The Washington Shark (IA, 1850-1854)

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Publication History:

Place of Publication: Washington, Washington County, Iowa

Frequency:  Irregular

Volume and Issue Data:  1850-ca. 1854

Size and Format:  “A folio with regular columns of ordinary size, tolerably fine pen type, published on the four sides of one sheet of cap paper”

Editor/Publisher:  Nathan Littler and Richard B. McMillan

Title Changes and Continuation:  None

General Description and Notes:

In his own Washington County history, editor Littler described The Washington Shark as “a folio with regular columns of ordinary size, tolerably fine pen type, published on the four sides of one sheet of cap paper.”  The paper used pseudonyms frequently in its reports and the editors apparently tried to keep their own names a secret.  Littler says the paper contained “general news and current literature,” market reports, advertisements and society news.  The editor notes that it appeared only one copy at a time, so wide distribution did not occur.  Instead, readership was limited to those who could meet in public gathering places.

The Shark was put into the mail box when none were present.  It was directed to some one whom the editors felt would give it the widest publicity.  Usually, when the paper came, its owner would go the most frequented store in town, and taking his seat on a stool or mail keg, would proceed to read to the crowd that quickly assembled, the contents, advertisements and all.

Littler claims the paper appeared frequently, and when it did it was the “sensation of the town until its contents became familiar to all the citizens.”  If most “readers” were amused by the paper’s wit and satire, not all appreciated its occasional bite.

Some, however, to whom the jokes and caricatures fit most closely, were outrageously vexed and the only reason the editors were not punished corporeally at least, was the fact that they were safely incognito.

Littler says the Shark would attack “any and everything going on to which the editors were opposed or which was opposed to the best interests of the community.”

Apparently other handwritten papers were published in the area on the model ofThe Shark.  Notes Littler:  “Occasionally afterwards, other papers of a similar character came out, but none of them achieved the popularity of the Shark.”

Littler served as constable of Washington in 1850, the year the Shark first appeared.  In 1852 he was elected justice of the peace and served in that post until he moved to the town of Richmond, Iowa.  He returned to Washington in 1869 and wrote a history of the county which was serialized in the local paper.

McMillan (1823-1898) lived in Washington from 1846 to 1855.  During that period he was a county assessor and township clerk.  While editing the Shark, McMillan’s brother, Horace Greeley McMillan, lived with him.  The year Richard died Horace purchased the Cedar Rapids Republican, and he eventually owned two Iowa dailies and a weekly farm paper.

Information Sources:

Bibliography:  Nathan Littler, History of Washington County, 1835-1875, ed. by Edna Jones (Washington, Iowa:  Jonathan C. Clark, 1977), 186-187; Roy Alden Atwood, “Handwritten Newspapers on the Iowa Frontier, 1844-1854,”Journalism History, 7:2 (Summer 1980), 56-59, 66-67

Locations:  None

San Luis Coyote (CA, 1850)

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Publication History:

Place of Publication: Mission San Luis Rey, California (1850)

Frequency:  One issue?

Volume and Issue Data:  Sept. 1850

Size and Format:  Unknown

Editor/Publisher:  “C. Senor,” a U.S. officer stationed near Mission San Luis Rey

Title Changes and Continuation:  None

General Description and Notes:


Information Sources:

Bibliography: None

Locations:  Cu-B?

Le Californien (CA, 1850)

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Le Californien (CA, 1850)

Publication History:

Place of Publication: San Francisco, California

Frequency:  Weekly, began January 17,1850, ceased in Feb? 1850.

Volume and Issue Data: January 31, 1850, No. 3.

Size and Format: Unknown

Editor/Publisher:  Unknown

Title Changes and Continuation: None

General Description and Notes:

In French.  Lithographed due to lack of proper type for French language.  The librarian could not locate the original, but they are supposed to have it.

Information Sources:                

Bibliography:  Wall, Alexander J. “Early Newspapers,” New-York Historical Society Quarterly, V. 15, N. 2 (July 1931).

Locations: Newspaper Collection, New York Historical Society, New York, NY

Illustrated Arctic News (ENG-AK, 1850-1851)

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Illustrated Arctic News (Eng-AK, 1850-1851)

Entry Updated: December 21, 2016

Publication History:

Place of Publication:  On board H.M.S. Resolute, Captain Horatio T. Austin, C.B., in search of the expedition under Sir John Franklin looking for the “Northwest Passage”

Frequency:  Five issues; frequency unknown

Volume and Issue Data:  October 1850-March 1851

Size and Format:  44.5 x 27 cm.; printed facsimile is folio, 12 x 19 inches, 57 pp

Editor/Publisher: Sherard Osborn and George F. McDougall?

Title Changes and Continuation: None

General Description and Notes:

Illustrated Arctic News (printed) (AK, 1850-1851)

Printed and published after the H.M.S. Resolute expedition returned home, from the five numbers originally issued in manuscript, October 1850-March 1851, on shipboard during the wintering of the H.M.S. Resolute in Barrow Strait.

The H.M.S. Terror, captained by Sir Franklin (and its companion ship, the H.M.S. Erebus), which the Resolute’s crew and other expeditions searched for over a period of 11 years, was finally found at the bottom of the Arctic Ocean above the Arctic Circle in September 2016, according the The Guardian (Sept. 12, 2016). The H.M.S. Terror was located 168 years after it went missing off King William Island in eastern Queen Maud Gulf in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago in Nunavut, Canada (see map below). The H.M.S. Erebus had been found several years earlier just to the south of where the Terror was later located.

Map: The H.M.S. Resolute wintered on the Barrow Strait in search of the Sir Franklin expedition. The H.M.S. Terror and its companion ship the H.M.S. Erebus were found, more than 160 years after they went missing, off King William Island in Queen Maud Gulf.

The H.M.S. Resolute, on which these handwritten newspapers were produced, became famous in politics and popular culture long after its retirement. Wood from the ship was later made into two desks, one of which the English crown gave as a gift to the United States President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1880. That desk still sits today in the Oval Office of the White House. That desk was also featured (as was its origin from the H.M.S. Resolute) in the popular film, National Treasure: Book of Secrets (2007), starring Nicholas Cage.

Information Sources:

Bibliography:  Sherard Osborn and George F. McDougall, eds., Facsimile of the Illustrated Arctic News, Published on Board H.M.S. Resolute, Captain Horatio T. Austin, C.B., In Search of the Expedition Under Sir John Franklin (London:  Ackerman, 1852)

Links: Captain Horatio T. Austin;  Sir John Franklin Northwest Passage Expedition; “Ship Found in Arctic 168 Years after Doomed Northwest Passage Attempt”; Franklin’s Last Voyage.

Locations: British Library (?);   Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge, England; Metropolitan Reference Library, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

The Gas Light (MO, 1850)

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Publication History:

Place of Publication: Keytesville, MO

Frequency:  Unknown, published sporadically for nearly a year

Volume and Issue Data: Started June 1850

Size and Format: Unknown

Editor/Publisher:  “Timothy Timbertoes” and “Samuel Sugarstick” (pseudonyms)

Title Changes and Continuation: Unknown

General Description and Notes:

 According to the History of Howard and Chariton Counties, the paper professed to be “neutral in religion and politics.” The writers made fun of local leaders and gave satirical accounts of quilting parties, shooting matches and weddings.

According to Jolliffe and Whitehouse, “This publication cannot be named a ‘newspaper,’ given the lack of information about it.”

Information Sources:

Bibliography:  Lee Jolliffe and Virginia Whitehouse, “Handwritten Newspapers on the Frontier? The Prevalence Problem, ” paper presented at the AEJMC History Division Mid-Year Meeting, Columbia, MO, 1994; History of Howard and Chariton Counties, Missouri (St. Louis: National Historical Company, 1883), p. 511.

Locations:  None

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