The History of the Philadelphia Inquirer

The history of the Philadelphia Inquirer mirrors the path of all the big gray ladies in the United States.

While putting together suggestions for the Inquirer months ago, I came across some interesting reading on the third oldest newspaper in the country, which is nearing its 180th birthday. Follow it and the path of your own hometown paper.

But why isn’t the Inquirer already cashing in on its historical brand? It seems it may be moving that way, but I want to see more and as a means to develop, sustain its brand and monetize it.

This according to Philadelphia Press Association member Gerry Wilkinson:

The Philadelphia Inquirer was founded on Monday, June 1, 1829. It was then called the Pennsylvania Inquirer and is now the third oldest surviving daily newspaper in the United States in its own right. However, through various mergers, the Inquirer can claim, and rightly so, that it is the oldest daily newspaper in America.

The Inquirer first gained worldwide prominence during the Civil War, wrote Wilkinson:

During the War Between the States, The Philadelphia Inquirer was circulated among the union troops all along the field & fighting front lines. The newspaper has been reported to have provided one of the most objective news coverage of the conflict. It was definitely pro-union but was read by Confederate officers to find out where the northern troops were located.


Mirroring a trend seen across the globe with the ever increasing popularity of the Internet, the Inquirer’s daily circulation of 344,509 has slipped in recent years. It does not currently rank in the top fifteen of all daily newspapers published in the United States.

The Inquirer’s Sunday edition, however, has maintained its popularity with a circulation of 762,194, ranking fifth among all U.S. papers.

It is estimated that in the average week over two million readers are served in the various print and online editions of the paper.

Read more of its highlights, as compiled by here.

All I wonder is why isn’t the Inquirer controlling this history? Online, in print and books, sell this history, as should all other newspapers. Your brand is your product because anyone can write news today, as I suggested earlier. So put this history on its Web site. Promote its lead reporters and correspondents. Sell headlines, photos, front-pages as posters and more. Don’t let and beat you.

5 thoughts on “The History of the Philadelphia Inquirer”

  1. Hey Chris. Thank you for the plug.

    We are indeed working on a history site – as you note, there are parts of this already online. However, we’d like to have something substantive and original online, and we’re in the early part of that process.

    I will certainly keep you apprised.

  2. I hope you know you’re the great hope of, um, like 180 years and a region five or six million. Thanks for the note, and goodness you know I’ll be following the progress. Good luck.

  3. I know over the years the Philadelphia Inquirer has given things away — in the late 20’s lots in Browns Mills, NJ. I have a mission clock — the info on the back is partially torn off but The Philadelphia Inquirer is clear and some info. Was this a give away, and about what time period? Thank you, for your help. Elizabeth

Leave a Reply