What better way to begin this series than with one of my all-time favourite jazz musicians:
King of the Vibes, aka Hamp, aka ……. Lionel Hampton!
Chicago Defender. March 21, 1963.
Hamp was not only king of the vibes, he was master of many instruments and had an extensive knowledge of music. He attributed this to his time in the Chicago Defender Newsboys’ Band. “I got my music training from the Defender. […] The paper had a newsboys band when I was a kid growing up in Chicago, and if I know anything about music, I learned it because of the Defender.”
Hampton recalls hearing the sounds of band music emanating from opera star Mme. Ernestine Schumann-Heink’s house every day on his way home from school. “I was so anxious to join that band that I got a job selling newspapers right away.”
Robert Sengstacke Abbott, founder of the Defender, hired Major N. Clark Smith–a strict disciplinarian–to form a band for the newsboys and teach them music. They used Schumann-Heink’s large house for band practice. Hamp remembered, “[Major Clark Smith] was a hard taskmaster, but we learned music. If you wanted to play under his direction, you had to learn harmony and sight reading before you’d even get your instrument. We studied every day after school. The major wouldn’t put up with loafers.”
Thanks to the Defender and Major N. Clark Smith, a young newsboy went on to create a remarkable jazz legacy. No word on Hamp’s newspaper sales though.
[Nashville Newsies] Photographer: Lewis Hines
Source: From the records of the National Child Labor Committee (U.S.), Library of Congress.
Since the start of the TNDP in 2010, I’ve read just about anything I can get my hands on that’s newspaper history-related. I’ve enjoyed books about printing presses, typesetting machines and typography, newspaper design and layout, Civil War reporters, the Southern press, and I’ve learned about the towns’ histories whose newspapers are featured in the project. I plan on writing more on some of these topics in the future. However, one topic that has been a source of constant fascination for me is “newsies” – the boys and girls who were the final link in the chain delivering the news to the people. Thousands of children across the country–from the late 19th century through the 20th century–were responsible for delivering newspapers to customers on the street and to their houses. In the early 20th century, newsboy associations were formed, often by local philanthropists and/or social reformers. In addition to social welfare (many offered libraries, religious and moral education), the associations organized social events such as an annual picnic with food, fun and games for the boys. Although there was camaraderie between the newsies, rivalries developed too. The newsies usually formed and stuck to their own moral code. I’ve found so many intriguing stories about these children and their work, I thought it would make a great topic for an on-going series. Many newsies became local characters, others went on to greater fame; this series will include both. Check back later this week for the first in this series. I’ll add more information about newsies in general, as well as individual newsy’s stories, over time.
In the meantime, take a look at the Library of Congress’ extensive collection of photographs of newsies, many taken by the photographer Lewis Hines for the National Child Labor Committee (NCLC). They can be accessed online here. Several books and many newspaper articles have been written about these young workers, who were also the subject of a WPA project, and Disney even made a musical about them, [No comment - Ed.] and subsequently a Broadway musical.
From the Bolivar Bulletin, November 13, 1903.
Here’s a neat nocturnal photograph of the State Capitol Building in Nashville, taken in 1903. The photo appeared in Rutledge Smith’s “Tennessee Topics” column in the Bolivar Bulletin. The writer provides some history about the “State’s most perfect building, from an architectural standpoint” and boasts of the building’s nocturnal beauty in particular. “The building, which is Grecian in its architecture, has on all its exterior lines myriads of incandescent lights, around the caves, on the cornice and reaching to the top of the dome, and is lighted every evening until ten o’clock by the city of Nashville. From the city and surrounding country this brilliant illumination presents a most beautiful appearance.”
A number of things interest me about the appearance of this photo in this newspaper. Firstly, electric lighting was still a relatively new technology* so it’s interesting to see it being used somewhat creatively here. It must have been costly, hence the 10 o’clock lights out! Secondly, the limitations of contemporary photographic processes would have made nocturnal photography very difficult. I’m going to try to find out more about the photograph, such as who took it and why. If I find anything, I’ll post it on this blog. And lastly, the appearance of any photograph in a newspaper (especially a rural Tennessee paper) was not terribly common then. The process of converting a photograph into a newspaper printable image was still being refined. Larger city’s presses would usually print two or three photographs per issue at this time, usually portraits. The ability to reproduce a halftone photograph on a printing press running at full speed had been around only a few years when this image was printed.
This issue of the Bolivar Bulletin has been digitized as part of the TNDP and will be available on Chronicling America later this year. Earlier issues of the paper are currently available here.
* Nashville got its first electric lights in 1882, but technology moved a lot slower in those days.
Bet you can’t guess what this ad is for. Click on the image to see the full picture.
The Memphis Appeal. April 15, 1888.
Our TNDP partners, the Tennessee State Library and Archives, recently started a blog. The blog features neat stories about items in the collection, Tennessee history articles, and some extraordinary curiosities.
Check out this recent post about TSLA’s newspaper preservation efforts. TNDP would not be possible without the magnificent work of TSLA’s Preservation Services, and in particular, the Micrographics Department.
Source: Carol Roberts/TSLA
In 1957 the call went out for “old newspapers” and thousands of pages in every condition came into TSLA. Almost all were salvaged, stabilized and microfilmed. By 1966 the project proudly preserved over 6,000,000 pages, 1200 rolls of microfilm and over 1000 different Tennessee titles.
In an earlier post, I mentioned that we send our data (the digitized newspapers and their metadata) to the Library of Congress in batches. The Library of Congress asks us to give each batch a name. This can be anything we like, as long as the sequence is alphabetical. At the beginning of the project I decided to use Tennessee musician/singers’ names. The person didn’t have to be born in Tennessee, just as long as they had a strong connection with our state. We decided to continue this theme into Phase II. So here are the folks on whom we have bestowed the honour of having a TNDP batch named after them. Better than winning a Grammy?!
See if you can guess who they are (answers below).
If you managed to identify all of those people, you are truly a Tennessee music aficionado extraordinaire!
Answers: Arthur Q. Smith, Brownie McGhee, Charlie Hagaman, Dottie West, “Tennessee” Ernie Ford, Frank Smith, Gordon Stoker, Hubert Carter, Ida Cox, Jimmy Hartsook, Kay Starr, Leola Manning.
Happy St David’s Day!
According to Ayer’s American Newspaper Directory, there were several Welsh language newspapers available in the USA in 1880:
Ayer’s US Newspaper Directory, 1880 (p.446)
At one time, Scranton, Pa., was home to the largest Welsh population outside Wales. Our friends at the Pennsylvania Digital Newspaper Project tell me that some of the newspapers they have digitized for NDNP contain some Welsh language. A search on Chronicling America, yields several more reports about eisteddfods that were held in the US (see February 27 post).
Scranton Tribune. May 31, 1902.
March 1st is St David’s Day – the national day of Wales. To celebrate, here’s a Wales/Tennessee connection …
I attended a talk recently at the East Tennessee Historical Society here in Knoxville: The Welsh of Tennessee by Eirug Davies. In his talk (and book) Mr Davies mentioned an eisteddfod that had taken place in Chattanooga in the 1890s, and he showed some newspaper articles. Given my interest in all things Welsh (being “Cardiff born and Cardiff bred”) and newspapers, I did a little sleuthing to see what else there might be in the newspapers about this event.
The articles below are from the Chattanooga Times. The event was well advertised and, according to the following reports, was an outstanding success. Check back on Friday for more Wales/USA/newspaper connections.
Click on the images to enlarge.
October 27 and 30, 1891:
From October 25 and 30, 1891:
While researching for the Athens Post essay for Chronicling America, I came across this little treasure in UT Libraries’ Special Collections. The handwritten piece bears the title, “The McMinn Manifesto,” but this might be a little misleading. It is an article written in long-hand by William G. “Parson” Brownlow for publication in his newspaper, Brownlow‘s Knoxville Whig, June 17, 1868, col.5-6. The note–which is signed “Editor”–includes instructions to the printer to insert the “proceedings entire” at the end of the piece. The “proceedings entire” were a reprint of “A call for a public meeting of the citizens of McMinn County” from the Athens Post, October 3, 1862, col.2. The meeting’s resolutions (Athens Post, October 10, 1862, col.1), in which the citizens of McMinn County were urged to pledge their loyalty to the Confederacy, were also printed in Brownlow’s piece.
Brownlow’s article appears to be a rewrite of a very similar article (of his) published in his Knoxville Tri-weekly Whig and Rebel Ventilator, July 26, 1864, col.3. Brownlow, a staunch supporter of the Union, used his newspaper to denounce the Confederacy and its supporters. His combative reaction to the Athens Post’s articles is typical of his out-spoken editorial style. Brownlow’s 1868 rewrite of his earlier article may have been prompted by his recent visit to Athens, Tenn. The purpose of that visit was to rally support for Ulysses S. Grant’s presidential campaign. He mentions Grant and Colfax at the end of this piece.
The article as it appeared in Brownlow’s Knoxville Whig, June 17, 1868:
The Advisory Group has selected the newspapers for the next phase of the Tennessee Newspaper Digitization Project. We’ll be continuing some of the titles from Phase I, others are new to the project. The focus is around the Gilded Age, so dates range from 1870s-1900. Here’s the list:
Bolivar Bulletin; Camden Chronicle; Clarksville Chronicle/Tobacco Leaf-Chronicle; Columbia Herald; Johnson City Comet; Knoxville Daily Chronicle; Lawrence Democrat; Maryville Times; Memphis Daily Appeal; Milan Exchange; Morristown Gazette; [Nashville] American; Nashville Globe; Pulaski Citizen; Rugbeian; Sequachee Valley News; Savannah Courier; Southern Standard [McMinnville]; Winchester Home Journal
A Chattanooga paper will also be included. We’re waiting to hear about the availability of negatives before we can make the final decision on which one. Watch this space!
Here’s a map of Phase I’s geographical coverage. Page count totals are about equal for the three Grand Divisions.