October 10th, 2019
Blog post by Stewart Plein, Assistant Curator for WV Books & Printed Resources & Rare Book Librarian
The editorial in yesterday’s Dominion Post newspaper for Wednesday, October 9, 2019, discussed National Newspaper Week, which recognizes the service of newspapers and their employees across North America. This year, National Newspaper Week is October 6-12, and it is sponsored by the Newspaper Association Managers. The poster pictured above, is the logo for this year’s celebration.
The Dominion Post took this opportunity to look back at the newspapers that preceded it, citing the origin as the Morgantown Weekly Post, which debuted on March 12, 1864. According to the editorial, this was also the day that Gen. U.S. Grant assumed command of the United States Armies.
Other historic newspapers appeared before the Morgantown Weekly Post. The Monongalia Mirror was first published in Morgantown on August 11, 1849. The Mirror was a four-page weekly published on Saturday mornings. Beginning with six columns per page, the paper later expanded to seven columns per page. The publisher, Simeon Siegfried Sr., a Baptist minister from New Britain in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, made religious and spiritual news a focus.
After the Mirror closed, the publisher’s son, Simeon Siegfried, Jr., began publishing the American Union weekly in 1855. Siegfried, Jr. took his paper in a different direction than the one his father published. The American Union was a newspaper reporting on American politics which promoted the attitudes of the “know-nothing” party, whose stand “opposed immigration and Catholicism and promoted Protestantism and restrictions on liquor sales, while temporarily circumventing the most significant issue of the day–contending that slavery was a local rather than federal issue.”
The Morgantown Weekly Post and the Morgantown Monitor were two papers of short duration. Both were published during the Civil War. The editors for the Weekly Post, Henry M. Morgan and Nelson N. Hoffman, operated the paper beginning in 1864 and brought it to a close in March, 1865.
The Morgantown Monitor fared a little better, though it too published for only a short period. The editors were George C. Sturgiss & William P. Willey. Willey was the son of Waitman T. Willey, the senator that ushered West Virginia into statehood. William would go on to a long career as one of the first professors of law at the West Virginia University College of Law. The paper later changed its name to the Semi-Weekly Monitor.
Each of these newspapers, the American Union, the Monongalia Mirror, the Morgantown Monitor and the Semi-Weekly Monitor, are available to read and download for free at the Library of Congress newspaper site, Chronicling America. You can find the full list of over 50 historic West Virginia newspapers digitized through a grant received by the West Virginia and Regional History Center funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/newspapers/west_virginia/
If you prefer reading newspapers the old fashioned way, stop by the West Virginia and Regional History Center to read the original issues.
- National Newspaper Week: http://www.nationalnewspaperweek.com/
- Masthead and information about the Monongalia Mirror from Zac Cowsert’s essay on Chronicling America: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86092163/
- Masthead image and quote by from Zac Cowsert’s essay on the American Union newspaper from Chronicling America: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86092124/
- Masthead image from Chronicling America: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86092176/