Roy Alden Atwood, Ph.D., Editor
The Handwritten Newspapers Project

A kind archivist at the State Historical Society of Iowa in Iowa City introduced Roy to an extant copy of The Quarterly Visitor (Iowa, 1844) from their manuscript collection in 1979. It was the first handwritten newspaper he’d ever seen. He’s been pursuing these rare publications ever since.

The fruit of those pursuits, with the assistance of many scholars, archivists, and friends, have now been compiled in this online collection, The Handwritten Newspapers Project.

Roy holds a doctorate in journalism and mass communication from the University of Iowa. He has served as a professor of journalism, communication, and humanities for more than 40 years at colleges and universities in Washington state, Idaho, Illinois, and Albania (southern Europe).

He has been a Senior Fulbright Teaching-Research Scholar twice: first to the Institute of Journalism at Warsaw University, Poland, in 1991; and to the Institute of Communication Research at North West University, South Africa, in 1998. He also served as an International Development and Training (IDAT) visiting media scholar at Egerton University, Kenya, East Africa, in 1992. He conducted externally funded research on post-communist media policy transitions in Central Europe (Warsaw, Poland; Prague, Czech Republic; and Budapest, Hungary) in the early 1990s. He has presented numerous scholarly and popular lectures and research papers on media history, media law, and international media policy in the United States, Canada, Europe, Africa, and Asia.

Between 1988 and 1990, he served as the head of research and division chair of the History Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (www.aejmc.com). He was the founding book review editor of American Journalism, the journal of the American Journalism Historians Association.

His scholarly articles and presentations on handwritten publications include:

  • “Foreword” to Michael Ray Smith, A Free Press in Freehand: The Spirit of American Blogging in the Handwritten Newspapers of John McLean Harrington, 1858-1869 (Grand Rapids, MI: Edenridge Press, 2011), pp. xiii-xv
  • “Handwritten Newspapers,” History of the Mass Media in the United States:  An Encyclopedia, ed. by Margaret A. Blanchard.  Chicago and London: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 1998, pp. 249-250
  • “Shipboard News: Nineteenth Century Handwritten Periodicals at Sea,” Annual Convention of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, History Division, Chicago, IL, USA, August 1997
  • “Captive Audiences: Handwritten Prisoner-of-War Newspapers of the Texan Santa Fe Expedition and the War Between the States,” Annual Convention of the American Journalism Historians Association (AJHA), Salt Lake City, UT, USA, October 1993
  • “Handwritten Newspapers of the Canadian-American West, 1842-1910,” Annual Convention of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC), History Division, Kansas City, MO, USA, August 1993 (recipient of the Faculty Research Award, AEJMC History Division)
  • “The Handwriting on the Wall: Frontier Journalism as Cultural Form,” Annual Convention of AJHA, Coeur d’Alene, ID, USA, October 1990
  • “Old News: Using Newspapers in Pursuit of the Past,” keynote address presented to the Iowa Newspaper Project Conference: Pilot Project for the National Newspaper Preservation Project, National Endowment for the Humanities, Des Moines, IA, USA, 1984,
  • “Iowa’s Handwritten Newspapers,” The Palimpsest: Iowa State Historical Society Journal, 62:1 (January-February, 1981), 10-13, and
  • “Handwritten Newspapers on the Iowa Frontier, 1844-1854,” Journalism History, 7 (Summer 1980), 56-59, 66-67

He is also the author of Mass Communication Law in Idaho (New Forums Press, 1992), and Transforming the Internet (Institute of Reformational Studies, South Africa, 1998). His scholarly articles and reviews related to media studies have appeared in Acta Academica, American Journalism, The Annals of Iowa, Canadian Journal of Communication, Christian Scholars Review, Communicare, Ecquid Novi: African Journalism Studies, Journal of Communication Inquiry, Journalism Educator, Journalism History, Journalism Quarterly, Journalism Studies, Journal of Communication, Journal of Mass Media Ethics, Media, Culture & Society, Public Relations Review, and other journals.

You can reach him with questions or comments about The Handwritten Newspapers Project at royaldenatwood@gmail.com.

[Updated November 30, 2022]

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Souvik Sarkar
    Nov 02, 2016 @ 12:09:35

    Dear Mr.Atwood,
    I am deeply moved by the monumental effort that you have put up to create an archive like this! Perhaps this is one of its kind in the world. And thank God I chanced upon this archive.

    Now Sir, my grandfather had composed a handwritten magazine back in 1938, when he was just 22. I am making a documentary on that and while doing that I started to trace the history of the Handwritten magazines of Bengal. This turned out to be seminal work in my culture, as nobody till now has done anything on this. The first dates that I have got are 1840-42. But the manuscripts don’t survive. No handwritten magazines have survived till about 1906. So, I have stuff to showcase after 1906 till 1938. But before it I have no visual image that can show, I have only dry facts.

    But while going through this Archive I came across a few handwritten magazines, which were beautiful: 1.Newspaper of Kossuth (1836) 2. The Melbourne Advertiser(1838) 3. The Victoria Times (1840) 4. Charivari (1854). Now, I seek permission from you, to use them in the documentary. Just these four. I would acknowledge you and this archive in the credit list.

    Also, once I am done with my documentary, I would love to share my seminal findings with this page.

    Would be waiting for your reply.

    best wishes
    Souvik Sarkar
    Kolkata, West Bengal, India

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