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Delaware Newspapers: History of Delaware Newspapers

Early Delaware Newspapers

The section "The Press of Delaware," in Thomas J. Scharf, History of Delaware, 1609-1888, v. 1, Chapter 23, pp. 450-470, provides extensive information about the history and personalities associated with the press in Delaware. Available on American County Histories to 1900.

S. N. D. North's History and Present Condition of the Newspaper and Periodical Press of the United States, with a Catalogue of the Publications of the Census Year (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1881) (Library Annex U.S. Doc. I 11.5: Vol. 8 Spec) provides some information about early Delaware newspapers. In the section "Second Period: 1783-1835," pp. 31-47, North lists three newspapers published in Delaware: the American Watchman, semi-weekly, published in Wilmington, "since suspended"; the Delaware Gazette, semi-weekly, published in Wilmington, "still published; now daily and weekly"; and the Delaware Freeman, weekly, published in Wilmington, "since suspended." (p. 42)

Evald Rink, in his Printing in Delaware, 1761-1800, notes that "On June 14, 1785, Jacob Killen started the Delaware Gazette in Wilmington. After the doubtful publication of James Adams mentioned above [The Wilmington Courant, supposedly published for six months in 1762], this is the first authenticated newspaper issued in Delaware. With some changes in title, Killen published this weekly for almost two years. He then sold it to Frederick Craig and Co., a partnership consisting of Craig, Samuel Andrews and Peter Brynberg. The new owners continued the newspaper with the issue for April 11, 1787. ... Altogether seven newspapers were published in Delaware during the eighteenth century, all except one in Wilmington. This number may be increased to nine if the doubtful titles are included. It is questionable whether the first, the Wilmington Courant of 1762, was ever actually printed. There is a reference to a Dover Herald, reputedly published at Dover in 1800, but no copy of it has been located. The others in order of their appearance were: the Delaware Gazette, established in 1785 and continued through 1799; the Delaware Courant, and Wilmington Advertiser, issued in 1786 and 1787; the Delaware and Eastern-Shore Advertiser, 1794 through 1799; the Wilmington Mercury, printed occasionally in 1798; the Friend of the People, published at Dover in 1799; the Mirror of the Times, started in 1799 and issued until 1806; and the Monitor; or Wilmington Weekly Repository, published from 1800 to 1802." (Evald Rink, Printing in Delaware, 1761-1800 [Wilmington, Del.: Eleutherian Mills Historical Library, 1969], pp. 27, 49-50)

"A Chronological History of the Newspaper Press of the United States" (pp. 359-435, in North, above) lists some key dates relating to newspapers in Delaware, on p. 360:

1762 – Printing was introduced at Wilmington.

1762 – The Wilmington Courant, established at Wilmington, by James Adams. Published six months.

1784 – The Wilmington Gazette, established as a weekly. Is now published daily and weekly.

1787 – The Wilmington Courant, at Wilmington, by James Adams. Published two or three years.

1838 – The Delaware Register (monthly), at Dover, by William Huffinton.

There is a useful table of Delaware newspapers as of 1881 in North, on p. 213:

Place of PublicationName of PeriodicalHow Often PublishedCharacterWhen EstablishedPrice Per Year
KENT CO – Population: 32,874.
Dover Delawarean Weekly News and politics 1859 $2.00
State Sentinel Weekly News and politics 1874 $2.00
Milford News and Advertiser Weekly News and politics 1857 $1.00
Chronicle Weekly News and politics 1878 $1.00
Smyrna Times Weekly News and politics 1854 $2.00
NEW CASTLE CO – Population: 77,716.
Middletown Transcript Weekly News and politics 1868 $2.00
Newark Ledger Weekly News and politics 1877 $1.50
New Castle Enquirer (suspended February 1, 1881) Weekly News and politics 1879 $1.50
Wilmington Gazette Daily (evening) News and politics 1872 $3.00
Gazette Weekly News and politics 1784 $2.00
Every Evening Daily (evening) News and politics 1871 $5.00
Delaware State Journal Weekly News and politics 1831 $1.00
Republican Daily (evening) News and politics 1836 $3.00
Republican Weekly News and politics 1836 $2.00
Daily Herald (suspended February 23, 1880) Daily (morning) News and politics
Delaware Pioneer Weekly News and politics (German) 1869 $2.50
Rugby Monthly Monthly Collegiate 1874 $0.25
Conference Worker Weekly Religious (Methodist) 1875 $1.00
Argus Weekly News and politics 1878 $1.50
Sunday Dispatch (suspended in November, 1880) Sunday News and politics 1879 $1.50
Advertiser (suspended March 9, 1880) Weekly News and politics 1879 $0.50
News Daily (morning) News and politics 1880 $3.00
SUSSEX CO. – Population: 36,018.
Georgetown Sussex Journal Weekly News and politics 1867 $2.00
Delaware Inquirer Weekly News and politics 1879 $1.00
Lewes Breakwater Light Weekly News and politics 1871 $1.00
Seaford Sussex County Index Weekly News and politics 1877 $1.50


The Library of Congress holds bound volumes of early Delaware newspapers in remote storage. The Library of Congress' A Check List of American Eighteenth Century Newspapers in the Library of Congress, New ed. (Washington, D.C.: G. P. O., 1936), pp. 25-26, includes a description of two 18th-century Delaware newspapers, The Delaware and Eastern-Shore Advertiser and The Delaware Gazette.

The News Journal, in its "the HELP! page" feature on 17 February 1999, p. D3, included a short history of the News Journal ("News Journal of Today Has Long Lineage"). It notes that the News Journal" has always traced its ancestry back to Sept. 4, 1871, the first day of publication of a ... daily newspaper called Every Evening. But it also traces back through its morning side to the Daily Morning News, first published in March 1880. Some argue the paper can be traced back a lot farther to the Delaware Gazette that began publication in 1785, since the Every Evening absorbed that paper."

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Aimee Gee
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