DC paper publishes newspaper history series

Jun 14, 2018

WASHINGTON—Publisher Peter Wolff, owner of the InTowner, an online-only community newspaper in Washington, said he thought about bringing the history of newspapers in the nation’s capitol to his readers.
The two-article series turned out so well that he thought other newspapers would find the stories interesting.
Recently, he had Matthew B. Gilmore, the editor of the H-DC discussion list and blogs on Washington history and related subjects, research and write articles that covered the history of daily newspapers and the history of smaller community publications that circulated in Washington.
H-DC, Washington, DC History and Life, is a member of H-Net Humanities & Social Sciences Online. H-DC, a refereed, multi- and inter-disciplinary digital network, provides a means of communication and interaction for those who research, write, read, teach, collect, curate, and preserve Washington, DC history and culture and for those who work in cultural institutions located within the district, regardless of discipline.
Gilmore started his series with “News for the capital and the nation: Politics and Washington’s daily newspapers.”
He began by chronicling how Samuel Harrison Smith sought to start a newspaper. He wrote, “In August of 1800, Samuel Harrison Smith wrote to James Madison confirming Smith’s intention of publishing a newspaper in the new capital city and requesting Madison’s help.” He reproduced Smith’s letter to Madison. See below.
“To James Madison
“From Samuel Harrison Smith, 27 August 1800
“Philada. Aug. 27. 1800
“Mr. Gallatin, some time since, had the goodness to apprise you of my intention to conduct at the seat of the General Govt. a Newspaper on a plan, calculated, in my opinion, to advance the best interests of the Country. Having since matured my ideas, I now do myself the pleasure of addressing you, enclosing the within sketch of my plan.
“It is my wish, and will be my effort to collect into a focus those talents, whose ascendancy, generally speaking, only requires concentration and a correct adaptation to existing circumstances. And if to the number of those who have offered the assistance of their talents, I be permitted to add yourself, you will confer not only an obligation on me, but one also on you[r] Country. The dignified and moderate principles by which I design to regulate my professional deportment induce me with the less hesitation to invite your co-operation. I am with the sincerest Esteem Yr. obt. sert.
“Sam. H. Smith” [1]
Gilmore writes at matthewbgilmore.wordpress.com. Previously, he was a reference librarian at the Washingtoniana Division of the DC Public Library for a number of years and chaired the Annual Conference on DC Historical Studies for four years.
His first article can be found on the InTowner’s website at: http://intowner.com/2018/03/21/news-for-the-capital-and-the-nation-politics-and-washingtons-daily-newspapers.
Gilmore’s second article in the series, “News for the community: Origins of Washington’s neighborhood newspaper tradition,” can be found at http://intowner.com/2018/04/29/news-for-the-community-origins-of-washingtons-neighborhood-newspaper-tradition/.
In the second article of the two-article series, Gilmore wrote, “Hill Rag, the Georgetowner, Northwest Current (and more recent targeted Georgetown, Foggy Bottom, and Dupont editions), the Southwester, and The InTowner itself (and others) are the latest representatives today of a long history of neighborhood community newspapers in Washington. While these existing newspapers today stretch back 40, even 50, years, the phenomenon of local newspapers for Washington’s distinct neighborhoods dates to the 1880s.
“A local newspaper has many uses—communicating local news, offering more directed advertising, and articulating and advocating for distinct neighborhood concerns. It is a way to build community. In that context it is unsurprising where Washington’s earliest neighborhood newspapers sprang up—Capitol Hill, Georgetown, Anacostia, and Takoma. Each community had specific concerns.”
Wolff said that if any National Newspaper Association member has difficulty getting to the articles, contact him directly at plwolff@intowner.com. More information can be found at http://www.intowner.com.