- Alternative Titles
- African American Newspapers: The 19th CenturyThe Christian Recorder; The Colored American; Frederick Douglass’ Paper; Freedom’s Journal; The National Era; The North Star; Provincial Freeman; Weekly Advocate
Includes searchable full text of:
- The Christian Recorder (1861–1902)
- The Colored American (1837–1841)
- Frederick Douglass’ Paper (1851–1855; 1859–1863)
- Freedom’s Journal (1827–1829)
- The National Era (1847–1860)
- The North Star (1847–1851)
- Provincial Freeman (1854–1857)
- Weekly Advocate (1837–1837)
The Christian Recorder
“Published by the African Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States, for the Dissemination of Religion, Morality, Literature and Science.” in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
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, Volume 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, Foreign News, Obituaries, Marriages, Notices and Advertisements. It also included the normal complement of prose and poetry found in the newspapers of the day.
The Colored American/Weekly Advocate
On January 7, 1837 Phillip A. Bell began to publish a weekly newspaper called 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 United States and the principal features of various countries of the nations of the earth.
On March 4, 1837, issue number 9 of the newspaper was published 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…”
Frederick Douglass’ Paper/The North Star
Newspaper of Frederick Douglass, the American social reformer, orator, writer, and statesman.
“…It has long been our anxious wish to see, in this slave-holding, slave-trading, and negro-hating land, a printing-press and paper, permanently established, under the complete control and direction of the immediate victims of slavery and oppression…”
Formerly called The North Star.
On March 16, 1827 Samuel E. Cornish (1795-1858) and John Brown Russwurm (1799-1851), both well-educated clergymen, began to edit and publish 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 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 National Era
With Dr. Gamaliel Bailey, Jr., 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 was 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…”
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 issue number 16 was published. The volume was closed with issue number 49, August 22, 1857.
- Varies by newspaper 19th century
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