Ida B. Wells & Beyond

Announcing the inaugural Ida B. & Beyond Conference to be held at the University of Tennessee, March 26, 2015

Ida B Wells Barnett
Ida B. Wells-Barnett. Source: National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC

“The conference begins at 9:30 a.m. in UT’s Black Cultural Center, 1800 Melrose Avenue. It is open to the university community and the public. During the daylong event, attendees will learn about the life, work, and legacy of daring anti-lynching crusader Ida B. Wells-Barnett and other like-minded social justice campaigners from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.”

The keynote speaker for this event will be Mia Bay, the director for the Center for Race and Ethnicity at Rutgers University, who recently released her second book about Wells-Barnett. Read more about the event in Tennessee Today.

The conference is part of the Ida B. Wells Initiative, spearheaded by UT’s School of Journalism and Electronic Media professor (and TNDP Advisory Board member!), Amber Roessner. Dr Roessner and her students have created an open access resource providing information about Wells and her work as a journalist, civil rights advocate, and suffragist.

Lost Newspapers: Wells spent several years as journalist and co-owner of the Memphis-based Free Speech and Headlight. Sadly there are no known extant copies of this paper. If you know of any, please contact us here at TNDP!

Dwight Teeter

Dwight Teeter — journalist, professor of journalism, former dean, and friend of TNDP — passed away last week.

Details of Dwight’s extraordinary life and career can be found in the University of Tennessee’s Tennessee Today. Dwight was a great supporter of TNDP. He served on our Advisory Board and provided some of the newspaper essays for Chronicling America. He also shared numerous anecdotes with us about his life in newspapering. Dwight’s laughter and sense of humor will be foremost in our memories of him; it was an honor to work with him.

Thank you, Dwight Teeter, for your contribution to making Tennessee’s historical newspapers accessible to a wider audience.

TNDP Phase III Titles Selected

 Here it is … the much anticipated title list for Phase III

As with the first two phases, the selection was made by the TNDP Advisory Board. Given the forthcoming centennial anniversaries of two historic events – the First World War and the 19th Amendment – the Board decided to focus on the years 1914-1922. As you will see from the map, we have once again striven for broad geographic coverage.

There are a couple of newspapers that fall outside of the chosen timeframe: the Tennessee Staatszeitung, and the Chilhowee Echo. The Staatszeitung was a German language paper published in post-Civil War Nashville, and the Echo was a newspaper published by women in turn-of-the-century Knoxville. On a personal note, I’m looking forward to the challenge of digitizing some non-English content, especially the technical issues which are bound to come up when working with the Fraktur type!

Click on the map below for a PDF of the map and table.

TNDP 2014 Title Selection MapTNDP 2014 title list

Trench Newspapers in WWI – Lecture Thurs Jan 22 ’15

Trenches, Women, Jokes, and the Enemy: German, British, and French Soldier Newspapers during the First World War

The 2015 Charles Johnson Memorial Lecture presented by Prof. Robert L. Nelson (University of Windsor, Canada)

This lecture is free and open to the public. It will be held at 4pm in the UT’s Haslam Business Building, Room 303. For more information visit the Center for Study of War & Society‘s webpage.

Some of Robert L. Nelson’s research on First World War newspapers:

  • Nelson, Robert L.: German Soldier Newspapers of the First World War, Cambridge 2011: Cambridge University Press.
  • Nelson, Robert L.: Soldier newspapers: a useful source in the social and cultural history of the First World War and beyond, in: War in History 17/2, 2010, pp. 167-191.

Click on the image below to explore the section on Soldier Newspapers that Prof. Nelson contributed to the International Encyclopedia of the First World War.


Found Film – Horace V. Wells, Clinton Courier-News, 1968

A friend recently found a 16mm film reel at an estate sale. There was only a very small amount of film on the reel, and there were no labels or other identification.

Once the film was digitized, it was found to be a celebration of Horace V. Wells’ 35th anniversary at the Clinton Courier-News in 1968!

Wells founded the Clinton Courier in 1933. According to his entry in the Tennessee Newspaper Hall of Fame, Wells was a “a legend in Tennessee journalism, and he stood as a bulwark against injustice, tyranny and abuse of the less fortunate.” In 1941, Wells served as Tennessee Press Association president, and in 1976 he became the TPA Foundation’s inaugural president. In 1957, Wells received several awards for his editorial stance during the desegregation crisis. The award presented by the National Editorial Association was given “in recognition of his unsurpassed example in upholding the dignity of human rights and his fearless leadership in support of constitutional government.”

The footage is only 45 seconds long but it gives us a neat little snapshot of some of the newspapering people of the time. If you recognize anyone in the clip, please let us know.

Thanks to the Tennessee Archive of Moving Image and Sound for sharing this clip.

Horace Wells 1968 from TAMIS on Vimeo.

Notable Newsies Series – No.5

Newsboy acts in "Jimmy's Princess"
Seattle Star. September 16, 1913.

Long before the Disney movie Newsies (1992) and the subsequent Broadway musical, there was a real-life newsie acting in the movies – George L. Morgan. This illustrated article is from the Seattle Star in Chronicling America.

As the article explains, in 1913, Morgan – a 13 year old newsboy – took the leading role in Jimmy’s Princess, which featured players from “the first motion picture company composed exclusively of children.” Sadly, the film is long since lost.

However, I did discover another newspapering connection! The article notes that Morgan was the grandnephew of Rev. George Lorimer, “who was at one time a well-known actor.” Lorimer was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, and travelled to London at a young age where he reportedly assisted his stepfather, a stage manager at the Theatre Royal, and it was here that he began acting. Lorimer moved to the US in 1856, with the hope of furthering his acting career. Instead, after graduating from Georgetown College, Kentucky, he ordained as a Baptist pastor and dedicated his life to serving the Baptist church, and writing. Lorimer  married Belle Burford and they had one daughter, Edith, and one son, George Horace Lorimer. And this is where the newspapering connection comes in …

George Horace Lorimer was a journalist, author and “one of America’s most important editorial figures.”* In 1898, Lorimer went from being a reporter on the Boston Post to literary editor at the Saturday Evening Post, but within weeks was appointed editor-in-chief of the then small, obscure publication. Over the next couple of decades, Lorimer took the circulation of the Saturday Evening Post from 1,800 to over 1 million. Under his editorship, the magazine published stories and essays by many popular writers. In 1903, for example, the Post published a serialized version of Jack London’s The Call of the Wild. Lorimer was aslo responsible for hiring then-unknown artist Norman Rockwell as an illustrator. Rockwell’s work, and association with the publication, is now legendary.

I wonder if Lorimer ever saw his nephew’s cinematic appearance in Jimmy’s Princess?

* From George Horace Lorimer’s obituary in Time, November 1937, Vol. 30, No.18, p66.

Halloween in the (Old) News

Halloween costume ideas
Philadelphia Evening Public Ledger. October 31, 1914.

Looking for a last-minute Halloween costume idea? Check out the Philadelphia Public Ledger from 100 years ago! (click on image above)

For more newspaper features about old Halloween customs, visit the Library of Congress Topics in Chronicling America page. Read all about the holiday’s old traditions, such as rituals carried out by young ladies in the hope of revealing the face of their future husband:

Halloween walnut tree
Philadelphia Evening Public Ledger. October 31, 2014.
Halloween superstition
Washington Times. October 22, 1899.

Disclaimer: we cannot be held responsible for any bodily harm you may come to if you seriously decide to attempt this nonsense!