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African American Newspapers: The 19th Century


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Inhalt :: Content

Kombinierte Volltext- und Imagedatenbank mit Zugang zu rund 100.000 Artikeln aus den wichtigsten afro-amerikanischen Zeitungen, die in den USA im 19. Jahrhundert erschienen sind:

  • Freedom's Journal, New York (16. März 1827 - 28. März 1829)
  • The Colored American (Weekly Advocate), New York, (7. Januar 1837 - 15. Dezember 1841)
  • The North Star, Rochester, New York (3. Dezember 1847 - 17. April 1851)
  • The National Era, Washington, D.C. (7. Januar 1847 - 22. März 1860)
  • Provincial Freeman, Chatham, Canada West (1854-1857)
  • Frederick Douglass' Paper, Rochester, New York (1851-1859)
  • The Christian Recorder (1861-1902)
African American Newspapers

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Accessible Archives

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Verlagsinformation :: Publisher's information

This enormous collection of African-American newspapers contains a wealth of information about the cultural life and history during the 1800s, and is rich with first-hand reports of the major events and issues of the day, including the Mexican War, Presidential and congressional addresses, Congressional abstracts, business and commodity markets, the humanities, world travel and religion. They also contain large numbers of early biographies, vital statistics, essays and editorials, poetry and prose, and advertisements all of which embody the African-American experience.

Starting with the Freedom`s Journal in 1827 and continuing in chronological order with the addition of 10 to 12 million words of new text each year (downloaded monthly), this database will ultimately contain the complete text of the major African-American newspapers published in the United States during the 19th century. Never before has such important original source material - written by African- Americans for African-Americans - been readily available for research and fresh interpretation by historians, sociologists, educators and students.

Freedom's Journal, New York
March 16, 1827 - March 28 1829

On March 16, 1827 Samuel E. Cornish (1795-1858) and John Brown Russwurm (1799-1851), both well-educated clergymen, began to edit and publish the Freedom`s Journal in New York City. Cornish was born in Sussex county, Delaware and attended the Philadelphia Presbytery. As a youth Russwurm was educated in Canada, and became the first black man to receive a degree from Bowdoin College. The partnership dissolved when Russwurm joined the American Colonization Society in their effort to establish a black colony in Liberia. The paper ceased operations with the March 28, 1829 issue.

Although the Freedom`s Journal lived a relatively short life, it is important in that it was the first American newspaper written by blacks for blacks. From the beginning the editors felt, "... that a paper devoted to the dissemination of useful knowledge among our brethren, and to their moral and religious improvement, must meet with the cordial approbation of every friend to humanity...".

The Colored American (Weekly Advocate), New York
January 7, 1837 - December 25, 1841

On January 7, 1837 Phillip A. Bel began to publish a weekly newspaper called The Weekly Advocate. From the beginning, one of the major goals of this newspaper was to educate its subscribers, and much information appeared in a list format including: principal railroads, lengths of rivers, heights of principal mountains, principal colleges in the U.S., and the principal features of various countries of the nations of the earth.

On March 4, 1837, No. 9 of the newspaper was issued under the new name of The Colored American, with Samuel E. Cornish as editor. The new motto was "RIGHTEOUSNESS EXALTETH A NATION," and the paper was "... designed to be the organ of Colored Americans - to be looked on as their own, and devoted to their interests - through which they can make known their views to the public - can communicate with each other and their friends, and their friends with them; and to maintain their well-known sentiments on the subjects of Abolition and Colonization, viz. - emancipation without expatriation - the extirpation of prejudice - the enactment of equal laws, and a full and free investiture of their rights as men and citizens..."

From the beginning this paper was burdened with financial difficulties. As a result the paper was published sporadically, and at times several weeks passed between issues. In spite of these dilemmas the editors managed to continue its publication through December of 1841.

The North Star, Rochester, New York
December 3, 1847 - April 17, 1851

Frederick Douglass (c. 1837-1895) was born into slavery at Tuckahoe, Maryland, escaped in 1838, and safely reached New Bedford, Mass. There he worked three years as a daily laborer on the wharves, and in 1841 became a lecturer on slavery. In 1845, afraid of being again placed in bondage, he fled to England. There, friends furnished Douglass with enough money to purchase his freedom and establish himself in the publishing business.

In 1847, with Douglass and M.R. Delaney as editors, The North Star was established: "...It has long been our anxious wish to see, in this slave-holding, slave-trading, and negro-hating land, a printing-press and paper, permanantly established, under the complete control and direction of the immediate victims of slavery and oppression..."

The National Era, Washington, D.C.
January 7, 1847 - March 22, 1860

With Dr. Gamaliel Bailey, junior, as editor, this newspaper was issued weekly in the District of Columbia for more than thirteen years. It was printed, "on a mammoth sheet, of the finest quality, in handsome type, at the rate of two dollars a year," and contained seven columns on each of four pages. Since John Greenleaf Whittier was an associate editor, much of his poetry, prose and editorials were included. With a continued heavy emphasis on literary reviews and commentaries it is the paper in which Uncle Tom`s Cabin was serialized.

The 1847 Prospectus for The National Era stated, "...While due attention will be paid to Current Events, Congressional Proceedings, General Politics and Literature, the great aim of the paper will be a complete discussion of the Question of Slavery, and an exhibition of the Duties of the Citizen in relation to it; especially will it explain and advocate the leading Principles and Measures of the Liberty Party, seeking to do this, not in the spirit of the Party, but in the love of Truth - not for the triumph of Party, but for the establishment of Truth..."

Provincial Freeman, Chatham, Canada West

This weekly newspaper was edited and published by negroes in the Province of Canada West (now called Ontario) where many fugitive slaves from the United States had settled. The first number, intended as a specimen, was issued at Windsor, dated March 24, 1854. The editor was Samuel A. Ward. Mary Ann (Shadd) Carey was born on October 9, 1823, into a prominent black family, in Wilmington, Delaware; the eldest of thirteen children. When she was ten years old, her parents moved to West Chester, Pennsylvania, where she attended a Quaker school for 5 years. Early in her life she became dedicated to the promotion of self-reliance and independence among black Canadians. She helped found The PROVINCIAL FREEMAN and became the first black North American female editor and publisher, with the purpose of transforming black refugees into model citizens. In 1856 she married Thomas F. Carey, of Toronto, and the couple lived in Chatham, Canada, until his death in 1860. Mary Carey ultimately moved to Washington, D.C. where she opened a school for black children and in 1870 she became the first black woman lawyer in the United States.

The PROVINCIAL FREEMAN was devoted to Anti-Slavery, Temperance and General Literature, and was affiliated with no particular Political Party. Its prospectus stated, "it will open its columns to the views of men of different political opinions, reserving the right, as an independent Journal, of full expression on all questions or projects affecting the people in a political way; and reserving, also, the right to express emphatic condemnation of all projects, having for their object in a great or remote degree, the subversion of the principles of the British Constitution, or of British rule in the Provinces." In July, 1856, the office was seized for debt and publication was suspended until Nov. 25, when No. 16 was issued. The volume was closed with No. 49, August 22, 1857.

Frederick Douglass' Paper, Rochester, New York

By 1851 Frederick Douglass had become established as one of the most influential black leaders of the 19th century. In this year he changed the title of his Rochester based newspaper, The North Star, to that of the "Frederick Douglass' Paper." In an editorial, he wrote: "In respect to the Church and the government, we especially wish to make ourselves fully and clearly understood. With the religion of the one, and the politics of the other, our soul shall have no communion. These we regard as central pillars in the horrid temple of slavery. They are both pro-slavery; and on that score, our controversy with them is based."

The Christian Recorder
1861 - 1902

"Published by the African Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States, for the Dissemination of Religion, Morality, Literature and Science." Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
(Completed through December 1870)

The Christian Recorder was first published in 1854 under the editorship of the Rev. J.P. Campbell. This early edition was short-lived, however, and in 1861, under the editorship of Elisha Weaver, the New Series, Vol. 1. began. Under this new leadership the Recorder was introduced into the South by distribution among the negro regiments in the Union army. Benjamin T. Tanner became editor in 1867, and was followed in that position in 1885 by the Rev. Benjamin F. Lee who served until 1892.

The Christian Recorder embodied secular as well as religious material, and included good coverage of the black regiments together with the major incidents of the Civil War. The four-page weekly contained such departments as Religious Intelligence, Domestic News, General Items, and Foreign News, Obituaries, Marriages, Notices, and Advertisements. It also included the normal complement of prose and poetry found in the newspapers of the day.

"Outrages from the South were reported in purely factual terms: burnings of churches and parsonages, midnight visitations. Of course sermons were reproduced, but there was excellent reportage from correspondents all over the South and West. In sum, the virtue of the Recorder lies not in its religious role but in the picture it provides of the Negro situation throughout the country; from the tepid friendliness of at least some whites in the West, whether Cheyenne or Santa Fe, to the cry to freed Negroes, `Don`t come to Mississippi.` Indeed this warning brings to mind one of the greatest features of the Recorder, the Information Wanted page that continued for years, week after week; inquiries about broken families, the enforced separations of parents, children, brothers, sisters, all relationships, deriving from the peculiar situation of the Cotton Kingdom. These inquiries provide small glimpses of thousands of human tragedies and constitute a most impressive indictment of the Old South." (Augustus H. Able, III)

It is worthy of note that it was the Recorder`s first editor, the Rev. J.P. Campbell (one-time minister at Bethel Church and later Bishop of the Philadelphia area) who collected the volumes of the Recorder that now make up the Bethel Church collection. Not only did he retain them, but had them bound in the boards that have helped to preserve them.

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