The Detroit Free Press published its first edition before Michigan entered statehood and when wild animals outnumbered the people living in the city. Its editor assigned a writer to walk the waterfront and record the shipping news each day, creating the first news “beat.” The Free Press also was the first U.S. newspaper to print a regular Sunday edition and the first to publish court testimony. It sent reporters to Civil War battlefields to describe the action, set up a Washington bureau to report on politics, and was the first American newspaper published in Europe when it began a London edition in 1881.
The Detroit Free Press witnessed the arrival of former slaves and the influx of Polish, German, Irish, and Italian immigrants to Michigan. It watched the mining and timber industries bring industry and wealth to the state. The publication witnessed the birth of the automotive industry and products such as Vernors Ginger Ale and Faygo pop. And, it followed Detroit Tiger’s baseball player Ty Cobb as he set record after record.