History of Early Amateur Journalism in the District of Columbia


WASHINGTON AMATEURS have organized a number of local clubs, but none of them seem to have had a long life. One of the earliest of these was the Franklin Amateur Press and Literary Association, organized October 16, 1876, with Walter F. Hewitt, President, and Frank B. Noyes, afterwards for many years President of the Associated Press as Vice-President. January 15, 1879, a Columbia A.P.A. was formed with John W. Garner, President, and James Duhamel, Secretary. In February, Richard Topham became President, and in 1882 Charles W. Darr was President and C. Ridgely Waller, Secretary. A District A.P.A. was organized in 1882 with Washington Topham, President, and N. L. Collamore, Secretary. In 1883 William C. Lewis was President. A local club was formed in 1894, and in November, 1895, the Capitol City Club of Amateur Journalists was organized with Edwin Hadley Smith, President, and Gus A. Schuldt, Editor. Again in 1908 a Washington Amateur Journalists Club was formed with J. T. McCaffrey as its President, and Pearl K. Merritt as the Official Editor.


The nation's capital has been the home of many famous amateur journals, one of the first of which was the Boy of the Period, published by William H. Dennis in 1869. It was later consolidated with the Boy's Advertiser, published in Connecticut by William Howe Downes, later the well-known art critic. Dennis and Downes were influential participants in the amateur affairs of this early period. In 1872 the Washington Amateur Magazine was edited by a group of amateurs, the most prominent being Henry L. Bryan. In that year Jesse R. Grant, the son of the President, with J. M. T. Partello, published the K. F. R. Journal. In 1873 J. W. Garner issued the Youth's Gazette, and Eugene A. Hannan, Pastime in 1874. In 1874 two famous journals were founded. The Southern Star was edited by Delavan W. Gee. A few years later the name of Edward A. Oldham was included among the associate editors of the Southern Star. In the winter of 1879 he became a resident of Washington and was on the reportorial staff of Stilson Hutchins' Washington Post, coveting the United States Senate. A little later he became a columnist on Donn Piatt's Sunday Capital. Everybody's Friend, later the Crucible, was issued by Clarence G. Allen. These two papers, joined the next year by the saucy Imp, edited by J. Edson Briggs, were among the leaders of the time. In 1874, also, were issued the Amateur Press, S. Preston Moses, editor, and the Pastime, John R. Boyle, editor. Charles W. Richardson, afterward the distinguished physician, published Our American Youth in 1875, and Samuel B. Milton issued the Amateur Era. The next year James Douglas Lee issued the Gem, and in 1876 Charles W. Darr published the Argus, Washington Topham the Youths' Advocate, and J. T. Duhamel the Pastime. That year, also, Frank B. Noyes published the Times, and Walter F. Hewitt the Exchange. Another well-known amateur, C. Ridgely Waller, issued in 1877 the Truthful Tablet, and in 1879 J. Randolph Tucker the Owl. Samuel A. Wood was a Washington amateur of this period, who under the name of "Quince" contributed many bits of light verse to the press. In later years N. L. Collamore issued the Mail in 1882, and that year Darr again became active, publishing the Sphere, William C. Magill, Jr., issued Ye Oracle, and Ellsworth W. Smith Gossip. Edwin Hadley Smith issued the Boys' Herald from Washington for many years beginning in 1894. E. jean Connell published Girldom, and in 1914, Pearl K. Merritt Odd Seconds.


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