26 Burrowes • Summer 1999 

planting of "a nation of colored people on the soil of Africa, adorned and 
dignified with the attributes of a civilized and Christian community" as 
the "grand object which at first brought us to Africa." 56 Evident in this 
passage is a defining element of 19th century black nationalism as identi- 
fied by historian Wilson J. Moses, 57 which was a desire for independence 
and "absolute control over a specific geographical territory, and sufficient 
economic and military power to defend it." As noted by Moses, other 
essential features of classical black nationalism include: 1) dissatisfaction 
with conditions in the United States; 2) "an invariable belief that the hand 
of God directed (the) movement" of blacks; 3) a quickness "to claim an 
ancestral connection with Egypt and Ethiopia," while showing "little 
enthusiasim for the cultural expressions of sub-Saharan Africa." 

Although Teage is said to have made the most important personal 
contribution to the "framing and establishment of Liberia," his "national- 
ism" always retained a racial dimension, in keeping with its origin in the 
American environment. He regarded with anguish the "opprobrious 
epithets" and "contempt" meted out by northern blacks against 
Liberians. 58 Unlike many black leaders in the United States who viewed 
emigrants and abolitionists as antagonists, he saw the two communities as 
"companions in tribulation" and "co-laborers in different compartments 
of one structure." In keeping with Teage's republican aspirations, he 
published in 1844 a historical sketch of the Liberian colony in which he 
criticized European control over Sierra Leone and called in contrast for 
black self-government in Liberia. 59 

Dissatisfaction with life in the United States is clearly evident in the 
Liberian Declaration of Independence — Teage's best known work — which 
detailed the American racism that had both shaped his world view and 
driven him to Africa, along with other members of the Liberian repatriate 
community. It reads in part: 

We were everywhere shut out from all civil office. 
We were excluded from all participation in the government. 
We were taxed without consent. 

We were compelled to contribute to the resources of a coun- 
try, which gave us no protection. 

We were made a separate and distinct class, and against us 
every avenue to improvement was effectually closed. Strangers 
from all lands of a color different from ours, were preferred 
before us. 60 

Also displayed in the language of this declaration is his skill as a writer, as 
evident in the poetic use of repetition, combined with a poignant re- 
counting of grievances. 

Summer 1 999 • American Journalism 27 

Liberia "Favour'd of God" 

Teage's black nationalism was clearly anchored in his religious faith, 
specifically a covenant theory of history, which held that "God periodi- 
cally chose certain nations to play the role of his chosen people. " 6I Just as 
American Puritans believed that they had inherited the Biblical covenant 
from the Old Testament Israelites, many African Americans, including 
Teage, thought the role of God's chosen people had devolved to blacks, 
due to the involvement of white Americans in the slave system. 62 

This theory was evident in his poem "Wake Every Tune," where he 
claimed Liberia to be "Favour'd of God." 63 The interpenetration of his 
religious and political ideas was facilitated by the absence of a firm 
division between the secular and sacred in African American cosmology, 
which one scholar characterized as one of "the most important links 
between African culture and African American Christianity. " 64 Writing 19 
years before the Civil War culminated in the abolition of slavery, he drew 
upon a certainty derived from religious faith in predicting: 

The accursed system is tottering to its fall. — All its aiders, 
abettors and apologists — all its protecting powers in the New 
World — intellectual and brutal, cannot long sustain it against 
the advance of liberal and religious principles. The day of 
darkness has passed. The hosts are mustering for battle. God 
himself is in the midst. 65 

As Liberians faced the uncertain prospects of independence, Teage 
sought to reassure his doubtful compatriots by comparing them to a 
group in the Old Testament that had been elected to be saved from the 
destruction of an immoral civilization, noting, "Like the wanderers from 
Sodom, we shall find it certain death to remain here or to return to the 
city. Hope can be indulged only in going forward." 66 

In their flight from "Sodom," the territory to which many, if not 
most, 19th century black nationalists sought to escape was Africa, their 
ancestral home and a land to which many retained cultural ties, having 
been recently removed. During Teage's childhood in the United States, 
blacks still referred to and thought of themselves as "Africans," and the 
names they gave to hundreds of churches and other institutions, such as 
the African Methodist Episcopal Church, reflected this identification with 
the continent of their origin. Similarly, emigration by the Teage family 
and others to the area that became Liberia reflected a privileging of 
Africa — above such alternative sites as Canada and Haiti. To describe their 
mission, supporters of African colonization appropriated the phrase from 

28 Burrowes • Summer 1999 

Psalm 68 of the Old Testament, "Princes shall come out of Egypt; Ethio- 
pia shall stretch out her hands unto God." 

By appealing to a vision of Africa that was both ancient and awe- 
inspiring, Teage also sought to empower his audiences with a sense of 
certainty about achieving their collective goals. Speaking one year before 
the colony severed its ties to the ACS, he challenged his audience: 

And will the descendants of the mighty Pharaohs, that awed 
the world — will the sons of him who drove back the serried 
legions of Rome and laid siege to the "eternal city" — will they, 
the achievements of whose fathers are yet the wonder and 
admiration of the world — will they refuse the proffered boon, 
and basely cling to the chains of Slavery and dependence? 
Never! never!! never!!! 67 

Similarly, his poem "Land of the Mighty Dead" employed references to a 
more glorious and orderly African past to inspire action toward self- 
government by his contemporaries: 68 

Land of the mighty dead! Here science once displayed, And 
art, their charms; Here awful Pharaohs swayed Great nations 
who obeyed, Here distant monarchs laid Their vanquished 

They hold us in survey, They cheer us on our way They loud 
proclaim — From Pyramidal hall — From Carnac's sculptured 
wall — From Thebes they loudly call — Retake your fame! 

Teage regarded those indigenous societies then engaged in the slave 
trade to be debased, fallen from a higher state. The involvement of several 
African chiefs in the slave trade notwithstanding, he was against the 
expropriation of land from them without just compensation. 69 As noted 
in his poem "Wake Every Tuneful String," the independence of Liberia 
was but the harbinger of a return for all Africa to an earlier state of 

Shout the loud Jubilee Afric once more is free 

Break forth with joy; 
Let Nile's fettered tongue, Let Niger's join the song, And 
Congo's loud and long 

Glad strains employ 70 

Summer 1 999 • American Journalism 29 

Since all humanity had contributed to "civilization," Teage reasoned, 
all could aspire to partake of its offerings, including indigenous Africans, 
whose religious and cultural conversion he justified as a racial duty. 71 The 
pan-racial element in his thinking led him to welcome indigenous 
Africans into the polity, but his commitment to Christianity and republi- 
canism made him critical of those African customs linked to servile 

Challenged Some African Social Practices, Enjoyed Others 

For example, he regarded the status of women, trial by ordeal and 
some other features of contemporaneous African societies as morally 
reprehensible and requiring change, if not excision. 72 Toward other 
features of African culture, he maintained a non-judgmental attitude, a 
display of relativism that was rare in the 19th century. He took to eating 
local cuisine, 73 sent a suit made from African cotton cloth for display at an 
industrial fair in New York, 74 and found African hospitality and several 
cultural practices worthy of praise. 71 For a Baptist minister, he adopted a 
surprising moral indifference toward conjuring, 76 which he was able to 
describe without denunciation, perhaps conditioned by previous exposure 
to similar practices in Virginia. 77 

Teage's works highlight the significant role of Southern blacks in the 
forging of black nationalism — a position advanced by social historians 
Eugene Genovese, Sterling Stuckey and others. 78 His writings also support 
the argument of Moses that "classical black nationalism brought together 
the apparently contradictory ideas of cultural assimilation and geopolitical 
separatism." According to Moses, who has done more than any other 
scholar to historicize the subject, racial consciousness among African 
Americans was in its "protonationalist" phase from the late 1770s to 
1830, then entered its classical nationalist expression in the years from 
1850 to 1925. 79 

Given this periodization, Teage was one of the earliest black nation- 
alists, working as he did between 1830 and 1850. Paradoxically, the racial 
ideology he articulated helped give rise to a narrow Liberian nationalism 
and, through the efforts of his protege Edward Wilmot Blyden (1832- 
1912), to an all-encompassing pan-Africanism. 80 Twenty-seven years 
Blydens senior, Teage had employed the younger man as his clerk while 
serving as secretary of state and Herald editor, positions which Blyden 
would eventually come to occupy 81 Teage's mentoring role calls into 
question a historical chronology that credits the ideas of Blyden as being 
"the most important historical progenitor of pan-Africanism." 82 

30 Burrowes • Summer 1999 

During the 19th century, Teage's reputation and ideas reverberated 
deeply in Liberia and broadly across the Atlantic. While he was editor, the 
Herald maintained a small but continuous circulation in the United 
States, through a network of business associates and pro-colonization 
agents, including William Crane, the white Baptist businessman who had 
guided his early education. 83 In addition, his writings were regularly 
reprinted in the African Repository, published monthly by the American 
Colonization Society in Washington, DC, and in the bi-monthly Mary- 
land Colonization Journal of Baltimore. In 1848, one of his speeches, 
along with an address by radical abolitionist Henry Highland Garnet of 
New York, was included in a booklet published in London that was 
intended to refute the "calumny" that blacks were incapable of higher 
education. 84 

When Teage died on May 21 , 1853, after a long and painful ill- 
ness, 85 his passing was noted by Frederick Douglass Paper * b which had 
been a worthy adversary to the colonization cause over the years, but not 
to those individuals who had opted to emigrate. A Herald correspondent 
reported the passing of "the chiefest luminary in our political sky," and 
said that through Teage "the melancholy spirit of every Liberian was raised 
from deep despair to hope." 87 A letter from Liberia reporting the closing 
of his meteoric career noted, "A great star has fallen in this Republic." 88 

Committed to Modernism & Black Nationalism 

From the lowest run of Virginia slave society, Hilary Teage emigrated 
to Liberia, where he became a successful merchant, Baptist pastor, elected 
official and influential editor. Although lacking a formal education, his 
writings showed a deep commitment to an emerging modernism, in the 
form of republican politics, literary romanticism and epistemological 
empiricism. Also evident in his writings were the hallmarks of 19th 
century black nationalism, from criticisms of America for failing to extend 
republican liberties to blacks, through a covenant theology that confi- 
dently assumed God to be "in the midst" of the struggle against slavery, to 
evocative images of Ancient Egypt meant to inspire and empower his 

In elaborating what was a racially based ideology, he channeled it 
into both a specifically Liberian nationalism and a broader pan- 
Africanism. By campaigning relentlessly through the Liberia Herald, 
which he edited for 1 5 years, this former slave helped to achieve his 
"grand object," which was the creation of a "nation of colored people on 
the soil of Africa." 

Summer 1 999 • American Journalism 3 1 


'"The Late Hilary Teage, of Liberia," Maryland Colonization Journal, 1853, 71. 

: P. J. Staudenraus, The African Colonization Movement, 1816-1865 (New York: Columbia 
University Press, 1961). 

'The original towns and their populations were: Bassa Cove, 52; Edina, 67; Marshall, 68; 
Monrovia, 463; Sinoe, 40; Bexley, 50; Caldwell, 138; Millsburg, 95; and New Georgia, 121; see C. 
Abayomi Cassell, Liberia: History of the First Afiican Republic (New York: Fountainhead Publishers, 
1970), 103, 1 1 1-12, 250, 264, and U. S. Senate, U. S. Navy Department, Tables Showing the Number 
of Emigrants and Recaptured Africans Sent to the Colony of Liberia by the Government of the United States 
... Together with a Census of the Colony of Liberia and a Report of its Commerce, &c. September, 1843, 
Senate Document No. 1 50, 28th Congress, 2d session (Washington, DC: Government Printing 
Office, 1845). 

''For black literary and organizational activities of the antebellum era, see R. J. M. Blackett, Building 
an Antislavery Wall (Cornell University Press, 1 983); James Oliver Horton, Free People of Color 
(Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institute Press, 1993); M. E. Dunn, The Black Press, 1827-1890 
(New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1972). 

^"Reward of Merit," Maryland Colonization journal, August 1846, 220-221; Cassell, Liberia. 

''Africa's Luminary, a semi-monthly newspaper published by the Methodist Episcopal Mission in 
Monrovia from 1839 to 1841; Vols. 1-3(15 March 1839-17 December 1841) original in Yale 
Divinity School Library; microfilm produced for the American Theological Library Association Board 
of Microtext, Chicago, by Dept. of Photoduplication, University of Chicago Library, 1970; 1 reel, 35 
mm; the African Repository, the monthly journal of the ACS, published from 1825 to 1892, vols. 1-68 
(March 1825-January 1892) available on microfilm from University Microfilms, Ann Arbor, 
Michigan; Vols. 1-25 known as the African Repository and Colonial Journal; Vol. 1 contains an index 
to Vols. 1-10; the American Colonization Society Annual Report, 1 8 1 8- 1 908/ 1 0, with a reprint 
available from Negro University Press, New York, 1969; Liberia Herald, a bi-monthly newspaper 
published by the colonial government from 1830 to 1839, when it reverted to private ownership, 
available in the following locations: Library Company of Philadelphia (15 February 1830; 3 May 
1843) Library of Congress (6 April 1830; 6 June 1830; 22 April 1831; 22 June 1831; 22 July 1831; 
22 February 1832; 7 June 1832; 1 August 1833; 4 September 1833; 20 November 1833; 24 
December 1833; 24 January 1834; 24 February 1834; 7 June 1834; 27 December 1834; Oct., 1839) 
and Maryland Colonization Society Papers (24 January 1844; 30 March 1844; 24 January 1845; 15- 
31 March 1845; 31 May 1845; 5 September 1845; 7-28 November 1845; 3-17 July 1846; 1 January 
1847; 5 March 1847; 2 April 1847; 4 June - 30 July 1847; 26 August-17 December 1847); and the 
Maryland Colonization Journal, a monthly journal published in Baltimore, Maryland, from May 
1835-May 1841; new series, June 1841-May 1861; available in the papers of the Maryland 
Colonization Society (an auxiliary of the ACS), on microfilm reels 28-29 from Scholarly Resources, 
Wilmington, Delaware; 31 rolls of 35mm, with guide.. 

7 Randall M. Miller, ed., Dear Master: Letters of a Slave Family (Athens, Georgia: University of 
Georgia, 1991); Bell I. Wiley, ed., Slaves No More: Letters from Liberia, 1833-1869 (Lexington: The 
University Press of Kentucky, 1980). 

""Liberia Herald," Liberia Herald, 15 March 1845, 46. 

'"'The Late Hilary Teage, of Liberia," Maryland Colonization Journal, October 1853, 72. 

"These include "The Proceedings of the Liberia Providence Baptist Association," which, according 
to the Africa's Luminary, 19 April 1839, was a recently published pamphlet that contained a pastoral 
address by him, along with the proceedings of the Liberia Providence Baptist Association Conventions 
of 1837 and 1838. 

"The eight most important collections were the American Colonization Society Papers, Manuscript 
Division, Library of Congress (also available on microfilm through the Library of Congress, 
Photoduplication Service, Washington, DC; 331 reels); Rare Book and Special Collections Division, 
Library of Congress; Library Company of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Historical Society 
of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Maryland Colonization Society Papers, Maryland 
Historical Society, Baltimore; Library of Virginia Archives, Richmond; Virginia Historical Society, 
Richmond; and the Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives, Nashville. 

l2 James Carey, "The Problem of Journalism History," in Eve Stryker Munson and Catherine A. 
Warren, eds., James Carey: A Critical Reader (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997), 86- 
94, especially p. 89. 

32 Burrowes • Summer 1999 

l3 Janet M. Cramer, Woman as Citizen: Race, Class, and the Discourse of Women's Citizenship, 1894- 
1909. Journalism & Mass Communication Monograph, no. 165 (Columbia, S. G: Association for 
Education in Journalism & Mass Communication, 1998), 13. 

'■•John C. Miller, The Wolf by the Ear: Thomas Jejferson and Slavery (New York: The Free Press, 
1977); also Joyce Appleby, Capitalism and a New Social Order: The Republican Vision of the 1790s 
(New York: New York University Press, 1984), 102; Winthrop D. Jordan, White Over Black: Attitudes 
Toward the Negro, 1550-1812 (New York: Pelican, 1971), 429-481; Robert McColley, Slavery and 
Jejfersonian Virginia (Urbana: University of Illinois, 1973); Ira Berlin and Ronald Hoffman, Slavery 
and Freedom in the Age of the American Revolution (Urbana: University of Illinois, 1986). 

,5 For black nationalism generally, see Wilson J. Moses, Classical Black Nationalism: From the 
American Revolution to Marcus Garvey (New York: New York University, 1996), 41, 5, 36 n. 2; also 
John H. Bracey, Jr., August Meier, and Elliott M. Rudwick, eds., Black Nationalism in America 
(Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1970); E. U. Essien-Udon, Black Nationalism: A Search for an Identity in 
America (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1962); Eugene D. Genovese, Roll, Jordan, Roll: The 
World the Slaves Made (New York, Vintage, 1976), xv; Sterling Stuckey, Slave Culture: Nationalist 
Theory and the Foundations of Black America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987), 3-97. 

"'"Letter from Mr. Teage to Hon. S. Wilkeson dated Monrovia, 10 December 1840," African 
Repository, 5 March 1841, 95. 

l7 Imanuel Geiss, The Pan-African Movement (New York: Homes and Meier, 1974). 

'"Clifford Geertz, "Ideology as a Cultural System," in David Apter, ed., Ideology and Discontent 
(New York: Free Press, 1964), 47-76. 

'''"William Crane to the Rev. O. B. Brown, 28 March 1819," in J. B. Taylor, Biography of Elder Lott 
Cary, late Missionary to Africa (Baltimore: Armstrong and Berry, 1837), 17-18. 

2 "United States Census Office, Fourth Census of the United States (Washington, DC, 1820), Roll 

2 'Ralph R. Gurley, TheLifeoffehudiAshmun (James C. Dunn, 1835), 147-148; Taylor, Biography 
of Elder, 13, 19. 

"Philip Slaughter, The Virginia History of African Colonization (Richmond: 1855); John H. Russell, 
The Free Negro in Virginia, 1619-1865 (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1913), 73; Marie Tyler- 
McGraw, "Richmond Free Blacks and African Colonization, 1816-1832," Journal of American Studies 
(Great Britain) 21 (2): 207-224, especially p. 217; D. R. Egerton, "'Its Origin is Not a Little Curious': 
A New Look at the American Colonization Society," Journal of the Early Republic 5 (1985): 463-480. 

23 Tom W. Shick, Emigrants to Liberia: 1820 to 1843: An Alphabetical Listing (Newark, DE: 
University of Delaware, 1971), 96. 

24 Taylor, 19. For the role of Crane in Hilary's education, see William A. Poe, "Not Christopolis but 
Christ and Caesar: Baptist Leadership in Liberia," Journal of Church and State, 23 (3): 535-551, 
especially p. 538. 

2> Tyler-McGraw, "Richmond Free Blacks," 213; Marie Tyler-McGraw, "'The Prize I Mean is the 
Prize of Liberty': A Loudon County Family in Liberia," Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, 
97 (1989), 355-374; Virginius Dabney, Richmond: The Story of a City (Garden City, N. Y: Doubleday 
and Co., 1990), 77. 

26 Dwight N. Syfert, "The Origins of Privilege," Liberian Studies Journal 6 (Fall 1975), 109-128; 
Dwight N. Syfert, "A History of the Liberian Coasting Trade, 1821-1900" (Indiana University, Ph. 
D. dissertation, 1977), 280-281; Robert W. July, The Origins of Modern African Thought (New York: 
Praeger, 1967), 96. 

27 Syfert, "The Origin of Privilege," 1 14-6, 126-7; Syfert, "A History of the Liberian Coasting 
Trade," 271, 280-281, 283; July, The Origins of Modern African Thought, 93-100, especially p. 96. 

2S "The Election," Africa's Luminary, 3 Jan. 1840; Syfert, "A History of the Liberian Coasting Trade," 
280-281; Edith Holden, Blyden of Liberia (New York: Vantage, 1966), 36. According to an author 
who worked at the Liberian State Department and had full access to official records, Teage also served 
as the country's first secretary of that department; see Nathaniel Richardson, Liberia's Past and Present 
(London: Diplomatic Press, 1959), 59, n *. 

"'"The Lyceum and the Lectures" and "For Africa's Luminary: The Liberia Lyceum," Africa's 
Luminary, 7 Aug. 1840, 38-39; Tom W Shick, "Rhetoric and Reality: Colonization and Afro- 
American Missionaries in Early Nineteenth-Century Liberia," in Sylvia Jacobs, Black Americans and 
the Missionary Movement in Africa (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood, 1982), 162, n. 50; Wiley, 29-30, 
Letter 15. 

Summer 1999 •American Journalism 33 

"'"The Late Hilary Teage, of Liberia," Maryland Colonization Journal, 1853, 71-72. 

""Death in Liberia," Mary/and Colonization Journal, 1853, 47. 

,: "Death of Hon. Hillary Teage," Maryland Colonization Journal 1853, 47. 

"Edward W. Blyden to William Coppinger, 3 June 1878, in Lynch, Selected Letters, 270. 

'"'"Additions to the Baptist Churches in the last Five Months," African Repository, August 1848, 
234; Poe, 535-551. 

■"Antonio Gramsci, Prison Note/wok (New York: International Publishers, 1973), 5-23. 

""The Late Hilary Teage, of Liberia," Maryland Colonization Journal, 1853, 71. 

,7 "The Late Hilary Teage, of Liberia," Maryland Colonization Journal, 1853, 72. 

"For the role of John B. Russwurm in Liberian politics and the events that led to his resignation as 
editor of the Liberia Herald, see Carl Patrick Burrowes, "Press Freedom in Liberia, 1830-1847: The 
Impact of Heterogeneity and Modernity," Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly 74, 2 
(1997): 331-347. 

■'''"From the Liberia Herald," Africa's Luminary, 18 Oct. 1839. 

■"'A unit of measure in Nineteenth Century Liberia that was equivalent to six imperial gallons of 3 
k g- 

"'"An African Editor," Liberia Herald, 17 March 1842, 19. 

"'Geoffrey Tillotson, Paul Fussell and Marshall Waingrow, Eighteenth-Century English Literature 
(New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1969), 18. 

"'"Address Delivered Before the Liberia Lyceum, in the Council Chamber on May 21, 1845," 
Liberia Herald, 31 May 1845, 9-10. 

''''"Liberia Herald," Liberia Herald, 26 Nov. 1842, 8; "A Conjurer and Conjuration," Liberia HeralA, 
3 July 1846, 70. 

45 "Republican Legislature," Liberia Herald, 29 Dec. 1849, 10. Although Teage used only last names, 
these writers were probably intended, given their popularity at the time. 

"''Hilary Teage to R. R. Gurley, Monrovia, 20 March 1839, ACS Papers. 

" 7 Stephen Cornford, Edward Young "Night Thoughts" (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 
1989), ix; also Russell Noyes, English Romantic Poetry and Prose (New York: Oxford University Press, 
1967), xxiii. For a reference by Teage to "Night Thought," see "Liberia Herald," Liberia Herald, 1 Jan. 
1847, 22-23. According to Corntord, Young's "Night Thoughts" was not only "one of the most 
influential, praised and well known poems of the English language" during the nineteenth century, 
but it was also revered by some Christians as a "standard devotional work," second only to the Bible. 

"""Anniversary Speech," Liberia Herald, 18 December 1846, 17-18, and "Anniversary Speech 
(continued)," Liberia HeralA, 5 February 1847, 29-30. 

4 ''For examples, see "Liberia Herald," Liberia Herald, 21 Jan. 1843, 1 1, and "The Luminary," 
Liberia Herald, 11 February 1843. 

"In the nineteenth century, "cassado" a common spelling of cassava, the root of a shrubby tropical 
plant that is a staple food in parts of Liberia and many areas of the tropics. 

5l "An African Editor," Liberia Herald, 17 March 1842, 19. 

52 AJvin Sullivan, ed., British Literary Magazines: The Romantic Age, 1789-1836 (Westport, Conn.: 
Greenwood, 1983), 424-433; Richard A. Schwarzlose, Newspapers: A Reference Guide (Westport, 
Conn.: Greenwood, 1987). 

""Liberia Herald," African Repository, April 1837, 131-132. 

""Our Affairs," Liberia Herald, 18 Dec. 1846, 19. 

""Liberia Herald," Liberia Herald, 7 Nov. 1847. 

"[Hilary Teage,] "The Liberia Herald with Regard to Independence," Thirteenth Annual Report of 

57 Moses, 1-42. For the religious foundation of black nationalism, see Genovese, 280-284; 
""The Weekly Elevator," Liberia Herald, 30 March 1844, 2; also Hilary Teage to the Rev. J. B. 
Pinney, Monrovia, 27 August 1852, printed in ACS Annual Report, January 1853, 17-18. 

""Death of Hon. Hillary Teage," Maryland Colonization Journal, 1853, 47; Hilary Teage, "The 
Colony of Liberia [Part I]," African Repository, September 1844, 257-61; "Hilary Teage, "The Colony 
of Liberia [Part 2]," African Repository, January 1845, 13-17. 

34 Burrowes • Summer 1999 

''"Republic of Liberia, The Independent Republic of Liberia: Its Constitution and Declaration of 
Independence ... Issued Chiefly for Use by the Free People of Color. (Philadelphia: William F. Geddes, 

'''Michael Lienesch, New Order of the Ages: Time, the Constitution and the Making of Modem 
American Political Thought (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988), 197. 

''-Poe, 535-551; C. Eric Lincoln and Lawrence H. Mamiya, The Black Church in the African- 
American Experience (Durham: Duke University Press, 1990), 22. 

''•'"Wake Every Tuneful String," Liberia Herald, 26 August 1847, 76. 

''"Donald G. Mathews, Religion in the Old South (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1977), 190. 

""The Weekly Elevator," Liberia Herald, 30 March 1844, 2. 

''''"Address Delivered Before the Liberia Lyceum: Liberia Herald, 31 May 1845, 9-10. 

'^"Anniversary Speech, December 1st, 1846," Liberia Herald, 18 December 1846, 17-18, and 
Liberia Herald, 4 February 1847, 29-30. 

''""Land of the Mighty Dead," Liberia Herald, 23 December 1842, 8. This poem was reprinted as 
"Specimen of Liberian Poetry," Aflican Repository, June 1843, 191-192, and Maryland Colonization 
journal, July 1843, 32, with the note, "sung to the tune 'Bermondsey'." 

M " Liberia Herald," Liberia Herald, 16 October 1846, 2. 

7 ""Wake Every Tuneful String," Liberia Herald, 26 August 1847, 76; reprinted in Afiican Repository, 
February 1848, 58. 

7l e. g., "Internal Improvement," Liberia Herald, 3 May 1843, 25. 

7: " Liberia Herald," Liberia Herald, 30 September 1843, 31; "Tender Mercies or Heathenism," 
Liberia Herald, 30 September 1843, 31; 

7 -'See various references to "cassado" as part of his cuisine in "An African Editor," Liberia HeralA, 17 
March 1842, 19; "Hard Times," Liberia Herald, 31 May 1845, 1 1; "Scarcity," Liberia Herald, 4 June 
1847, 62. 

7 "HilaryTeage to R. R. Gurley, Monrovia, 12 April 1839, ACS Papers. 

75 "A Beautiful Custom," Liberia Herald, 28 July 1 848, 38; "Excursion," Liberia Herald, 19 April 
1842, 22; "African Belief," Liberia Herald, 30 March 1844. 

7 ''"A Conjurer and Conjuration," Liberia Herald, 3 July 1846, 70. 

77 For information on conjuring among Virginia blacks, see Charles L. Perdue, Jr., Thomas E. 
Barden and Robert K. Phillips, eds., Weevils in the Wheat: Interviews with Virginia Ex-Slaves 
(Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1976); Mechal Sobel, The World They Made Together: Black and 
White Values in Eighteenth-Century Virginia (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987), 41-43, 338. 

7fi Genovese, xv; Stuckey, 3-97. 

7 ''Moses, 2. 

""For the black nationalist antecedents of pan-Africanism and of African micro nationalisms, see 
Hollis R. Lynch, Edward Wilmot Blyden: Pan-Negro Patriot, 1832-1912 (New York: Oxford University 
Press, 1970); Henry S. Wilson, Origitis of West African Nationalism (New York: St. Martin's, 1969). 
For Teage's contribution to African thought, see July, The Origins of Modern Afiican Thought, 85-109. 

*' Lynch, Edward Wilmot Blyden, 492. For Blyden's invocation of a poem byTeage during a visit to 
the pyramids in Egypt, see Holden, Blyden of Liberia, 141. 

SJ Lynch, Edward Wilmot Blyden, 251; also Holden, Blyden of Liberia; Hollis R. Lynch, Selected 
Letters of 'Edward Wilmot Blyden (Millwood, N. J.: KTO Press, 1978). 

"William Crane, Esq., served for several years as the agent of the Herald in Baltimore, Maryland (e. 
g., "From the Liberia Herald," Liberia Herald, 18 October 1839, and "Agents for the Liberia Herald," 
Liberia Herald, 28 February 1849). 

" 4 E. Wilson Armistead, Calumny Refuted by Facts from Liberia (London: 1848). 

s5 Two years before his death, he ended a letter to an ACS official with "I now close, by soliciting an 
interest in your prayers. Yours, in affliction" (HilaryTeage to J. B. Pinney, Monrovia, May 17, 1851, 
printed in African Repository, September 1851, 269). 

"'"Frederick Douglass' Paper, 3 June 1853. 

" 7 Daniel B. Warner, "Letter to the Editor," Liberia Herald, 15 June 1853, 86. 

"""Death in Liberia," Maryland Colonization Journal, 1853, 47. 

Summer 1999 • American Journalism 35 

36 Summer 1999 

Women's Moral Reform Periodicals 
of the 19th Century: A Cultural 
Feminist Analysis of The Advocate 

By Therese L. Lueck 

A publication staffed and produced entirely by women for nearly a 
century, The Advocate, the national publication of the female moral reform 
movement, brings women's journalism more fully into the assessment of 
national journalistic traditions. This analysis ofThe Advocate situates 
women's reform periodicals at the forefront of cultural feminist intellectual 
history. Cultural feminist theory enables The Advocate to be seen as a forum 
for a national dialogue ofivomen's worth. This perspective also foregrounds 
consideration of the values derived from women's culture that The Advocate 
used in retraining prostitutes to become composers and typesetters on the 

On filthy city streets where women sold their bodies and the 
urban poor struggled to survive, 19th century evangelical 
Protestant women saw a corrupt society in desperate need 
of reform. Compelled by missionary zeal, these white upper-middle class 
women banded together to, quite literally, clean up American society. The 
messengers for this moral crusade were the 19th century female reform 
periodicals, which enabled these women to boldly broaden their domestic 
sphere of influence to encompass society at large. 

The New York Female Moral Reform Society was founded in the 
1830s, a time known as the "Second Great Awakening" when "a 
millennial spirit pervaded efforts at transforming United States society," 

Therese L. Lueck is Associate Professor in the School of Communication at the University of 

Summer 1999 • American Journalism 37 

and reformers "sought not merely social change but spiritual transforma- 
tion, the moral regeneration of the world." 1 The society started what was 
to become the national reform periodical, The Advocate, 1 during this 
period. From the mid- 19th to the mid-20th century, The Advocate was the 
foremost messenger in the crusade for moral reform. ' This magazine had 
two specific missions: to convert prostitutes and to publicize incidents of 
sexual assault. It did not put blame on women for prostitution. Rather, it 
laid a full measure of responsibility on the men who had seduced the 
women in the first place and on the adulterers who kept prostitution 
thriving. The Advocate also educated children against becoming either 
victims or perpetrators of immoral behavior. 

This study situates women's reform periodicals at the forefront of the 
19th century cultural feminist tradition so that they can better claim their 
place in American feminist intellectual history. Relying on analysis of the 
national female reform periodical The Advocate as women's culture, this 
research is an attempt to more fully incorporate these periodicals into 
journalism history so that their influence and impact can be further 
assessed in the development of national journalistic traditions. 

Examining Female Practices and Values 

Theorist Josephine Donovan has proposed that cultural feminism, 
"the second major tradition of 19th-century feminist theory," may be an 
appropriate theoretical framework for an examination of female reform 
societies and their publications. 4 Whereas liberal feminism, seen as the 
19th century's first feminist theoretical tradition, is the feminist theory 
most often employed in examining US media, it is not the most useful 
perspective for analyzing these types of periodicals. While these magazines 
did advocate some legislative reforms and rights for women, the typical 
indicators recognized by liberal feminism as progress, these aspects were 
not the focus of the social vision that guided moral reform publications. 
That mission was to reform prostitutes and shelter, educate, and train 
homeless women and children. 

Liberal feminist theory's inheritance from liberal political theory is 
its blindness to the homefront, community building, and traditional 
women's organizing, which causes it to be a less than adequate theoretical 
perspective for examination of these magazines as women's culture. Liberal 
feminism's dual emphases on the individual and equality define a perspec- 
tive that, when applied to these reformers and their work, does not enable 
viewing them as feminist or their activism as important. 

Cultural feminism is a form of feminist separatism that seeks to set 
women's culture apart so that a separate set of female values and practices 

38 Lueck* Summer 1999 

can be nurtured within that women-centered space. Historian Alice 
Echols noted that cultural feminists operate within patriarchal boundaries 
to positively equate women with culturally defined female traits and that 
in particular "cultural feminists wish to establish a female standard of 
sexuality." 5 Researcher Linda Alcoff stated that cultural feminist theory is 
"grounded securely and unambiguously on the concept of the essential 
female," 6 or that the ideology of a cultural feminist theoretical perspective 
relies on biologically determined sex difference. On top of that, Echols 
noted that cultural feminism is "committed to preserving rather than 
challenging gender differences." 7 The theory does not question the 
cultural positioning of femininity in opposition to masculinity as gender 
description. However, recognizing that patriarchy has described feminin- 
ity in restrictive terms in order to define the nature of masculinity as 
dominant, cultural feminists have adopted those very terms and used 
them to redefine femaleness in order to empower women. 

Donovan noted that contemporary cultural feminists exhibit their 
intellectual heritage by espousing the view that a "women's political value 
system may be derived from traditional women's culture and applied to 
the public realm." However, she maintained, "Contemporary feminists 
are more aware of the need to systematize cultural feminist ideology . . . 
than were their 19th-century predecessors who . . . tended to feel that 
pacifist and reformist attitudes were inherent in women's nature." She 
pointed to the importance of the cultural feminist intellectual tradition, 
stating, "Cultural feminism remains one of the most important traditions 
of feminist theory, if somewhat more sophisticated in form and political 
consciousness today than in the 19th century." 8 

Echols observed that "by equating feminism with the so-called 
reassertion of a female identity and culture, cultural feminism seems to 
promise an immediate solution to women's powerlessness in the culture at 
large." 9 Using the activism of the second-wave feminists of the latter 20th 
century as an example, Echols acknowledged that "cultural feminism has 
succeeded in mobilizing feminists . . . however fragile the alliance." 10 
Radical feminist Jo Freeman charted the emergence of latter 20th century 
cultural feminism as "an attempt to identify and extol what women had in 
common, to put substance on the concept of sisterhood. It became a 
celebration of all things female without concern for whether these things 
came from hormones, socialization, or social status. As had happened 
earlier in the prior woman movement, difference between the sexes was 
elevated to a primary principle with female characteristics claiming the 
moral edge."" Such conscious defining of this theory in the late 20th 
century has enabled historical researchers to identify its earlier emergence. 

Summer 1999 •American Journalism 39 

Women As Morally Superior 

Researcher Barbara Berg has traced the roots of American feminism 
to the 19th century women's volunteer societies. 12 Such an observation 
recognized the boldness of these women and their social activism, includ- 
ing the publication and distribution of their periodicals. But such a 
feminist tracing has tended to beg the question: Did their activism enable 
these women to transcend their traditional sphere, which has been defined 
as the "Cult of True Womanhood" 13 ? Contradictions have emerged when 
a liberal feminist lens has been used to examine these women, their 
reforms, and their publications. 

In reflecting the female moral reform movement itself, the leading 
periodical, The Advocate, presented what researcher Mary Ryan viewed as 
contradictory tendencies. While it exposed the double standard of sexual 
morality, it also "reveled in portraying the . . . 19th-century stereotype of 
'true womanhood."' 4 Historian Carroll Smith-Rosenberg postulated that 
female reformers were able to effectively expand their influence beyond 
the domestic sphere by carrying with them the authority bestowed them 
by virtue of this "Cult of True Womanhood." 15 The belief in the essential 
difference between women and men and that women's inherent moral 
superiority resided in that difference situated these 19th century reformers 
at a formative stage of the American cultural feminist tradition. These 
beliefs guided their vision of reform, which went "beyond the fundamen- 
tally rationalist and legalistic thrust of Enlightenment liberal theory. 
Instead of focusing on political change, feminists holding these ideas look 
for a broader cultural transformation." 16 

In her feminist reconstruction of Victorian America, Smith- 
Rosenberg observed: "We turned to women's religious enthusiasm, tracing 
the influence of millennial religion on women's reform activities and role 
expansion. Some women who held back from self-conscious feminism, we 
discovered, had nevertheless assumed innovative roles as urban philan- 
thropists, public-health advocates, opponents of child labor." 17 Crediting 
Margaret Fuller with initiating cultural feminist theory, Donovan traced 
its intellectual tradition from Romanticism and, more directly, from 
American Transcendentalism, a movement that relied on the superiority 
of intuition over reason. 18 The work of the reformers in the dirty city 
streets was anything but romantic; however, their romantic vision for 
cultural transformation worked as a sustaining optimism as these women 
ventured into the depths of the cities to bring forth forgotten women. 

Drawing a distinction between feminism and women's rights, Berg 
stated that The Advocate "continuously and explicitly refuted the tradi- 
tional role assigned to antebellum women and urged a feminist critique of 

40 Lueck • Summer 1999 

society." 19 Female moral reform publications did not dwell on equal rights 
for women, but more than a decade earlier than the 1848 Seneca Falls 
Convention, 20 moral reform societies were advocating that women 
enlarge their sphere of influence to encompass more of the public realm. 
Smith-Rosenberg has credited the moral reform movement with being the 
forerunner of the woman's rights movement in the United States. "Both 
groups found women's traditionally passive role intolerable. Both wished 
to assert female worth and values in a heretofore entirely male world. 
Both welcomed the creation of a sense of feminine loyalty and sisterhood 
that could give emotional strength and comfort to women isolated within 
their homes .... And it can hardly be assumed that the demand for votes 
for women was appreciably more radical than a moral absolutism which 
encouraged women to invade bordellos, befriend harlots, and publicly 
discuss rape, seduction, and prostitution." 21 

Liberal feminism, which has driven feminist media research in the 
latter 20th century, necessarily views female reformers and their work as a 
contradiction. Such dichotomy once defined by a theoretical perspective 
becomes a closed argument. In this case, liberal feminism has circled back 
on itself instead of advancing feminist discussion and theoretical develop- 
ment. Liberal feminism's inability to provide a sense-making frame for 
women's culture and traditions causes it to be an inadequate theoretical 
tool for the examination of moral reform magazines. Cultural feminism 
provides a perspective that dissolves the contradiction Ryan noted, 
resolving the perceived dichotomy between domestic and public action 
that a liberal feminist perspective only exacerbates. 

The researchers here reviewed have recognized many of the contribu- 
tions of 19th century female reform societies, and at least one of them has 
noted that these accomplishments would be more evident when examined 
from a cultural feminist perspective. However, in general, there has been a 
lack of scholarly consideration of these women, their societies, and their 
publications. The accepted classification of moral reform as falling outside 
the feminist movement has pushed these 19th century reformers into the 
margins of feminist intellectual history, minimizing the recognition of 
their impact on feminist theoretical development. Since moral reform 
periodicals have been considered outside the prevailing feminist theoreti- 
cal framework, they have not been defined as feminist publications and 
therefore have not received the scholarly attention that they deserve. The 
lack of a cohesive body of feminist analysis of moral reform publications 
has marginalized the importance of these early women-driven periodicals 
in the history of American journalism. 

Journalism historian Susan Henry cited The Advocate as an excellent 
example of "the journalism produced by the women who lived and 

Summer 1999 • American Journalism 41 

believed most fervently in the values" of women's culture, a sphere 
separate from the men's, in which women "developed shared, female- 
identified values, rituals, relationships, and modes of communication that 
were sources of satisfaction and strength." She called for further research: 
" The Advocate is waiting to be studied by a journalism historian who can 
analyze it within the context of women's culture of the period." 22 Consid- 
eration of the publications and the culture that produced them may be 
enabled by the shift of feminist perspective proposed with this study in its 
analysis of The Advocate. 

Launched by New York Female Reformers 

The roots of the Advocate begin with a group of women who 
followed the teachings of missionary John McDowall. In 1832, McDowall 
had issued a controversial report on the need for the reform of New York 
society. In spite of the public censure McDowall incurred because of these 
pronouncements, the women sought further inspiration in the revivals of 
theologian and reformer Charles G. Finney and formed their own society, 
the New York Female Moral Reform Society, on May 12, 1834. 23 In the 
fall of 1834, the society voted to purchase McDowalTs Journal and 
"transform it into a national women's paper with an exclusively female 
staff." 24 The journal was launched in 1835 as The Advocate of Moral 

Among their first efforts was the commencement of a periodi- 
cal, whose design was to exalt the law of God, and thus 
prevent its violation — to guard the domestic hearth from the 
invasion of the Spoiler, thus preventing the fall of the inno- 
cent; and, as far as practicable, to produce such a reform in 
the public sentiment, that the morally debased should be . . . 
made to feel that access to the favor of the virtuous could only 
be secured by being pure in heart. 25 

The Advocate was the national female moral reform periodical, but it 
was by no means the only women's publication dedicated to these causes. 
While the New York Female Moral Reform Society was repositioning 
itself as the national organization and renaming itself the American 
Female Moral Reform Society, the New England Female Moral Reform 
Society began its publication, The Friend of Virtue. 26 As a regional society, 
the New England society had the potential to pull members from a 
national society and to divert subscribers from the newly national maga- 
zine. Although The Advocate recognized The Friend of Virtue as competi- 

42 Lueck* Summer 1999 

tion for subscribers — and its society as competition for members — it 
viewed the publication as a sister in the cause of social reform. "The 
formation of the New England Moral Reform Society (a sister enterprise 
that sustains a periodical — is doing much good, and worthy the encour- 
agement of all friends of Reform) has tended to lessen the number of the 
New England subscribers and Auxiliaries, but we believe they are still 
efficient in the cause, and therefore the early bond remains unchanged." 27 
As the nationally circulated periodical, The Advocate was essential to 
the outreach mission of the reform society, which noted that without its 
journal "there is every reason to believe the usefulness of the Society 
would have been greatly circumscribed, perhaps . . . wholly suspended .... 
The sole aim of all its publications has been to carry out a specific object 
of the Society [:] the formation of a correct public sentiment, relative to 
the prevention of vice, the discharge of Christian duty in meeting the 
claims of the young, friendless, destitute and exposed, and the obligations 
of the family to extend its guardianship and moral influence over those 
within its reach." 28 Impassioned by their cause to reform society's morals, 
these women created The Advocate to extend their influence beyond their 
domestic sphere. 

Subtle Subversion of Religious Hierarchy 

The cause of moral reform hinged on the Seventh Commandment, 
or the admonition against committing adultery. 29 Yet controversy sur- 
rounded how publicly adultery should be discussed. Women's frustration 
with the taboo against discussing this subject was a recurring theme in the 
publications. For example, one article cited a conversation between a 
woman and her niece that attributed the aunt's disdain of her minister to 
his refusal to preach on the Seventh Commandment. 30 This hesitancy of 
ministers to preach against adultery was widespread. Although moral 
reform was a subject ministers were not addressing from the pulpit, lay 
efforts were objected to as "promiscuous exhibition." 31 

The Advocate, however, boldly spoke out about matters ministers 
hesitated to address, subtly subverting the organized religious hierarchy. 
Because of the controversial nature of their subject, editors felt con- 
strained to defend their publications, noting that the facts they provided 
were "calculated to show the terrible consequences of the sin of licentious- 
ness." 32 Reform advocates found themselves consistently called on to 
rationalize their mission and contextualize the discourse of their publica- 
tions. "Moral Reform we regard as a broad subject .... Consequently the 
details of vice, and what is technically called Moral Reform, include but a 
small portion of the topics presented to our readers." 33 

Summer 1999 • American Journalism 43 

Those who took objection to activism against adultery argued that 
adultery was not an appropriate topic for public discussion, much less by 
women. With its connotations of adultery and prostitution, the phrase 
"moral reform" was considered to impart particular vulgarity when used 
by women. The editors of these publications were women. In addition to 
addressing socially sensitive material, editing publications was not a 
culturally accepted occupation for women, so they felt compelled to put 
themselves forward as ladies. " The Advocate is, as it professes to be, 
EXCLUSIVELY under the direction of the American Female Moral 
Reform Society — it is edited entirely by a lady." 34 Despite defining 
themselves as "ladies," these women were not given to euphemism and 
did not shirk from addressing social problems in a straightforward 
manner not found anywhere else in cultural discourse. However, when it 
was determined that the term "moral reform" was discouraging financial 
contributors as well as magazine subscribers, the phrase was dropped from 
the title of the national publication and its society. 

The Advocate was able to foster a national network among women 
activists who otherwise would have operated in isolated pockets or given 
up altogether. Sister associations used The Advocate as their forum. One 
group's sentiment typified the ostracism of women who publicly broached 
issues of rape, incest, or prostitution: "As a society of a little band of 
females, we are surrounded by discouragements; we have not the hearty 
co-operation of our ministers .... We regard The Advocate as well 
calculated to enlighten and instruct and believe it may be, in many 
instances, the monitor and protector of the unwary and innocent." 35 
Women readers also looked to these periodicals for advice. In the New 
England periodical, one woman wrote that when she was young a "pre- 
tended gentleman" turned out to be a stalker. If not for the warnings and 
the identification of this type of behavior in the Friend of Virtue, she 
wondered "what would have become" of her. 36 

The Nation As an Extended Family 

Educated, morally righteous women, the editors of moral reform 
publications gathered their authority from the domestic sphere and 
extended their realm of legitimacy outwards from the family to the larger 
society. Editors advocated cultural restructuring by using the family as a 
natural stepping stone to personalizing problems of the nation. "The 
Family takes precedence. It was instituted in the Garden of Eden. The 
State is of later origin." 37 With so many family circles broken during the 
Civil War, The Advocate characterized America as a "nation of mourn- 
ers." 38 It saw the rends in the nation's social fabric as the great evil of the 
war, and thus the reuniting of the nation as a family was the war's great 

44 Lueck • Summer 1999 

triumph. 39 Considering the nation its extended family, The Advocates 
editorial voice guided the establishment of a women's culture and defined 
the values nurtured within that culture. 

While editors held that women were different from men, and in that 
difference morally superior, they were not blind to the fact that some 
women needed guidance. Treating this lack as ignorance, they carried 
their critique of society back into the realm of the domestic sphere, 
endeavoring to educate readers. In addition to the "partial silence on the 
pulpit," poor childhood training was considered one of the primary causes 
of crime. The target audience was women who were presumed to be 
mothers and as such held responsible for the formation of the moral 
character of their children. 40 Editors filled pages with cautionary tales, 
such as one that told of a man who nearly escaped jail time even though 
he molested children on their way home from school. The reader who 
sent in the clipping pointed out that two of the molested girls did not 
reveal the crime until their mothers noticed the girls had contracted a 
disease. "Is it not a duty that mothers owe their children to teach them, if 
insulted in this way, to scream? Should they not, as they value their safety, 
teach them to distinguish between right and wrong on all subjects that 
they may need to understand . . . ." 41 

When editors found articles in other publications that echoed their 
sentiments, they would reprint them for their readers. For example, these 
editors considered it necessary, not selfish, for mothers to attend to their 
own health and well-being. The Friend of Virtue ran a reprint that empha- 
sized, "How important an element of domestic order and happiness is the 
health of the mother! A disordered house, a table alternately extravagant 
and mean, a group of children with untidy persons and rude manners, too 
surely indicate the absence of a mother's care." 42 Mothers were asked to 
keep uppermost children's physical, as well as spiritual, needs. Contrary to 
conventional wisdom, mothers were urged to encourage the physical 
education of their daughters. The publication ran an article advocating 
plain food, exercise, and a good "romp": "Let us give our daughters the 
training which makes our sons healthy, and they will be so likewise." 43 If 
mothers neglected these basic responsibilities, they did so with serious 
moral consequence. 

Do not mothers, by neglecting important duties in the training 
of their children, help to swell the dark catalogue of crime? . . . 
And now, dear mothers, let me give you a little advice, and do 
not be shocked at the seeming vulgarity. Instead of consulting 
half a dozen doctors, . . . give your daughters healthy employ- 
ment; let them rise early in the morning, clean the parlors .... 
Let them cultivate the flowers . . . . 44 

Summer 1999 • American Journalism 45 

Mothers were recognized as role models who could mould and fashion the 
minds and manners, the habits and feelings of their children, especially 
those of daughters, into almost any form they please. But in doing this, 
they must also see to it that they are, themselves, what they would wish 
their children to be. 4s 

A Place to Discuss Seduction 

Unlike the other editors of the day, moral reform editors allowed 
many women's voices to be heard throughout the pages of their publica- 
tions. Female readers displayed a sense of moral responsibility similar to 
that of the editors, as did one reader in her complaint about a secular 
magazine's frontispiece: "I feel prompted by a sense of duty, as a friend to 
the young, as a friend to good morals, as a friend to purity, as the rightful 
guardian of my daughter's chastity, 'in thought, speech and behavior,' to 
protest against such exquisitely immodest prints." 46 Readers submitted 
accounts of seduction, which they could share nowhere else, such as one 
woman's story about being raped while she was traveling, to which the 
editor added the caution, "Let those of the weaker sex who may read it, be 
admonished never to travel alone in a public conveyance, till a renovated 
state of society is apparent." 47 

Making known the plight of "fallen" women was a focus of moral 
reform publications and the first step in the activist mission of the women 
in the moral reform movement. Reformers did not shirk their self- 
imposed duty when they began to realize the larger implications of their 
actions. As reformers recognized that they were disrupting women's 
livelihoods when they discouraged prostitution, these reformers took an 
interest in women's economy, which can be seen as they addressed female 
labor on the pages of The Advocate. For example, in 1859 the national 
society developed a sewing machine fund through which they supplied 
the "most worthy" with sewing machines, 48 which they bought from 
manufacturers and sold to the women. To achieve financial autonomy, the 
seamstresses made installment payments of $3 to $5 a month on the 
machines. After one year, the fund had distributed 42 sewing machines, 
and most of the money had been repaid. 49 

"Printed at the Home of Industry" 

Beyond recording the society's labor reform efforts, The Advocate 
enabled women to work, most notably on its own pages. The national 
society housed victimized women at its shelter, which was known as the 
Home of Industry, a place where women were offered employment 
training. This retraining included learning skills for the typesetting and 

46 Lueck • Summer 1999 

printing of The Advocate. By June 1859, the publisher's box ran the line 
"Printed at the Home of Industry." While viewing this self-publishing as 
an achievement, editors felt constrained to answer questions of social 
impropriety: "To the inquiry, 'Why should a benevolent society publish 
and print on their own premises, in a charitable institution?' we reply, the 
Society has issued a paper, as its organ with the public, during the 25 
years of its existence, which facts without number have proved indispens- 
able to the success of the enterprise." 50 

By 1861 the paper was entirely produced by women. The society 
found the consolidation of operations convenient and less expensive, and 
the "experiment" of encouraging young girls "to live honestly by the work 
of their hands . . . not only self-sustaining but advantageous." 51 After four 
years of being printed in the Home Chapel basement, the publication 
stated that "every branch of the business is satisfactorily performed" by 
the females in the home, 

not merely the type-setting . . . but the more difficult pro- 
cesses of the art, including the proof-reading and other 
complex details, being subject only to the general oversight of 
the superintendent of this department. There are now eight 
female employees regularly engaged, with two assisting 
occasionally. Three of these are deaf-mutes, who have already 
attained a satisfactory proficiency in those branches for which 
previous education had fitted them. This "corps" of laborers 
prepare the pages of The Advocate for stereotyping — it now 
being printed by steam from plates — print the wrappers, and 
fold the papers ready for mailing .... [W]e expect to gradu- 
ate a number of young women as proficients in the course of a 
few years. 52 

Both from the standpoint of providing skills training for women and 
of producing the publication at reasonable cost, the "experiment" of using 
women as in-house labor to produce The Advocate was deemed successful 
and was continued as normal practice. Readers did not feel that women's 
labor cheapened the publication. Circulation increased fairly steadily, 
despite the fact that the high price of paper during the Civil War forced 
some thinner issues.' 3 Although The Advocate had a practice of circulating 
as many as half of the issues without cost, 54 the publication was operated 
at a profit, and this money went toward the society's home for the desti- 
tute. In this manner, The Advocate itself became the society's strongest 
voice, supporter and role model for women's labor. 

The Advocate charted its own progress in the unconventional use of 
women's work, noting that the printing department "appears to be a 

Summer 1999 • American Journalism 47 

decided success, as regards the feasibility of carrying on the various 
branches of printing and publishing wholly by female operatives." 55 Much 
as the reformers enlarged their sphere of influence, they incrementally 
expanded the duties of the women working on the publication, from 
production to distribution to securing additional work. The publication 
noted in 1861 that production "included in its sphere the mailing of the 
papers, in addition to all the other manual processes connected with the 
issue of The Advocate and Guardian, together with the execution of 
miscellaneous pamphlet and jobbing work." 56 In reaping the rewards of its 
labor "experiment," the publication extolled the virtues of women's 
culture and of women, even of women society had discarded once they 
were reclaimed in this women's culture. "It is now satisfactorily demon- 
strated that with the necessary intellectual capacity and preparatory 
literary acquirements, young women are as well fitted for the business as 
the other sex." 57 The Advocate also noted that the women's work was 
"superior." 58 

Reformers did not themselves cheapen the worth of the women's 
labor, but in recognizing the differences between women and men, 
instituted fair labor practices within their own operation. "[F]rom the 
experiment made in the 'Home' Printing Office, they are more apt to 
learn and fully as reliable, except, perhaps in the power of continued 
endurance. In our office, provision is made not to overtax the operatives, 
in this respect, by working fewer hours each day and allowing occasional 
respite from office duties." 59 

Once the foundations for this women's culture had been established, 
the pages of The Advocate over the years charted the shift in the national 
society's mission from reforming women to housing and educating 
children until they were graduated from high school and ready to support 
themselves. 60 A print of the imposing home was added to the publication's 
masthead, reflecting the refocused mission to house the "friendless." The 
shift in focus enabled the society and its publication to successfully 
survive to the mid-20th century. 61 

Carved Out a Public Sphere for Women 

Moral reform activists brought values of the white middle-class 
women's domestic sphere out to bear on the public sphere by carving out 
a space for women in the public domain and establishing a women's 
culture in that space. The voice developed in this women's culture was 
embodied in the moral reform periodical. Editors guided the moral 
assessment of society as an extended family. So, too, they brought their 
moral message back into the domestic sphere, urging mothers to exercise 
and educate their children and to pay particular attention to their daugh- 

48 Lueck- Summer 1999 

ters so that they would not number among the lost and forgotten. Moral 
reform publications carried the voices of women who would not be 
silenced, even by the religion and the religious leaders they revered. 
Through the national dissemination of its messages, The Advocate created 
a sisterhood among female reformers. 

The Advocate spoke in a profoundly female voice, unusual to hear 
even more than a century later. It was a periodical bought with the intent 
of transforming it into a female-staffed publication. Having accomplished 
that and more, if these women cannot be seen to have achieved the moral 
regeneration of American society, the attainment of their grand vision still 
did not falter. From within a culture they created in 19th century Ameri- 
can society, they transformed this publication to enable it to carry their 
vision into the larger society. They created a female editorial voice to 
speak of women's worth. They pulled women from the seamy side of 
society to enact that transformation. And they succeeded. In reeducating 
these women, making them literate and skilled, reform activists trans- 
formed their own publication, The Advocate, into a national role model 
that showcased the place of women in society and the value of women's 

The women of the 19th century moral reform movement set out to 
counteract culturally sanctioned practices in what began as an unabash- 
edly female manner of traditional influence. They established female 
auxiliaries to the male religious societies to address what the male hierar- 
chy refused to address — adultery, seduction, rape and prostitution. 
During the formation of their religious societies, the women realized the 
need for a strong female voice to speak for their perspective. They went 
beyond accepted female bounds to establish their periodicals, through 
which they cultivated a voice and, with The Advocate, extended the range 
of their influence to a national network of sister activists. The Advocate 
emanated from a local women's culture that was created within patriarchal 
society to speak for the true value of women. The message of The Advocate 
was feminist in its re-evaluation of women and its simultaneous debunk- 
ing of the male myth that women's role was to service men sexually, at any 
cost to themselves. 

It is of particular note that from the beginning reformers intended 
The Advocate as a female-staffed publication — and that within 30 years 
the production of the publication was entirely female. From organizing to 
editing, producing, and distributing, these women's expression of activism 
was the female moral reform periodical. The Advocate continued to build 
its local women's culture to increase its reliance on women at all levels of 
its production even after it was successfully repositioned as the national 
magazine. As a national women's journal that rose from a cohesive 
women's culture, The Advocate itself stands as a powerful symbol of 

Summer 1999 •American Journalism 49 

cultural transformation, a true advocate for women. The women suc- 
ceeded in transforming their periodical into a wholly female endeavor and 
in that fulfilled the mission of their women's culture, while establishing 
early fair labor practices for women and engaging women in a meaningful 
national discourse. With women as the editorial and production staff as 
well as audience, the publication closed the circle and established a link in 
a cycle through which the values of this women's culture could be per- 
petuated, perhaps even across generations. 

It is argued here that these women spoke as cultural feminists. Based 
on beliefs of sex difference and women's moral superiority, they urged 
social reform well outside their traditional purview by means of moral 
reform periodicals. The perspective of cultural feminism brings into focus 
the importance of the sisterhood that these periodicals established and an 
examination of the women's culture that made it possible. It enables a 
glimpse beneath the cloak of conservatism under which these "ladies" 
veiled themselves to see the activist duty they imposed on themselves and 
the sense of personal responsibility they encouraged others to accept. 

Perhaps most important for the purposes of journalism history, this 
perspective enables a view of The Advocate as a manifestation of cultural 
transformation and the symbol of the larger accomplishments of these 
reformers. It is hoped that this study provides a theoretical framework on 
which to structure answers to journalism historian Henry's call for 
research and that it enables further research into the women's training 
cycle begun in the print shop of The Advocate. With The Advocate as the 
role model, 19th century women's moral reform periodicals were instru- 
mental in defining the intellectual and activist tradition of cultural 
feminism in the United States. 


'Lori D. Ginzberg, '"Moral Suasion Is Moral Balderdash": Women, Politics and the Social Activism 
of the 1850s" Journal of 'American History, 73 (1986):601. 

'In this paper the publication is referred to simply as The Advocate. Begun as The Advocate of 
Moral Reform, the title was changed in 1847 to The Advocate of Moral Reform and Family Guardian; 
and in 1849, to The Advocate and Family Guardian, which it remained until ceasing publication in 
1941. A Home for the Friendless was opened in July 1847, see Flora L. Northrup, The Record of a 
Century, 1834-1934 (New York: American Female Guardian Society and Home for the Friendless, 
1934), p. 30, which was incorporated into the society's title, the American Female Guardian Society 
and Home for the Friendless. 

TTierese L. Lueck, "The Advocate and Family Guardian" in Kathleen L. Endres and Therese L. 
Lueck (eds.) Women's Periodicals in the United States: Social and Political Issues (Westport, CT: 
Greenwood, 1996), pp. [1]-11. 

50 Lueck* Summer 1999 

"Josephine Donovan, Feminist Theory: The Intellectual Traditions of American Feminism, re. ed. 
(New York: Continuum, 1994), p. 214, n. 2. 

5 Alice Echols, "The New Feminism of Yin and Yang" in Ann Snitnow, Christine Stansell and 
Sharon Thomspson (eds.) Powers of Desire: The Politics of Sexuality (New York: Monthly Review Press, 
1983), p. 454. 

''Linda Alcoff, "Cultural Feminism versus Post-Structuralism: The Identity Crisis in Feminist 
Theory" in Linda Nicholson (ed.) The Second Wave: A Reader in Feminist Theory (New York: 
Routledge, 1997), p. 332. 

7 Alice Echols, "The Taming of the Id: Feminism and Sexual Politics, 1968-85" in Carole S. Vance 
(ed.) Pleasure and Danger: Exploring Female Sexuality (Boston: Routledge, 1984), p. 51. 

"Donovan, p. 62. 

"Echols, 1983, p. 455. 

'"Echols, 1984, p. 56. 

1 'Jo Freeman, "From Stiff rage to Women's Liberation: Feminism in 20th-century America" in Jo 
Freeman (ed.) Women: A Feminist Perspective, 5th ed. (Mountain View, CA: Mayfield, 1994), p. 23. 

'^Barbara Berg, The Remembered Gate: Origins of American Feminism: The Woman and the City, 
1800-1860 (New York: Oxford University Press), 1978. 

13 Barbara Welter, "The Cult of True Womanhood: 1820-1860" in T.R. Frazier (ed.) The Underside 
of American History: Other Readings (New York: Harcourt, 1973), pp. 21 1-222. 

'"Mary P. Ryan, "The Power of Women's Networks: A Case Study of Female Moral Reform in 
Antebellum America" Feminist Studies, 5 (Spring 1979): 67. 

''Carroll Smith-Rosenberg, Disorderly Conduct: Visions of Gender in Victorian America (New York: 
Knopf), 1985), p. 109. 
"'Donovan, p. 31. 
17 Smith-Rosenberg, p. 14. 
'"Donovan, p. 32. 
'"Berg, note 45, p. 291; pp. 4-5. 

-''The Seneca Falls, New York Convention is generally recognized as the beginning of the US 
women's rights movement. 

2 'Smith-Rosenberg, p. 127. 

"Susan Henry, "Changing Media History Through Women's History" in Pamela J. Creedon (ed.) 
Women in Mass Communication, 2" d . ed. (Newbury Park, CA: Sage, 1993), pp. 349, 350. 

23 Smidi- Rosenberg, pp. 111-12. 

24 Smith- Rosenberg, p. 115. 

25 "Thirteenth Annual Report of the American Female Moral Reform Society" in The Advocate of 
Moral Reform and Family Guardian (1 June 1847), p. [81]. 

lb The Friend of Virtue was begun in 1 838, about one year after the New England Female Moral 
Reform Society was formed. 

27 "Twelfth Annual Report or the American Female Moral Reform Society" in The Advocate of Moral 
Reform (1 June 1846), p. [81]. 

2 *"Twenty-fifth Annual Report of the American Female Guardian Society and Home for the 
Friendless" in The Advocate and Family Guardian (1 June 1859), p. 167. 

2 "In the Exodus text in common Protestant use, the Seventh Commandment is the commandment 
that warns against committing adultery. 

3 ""For the Friend of Virtue: Conversation Between Georgiana and her Aunt" in The Friend of 
Virtue (1 February 1840), p. [33]. 

"L.W Wright, "An Address Read Before the Maternal Association, Sullivan, N.H." in The Friend 
of Virtue (1 March 1840), p. [65]. 

32 [A venerable lady of this city], "To the Executive] Com[mittee] of the N.E.EM.R.S." in The 
Friend of Virtue (15 February 1840), p. 55. 

33 "The Friend of Virtue" [editorial], in The Friend of Virtue (1 July 1851), p. 197. 

Summer 1 999 • American Journalism 5 1 

'■"Executive Committee of the American Female Reform Society, "Publishers Box" in The Advocate 
of 'Moral Reform (1 January 1844), p. 1. 

"Mrs. H. Newhall, "Abstract of Annual Reports" in The Advocate of Moral Reform (15 January 
1844), p. 15. 

"'"Communicated" in The Friend of Virtue (1 July 1851), p. 197. 

""Anniversary Meeting" [editorial], in The Friend of Virtue (1 June 1847), p. 84. 

•'"Editor, "The New Year" in The Advocate and Family Guardian (2 January 1865), p. 8; The 
Advocate noted that the society lost members with "the decided stand taken by the majority for the 
Union side," Northrup, p. 44. 

'''Editor, "Long Live the Republic!" in The Advocate and Family Guardian (16 May 1865), p. 1 16. 

""Typical of female reform periodicals, The Friend of Virtue ofcen began its articles with "ladies." On 
occasion, however, the magazine incorporated men into household and child-rearing recommenda- 
tions with its appeals to "parents." 

4I H — S, "A Caution to Mothers" in The Advocate of Moral Reform (15 January 1844), p. 1 1. 
,; Mother's Journal ', "Healrh" [reprint], in The Friend of Virtue (15 January 1840), p. 19. 
''''Means and Ends "Pure Air and Ventilation" [reprint], in The Friend of Virtue (15 February 1840), 
p. 51. 

44 "For the Friend of Virtue: 'For the Mothers'" in The Friend of Virtue (1 January 1850), p. 9. 
'"''"The Training of Children" in The Friend of Virtue (\ January 1852), p. 10. 

4f A Plain Countrywoman, "Common Sense Comments" [letter to the editor] in The Advocate of 
Moral Reform and Family Guardian (1 December 1847), p. 179. 

47 H. Smith, "An Outrage" in The Advocate of Moral Reform (15 January 1844), p. 14; Editor, p. 15. 

4s "Twenty-Sixth Annual Report of the American Female Guardian Society and Home for the 
Friendless" in The Advocate and Family Guardian (1 June 1860), p. 167. 

4 ''Northrup, p. 45. 

, ""Twenty-Fifth Annual Report of the American Female Guardian Society and Home for the 
Friendless" in The Advocate and Family Guardian (1 June 1859), p. 167. 

Sl lbid. 

""Twenty-Seventh Annual Report of the American Female Guardian Society and Home for the 
Friendless" in The Advocate and Family Guardian (1 June 1961), pp. 168-169. 

1 'There was a slight decline in circulation in the post-war years; the 1868 annual report shows a 
circulation of 38,000, a drop of 3,000 from a peak of 41,000 in 1864. 

54 "Thirteenth Annual Report of the American Female Moral Reform Society" in The Advocate of 
Moral Reform and Family Guardian (1 June 1847), p. 81. 

""Twenty-Eighth Annual Report of the American Female Guardian Society" in The Advocate and 
Guardian (2 June 1862), p. 166. 

5fi Ibid. 



s "Ibid. 

""Northrup, pp. 78, 83; The society eventually became the Woodycrest Youth Service. See Jonathon 
W. Zophy, "Moral Reform" in Angela Howard Zophy (ed.) Handbook of American Women's History 
(New York: Garland, 1990), pp. 385-386. 

"'Other publications were not so fortunate. The Friend of Virtue, having changed its name to The 
Home Guardian, adopted a more upbeat tone than its earlier didacticism. Instructive fiction became a 
staple of the magazine. This publications crusade against immorality branched out to embrace other 
types of social reform, in particular, intemperance. Its broadened mission and more popularized 
format pitting it against other works, the magazine met its demise in 1892. 

52 Lueck • Summer 1999 

Redefining Racism: Newspaper 
Justification for the 1924 Exclusion 
of Japanese Immigrants 

By Bradley J. Hamm 

This study integrates the "mentalities" concept from a classic historical 
racial study as a way to examine media framing of Japanese during debate 
about the Immigration Act of 1924. To better understand this century's 
coverage of Japanese and Asian Americans, it is essential to look at the 
dominant historical mentality, or mentalities, that existed among ivhite 
newspapers which were central in framing the debate. The mentality method 
could be useful concerning historical coverage of other minorities and groups 
in the United States. 

The message to the Japanese in California in the early 1920s 
was clear: "Keep out, Japs." The words were written in signs 
in California businesses and homes. Other signs, from San 
Francisco to Los Angeles, were just as challenging: "Swat the Japs," or 
"Are you pro-American or pro-Jap?," or "Japs, move on. California doesn't 
want you."' 

As the United States has struggled in the 20th century with the 
questions of who to let in the country, from where and how many, the 
passage of the Immigration Act of 1924 was an early dramatic statement 
of immigration views. 2 The act served two main goals for the country: it 
relied upon a formula designed to restrict immigrants from Southern 
Europe, and the act formally banned all Japanese immigration. 

Bradley J. Hamm is Assistant Professor of Journalism & Communications at Elon College in 
North Carolina. 

Summer 1999 • American Journalism 53 

Newspaper editorials about the Immigration Act offer an opportunity 
to determine whether there were common and distinct press "mentalities" 
about the Japanese that were used to justify the ban and how these mentali- 
ties were communicated to the mass audience. The Immigration Act was 
clearly designed to limit certain races, rather than just control immigration 
numbers. Historian Joel Williamson, in a much acclaimed history of 
black — white race relations, defines mentalities as "... an intellectual 
atmosphere of a distinctive, clearly identifiable quality. It is derived from the 
broad society, touches a large number of individual minds, and flows and 
changes over time influencing behavior and being influenced by behavior, and 
by the physical world. It is in part emotional, and it does compel action." 3 

Williamson Defines Three Mentalities 

Are there mentalities evident in the press that can both reflect 
societal views and influence attitudes and behavior toward the Japanese? 
Williamson identified three distinct mentalities that developed in the 
mind of the white South about African Americans, particularly the slaves, 
before the Civil War: liberal, conservative and radical. The liberal view felt 
African Americans had not been given a fair chance, and liberals showed 
both a willingness to help and a faith in the future for African Americans. 
The conservative mentality was based on the assumption of racial inferior- 
ity, and the future of race relations was about determining the "proper 
place" for African Americans. The most extreme mentality, radicalism, 
envisioned the freed slaves "retrogressing rapidly toward his natural state 
of savagery and bestiality." 4 Radicals believed there was no place for 
African Americans in the future United States. 5 

Once formed, these mentalities, Williamson argues, live on through 
the 20th century and help explain underlying racial views that are evident 
throughout the South in the 1900s, especially during flash points, such as 
the Klan uprising or school integration. This study, limited to the Immi- 
gration Act of 1924, attempts to examine possible mentalities that surface 
in newspaper editorials during another racial flash point, the debate to 
ban Japanese immigration. 

The emphasis on the Japanese and this time period, the 1920s, is 
lacking in mass communication research, although as this study suggests, 
newspapers concentrated almost exclusively on the Japanese situation 
during the immigration debate in 1924. Few studies have dealt with Asian 
Americans and mass media in general. 6 Among those examining history, 
the primary time studied is World War II. The most complete summary 
of historical research about Japanese and mass communication, by media 
historian Thomas Heuterman, 7 includes one cite for the 1920s: this study, 

54 Hamm • Summer 1999 

as a paper presentation in 1995. One communications study of 1920s 
immigration and press coverage barely mentions Japanese immigration at 
all, concentrating on the plight of Europeans. 8 

This study attempts to explore three central questions by using 
editorials about the Immigration Act of 1924 from seven newspapers. 
First, did newspapers support or oppose Japanese emigration to the 
United States, and why? How was the issue framed for readers? Second, 
from these editorials, were there specific racial "mentalities" that can be 
identified in the way white-owned newspapers felt about the Japanese, or 
Asians in general, similar to what Williamson found white Southerners 
generated about African Americans? And, of importance for considering 
coverage of the Japanese in later years, does there appear to be, according 
to editorials, a relatively equal place (liberal mentality), a "proper" place 
(conservative mentality), or no place (radical mentality) for Japanese 
immigrants in the future United States society, as expressed by the 

In the early 1900s, immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe 
poured into New York, Japanese immigrants moved to the West Coast 
(especially California) and African Americans from the South migrated to 
the North and West. For African Americans, "This migration expanded 
the realities of racial inequality beyond the Deep South and into the 
North and the West Coast," wrote media historian Rodger Streitmatter. 9 
For the Japanese, the racial inequality — most strongly felt along the West 
Coast — was about to be written into national law. 

The Japanese would find very little support from these United States 
newspapers. Instead, editorialists exhibited "mentalities" toward the 
Japanese unlike the ones identified by Williamson in black-white rela- 
tions. In addition, one mentality reflects an unusual racial view in United 
States history: the Japanese should be banned because they were equal, or 
even superior, to the white race in terms of economics and ability to work 
hard. Thus, the Japanese were considered both superior and inferior. 

Substantial Newpaper Editorial Coverage 

This sample and study includes all editorials about the immigration 
act from six daily newspapers — The New York Times, the New York Herald 
Tribune, the Chicago Daily Tribune, the San Francisco Chronicle, the San 
Francisco Examiner, the Louisville Courier-Journal — and the nation's 
leading African American weekly newspaper, the Chicago Defender, during 
the congressional debate from the months of April and May 1924. All but 
one of the dailies supported exclusion of the Japanese. Only the Courier- 
Journal was opposed; it supported allowing Japanese immigration at the 

Summer 1999 • American Journalism 55 

same quota level as European nations. The weekly Defender also opposed 
the ban. 

The New York papers were chosen because the city was the entry 
point for most immigrants during this period. The San Francisco papers 
were chosen because many Asian immigrants also came into the country 
through this city. The two cities' papers were well aware of the daily flood 
of immigrants. Chicago and Louisville were selected to provide viewpoints 
from a distance, because they were less affected than New York City and 
San Francisco, which were dealing with the boat loads of new immigrants; 
they were on opposite sides politically, with the Daily Tribune being 
conservative and the Courier-Journal being liberal; and, since the Immi- 
gration Act was about race, the Courier-Journal -was, an early and impor- 
tant voice in support of civil rights for African Americans in the South. 
Thus, they should offer distinct views. 

Would Louisville view the Japanese plight in California in a similar 
way to the Southern racial problems? Likewise, the Defender -was included 
to consider the views of one of the most prominent African American 
newspapers in United States journalism history. A study of the Defenders 
reaction offers a diverse viewpoint and depth to the racial issue facing the 
Japanese, a perspective that might be lacking in the white daily newspa- 

Newspaper editorial coverage of the Immigration Act was substan- 
tial — nearly 60 editorials over about 30 days in April and May 1924 
surrounding the immigration discussion in Congress. This study covers 
the time period for the discussion — mid-April to mid-May — and two 
weeks before and after. The immigration ban was front-page news starting 
April 12, when the House voted 322 to 71 to ban Japanese immigrants. 
Nearly all the editorials occur after the vote, not before. The Tribune, for 
example, ran editorials on the topic nine consecutive days after the House 
vote, and the Times averaged about one editorial every two days for nearly 
a month. 

The main arguments in 1924 immigration are discussed here, along 
with how the newspapers viewed the debate. The United States was doing 
to Japan what Japan was doing to others, including the United States. The 
United States excluded Japanese; the Japanese excluded Koreans and 
Chinese. Californians did not allow aliens to own land; neither did Japan. 
And, the San Francisco Chronicle argued, United States citizens were 
allowed in Japan only because "we compelled the Japanese to admit us by 
sending Commodore [Matthew] Perry to shoot up their coast towns [in 
1854] if they did not admit us." 10 

All countries were affected by quotas under the Immigration Act of 
1924, but the hardest hit, in exclusion and wounded national pride, was 

56 Hamm • Summer 1999 

Japan. Japan's case accounted for almost 100 percent of editorials in the 
seven newspapers. "The [immigration] problem is one of the gravest 
which the country has faced in many years," said The New York Times 
shortly before the congressional debates in April 1924." The San Francisco 
Examiner said passage of the immigration bill represented California's 
most significant victory since achieving statehood. 12 The views of many of 
the newspapers can be summarized through a letter by publisher William 
Randolph Hearst to his editor at the San Francisco Examiner. "We do not 
want in this country the demoralizing competition of low Oriental labor 
conditions, poor standards of living, and contaminating Oriental morals," 
he wrote. "This is not race prejudice. It is race preservation." 13 

Majority of Japanese Immigrants Lived in California 

When the United States annexed Hawaii in 1898, Japanese laborers, 
who made up about two-thirds of Hawaii's work force, began to move to 
California for better wages. President Theodore Roosevelt responded by 
signing an order in March 1907 prohibiting aliens, mainly Japanese, who 
had passports to go to Hawaii (and Mexico and Canada) from settling on 
the mainland United States. 14 Both countries negotiated other points, and 
the action became known as the "Gentlemen's Agreement" of 1907-8. 15 

The agreement determined Japanese immigration until the 1920s. 
Laborers were allowed to bring wives from Japan or Hawaii. 16 Some men 
sent pictures of themselves to Japan, or received pictures of women, for 
marriage partners. Women who arrived to meet their husbands for the 
first time were known as "picture brides." Some United States citizens 
believed the practice to be immoral, and Japan discontinued it in 1920, 
allowing only marriages with men who returned to Japan for at least 30 
days to find wives. 17 

From 1890 to 1920, the number of Japanese soared from 2,039 to 
1 1 1,010 on the mainland. About two-thirds lived in California. 18 These 
first-generation Japanese settlers, known as "issei," were not eligible for 
citizenship for several reasons. 19 Their children, known as "nisei," or 
second-generation Japanese, were US citizens by birth. 

Most Japanese farmed land considered worthless by other Califor- 
nians. By 1920, their farms produced ten percent of California's crops. 20 
California responded in 1920 with an amended Alien Land Law. The 
original law, in 1913, prohibited aliens or companies with a majority of 
Japanese stockholders from owning, selling, or bequeathing agricultural 
land to another immigrant. Agricultural needs for World War I and a 
loophole (their children born in the states were not immigrants, so 
Japanese land owners could give the land to their children) reduced the 

Summer 1999 • American Journalism 57 

law's effect. The loophole was closed in 1920, and the US Supreme Court 
gave its approval in November 1923 after appeals. 21 Japanese laborers lost 
their land and their economic foundation. 

Next, many Californians pushed to block all Japanese immigration. 
In early 1924, bills in Congress proposed severely limiting immigration 
from Europe and banning completely any immigration from Japan. Other 
Asians had been banned in previous years (in 1882 Congress passed the 
Chinese Exclusion Act 22 ) but the Japanese believed they had a different, 
better relationship with the United States government as evidenced by the 
Gentlemen's Agreement. They learned otherwise. 

Japan reacted in anger to an immigration ban that it perceived as a 
national insult. July 1, the day the bill was enacted, was declared "Na- 
tional Humiliation Day." 23 The period after the enactment of the Immi- 
gration Act was filled with tension that "bordered on a war scare." 24 

Newspaper's View: A Superior/Inferior Mentality? 

Five of six daily newspapers in this study wanted Japanese immi- 
grants barred, but they found positive ways to frame the exclusion. 
Editorial writers framed the debate around four main themes: race, 
economy, national security and political decency. Three themes were 
essential to the act: possible racial and cultural mixing between whites and 
Asians, the economic impact of Japanese workers, and national security. 
The fourth area was about the manner in which Japan was excluded, 
rather than the exclusion itself. 

In their editorials, newspapers could have supported the Immigra- 
tion Act in its entirety; supported the Act but argued against exclusion of 
Japanese; or opposed the whole Act. The Louisville Courier-Journal was 
the only daily newspaper to argue against Japanese exclusion, and it did so 
on diplomatic grounds. While it supported the rest of the immigration 
bill, the newspaper said the United States should not break its 
Gentlemen's Agreement with Japan. 

Newspapers denied that racism was an issue in the passage of the 
bill; they cited economic reasons to exclude the Japanese. The Japanese 
had reason to believe otherwise. The 1924 Act allowed for immigration at 
a two percent quota for non-Asians; each country was allowed an immi- 
gration level of two percent of the foreign born individuals in the United 
States in 1890. 2 ^ If the two percent quota had been extended to Japan as 
it was to all European countries, only about 146 Japanese immigrants a 
year would have been admitted to the United States — hardly a grave 
threat to the US economy. This study shows that racism was indeed 
significant in newspaper arguments against the Japanese. The ways in which 

58 Hamrn- Summer 1999 

the racism was presented reflect the 1920s "mentalities" of the newspapers 
toward the Asian race in general and the Japanese in particular. 

Mentality 1 : The Asian As Incompatible Alien 

Again and again, the newspapers denied racism was an issue in 
excluding Japanese. Racism, according to James M. Jones in Prejudice and 
Racism, builds on negative-attitude view of prejudice and also includes 
three other criteria: race as a biological concept, the superiority of one's 
own race, and institutional and cultural practices that formalize the 
domination of one racial group over another. 26 The newspapers argued 
that superiority was not an issue: 

• "This does not imply that it adheres to silly notions of 
'superior' or 'inferior' races or believes that persons with 
blue eyes are better Americans than those with black," said 
the Times. 27 

• "There is no valid question of superiority or inferiority," 
said the Tribune. 2 * 

• "It is not because we consider the Japanese an 'inferior' 
race, as the Japanese should fully understand," said the 
Chronicle. , 29 

• "If they want a certificate of excellence, why, we can go 
before a notary public and have one made out: we can give 
them a certificate of intellectual, moral and artistic equal- 
ity," said the Examiner. 30 

And yet . . . There are differences, the newspapers added. 

The Times sz\d: "This objection, it cannot be sufficiently empha- 
sized, does not rest on any imagined superiority of the white race, but 
solely on the incompatibility of the different racial standards." 31 A 
compromise could be reached easily because Japan "recognizes that the 
two races cannot mix." 32 

The Chicago Daily Tribune said: "We insist merely that there are 
differences which not only bar Japanese immigrants from American 
citizenship but prevent social amalgamation. " 33 (The Tribune was alone 
among daily newspapers in referring to the Japanese in terms such as "a 
great little people" 34 and "wonderful little people." 35 The Defender did 
refer to the Japanese as "yellow people" in its editorials.) 

Summer 1999 • American Journalism 59 

The Chronicle said: 

We do not want them and will not have them because they are 
so different that they do not assimilate; because they settle in 
colonies from which our own people move away because the 
social atmosphere is destroyed; because their standard of 
living, being lower than ours, they undersell our people 
whenever it is necessary; because the Japanese government 
holds immigrants and their descendants forever as Japanese 
subjects; because they are so much more prolific than we that 
without restriction in a few generations they will possess our 
land. 36 

While no racism is involved, said the Chronicle, "if such aliens are 
allowed to enter they will come in numbers so large as to produce social 
and economic conditions which are unjust to ourselves and are sure to 
result in real race hatreds and domestic disturbances leading to interna- 
tional feeling which will be really 'grave'." 37 

Though the Herald Tribune noted "a magnificent bonfire" of racial 
hatred attributable to the Senate, 38 it argued the debate was not about a 
racial question. Guests were allowed from Japan, thus refuting any notion 
of racism. 39 The immigration bill did not exclude visitors such as stu- 
dents, professors, and ministers. In short, because, the Tribune argued, the 
Japanese could visit but not stay, which was proof of no racism. 40 It was, 
rather, a policy decision. "[A quota system] would admit less than 250 
[Japanese] immigrants a year, but it would run counter to the settled 
policy of this country, founded on the principle of race separation, against 
admitting Orientals on the same terms as Europeans," the Herald Tribune 
said. 41 

Only the Chicago Defender claimed racism. "The color question got 
mixed up in the Japanese debate. Our white people are determined to 
make this a 'white' country." 42 The newspaper ran an editorial cartoon 
with a California landowner tossing a brick, labeled "land shall be sold to 
Caucasians only" The brick was shown bouncing off the head of a 
Japanese man and striking the head of an African American man. The 
caption for the cartoon said, "Perhaps it wasn't intended for us, but — 

White Versus "Yellow People" 

Race determined the outcome of the exclusion ban, said the De- 
fender. "[Japan] rose as a yellow people. As soon as it got up it wanted to 
be 'white.' No, said your Supreme Court; no, we wish you well but we 
have our hands full trying to settle who is white, and who is not white, in 

60 Hamm • Summer 1999 


the USA." 44 The United States had "chronic colorphobia," according to 
the newspaper. The Defender said whites in the United States wanted to 
take a slap at the Japanese, "the most powerful of the darker races," to 
prove white supremacy. 45 

The New York Times challenged, early and often, the notion of a 
Nordic superior race and the implications upon United States immigra- 
tion policy. The Times suggested standards to be met by future immi- 
grants that would move beyond racial qualities. "The test of the would-be 
immigrant is, not has he blue eyes and flaxen hair, but will he make a 
good citizen, will he adapt himself easily and willingly to American life, 
will he contribute to the strength of the American nation and the Ameri- 

1 "46 

can racer ° 

Despite this talk against a Nordic superior race, the Times advocated 
that an immigration policy was more like a science experiment. It was 
both natural and wise to not change the "present blend" much, the 
newspaper said. The Times endorsed a proposal to determine the present 
racial composition in the United States and to "seek to preserve the 
existing proportion of those races which contributed to the present 
fusion." The result, according to the Times, was no discrimination against 
particular races or groups. "This is as it should be," it said. 47 

Even the Louisville Courier-Journal, which was the only daily news- 
paper to speak against Japanese exclusion, said the bill favored those who 
furnished the best class of citizens. The editorial offered a lengthy quota- 
tion by a University of Virginia doctor which claimed the United States 
had done everything possible since 1875 to ensure racial decay. 48 

Perhaps the most unusual argument was made by the San Francisco 
Examiner. Its editorial on May 1, 1924 was headlined "Exclude Prejudice 
from US Immigration Policy!" So, was the Examiner speaking in favor of 
Asians? Not at all. Saying that "unassimilable races, and unassimilable 
people, generally, must be barred from the United States," the newspaper 
argued that there should be no "artificial" discrimination or prejudice 
among "the various peoples of our own color and blood." 4 ' Since the 
Immigration Act discriminated among whites from different countries, 
the Examiner called it the worst and silliest measure on immigration ever 
devised." Of course, most of these European immigrants were entering on 
the East Coast, so San Francisco was much less affected. 

In a related editorial, the Examiner said: "For our nation to stand, on 
its statute books, committed to so fantastic a theory of discrimination 
between neighboring peoples of Caucasian blood and proven ability, 
would be both hurtful and foolish." 50 To stand on its statute books on a 
theory of discrimination against Asians was acceptable to the newspaper. 
The Japanese were portrayed as incompatible aliens. This theme was the 
most dominant among all of the editorials. 

Summer 1 999 • American Journalism 61 

Mentality 2: The Asian As Overachiever 

The second area is unusual in terms of racism studies: not only were 
the Japanese presented as worse than white immigrants or citizens (which 
is an emphasis of most racism, the degradation of another race) but 
editorial writers offered great praise for the work ethic of the Japanese. In 
short, the Japanese should be banned because they were both worse and 
better than whites. 

Why should the Japanese be excluded while Europeans would not 
be? They work too hard, the Chicago Daily Tribune argued. Thus, this Act 
should not insult Japan; exclusion was a compliment, a tribute of respect. 
It was an economic white flag to Japan, saying that men in the United 
States could not compete on the same level as Japanese men. After all, the 
Japanese had taken land that was abandoned or deemed worthless by 
California farmers, and they turned it into highly productive, profitable 
farms. "Their industry, ability, and thrift have put many American 
farmers and small tradesmen out of business," the Tribune said." 

The Japanese worker labored longer hours and spent less on himself, 
especially if he did not have a wife and children, the Tribune said. He 
saves the money to buy more land and supplies, then works even harder. 
"Industry, self-control, economy in expenditure are all virtues which we 
respect," the newspaper said. 52 Still, United States citizens had a different, 
higher standard of living, the newspaper said. They had families to 
support at this higher standard. 

The Neiv York Times shared a similar view: "Whatever element of 
'inferiority' may be found, when it is considered in terms of economics, 
rests on the side of the whites rather than of the Asiatic races." The Times 
noted the principal objections were of the Japanese working harder, living 
more simply and getting ahead through diligence. 1 ' 3 The ban of laborers 
was not enough, the San Francisco Chronicle said. No more Japanese 
women should be allowed in because wives were economic threats, too. 
"Japanese brides are far more objectionable immigrants than Japanese 
men. They work in the field like men and their coming means several 
Japanese citizens per bride, who can be landowners because [they are] 
born in this country and who can still live in colonies, leading the dual 
life of American citizens and Japanese subjects." 54 

The editorial added that extra ships were needed for the thousands 
of Japanese women heading to the United States before the exclusion's 
July 1, 1924 deadline. The solution for Japanese men seeking wives? Leave 
the country, the Chronicle advised. "If Japanese lawful residents in this 
country wish to marry they should move back to Japan. Let us do a 
disagreeable but necessary job in the pleasantest way possible." 55 

62 Hamm • Summer 1999 

If most newspapers studied used racist thinking to denounce the 
perceived moral differences between United States citizens and the 
Japanese, they added an unusual twist. Rarely do racists portray the other 
group to be superior, especially in important areas for personal or group 
pride such as hard work or diligence. They were not getting ahead by 
cheating, or by doing less; the Japanese men and women worked hard, 
were thrifty, practiced self-control and taught these traits to their children, 
according to the newspapers. Therefore, they should be stopped. 

Mentality 3: The Asian As Loyal Invader 

One other theme about the Japanese immigrants is threaded through 
the editorials. Newspapers suggested that the rapidly growing number of 
Japanese in California signaled an invasion of sorts; the immigrants could 
establish a peacetime foothold on the West Coast. 

After a national columnist for the Hearst newspapers referred to "the 
Japanese empire with its tens of millions of intelligent, determined 
fighters," 56 the Chronicle complained about colonies of Japanese workers 
in the United States or United States workers in Japan. This situation, the 
newspaper said, would result in "social clashes, which neither government 
could prevent drifting into international antagonisms, which would make 
impossible the cordial cooperation of the two nations." 57 

The "hard worker" argument in the Tribune moved quickly from 
economic superiority to a conquering mentality. The Tribune believed that 
to delay the immigration ban would be damaging for the future. "To go 
along year by year, with the exclusion issue always irritating our relations 
with Japan, but never inducing us to prepare for its defense, is to make 
war certain, and at the same time insure that it will be fought by us at the 
greatest possible disadvantage." 58 

The disagreement must be faced head-on, the Tribune argued, rather 
than allowed to simmer constantly. "If the Japanese either cannot or will 
not respect our right to exclude whom we please from our household, an 
issue is forced upon us from which we will not and cannot recede, even 
though our position means war." 59 Without the Act, the West would 
become an Asiatic colony. 60 If war with Japan did come because of the 
Exclusion Act, it would be a war for the United States worker, "a people's 
conflict without qualification." 61 

The Japanese were portrayed in the editorials as incompatible aliens, 
as overachieving hard workers, and loyal invaders. For these reasons, they 
deserved to be banned. But they did not deserve to be embarrassed, the 
newspapers said. And Congress, according to the editorial writers, acted 
terribly and brought shame to both countries. 

Summer 1999 • American Journalism 63 

Congress As "The Ugly American" 

The Times suggested the actions by United States lawmakers could 
lead to future conflict. Their speeches and action against Japan were 
certain to intensify hatred by the Japanese. "The Senate cast responsibility 
to the winds and showed itself willing to sow the seeds of future wars in 
order to rebuke a fancied present threat. Such bull-in-the-shop tactics are 
as disconcerting to Americans as to foreigners." 62 

The US Secretary of State, Charles Evans Hughes, had opposed the 
exclusion bill. While Congress was debating the bill, Hughes asked 
Masanao Hanihara, Japanese ambassador to the United States, to write a 
letter explaining Japan's position and its views about the present 
Gentlemen's Agreement. The letter was relayed by Hughes to the Senate. 
In an example of diplomacy gone terribly awry, the letter was used against 
Japan to rally both public and congressional opposition. 

In the letter, Hanihara discussed many items, including the observa- 
tion that Japan was most interested in the same respect and consideration 
as other nations. "In a most friendly spirit," Hanihara added that "grave 
consequences" could result from the Act in regard to relations between the 
two countries. 63 Supporters of the bill argued that Japan was trying to 
bully its way toward favorable legislation. 

The Senate and House responded swiftly. The bills were approved 
within a few days by overwhelming margins. The whole scene was an 
embarrassment, the newspapers said. "The United States is surely above 
the childishness of answering such imagined provocation out of pure spite 
by the gravest legislation," said the Herald Tribune.^ "The Senate's passion 
is about on a level with the rage of a group of college sophomores bent on 
a hazing bee in retaliation for some fancied disrespect on the part of a 
freshman. Doubtless the United States is in a position to affront Japan or 
any other nation of a smaller stature; but the bully does not cut a pleasing 
figure among men or nations." 

Following 1923's earthquake in Tokyo, the Exclusion Act was an 
emotional earthquake for Japan, the Herald Tribune said. The ban could 
be accomplished through a revision of the Gentlemen's Agreement, rather 
than the very public Immigration Act. "[The Senate] should strike out the 
obnoxious provision that humiliates Japan. It is a wretched exhibition of 
jingoism." 65 

The New York Times called the quick votes "hasty and intemperate" 
action. The legislative work was "unwisdom by the House . . . that was 
not corrected by the Senate." 66 The Times said that one Easter hope was 
that the Department of State and the Japanese government would meet to 
compromise with the least possible harm to both sides — or even that the 

64 Hamm • Summer 1999 

president would veto the bill. 67 Still, the Times wasn't against the exclusion 
ban, though at the beginning of the debate its editorials appeared to favor 
some consideration of Japan's position. By the time the bill was settled, 
the newspaper asked only for a kinder way to deal with the problem. 68 

Anti-Japanese Sentiment Was Widespread 

This study, covering one of the most significant laws in immigration 
history, shows that five of six selected daily newspapers opposed any 
admission of Japanese under the 1924 Act — not 10,000 Japanese, or 100 
Japanese, or one. The Japanese should not be covered by the two percent 
quota that applied to most other countries, said each daily newspaper 
except the Louisville Courier-Journal. The Japanese might dilute the 
Nordic strain; they were unassimilable. This view was held not just in San 
Francisco, where white citizens were interacting with Japanese, but also in 
New York and Chicago. 

Editorial writers exhibited racism toward the Japanese, but where the 
conservative mentality in the South believed in the African American's 
inferiority and the radical mentality thought of the African American as a 
savage, a dangerous beast or criminal, editorial writers did not frame the 
Japanese or Asians in similar ways. It would have been nearly impossible 
in United States society for white newspapers to argue that African 
Americans in the 1920s worked much too hard, as the Tribune did, or 
that they worked harder, lived more simply and got ahead through 
diligence, as the Times argued. Nor would most white newspapers in this 
era have offered to give African Americans a certificate of intellectual, 
moral and artistic equality, as the Examiner offered to give to the Japanese. 

Editorial writers at white newspapers used a different racial mental- 
ity toward Asians than those used by Southern whites against African 
Americans. They viewed the Japanese as Incompatible Aliens, Hard 
Workers, Loyal Invaders. In many ways, these United States newspapers 
declared the Japanese to be both superior and inferior. Oddly, the Japa- 
nese have been described as having a similar superior/inferior attitude 
toward the United States. The term for this is "gaijin complex." 69 The 
mentality exhibited by these newspapers was not liberal, conservative or 
radical — instead, it was a. gaijin complex, a mentality where both superior 
and inferior attitudes are used to reach the same conclusion: ban the 
Japanese because whites in the United States do not want them in the 

In 1924, these daily newspapers in their editorials could have been 
optimistic about a future of racial unity, of a melting pot that included 
Asians. While Williamson's three mentalities do not match the views 
toward the Japanese in this case, the future outcome or possibilities of 

Summer 1 999 • American Journalism 65 

each mentality can be applied. The newspapers could have projected an 
equal place (liberal mentality), a "proper" place (conservative mentality), 
or no place (radical mentality) for Japanese immigrants in the future 
United States society. They chose no place. 

Harsher Racist Attitudes Still a Danger 

Not until four decades later were federal immigration laws liberal- 
ized. Even today, the existing 1924 mentality of newspapers toward 
Japanese and Asians appears in press coverage. In a 1994 article about 
"Covering the Invisible 'Model Minority' " William Wong cited a popular 
inflammatory phrase — "Asian invasion" — still used in 1990s coverage of 
articles dealing with Asian Americans. 70 "To the historian," wrote John 
Dower in War Without Mercy, " there is certainly a humorous side to the 
reincarnation of the Japanese 'superman' in a business suit four decades 
after he was first observed in military uniform in the skies of the Pacific," 
or even earlier, culminating in the 1920s legislation in California and the 
1924 Immigration Act, as in this study. 71 "As the transition of Japan and 
the Western powers from war to peace demonstrated, the hard idioms 
have a soft underside; but by the same token, the softer idioms often 
conceal a hard and potentially devastating edge. ... It is predictable that 
harsher racist attitudes reminiscent of the war years will again arise at 
times of heightened competition or disagreement." 72 

This study integrates the mentality concept from historical racial 
study as a way to examine historical media framing of Japanese, but the 
mentality method could be useful concerning historical coverage of other 
minorities and groups in the United States. To better understand the 
coverage in this century of Japanese and Asian Americans, it is essential to 
look at the dominant historical mentality or mentalities that existed 
among white newspapers which were essential in framing the debate. 
Those mentalities were different from the mentalities of Southern whites 
about African Americans. These mentalities were developed long before 
World War II and were essential in the way Asians, and particularly the 
Japanese, were framed. 


'Edward Doherty, "A California 'Close-up' of the Japanese," 18 April 1924, Chicago Daily Tribune, 1:7. 

Administrative Procedure Act: Statutes at Large, 43, 153 (1924). 

'Joel Williamson, A Rage for Order: Black-White Relations in the American South Since Emancipation, 

66 Hamm • Summer 1999 

New York: Oxford University Press, 1986, 70. 

'Ibid, 71. 

Ibid, 72. 

'Virginia Mansfield-Richardson, "Asian Americans and Mass Communication in the United States: 
A Wake-up Call. Paper presented at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Commu- 
nication Annual Conference, Washington, D.C., August 1995. 

Thomas H. Heuterman, "The Japanese Americans," in U.S. News Coverage of Racial Minorities: A 
Sourcebook, 1934-1996, Beverly Ann Deepe Keever, Carolyn Martindale and Mary Ann Weston, eds. 
(Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1997), 216-248. For further study of Japanese in this time 
period, see Heuterman's The Burning Horse: The Japanese-American Experience in the Yakima Valley 
1920-1942 (Cheney: Eastern Washington University Press, 1995). 

"Marion Marzolf, "Americanizing the Melting Pot: The Media as a Megaphone for the Restriction- 
ists," in Mass Media Between the Wars: Perceptions of Cultural Tension, 1918-1941, Catherine L. Covert 
and John D. Stevens, eds. (Syracuse University Press, 1984), 107-125. 

''Rodger Streitmatter, "The Media and Racial Equality," in The Significance of the Media in 
American History, James D. Startt and Wm. David Sloan, eds. (Northport, Alabama: Vision Press, 
1994), 264. 

"'"Let Reason Prevail," 16 April 1924, San Francisco Chronicle, 26:2. 

""'Supermen and Immigration," 10 April 1924, The New York Times, 22:4. In The Ambivalent 
Welcome: Print Media, Public Opinion and Immigration, authors Rita J. Simon and Susan H. 
Alexander (Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 1993) show that United States magazines and The New York 
Times seldom supported immigrant causes from 1880 to 1990. In a review of the book J. Herbert 
Altschull of Johns Hopkins University said, "It is healthy for Americans, journalists in particular, to 
pause every now and then to examine the warts in our history and remember that our record of 
treatment of the downtrodden offers little ground for boasting." J. Herbert Altschull, "Book 
Reviews," Journalism History 19:4 (Winter 1994), 140. Simon and Alexander's study was a sampling 
of articles in magazines and the Times. 

l2 "Nation Learns to Heed Voice of California," 17 April 1924, San Francisco Examiner, 5B:1. 

'-'William Randolph Hearst, "Japanese Exclusion Vital to US, Says Mr. Hearst," 15 April 1924, San 
Francisco Examiner, 6B: 1 . For a later period, no West Coast newspapers (of 27 studied) supported the 
Japanese during the internment period in World War II. See Lloyd Chiasson, "The Japanese- 
American Encampment: an Editorial Analysis of 27 West Coast Newspapers," Newspaper Research 
Journal 12 (2): 92-107. 

'^Immigration Act of 20 February 1907, Administrative Procedure Act: Statues at Large 34, 898 

'The Gentlemen's Agreement consisted of telegrams, cables and other communications, rather 
than a statute. Bill Ong Hing, Making and Remakuig Asian America Through Immigration Policy, 
1850-1990 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993), 254. 

"The agreement was to end the immigration of laborers. Passports still could be — and were — 
issued to parents, wives, and children of residents. Also, others such as former residents, merchants, 
students, diplomats and tourists could receive passports. 

l7 Hing, 55. 

ls Akemi Kikumura, Issei Pioneers: Hawaii and the Mainland, 1885 to 1924 (Los Angeles: Japanese 
American National Museum, 1992), 37-38. For a comparison, about 15 million Europeans emigrated 
to the United States from 1900 to 1924. Bill Hosokawa, Nisei: The Quiet Americans, New York: 
William Morrow and Company, 1969), 94. 

'The Japanese government did not allow its citizens to become citizens of other countries. In 
addition, the US Congress in 1790 had given naturalization rights to free white persons residing in 
the United States for two years. After the Civil War, African Americans were included. However, 
Asians were denied naturalization rights in the Naturalization Act of 1870. 

: "Kikumura, 49. 

JI Webb v. O'Brien, 263 US 313 (1923). The alien land laws were not declared unconstitutional 
based on racial discrimination until Masaoka v. California, 39 Cal. 2d 883 (1952) and Fujii v. 
California, 38 Cal. 2d 718 (1952). In Hing, 60. The US Supreme Court was not supportive of the 
Japanese immigration efforts during this time; it later ruled in 1925 that the Japanese, Asian Indians 

Summer 1999 • American Journalism 67 

and Filipinos were not free white persons eligible for naturalization. Toyota v. United States, 268 U.S. 

"Administrative Procedure Act: Statutes at Large 22, 58 (6 May 1882). 

23 Yuji Ichioka, The hsei: The World of the First Generation Japanese Immigrants, 1885-1924 (New 
York: The Free Press, 1988), 247. 

24 Sadao Asada, Japan an/i the United States, 1915-25 (Ann Arbor, MI: University Microfilms, 
1963), 390. 

: The debate over which census to use became a significant point in the law. If lawmakers chose the 
1890 census, then western and northern European immigrants would be rewarded with higher 
numbers. II lawmakers chose the more recent 1920 census, the number of eastern and southern 
European immigrants would increase because of the great immigration during and after World War I. 
Lawmakers chose to follow the 1890 census. 

2r, James M. Jones, Prejudice and Racism, 2nd ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1997), 1 1. 

27 "Preserving the American Race," 5 April 1924, The New York Times, 14:3. 

2fl "Japanese Penetration in Hawaii," 15 April 1924, Chicago Daily Tribune, 8:2. 

2 '"'No Time to Stir Up Hatreds," 15 April 1924, San Francisco Chronicle, 24:2. 

"'"Let Congress act today on Japanese exclusion bill," 12 May 1924, San Francisco Examiner, 6B:1. 

""Asiatics in America," 27 April 1924, The New York Times, 6:2. 

""Finding a Way Out," 29 April 1924, The New York Times, 16:3. 

""Japanese Penetration in Hawaii," 15 April 1924, Chicago Daily Tribune, 8:2. 

'''"A Japanese Boycott," 25 April 1924, Chicago Daily Tribune, 8:2. 

""Think It Over," 4 May 1924, Chicago Daily Tribune, 8:1. 

"'"No Time to Stir Up Hatreds," 15 April 1924, San Francisco Chronicle, 24:2. After such a critical 
commentary, the Chronicle then suggested the debate must "stop, in heaven's name, without one 
disagreeable word on either side, and especially with only the kindest speech on our side." Then, after 
calling the Japanese both virile and competent, the Chronicle ended with, "What this poor world 
needs most is good nature. Let us contribute our share." 

""President for Exclusion," 5 May 1924, San Francisco Chronicle, 22:1. In this editorial, the 
newspaper offers an unusual view of what is expected in a democratic society. "It will not help matters 
to publicly discuss them. When the President officially informs Congress that a certain course is 
desirable in initiating an international policy in which he is in complete accord with Congress, that 
should be sufficient." 

'""The California Lesson," 8 May 1924, New York Herald Tribune, 12:1. 

""'Some friendlier Way," 30 April 1924, New York Herald Tribune, 10: 1 . 

""'The New York Times agreed with this view ("Asiatics in America," 27 April 1924, The New York 
Times, 6:2). Because the immigration standards did not exclude Asian visitors, the Times argued, there 
was no racism involved, only exclusion of workers "on account of difference of traditions and types of 

4 '"The Gentlemanly Way," 13 April 1924, New York Herald Tribune, II 6:2. 

42 Roscoe Simmons, "The Week," 26 April 1924, Chicago Defender, II 1:2. 

"'"Perhaps It Wasn't Intended for Us, but — ," 19 April 1924, Chicago Defender, 14:3. 

44 Simmons, 26 April 1924. 

4, "Stirring Up Race Hatreds," 3 May 1924, Chicago Defoider, I 14:2. 

"''"'Supermen' and Immigration," 10 April 1924, The New York Times, 22:4. 

47 " Preserving the American Race," 5 April 1924, The New York Times, 14:3. 

4S "The Immigration Question," 8 April 1924, Louisville Courier-Journal, 6:2. The Louisville paper 
did not cover the issue much. It had a half-dozen editorials about the immigration act in nearly two 
months. The othet daily newspapers had that many in less than ten days. The argument by biologist 
Dr. Ivey F. Lewis of the University of Virginia, as quoted in the Courier-Journal, was: "The citizen of 
tomorrow! Is there any problem facing our statesmen to compare in importance with this? Our 
country will be what it is tomorrow because of what it is today. We have undertaken the direction of 
human evolution. At the present moment we are bungling the job. What is happening in the United 

68 Hamrn* Summer 1999 

States is insuring with tragic finality chat the next generation will be less capable of bearing its burden 
than the present one. Since 1875 we have been doing nearly everything possible to insure racial decay. 
The falling birth rate has been accomplished among the better classes. Unrestricted immigration has 
diluted our stock with millions of unassimilated aliens." 

''''"Exclude Prejudice From US Immigration Policy," 1 May 1924, San Francisco Examiner, 1 B: 1 . 

'""Nation Needs Plenty of Desirable Immigration," 30 April 1924, San Francisco Examiner, 6B:1. 

5l "The Issue with Japan," 14 April 1924, Chicago Daily Tribune, 8:2. 

""Insulting Japan," 18 April 1924, Chicago Daily Tribune, 8:1. 

""Differing Standards," 24 April 1924, The New York Times, 18:2. 

54 "The Real Japanese Menace," 17 May 1924, San Francisco Chronicle, 26:1. 

55 "Co-operation Necessary" 10 May 1924, San Francisco Chronicle, 25:2. 

^Arthur Brisbane, "Today," 6 April 1924, San Francisco Examiner, 1, 2. 

57 "Co-operation Necessary," 10 May 1924, San Francisco Chronicle, 25:2. 

'""We Cannot Compromise a Sovereign Right," 16 April 1924, Chicago Daily Tribune, 8:1. 

5 '"We Cannot Compromise a Sovereign Right," 16 April 1924, Chicago Daily Tribune, 8:1. 

''""Japanese Penetration in Hawaii," 15 April 1924, Chicago Daily Tribune, 8:2. 

S, "A People's Issue," 20 April 1924, Chicago Daily Tribune, 8:1. The Tribune also argued, however, 
that Japan would be unlikely to attack the Philippines because "the Japanese do not like or thrive in 
tropical climates, any more than they like or thrive in severe northern climates. It is their chief, and 
perhaps their sole, physical weakness as a race." From "The Philippines, Japan and America," 17 April 
1924, Chicago Daily Tribune, 8:1. 

w "As Congress Cools Off," 17 April 1924, The New York Times, 18:1. 

"Hanihara to Hughes, 10 April 1924, Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United 
States, 1915-25 (Washington, D.C., 1924-39). In Asada, 390. 

M "Spite Diplomacy," 16 April 1924, New York Herald Tribune, 14:1. 

'' 5 "Uncalled-for Temper," 15 April 1924, New York Herald Tribune, 14:1. 

"'"Affronting Japan," 15 April 1924, The New York Times, 20:1. 

67 "A Black Friday," 20 April 1924, The New York Times, II 6:2. 

ss "The Real Japanese Question," 3 May 1924, The New York Times, \A-A. 

f '"For a description of the "gaijin complex," see Robert C. Christopher, The Japanese Mind: The 
Goliath Explained, New York: Linden Press, 1983. Gaijin means foreigner in Japanese. 

7 "William Wong, "Covering the Invisible 'Model Minority,'" Media Studies Journal, 8, 3 (Summer 
1994), 49-61. 

7l John W Dower, War Without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War, New York: Pantheon 
Books, 1986,312. 

72 Ibid, 312. 

Summer 1 999 • American Journalism 69 

70 Summer 1999 

Project Chariot, Nuclear Zeal, Easy 
Journalism and the Fate of Eskimos 

By John Merton Marrs 

A federal government proposal to detonate up to five nuclear bombs in 
northwest Alaska was greeted in 1958 with routine news coverage in Alaska's 
two largest newspapers and in The New York Times. The press coverage 
followed routine patterns, framed the proposal in progressive economic terms 
and favored government sources until after I960, when articles that repre- 
sented the Native Alaskan point of view and questioned the Natives' safety 
began to appear in alternative media. The same mainstream media tendencies 
that earlier produced coverage that ignored the Natives ultimately resulted in 
recognition of their cause and helped to prevent the project's completion. 

The circumpolar arctic tundra is a unique environment on 
this planet, having no counterpart in the southern hemi- 
sphere. Not infrequently it is described as remote, desolate, 
barren, and climatically rigorous. Probably none of these 
adjectives is accurate, and possibly they are misleading. 
— Committee on Environmental Studies for Project Chariot, 1966' 

Project Chariot, proposed publicly in 1958, was a plan to 
detonate five nuclear bombs to excavate a harbor in north 
west Alaska. The announcement of the plan by the Atomic 
Energy Commission (AEC) began a four-year controversy that awakened 
Eskimos to their political interests and helped stimulate a national 
environmental movement. The controversy unfolded amid international 
cold war tensions and public anxiety over the prospects of nuclear war and 

John Merton Marrs teaches journalism at Everett (Wash.) Community College. This paper is 
based on research as a doctoral student at the University of Washington. 

Summer 1999 • American Journalism 71 

the effects of radiation. Yet the issue unfolded slowly in the pages of the 
newspapers, even in Alaska. 

The performance of the newspapers was marked by doing business 
as usual and by a reluctance to pay attention to the negative side of the 
issue until time and other media thrust the fuller issue into the newspa- 
pers' laps. This paper argues that this "lap effect" in the end served the 
cause of the marginalized Eskimo minority by recognizing the cause once 
it gained legitimacy, although the history of Project Chariot shows that 
this effect could have come too late in a controversy of less complexity 
and longevity. 

The venue of controversy was a remote corner of the Arctic, a region 
of barren gravel beaches and tundra west of the mountains. Prime-time 
news had not dawned on television, and the vortex of the still-new public 
debate over atomic energy in the United States manifested in the pages of 
the daily newspapers and news magazines. This article analyzes the 
performance of daily newspapers in the unusual case of Project Chariot. 
How did the press respond to unusual news respecting people outside the 
mainstream? Did press coverage portray conflict so that more attention 
might be drawn to the issues, or was the Project Chariot proposal pre- 
sented as conflict-free? 

If coverage failed to uncover conflict in the beginning, did this 
change over time? Did any changes in press coverage occur after the 
Native cause was recognized in alternative publications outside of Alaska 
and after Native groups met to express their protest with one voice? How 
did press coverage work out regarding the legitimacy of the issues of 
Eskimo rights or environmental hazard? These questions may require 
suggesting answers to others, such as: How did the press use or rely on 
sources? What mode of operation characterized press performance? 
The concept of the "mainstream," defined as the Caucasian majority, 
capitalist-adherent population, is central to these considerations. 

The author reviewed relevant literature in studies of conflict; of 
minority influence; of the inter-related media hypotheses known by the 
names of gatekeeping, source reliance and issue framing; of the economics 
and politics of hegemony; interviewed principal actors from the time; 
studied documents at the Department of Energy in Germantown, 
Maryland, and at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks; and analyzed all the 
articles about Project Chariot in the Anchorage Daily Times, the Fairbanks 
Daily News-Miner and The New York Times between June 1958 and 
August 1962. 

This analysis focuses on key newspapers in a controversy that was 
the genesis of government environmental impact studies, the political 
organization of disparate Alaska villages and tribes, and Alaska Native 

72 Marrs • Summer 1999 

land claims. Project Chariot was an active proposal until August 1962, 
and remains controversial for the discovery in 1992 of radioactive material 
left behind as an experiment in nuclear waste erosion. 2 News articles and 
editorial commentaries from the newspapers have been coded paragraph 
by paragraph and analyzed quantitatively and qualitatively. The coverage 
of Project Chariot manifested 121 articles in the Fairbanks newspaper, 92 
in the Anchorage Times and 16 in The New York Times. The latter was 
chosen for comparison as an industry standard and as an outside refer- 
ence. 3 

Atomic Energy Commission Never Conceded Danger 

The Atomic Energy Commission's initial announcement of an 
Alaska nuclear harbor experiment on June 8, 1958, attracted fleeting 
attention in Alaska and no singular, immediate notice in 77?^ New York 
Times. The Anchorage Daily Times, then Alaska's largest newspaper, printed 
the Associated Press (AP) story on page one; the Fairbanks Daily News- 
Miner ran the AP report on page three, and the Anchorage Daily News, 
then a poor, job-shop competitor of the Times, printed a United Press 
report on page one. No additional news stories appeared until July 1 5 
when nuclear physicist Edward Teller and at least two colleagues made an 
impromptu tour of Juneau, Anchorage and Fairbanks to talk with reporters, 
politicians and community leaders. The New York Times first reported the 
experiment "between Cape Seppings and Cape Thompson" on page 9, July 
20. "Project Chariot," as it would be named, appeared regularly in articles 
and editorials for the next 49 months in Alaska and The New York Times. 

Those months can be viewed through the analogy of a foot race, 
subdivided into laps as follows: July 1958 through May I960, June I960 
through May 1961, and from June 1961 to the end. During the first two 
years, Teller and the AEC faced some mainstream questions in press 
coverage about economic prospects, but the Eskimos and their environ- 
ment were discussed only once — in a Fairbanks letter to the editor. 
During the next year, Teller left the program and the opposition showed 
signs of mounting a challenge. Finally, in the third lap, the challenges won 
a balance in coverage. One reality underlay the entire project: the govern- 
ment scientists' overweening interest in nuclear blasting and their coinci- 
dent dismissal of the arguments of Eskimos and dissenters. The press, by 
and large, followed the leaders until late in the race. 

The central question involved the government's consideration of 
environmental effects. Doubts concerned more than 500 Eskimos, the 
wild game they relied on in a harsh wilderness, and the effects that 
radioactive fallout might have on their lives. 4 The central conflict derived 

Summer 1 999 • American Journalism 73 

from the AEC's inability to acknowledge risk, while repeatedly insisting 
that everything would be done to assure the experiment would hurt no 
one. In the end, the commissions action was as good as its promises, but 
the commission never conceded danger as a reality and documents suggest 
that the commission staff never wanted to give up. In the spring of 1962, 
the director of the Division of Peaceful Nuclear Explosives recommended 
the project's termination, but wrote as he did so that the experiment could 
still provide data on nuclear excavation and "the chance of . . . jeopardizing 
the lives of the local inhabitants ... is exceedingly remote .... [The] 
uncertainties . . . can only be resolved by proceeding . . . ." 5 

The Project Chariot controversy was actually small amid major 
events from 1958 to 1962: the years of Sputnik, the first space flights by 
Soviets and by Americans, the Soviet capture of U2 spy plane pilot 
Francis Gary Powers, the construction of the Berlin Wall, the failed Bay of 
Pigs invasion of Cuba, and extensive nuclear testing that brought the 
world to the brink of nuclear war. In Alaska, Project Chariot never ranked 
in any of the year-end Top Ten lists of state news in the Anchorage or 
Fairbanks papers. 

The public worried about nuclear war, and newspaper articles 
showed how to build backyard fallout shelters, but disagreement was 
widespread regarding radiation dangers. By I960, Teller and a prominent 
adversary, Dr. Linus Pauling, were the living icons of the opposing 
arguments. Teller professed humanity's ability to control nuclear contami- 
nation and Pauling doubted it. Looking back on the debate, Sheldon 
Novick wrote in 1969 in "The Careless Atom" that nuclear testing "was 
probably the most massive (and unintentional) experiment in biology ever 
undertaken, and the results are just beginning to come in." 6 

Edward Teller Promoted Peaceful Uses 

As though to rescue the world from nuclear nightmares, Dr. Teller 
(widely nicknamed "the father of the hydrogen bomb") stepped forward 
to promote Project Plowshare, a program designed to find peaceful uses 
for the nuclear sword. He was director of the University of California's 
Livermore Radiation Laboratory, which had proposed the Plowshare 
program and which the AEC had charged with the program's direction. 
Teller and the AEC envisioned digging harbors and canals (including a 
new Panama canal), mining water resources and generating electricity 
with nuclear explosions. In theory, money could be saved because nuclear 
power could move much more earth per dollar than dynamite. 7 Teller 
went to Juneau to herald the first beneficial application of nuclear power 
under the rubric of Plowshare. He boasted of moving mountains ("just 

74 Marrs • Summer 1999 

drop us a card") and later averred that atomic power's first victims, the 
Japanese, could be the first major beneficiaries of the peaceful application 
of nuclear explosion technology. 8 The first step was to be a harbor at 
Cape Thompson. 

Eskimos Overlooked in Early Planning 

Teller's plan to rescue Alaska's frozen north from its stereotypically 
useless status as barren waste was a dream of the mainstream culture. The 
other side of the story centers on the 5,000-year-old Eskimo culture of 
Point Hope, Alaska, where Native hunters in the fall of 1958 were 
surprised to find AEC workers in the Ogotoruk Valley. The AEC had not 
bothered to notify the inhabitants of villages so far away, yet so near. 9 

Here lay the crux of the problem. The 300 Eskimo citizens of Point 
Hope, who lived 32 miles north of ground zero, were of such little 
account in the thought of the majority culture, as represented by govern- 
ment agents and the press, that they were simply not considered in the 
project's first-stage work. The Eskimos had thrived in the Arctic environ- 
ment for centuries, but their subsistence lifestyle was alien to the main- 
stream. Teller told the press the government had looked all over the world 
for the best site, yet this search was actually paperwork, compiled by a 
consulting firm without setting foot in northwest Alaska. 10 

Project Chariot drew no opposition in the villages at first. Some 
Natives gained part-time field work with AEC. Point Hope had been in 
regular contact with white people for more than 100 years, and the village 
included an Episcopal church. Point Hope's economy was not 100 
percent subsistence. A number of the village men had served in the armed 
forces and many worked summer jobs in Fairbanks to earn money for 
housing materials, heating oils, flour and hunting materials for whaling 
and for shooting caribou." 

The Eskimos were not party to the public debate through 1958 and 
early 1959 over the harbor proposed in their hunting area. The debate, 
such as it was, occurred in the mainstream press and in the meetings of 
chambers of commerce over whether Alaska would benefit economically 
from a harbor on the Chukchi Sea coast. Teller and others envisioned the 
Eskimos as new- age coal miners. But on June 26, 1959, the Anchorage 
Times reported that Teller conceded during a press conference that there 
was no foreseeable economic value for a Cape Thompson harbor. The 
cape was icebound eight or nine months of the year, and mineral deposits 
were not in fact close enough to be transported to the site except at great 
expense. 12 

The Daily News-Miner buried this resolution of the great economic 
debate in a continuation on an inside page four days later. The scientists 

Summer 1999 • American Journalism 75 

still hoped to test their hypotheses about nuclear excavation and pressed 
on with a public relations campaign aimed at winning over Alaskans. The 
project was downsized— from 2.4 megatons to 460 kilotons. 13 Livermore 
and AEC scientists said the hole could still be used if anyone wanted to 
pay for harbor improvements, and the notion of a harbor persisted to the 
very end when the final AEC press release described Project Chariot as "a 
small scale harbor." 14 

Over months doubts emerged in Point Hope. A geographer, Don 
Charles Foote, hired from McGill University by AEC, became troubled 
by likely effects on the Eskimos. Other scientists from the University of 
Alaska developed doubts, notably botanist Leslie Viereck, who on Decem- 
ber 29, 1960, resigned from the project, effectively accusing the AEC of 
lying about research findings. He became president of the Alaska Conser- 
vation Society and later campaigned publicly against the project. 15 

Point Hope's Episcopal minister, Keith Lawton, joined the doubters, 
as did two New Hampshire businessmen, Joe Haddock, who visited Point 
Hope in the summer of I960, and his friend Max Foster, both Episcopal 
parishioners. 16 The two lobbied Congress and also contacted university 
scientists with the Greater St. Louis Committee for Nuclear Information 
(CNI), a group that included Barry Commoner of Washington Univer- 
sity, who would become a leading spokesman for environmental causes. 
This was one of at least two Eskimo links to CNI. LaVerne Madigan, 
national secretary of the Association for American Indian Affairs, also 
made sure the Eskimos and CNI knew each other. 17 In time, as CNI 
studied Project Chariot, the committee connected with some of the field 
researchers, including Foote, Viereck, and William Pruitt, and the Eski- 
mos' circle of friends grew. 18 This was the beginning of a political mobili- 
zation that would culminate in an unprecedented meeting of disparate 
Native groups in northern Alaska. 

A Clash of Cultures 

The Eskimos of Point Hope first protested in November 1959 in a 
letter to the AEC. 19 Eventually, the Chariot officials were persuaded they 
must deal with Point Hope and, in March I960, three men visited the 
village. What occurred was a clash of cultures that only assured the 
Eskimos their fears were well founded. Lawton attended the meeting. His 
notes show that the visitors presented a technical film with a technical 
narration the residents little understood. The villagers' elemental ques- 
tions were not answered except by sweeping assurances that no harm 
would come to them. 20 

76 Marrs • Summer 1999 

The AEC did extend its program of environmental studies. This was 
significant for at least two reasons: it expanded the purpose of the studies 
and lengthened the project's lead time. AEC had a program of environ- 
mental studies from the beginning, but the original purpose was simply to 
collect "before" data to compare with "after" data from the blast; now the 
studies took on the larger purpose of considering the Eskimos' welfare 
rather than only the effects upon them. This elemental shift went unre- 
ported in the press beyond pro forma reports that there would be 50 
researchers in the Ogotoruk Valley for the summer of 1 960. The full 
environmental report would not be published until 1966, but dissenting 
researchers made reports to CNI, which proved to be as public relations 
conscious as Teller and the AEC. 

In June 1961, CNI devoted a full edition of its bulletin, Nuclear 
Information, to Project Chariot. At the core of the report: 

• radioactive fallout concentrates in lichen, a rootless plant that 
takes its sustenance not from the soil but straight from the air; 

• caribou live on lichens, including places like Cape Thompson's 
Ogotoruk Valley where winds sweep off the snow and expose 
the delicate tundra plant life; 

• Eskimos eat caribou, up to 30 percent of their diet. 

The bottom line was troubling. Even though radioactive fallout fell 
in lighter quantities in polar regions than elsewhere, the effect of the 
Eskimo food chain was to concentrate the radioactivity such that Eskimos 
carried much more radioactivity than other Americans. Commoner and 
CNI did not directly oppose the project but argued that no one knew 
what was safe, and that the AEC could not assure that no one would be 
harmed by blasting Chariot. 21 The timing of CNI's bulletin proved 
critical. It followed shortly after the Sierra Club Bulletin reprinted 
Viereck's story from the Alaska Conservation Society, and it stimulated 
further coverage of the issue nationally by the wire services and magazines. 

With support from the Association for American Indian Affairs, 
Alaska's Eskimos held an unprecedented meeting in Barrow in November 
1961 under the name "Inupiat Paitot," a reference to "people's heritage." 
The Natives took a stand that the lands surrounding their villages (includ- 
ing Cape Thompson) were historically theirs, that they held legitimate 
rights to these lands, and the government had no right to the use of the 
land without their consent. Neither the Anchorage Times nor The New 
York Times covered the conference, but the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner 

Summer 1999 • American Journalism 77 

sent reporter Tom Snapp. The rest of the press thus covered this singular 
Native American event second hand. This story was the culmination of a 
significant change in coverage by the Fairbanks newspaper, as will be 
shown. 22 

When the AEC actually set Chariot on the shelf, The New York 
Times told the story in only three AP paragraphs. In the third paragraph, 
the AEC conceded nothing, saying that "information expected to be 
gained from the project was now available or might be developed from 
other experiments." 23 AEC's project chief had written in an internal 

However, on balance, it would appear that the most seriously 
adverse effect of the decision to cancel . . . would be the 
lasting impression on certain officials and on public opinion 
generally that there was really some danger to the local 
inhabitants after all. 24 

New Territory for Press Coverage 

This study explores the role of the press in Project Chariots transfor- 
mation from project to reject. Throughout the period from 1958 to 1962 
Project Chariot had a public dimension as part of Project Plowshare. As a 
plan for civil uses of nuclear technology, Plowshare work was ostensibly 
above board and public rather than classified. In practice, the AEC had 
broad military security powers, and an uncertain volume of documenta- 
tion remained under classification review more than 30 years later. 25 

Yet the AEC's public relations campaign and the nature of the 
program brought Plowshares Projects Chariot, Gnome and Sedan 
extensive, issue-oriented news coverage. This was new territory for news 
organizations, accustomed by the secrecy of wartime atomic research to 
receiving only what their government considered newsworthy. 26 How did 
the press respond to unusual news respecting people beyond the main- 
stream? Did press coverage portray conflict and debate? Did coverage 
manifest change over time? What reporting methods or practices were 
evident, including the use of sources, in the way the press handled Project 

To analyze such press performance, a framework was needed that 
encompassed the nature of the press as well as the nature of the issues 
under consideration. This study examines the articles published in Alaska's 
two primary daily newspapers of the day, the Anchorage Times and the 
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, and the nation's then most-ubiquitous daily, 

78 Marrs • Summer 1999 

The New York Times. The analytical framework includes the nature of 
minorities and influence in public politics and the role of conflict as a 
mechanism of interaction and communication. Questions of minorities 
and press treatment deal as well with the legitimation of minority points 
of view. The importance of influence and its relationship to conflict has 
been studied in social psychology and communications. Moscovici in 
1976 showed how the social control value of the majority culture, or 
mainstream, relies on the "painless resolution of conflicts" to help main- 
tain a "single view of reality" in support of the status quo. 27 He wrote that 
conflict is "at the root of uncertainty" as people vie to make others unsure 
of their opinions, and "the greater the conflict the more profound the 

Tichenor, Donohue and Olien, in extensive research of Minnesota 
communities and news media, have shown that the portrayal of conflict 
over issues helps to increase public attention and tends also to narrow the 
"knowledge gap" with "an increased likelihood in a conflict that citizens 
of all status levels will acquire information." 29 Similarly, Hornig studied 
readers' feelings of powerlessness in relation to science news and found 
that conflict or the representation of ambiguity among supposed experts 
gave readers an enhanced sense of power as opposed to when all experts 
seemed to agree. 30 Thus it appears that press portrayals can attract atten- 
tion, stimulate doubt and lend legitimacy to arguments. The obverse 
supposition is that without conflict, little information is acquired, or the 
information purveyed tends only to support the status quo and not to 
stimulate change. 

Hallin illustrated the importance of gaining legitimacy in order for a 
minority point of view to win recognition. In his model of news status, 
Hallin depicts concentric circles in which the inner circle is the sphere of 
consensus, the middle circle the sphere of legitimate controversy, and 
everything beyond that circle the sphere or domain of the deviant, or 
those who are not recognized in the inner circles. The move from devi- 
ance into legitimate controversy is critical, for it is only there that issues 
win debate. Issues in deviance are largely ignored, while matters in 
consensus are accepted as given. 31 

In separate studies on minority influence, Moscovici and Gerard 
found that such a move into legitimate controversy is critical to minority 
achievement in conflict with a majority. Once a minority achieves cred- 
ibility, it may even enjoy a tactical advantage, as described by Gerard: 

The majority establishment . . . tends to be deaf to currents of 
opinion that might undermine their vested interests, whereas 
the marginal minority, with no such stake, can afford to be 

Summer 1 999 • American Journalism 79 

open . . . The closed, confirming, biased stance of the majority 
... is the seed of the majority's eventual undoing. 32 

Moscovici concluded that a group creates conflict when it resists 
conforming to the majority and proposes an alternative. Consistent 
pressure can bring its viewpoint to the fore and such a group "thus forces 
everyone to take its alternative into consideration." 33 

In reference to Alaska, circa 1959, the terms "mainstream" and 
"majority culture" will be used here synonymously as references to the 
white, Judaeo-Christian majority population, and its capitalist, frontier 
land-use ethic. The minority in this study is actually a coalition: the 
Eskimos, small in number and separated from the majority by geography 
and an aboriginal culture; and dissenting members of the mainstream, 
chiefly university scientists and conservationists. In the course of Project 
Chariot, these groups effectively coalesced around the Eskimo cause. 

Mainstream Press: Benign or Malignant? 

In this study's conceptual framework, where does the press fit? The 
consensual view in Alaska, then as now, favored progress and boosterism. 
The new state's majority culture was flush with the triumph of statehood 
in 1959, and the Anchorage Times and its publisher, Robert Atwood, were 
at the forefront. In the American experience, such boosterism was com- 
mon in the frontier press. 34 Behind the slogan of the "Last Frontier" in 
Alaska, there ran a strong thread of a frontier spirit and an accompanying 
boosterism that Atwood championed as much as if not more than any- 
one. 3 '' In Fairbanks, publisher C.W. Snedden was a newcomer by Alaska 
standards, but he embraced the booster mentality, serving the new Alaska 
State Chamber of Commerce as president. 36 

Such publishers held a stake in a kind of progressive status quo and 
as such were members of the mainstream, majority culture. Yet this is not 
a study of publishers alone, and here a full picture of newspaper press 
performance requires an additional frame of reference. In Human Behav- 
ior and the Principle of Least Effort, Zipf hypothesized that people are 
prone to find paths that work, and to rely on them in ways that create and 
reinforce a status quo. 

The principle holds that humans seek efficiency in terms of the least 
effort required to achieve a given result, and then repeat the behavior 
rather than risk new effort. Thus habits are born. 37 The principle is put 
forward here as a single container for other hypotheses — newsroom 

80 Marrs* Summer 1999 

socialization, gatekeeping, agenda setting, source reliance and issue 
framing — to be dealt with as a whole, accepting their common emphasis 
on how the press does its job, but rejecting for the purposes of this study 
arguments of distinction and cause and effect. The principle of least effort 
also offers an alternative explanation to the conspiratorial implication 
made in some analyses that press complicity, rather than expedience or 
habit, is at work in repressing minorities and upholding the majority 
status quo. The proposition here suggests that complicity resulting merely 
from sloth or habit is susceptible to change. It is assumed that a conscious 
application of ideology would not be so amenable to change. In other 
words, the assumption suggests that a slothful press can manifest changes 
that a conspiratorial press would refuse; that the mainstream press at its 
worst may be benign rather than malignant. 

This inquiry includes questions of how issues are framed in the 
news, which issues are portrayed as newsworthy, and how news organiza- 
tions use sources. Thus, the question of how the press performs contains 
within it a subsidiary question: Does press performance manifest an 
aspect of news coverage by rote rather than by the rigorous search for 
truth that the press often claims as its nature? Does the press use and rely 
on readily available sources, habitual sources, or those sources with a 
vested interest in one point of view? Or does the press seek out the hard 
interview or the unusual answers? 

One model of the difference between using routine sources and 
methods or seeking out alternative views was displayed by the Seattle 
Times in its coverage of another Alaska story, the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 
1989. In Smith's analysis of the Exxon Valdez coverage, the Pulitzer Prize, 
taken as an award that recognizes exemplary journalism, was earned by 
the Seattle Times because its reporters and editors avoided routine, easy 
approaches to find perspectives that other media ignored. 38 

Certain assumptions undergird this study. The first is that Project 
Chariot would have harmed the Eskimos and their lifestyle. Disagree- 
ments about fallout effects go back to the 1940s. 39 Yet evidence of harm 
from nuclear testing has been documented in Kazakhstan, where the 
Soviet Union detonated some 500 nuclear weapons, as well as among 
island peoples of the Pacific testing area used by the United States. 40, 41 

The second and primary assumption is that this case study is 
generalizable, for its place in the past is the recent past and not the far past 
and lies well within prevailing press norms of the practice of objectivity 
and fair play. The press by the late '50s was accustomed to portraying 
itself as the watchdog of government. Further, issues central to this study, 

Summer 1999 • American Journalism 

including a call for the press to be open to minority points of view, were 
promoted prominently a decade earlier in the Report of the Commission 
on Freedom of the Press. 42 

Early Studies Criticized Coverage 

Several studies of Project Chariot have been published. Four retro- 
spective works have been published since 1986, each critical of Alaska's 
mainstream press for supporting the project without regard for the 
Eskimos of the region or the environment. The earliest major critiques of 
Project Chariot were the reports in the Sierra Club Bulletin in May 
1961, 43 by the Committee for Nuclear Information in June 1961 44 and 
by Harpers magazine in 1962. 4:i These reports did not address media 

The recent studies have been qualitative examinations that (among 
other arguments) suggested active press bias without attempting to 
account for the full range of press coverage and publicity. In "An Authen- 
tic Voice in the Technocratic Wilderness: Alaskan Natives and the Tundra 
Times," authors Patrick Daley and Beverly James viewed Project Chariot 
from a communications perspective in light of the Gramscian concept of 
hegemony. The authors offer an extensive critical analysis of the events in 
two issues affecting Alaska Natives: Project Chariot and the coincident 
federal enforcement of a waterfowl hunting ban near Barrow. 

The paper shows how Natives resorted to media, the founding of the 
Tundra Times, to gain access into Alaska's mass media. It aptly critiques 
the failings of the mainstream press to confront the issues, but it also fails 
to measure or acknowledge press changes during the controversy or to 
explore ways in which Eskimos, scientists and conservationists were able 
to enter the public debate through the mainstream media. The Tundra 
Times actually came too late to the rescue, publishing its first edition after 
Project Chariot was suspended. 

In the Daley and James view, whether it was hegemony or home- 
town boosterism, the result was the same: 

In Alaska, this process was played out in the press whenever issues 
of economic development offered promises of economic payoff 
through the quick fixes of scientific, technological, and military 
expertise. Any dissent could be managed by appealing to the 
technical and scientific knowledge of legitimated experts. Claims 
could be asserted under the professional rules of objectivity and 
impartiality . . . legitimated sources could command newspaper 
space . . . with little threat of challenge . . . . 46 

82 Marrs • Summer 1999 

An extensive Project Chariot account came from a British researcher, 
Peter Coates, in his book, The Trans-Alaska Pipeline Controversy. In laying 
the groundwork for the pipeline story, Coates first details the history of 
two presaging proposals, Project Chariot and Rampart Dam, an abortive 
plan to dam the Yukon River. The Coates book has a lengthy bibliography 
and extensive notations, and traces the history of the country's colonial 
use of Alaska to modern Alaska boosterism. Coates addresses Native 
concerns and sketches press coverage of Project Chariot, including the 
boosterism of publishers Atwood and Snedden, without posing any 
research question about press performance. 47 Coates concluded that the 
argument over Chariot was "how the proposal jeopardized the Native way of 
life . . . and the inseparability of humankind from the rest of nature . . . ." 48 

Coates took his lead from an historical account of the controversy, 
"Project Chariot: How Alaska Escaped Nuclear Excavation," published in 
1989 in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists by Dan O'Neill. 49 O'Neill's is an 
extensively researched, compact history, touching on all the major points 
of Project Chariot, but it deals only peripherally with the press. He later 
expanded his report to book length. 50 One other book, Art and Eskimo 
Power: The Life and Times of Alaskan Howard Rock by Lael Morgan, 
includes four chapters about Project Chariot, but deals with the media 
only anecdotally. 51 

This literature tells much of the history of Project Chariot but has 
examined the news media role only secondarily and hypothetical ques- 
tions about minority influence not at all. It seems insufficient to quote a 
few editorials that seem outrageous in the light of 1986 or 1989, and to 
conclude that Project Chariot was a botch job by the mainstream press. 
The studies published so far do not tell us whether the press failed to 
portray conflict, failed to report the Eskimo viewpoint, or failed to tell 
oppositional sides of the story. 

The "Frontier" Alaska Press Cheered Project Chariot 

The Alaska press in 1958 was not metropolitan. The Anchorage 
Times was the largest newspaper and passed 20,000 in circulation during 
the Project Chariot period. The next largest papers were the Fairbanks 
Daily News-Miner and the Anchorage Daily News with roughly 10,000 
circulation each. 52 The Daily News was then a sideline published by a 
printing shop operator, and was not taken very seriously. 53, 54 There were 
only three other daily newspapers in the state, totaling fewer than 9,000 
subscribers in Juneau, Ketchikan and Sitka. 

Anchorage and Fairbanks had commercial radio stations. Television 
was available, but there were no satellite links, network programming 

Summer 1 999 • American Journalism 83 

wasn't live and newscasting efforts were slight. Alaska TV viewers waited 
to see programs that were broadcast at least a week earlier in the lower 48 
states. United Press had a representative in Anchorage. The Associated 
Press operated a one-man Alaska bureau in Juneau, the new state's capital 
city. Juneau was almost as far as one could be from Point Hope and still 
be in the same state, a distance roughly equal to that between Chicago 
and San Francisco, but here there was no road from one to the other, no 
train tracks, no regularly scheduled airline, and no telephone lines. 

In Alaska's two largest cities, the Anchorage Times and the Fairbanks 
Daily News-Miner cheered the AEC, following every official visit of Teller 
or other AEC representatives with editorials and largely one-sided news 
reports. 5S Anchorage's Atwood stood second to no one as an Alaska and 
Anchorage booster, and manifested little interest in any journalistic ethic 
that would separate him from his favorite causes. He chaired the State- 
hood Committee while his newspaper promoted statehood without pause 
or caution, both in editorial comment and in choices of coverage and 

When it came to the AEC proposal, he recalled, "We were always 
pro, positive and go-for-it; go ahead." He had editorialized that the 
newspaper was for the people and that his concerns were those that 
reflected the most good for the most people.' 6 Now his newspaper said 
editorially that Alaskans had to trust in progress and the experts who, 
after all, were the ones who understood nuclear technology. S7 Atwood had 
published the Times since buying it in 1935 when Anchorage was a town 
of 2,500 on the shore of Cook Inlet. It could be said that Atwood married 
Anchorage, for his purchase of the newspaper virtually coincided with his 
marriage to Evangeline Rasmuson, daughter of the town's and eventually 
the state's No. 1 banker. What was good for Anchorage's economy was 
good for the Atwoods, and what was good for the Atwoods from 1942 on 
was an almost constantly increasing federal presence. 

The federal government put Anchorage at the heart of Alaska, 
choosing to route the Alaska Railroad from ports at Seward and Whittier 
through Anchorage to the Interior, and siting Air Force and Army bases 
just across the river from the city. By 1958, some 70,000 people lived in 
Anchorage and Atwood was selling almost 20,000 newspapers a day six 
days a week. Few members of his newspaper's audience were Alaska 
Natives, and some of those were Indians rather than Eskimos. In 1960, 
Alaska's urban population was 85,767; the white majority numbered 
76,131; African Americans 3,414; Indians 3,524; "Other" 1,972; and 
Asians 1,769. The Eskimos were part of the "other" category. 58 

In Fairbanks, C.W Snedden came along in the mid-1950s as a 
newspaper efficiency expert who had been hired to size up the Daily 

84 Marrs • Summer 1999 

News-Miner and make recommendations to its publisher, Austin "Cap" 
Lathrop, a successful businessman who also owned radio stations. When 
Lathrop didn't like the bottom line of Snedden's recommendations, 
Lathrop said that he wished he had someone to buy it. Snedden took him 
up on the idea. 59 

Fairbanks had benefited from federal spending as Anchorage had. 
Fairbanks was the terminus of the Alaska Highway, the home of Ladd Air 
Force Base and the city nearest to Fort Greely. Construction was under 
way on early-warning system radar stations in the north. Neither the 
Anchorage Times nor the Fairbanks News-Miner was in the business of 
questioning federal spending in Alaska, let alone in a distant corner which 
some believed to be a barren waste. If the feds could make Cape Thomp- 
son worth something — in the capitalist, land-profiting sense of worth — 
then this was all to the good. 60 A sympathetic biographer wrote that 
Atwood "celebrated" Project Chariot as "tailor-made for the remote and 
sparsely settled region." 61 The News-Miner unabashedly welcomed Teller 
and the AEC in its editorial columns, quoting Teller and concluding: "We 
say to Dr. Teller and his fellow scientists: Alaska welcomes you. Tell us 
how we can help." 62 

Economics Versus Invisible Eskimos 

The only early arguments in the press about the merits of Project 
Chariot were about economics and were among members of the majority 
culture. Early press reports usually made no mention of the presence of 
Native residents, and their use of the land was not an issue. 

Despite common interests in boosterism and federal spending, the 
Fairbanks News-Miner and the Anchorage Times were not twins. Anchor- 
age was the hub of Alaska's mainstream economy, and Native influence 
was slight — economically and socially. Fairbanks, the commercial center 
of the north, was much closer to the villages and enjoyed significant ties 
to the life and economy of the Yukon River, the traditional "highway" to 
the coast. The Fairbanks newspaper's interest in the villages was evident in 
its publication of rural correspondent reports. Two Fairbanks editors, 
George Sundborg and his successor, Cliff Cernick, recalled that the Daily 
News-Miner was noted for these columns, often written in folksy styles or 
even broken English. 63 ' 64 

The number of rural correspondent columns in the newspaper's 
pages doubled during Cernick's editorship, the middle years of the Project 
Chariot period. The News-Miner network of correspondents included 
Allen Rock of Point Hope, brother of the founding editor of the Tundra 
Times, and Guy Okakok of Barrow, who would become a principal actor 

Summer 1 999 • American Journalism 85 

in the Natives' first area-wide conference in 1961. These connections led 
the News-Miner to other Native news, such as school crowding or a 
critical shortage of heating fuel in Barrow, that did not appear in the 
Anchorage newspaper. 6 - 6<s The rural correspondents provided a steady 
flow of anecdotal evidence of the Native lifestyle and the importance of 
hunting for food. Clearly the News-Miner, unlike the Times, included the 
Native population within its newspaper community, yet this newspaper in 
the late '50s was just as clearly a mainstream publication, complete with 
Ann Landers, Blondie and the daily horoscope. 

In the 1980s, William Tobin, then an editor with the Anchorage 
Times, explained why Natives were not included in that newspaper's 
concept of its role. 

I think it's perfectly proper that the white establishment press 
doesn't tell the Native side. We are not out for a particular 
cause. We don't have a Native affairs reporter; but we don't 
have a military affairs reporter, either. 67 

Another way of stating this argument would be that the Times viewed 
itself precisely as a newspaper of the majority culture. In Fairbanks, the 
newspaper's definition of community was more inclusive. The Anchorage 
Times never sent a reporter to Point Hope; the News-Miner did, once in 

Tobin said that when he was AP's Alaska reporter from 1956 to 
I960 he never dreamed of going to Point Hope or any place in the 
Bush. 68 There might as well have been no way to get there, Tobin said, 
and that wasn't what he was there for. "We were covering the building of a 
new state," he said, referring to the organization starting in January 1959 
of the state government. He remembered Project Chariot as something he 
had to worry about only when Edward Teller came to town. 69 

Effort and expense were the costs of reporting news in the Bush. 
Further, it was doubtful whether a reporter could file stories because of 
irregular communications links. All of this probably discouraged assign- 
ment editors with limited staffs. Sources from the AEC, Teller's Livermore 
laboratory, and the Chambers of Commerce were available; Eskimos were 
not. Atwood said he doesn't remember being offered any flights to Point 
Hope and wasn't anxious to go there. Project Chariot was "way out there 
where nobody was around and couldn't get hurt," as he remembered in 
the spring of 1993. "We didn't do that much [coverage], you know. 
Unless some scientist or engineer who was working on it would say 
something. It [Chariot news] had to pretty much fall in our laps." 
Atwood added, "We were pretty much writing about things we didn't 
know too much about." 70 

86 Marrs • Summer 1999 

Eskimos Could Be "Stirred up by lawyers . . ." 

The AEC fell into their laps more often than the opposition. In 92 
articles (including editorials and letters) the Anchorage Times published 
regarding Project Chariot, the newspaper cited AEC or Livermore 
spokesmen as sources or for other reasons in 444 paragraphs, while citing 
village residents, Natives in general or conservationists as sources or actors 
154 times. The News-Miner, in its 121 articles (including editorials and 
letters), cited AEC sources or actors 613 times while mentioning Natives 
or conservationists as sources or actors 294 times. Atwood did not 
remember the Eskimos as being very concerned about Chariot. Rather, he 
said, "They could be stirred up by lawyers and do-gooders to serve their 
ends." 71 

Keith Lawton, Point Hope's Episcopal minister from 1959 to 1965, 
disagreed dramatically with that view. The village had elected a council 
since the 1940s. Lawton said he knew the Eskimos as "very political," and 
said the village men's exposure to the military and to the cities had made 
them astute about cultural differences. Their English writing may have 
seemed awkward, but he said they were determined. He helped them 
interpret AEC technical language, but they insisted on writing their 
letters. "These people are pretty sharp ... as far as being able to assess the 
dangers to them that Project Chariot made, yes indeed." 72 

The News-Miner, meanwhile, in the summer of 1959 sent staff 
writer Albro Gregory to Cape Thompson when the AEC invited newspa- 
pers to visit. There was one catch: the government did not offer transpor- 
tation. 73 The only newspaper reporters dispatched were Gregory and — a 
year later — Lawrence Davies of The New York Times. Gregory's reporting 
produced no breakthroughs. In a four-part series of articles, he relayed the 
story as told to him by Livermore and AEC sources, mentioned the 
Eskimos only in passing, and did not attribute any information or 
arguments to any Eskimo or to any of the University of Alaska researchers 
who were then working in the field with AEC. 

Atwood said he could not remember the size of the Anchorage Times 
news staff then. At least 1 1 staff bylines appeared in 1961-62 and, 
following the industry standard of the time (one news staffer per 1 ,000 
circulation), it seems reasonable to guess that the news staff numbered 20. 
The typical daily edition was 16 to 24 pages long. In Fairbanks, according 
to Sundborg, the news staff numbered no more than nine persons. The 
typical daily edition was 10 to 16 pages long. An annual "Progress 
Edition" in November ran as long as 166 pages, accomplished by con- 
tracting a supplemental editor who worked for several weeks with no 
other responsibilities. Among other things, this edition showed off the 

Summer 1999 •American Journalism 87 

prowess of Snedden's print shop operation in which he invested more 
pride and dollars than he did in the news department. 74 

The Neiv York Times worked under stricter limitations in Alaska, 
with no staff stationed there. The Chariot stories published in the New 
York paper came from Associated Press, from Times staffers working in 
Washington, D.C., or from Davies, the paper's West Coast correspondent, 
stationed in San Francisco. During the Project Chariot years, Davies twice 
filed reports from Alaska, once from Point Hope and once from Anchor- 

While Gregory and Davies each made one trip to Point Hope, the 
Anchorage Times wound up writing letters to Eskimos asking them to 
write back. Two did. The first, a letter from Kivalina, a village of about 
100 people 40 miles south of ground zero, was featured in a story follow- 
ing up the Barrow conference about whether Natives really opposed 
Project Chariot. It quoted the single letter as saying the men of Kivalina 
were more interested in AEC jobs than opposing the project. No other 
Eskimos were quoted. 7S The second letter, reported in a later story, told 
of Point Hope village leader David Frankson's objections to Chariot. 76 

Alaska and its small-town press may have been suited to a kind of 
control Teller and the AEC officials hoped to enjoy over information flow. 
Teller made two trips to Alaska, once each in 1958 and 1959. According 
to news accounts, Teller's associate director at the laboratory, Gerald 
Johnson, made at least two trips; Dr. Harry Keller made one, accompa- 
nied by colleagues; AEC Commissioner Leland Haworth and others made 
one; Dr. John N. Wolfe, head of environmental studies for the AEC, 
made at least two; and a variety of other AEC officials and representatives 
of contractors made appearances in the Alaska press during northern trips. 
Between visits by scientists and AEC officials, and AP stories quoting 
Alaska's Senator Bartlett and Washington's Senator Jackson, the press had 
numerous Chariot stories fall in their laps. 

Associated Press was a primary source for both the Anchorage Times 
and the Fairbanks paper. In Anchorage, 47 percent of the Project Chariot 
paragraphs were from non-staffers, almost exclusively the Associated Press. 
In Fairbanks, 38.2 percent of all paragraphs were from AP and from 
letters to the editor. (The New York Times coding for AP stories was 17.2 
percent, but some other "special to the Times" stories appeared to include 
information from AP reports.) 

Again, official sources were easy to come by and minority sources 
were not. Table 1 shows the percentage frequency of paragraph references 
during the Teller period in the Anchorage Times, the Fairbanks Daily News- 
Miner and The New York Times for sources and actors from the AEC and 
its representatives (shown as AEC); for sources and actors from among the 
Natives; and as sources only from university scientists, conservationists 

88 Marrs • Summer 1999 

and other oppositional sources (shown as Opp.). Sources indicate source 
reliance and framing by the press, while actors are one indication of 
framing, especially when relevant actors are excluded. 

Table 1 : Percentage Frequency of References by Paragraph 












Daily Times 












N. Y. Times 




[Daily Times N=574, 

News-Miner N= 

774; NV Times N=7&.] 

The "After-Teller" Effect 

With the arrival of summer in I960, Teller left Livermore (and thus 
Project Chariot) to work as a university professor on broader issues. 
During the next 12 months press coverage manifested changes in sources 
of information, in issues covered and in conflicts portrayed. How much of 
this shift might be attributed to Teller's high profile public relations and 
his aggressive promotional attitude, and how much might be a result of 
growing momentum and cohesion among oppositional forces is specula- 
tive. This study reveals interesting changes in press performance before 
and after Teller's departure, but no direct evidence to prove a "Teller 

Broad, in a critical biography of Teller, portrays an erratic genius 
with a Midas touch for publicity. 77 Teller himself did not respond to 
inquiries about such questions, but his administrative assistant at 
Livermore, Gen Phillips, replied that he was not in any event the official 
spokesman for either the AEC or the project, and added that "our col- 
leagues" believe the speculation here about the Teller effect "is based on an 
erroneous assumption," that is, "The tone and amount of newspaper 
coverage changed, but it is believed that this was due to increasing public 
knowledge about the project, and the actions of a few individuals ada- 
mantly opposed to the project." 78 The AEC's belief that a few individuals 
fueled the opposition was documented in 1961 when Brig. Gen. A.W. 
Betts compiled a "top ten" list that included Don Foote, Keith Lawton, 
the men in New Hampshire, Les Viereck, the Alaska Conservation 
Society and CNI. 79 

The question, however, was not whether Teller was the official 
spokesman for Project Chariot, but whether he acted as such — either on 

Summer 1999 • American Journalism 89 

his own volition or as a result of news reporting. In fact, Teller and Wolfe 
were cited explicitly more often than any other officials as sources or as 
project leader in news stories about Project Chariot in the Anchorage 
Times and in the Fairbanks Neivs-Miner. Teller was so cited in 34 articles; 
Wolfe in 22. Teller's associate director was so cited 21 times. No one else 
came close, and Rod Southwick, the AEC's public information spokes- 
man, was so cited in only eight articles. 80 

By the time CNI's June 1961 bulletin brought the Project Chariot 
issue to a head, nuclear testing in the atmosphere was well under way in 
the Soviet Union and was about to be resumed in the United States. This 
heightened general awareness and anxiety about fallout produced many 
newspaper articles, in Alaska as elsewhere, about local radiation levels, 
fallout and fallout shelters. Yet none of these articles related the fallout 
issue to Project Chariot. That issue was left to CNI, the Greater St. Louis 
Citizens Committee for Nuclear Information. The committee's bulletin, 
Nuclear Information, reported how radioactive fallout concentrates in the 
lichen the caribou eat before the Eskimos eat the caribou. The committee 
reported that the effect of the Eskimo food chain was to concentrate 
radioactivity inside the Eskimos. 81 

The committee's report created controversy that resulted in portray- 
als of conflict in the Anchorage Times, in the Fairbanks News-Miner, and in 
The New York Times. Other media outlets also took interest, such as The 
Christian Science Monitor, which ran a major article and followed thereaf- 
ter with occasional reports. But the critical difference that came in Alaska 
was a decision at the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner to cut the fetters from 
reporter Tom Snapp, who had been arguing for coverage of the opposi- 
tional cause. He produced a four-part series detailing the Native concerns 
in August 1961. Snapp's reportorial recognition of the Eskimos' argu- 
ments as legitimate controversy marked a notable mainstream press 
breakthrough. Most of the conflict that found its way into print in the 
spring and summer of 1961 had been arguments about Eskimos; Snapp 
presented views of the Eskimos. 

Alaska's Eskimos took a stand in the fall of 1961. The different 
Eskimo villages, finding common cause in Project Chariot and the eider 
duck controversy, and with support from the Association for American 
Indian Affairs, held a meeting in Barrow in November in which the 
villages acted in concert for the first time. The story was reported in the 
Anchorage Times on November 20, 1961 , in six paragraphs on page three 
and in The New York Times over four columns on an inside page on 
Sunday, December 3, 1961. These reports were second-hand reports, 
drawn from wire service versions of the reporting of Tom Snapp, the only 
reporter who attended the Eskimo meeting. The Daily News-Miner 
published Snapp's account on page one, and followed up in a later edition 

90 Marrs • Summer 1999 

with a full page of his photographs of the event. This exposure, combined 
with the CNI bulletin news, bears the marks of confirming the Eskimo 
cause as an occupant of Hallin's Sphere of Legitimate Controversy. Deeper 
analysis revealed stronger indications that the breakthrough into legiti- 
macy was achieved and that news coverage changed. 

Quality of Coverage Changed 

Media performance was not static. The content analysis for this 
study produced a variety of calculations to support the proposition that 
the quality of Project Chariot news coverage did change over time, that 
the minority achieved a breakthrough into legitimacy in the news, and 
that the newspapers adhered to the principle of least effort in their 
approaches to reporting the story. Evidence of these changes is found by 
extending the calculations used in Table 1 to the full period of study. 

The percentage of frequencies for AEC sources and actors, Native 
sources and actors, and other oppositional sources shows little change 
from the first period (the Teller years) to the second or transitional period. 
But in the final period, comprising the 1 5 months after CNI's special 
bulletin edition on Project Chariot, Alaska Natives move from virtual 
invisibility to representation in almost half of the paragraphs appearing in 
the Fairbanks News-Miner articles and nearly one-third of the paragraphs 
in the Anchorage Times. 

Table 2: Percentage Frequency 

of References by Paragraphs 

, 1958-62 

These figures com 

pare reference percentages in 


:>hs in 

June 1961 throug 

i August 

1962 with the same percentages for 

the earlier periods 

of this study for each newspaper. 












Daily Times 






June '60-61 





June '58-60 












June '60-61 





June '58-60 






NY Times 






June '60-61 





June '58-60 




[Sample for June 1960 through May 196' 

: Daily Th 


MinerN=l44, NYTimes 

N=46; and June 1961 -Aug 

ust 1962: Dad) 

Times N= 

1 99, News-Mitier N=340, NY Times N= 1 38.] 

Summer 1999 • American Journalism 91 

Change in source choices and an indication of a shift in emphasis 
were also supported by frequencies regarding business sources and actors, 
and those for conservationists. Before June I960 (while the Alaska 
newspapers were covering Chamber of Commerce debates), business 
sources and actors appeared in 44 paragraphs (7.7 percent) in the Anchor- 
age Times, 47 paragraphs (6 percent) in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, 
and 2 paragraphs (2.5 percent) in The New York Times. Afterward, 
business sources virtually disappeared; there were none in either Times 
newspaper and a single occurrence in the Fairbanks paper. Thus, such 
sources dropped from 6.5 percent of paragraphs in the first two years to 
.001 percent in the remaining two. Conservationists, on the other hand, 
followed an inverse pattern, from near invisibility to marginal visibility. 
They appeared only in the Fairbanks newspaper for the first two years 
(2.3 percent in the News-Miner and 1.2 percent overall), but in 8.7 
percent of all paragraphs thereafter. 

Two events mark change in the resolution of Project Chariot, as well 
as in the nature of its news coverage. The first was the departure in mid- 
1960 of Edward Teller as a pointman for Project Chariot. The second was 
the publication by CNI in June 1961 of an edition of its Nuclear Informa- 
tion that was devoted to the project and to an issue the AEC and the press 
had not disclosed: the peculiar relationship of the Eskimo to a unique 
food chain and radioactivity. After June I960, as has been shown, change 
manifested in the pages of the Anchorage Times and Fairbanks News- 
Miner, after June 1961 this change accelerated. 

One change was a decelerated rate of reporting. Teller left Project 
Chariot at the halfway point of the period involved in this study, but well 
more than half of the coverage occurred during the two years he headed 
the Livermore laboratory. The Anchorage Times, for example, published 64 
stories during the two years, and just 28 stories afterward. In all three 
newspapers, 1,426, or 59.4 percent of all paragraphs in articles about 
Project Chariot, appeared in print during Teller's two years. Whatever the 
reasons, Teller's leadership brought more stories to the newspapers than 
found their way into print after his departure. 

The content of the newspapers was also coded for viewpoints. 
Percentages show that 13.7 percent of all paragraphs questioned Project 
Chariot while Teller was in charge and 28.9 percent did so after he left. 
The percentage increased to 31.6 percent after the CNI bulletin of June 
1961. This viewpoint thus increased in each successive period: 13.7 
percent to 22.9 percent to 31.7 percent. 

How often did the newspapers refer to pro-Chariot and oppositional 
actors in the same story? These frequencies indicate the portrayal of 
conflict, if actors (people mentioned but not cited as sources) both pro 

92 Marrs • Summer 1999 

and con occur in the same articles more or less often. Such a tally, calcu- 
lated at the level of the article rather than the paragraph, subsumes those 
articles in which pro-Chariot and oppositional sources appear in the same 
story, as the conflicting-source stories virtually always also include pro and 
con actors. Table 3 shows these indicators of conflict portrayals by 
chronological subdivision. The cases in which the newspapers reported 
Native actors and AEC actors in the same article are listed by frequency 
and by percentage of articles during each time period. 

Table 3: Native Actors Compared with AEC Actors, As a 
Percentage of Articles 





Anchorage Times 

17 26.5 

4 36.4 

105 55.5 

Fairbanks News 

17 23.0 

5 29.4 

15 50.0 

NY Times 

1 16.7 

2 67.0 

4 57.0 

Finally, one test provides a finding that some of the key changes 
manifested in newspaper coverage over time were statistically significant. 
Cross-tabulations of the time periods by paragraph viewpoint, the 
presence of Native actors and the presence of keywords all produced 
strongly significant findings of association in the newspapers when 
calculating for the Chi Square test. 82 Six of the nine tests resulted in 
findings that the probability of the association occurring by chance was 
.001 or less; one was less than .002, and the other two were .007 or less. 
For example, in coding for viewpoint (that is, whether the paragraph 
contained content questioning the advisability of Project Chariot), the 
Anchorage Times data produced a probability level of less than .001 (Chi 
Square 32.6 with 2 degrees of freedom and 24.6 minimum expected 
frequency), as the frequency of "questioning" viewpoint increased chrono- 

Conflict, Easy Journalism and a Lazy Press 

There is little room to doubt that the Anchorage Times and the 
Fairbanks News-Miner covered Project Chariot as former publisher 
Atwood recalled, that is by reliance on news coming to the newspaper, 
rather than by aggressive reporting. The profile does not appear very 
different for The New York Times. This was clearly the path of least effort. 
The indicated reliance on aggressive sources with special interests suggests 
weakness in the newspapers' approach. 

Summer 1999 •American Journalism 93 

Another conclusion suggested in this study is that the reporting of 
the issues of Project Chariot, from 1958 to 1962 in the Alaska newspapers 
was not anomalous. The Daily Times and the Daily Neivs-Miner coverage 
manifested as many signs of thoroughness as did the Chariot coverage in 
The New York Times. Where differences occurred, many tended to favor 
the Alaska newspapers, especially the Fairbanks paper. The weakness of 
this conclusion is that The New York Times covered Project Chariot with 
such a markedly different frequency of reporting that the comparisons 
used have all been approximate at best. 

The newspapers portrayed virtually no conflict during the first two 
years of Project Chariot, and then substantial conflict thereafter. It is 
problematical to draw any conclusions that the newspapers focused on 
conflict for the evidence, weighted qualitatively, is not strong. Conflict, 
when it appeared, seemed to come to the newspaper in such ways that it 
had to be treated forthrightly An additional aspect of the problem, one 
which finds no hint of a guideline from the work of Moscovici or 
Tichenor, et al., is how much conflict? This study did not attempt to 
define a standard of how much conflict is significant. 

I also have speculated in this study about the impact of Edward 
Tellers leadership because of its apparent relationship to Atwood's lap 
effect. The evidence is circumstantial, as the data show that dramatic 
changes in news coverage and emphasis occurred coincident with Teller's 
retirement from the scene. Field geographer Don C. Foote, writing to his 
brother in 1961, repeatedly referred to Teller as the leader and chief 
salesman of Project Chariot. 83 It is possible that Teller's absence from the 
Livermore laboratory resulted in a public relations vacuum or a shift to a 
circumspective stance among the leaders of the environmental studies, 
just as growing oppositional expressions awakened the press to new and 
broader questions. The marked decline in the amount of post-Teller 
coverage suggests that the answer is not as simple as the increased activism 
of oppositional individuals and organizations at work on a lazy press. 

The focus of this study has been on the questions of whether the 
minority achieved legitimation in or through the press, whether press 
coverage manifested change over time, and whether press behavior 
exhibited signs of the principle of least effort, particularly in the use of 
sources and in story origination. The evidence found here strongly 
suggests that the simple answer to all three questions is yes. With more 
complexity, the story of Project Chariot shows that the press at its weakest 
can claim saving graces, but the story affords no cause for praise. This 
study suggests that the saving grace of the principle of least effort, when 
applied to the press, is that the press seems to be willing to treat opposi- 
tional news fairly, so long as the opposition brings the news to the press. 

94 Marrs • Summer 1999 

Habitual ways of working and thinking tend to support the status quo 
and confront minorities with obstacles when it comes to opposing 
mainstream ideology through the media. Their shortest route to recogni- 
tion appears to lie in the creation of conflict. 

The findings presented here offer a compelling profile of the "lap 
effect," to paraphrase Atwood. All the qualitative evidence and the 
quantitative data of this study can be easily applied to the principle of 
least effort. The Anchorage Times, the Fairbanks News-Miner and The Neiv 
York Times did not pursue the basic questions about Project Chariot 
aggressively. They relied heavily, especially at the outset, on official and 
habitual sources. None challenged government claims of veracity and, in 
general, the press manifested a style of coverage designed to save costs and 
incidentally to favor technological progressivism as a consensus value of 

In terms of the principle of least effort, the newspapers' sights were 
set too low to achieve better results. The ability of the minority in time to 
win news space, legitimacy and influence seems as much testimony to the 
"lap effect" as does the minority's absence from earlier coverage. If the 
press were ideologically motivated, the minority might never have ex- 
pected any acknowledgment. What we see instead with Project Chariot is 
an easygoing press — a watchdog asleep on the porch that is only gradually 
roused to the dissonance of new voices and shadowy dangers behind the 
well-intended, if ill conceived, offering of a juicy steak. 


' Wilimovsky, Norman J., ed. Environment of the Cape Thompson Region, Alaska. Oak Ridge, lean.: 
United States Atomic Energy Commission Division of Technical Information, 1966. 

2 Department of Energy. "Project Chariot Summary." Germantown, Md.: U.S. Department of 
Energy, Record Group 326, U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, Energy History Collection, 1993. 

3 Gans, Herbert J. Deciding What's News: A Study of CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News, 
Newsweek and Time, lsted., New York: Pantheon Books, 1979: pp. 180-181. 

4 There were three villages in the official fallout zone: Point Hope with approximately 300 residents, 
Kivalina with 140 and Noatak with about 75. Point Hope lay 32 miles north of the blast site and 
Kivalina 42 miles southeast. Noatak, more than 60 miles away, was not mentioned in any news 

5 Kelly, John S. "Report to the General Manager by the Director, Division of Peaceful Nuclear 
Explosives." Germantown, Md.: Record Group 326, U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, Energy 
History Collection, 81 1/104, No. 45, 1962. 

''Novick, Sheldon. The Careless Atom, first ed., Boston: Mifflin Company, 1969, p. 97. 

7 Sanders, Ralph. Project Plowshare: The Development of the Peaceful Use ofNuclear Explosives. 
Washington, D.C.: Public Affairs Press, 1962. 

"Teller, Edward. "University of Alaska Commencement Address." Folder 51. Don C. Foote Papers: 
University of Alaska Fairbanks archives, 1959. 

Summer 1 999 • American Journalism 95 

9 Morgan, Lael. Art and Eskimo Power: The Life and Times of Alaskan Howard Rock. First ed., 
Fairbanks, Alaska: Epicenter Press, 1988, p. 164. 

'"E.J. Longyear Co.. "Report to the University of California Radiation Laboratory on the mineral 
potential and proposed harbor locations in Northwest Alaska." In E.L. Bartlett Papers, 18 April 1958, 
University of Alaska Fairbanks, Box 5, Federal Departments and Agencies; Atomic Energy Commis- 

' ' VanStone, James W. Point Hope: An Eskimo Village in Transition. Seattle: University of Washing- 
ton Press, 1962. 

12 Brenner, Betty. "Expert Quiet On Red Issue Of 'H-Bomb'." Anchorage Daily Times, 26 June 

"O'Neill, Dan. "Project Chariot: How Alaska Escaped Nuclear Excavation." The Bulletin of Atomic 
Scientists 45 (10 1989): 28-37. 

14 Kelly. "Report to the General Manager by the Director, Division of Peaceful Nuclear Explosives." 
'^Snapp, Thomas. "Why Researcher Resigned." Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, 22 August 1961, 3. 

"' Lawton, Keith. Telephone interview, 22 April 1993. 
' Morgan. Art and Eskimo Power. 

15 Viereck and Pruitt were awarded honorary doctorates by the University of Alaska Fairbanks in 
1993 for their careers and their work on Project Chariot. They were nominated lor the honor by 
university historian Dan O'Neill. Don Foote died after an automobile accident in the late 1960s. 

" Point Hope Village Council. "Letter to Atomic Energy Commission." Don C. Foote Papers: 
University of Alaska Fairbanks archives, 1959. 

211 Lawton, Keith. "Notes on village meeting." Don C. Foote Papers: University of Alaska Fairbanks 
archives, 1960. Box 12 (29). 

21 Reiss, Eric, ed. Nuclear Information. June 1961 ed., Vol. 3. St. Louis: Greater St. Louis Citizens' 
Committee for Nuclear Information, 1961. 

"Snapp, Thomas. Interview in Fairbanks, Alaska. 26 June 1993. 

23 "Harbor-Blasting Project In Alaska Put Off by U.S." The New York Times, 25 August 1962, 5. 

: ' 1 Kelly. "Report to the General Manager by the Director, Division of Peaceful Nuclear' Explosives." 3. 

2, Scroger, Betsy. Conversation at Department of Energy, Germantown, Md. 28 May 1993. 

:r ' Washburn, Patrick S. "The Office of Censorship's Attempt to Control Press Coverage of the 
Atomic Bomb During World War II." Journalism Monographs (120 1990) 

27 Moscovici, Serge. Social Influence and Social Change. Vol. 10. Translated by Carol Sherrard, Greta 
Heinz. European Monographs in Social Psychology, ed. Henri Tajfel. London: Academic Press, 1976, 
p. 96. 

2R Ibid. 102. 

: '' Tichenor, Phillip J., George A. Donohue, and Clarice N. Olien. Community Conflict & the Press. 
first ed., Beverly Hills: Sage Publications, 1980, pp. 23-24. 

30 Hornig, Susanna. "The Genie Escapes From the Bottle: News Frames and the Phenomenology of 
Science News." Dissertation, University of Washington, 1988. 

31 Hallin, Daniel C. The Uncensored War: The Media and Vietnam. New York: Oxford University 
Press, 1986. 

12 Gerard, Harold B. "When and How the Minority Prevails." In Perspectives on Minority Influence, 
ed. Serge Moscovici, Gabriel Mugny, and Eddy Van Avermaet. Cambridge: Cambridge University 
Press, 1985, p. 173. 

33 Moscovici, Serge. "Innovation and Minority Influence." In Perspectives on Minority Influence, ed. 
Serge Moscovici, Gabriel Mugny, and Eddy Van Avermaet. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 
1985, p. 21. 

34 VanHorn, Catherine. "Boosterism on All Borders? A Comparison of Frontier Newspaper Roles in 
the United States and Fiji." In the annual meeting of Association for Education in Journalism and 
Mass Communications in Montreal, 1992, p. 3. 

35 Hanrahan, John and Peter Gruenstein. Lost Frontier: The Marketing of Alaska. New York: WW. 
Norton 8c Co. Inc., 1977. See Chapter III, "Citizen Atwood," pp. 42-65. 
3r> Sundborg, George. Interview in Seattle, Wash. 1 Sept. 1993. 

96 Marrs • Summer 1999 

37 Zipf, George Kingsley. Human Behavior a)id the Principle of Least Effort. Cambridge: Addison- 
Wesley Press Inc., 1949. 

38 Smith, Conrad. "News Sources and Power Elites in Newspaper Coverage of the Exxon Valdez Oil 
Spill." In the annual meeting of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communica- 
tion in Boston, Mass., 1991. For Smiths fuller study, see Media and Apocalypse: News Coverage of the 
Yellowstone Forest Fires, Exxon ValAez Oil Spill and the Loma Prieta Earthquake. Westport, Conn.: 
Greenwood Press, 1992. 

"'Washburn, pp. 28-29. 

""Edwards, Mike. "Kazakhstan: Facing the Nightmare." National Geographic, 183 (March 1993): 

41 Lawsky, David. "Islanders left in path of fallout." Seattle Post-Intelligencer 25 February 1994, A13. 

4 - The Commission on Freedom of the Press. A Free and Responsible Press. Chicago: The University of 
Chicago Press, 1947. 

1,3 Wood, Ginny Hill and Leslie A. Viereck. "Project Chariot — The Long Look." Sierra Club 
Bulletin, May 1961, pp. 4-17. 

""Reiss, ed. Nuclear Information. 

45 Brooks, Paul and Joseph Foote. "The Disturbing Story of Project Chariot." Harper's Magazine, 
April 1962, 60-67. 

46 Daley, Patrick and Beverly James. "An Authentic Voice in the Technocratic Wilderness: Alaskan 
Natives and the Tundra Times." Journal of Communication (Summer 1986): 13. 

47 Coates, Peter A. The Trans-Alaska Pipeline Controversy. Bethlehem: Lehigh University Press, 1991. 
" s Ibid., p. 129. 

, '' O'Neill. "Project Chariot: How Alaska Escaped Nuclear Excavation." 

5,1 O'Neill's book-length history of the controversy is The Firecracker Boys. New York: St. Martin's 
Press, 1994. 

sl Morgan. Art and Eskimo Power. 

52 Editor & Publisher International Yearbook. New York: Editor and Publisher Co. 

53 Fink, Tom. Personal letter, May 12, 1993. Then Mayor of Anchorage, Fink was a businessman 
and schoolboard member in the early 1960s. 

,4 Tobin, William. Telephone interview, 24 April 1993. 

55 Coates, p. 115. 

v 'Skidmore, David. Atwood's Alaska: A Place for People. Ketchikan: Ketchikan Daily News and 
Allied Daily Newspapers, 1985, p. 6. 

5/ How Will Scientists Find The Answer?" Anchorage Daily Times, 10 February 1959, 4. 

'"Census, U.S. Bureau of the. U.S. Census of Population: 1960. Vol. 1. Washington, D.C.: U.S. 
Government Printing Office, 1963. 

^'Sundborg, 1 September 1993. 

f, "The original proposed cost to blast the project crater was $5 million, and documents at the 
Department of Energy estimated the actual funds expended on the project at its close at $4 million. 
The Longyear Co. report to Livermore estimated the costs of actually turning the project into a viable 
harbor at more than 10 times the blast cost. 

61 Skidmore, p. 8. 

'' 2 "Nuclear Engineering in Alaska." Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, 24 July 1958, 4. 

'''Sundborg, 1 September 1993. 

M Cernick, Cliff. Telephone interview, 8 September 1993. 

65 Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, 28 January 1959, 4. 

66 Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, 22 January 1960, 1. 

" Murphy, James E. and Donald R. Avery. "A Comparison of Alaskan Native and Non-Native 
Newspaper Content." Journalism Quarterly GO (1983): 316-322. 

In the Alaska lexicon, the word "Bush" when capitalized denotes areas of the state that are not on 
the road system. 

Summer 1 999 • American Journalism 97 

'"Tobin, 24 April 1993. 

711 Atwood, Robert B. Telephone interview, 29 April 1993. 

?l Ibid. 

7: Lawton, 22 April 1993. 

71 Southwick, Rod. "Telegram to Cliff Cernick." In Alaska Conservation Society Papers, University 
of Alaska Fairbanks, Envelope 45 (28). 

''Sundborg, 1 September 1993. 

s Bowkett, Jerry. "Eskimo Opinions Vary On Project Chariot." Anchorage Daily Times, 13 
December 1961,24. 

r- "Point Hope Council Chief Opposes AEC's 'Chariot' Project." Anchorage Daily Times, 3 March 

7T Broad, William J. Teller's War. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992. 

7X Phillips, Gen. Personal letter, 15 December 1993. 

7, 'Betts, A.W. "Memorandum for Chairman Seaborg." In Subject: Opposition to Project Chariot, 
Washington, DC: Record Group 326, U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, Energy History Collection, 
Box 40, 1961. 

80 During the second period of this study, June 1960 through May 1961, the leadership of the 
project effectively passed to Dr. John Wolfe as head of the environmental study. He had advised the 
scientists working on the project to be circumspect about publicity and publication in a 3 December 
1959, memorandum, Project Chariot Papers, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Box 1 (1), AEC 
Correspondence, Division of Biological Medicine, Wolfe, et al., 1959-66. 

81 Reiss, pp. 3-4. 

"The coding system categories were refined in pretesting with several coders using articles from the 
Anchorage Times. Reliability testing was then done by three coders using one-sixth of the Anchorage 
sample, or 15 articles. Substantial difficulty was encountered only with source and viewpoint 
categories. "Viewpoint" began as a five-option category. It was refined in stages until it became binary: 
"Does the paragraph, read in context, question the advisability of the Project Chariot proposal? 1. Yes; 
2. No." The "source" category explanation in the coding book was refined and retested until it 
achieved reliability percentages of 90 percent and 95 percent between the author and two separate 
coders working with separate samples of 135 paragraphs, the former from Associated Press and the 
Daily News-Miner; the latter from the Anchorage Times. Final reliability coding tests were conducted 
between the author and one coder on 20 percent of the Fairbanks articles. The results exceeded 94 
percent agreement on every category except sources (90 percent) and "hook" (whether the article was 
based on specific actions of the Atomic Energy Commission and its representatives). The author and 
the coder then discussed the definition of the hook category, and drew a new sample from the Daily 
News-Miner and the Associated Press. The final outcome was 95 percent on a sample with 20 stories 
and 184 paragraphs. I did the final coding of all units. I tested the stability of my coding by 
comparing coding done at different times for 95 paragraphs that appeared identically in the 
Anchorage Times and the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. Of the categories finally used in this analysis, 
the stability percentage agreement was 90.5 percent for sources, 92 percent for viewpoint, and greater 
than 94 percent for all others. "Keywords" were those such as caribou or food chain that appeared 
almost exclusively in references in the context of questioning the advisability of Project Chariot. 

83 Foote, Don C. "Notes to his brother, Joe Foote." Don C. Foote Papers: University of Alaska 
Fairbanks Archives, Box 10; 1961. 

98 Marrs • Summer 1999 

Great Ideas 

My Newspaper Is Older Than Your 

By Michael R. Smith 

Before long the nation's oldest newspaper will celebrate another 

Will it be the Maryland Gazette, founded September 19, 1727 by 
William Parks? 

Or will it be The Hartford Courant, first published October 29, 1764 
by Thomas Green? 

Or is it The Virginia Gazette, founded August 6, 1736 by William 
Parks (the same Parks of the Maryland Gazette)^ 

Each newpaper makes a distinction on some level, with the Maryland 
Gazette displaying the words "America's oldest newspaper" on its front 
page, The Courant noting it is "America's oldest continuously published 
newspaper" on its page one and The Virginia Gazette saying "Covering 
Williamsburg, James City and York since 1736" on its inside page one. 

Who's right? 

"We claim tongue-in-cheek to be the oldest continuing publishing 
company," says gregarious Philip Merrill, chairman and publisher of the 
Maryland Gazette, four other Maryland newspapers and The Washingto- 
nian magazine. 

Tim Hughes of Timothy Hughes Rare and Early Newspapers of 
Williamsport, Pennsylvania, agrees that the Maryland Gazette is an old 

"The first lasted from 1727 to 1734," he says. "Then one lasted but 
for a single year in 1779, and another from 1745 through 1839. This one 
was 'down' for about six years and was started again in 1845, but it might 
have been begun again by a different publisher; in any case it certainly did 
not run continuously from 1745 to the present, which the Connecticut/ 
Hartford Courant can lay claim to." 

Michael R. Smith is Director of Journalism Studies at Taylor Univeristy in Fort Wayne, 

Summer 1 999 • American Journalism 99 

No problem. Merrill's not unduly protective of the historic claim, 
noting that The Courant has honors for its continuous newspaper publish- 
ing record, but he is insistent that his Gazette began a printing business in 
1727 in Annapolis, making it the oldest publisher. 

As for The Courant, its web page (< 
history.stm>) details the newspaper's history and some of the qualifiers 
used to establish it as the nation's oldest continuously published newspa- 
per. For instance, the web page article says The Courant has always been 
located in Hartford, has an unbroken publishing history from 1764 and 
was never absorbed by another newspaper. 

Having made this statement, the article goes on to say the name has 
varied some over the years, from The Connecticut Courant, when it was 
originally a weekly, to The Daily Courant when it went daily in 1837. 
Furthermore, the newspaper suspended publication for two issues during 
the Revolutionary War when it ran out of paper. And although it has been 
owned by Times Mirror Company since 1979, the newspaper considers 
itself to still be the same publication. 

Both the Maryland Gazette and The Hartford Courant have exhibits 
at the Newseum in Arlington, Virginia, which reinforce their claims to 
distinction. On display is the Maryland Gazettes edition that features a 
copy of the US Constitution and the May 8, 1775 issue of The Connecti- 
cut Courant with a report on the battles of Lexington and Concord. The 
report is said to have been penned by Isaiah Thomas, known today as a 
journalism historian, for his own newspaper, The Massachusetts Spy. The 
Courant from April 9, 1865, announcing Lee's surrender at Appomattox, 
also is on display. 

Jeff Schlosberg of the Newseum said the displays make no mention 
of either newspaper as being the oldest. "We steer clear of these sorts of 
claims, since there is always an element of uncertainty," he says. 

Newseum's Griffin Kane said the Newseum avoids generalizations 
about the nation's oldest continuously published newspaper because the 
issue is so controversial. However, the Newseum highlights the New York 
Evening Post for its longevity in publishing circles. 

In the Newseum is an illustration of Alexander Hamilton (1755- 
1804), among the 400 journalists selected to represent leading figures in 
journalism history. Beneath the illustration of Hamilton is this note: "In 
1801, Hamilton helps found the New York Evening Post, the country's 
oldest continuously published daily." 

If ownership and names aren't too much of an issue, a New Hamp- 
shire newspaper may have some distinction. Venerable journalism histo- 
rian Frank Luther Mott cited the New-Hampshire Gazette of Portsmouth 
as the oldest surviving newspaper in his seminal history, American Journal- 
ism, A History of Newspapers in the United States Through 250 Years, 1690 

1 00 Great Ideas • Spring 1 999 

to 1940 . The descendant of The New-Hampshire Gazette is The Ports- 
mouth Herald, says Derek Wood, former manager and now special 
projects director at The Herald. 

Hanging on the wall of a conference room at The Herald is a repro- 
duction of the first copy of its ancestor, dated October 7, 1756. However, 
not much is made of the history, says Wood. "We refer to it in a casual 
sort of way, but it's not part of our marketing strategy. The phrase we 
sometimes use is 'the Sea Coast's first newspaper.'" 

Nevertheless, The Couranis Kenneth J. DeLisa says, "In a very real 
sense, The Courant is older than the nation," adding that it reported on 
the adoption of the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitu- 
tion and was the newspaper George Washington used to advertise land for 
lease at his Mount Vernon estate. 

The idea of a suspension makes dating tricky. 

For instance, in Sidney Kobre's thick Development of American 
Journalism published in 1969, Parks is said to have founded The Virginia 
Gazette in Williamsburg on August 6, 1736 and operated it "until the 
middle of the century, when he died almost penniless." In the 1930s The 
Virginia Gazette was revived in Williamsburg, but publisher and editor W 
C. O'Donovan doesn't see the lapse in printing as a suspension. 

"We were America's oldest weekly, at least until 1984 when we 
started publishing twice a week," O'Donovan says, adding that his 
newspaper comes out Wednesday and Saturday. He noted that the 
newspapers of the time moved when the capital became Richmond in 
1 780 and all of them wanted to be known as The Virginia Gazette to 
qualify for the government printing contracts. Only The Virginia Gazette 
was qualified, hence the competition for the name. While several itera- 
tions of the Gazette existed over the years, the name remains the same. 

Merrill, publisher of the Maryland Gazette, says when his corporate 
attorney read that The Virginia Gazette ranked itself as serving readers 
since 1736, Merrill mailed a protest. In reply, Merrill was told, "I read 
about the suspensions of the Maryland Gazette. If you can have a suspen- 
sion for a few days and still claim to be the oldest, we can have a suspen- 
sion for 230 years and say we're the oldest." 

For Merrill, that kind of thinking makes for great newspapers that 
deserve to boast, and he has no trouble with it at all. 

Resources Cited 

Sidney Kobre, Development of American Journalism. (Dubuque, Iowa: William C. Brown Co., 

Frank Luther Mott, American Journalism, A History of Newspapers in the United Sates Through 250 
Years, 1690 to 1940 (New York: The Macmillan Co., 1947). 

Summer 1 999 • American Journalism 1 1 

102 Summer 1999 

Book Reviews 

I am beginning to realize that the material a book revieiver chooses to send 
for comment is only partially under his/her control. It would be ideal if the only 
volumes an editor received were strictly committed to the discipline of history With 
32 reviews per year, this is not always possible. As a result, many of the collections 
which appear in American Journalism are relatively eclectic and this issues 
reviews reflect just such an approach. I must mention that these books ivere chosen 
for review because in many ways, they reflect on the kind of lives we now lead. 

David Abrahamson's look at on-line reporting is most appropriate because, 
if for nothing else, this collection will be part of a history that is yet to come. 
Craig Aliens review of Cold War broadcasting serves to remind us that the past is 
some cases is just the present with a bit of a lag. This is one of the few books that 
has been published on media and the Cold War, ivhich is why I chose to include 
it in this volume. Since we are on the subject of war, and having just gone 
through the nights over Yugoslavia, I chose to include a story of bravery and 
horror by a journalist in Sarajevo. It is amazing how soon current events lead us 
to forget those of the past and, in this case, the recent past. 

Of course we pay homage to the past with David Davies insigh fid look at 
Edward Caudill's study of Charles Darwin and how a theory promoted myths 
and misuse. Ronald Ostman gives us his views on some recent works on photo- 
journalism, something quite of en missing in publications dedicated to journal- 
ism history. Kathy English comments on a collection of what the editors refer to 
as some of the best examples of reporting, and Mary Vipond looks at the latest 
collection of contemporary cartoons on Canadian political subjects, in particular 
French -English relationships. This months feature ivork also deals with car- 
toons. Ian Gordons study of the commercial impact of cartoons and comic strips 
argues with effectiveness that both modes of communication were critical in the 
emergence of a consumer cidture in America, if not in the Western World. 

> David R. Spencer, Book Review Editor 

y Editor s Choice 

Comic Strips and the Consumer Culture: 1890-1945 

Ian Gordon, Washington and London: Smithsonian Institute Press, 
1998. 233 pp. 

Let the newspaper editor who dares cancel someone's favorite comic 
strip. Columns come and go, missed by some but seldom by all. Yet 

Summer 1 999 • American Journalism 103 

comics, as they have done since 1895, inspire not only a significant draw 
for a journal, but fierce loyalty as well. For those of us interested in the 
various forms of cartoon art, we are struck on one occasion by the 
simplicity of many of the drawings and the complexity of the messages 
they deliver. It is the messages they deliver that struck the curiosity of Ian 
Gordon. Gordon, now the head of the faculty of visual communication at 
the KvB College of Visual Communication in Australia, spent some of his 
time as a pre-doctoral fellow with the Smithsonian's National Museum of 
American History. His book Comic Strips and the Consumer Culture: 
1890-1945 would appear to be the consequence of that relationship. 

In contemporary times, anyone who watches television, reads a 
magazine, turns on the radio, picks up a telephone, goes to the live theater 
or attends a sporting event cannot be ambivalent to the invasion of our 
senses that the advertising industry provides. Messages are everywhere, on 
the boards surrounding the arenas in which hockey teams play, on 
scoreboards for baseball and football games, on Girl Guide cookie boxes, 
on the Internet, beside streets and highways. There appears to be no 
escape from the constant barrage of "invitations" to buy this or try that. I 
still find it truly amazing that consumers will pay significant sums of 
money to wear clothing that is in effect a mobile advertising vehicle for 
clever designers. 

The strength of Gordon's work is that it provides answers as to how 
this form of consumer inundation began. He blames the commercializa- 
tion of the comic strip, beginning humbly with Richard F. Outcault's now 
famous Yellow Kid. In Gordon's analysis, the comic strip was the single 
instrument which switched advertising policy from the written and 
pseudo-oral to the visual. More importantly, it performed the feat rela- 
tively quickly. Just eight short years after Outcault drew his first single 
cartoon and then strip for two New York newspapers, comic strips began 
to appear in newspapers across the United States and Canada. 

More subtle was the shift from making the characters in the strips 
entertainers to marketers of products and services. It was this transition 
which began with the introduction of Buster Brown strips in 1902 to an 
overall merchandising strategy which is still in vogue today, that is the 
after-market of toys, music, computer software, clothing, films and any 
one of a dozen creations designed to sell products and services. Any parent 
today can relate to the intense pressure this places on the family when 
Jason next door has a complete set of Ninja Turtle toys and Jonathan 
living at your home does not. Buster Brown made advertising a visual 
notoral, or written form of communication. In a word, it was iconology. 

Gordon specifically points to the move to the syndication of comics 
which began in 1903 in his attempt to explain their success as a market- 
ing tool. This is beyond a doubt the strongest part of the book. He 

1 04 Book Reviews • Summer 1 999 

painstakingly traces the growth of comics from central sources, in particu- 
lar the Hearst chain in New York, and measures the impact of economies 
of scale on the publication industry. It is here that his argument has 
considerable force. Instead of being trapped in local markets across the 
country, products became national in scope with seemingly endless 
choices for expansion. The classic example he uses is that of Outcault's 
Buster Brown, which not only became a long running and successful 
strip, but the brand name of a shoe company which continues to exist. It 
is fitting that the face of the nerdy, innocent looking kid adorns the dust 
jacket of the book. 

Gordon is particularly effective in his portrayal of how consumer 
culture values leaked into the strips, intentionally or otherwise. In the 
strip Gasoline Alley, which was launched on the eve of the automobile 
age, Gordon argues that the strip had as much to do with the "car-ing" of 
America as any well-designed advertising plan by advertising firms 
representing the major auto manufacturers. Week after week, the central 
character Walt Wallet, as well as his hangers-on, demonstrate their 
devotion and love for the piece of metal that gets them around the town. 
But, as Gordon clearly points out, the car is not merely a means to go 
from A to B. In Walt's mind it is, in a McLuhanesque sense, an extension 
of the man himself. 

The integration of social values and marketing ploys in mass enter- 
tainment is no surprise to movie and music consumers today. In a scene 
in the Frank Sinatra - Gene Kelly film "Anchors Aweigh" the female lead 
Kathryn Grayson invites Kelly to join her in a Coke, but not a soda or 
cola. Manufacturers have been known to pay millions of dollars to ensure 
that their products receive some prominent platform in today's mass 
marketed films. Some things never change. 

The Gordon book is a must read for any scholar interested in the 
question of popular culture. If one accepts Gordon's basic thesis that this 
form of marketing is not new, but just recycled in different and more 
prevalent forms, his thesis should come as no surprise to anyone. How- 
ever, the strength of the work is clearly lodged in his analysis of comics. It 
remains for other scholars to examine the movies, popular literature and 
popular music, to name just three. 

The major problem with this book is that it is just too short. 
Although he discusses a number of prominent cartoons, such as Gasoline 
Alley and Winnie Winkle, it is hard to contend that the process which he 
describes is somehow universal and all -penetrating. But, let us not detract 
from a good and readable work. As someone who dabbles in comic art 
myself, I can appreciate the immensity of the task that Ian Gordon faced. 
It is not that easy when one considers how limited the indices to these 

Summer 1999 • American Journalism 105 

kinds of work are. Let us hope that Gordon does not lose interest in the 
subject. It would be nice to anticipate a sequel, perhaps two. 

> David R. Spencer, University of Western Ontario 

American Photojournalism Comes of Age 

Michael L. Carlebach, Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 
1997. 222 pp. 

American Photo magazine, in its September/October, 1996 issue, ran 
an extensive cover story asking, "Is photo-journalism dead?" In its lengthy 
subsequent spread, American Photo puzzled about such issues as the 
decline in magazine publication of serious photojournalism (and the 
resulting meager earnings made by many photojournalists), the exciting 
new possibilities opened by Internet home pages and art gallery walls, the 
reluctance of staid publishers to print graphic, hard-hitting photos, the 
crisis in management and mission being experienced by the big photo 
agencies, the competition posed by cable and digital TV, the growth of 
celebrity journalism at the expense of news photography, the growing 
expense of publishing books with large groups of images, the blurring of 
boundaries between news, documentary, and fine art photographs . . . the 
list is lengthy. Clearly, contemporary photojournalism is searching and 
redefining itself. 

But not to worry. Michael Carlebach's book on the origins and 
development of photojournalism gives plenty of assurance that change in 
photojournalism is inevitable and that it usually is fueled by new technol- 
ogy and new ideas. Seen in the context of 1880 to 1936, Carlebach 
demonstrates that much of what is happening today is being recycled after 
a fashion. Lawrence Peter("Yogi") Berras famous dictum, "It was deja vu 
all over again" comes to mind. 

So, when contemporary photojournalists worry about the impact of 
digital retouching of photos, Carlebach shows us that fakes, retouching 
and "composographs" have been on the scene for decades. When a hue- 
and-cry is raised about paparazzi, Carlebach reminds us that concern for 
"in your face" photographers, telephoto lenses, and invasion of privacy is 
an old, old story (e.g, Harry Coleman's relentless 1920s stalking of 
industrialist and financier J. Pierpont Morgan in order to click New York 
Journal photos of J.P.'s "grossly inflamed and swollen" nose). When critics 
worry that increasing dependence upon visual communication will result 
in further deterioration of print literacy and an inevitable descent into the 

106 Book Reviews • Summer 1999 

bottomless pits of tastelessness, Carlebach's book shows them that elite, 
text-oriented intelligentsia opposition to visual communication is more 
than 100 years old and that current themes of opposition travel rather 
well-trod trails. (However, Carlebach emphasizes that photos necessarily 
depend upon text for meaningful interpretation.) When critics complain 
of politicians and staged pseudo-events as if this were a relatively recent 
phenomenon, the book points out that the canned photo-op was old 
when Theodore Roosevelt groomed and managed his "roughrider" image 
in 1898. 

Further, recent charges that photos often emphasize the sordid, the 
sleazy, and the sanguinary side of human existence have an historic 
forerunner in photojournalists like New York City's Arthur Fellig 
("Weegee"), who reveled in the seamy side of the naked city's underworld 
during the 1920s through the 1950s. The claim that contemporary 
photographs do not represent all segments of the population, but rather 
tend to focus on fresh-cheeked, supple-figured young people is shown to 
have been a common approach during yellow journalism days at the turn 
of the century. Similar complaints that today's press minimizes photo- 
graphs of racial minorities doing well, but highlights wrongdoing by 
minorities also are shown to have precedents. The charge that recent 
photography is too much controlled by the press associations, syndicates, 
and chains is not new, either. Functionally equivalent collection and 
distribution agencies have been around since the late 1880s. 

American Photojournalism Comes of Age is well-researched and well- 
written. Its four chronologically arranged chapters review familiar biogra- 
phies and photo feats. For example, Chapter 3, "Photojournalism, 
Documentary and Reform" discusses the ideas and works of Jacob Riis, 
Edward S. Curtis, Lewis Wickes Hine, Roy Stryker and the Farm Security 
Administration photographers, and the Photo League. However, space 
also is given to the less well-known persons and events which deserve 
notice within the broad sweep of photojournalism history. 

To illustrate, Chapter 1, "Photojournalism at the Turn of the 
Century," gives attention to Walter H. Home, documenter of the Mexi- 
can Revolution and postcard entrepreneur, as well as to B. Lloyd Singley, 
founder of the Keystone View Company, which specialized in the stereo- 
graphs which were so popular in late 19th and early 20th centuries. 
American Photojournalism Comes of Age alternates between sketching the 
broad sweep of historical epoch and relating of illustrative anecdotes, such 
as that of the ghoulish Hearst photographer who specialized in post 
mortem photography, originally related by Harry J. Coleman in his 1943 
Give Us A Little Smile, Baby (New York: E. P. Dutton). Visually, 146 

Summer 1999 • American Journalism 107 

black-and-white reproductions accompany the text. Carlebach's careful 
search of the country's archives has given us fresh images from the past, 
such as the light-hearted scene of a passel of press photojournalists 
snapping a famous baby in a carriage on a sidewalk, contrasted with a 
single, studio-bound photographer laboriously making a camera-domi- 
nant portrait of a Washington Star editorial cartoonist. In another ex- 
ample, on a more somber note, we see a photographer working amid the 
ruins of a tornado which slammed into Kirksville, Missouri, in 1899. 

This book also reproduces a handful of photos which have stopping 
power equivalent to any in today's cavalcade of images. For example, there 
is a grisly Boxer Rebellion-era stereograph image of a bound and bloody 
headless torso in the background while the Chinese executioner holds the 
severed head by the hair in the foreground (Chapter 2, Covering War). 
Another photo chronicles a dazed rescuer holding a limp, drowned baby 
from the Eastla