The Students Gazette (PA, 1777-1778)

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Publication History:

Place of Publication: Friends Latin School (later William Penn Charter School), Philadelphia, PA

Frequency:  Unknown; first issue: “The great Want of a Weekly Newspaper and the Encouragement they formerly met with from you has induced me to publish the Students Gazette.”

Volume and Issue Data:  23 issues, 1777-8; first issue: June 11, 1777

Size and Format:  Half sheet (roughly 4.25  x 6 inches)

Editor/Publisher:  S.M. Fox, Friends Latin School, Philadelphia, PA (the editor’s name is on page two at the conclusion of the introductory editorial and in a news brief about school elections on page four)

Title Changes and Continuation: Unknown

General Description and Notes:

Full title:  The Students Gazette Containing Advices both Foreign & Domestic; First issue, Wednesday, June 11, 1777.

Harwood claims that this was “America’s first student newspaper, published at Friends Latin School,  Philadelphia, Pa., in 1777” (p. 326).

Information Sources:

Bibliography: William N. Harwood, Writing and Editing School News (Caldwell, ID: Clark Publishing Co,  1977), pp 326-327.

Locations:  The Morley Collection, Manuscripts, The Quaker Collection, Haverford College, Haverford, PA

Plain Dealer (NJ, 1775-1776)

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Publication History:

Place of Publication: Potter’s Tavern, Bridgeton, Cumberland County, NJ

Frequency: Weekly, “every Tuesday morning”

Issue Data:  8 issues, December 21, 1775 through November 23, 1776.

Size and Format: Unknown

Editor/Publisher:  Ebenezer Elmer, 23, a native of Fairfield, NJ

Title Changes and Continuation: Unknown

General Description and Notes:

According to the Cumberland County, NJ, history webpage,

“The Plain Dealer, the first newspaper established in New Jersey expressly for the purpose of supporting the sometimes faltering drive for American liberty, is one of the literary-political landmarks of the American Revolutionary period. The distinguished historian, John T. Cunningham, said that the fact that the Plain Dealer appeared every Tuesday morning probably made it New Jersey’s first regular “Newspaper.”

Potter’s Tavern, where the Plain Dealer was published is one of New Jersey’s most significant historical shrines.

“The editor of the Plain Dealer was Ebenezer Elmer, age 23, a native of Fairfield, a tea burner and a young physician who later distinguished himself as a soldier, a statesman and a public benefactor. He was the last survivor of Washington’s officers of the Jersey Continental Line. He was also the last original member of the New Jersey Society of the Cincinnati and at his death was the president of that mutual aid organization formed by the officers of Washington’s army when his troops were disbanded.

“Containing clear and persuasive argument in favor of Liberty from British domination, the Plain Dealer successfully served to crystallize sentiment in Cumberland County in favor of armed resistance. This accomplished, the editor and the contributors went off to war.

“The tavern bore the name of its licensed keeper, Matthew Potter. He was a brother of David Potter, who was later a Colonel in the Militia. Matthew’s place of entertainment was a gathering spot for the local firebrands. The fact that he gave a home to the Plain Dealer placed him in personal danger in the Revolutionary period. The silhouette on the cover of this booklet is the only likeness of Ebenezer Elmer so far identified.

“The original manuscript of the Plain Dealer was in the hands of Bridgeton owners who held it by inheritance. In the 1930’s it found its way into the streams of trade finally coming to rest in the Rare Book Collection of Rutgers, The State University.”

Information Sources:

Bibliography: “The Plain Dealer,” Cumberland County, NJ, history webpage

Locations:  Special Collections and Archives, Rutgers University Libraries, New Brunswick, NJ

The Gold Coast Gazette & Commercial Intelligencer (GHA, 1822-1825)

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Publication History:

Place of Publication:  Ghana, West Africa

Frequency: Unknown

Volume and Issue Data: April 21, 1822-1825

Size and Format: “handwritten;” semi-official organ of the colonial government

Editor/Publisher: Sir Charles MacCarthy, governor of the British Gold Coast settlements

Title Changes and Continuation: Unknown

General Description and Notes:

According to Jennifer Hasty’s history of the press in Ghana,

The first newspaper, The Gold Coast Gazette and Commercial Intelligencer, was published from 1822-25 by Sir Charles MacCarthy, governor of the British Gold Coast settlements. As a semi-official organ of the colonial government, the central goal of this Cape Coast newspaper was to provide information to European merchants and civil servants in the colony. Recognizing the growing number of mission-educated Africans in the Gold Coast, the paper also aimed at promoting literacy, encouraging rural development, and quelling the political aspirations of this class of native elites by securing their loyalty and conformity with the colonial system.

The appropriation of print media by local African elites began in mid-century with the publication of The Accra Herald by Charles Bannerman, son of a British lieutenant governor and a princess from the Asante royal family. Handwritten like MacCarthy’s former colonial paper, The Accra Herald was circulated to some 300 subscribers, two-thirds of them African. Enduring for 16 years, the success of Bannerman’s paper stimulated a proliferation of African-owned newspapers in the late nineteenth century . . . (emphasis added)

Governor MacCarthy was later killed in the First Ashanti war. His death and the claim that the victorious natives used his skull as a drinking cup did nothing to improve relations between the British and the coastal tribes. At least two other Ashanti Wars were fought in the 19th century.

Information Sources:

Bibliography:  John D. Chick, “The Asanti Times: A Footnote in Ghanaian Press History,” African Affairs, 76:302 (1977), p. 80 (fn.3); “The Story of Africa: African History from the Dawn of Time,” BBC World Service, accessed August 18, 2011; Jennifer Hasty, “Ghana,” World Press Encyclopedia (2003);  JenniferHasty,  Big Language and Brown Envelopes: The Press and Political Culture in Ghana,  Ph.D. Dissertation, Duke University, 1999

Locations:  Unknown

The Boston News-Letter (MA, 1700-1704)

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Publication History:

Place of Publication:  Boston, Massachusetts

Frequency: Weekly

Volume and Issue Data:  1700-1704; after 1704, the paper was printed

Size and Format: Approximately 6.25 x 10.5 inches

Editor/Publisher: John Campbell, Boston postmaster

Title Changes and Continuation: Boston News-Letter (printed edition beginning 1704)

Boston News-Letter (printed edition, 1704)

General Description & Notes:

The Boston News-Letter is generally regarded as the first “successful” newspaper in the American colonies. From 1704 to 1722, the last date being three years after he retired as postmaster, editor John Campbell produced a printed newsletter. However, for the first four years of the News-Letters’ existence, it was published in handwritten form.

Benjamin Harris’s Publick Occurrences preceded the News-Letter by at least 10 years, but Day’s paper lasted only one issue and was shut down by authorities. As the Campbell’s first printed issue of the News-Letter boldly states, the paper was “Published by Authority.”

Postmaster Campbell used his postal role as to gather information which he published “in the form of a newsletter–the primitive, handwritten report that had been the common medium of communication in Europe before the invention of printing. Most of the information sent out by Campbell was concerned with commercial and governmental matters.”

According to one historian, “There was such a demand for his news letter that Campbell began to look around for some way of relieving the pressure upon his time and energy. He got his brother, Duncan, to help, but even together they could not supply the demand for news. The just couldn’t write longhand fast enough.”

The first printed edition, replacing the handwritten version, appeared on April 24, 1704. “It was called the Boston News-Letter, an appropriate title, since it was merely a continuation of the publication the Campbells had been producing since 1700.”


Boston News-Letter (Boston, Mass.), 18-25 November 1706, p. 4

Information Sources:

Bibliography: Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, First Series, March 1867, Volume 9, pp. 485-501 (Nine issues of the News-Letter from 1703 are presented in this collection); Frank Luther Mott, American Journalism: A History of Newspapers in the United States Through 250 Years (New York, 1941); Willard G. Bleyer, Main Currents in the History of American Journalism (New York, 1973); Edwin Emery and Michael Emery,  The Press and America,  Fifth ed.  (Englewood Cliffs, 1984); Wm. David Sloan and Julie Hedgepath Williams, The Early American Press, 1690-1783 (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1994), p.  18; Wm. David Sloan, “John Campbell and the Boston News-Letter,” AEJMC website (2004); Tom Kemp, “A Mystery from the First Handwritten Newspaper in America,”, posted Nov. 20, 2012, accessed Feb. 7, 2013.

Locations:  American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, MA; State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Madison, WI

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