The Snowbound (NV, 1890)

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Publication History:

Place of Publication:  On Southern Pacific Railroad near Reno

Frequency:  Irregular daily, “every week-day afternoon”

Volume and Issue Data:  Vol.1, No. 1, Jan. 31, 1890-Feb.1890?

Size and Format:  Four pages; outside pages were printed in blue ink, inside pages were written in pencil; manila paper.

Editor/Publisher:  “S.P. Prisoner in Car No. 36, blockaded at Reno, Nevada,” aka George T. McCully

Title Changes and Continuation:  None

General Description and Notes:

The Snowbound, as its names suggests, appeared after a blizzard blocked the pass routes through the Sierra Nevadas for 600 passengers aboard a Southern Pacific train.  According to Lingenfelter, passenger George T. McCully “sought to relieve the anxious weeks of waiting by printing a newspaper for his fellow passengers.”  Highton claims, however, that the printer of The Snowbound was unknown and that the paper printed before the train left Reno Jan. 30, although it was dated Jan. 31.

In any case, the first number of The Snowbound aspired to be “issued every week-day afternoon by S.P. Prisoner in Car No. 36, blockaded at Reno, Nevada” as “A Souvenir of the Sierra Nevada Blockade 1890.”  It was both printed and handwritten:  the outside pages were printed in blue ink; the inside pages were written in pencil.  It is not known if the paper continued after its first number.

“The Two Inside Pages”–contain the matter which appeared in original issue of “THE SNOWBOUND” published on manilla paper and written with lead pencil.  The outside pages were made up to complete a four page paper, which we take pleasure to issue, at the request of the passengers as a souvenir of the blockade.  in addition to regular copies, we present them with one “proof” copy on plate paper…. (p.4)

“The editor [thanks] the Reverend William Appel, messrs. L.W. Harmons, P.S. Heffleman, Ernest Block, H.K. Pratt and others who kindly assisted to make entertaining to those especially who were in the blockade, the columns of our little souvenir, “THE SNOWBOUND.”

Information Sources:

Bibliography:  Phillip I. Earl, “Unique newspaper born of 1890 snow blockade in Reno,” Sparks Tribune, Nov. 30, 1983, p. 4; Jake Highton, Nevada Newspaper Days:  A History of Journalism in the Silver State (Stockton, Calif.:  Heritage West Books, 1990), pp. 97;  Richard E. Lingenfelter, The Newspapers of Nevada (San Francisco:  John Howell-Books, 1964), 72-73; Richard E. Lingenfelter and Karen R. Gash, The Newspapers of Nevada (Reno:  University of Nevada Press, 1984).  (p.4, col.2) in article “SP No.38”–“…N.J. Weaver correspondent of the New York Herald, has done his part towards enlightening the world, giving the Herald  three solid columns of our misery.”

Locations: Jan. 31, 1890:  CHi; CSmH; CU-B; NvHi

Ishinomaki Hibi Shimbun (JPN, 2011)

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Ishinomaki Hibi Shimibun (JPN, 2011)

Publication History:

Place of Publication:  Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan

Frequency:   Six days while the newspaper could not be printed after massive earthquake, tsunami and nuclear power disasters affected the region

Volume and Issue Data:  March 12-17, 2011

Size and Format:  Poster-sized paper

Editor/Publisher:  Hiroyuki Takeuchi, chief reporter, and the Hibi Shimbun staff

Title Changes and Continuation:  None

General Description & Notes:

In the aftermath of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami in March 2011, the Ishinomaki Hibi Shimbun newspaper was published for six days in handwritten form. According to the Washington Post,

Unable to operate its 20th-century printing press — never mind its computers, Web site or 3G mobile phones — the town’s only newspaper, the Ishinomaki Hibi Shimbun, wrote its articles by hand with black felt-tip pens on big sheets of white paper. 

But unlike modern media, the method worked.

“People who suffer a tragedy like this need food, water and, also, information,” said Hiroyuki Takeuchi, chief reporter at the Hibi Shimbun, an afternoon daily. “People used to get their news from television and the Internet. But when there is no light and no electricity, the only thing they have is our newspaper.”

While recent political ferment across the Arab world has trumpeted the power of new media, the misery in Japan, one of the world’s most wired nations, has rolled back the clock. For a few days at least, the printed and handwritten word were in the ascendant.

 After writing and editing articles, Takeuchi and others on staff copied their work onto sheets by hand for distribution to emergency relief centers housing survivors of Japan’s worst-ever earthquake and deadly tsunami that followed.

“They were desperate for information,” said Takeuchi, who has slept in the office for the 10 days since the tsunami flooded the ground floor of his house.

With electricity now restored to about a third of the northeast town’s 160,000 residents, Takeuchi’s newspaper has put away its pens and started printing. Internet access is still not available. Monday’s printed front page cheered a “miraculous rescue drama” — the story of an 80-year-old woman and her 16-year-old grandson plucked from their ruined Ishinomaki home Sunday.

Down the coast in Sendai, a once-thriving city of more than 1 million, the digital juggernaut has also come to a halt. “In conditions like these, nothing has power like paper,” said Masahiko Ichiriki, president and owner of Kahoku Shimpo, the city’s main newspaper. With most shops shut, people can’t buy batteries to power radios.

The Newseum (a museum dedicated free press and news reporting, which closed in 2019) purchased copies of the handwritten papers, which are now on display at the Washington, D.C. museum. According to the Newseum website (now also closed):

“The Newseum became aware of the Hibi Shimbun‘s heroic efforts from a March 21, 2011, story on the earthquake in The Washington Post. That morning, Brian Nishimura Lee, the Newseum’s senior administrator for database and financial systems, emailed editors at the Hibi Shimbun and requested copies of the handwritten editions for the museum’s collection.”

The Newseum website (closed) provided additional details that did not appear in the original Washington Post story:

“Ishinomaki, with a population of about 160,000 people, was one of the hardest hit in Japan. Approximately 80 percent of the homes were destroyed. About 1,300 people have died, and more than 2,700 are still missing.

“The first handwritten newspaper on March 12 was an “Extra” edition that informed residents that the earthquake was “the biggest in the history of Japan.” The next day’s edition told about “rescue teams arriving in some areas.” On March 16, the paper said, “Let’s overcome the hardship with mutual support.” By March 17, the paper wrote about the lights coming back on.

“The first printed edition of the newspaper since the power outage was published on March 18. Editions have been distributed free to refugee sites each day.”

Information Sources:

Bibliography: Andrew Higgins, “In Ishinomaki, news comes old-fashioned way: Via paper,” Washington Post (web edition), March 21, 2011

Links: Newseum video of Japanese handwritten newspapers (no longer active on the closed Newseum site, but still available through the Freedom Forum on YouTube)

Locations:  Newseum, 555 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Washington, DC

The Fire Fly (NF, 1892)

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The Fire Fly (NF, 1892)

Publication History:

Place of Publication:  St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada (1892)

Frequency:  Only one or two issues produced after the 1892 St.John’s fire destroyed printing press

Volume and Issue Data:  No. 1, July 11, 1892

Size and Format:  8.5 x 11 inches

Editor/Publisher:  M.A. Devine

Title Changes and Continuation:  None

General Description & Notes

The Fire Fly was written as an emergency, interim publication following the fire 1892 in St. John’s.  The paper was handwritten because the printing press the editor normally used to publish his paper perished in the flames.  Editor Devine published information useful to fire survivors, such as locations of necessary goods and services, and reports on people, property and events during and following the fire.

Information Sources:

Bibliography:  None

Locations:  University of Toronto Library

Bum Hill Gazette (CA, 1906)

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Publication History:

Place of Publication:  San Francisco, California

Frequency:  Two issues

Volume and Issue Data:  May [no day], and May 23, both 1906

Size and Format:  56-60 x 42 cm.; May (no date) May 23 issue is 2 pp.; “three folio leaves”; pen and ink; illustrated with watercolor

Editor/Publisher:  Published by “Prowlers of Ashbarrel Street, New San Francisco;” compiled, written and illustrated by Hazel Snell; also edited by “U.R.A. Bum, I.B.A. Tramp”

Title Changes and Continuation:  None

General Description & Notes:

Two issues of a newspaper edited by Hazel Snell (Holmes), San Francisco, were donated to the Bancroft Library by the editor.  In her own undated description of the Gazette, which accompanied the donation, Ms. Holmes writes:

“Three folio leaves compiled, written and illustrated by Snell as a neighborhood paper, residing with her parents on Ashbury Street between Hayes and Fell near the pan-handle of Golden Gate Park.  Some of the humorous jibes were contributed by William Jones Hanlon, now a retired Colonel of the U.S. Air Force.  As far as known, first amateur paper issued after earthquake and fire in San Francisco on April 18, 1906.”

The first number which was dated “May, 1906,” contained sections on business, society, poetry, and local news, and includes want ads and advertisements.  The two-page second number, dated “May 23, 1906,” noted:

“Editors:  U.R.A. Bum, I.B.A. Tramp.  Published any old time.  Sub. Price–six doughnut holes on a toothpick.  When your subscription expires–call an undertaker.  Price per copy–a can of corn bread.”

The motto of the paper, as indicated in the second issue was, “To see ourselves as others saw us.”  The second issue also announced on page one:

“The editors wish to inform the general public that a third and last Edition of the B.H.G. will be published and for the suckers of the same they will depend on the reports of the citizens of this street.  The names of reporters will not be mentioned.

“Kindly place reports in hands of Editors.

“The painting at head of the edition is the reproduction of the famous masterpiece rescued from Hopkins Art Institute during the ‘grate’ fire.”

The editor also claimed, “The first edition of the B.H.G. was probably the most elaborate publication since the earthquake.  It was encased in a beautiful gold and silver frame and given a warm reception in St. Nick’s Kitchen, evidently keeping its circulation in a good condition.”

Information Sources:

Bibliography:  None

Locations:  University of California, Berkeley Bancroft Library manuscripts collection, C-II 81.

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