The Business of Newspapers in Post-Civil War America

Sinking of the USS Maine, 1898

Front page of the New-York Tribune, February 16, 1898, with news of the sinking of the USS Maine in Havana harbor.

In the half century after the conclusion of the United States Civil War, the American press expanded to the peak of its numbers and influence in American society. By 1900, over 2,000 newspapers published daily in English, with hundreds more in other languages. These newspapers reflected the broad contours of American society and culture, with each issue containing local, regional, and national news, advertisements for products and services, and a variety of other information.

Thanks to the digitization of millions of pages of newspapers through Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers, a project hosted by the Library of Congress and funded through the National Endowment of the Humanities, students enrolled in Media and Communications in American History (HSTY 360) in the Fall 2019 semester have created this site to explore this vital period in the history of American journalism.  (A description of the assignment is available at the course website.)

Each student focused on an individual newspaper and researched its history and various aspects of its publication history over a five to ten-year period between 1865 and 1923. In aggregate, the project explores journalistic practices across the United States in newspapers ranging from small, rural papers to a New York City paper published by Joseph Pulitzer. We welcome you to explore the pages of this report as students discuss their newspapers and share images from their newspapers.