Behind the Fold: The History of Cape Ann Newspapers - The Men and the Machines

By Stephanie Buck, retired CAM Librarian/Archivist, January 2024


On Monday, January 1, 1827 William Edward Pearson Rogers published Gloucester’s first newspaper, the Gloucester Telegraph. In doing so he joined a nationwide expansion in newspaper production - increased circulation of already established large city newspapers and a plethora of new small town presses. Before the end of the century more than two dozen other Cape Ann newspapers, of greater or lesser significance, followed.Gloucester Telegraph, front page Vol. 1 No. 1, Jan. 1, 1827

Prior to the advent of the Gloucester Telegraph the people of Cape Ann sent and received news via travelers on foot or horseback and mariners departing and returning from voyages. News could take weeks or months to arrive. For instance, news of the signing of the peace treaty with England ending the Revolutionary War on September 3, 1783, did not reach Cape Ann until October 22, when the Robin Hood sailed into Gloucester. Communication was somewhat faster via stagecoach but, while there was a small coach that traveled between Salem and Boston every morning except Sundays, none passed through Cape Ann. The postal service, which was in its infancy and adhered to established routes called Post Roads. The Eastern mail route stretched north from Boston to Portland, Maine, and south to New York City with a stagecoach that ran through Essex to Ipswich three days a week. Neither came through Cape Ann. Letters cost up to 25 cents to mail but, because the government believed sharing news was essential to building an informed electorate, newspapers, which the mail coaches started to carry in 1782, were conveyed between publishers free of charge. This was a very different attitude from that held before the Revolution.

(Image: Gloucester Telegraph, front page Vol. 1 No. 1, Jan. 1, 1827)


The first American newspaper, the Publick Occurrences Both Foreign and Domestick, was printed in Boston in September 1690. However, the printer did not have permission to do so. Printing in general was distrusted by the authorities who believed it encouraged seditious libel. It was illegal to publish anything, be it book, pamphlet or news-sheet, or to own a printing press, without a specific license from the governor. The news-sheet was immediately suppressed and its publisher arrested. Fourteen years later the Boston News-Letter began and, despite a small circulation, became very successful with a run of seventy-two years. Approved by the colonial government it was issued weekly using both sides of a single sheet of 11" by 6.5" paper. It consisted of news items copied from London newspapers covering English and European politics and was geared toward an elite group of readers who were interested in keeping abreast of such matters.

By the time the Gloucester Telegraph came on the scene in 1827 society had changed and newspaper readership had grown. While often partisan, the papers aimed at informing and entertaining their readers as well as disseminating items of local and national interest. In 1800 there were 200 newspapers in circulation in America. In the 1830s this number grew to 900, almost double the number available in England, and by 1840 to 1,631.

This national expansion came about for a variety of social and economic reasons. Settlers were spreading inland to new territories away from the coastal cities and towns that garnered news from around the globe and needed a reliable, local news source. At the same time America's form of decentralized government meant official business was conducted at all levels, from the seat of power in Washington down to every small town selectman. Voters needed to be kept abreast of the goings-on in City Hall and the new system of political parties wanted to air their platforms to a wide audience. Plus, commerce was growing, and newspapers offered a way to advertise to a larger customer base. Religious and reform movements were also booming and started printing their own proselytizing news-sheets.


Cape Ann's first newspaperman

William Edward Pearson (W.E.P.) Rogers (1802-1848) embodied the restless entrepreneurism of the early 1800s, and the Gloucester Telegraph was not the first newspaper he produced. Born to a large family in Gloucester in 1802 he was orphaned at the age of seven and, like many other local boys, went to sea when he was fifteen. However, he still managed to gain an education and by 1823 had changed careers and moved to Falmouth, Cape Cod, where he created and published the Nautical Intelligencer, and Falmouth and Holmes'-Hole Journal, the first newspaper in Barnstable County. The paper (within six months simply the Nautical Intelligencer) consisted of four 16" long columns on both sides of one large sheet of paper folded to create four pages. It reported on local deaths, marriages and shipping bulletins, but no community news. Eighteen months later he moved his press to Barnstable, and started publishing the Nautical Intelligencer and Barnstable County Gazette (which became the Barnstable County Gazette in 1825). Two years after that he was back in Gloucester where he opened an office and press room just off Main Street, on Sea Street (now the lower part of Hancock Street) and started printing yet another new paper, the Gloucester Telegraph.

It is not known what kind of press W.E.P. Rogers used to print the Gloucester Telegraph but it was probably an Acorn Letter Press, which is the generic name for the iron hand presses that had a distinctive acorn shape and were made by several press builders in the Boston area from the 1820s on. An example of an Acorn Letter Press can be seen in the Folly Cove Designers Gallery. 

Segment Of 1851 Walling Map showing Sea Street (Lower Part of today's Hancock Street)

The typeface (called sorts) consisted of small metal or wooden blocks of each individual letter, punctuation mark, image and symbol, which were carved or cast in reverse and set in place by hand. This was a time-consuming process that required each sort to be arranged as a mirror image reading right to left, into a line (galley) then into a page template (frame). This frame was placed on the press, inked, and covered with a sheet of paper, which was pressed firmly down by engaging the force of the press, through a system of hand levers, to print the page. The ink was usually made in-house and consisted of a mix of iron sulfate, water, gum, and tannin. The paper was a combination of cotton and linen rag. At the beginning of the century, it was made by hand using simple machinery in a small number of water driven mills. There was one such mill in Sutton, just outside Boston, which produced about four reams of paper a day and another north of Cape Ann on the Presumpscot River at Westbrook near Portland, Maine. Either of the mills may have been W.E.P.'s source.

(Image: Segment Of 1851 Walling Map showing Sea Street (Lower Part of today's Hancock Street) Note there is no Rogers Street. It didn't exist until 1865.)


Religious News

There were two other local news-sheets being printed in Gloucester in 1827, the Christian Neighbor and the Liberal Companion, both religious tracts. They were not in competition with W.E.P. Rogers and were probably printed in his shop. Samuel Worcester (1793-1844), a teacher and author of children's schoolbooks, published the Christian Neighbor. He resided in Brighton, MA when he married Sarah Sargent, a niece of Gloucester’s Judith Sargent Murray. In 1822, on the death of Sarah's father, Fitz William Sargent, Worcester, then in his late twenties, moved his family to Gloucester and managed a ship supply store on his in-law's wharf. He became involved with the Unitarian church here and tried branching out from schoolbooks by publishing the Christian Neighbor. Unfortunately, it was not a success and he soon returned to Brighton where he continued to write, farmed a few acres, and joined the Swedenborgian New Jerusalem Church.

The Liberal Companion was published from 1832 to 1836 by Benjamin B. Mussey (1804-1857). Mussey was affiliated with the Rockport Universalist Society He seems to have resided in Boston where he worked as a printer, publisher, and seller of Universalist themed books and periodicals, such as the Universalist and Ladies' Repository (which he published from 1834 to 1843), before opening his own bookstore. Called the Sign of the Bible Warehouse, the bookstore focused on school and theological books. He was widely known and admired, a member of the Free Soil Party and the Massachusetts Colonization Society, and was a founder and trustee of Tufts College.


Changing of the Guard

Up to this time, W.E.P. Rogers' newspapers were apolitical weeklies, devoted to miscellany with little local reporting. As he explained in the first issue of the Gloucester Telegraph, he would "endeavor to promote both the interest and pleasure of our patrons, without any reference to the peculiar views of the individuals of any theological or political party ... to make it the People's paper." He stayed in Gloucester for a few years, joining several local organizations including the Gloucester Lyceum, before wanderlust struck again. Two years after he married a local girl (Anna Somes Collins in 1831) he moved to Bangor, Maine, and in July 1833 created the Bangor Courier. It was definitely not apolitical. Instead it energetically promoted the views of the newly formed Whig party. In 1834 he published the Bangor Daily Whig, his first daily newspaper, which became the Bangor Daily Whig and Courier six months later. In the fall of 1835 W.E.P. sold his share in the Bangor newspaper and, sometime after this, became editor of the Haverhill Gazette. W.E.P. died in Haverhill in 1848 at the age of forty-six.

When W.E.P Rogers departed for Maine in 1833 he left the Gloucester Telegraph in the capable hands of his friends and fellow newspaper aficionados, brothers Gamaliel and Edgar Marchant. At the time Cape Ann was experiencing a mini recession, and although the newspaper was already well established it was not exempt from financial difficulties, so the Marchants immediately offered to accept "Produce of all kinds taken in exchange for the paper." Also, due to a strong difference of opinion on the political front between the Democrats and the Whigs, it became an advocate for the Whig cause. A year later they started issuing it semi-weekly.

A decade younger than W.E.P., the Marchant brothers were born and raised in Edgartown on Martha's Vineyard, across the sound from Falmouth, W.E.P.'s old stomping ground. They were the only members of their large family to seek employment outside of Edgartown and, perhaps aware of W.E.P's newspaper business, headed straight to Gloucester. Like W.E.P., Gamaliel Marchant (1813-1839) also joined the Gloucester Lyceum, married a local girl (Mary Jane Elwell in 1834) and moved to Maine in 1835 where he took over W.E.P.'s share of the Bangor Daily Whig and Courier. Under the business name Marchant & Smith (Smith was Jacob A. Smith, former co-owner with W.E.P. of the Bangor Daily Whig and Courier) Marchant continued to publish the newspaper until May 1838 when his failing health convinced him to sell out. He died in Illinois the following year at the age of twenty-six.

Meanwhile, Edgar Marchant (1814-1878) (also a Gloucester Lyceum member) who had been the compositor for as well as co-owner of the Gloucester Telegraph, remained in Gloucester when his brother Gamaliel left for Maine after selling his share in the Telegraph to Henry Tilden. Marchant & Tilden continued to publish the newspaper for the next nine months until Edgar Marchant also relocated to Maine to join Marchant & Smith as a compositor. He soon moved on again to Ellsworth, Maine, and worked at the Northern Statesman, one of several newspapers the Honorable Charles C. Lowell, published there. It debuted in November 1837 and lasted one year. After this Edgar was in New York, where he married Scottish immigrant Janet Turner in 1843, then in Boston where he was editor of the Boston Traveller (a voice in support of the Temperance movement) before returning to Edgartown in 1846 where he created and published their first newspaper, the Vineyard Gazette. He announced that the newspaper "will be strictly neutral on politics and religious subjects, being tied to no party, nor bound to any man's opinion." He later went on to edit the Woburn Journal, the Essex Statesman, the Abington Standard, the Randolph Register, and the Woburn Advertiser before returning to the Vineyard Gazette in 1872. He was so popular locally that he was unanimously elected local Representative to the State House in 1861.

Edgar Marchant's new partner, Henry Tilden (1808-1883), was twenty-eight when he joined him in publishing the Gloucester Telegraph and took on sole possession in October 1836. He was originally from Boston and appears to have only recently moved to Cape Ann. He also quickly joined the Gloucester Lyceum, becoming recording secretary in 1838 and president in 1840. By the time he joined the newspaper it was being issued twice a week (Wednesday and Saturday) and Tilden continued this schedule until, one month after the untimely death of his wife of five years (Charlotte Osgood of Newburyport), he sold the business to John Stevens Ellery Rogers in December 1842, and left town. Tilden abandoned the newspaper business (although one of his sons later became a journalist) and found work as a clerk in Boston for a while before relocating to Providence, RI, where he married for a second time. There, he was briefly a daguerreotypist before joining the firm of G.H. Whitney Bookseller & Printer as a foreman on the presses, and by 1870 had his own shop: Henry Tilden Book & Job Printer. He was described as being "a dignified gentleman in appearance and a Lord Chesterfield in deportment."


Politics and a Messenger arrive

Two other newspapers made a brief appearance on Cape Ann in the 1830s, both of them with a political agenda. In August 1833 the semi-weekly Gloucester Democrat and Workingmen's Advocate was first published but quickly became the Gloucester Democrat, while the Jeffersonian Republican came on the scene in October 1838 but folded after a month. The Gloucester Democrats was edited by Robert Rantoul, Jr., and printed by his brother-in-law Charles W. Woodbury of Beverly and Salem. It was merged into the Salem Advertiser in September 1837 when Woodbury became editor of that newspaper. The Jeffersonian Republican was issued in support of Rantoul's bid for Congress with John F. Hall as the editor and folded with the defeat of the Republican Party in November.

Gloucester News and Semi-Weekly Messenger front page Vol.1 No.97, Sep. 15, 1849

Six years after Tilden sold the Gloucester Telegraph to John Stevens Ellery Rogers (J.S.E.) another newspaper was started in town called the Gloucester News and Semi-weekly Messenger (issued Tuesdays and Fridays). Claiming to be "Independent of party or sect" the new publisher was twenty-four year old John J. Piper (1824-1869) from New Hampshire who had moved to Gloucester in 1842 (at the age of eighteen) and become a teacher in the Girls' High School. A few years later he moved to the Boys' High School where he started his first newspaper, The Germ, as an exercise to improve the students' writing skills. Like several of his predecessors, he joined various local organizations and became a supporter and contributor to the Boston Female Medical Education Society (which trained women to be nurses, midwives and doctors). He joined the Gloucester Lyceum at the same time as Fitz Henry Lane and worked with him on the town's first Floral Procession for the fourth of July celebration in 1849. Rivalry between Piper and J.S.E. was fierce until 1851 when Piper sold the Gloucester News and Semi-weekly Messenger to J.S.E. and moved to Fitchburg where he worked with his brother for the Fitchburg Reveille newspaper. He remained in contact with friends in Gloucester and married Eliza A. Sayward here in 1856. He eventually became a court appointed officer at the Register of Probate and later of the Register of Deeds for Worcester County.

(Image: Gloucester News and Semi-Weekly Messenger front page Vol.1 No.97, Sep. 15, 1849)


"The Greatest Good for the Greatest Number"

John Stevens Ellery Rogers

When John Stevens Ellery Rogers (1821-1883) took control of the semi-weekly Gloucester Telegraph in 1842 he added a dictum: "The Greatest Good for the Greatest Number" and announced the paper was "Devoted to literature, morality, agriculture, manufacture, arts, news, and politics." Note news is the sixth item on the list, just a smidge above politics. Nonetheless, under his stewardship the paper devoted more attention to matters of interest to Cape Ann residents. J.S.E. retained sole ownership of the Gloucester Telegraph for the next thirty-three years. He and W.E.P., born twenty years apart, were cousins with a mutual grandfather in Daniel Rogers a wealthy Gloucester merchant. Like Piper, J.S.E. contributed funds to support the Female Medical Education Society in Boston and was a member of the Gloucester Lyceum, serving as a director and auditor in the 1840s and 1850s. He was also a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and a trustee of the Citizen's Library Association. J.S.E. never married, devoting his life to publishing newspapers and, in his later years, to selling books. He installed his press on Main Street at the top of Duncan Street, across from what was then the post office, and a year later started a second newspaper, the Cape Ann Light which he soon merged with the Telegraph. The result was a weekly "Devoted to Patriotism, Sound Morals, Temperance, Literature and News." Politics were not mentioned at all and news had fallen even lower down the scale than promised in the Telegraph.

(Image: John Stevens Ellery Rogers)

In 1851, after he bought Piper's paper, J.S.E. added more presses to his print business so that he could publish both papers simultaneously, steering them through the years of the Civil War when news of the conflict was avidly read. Every issue contained reports from the front lines, often in the form of letters from men referred to as War Correspondents. In the next twenty years J.S.E. merged and un-merged his newspapers until he finally combined them into the Gloucester Telegraph, in 1874, sold it to Martin Van Buren Perley and retired. By 1877, J.S.E. was simply a bookseller and stationer with a store at 193 Main Street.


Steaming along

By 1852, with several newspapers in production, J.S.E., and possibly his predecessors, had surely taken advantage of the faster and more efficient steam powered presses that had come on the market in the last two decades. The 1830s saw the development of a steam driven rotary press that mechanized the printing process. Instead of exerting pressure on the paper via a system of hand pulled levers, the flat plate holding the inked type frame was moved back and forth beneath a rotating cylinder. The entire system was driven by steam, not manpower, and capable of printing double the number of sheets per hour of the old hand presses. The one disadvantage was that the repeated movement of the plate caused a great deal of wear and tear on the press itself. In the 1840s, reversing the process solved this problem. The type was secured to the cylinder with wedge shaped 'sorts,' inked and then rolled onto paper laid across an immovable flat plate. Up to ten cylinders could be worked at the same time in a sort of pyramid structure which increased the output, but the paper still had to be fed into the machine by hand.


Ably does it

Advertiser building corner Center & Main

In 1852 J.S.E., as the owner of the only newspapers being published in Gloucester, was in a powerful position to influence public opinion. Then in July 1853 Procter's Able Sheet made is debut as a free monthly paper. Published by two young men, brothers Francis and George H. Procter (aged twenty and eighteen respectively) it was primarily dedicated to local business advertisements and was personally delivered to every household by the brothers. Their unabashed slogan was "Devoted to the interests of the business community, the public and ourselves." In the first issue they explained that they had felt the need for a vehicle to advertise their own business and that of their neighbors, but none-the-less intended "to make it a good family paper, full of News, Advertisements, Correspondence, Sketches, Fun, Local Matters, and all public matters of interest to the community." They installed their offices and press on the second floor of the building they had inherited on the corner of Center and Main Streets while downstairs, in the shop they called “The Old Corner Bookstore” (today, Passports Restaurant), they sold a miscellany of printed and stationary goods from circulars and business cards to several books they authored and printed themselves.

(Image: Advertiser building corner Center & Main)

They also published and displayed for sale prints of the work of local artists, including Fitz Henry Lane. The Able Sheet quickly grew to a mélange of snippets of local news, politics, amusing or moral tales, marine landings and disasters, entertainments and celebrations, marriage and death announcements, property transactions, and Sunday sermons. By August 1855 it was no longer free, costing the reader five cents, and the size, while still four pages, had increased from 20 1/2" by 13 1/2" to 22" by 16" with a new typeface. 

In October 1855 they announced that this was their last issue of the monthly Procter's Able Sheet as they were replacing it with the weekly Fireside Gazette. This actually never happened because, as they explained in an editorial, they decided the readership would not be large enough to support another weekly newspaper (along side J.S.E.'s Telegraph, News and Light). Instead, after a two-month hiatus, in January 1856 they published another four page monthly paper called the Gloucester Advertiser. It became semi-monthly a year and a half later. Then, in November 1857, they announced that this paper was going to be replaced by a weekly called the Cape Ann Mirror. Apparently the transition to a weekly newspaper was still problematic, and this also never happened. Instead they issued the semi-monthly Cape Ann Advertiser, charging four cents per copy pointing out that it was printed on "nice white paper." They stated that it would contain up-to-the-minute news as well as "a full and correct report of the Fish Market, police court records and other matters of interest to the citizens of Cape Ann."

In 1868 the Cape Ann Advertiser finally became a weekly, the Cape Ann Weekly Advertiser, intended to "Encourage Home Industry." The Advertiser was apolitical and printed mostly local news, establishing correspondents in the various neighborhoods that made up Cape Ann. Their articles appeared on the second page of the newspaper along with two gossip columns, both written in a sardonically humorous manner. One, titled Off-Hand Local-Jottings, named no names, and the the other, titled Personal, did name names. During the Civil War the Procter brothers also developed and maintained contact with all the Gloucester companies serving in the Union cause, creating a unique record of the experiences of the fighting men. This bipartisan attitude and attention to local news resulted in the paper having the largest circulation of any weekly in Essex County and it continued to inform and entertain for another fifty years.

Francis Procter George H. Procter


Francis Procter (1833-1916) was the business manager of the Procter Bros. partnership. His political views were liberal. In 1852 he was a delegate to the convention of the Free Soil Party (which opposed the expansion of slavery into the Western Territories) and in 1872, to the Liberal Republican Convention. He also, at various times, was a delegate to the National Editorial Association Convention and held the offices of vice-president and president of the Massachusetts Press Association.

George H. Procter (1835-1917) was the newspapers' editor and writer. He was a published poet and the author of articles for Scribner's Monthly and Lippincott's Magazine. He had been a Lieutenant for three years (1861 to 1863) in the Civil War, and in later life served on the city council. In 1893 he chaired the Literary Exercises for the 250th Anniversary Celebration of the founding of Gloucester. They were a very dynamic duo.


(Images, from left to right: Francis Procter and George H. Procter)

One other newspaper made a brief appearance in town in 1857 when the Gloucester American was published from the office of the Procter Bros. and printed by two of their employees. It was a political paper with the slogan "United We Stand - Divided We Fall," reporting national, not local, news in support of Republican Nathaniel P. Banks for Governor of Massachusetts. Mr. Banks was elected in November and the paper stopped production.


Innovative transformations

In the 1860s three more innovations made newspaper printing more efficient. They were: stereotyping with papier-mâché molds, the web perfecting press, and a justifying typesetting machine.

This example of a stereo plate is an ad for the Patapar Company

Stereotyping was the process by which a page of text could be cast as a single piece. The text was laid out by hand in the usual way and a sheet of specialized papier-mâché (a few sheets of paper softened in water then pasted together) called a 'flong' was forced onto it making a reverse mold. This mold was then filled with molten metal, casting the entire frame as a single block. This not only removed the 'sorts' from the constant wear and tear of the press but also released them to be used elsewhere in other compositions. The frame could also be cast more than once making it available for use in multiple presses simultaneously, reducing the time spent in production. Stereotyping had been around for a few years using clay or plaster to form the molds, but papier-mâché had an distinct advantage over both. The flong gave a cleaner end print than clay, and the plaster mold could only be used once as it was destroyed in removing the stereo.

By the 1860's wood pulp was being added to the cotton rag in paper making, which both significantly reduced its cost and increased its availability. The new web perfecting press took advantage of this by incorporating an earlier innovation in papermaking, the paper web, an endless belt of woven mesh that allowed rolls of paper of almost unlimited length to be produced in the mills. 

(Image: This example of a stereo plate is an ad for the Patapar Company - makers of food grade Parchment Paper - extoling Gloucester fish in 1917.)

The web perfecting press was adapted to be continuously fed with the paper from these rolls, which could be purchased in the length needed to cover the print run of each issue of a newspaper.The larger newspapers would get spools containing up to four miles of paper. No more feeding each sheet in by hand. The press also incorporated a device that allowed print to be applied to both sides of the paper in a single run, a knife, which cut the pages apart, and an apparatus that folded the pages ready for delivery. It was perfect.

In 1863 a patent was issued to Charles W. Felt of Salem for an improvement in typesetting machines that could automatically space and justify each line of text. As the compositor assembled the lines they placed a temporary spacer between each word. If this did not result in a justified line, this innovation allowed the machine to automatically insert additional thin spacers until justification was achieved; at which point the temporary spacers were withdrawn and replaced with regular spacers of the correct size.


A Quarry and a Revolver

Charles W. Felt (1834-1907) was also responsible for the first Rockport newspaper, the Rockport Quarry, which he published as a weekly starting in January 1868. It was part of an Essex County newspaper chain and carried news of other towns with just a few items of local interest. In the 1860s and 70s he apparently traveled back and forth to England where he obtained both a second wife (Jemima Green in 1870, his first wife having died of consumption in 1868) and a patent for an innovation in typesetting two years before getting an American patent for the same development. His invention was described as "An improved machine for setting, spacing, justifying and distributing printers' type." The Rockport Quarry only lasted six months but Felt remained in the printing business publishing the appropriately named American Justifier out of his Boston office in 1873. It also folded within a short time and he eventually retired to Northborough, MA, where he died in 1907 at the age of seventy-three.

A year before the advent of the Rockport Quarry another free monthly paper called the Cape Ann Revolver began in Gloucester. It was published by George E. Fisher (1839-1877) who was born in New Hampshire and migrated to Gloucester before 1863, where he started work as a printer. Three years later he was a "Newspaper and Periodical Dealer" on Front St., and four years after that he was working for the Procter Brothers as a clerk. The Cape Ann Revolver was composed mostly of items of local interest and advertisements. By the time of his death in 1877 Fisher had moved to Chelsea, MA, and was a clerk at a Boston publishing house.


Gazettes, Bulletins and Gleaners

Perley's Trades & Gazette front page, Vol.2 No.8, Aug. 1870

In the 1870s there was another uptick in newspaper ownership on Cape Ann, starting with Martin Van Buren Perley (1835-1926), who was neither from Gloucester, nor primarily a newspaperman. Born in Ipswich, he was a graduate of Dartmouth College and worked as a teacher in nearby towns until 1866 when he became the proprietor of "M.V.B. Perley - Ladies Furnishing Goods" on Front Street (now Main St.) in Gloucester. His wife, no doubt taking advantage of wholesale prices on lace, ribbons, buttons etc., had her own career as a dressmaker.In 1870 he started a monthly news-sheet called the Cape Ann Visitor, which quickly segued into Perley's Trades & Gazette, which carried large advertisements, including one for his own store. Then he bought J.S.E.'s combined Gloucester Telegraph in 1876, which he referred to as 'The People's Paper' after W.E.P.'s earlier claim and rebuilt the large old steam presses. Despite this optimism his foray into the newspaper business only lasted about two years before he moved to Springfield and became a salesman. He changed homes and careers several more times before his final move to Danvers where he died in 1926 at the age of ninety-one. His son, Eugene Horace Perley, caught the newspaper bug and was a well-known and admired proofreader for the Boston Globe for fifty-six years.


(Image: Perley's Trades & Gazette front page, Vol.2 No.8, Aug. 1870)


Bulletin building 191 Main St., 1882

When Perley left town the Telegraph ceased production and was replaced by a new paper, the Cape Ann Bulletin. Established in November 1877 by the printing firm of Woodbury & Co. at 2 Pleasant Street, it laid claim to be the direct successor of the Telegraph and hoped to "bind all classes by a common chain of interest and humanity." For the next ten years it was published every Wednesday by a combination of four owner/printers. The first, and longest involved, was John D. Woodbury (1848-1924), a twenty-nine year old Gloucester man who partnered with David Low until 1879 when Low tragically died at the age of twenty-eight. Woodbury & Co. had been renamed the Bulletin Publishing Co. and moved to 191 Main Street, Perley's old press room, when Thomas Tresilian (1854-1905) became Woodbury's new partner. Tresilian, who had attended Bryant & Stratton's business school in Boston, was a first generation American working for his father as a net and twine maker just round the corner on Duncan Street when he joined the Bulletin. Tresilian's first plunge into newspaper publishing was short lived and in 1880 he returned to his family business.

(Image: Bulletin building 191 Main St., 1882)

After his departure Woodbury partnered with Sidney F. Haskell, who had been a printer at the Procter Bros. establishment. Four years later Woodbury left to work as a proofreader in Boston, and Tresilian made a brief reappearance to assist Haskell in publishing the Bulletin and in starting another new paper, the Cape Ann Evening Breeze. Tresilian eventually also moved to Boston and became an assistant editor of the Boston Transcript, while Woodbury, who was back in Gloucester by 1886, went to work at the Cape Ann Advertiser, first as a printer then as a reporter, before becoming an editor of the successor to them all - the Gloucester Daily Times - in 1920.


Rockport Gleaner Front Page Vol.1 No.9, Nov. 1872

In 1872, four years after the demise of the Rockport Quarry, another Rockport paper made its appearance. Published by L. Cleaves & Co. “about the middle of each month” it was called the Rockport Gleaner and its maxim was "Live and Let Live."Early editions were printed in the offices of the Cape Ann Advertiser, primarily as an advertising sheet, and included a column appropriately titled "Gleanings" which consisted of amusing or informative snippets 'overheard' locally or gathered from other newspapers. L. Cleaves & Co. was primarily Levi Cleaves (1838-1913), a thirty-four year old insurance salesman and the Gleaner was his only venture into publishing. He kept his position as an insurance agent during his years with the Gleaner and remained one after its demise in 1887.

(Image: Rockport Gleaner Front Page Vol.1 No.9, Nov. 1872)





Manchester-by the Sea wields a Beetle

Beetle and Wedge, front page Vol. 1 No. 2, March 1875The first newspaper published in either of Cape Ann’s other two towns, Manchester-by-the-Sea and Essex, was the Manchester Visitor in 1870. Unfortunately there is no other information available about it except that it carried nothing in the way of news - just advertisements and articles of general interest. Neither did it indicate who was editor, or publisher, nor how many issues were produced. The second newspaper, also based in Manchester, was the Beetle and Wedge, begun by J. F. Rabardy in February 1875 as a four page monthly costing four cents. It lasted for three years. Julius F. Rabardy (1833-1926) was a French immigrant who had spent ten years as a merchant seaman before finding work ashore as a carver in the well-known furniture making shops of Manchester. This led to his naming the newspaper after two tools used in the wood carving trade - a mallet, called a beetle, and a wedge - that can be seen in the paper's logo.


(Image: Beetle and Wedge, front page Vol. 1 No. 2, March 1875)

Rabardy became an American citizen in 1861, one week after enlisting to fight on the Union side of the Civil War, and lost a leg at Antietam. On his return to Manchester, and in consequence of his injury, he was appointed the town's Post Master in 1865, a position he held for the next twenty years. He married a local widow with two children in 1868, had a daughter, and proceeded to establish a very successful general store. Ten years after the Beetle and Wedge ceased production Rabardy became involved with Manchester's third newspaper, the Manchester Cricket. He held the position of co-editor with Isaac M. Marshall until 1898. Rabardy then left the newspaper business, becoming an insurance agent and a justice of the peace.


A plethora of news in lines-o-type

The mid 1880s saw more changes in newspaper publishing in the greater Cape Ann area with eight new papers coming into print and four (old and new) disappearing. The town of Essex got its first newspaper, the Essex Echo, and Manchester-by-the-Sea its third, the Manchester Cricket. The Rockport Review joined the Gleaner in Rockport, while in Gloucester the Cape Ann Evening Breeze, the Gloucester Daily News, the Cape Ann Sunday Call and the Cape Ann Clipper joined the Cape Ann Advertiser and the Cape Ann Bulletin. By 1888 the Bulletin, the Sunday Call, the News and the Clipper had folded and the Gloucester Daily Times made its first appearance on the newsstands. This surge in newspaper publishing may have come about due in part to the development of the linotype machine, which took the innovation of stereotyping a step further by automating the entire process.

Patented in 1884, linotype was a typesetting machine in which the operator used a 90-character keyboard to type out the letters and spaces (rather than hand picking each one) releasing a mold of each individual 'sort' from a vertical storage magazine. As each line was completed the machine returned the sorts to their storage and poured liquid metal into the mold, casting the entire line (thus lin-o-type). The resulting reduction in manpower and time spent setting the type manually increased efficiency exponentially, enabling small presses to produce more pages on a daily basis.

Another innovation in typesetting, the development of the mono or teletype-setter machine, came along a year after linotype but was of less interest to newspaper publishers. The monotype machine was actually composed of two machines - a keyboard and a caster. The keyboard was used to punch out a pattern of holes in a paper tape that corresponded to a specific letter, symbol, etc. The punched tape was then fed into the caster where compressed air was passed through the holes and read by the caster, which pulled up the corresponding mold, poured in the hot metal, cooled it and ejected the resulting sort into the galley. 140 sorts could be cast in a minute. Unlike the linotype system, where an entire line was cast as a single entity, the monotype system cast each sort individually. This made errors such as misspelt words or misplaced punctuation easy to correct, an advantage for fine printing but not so useful for newspapers where the ability to move large chunks of text around a page layout at one time was more valuable.


Rockport gets a Review

Rockport Review front page Vol. 39 No. 3, Jan. 19, 1917

The weekly Rockport Review began in 1881 and lasted for almost forty years under the management of four proprietors: Horace C. Cheever, Joseph Leeman, George M. Haskins, and Charles M. Stevens. Horace C. Cheever (1826-1901), who began the paper, was a life long resident of Wrentham, MA, dividing his energies between farming and publishing newspapers in Danvers as well as Rockport. Originally formatted in six columns on each of four pages it cost three cents per copy. The building, which housed the printing room and offices for the Review, can still be seen on Bearskin Neck, Rockport. In 1886 Cheever sold the business to Joseph Leeman (c.1855-1923) who had arrived from the Azores as a teenager looking for his older brother. He got a job as a printer and bookbinder at Houghton-Mifflin in Boston but, after locating his brother fishing out of Rockport, joined him there before buying the ReviewLeeman's association with the paper ended around 1896 when he bought a printing shop in Manchester, which he later sold to the North Shore Breeze returning to Gloucester to work as a printer at the Merchant Box and Cooperage Factory. The new proprietor of the Review, George M. Haskins (1878-1941), moved the paper first to School Street and then to Main Street. He married his compositor, Harriet, in 1905 and left for Bar Harbor, ME, two years later. They then relocated to Barnstable, MA, where he opened a printing shop. He sold the Review to another of his compositors, Charles M. Stevens (1885-1945), son of a Rockport paving cutter.

(Image: Rockport Review front page Vol. 39 No. 3, Jan. 19, 1917)

Within a few years Stevens moved the press to Dock Square under his new business name of Stevens Printing, and then again to School Street as the Review Printery. His brother, the artist W. Lester Stevens, joined the Review as editor in the summer of 1914. The Review folded in 1918 and Stevens turned to publishing the North Shore Breeze out of Manchester, eventually moving to Arlington, MA where he worked for the Medford Courier.


Breezy News and a Call

Cape Ann Evening Breeze front page, Vol.IV No.781, Mar. 12, 1887

Meanwhile, back in Gloucester, Sidney F. Haskell and Thomas Tresilian had started the daily Cape Ann Evening Breeze in August 1884. It was four pages (later increasing to eight) and cost one cent. Announcing that they had purchased a new Cranston Press capable of printing a complete paper in one revolution of its large drum, the Breeze was the first Gloucester paper to use stereotype plates. After Tresilian's departure around a year later, Sidney F. Haskell (1848-1929) continued as sole publisher of the Breeze for the next eighteen years at the same address but under the business name Cape Ann Printing. At first it was advertised as "The Lively Little Daily" but by 1890 it had become the "Oldest, Brightest and Best" newspaper on Cape Ann. The Breeze gradually included columns dedicated to news from specific areas within Cape Ann. These were headed: "Sounds from Squam," "Ripples from Rockport," "Lines from Lanesville," "Pencillings from Pigeon Cove," "Echoes from Essex," and "Whiffs from West Gloucester." Around the turn of the century Haskell accepted the position of manager of a reanimated paper (the Gloucester Daily News which had been on the scene briefly 1884-1886), took on a financial partner for the Breeze, and reduced his role there to editor. The partner was high-flier George R. Bradford (1828-1902) who was president of two banks and the Russia Cement Company, and treasurer of the Cape Ann Anchor Works. In 1901 the Breeze merged with the revamped The Gloucester Daily News.

(Image: Cape Ann Evening Breeze front page, Vol.IV No.781, Mar. 12, 1887)


Gloucester Daily News Ad in 1884 Gloucester Directory

The original Gloucester Daily News was the first daily newspaper on Cape Ann, beating the Breeze to that claim by two months. Beginning in June 1884 it was published by the News Publishing Company on Duncan Street with Fred Wiggin as editor and manager. In competing with the Breeze, it advertised itself as "the only lively daily on Cape Ann." A year later it was taken over by the Daily News Company run by John D. Woodbury of Bulletin fame. A year after that, Woodbury resigned and M. Herbert Nichols, who had been the editor, became manager.

The originator, Frederick Alonzo Wiggin (1858-1940), was a twenty-four year old newly married reporter living in Salem when he began his short-lived career as a newspaper publisher. Wiggin also published the Cape Ann Sunday Call in 1884, the only Sunday paper on Cape Ann, but it didn't take and folded after a few issues. Two years later he returned to Salem and worked as an advertising agent until becoming involved with the Spiritualist movement. He was pastor of the Boston Spiritual Temple in 1902, and wrote a book about his experience as a medium in 1921.

Melville Herbert Nichols (1858-1936), who took over from Woodbury, was a journalist for the Boston Globe before, during, and after his stint with the Daily News. In February 1887 he started a new weekly newspaper, the Cape Ann Clipper, but it ceased production in April when Nichols moved to Lynn and became the City Editor for the Lynn Bee & Reporter.

(Image: Gloucester Daily News Ad in 1884 Gloucester Directory)


An Echo reverberates in Essex

Essex Echo front page, Vol.XIX No.8, Mar. 23, 1906

The Essex Echo began in September 1887 as an eight page weekly, and, despite its name, only devoted about two columns to Essex news. Its publisher was Albert Vittum of Beverly, the editor was Isaac M. Marshall of Manchester-by-the-Sea, and the general manager was Lucy C. Burnham, a resident of Essex. Albert Vittum (1857-1934), a dedicated newspaper man, had joined The Peabody Press in his late teens, bought a half interest in the paper at the age of twenty-four, and became joint publisher of it with John P. Fernald (a purveyor of dry goods) around 1882. In the next two decades he bought the Beverly Evening Times, and founded, published and edited, eight other Essex County newspapers, including the Essex Echo and the Manchester Cricket. He served one term as Vice-President of the Suburban Press Association of New England and, in the early 1900s, two terms as a Republican member of the Massachusetts Legislature. In his retirement he became interested in real estate and joined with other like-minded businessmen in developing Cabot Street in Beverly.

Lucy Cogswell Burnham (1845-1931), the first woman to be named to a reporting or managerial position with any of the greater Cape Ann Newspapers, was the youngest of the nine children of Essex shipwright Zaccheus Burnham. As a young woman she found work in a shoe factory then as the proprietor of a 'Fancy Goods' store until she was hired by Albert Vittum in 1888 to be both the local correspondent and general manager of the Essex Echo.

(Image: Essex Echo front page, Vol.XIX No.8, Mar. 23, 1906)

Burnham never married but was active in local affairs for many years including serving as secretary of the local Woman's Relief Corps. She remained with the Echo as manager until 1918, when it merged with the Manchester Cricket, at which point she continued as the Cricket's Essex correspondent until two years before her death at the age of eighty-six.


And Crickets are heard in Manchester-by-the-Sea

The Manchester Cricket, begun by Albert Vittum and Isaac M. Marshall in 1888, with Marshall and Rabardy acting as co-editors, started out as a four page weekly measuring 12" by 18". It was printed in Boston and cost three cents. A year later it had increased to eight pages and grown two inches in length and breadth. In 1893 Marshall bought the Cricket from Vittum and, within two years, had increased its size yet again to 15" by 22" with six columns on each page. In 1918 it merged with the Echo and became the Manchester Cricket and Essex Echo, but remained a weekly. Four years later Marshall sold the newspaper to the Slade family who continued to pre-print half of it in Boston with non-local reportage from the Western Newspaper Union. The other four pages were printed in Manchester-by-the-Sea at The Cricket Press, where Marshall was both president and treasurer. The Essex Echo part of the name was dropped in 1927 and the newspaper became The Manchester Cricket. It continues to this day.

Isaac May Marshall (1865-1951) was a life-long resident of Beverly and another dedicated newspaperman, partnering with Albert Vittum in publishing several area newspapers, including the Beverly Evening News, the Essex Echo and the Manchester Cricket. He was also the local correspondent for the Boston Globe for almost sixty years and judged one of the best writers of society news. He was named president of the Suburban Press Association of New England for six consecutive terms, was president of the Massachusetts Press Association, and vice-president of the Manchester Historical Society. Throughout his years as a newspaperman he had a sideline as an organ and piano tuner and authored a History of Manchester as well as several books on travel. Marshall bought the Cricket from Vittum in 1893 and continued as publisher and editor for the next forty-eight years, retiring in 1941.


Let the good Times roll

GDT front page Vol.1 No.1, June 16, 1888

The last new paper to emerge in the late 1800s was the Gloucester Daily Times. Beginning June 16, 1888 it cost one cent and was the first paper on Cape Ann to use the perfecting web press. It also has the distinction of not only outlasting all its competitors but of being the only extant 20th century Gloucester newspaper after 1909. The publishers of the Times were the Procter brothers, Francis and George H., of the Cape Ann Advertiser, who, true to their history of putting local concerns first, promised that the Gloucester Daily Times would contain matters of interest for all, "be strictly independent of party or cliques ... its aim will be fairness, justice and truth." The brothers continued to publish both the weekly Advertiser and the daily Times until July 1901 when it became apparent that interest in a weekly newspaper had waned. They announced they would incorporate as the Times Newspaper Company and merge the two papers as the Gloucester Daily Times and Cape Ann Advertiser. Six years later they sold a half interest in the business to two Newburyport newspaper men, Fred E. Smith and James H. Higgins, and ceded their roles as managing editor and business manager.


(Image: GDT front page Vol.1 No.1, June 16, 1888. Notice the extremely fragile condition of the paper. Earlier newspapers were printed on paper made from cotton and linen rags but as these became more expensive papermakers looked for a cheaper alternative. They discovered that wood could be pulped and the cellulose extracted by the addition of chemicals. The resulting paper was then sized with alum to reduce ink bleed. All of these additives - even cellulose itself - emit acid which - over time - degrade the paper turning it yellow and brittle. This problem was eventually overcome by the addition of kaolin (chalk, or china clay) which neutralizes the acids.)

As the new century began the Gloucester Daily Times and Cape Ann Advertiser still cost one cent, had seven columns on each of its six pages and was published twice a day (except Sundays) - every afternoon at one and four o'clock. Most of the paper was devoted to local advertising, including the front page, but there was a smattering of local news items, sports reports, announcements of entertainments to be had, fishing news and, in the four o'clock edition, "Late Breaking News."

By 1910 the paper’s price was the same but it now boasted ten pages and local and national news coverage outstripped the advertisements on the front page. The Look Out column and items from the American Press Association were regular contributors. A decade later Francis Procter's son William had taken over as managing editor, the price had gone up to two cents but the paper was slightly larger with eight columns per page. Classified advertisements had joined the roster along with a column dedicated to women's fashion, and advertisements for the several movie houses in the area were rife.

The price remained steady in 1930 and, although the page count had dropped back to eight, a crossword, a short story, and columns on diet, health and gardening were included. World War II was front and center in the 1940s but hints on beauty, household management, letters to the editor, and cartoon strips could also be found.

By 1950 the price had doubled, the page count was back up to ten, and Roy L. Parsons had replaced William A. Procter. The front page covered international as well as local news; classified advertising now took up an entire page; and radio and TV schedules were provided. In 1952 the Gloucester Daily Times and Cape Ann Advertiser dropped the Advertiser part of its name, continuing as the Gloucester Daily Times right up to the present day.


Who's who, where and when

Cover of Aug. 21, 1920 issue of Cape Ann ShoreBack in 1899, the Cape Ann Shore, a seasonal paper geared towards the summer visitor made its debut. Published weekly in July and August by the North Shore Publishing Co., it lasted until 1937. At first it appeared as a newspaper but within a few years evolved into a magazine, becoming smaller in size with glossy white paper, a colored cover drawing and, unlike daily and weekly newspaper, slick photographic reproductions. It contained lists of guests at each hotel, reputable boarding house and rental cottage on Cape Ann along with schedules of events: musicals, theatricals, teas, charity fetes, soirees, and sports (tennis, golf, sailing regattas) followed by reports on attendance and the pleasure experienced by the participants. There were also pieces on the summer art colonies and the artists in town, local history, places of interest to the visitor, and in later years a series titled My Lady Goes Shopping, a tongue in cheek essay about women and fashion that cleverly interwove the names of notable summer visitors and the couture shops of Magnolia. The editor, publisher and frequent contributor of articles concerning local history, was James R. Pringle (1862-1939), a long time Gloucester correspondent for the Boston Globe. The son of a fisherman, he served as Chief Quartermaster in the Naval Reserves aboard two Boston based ships during WWI, and helped form a Cape Ann branch of Naval Intelligence that gathered information on enemy submarine action. In 1892 he wrote a book titled the History of the Town and City of Gloucester, an updated sequel to John J. Babson's 1860 History of the Town of Gloucester, Cape Ann.

(Image: Cover of Aug. 21, 1920 issue of Cape Ann Shore)

Five years after Pringle started the Cape Ann Shore James Alexander Lodge (1880-1939) began a similar paper in Manchester-by-the-Sea called the North Shore Breeze and Reminder, publishing under the company name of the North Shore Breeze Co., and later the North Shore Press Inc., on Summer Street. Priced at five cents per issue, unlike the Shore it was published year round every Friday until about 1930 when Lodge went to work as editor for the Boston Breeze, with an office on Boylston Street. Like the Shore, the Breeze concentrated on society news with emphasis on items of interest to visitors, but also included the nearby towns of Beverly Farms and Wenham in its reporting. In 1915 Lodge also published a paper called The Resorter, but no further information on this has been recorded. Lodge was from Newfoundland, twice married, and the father of two daughters.


"Brightest and Best"

Cape Ann News ad in 1905 City DirectoryA year after Pringle began the Shore he became the managing editor of the Gloucester Daily News, which was making a reappearance after a fifteen year hiatus, picking up its earlier claim of being the "Oldest, Brightest and Best Daily on Cape Ann." Managing two newspapers and continuing to report for the Globe was perhaps overwhelming and he soon ceded management of the News to Sidney F. Haskell. By 1903 it had been renamed the Cape Ann News and Haskell had been replaced by Wilmott A. Reed (1864-1934). Reed was a salesman and a broker for the Boston & Maine Railroad and the Boston & Gloucester Steamboat Co. working out of an office on Duncan St. before becoming a reporter and then a manager and correspondent for the News. Later in life he was secretary and treasurer of the Gloucester Board of Trade and then City Treasurer. In 1905 George H. Brewster and Leonard F. Williams bought the News, with the latter becoming the editor. Leonard Frothingham Williams (1864-1916) was a seasoned newspaper man having inherited, at the age of twenty-four, his father's newspaper, the Melrose Journal, and was editor of the weekly Bridgewater Independent in 1900. When the News folded in 1909 he retired, remaining in Gloucester for several more years until moving to Cambridge where he worked for the Concord Minute Man in 1916, seven months before his death in December of that year.


(Image: Cape Ann News ad in 1905 City Directory)


The Citizen and the Union

Two more Cape Ann papers emerged in the early 1900s: the Gloucester Citizen and the Paving Cutters' Journal. The weekly Gloucester Citizen came on the scene in March 1916, published by Edward T. Millett out of his home on Granite Street. Edward Theodore Millett (1891-1934) had begun his newspaper career at the age of eighteen as a reporter for the Associated Press. After the demise of the Citizen in April 1918 he became a reporter with the Gloucester Daily Times. Meanwhile, the Paving Cutters' Journal, "Devoted to the Interests of Organized Labor," lasted a bit longer. It had originally started back in 1889 as a weekly published out of Union headquarters in Albany, NY, but ran into trouble in 1892 when the New England unionized workers were locked out, followed by a financial panic the next year. It was resurrected in 1901 as the Paving Cutters' News, a monthly four page newspaper whose primary interest was in disseminating the history and current standing of organized labor in the USA and Canada. It reported on the struggles and achievements of other unions, not just those of paving cutters. In December 1914 it became the Paving Cutters' Journal and was published in Rockport, by then the headquarters of the Union, with Carl (Charles) Bergstrom as editor. The greater part of its content consisted of letters from union members and reports on political actions, although it also had a smattering of uplifting poetry and prose. Carl Bergstrom (1855-1922) was a paving cutter who arrived in Rockport from Sweden in 1891 along with his wife and four children. The paper was later taken over by Albert Marenius Augustsen Anderson (1889-1975), another immigrant paving cutter, this time from Norway, who had landed in Maine in 1910 before moving to Rockport where he was president of the Union until the 1940s. Despite its essentially narrow appeal the paper lasted until 1939.


"No photographs. No photographs."

Before the turn of the century all of these newspapers had a fairly standard format of four pages and, to a greater or lesser degree, each provided their readers with news of local, national and international interest. The layout of each paper also generally followed a set pattern: the first page was usually dedicated to poetry and stories of an uplifting or moral tenor; the second page covered news items; the third dealt with business interests such as arrivals and departures of merchant vessels, public notices, political reports and multiple advertisements; the fourth was mainly advertisements with a smattering of literary extracts, or moral or amusing fillers. Some shorter lived or seasonal papers had specific agendas, like the Cape Ann Shore, which was intended to engage the summer visitors, the church based Christian Neighbor and the political Gloucester Democrat, while others focused on particular concerns, the Rockport Review for instance, which emphasized quarry news. And in all cases illustrations were few and far between.

Early newspapers were rarely illustrated because the printing presses could only reproduce images from hand engraved woodcuts, a laborious and expensive process, which severely restricted a newspaper's ability to be first with the news. The only pictures worth the time and money were generic images likely to be reused such as those advertising a product (a bottle of cough syrup, a bar of soap) or small iconic images like houses and boats that highlighted an advertisement or augmented the text. Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper (1855-1922) was the first newspaper to use pictures to enhance news articles. Leslie was able to achieve this by developing an innovative process that drastically reduced production time. He divided each illustration into as many as thirty-two individual sections, each of which was then given to a different engraver. When completed, the wooden blocks were aligned to recreate the original illustration, secured, inked and printed. Thus he achieved in one day what a single engraver would have taken a week or more to complete.


Photojournalism on the move

Photojournalism as a distinct form of newspaper reporting first emerged during the Crimean War (1853-1856) when graphic photographs of battle sites and the visible effects of war on the participants were printed in the Illustrated London News. The first appearance of photojournalism in America came during the Peninsula Campaign of 1862, but even the numerous photographs supplied by Civil War correspondents in the field still had to be copied by an engraver before they could be reproduced in newspapers. So, as pioneering as Leslie's timesaving method was, the resulting printed image still looked like a hand drawn sketch rather than a photograph, because in essence that was what it was. Nonetheless, this emerging craft had Leslie's Illustrated News and Harper's Weekly vying to print such "photographs" for a demanding readership.

This changed when a procedure called halftoning was developed in the 1880s. Printable images were made by re-photographing the original photograph through a screen onto a glass plate negative which broke the image up into a matrix of dots which created gradient areas of greater or lesser intensity, providing shades of gray, instead of the simple black or white previously available to newspaper printers. This plate was then developed at very high contrast and the result used to make a contact print on a sheet of metal coated with a material that hardened when exposed to light. The sheet of metal was then acid etched to dissolve the areas between the dots and attached to a wood block of the correct depth to align it with the text, ready for inking and printing. The first newspaper illustration printed directly from a photograph using this method appeared in New York’s The Daily Graphic in 1880. However, a decade passed before the process of halftoning was developed for commercial use, and several decades more passed before it became routine.GDT front page Vol.41 No.6365, Aug. 5, 1909

The Gloucester Daily Times took advantage of this new technique when it published a special edition covering the events of the town's Gloucester Day celebration on August 5, 1909. The twenty-three pages contained several halftone illustrations of the parades and the pageant made directly from photographs etched by out-of-town engravers. In 1923, for Gloucester's 300th Anniversary Celebration, the Times published a retrospective of the 250th Anniversary (1892) with more than two dozen such illustrations.

Innovations in camera size and light sensitive plastic film changed the field again. Up until the beginning of the 20th century the camera was a rigid wooden box into which a light sensitized glass plate was placed and exposed through a fixed lens for up to three minutes, before being removed and set aside to be developed later. Between 1900 and 1920 the so-called Press Camera was developed, with the Goerz-Anschutz being the most notable. It was still a wooden box camera with metal fittings but had a lens that could be moved back and forth by the use of built in leather bellows, allowing it to contract to a depth of a few inches. It also had an astonishing top shutter speed of 1/1000 of a second. Not only was the Press Camera compact enough to be easily carried into the field, it was also rapid fire.

(Image: GDT front page Vol.41 No.6365, Aug. 5, 1909. The third such annual celebration. The page displays four halftones and a collection of wood block sketches.)

The next few decades saw more improvements. The single-lens reflex Press Camera which incorporated a mirror that could be flipped to either expose the plate or act as the viewfinder came on the scene, followed by the Graflex Speed Graphic Press Camera which had a telephoto lens and extra viewfinders that allowed the photojournalist to track moving objects. By now more frequently using sheet film than glass plates, these cameras were still only capable of single shots. Each exposure required its own holder that had to be removed before another plate could be inserted and another photograph taken.


The 'Golden Age' of photojournalism

The ‘Golden Age’ of photojournalism began with the commercial development of the 35mm Leica camera in 1925 and the accompanying availability of flash bulbs. This truly compact camera used another innovation - lightweight rolled celluloid film, not plates - enabling photojournalists to interact with their subject matter as never before and to move with the action.

From the outset the craft of photojournalism was empowered by war. From is earliest use in the Crimean War through the American Civil War, and the two World Wars, news photographs of the conflicts, up front and personal, drove newspaper sales. Printing restraints continued to curtailed their use in local papers, but the the Gloucester Daily Times published a 'soundphoto' of the arrest of Japan's naval minister on the front page of their September 26, 1945 issue. A 'soundphoto', also called a wirephoto or a radiophoto, was an electronically scanned image transmitted over dedicated telephone lines to large news gatherers such as the Associated Press.

Despite these technological advancements, many newspaper photographers, capturing images of local interest, still preferred the large format Graflex Speed Graphic, mainly because it produced large high quality negatives and removed the need for enlargement, which was considered unprofessionally pretentious at the time. Still, the quality of newspaper photographs remained frustratingly poor well into the 1980s due to the industry's use of inferior, more absorbent paper, easily smudged ink and coarse halftone screens. Even with the improvements in cameras and film, the Gloucester Daily Times, like most small town newspapers, continued to send photographs out-of-town to be engraved into half-tones, which restricted their usefulness in illustrating breaking news.

This changed in 1952 when the Times leased a Fairchild Scan-A-Grave and installed it in the newsroom. Composed of two cylinders, a sensor, and a stylus, the machine made halftones directly onto a sheet of plastic. A photograph was secured to one of the cylinders, the sensor read its tones and guided the stylus to engrave the image onto the plastic sheet which was wrapped around the second cylinder, creating a screened plate ready to be inked and printed. Photographs could now be prepared for printing in a much more timely manner. Yet there were still no photojournalist on staff and journalists had to provide their own photographs to illustrate their articles.

Linotype machine removal from press room on Center St. Oct.1956

By 1955 it had become clear that the Times had outgrown its eight page, flat-bed press and it was decided to purchase a sixteen page, tubular rotary press with built-in stereotyping capability. Able to print 10,000 copies in thirty minutes, it took 1/5 the time the old press did. It also removed the laborious process of hand compiling a ten or more page newspaper from two eight-page runs. However, this decision meant the paper had to find new quarters, as the old building on the corner of Center and Main Streets could not accommodate the larger press. Eventually the old gas company building on Whittemore Street was purchased and, in March 1956, the Times was printed on the new press for the first time. The offices and composing rooms were still in the old Main Street building so the print-ready layouts were transported to Whittemore Street by car until October, when a large hole was made in the Center Street wall of the old building and the linotype machine was hoisted out. Advertising and news copy continued to be composed in the old building and carried to Whittemore Street until July of the next year. The move was completed September 28, 1957.

(Image: Linotype machine removal from press room on Center St. Oct.1956)

Charlie Lowe with camera

Three weeks prior to this, on September 5, 1957, twenty-five year old Charles A. Lowe - Graflex in hand - joined the Gloucester Daily Times as the newspaper’s first full-time photographer. A new half-tone engraver, a Klischograph (which did the same thing as the Scan-A-Grave but used a flat plate which moved back and forth under the stylus, rather than rotating cylinders), was purchased and Charles A. Lowe was put in charge of both the engraving machine and the new dark room, developing and preparing his own photographs and those of his fellow reporters.

(Image: Charlie Lowe with camera)




© S.G. Buck. 2024