African American Newspaper Editors in Early 20th Century Florida

Photograph of M.M. Lewey and other staff of the Florida Sentinel. From The New York Public Library Digital Collections

As you may have guessed, the people running this blog really enjoy Florida history. We love finding new topics to write about by not only exploring our papers but also the books and articles historians have written about the state. Occasionally, we learn about an event or person we think will allow us to write a great post only to find out that our papers don’t discuss the matter at all! One such topic that is largely absent from our papers is the existences of and opinions in the African American press in Florida in the early 20th century.

Journalism professor Patrick S. Washburn describes the role of the black press in America as “operating against a background of continual inequalities for blacks and a white America that routinely, and sometimes fiercely and even illogically, fought the granting of any new rights, black newspapers came to be in the vanguard of the struggle.” He also argues that the black press was necessary because of the racial bias in white papers. Simply put, “white newspapers virtually refused to cover blacks unless they were athletic stars, entertainers, or criminals, blacks were forced to read their own papers to learn about everyday black life in communities across the country” (Washburn 5-6). Because the African American press was so intentionally focused on black news and concerns, it may not be surprising that the white-run Florida papers we’ve digitized, which do refer to each other frequently, by and large don’t address the existence of the black press.  However, we will point out that some papers had regularly occurring columns or pages that made space for African American news, but, in our collection of papers, this example seems to be the exception and not the rule. Some of the more outspokenly segregationist papers in Florida at this time opposed the inclusion of such columns with the argument that it involves “pushing the negro forward to a place where he does not belong.”

Gainsville Lewey Praise
The Gainesville daily sun-March 9, 1908

Despite the infrequent mention of the African American press, there is a pleasantly surprising amount of positive coverage of Editor Matthew M. Lewey (stylized as M. M. Lewey) and the Florida Sentinel. The paper served a variety of cites during its publication period. It was published in Gainesville from 1887-1894, Pensacola from 1894-1914, and Jacksonville from 1914-1931. Lewey was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1848 and, prior to moving to Florida, he served in the Civil War for the Union. He eventually became involved in politics and served as both a Justice of the Peace for Alachua County and a member of the Florida House of Representatives prior to starting the Florida Sentinel.

During Lewey’s time in Pensacola, The Pensacola journal regularly discussed his involvement with groups like the Negro Business League and Republican Party. Lewey also supported education for African Americans, even appearing and traveling with Booker T. Washington when he visited Florida in 1912. The white press was generally complimentary of his work with both The Chipley banner and the Gainesville daily sun complementing his work. The Pensacola journal seemed to praise the Christmas edition of the Florida Sentinel almost annually as well as their annual special edition published in the summer. The Pensacola journal’s praise for the 1912 special edition highlights the “graphic account of the recent tour of Dr. Booker t. Washington through Florida” calling the paper “a very fine effort” while also denoting that it is “a negro newspaper.”

Republicans hold meeting
The Pensacola journal-January 27, 1912

Despite the considerable praise The Pensacola journal heaped on M.M. Lewey, their coverage of his activities eventually and abruptly ceased. We know that he moved the paper to Jacksonville in 1914, but to our knowledge there is no mention of it occurring in our newspapers. However, in the year prior to the move, his name does begin to appear in the legal notice section of the paper. In one announcement, the manager of Ferris Warehouse and Storage Co. was to “sell to the highest bidder for cash, one lot of household furniture, property of M. M. Lewey, stored in our warehouse upon which no charges have ever been paid.” And on September 23, 1913 there is a story about the City Tax Collector seizing his property to cover taxes he owed. This is the last story about Lewey in The Pensacola journal and it stands in stark contrast to the tone of the other articles in which he is discussed.

Washington Lakeland Lewey
The Lakeland evening telegram-March 2, 1912

If you are interested in learning more about African American run historic newspapers in Florida, we do have some suggestions for further readings. If you’d like a list of black newspapers, the Florida Journalism History Project includes as list historic and contemporary African American newspapers in the state. Additionally, Julian C. Chambliss, a history professor at Rollins College, has worked to digitize surviving portions of The Winter Park Advocate which began publication in 1889. Archives are created and maintained by humans and are very much reflective of their time. Both consequently and unfortunately, archivists in the early to mid-20th century often did not include African American papers in their collections. Because of this, the voices of many African American papers in Florida have not survived and, unless copies of papers are discovered and preserved, may be lost forever.

Citations and Additional Sources:

Brown, Canter. Florida’s Black Public Officials, 1867-1924. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1998.

Pride, Armistead S. and Clint C. Wilson II. A History of the Black Press. Washington D.C.: Howard University Press, 1997.

Washburn, Patrick S. The African American Newspaper: Voice of Freedom. Evanston, IL.: Northwestern University Press, 2006.


New Content: The Lakeland Evening Telegram

New Building
The Lakeland evening telegram-April 15, 1914

Notice anything new? Our new Florida paper for this digitization cycle, The Lakeland evening telegram, is now up in Chronicling America. We’re pleased to announce that the content from the paper’s debut on November 1, 1911 through the December 31, 1917 issue has been ingested and uploaded for public use. What kind of news will you find in the Lakeland evening telegram? Read on to find out!

The Lakeland evening telegram was published by Michael F. Hetherington as Polk County’s first daily newspaper. It began in 1911 with the motto “published in the best part of the best town in the best state.” The motto truly sets the tone of the paper, and one of its most noticeable features is their unrelenting editorial enthusiasm for Lakeland. More so than other papers in our collection, The Lakeland evening telegram ran articles written locally and by other papers around the state praising the city that housed it. Knowing this, it may not be surprising to learn that when a second motto was added to the paper in 1914, it doubled down on the pro-Lakeland message, proclaiming “boost-remember that Satan stayed in Heaven until he began to knock his home town.”

Boosters Devil
The Lakeland evening telegram-August 1, 1914

This support for Lakeland stems from the fact that Hetherington genuinely loved the city. Editor of the first daily in Miami, the Miami Metropolis (now called the Miami News), Hetherington went to Lakeland on an assignment and was so taken with it he sold his Miami paper and moved to Lakeland. While The Lakeland evening telegram was not the first or only paper in Lakeland (Hetherington moved there in 1905 after having purchased the Lakeland News), it was one of five papers in Florida (and the only inland paper) receiving service from the Associated Press. The paper was so successful that in 1913 they announced that they would be constructing their own building because “the institution has been sadly hampered by cramped and unsuitable quarters.” In keeping with the tone of the paper, they point out that “the management believes that more can be accomplished for the good of Lakeland” once the new building was completed. When the building opened in 1914, it was covered extensively. This coverage included photographs of the interior and exterior of the new building, as well as a flattering story on Mrs. M.F. Hetherington, Michael’s wife, whose contributions to the success of the paper were “no less important than that of her husband.” In addition to being outspoken Lakeland boosters, The Lakeland evening telegram was also a fervent supporter of their own publication, frequently running self-congratulatory stories from other papers.

The Hetheringtons
The Lakeland evening telegram-April 15, 1914

Given The Lakeland evening telegram’s tendency towards self-promotion, it may not be surprising that one of the features that sets this publication apart from other papers is the fact that it publicly celebrated its birthday annually. In these birthday columns, the paper presents a hagiographic account of their continued success in spite of the fact that creating the paper was “against the better judgment of our best friends, and, we confess, not without some misgivings on our own part.” While talking about their triumphs, they also emphasize how the paper has helped boost Lakeland’s profile nationally, as well as helped support local businesses. These quirky columns are a must read for anyone interested in this particular paper.

Our First Birthday
The Lakeland evening telegram-November 1, 1912

In addition to being fervent supporters of Lakeland, The Lakeland evening telegram includes topics you’d expect to find in a Florida paper during the time period such as international and national news related to World War I, the Women’s Rights Movement, and presidential elections. Reports of local events including agricultural news with emphasis on the citrus industry, local school events, and other happenings like personal travels, church notes, and fashion tips also fill the pages of this periodical.

What happened to The Lakeland evening telegram? In 1922, The Lakeland evening telegram merged with the Lakeland Morning Star to become the Lakeland Star-Telegram. Samuel Farabee, who started the Lakeland Evening Ledger in 1924, bought the Star-Telegram in 1926 and merged them, forming the Lakeland Evening Ledger and Star-Telegram. Another title change came in 1941, when the paper was sold to Cowles Communications Inc. and called itself the Lakeland Ledger. The paper changed title and ownership one last time; it was renamed the Ledger in 1967 and was purchased by its current owner, the New York Times, in 1971. While some of these dates are outside of our current digitization date range, we’ll be uploading more issues of the The Lakeland evening telegram, through the end of 1920, in the near future.

Citations and Additional Sources:

Hetherington, M F. History of Polk County, Florida: Narrative and biographical. Chuluota, Fla: Mickler House, 1971.

Seeing Lakeland: A guide and handbook to the city and its suburbs. Federal Writers’ Project of the Work Projects Administration for the State of Florida, 1936.

Lufsey, R E., and Kelsey Blanton. History of Lakeland. Federal Writers’ Project of the Work Projects Administration for the State of Florida, 1936.

Daytona Daily News Teaser

You may have noticed a number of posts in the past month discussing content that’s been recently uploaded to Chronicling America. This is because we’re at the point in our digitization cycle where all the pages we’ve so diligently duplicated and coded become usable to the public. We hope you’re as excited as we are about all the great new content available.

Today we want to call attention to the most recent batch to be uploaded, The Daytona daily news. Parts of the run of this particular paper were in our collection previously, but this newest batch contains about 8,000 pages of content. Primarily from January 1911 to February 1922, the pages of this paper cover “the Daytona Speedway attracting fans, rousing stories of moon shining, and coverage of seaside activities in the Sunshine State” (Chronicling America). Below, we highlight some of the headlines and quirky features of The Daytona daily news.

The Daytona daily news March 29, 1913

One of the more unique features of The Daytona daily news is that it was a seasonal newspaper. The paper ran only from the first of December or January thru the end of March during its run. The March 21, 1910 edition of the paper referred to it as “its summer hibernation.” For the interested reader, this means that the paper doesn’t ever cover the months June through September, and coverage for April and May as well as October through December is on a year-by-year basis. The reason for this seems largely associated with the winter car-racing season in Daytona, a topic we’ll cover more extensively in a later blog.

The Daytona daily news-October 1, 1920
The Daytona daily news-March 12, 1910

Like many papers of the time, The Daytona daily news featured a women’s page with fashion advice, beauty tips, advertisements, and stories for women.

The Daytona daily news-March 6, 1916

The winter racing season brought in a large number of tourists, many who stayed in Daytona hotels and patronized the restaurants, stores, and theaters in the area. Because of this, the paper contains a considerable amount of advertising with that audience in mind. One local church even dubbed itself “the tourist church” on the reoccurring religious services page of the paper in 1921.

The Daytona daily news-March 19, 1921
The Daytona daily news-March 30, 1917
The Daytona daily news-March 8, 1910

We hope you enjoy exploring The Daytona daily news!

Citations and Additional Sources

Dickens, Bethany. “Episode 27 Leather Cap & Goggles.” A History of Central Florida. podcast video, October 1, 2014.

New Puerto Rico Content Available!

We’re excited to announce that our first batch of Puerto Rican newspapers for this cycle is now up in Chronicling America! This batch contains content for one of our new titles, La democracia from July 1891-Nov 1897.

La democracia was founded and published by the Puerto Rican poet, journalist and politician Luis Muñoz Rivera. It was first published in Ponce, Puerto Rico in 1890.

The paper supported the Autonomist Party of Puerto Rico, was against the imposition of taxes on products (especially sugar), and was in favor of the Farmers Association and Agriculture Bank. The paper published news related to land repossessions, the Foraker Act (1900), Cuban relations (life in, emigration, revolution, and tobacco), the Dingley Tariff Act (increase on import tax for sugar, tobacco, other goods), and the Russo-Japanese war. La democracia also provided a glimpse into life on the island and included notes on celebrations of US Holidays, advertisements for local brands, reported on the new coat of arms, and made frequent reports about feminism and changes to the civil code.

We’ve included a few examples below of the content that is now available online.


Estamos emocionados de anunciar que nuestro primer lote de periódicos puertorriqueños para este ciclo ya está en Chronicling America! Este lote contiene contenido para uno de nuestros nuevos títulos, La democracia de julio de 1891 a noviembre de 1897.

La democracia fue fundada y publicada por el poeta puertorriqueño, periodista y político Luis Muñoz Rivera. Fue publicado por primera vez en Ponce, Puerto Rico en 1890.

El documento apoyaba al Partido Autonomista de Puerto Rico, estaba en contra de la imposición de impuestos a los productos (especialmente el azúcar), y estaba a favor de la Asociación de Agricultores y Banco Agrícola. El periódico publicó noticias relacionadas con las tomas de tierra, Foraker Act (1900), las relaciones cubanas (vida en, emigración, revolución y tabaco), Dingley Tariff Act (aumento del impuesto de importación de azúcar, tabaco y otros bienes) y la Guerra ruso-japonesa. La democracia también ofreció un vistazo a la vida en la isla e incluyó notas sobre las celebraciones de las vacaciones de Estados Unidos, anuncios de marcas locales, informó sobre el nuevo escudo de armas e hizo frecuentes informes sobre el feminismo y cambios en el código civil.

Hemos incluido algunos ejemplos a continuación del contenido que ahora está disponible en línea.


La democracia, front page July 9, 1891


Scott’s Emulsion Ad, September 18, 1894. Scott’s Emulsion is a U.S. brand (multivitamin) that is still around.


Revolution attempts in Cuba, March 21, 1895


On April 22, 1895La democracia changed its masthead from “Diario politico” to “Diario autonomista independiente”.


In support of the Partido Autonomista, February 18, 1897


Snippet of a story about Luis Munoz Rivera, November 4, 1897

The Unsinkable Legacy of the Titanic in Florida Newspapers


Titanic Photo Edited

Few events lead to sensational and speculative newspaper headlines quite like unexpected disasters. One such disaster covered by the papers in our collection is the sinking of the Titanic which occurred April 15th 1912, just hours after the ship struck an iceberg on its starboard side. There are many reasons why this particular disaster is so cemented in public memory, including the public perception that the ship was “unsinkable,” the death toll due to lack of space in escape boats, and even claims that the disaster had been eerily predicted in a work of fiction. In his book Titanic Legacy: Disaster as Media Event and Myth, Paul Heyer states that beginning with the San Francisco earthquake in 1908, sensational disaster reporting increased dramatically. This was due, in part, to rapidly advancing communication technologies including “transcontinental telephone linkups, which increased the information flow beyond what would have been possible using the telegraph alone” as well as the “new mass journalism pioneered by Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst in the last decades of the nineteenth century.”(5) Despite Florida’s physical distance from the sites directly affected by the disaster, news of the Titanic, the fate of her passengers, and the political inquiries that followed nonetheless were front page news in Florida papers in the days, weeks, and years following the disaster.

1910 Titanic being built edited
Daytona Daily News January 8, 1910

Prior to the disaster, news about the Titanic, an engineering marvel, appears sporadically in our papers. While a search for the word will yield many results, because the name of the ship is a common word, most instances of the word prior reports of its demise beginning April 15, 1912 are not related to the ship. However, when the ship is featured in our newspapers during its construction, the accompanying stories are primarily about its immense size. One such story can be found on the front page of the January 8, 1910 edition of The Daytona daily news. Covering the construction of “The World’s Largest Vessel,” the story features an “architectural picture” and demonstrates the immensity of the ship’s 860 feet reported length by juxtaposing its size to that of the Washington Monument (555 feet) and Christopher Columbus’ ship the Santa Maria (60 feet.) Other examples of similar stories can be found in the Pensacola journal and The Ocala evening star prior to its maiden voyage.

News about the disaster trickled in slowly and relied predominantly on wireless radio aficionados picking up signals from boats at sea, relaying them to newspapers, and those papers subsequently being published. Because of this delay, much of the initial news of the incident was speculative and optimistic. According to John P. Eaton and Charles A. Hass, authors of Titanic: Triumph and Tragedy, it wasn’t until “16 April’s evening edition” that papers begin to report that the ship had sunk around 2:20AM on the 15th (203).  In the same book, a caption of a newsboy selling papers reads “the city’s (New York) newspapers find it difficult to keep up with the rapidly changing developments in the North Atlantic.” (208). We can see an example of this confusion in the April 16th 1912 edition of The Ocala evening star. The front page story on the Titanic is titled simply “Titanic is in Trouble” and says that the “greatest steamship afloat” is likely “being towed presumably toward Halifax.” Meanwhile, on the second page of the paper is a story with the headline “All the World Stands Aghast” about the sinking of the great ship which speculates that “more than 1500 persons, it is feared, sank to death.” Likely, the front page had been proofed before the paper received definitive news of the ship’s sinking.

Paul Heyer states that “news about the plight of the Titanic circulated with a rapidity unmatched by any previous event” And that from “15-19 April, the primary goal of the newspapers covering the sinking of the Titanic was to gather and present all possible information pertaining to what had happened. After the Carpathia’s arrival and launch of the American Senate’s inquiry, the burning question became why” (91). That being said, newspapers approached reporting the facts of the Titanic disaster from a variety of different angles from the pragmatic to the social to the conspiratorial to the sensational. In our collection, there exists a smattering of each type of news.

Map and Thrililng Tales
Pensacola Journal April 20, 1912

On a practical level, papers reported the facts about the disaster, including the number of lives lost, photos of the ship, maps showing where the incident was thought to have happened, and the oft repeated story that women and children were taken off first. However, as with any media event of this scale, there were a fair number of more sensational stories about heroism, graphic descriptions of the panic that ensued during the rush to fill lifeboats, as well as reports of “embalmers work all night” on the unidentified bodies of Titanic dead in a morgue in Canada. In the midst of trying to cover the disaster, it seems like no tidbit of information related to the Titanic was unfit to print.

Pensacola Journal May 2, 1912

The predominant human angle that emerges in our papers following the sinking of the Titanic are not tales of the immigrant poor who disproportionately perished in the wreck, but rather stories of well-known members of American and European society. Steven Biel offers an explanation for this in his book Down with the Old Canoe: A Cultural History of the Titanic Disaster saying, “with its interest in celebrity, the commercial press tended to represent the disaster exclusively as the story of the first cabin.” The reason for this, of course, is that like today, tabloid stories of the wealthy and famous sell papers. Of the newspapers in our current collection, The Pensacola journal, whose society pages we’ve discussed in previous pieces, contains the most news on this topic in the days and weeks following the disaster. Before the start of May 1912, no less than three pieces, complete with pictures, had run about the “noted,” “well known,” and “prominent leaders” of society who had been traveling on the ship during its ill-fated maiden voyage.

One of the more conspiratorial headlines after the sinking of the Titanic pertained to the eerie similarities between the 1912 disaster and the fictional disaster that took place in Morgan Robertson’s 1898 short story Futility, or the Wreck of the Titan. In this story, the Titan, a ship of comparable size to the later Titanic, sinks after hitting an iceberg on its starboard side in the North Atlantic. In the story, the Titan, who had also been described as “practically unsinkable” also lacked an inadequate number of lifeboats which lead to the death of over half the passengers and crew. While people interested in the Titanic disaster attribute the short story to psychic phenomenon, Heyer explains that it was a speculative work by a “former seaman and student of maritime developments who, in becoming a pulp fiction writer, applied that expertise to sea adventure stories” which can account for “prediction of the design features that might characterize future ships.” (143)

Wreck of the Titan
Ocala Evening Star May 3, 1912

Sensation, speculation, and conspiracy however, sell newspapers. Because of this, between May 4th and 18th 1912 The Ocala evening star ran the entirety of the Wreck of the Titan as a serial manner. The day preceding the first installment, an advertisement for the story filled most of the front page of the paper. It is described as “a wonderfully prophetic story” and implores readers to “read how a famous author described, over a decade ago, how the S.S. Titanic would sink and drown hundreds of souls.” During this time period, serialized literature was a common feature in newspapers because a hit serial could help grow circulation. Given the immediate impact the Titanic disaster had on American society and culture, it is not surprising that The Ocala evening star would run this particular piece.

Over 100 years later, the Titanic disaster still holds a significant spot in our collective social memory. One reason for this may be because, as Heyer explains it, the disaster was “our century’s first collective nightmare” and, in many ways, it represents the tension between the progress of humanity and the unpredictability of the natural world (ix). Whether your interest is in the factual, sensational, social, or conspiratorial, many facets of the Titanic disaster can be found in our Chronicling America papers.

Citations and Additional Sources

Biel, Steven. Down with the Old Canoe: A Cultural History of the Titanic Disaster. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1996.

Eaton, John P. and Charles A. Haas. Titanic: Triumph and Tragedy Second Edition. New York: WW. Norton & Company, 1998.

Heyer, Paul. Titanic Legacy: Disaster as Media Event and Myth. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger Publishers, 1995.

Library of Virginia Online Newspaper Exhibit on the Titanic

Chronicling America Titanic Topic Page

The Women’s Page: More than Meets the Eye

“In Women’s Realm,” “Society,” “People and Events,” “Over the Coffee Cups”- these are just a few of the names that denote women-centric columns in the English language newspapers within the FPRDNP. But to the contemporary user of historic newspaper archives, what does this mean and why should we care? The first of a two part series celebrating Women’s History Month, this blog post will explore the meaning and content of what historian Alice Fahs refers to as “The Woman’s Page.” To do so, I will use the Pensacola Journal exclusively due to the consistent presence of a woman edited society section in the title spanning from at least January 1905 to at the earliest December 1914, when our archives for this particular paper end.

What is a women’s column and what is its place in newspaper history? As journalism scholar Jan Whitt puts it, they “are a product of the late nineteenth century and were designed to draw a large audience for advertisers interested in marketing to women.” (38). There are multiple types of women’s pages, including separate papers for women known by the same name and single pages within broader-interest papers. While the editors of the Pensacola Journal offered both by 1909, we will concern ourselves with the columns contained within the general paper. Historian Alice Fahs claims in her book Out on Assignment: Newspaper Women and the Making of Modern Public Space that these pages have largely been overlooked by newspaper historians. This is a mistake because these “stories offer compelling insight into a lost world of women’s writings that placed women at the heart of a new public life.” (13)

Looking at the women’s section in the Pensacola Journal broadly, the reader can find a vivid portrait of the social calendar in the city. Beyond simply reporting important life events such as births, deaths, and funerals, the column also includes reports of illness, birthday parties, out of town visitors, and club meetings. Unlike the quick local news sections of the paper, the social events found on the “People and Events” page typically contain a paragraph or more description of the headline. For example, the April 3rd 1909 “Society” column devotes four paragraphs to Miss Victorine Kroenberger “a beautiful young Pensacola girl” who left home to “enter the Convent of the Holy Cross at Notre Dame” in order to become a nun. In this respect, the column provides more context for local events than the rest of the paper.

Birthday Party
Pensacola Journal December 12, 1906

Not just a source for local news, the “Society” page in the Pensacola Journal also offers insight into national cultural concerns for women. This section of the paper houses the syndicated column “Heart and Home Problems,” written by Mrs. Elizabeth Thompson, that also can be found in the Topeka State Journal (KS), Rock Island Argus (Ill.), and the Oklahoma City Times (OK) just to name a few. Beginning in 1912 and continuing through at least December 1914, these columns by Mrs. Elizabeth Thompson provide practical advice to letter writers regarding a wide variety of issues like courtship, hygiene, and their education.   In many ways, her column is a precursor to those like “Dear Abby” or “Miss Manners” found in contemporary newspapers and their online counterparts.While the modern reader may expect a column like this to contain fairly traditional advice regarding gender roles, they sometimes deviated from the norm. For example, in the column below from August 1912, Mrs. Thompson says that “many splendid men have helped their wives with the housework, thinking it more dignified for a man to help his wife than it would be for him to let her become a worn-out drudge” in response to a fourteen year old’s query about being responsible for all house work because her mother is deceased.

Heart and Home Problems-Subvert.jpg
Pensacola Journal-August 2, 1905

Women’s pages also address topics related to the body both inside and out. Fashion and beauty are addressed in these columns in the form of editorials, news reports, and advertisements. For example, the Pensacola Journal contains a sub-column known as “The Journal’s Daily Fashion Feature” in many issues. This feature includes drawings and descriptions of cutting edge women’s clothing styles from around the United States and Europe. From this feature, it becomes obvious that Pensacola women in the early 20th century wanted to stay abreast of fashion trends. Beyond wanting to simply know about fashion, they valued the skills of individuals who were able to reproduce the current styles locally. For example, an article from October 7, 1906 highlights Mrs. Nordstrom’s millinery due to the fact that the store has “one of the best St. Louis milliners.” Why was it so important to report on the talent of employee Miss Nobles? Because “St. Louis is where millinery styles are made.” These women’s sections inform readers of trends and also let them know where they can procure the goods discussed.

Journal Daily Fashion
Pensacola Journal-November 25, 1906

When it comes to internal issues, women’s papers feature advertisements for products related to problems typically relegated to women such as the care of the sick and cooking. All manner of new and cutting edge products are promoted that promise improvements in health and digestion. For example, an ad by Cotolene claims women should use it to replace lard because it “makes food that any stomach can digest…and is the most healthful and economical cooking fat on the market.” With the tagline “sunshine in the kitchen,” ads for this particular cotton seed oil are a frequent sight on the “Society” page. While women are targets for ads related to feeding their families in these columns, it is clear they are also responsible for their overall health as well. An ad for “California Syrup of Figs” from October 22, 1913 begins with the phrase “Look at the tongue, mother!” before claiming that the mother would soon have “a well, playful child again” after using the product to eliminate constipation and yellow bile. Beyond the health of their families, advertisements also promise cures to obviously misunderstood maladies grouped together as “womanly troubles.” The tonic known as Carudi, for example, promises to “relieve or prevent headache, backache, side ache, dragging sensations, nervousness, irritability, irregularity, and general female weakness and misery.” Like the Cotolene ad, Carudi advertisements span the run of the section. Regardless of if they bought these products or not, women who read “Over the Coffee Cups” and its other iterations were exposed to advertising with considerable cultural subtext.

While much more can and should be said about historic women’s newspaper columns, the fact of the matter is there are easily upwards of 500 pages within just this digitized portion of the Pensacola Journal that are edited by women and deal with people and societal events. This overview barely scratches the surface of the available information in just this one title. However, I hope that after reading this blog post it is abundantly clear that even in the early 20th century, women weren’t simply passive consumers of the news. They were a demographic that is explicitly courted by the inclusion of sections like “People and Events,” “Society,” and “Over the Coffee Cups.”

Works Cited and Additional Information

Fahs, Allice. Out on Assignment: Newspaper Women and the Making of Modern Public Space. Chapel Hill, North Carolina: The University of North Carolina Press, 2011.

Jaffe, Sarah “From Women’s Page to Style Section.” Columbia Journalism Review, February 19, 2013.

Whitt, Jan. Women in American Journalism: A New History. Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 2008.