A Brief Timeline of the History of Daily Newspapers in Philadelphia

This Philadelphia daily newspaper family tree is framed in the Inquirer editorial board room at 400 N. Broad Street. Photo by Russell Cooke. Click to enlarge.

There were a dozen or more daily newspapers in Philadelphia at one time, I hear. Trouble is, I couldn’t seem to find anyone who could name what all of those papers were.

So I went and did some good old fashioned research — with some great direction from representatives of the following institutions.

Below, find a historical timeline of daily newspapers in Philadelphia, or at least what I could decode using four sources: primarily the Pennsylvania State Library newspaper collection [call number: Philadelphia] and the archives of the University of Virginia, with some help from a 1997 collection of essays called ‘Nearly Everybody Read It,’ edited by Peter Binzen (whose other book I recently read) and an essay from Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia member Gerry Wilkinson. (I compiled some other notes on the Inquirer here.)

Check it out below and offer any criticism or comment — I’m certainly expecting that this is incomplete, so any other leads are appreciated!

This goes from most recent to least recent, and if anyone can follow all the openings, rebrandings and mergers enough to get an accurate count of daily newspapers at a variety of times, I’d love to hear it.

  • October 2010: Philadelphia Media Network announces plans to leave the Inquirer Building for the former Strawbridge Building at Eighth and Market streets.
  • February 2009: Philadelphia Daily News is made ‘an edition’ of the Philadelphia Inquirer, then owned by Philadelphia Media Holdings, which went through bankruptcy and was eventually bought by a group called Philadelphia Media Network.
  • November 1995: Philly.com is launched
  • Jan. 1982: Philadelphia Evening Bulletin closes
  • Late 1977:  Quebecor-owned Philadelphia Journal launches, focusing on sports coverage and a tabloid format, but was squeezed out, closing in 1981.
  • December 31, 1969: Inquirer and Daily News bought by the Knight paper chain, merged with Ridder in 1974
  • 1957: Walter Annenberg purchases the Daily News, becoming the Inquirer’s sister paper
  • Feb. 1, 1947 Philadelphia Record, owned by J. David Stern and facing a ‘crippling strike,’ bought by Evening Bulletin for $13 million, adding a Sunday edition and picking up radio station WCAU, which had recently launched a TV station.
  • July 31, 1936: Moses Anenberg (Walter’s father) purchases the Inquirer
  • April 16, 1934: Inquirer absorbs the Public Ledger, adds a Sunday edition
  • March 31, 1925: Philadelphia Daily News launches
  • 1925: Inquirer moves to its longtime location at Broad and Callowhill streets, costing $10 million.
  • 1920: The Philadelphia Press is bought by the famed Curtis Publishing Company, which renamed the formerly Ben Franklin-owned Pennsylvania Gazette to the Saturday Evening Post.
  • 1918: Evening Public Ledger absorbs the Evening Telegraph.
  • 1902: Public Ledger absorbs the Philadelphia Times.
  • 1900: Public Ledger absorbs Taggarts’ Sunday Times.
  •  1885: Public Ledger absorbs Philadelphia Press.
  • 1884: Philadelphia Tribune begins printing.
  •  June 25, 1882: Philadelphia Record begins publishing daily.
  •  1876: The Philadelphia Public Ledger absorbs the North American, briefly publishing as “The Public Ledger and North American.”
  • 1875: Times begins publishing daily, continuing Illustrated and continued in 1902 by the Philadelphia Times.
  • 1866: Evening Star begins publishing daily, halting in 1900. (not sure if merged).
  •  1864: Evening Telegraph begins publishing daily.
  • 1863: Daily Age begins publishing daily.
  • 1862: Daily Constitution Union begins publishing daily, becoming the Evening Union in 1867.
  • April 1860: Inquirer rebranded as the Philadelphia Inquirer.
  • 1857: The Press begins publishing, continued as the Philadelphia Press in 1880.
  • 1850: the North American absorbs the American Daily Advertiser, the frequently renamed ancestor of the Pennsylvania Packet.
  • 1847: American Sentinel rebranded as the Evening Telegraphic Bulletin.***
  • 1847: Spirit of The Times and Daily Keystone begins publishing daily, continued as the Spirit of The Times in 1849.
  • February 15, 1845: “The Raven” by Edgar Allen Poe first published in the Inquirer

    • 1845: The Inquirer is called “The Pennsylvania Inquirer and National Gazette.”
    •  1845: North American absorbs the United States Gazette, rebranding as the North American and United States Gazette.
    •  1844: The American Advocate begins publlishing daily except Sunday, until 1845.
    • 1840: Charles Dickens novels run serialized in the Inquirer
    • 1839: Inquirer merges with the Daily Courier, briefly known as “The Pennsylvania Inquirer and Daily Courier.”
    • 1839: North American absorbs American Daily Advertiser to form the North American and Daily Advertiser.
    • March 25, 1836: Philadelphia Public Ledger begins printing, soon after absorbing the Philadelphia Transcript.
    • 1835: The Daily Transcript begins printing.
    • 1832: Pennsylvanian begins publishing daily except Sunday, continued as the Daily Pennsylvanian in 1855.
    • 1829: the North American begins publishing.
    • Monday, June 1, 1829 — Pennsylvania Inquirer launches**
    • 1828: The Daily Chronicle begins publishing daily, except Sunday, continued as the Daily Courier in 1834.
    • 1824: Franklin Gazette absorbs the Aurora General Advertiser.
    • 1823: United States Gazette continues merged Union, United States Gazette and True American.
    •  1820: National Gazette and Literary Register begins publishing daily except for Sunday, followed in 1841 by the National Gazette and Literary and Commercial Register.
    • 1820: American Sentinel and Mercantile Advertiser begins publishing daily except Sunday, which launched as a weekly in 1815 and was shortened to the American Sentinel in 1824.***
    • 1817: United States Gazette merges with True American to form Union, United States Gazette and True American.
      1812: Star of Liberty begins publishing daily except Sunday, though it doesn’t survive the year.
    • 1807: Democratic Press begins publishing daily.
    • 1804: Political and Commercial Register begins publishing daily, ending in 1820.
    • 1802: Independent Whig, and Philadelphia Commercial Gazette begin publishing daily, though it folds soon after.
    • 1801: Gazette of the United States is the rebranded version of the earlier Gazette properties.
    • 1800: Poulson’s American Daily Advertiser is rebranded daily of Claypoole’s American Daily Advertiser.

  • 1799: Constitutional Diary and Philadelphia Evening Advertiser begins publishing daily, only to fold a year later.
  • 1798: True American, and Commercial Advertiser begin publishing daily, continued by the True American in 1815.
  • April 24, 1797: Porcupine’s Gazette begins publishing daily following a weekly version, ending in 1800.
  • 1796: Claypoole’s American Daily Advertiser begins publishing.
  •  1796: New World begins publishing daily, continued as the Universal Gazette in November 1797.
  • 1794: Philadelphia Gazette and Universal Daily Advertiser begin publishing daily.
  • 1794: Aurora General Advertiser begins publishing daily except for Sunday, following the weekly General Advertiser.
  •  April 5, 1790: Gazette partnership rebranded as the Federal Gazette and Philadelphia Daily Advertiser.
  • 1788: Federal Gazette and Philadelphia Evening Post begin publishing daily except for Sunday.
  • Oct. 7, 1786: Independent Gazetteer begins publishing daily, rebranded as the Independent Gazetteer on Jan. 9, 1790.
  • Tuesday, September 21, 1784: The Pennsylvania Packet and Daily Advertiser begins publishing daily, the first paper to do so in the country, after first being launched as The Pennsylvania Packet on Oct. 28, 1771 by John Dunlap, who printed the Declaration and the Constitution.

 

5 thoughts on “A Brief Timeline of the History of Daily Newspapers in Philadelphia”

  1. Good question. I’ve been surprised to find little academic research around the concept, even in a big market like Philadelphia.

    My best advice would be to use the academic resources I linked to above and look at actual copies of those papers, which likely have the cost written.
    -cgw

  2. Hi Chris – I’m trying to find the street address for the Daily News prior to it’s 1957 coupling with the Inquirer.

    Thanks for the cool timeline!
    Frank

  3. Oh, good question Frank.

    I think your best bet would be to pull up an archived copy of the Daily News from then and see the address in the masthead. The links I give above might help.

    Please let me know if you find anything! I’d love to get a collection of the addresses of these buildings!
    -cgw

  4. ?Hi,
    I m looking for a newspaper clipping from the Philadelphia Journal 1980?, my friends father was in there, they had this article framed, since then their house burned down along with the clipping.
    2 Weeks ago their father passed away from a heart attack. They were speaking about this and how much it meant to their Dad, I was trying to find it and give it back to his son on Fathers Day.
    If there is anyway you could help me out, it would be great full.
    Its PHILADELPHIA JOURNAL / NOV OR DEC 1980 ISSUE

    J WONG

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