1878-1899: Communications: Chronology

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1878-1899: Communications: Chronology




  • E. W Scripps founds the ClevelandPenny Press, which becomes the parent paper or a successful newspaper chain.
  • Joseph Pulitzer purchases the bankrupt Saint Louis Dispatch and merges it with the Saint Louis Westliche Post.


  • The Heintzemann Press is founded in Boston by Carl Heintzemann. It raises the standards for schoolbooks in America and publishes popular literature at low prices.


  • The foreign-language press in the United States includes 641 German (80 dailies), 49 Scandinavia, 41 French, 26 Spanish, 13 Bohemian, 5 Welsh, and 4 Itahan papere. Over the next twenty years the proportion printed in Eastern European languages will increase rapidly.
  • William Rockhill Nelson, a promoter of community works, buys the Kansas City Star. It reaches a circulation of 170,000 before his death in 1915.
  • The Thorne type-composing and -distributing machine is patented, introducing the first step in automated typesetting. Pressing a key brings a letter to an assembly place from a revolving cylinder, and the assembled type is justified by hand.
  • The New York Daily Graphic prints the first quality halftone reproduction of a photograph Shantytown, depicting upper Fifth Avenue.
  • Lew Walkces novel Ben-Hur:A Tale ofChrist becomes one of the best-selling books of the next few years. By 1888 it sells 290,000 copies.


  • The first halftone plates for letterpress printing are developed independently by Frederick E. Ives of Philadelphia and George Meisenbach of Munich. Ivess halrtones began to appear in Harpers Magazine in 1884.
  • Railroad magnate and former Civil War correspondent Henry Villard buys the New York Evening Post and The Nation, establishing an editorial triumvirate of fc. L. Godkin, Carl Schurz, and Horace White.
  • 15 Jan. The biweekly literary magazine The Critic is founded in New York.
  • 29 Oct. Led by James Albert Wales, defectors from the humor magazine Puck found its competitor, The Judge.


  • R. Hoe and Company build their first double supplement press, which prints 24,000 copies an hour of a 4-, 6-, 8-, 10-, or 12-page paper. It is promptly purchased by James Gordon Bennett Jr. for the New York Herald.
  • Harrison Gray Otis joins the Los Angeles Times, founded in 1881 by a group of printers. By 1886 he gains control of the paper and becomes notorious among printers for reducing their wages. Within four years circulation is up to 7,300.
  • The United Press is founded by a splinter group from the Associated Press.
  • Printer and Publisher, a periodical for journalists, is founded in Indianapolis. It adopts the title National Printer-Journalist in 1893.
  • Albert Pulitzer, brother of Joseph, founds the New York Morning Journal, but after the price increases to two cents a copy circulation drops. Pulitzer sells the paper to John R. McLean in 1894, who in turn sells it to William Randolph Hearst the next year.
  • 14 July The American Medicai Association begins publishing the Journal of the American Medical Association.
  • Dec. The most popular childrens magazine of its day, The Golden Argosy, Freighted With Treasures for Boys and Girls is founded by Frank A. Munsey Jr. The title is shortened to The Golden Argosy in 1886, and two years later it becomes an adult magazine.


  • The humor magazine Life is founded in New York by John Ames Mitchell.
  • In New York City Irving Bacheller founds the first literary syndicate, supplying articles and short stories to newspapers.
  • Theodore Low De Vinne, the outstanding American scholar-printer of the late nineteenth century, founds T. L. De Vinne and Company in New York. De Vinne was famous for his typography, wood engravings, experiments with coated papers, and writings on the history and practice of printing.
  • Joseph Pulitzer buys the New York World for $346,000.
  • 9 Feb. Science is founded in Cambridge, Massachusetts, by Alexander Graham Bell.
  • Dec. The Ladies Home Journal ìs founded in Philadelphia by Cyrus H. K. Curtis and his wife Louis a Knapp.


  • S. S. McClure founds the McClure Newspaper Syndicate in New York. The syndicate makes the writings of famous writers such as William Dean Howells, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Jack London, and Rudyard Kipling available to small papers at low cost.
  • The Pittsburgh Evening Penny Press is founded.
  • T. Thomas Fortune founds the New York Freeman, later the New YorkAge.
  • 25 Nov. The Philadelphia Weekly Tribune is founded by Christopher James Perry Sr. to fight racial discrimination. During its long history it also criticizes affluent African Americans for not doing enough to help impoverished blacks.


  • Ottmar Mergenthaler, a German living in the United States, patents the Linotype automatic typesetting machine, and by the following year it is in use at the New York Tribune. By 1890 a vastly improved model is in use throughout the United States and Europe.
  • Ben Perley Moore of the Boston Journal, the dean of the capital Press Corps, founds the Washington Gridiron Club to allow journalists and politicians to meet in intorniai circumstances.
  • A trade association for small dailies and weeklies, the National Editorial Association, is formed by B. B. Herbert of the Red Wing Daily Republican in Minne-
  • 3 March The U.S. Post Office inaugurates special-delivery service.
  • 1 Oct. The Dallas Morning News is founded.


  • The United States Type Founders Association appoints a committee to consider the mathematical systematization of all type bodies. They create the point system, dividing the pica into twelve equal parts. Great Britain adopts the system in 1898.
  • The American Newspaper Publishers Association is founded by Detroit Evening News advertising manager William Brearly as a trade association for daily newspapers. It concerns itself with government mail rates, labor relations, new printing methods, and pnce control.
  • March Cosmopolitan Magazine is founded in Rochester, New York, by Paul J. Schlicht. Part family monthly and general literary magazine, the publication passes through the hands of several owners, and in 1889 becomes one of the most successful magazines in the country.
  • 28 Oct. The Statue of Liberty arrives in New York Harbor, where it is greeted by a flottila of boats a welcome inspired by the New York World. The last $100, 000 needed to bring the statue from France is raised by contributions from the readers of Pulitzers paper.


  • The New York Sun inaugurates an evening edition.
  • Circulation of the New York Sunday World surpasses a quarter million.
  • The first long-distance telephone line in the United States is completed; it links INew York and Boston.
  • Robert Miehle invents the Miehle printing machine, which is manufactured in Chicago by S. K. White. It is the first in a class of modern two-revolution presses, in which the print bed moves neatly and precisely under a continuously revolving paper cylinder. It remains in use for many decades.
  • The United Typothetae of America, an organization of master printers, is founded to fight the International Typographical Union movement for a nine hour workday. Its first president is Theodore Low De Vinne
  • Jan. Scribners Magazine is founded in New York as a high-quality literary magazine affiliated with Charles Scribners Sons publishing house.


  • Twenty-three-year-old Arthur Brisbane becomes the New York Sun correspondent in London just as the Jack the Ripper murders commence. The intellectual Brisbane, later one of the most famous journalists in the world, surprises his editors by covering the grisly crimes in vivid detail.
  • George Eastman introduces the Kodak, a square box camera that uses roll film. After taking all the pictures on the roll the customer mails the whole Kodak camera to the factory and receives in return pictures and a reloaded camera.
  • 28 Aprii Colliers Once a Week, an illustrated general interest magazine, is founded in New York by P. F. Collier. The name changes to Colliers Weekly in 1895.
  • Oct. National Geographic Magazine is founded in Washington, D.C., by Gardiner Greene Hubbard as the publication of the nonprofit National Geographic Society.


  • The New York Sunday World begins publishing a comic section.
  • Edward W. Bok becomes editor of the Ladies Home Journal, and circulation soon reaches half a million at an annual subscription price of one dollar.
  • The first formal newspaper chain, the Scripps-McRae League of Newspapers, is founded to publish inexpensive, well-edited papers in small but growing industrial cities.
  • Charles W. Dow founds the Wall Street Journal, an afternoon financial newspaper, in New York City.
  • 2 Feb. Frank A. Munsey founds the general-interest magazine Munseys Weekly, which will reach an unprecedented circulation of 650,000 by the turn of the century.
  • Dec. Scribners Magazine publishes Jacob Riiss How the Other Half Lives, an article with photographs depicting terrible conditions on the Lower East Side of New York City. In 1890 it becomes his best-known book.
  • Benjamin Orange Flower founds The Arena in Boston as a monthly periodical advocating social reform and the benefits of religion.


  • Illiteracy is estimated at 13.3 percent of the U.S. population, a decrease of 3.7 percent since 1880.
  • Jacob Riis joins the staff of the New York Evening Sun.
  • The New York Herald earns $1 million in a year from advertising and subscriptions.
  • The Emporia Gazette is founded in Kansas. In 1895 it is purchased by William Allen White, perhaps the most influential small-town publisher and editor in American history.
  • 25 Jan. Reporter Elizabeth Cochrane (Nellie Bly) arrives in New York after circling the globe in just seventy-two days.
  • 10 Dec. The World Building openson Park Row in New York City.


  • 29 Dec. Thomas Edison receives an early patent for a wireless telegraph.


  • Jacob Riis publishes his book The Children of the Poor.


  • The New York Sunday World installs color presses to print its Sunday supplements.
  • June S. S. McClure founds McClures Magazine to showcase the best material from his newspaper syndicate. It becomes the pacesetter of the ten-cent periodicals.


  • William Randolph Hearsts San Francisco Examiner publishes a series of stories on Little Jim, the crippled son of a prostitute. The articles help increase circulation and induce readers to contribute $20,000 toward the erection of a hospital for handicapped children. One contemporary calls Hearst a clever amateur


  • Hearst buys the New York Morning Journal fot $180,000.
  • The Paige Compositor, which sets type and justifies the lines, is tested at the Chicago Herald, where thirty Linotype machines are already in use. James W. Paige of Rochester, New York, has produced the most sophisticated mechanism to that time, but when the competing Linotype technology is introduced he loses the support of his financiers, including Samuel Langhorne Clemens, who invested the first royalties from Huckleberry Finn. The project loses a total of $800,000.
  • Stephen Cranes novel of the Civil War, The Red Badge of Courage, becomes a best-seller. In 1896 it ranks eighth on the top ten list of popular books.


  • Adolph S. Ochs buys The New York Times.
  • The most popular cartoon comic in New York is Hogans Alley which appears in Pulitzers World and features the Yellow Kid, the ringleader of a group of tenement-district urchins who lampoon upper-class society.
  • Jan. William Randolph Hearst, having recently purchased the New York Morning Journal, conducts a raid on the staff of the New York Sunday World and entices them with promises of large salaries. Everyone except one secretary leaves Pulitzers paper for its new rival.
  • 8 Feb. The New York World announces it will cut its price in half, to one penny, in order to compete with its new rival, the Journal.
  • Nov. The New York World and the New York Journal each sell 1.5 million copies on the day following the McKinley-Bryan presidential election.


  • Cyrus H. K. Curtis revives the Saturday Evening Post.
  • Stephen H. Horgan of the New York Tribune runs a halftone on a rotary press, making possible the widespread use of photographs in newspapers.
  • Experiments in Rural Free Delivery are initiated by the federal post office.
  • The Yiddish-language Vorwàrts, or Jewish Daily Forward, is founded in New York City by the Jewish Socialist Press Federation. Its circulation peaks in 1923 at 250,000 readers.
  • 12 Apr. The New York Journal becomes the first daily paper to be printed in two colors.


  • 9 Feb. Hearsts Journal publishes a private letter written by Dupuy de Lóme, Spanish ambassador to the United States. The letter refers to President William McKinley as weak and a bidder for the admiration of the crowd. This incident along with the explosion of the USS Maine six days later, influences the U.S. decision to declare war on Spain.


  • E. L. Godkin retires from the New York Evening Post and The Nation.
  • John Wanamaker and Robert C. Ogden found Everybodys Magazine in New York City. It costs ten cents a copy and consists of serials, short stories, articles, and poems, with illustrations that had already appeared in the Royal Magazine (London).

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1878-1899: Communications: Chronology

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1878-1899: Communications: Chronology