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The original content for this article was contributed by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies in June 2012. It is an excerpt from their course US: Newspaper Records by Rhonda McClure. The Institute offers over 200 comprehensive genealogy courses for a fee ($).
Miscellaneous Specialty Newspapers
Specialty newspapers are not limited to ethnic or religious groups. In fact there are many newspapers that have been published over the years unique to given military organizations, labor groups and occupations. Finding them can be a little more difficult.
There are different military papers that have been published over the years, and some that continue to be published to this date. Journalists have always followed the troops, especially during the Civil War and beyond, reporting back to the mainstream newspapers as to what was happening with the soldiers in each battle. It is from some of these journalists that we find the lists of deceased that were published during war time. However, these military newspapers are those published by soldiers for soldiers.
The first such newspaper, known as the Stars and Stripes was published by the 18th and 29th Illinois Volunteers on presses owned by the Bloomfield Daily Herald. The issue was published on November 9, 1861 and appears to be the only issue to have been published, but what it also did was to start a tradition that has continued on in different manifestations.
In October 1877 the Grand Army of the Republic, a fraternal organization of Civil War Union veterans that ceased existence after the death of the last member, published theNational Tribune, a newspaper devoted to news for the veterans of the Civil War. At some point they added Stars and Stripes to the masthead, but this newspaper ceased production before World War I.
Stars and Stripes
The traditionally recognized Stars and Stripes newspaper was begun in Paris by the American Expeditionary Force during World War I. The first weekly edition was published February 18, 1918 and the final edition came off the presses on June 13, 1919. This was not the end though as those journalists who had worked on the newspaper in Paris launched a new paper for the veterans after the war ended, but it eventually had to merge with the National Tribune.
When World War II broke out, and the United States got involved, the Stars and Stripes began publication again and continues to this day, being delivered to U.S. military bases in the United States and around the world. The National Tribune continues to be published as well, devoted to news for veterans of all the wars that have come during the twentieth and now the twenty-first centuries.
Stars and Stripes The first edition of the official Stars and Stripes, published in France on February 8, 1918.
Digitized editions of the Stars and Stripes from World War I are part of the American Memory Website of the Library of Congress. The Stars and Stripes is not the only military newspaper that has existed over the years.
Other newspapers, such as the Quantico Survey are published for specific arms of the military. The Quantico Survey is the Marine Corps oldest newspaper, having been published since 1935. Like the Quantico Survey, January 8, 1937, Quantico, Virginia, they often supply more complete obituaries.
Remember though that you do not want to exclude mainstream papers if you do find an obituary in a military newspaper. It can never be said that you have too much information on an ancestor.
There are many papers that have been published since labor movements began in the United States. Many of the are publications of the various socialist and communist parties that have been founded in various parts of the country, but those that are particular interesting and give wonderful insight into the world as our ancestors began to fight for workers rights, and what happened as strikes began to take place.
The Industrial Worker is one such labor paper. First published on March 8, 1909 in Spokane, it would continue for two decades eventually being published in Seattle. It was the voice of the Industrial Workers of the World for the Pacific Northwest, but contained national news in additional to the regional information. The Industrial Workers of the World were founded in Chicago in 1905 and had other newspapers as well, including the Industrial Union Bulletin, which was published in Chicago from 1907 to 1909.
Labor papers give researchers the pulse of the laborers through history. Industrial Worker, April 1, 1916, Seattle, Washington.
One of the reasons that labor papers had to begin publishing on their own was that they were denied access to the mainstream newspapers. These early labor movement papers were vocal about the corrupt politics and demanded that the capitalists acknowledge the hard work the working-class men contributed to the market place. One of the first such newspapers was the Mechanic’s Free Press published in Philadelphia beginning in 1828 by William Heighton, with the purpose of politicizing laborers. This was done encouraging the local trade societies to nominate candidates to Philadelphia’s City Council and Pennsylvania’s state legislature. Known as the Working Man’s Party, they did manage to get some of their candidates elected in 1828 and 1829, as well as getting some elected in 1830 in New York.
Perhaps not surprising as immigrants poured into the United States, taking jobs for very low wages, the labor publications began to proliferate in the latter nineteenth century on into the early and mid twentieth century. While not mainstream newspapers, they should not be overlooked if you discover that your ancestor became a member of one of the labor or other political radical parties.
Information in this Wiki page is excerpted from the online course US: Newspaper Records offered by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. To learn more about this course or other courses available from the Institute, see our website. We can be contacted at email@example.com
We welcome updates and additions to this Wiki page.