History of Early Amateur Journalism in Massachusetts


MASSACHUSETTS ORGANIZED its amateur journalists early and often. In May 1872 the Bay State A.P.A. was formed as one branch of the Eastern Association. Charles H. Fowle was President, and James H. West Secretary and Treasurer. Next year John Ritchie, Jr., was chosen President. In 1874 it met in Pittsfield, and passed a resolution thanking "the Boston and Albany Railroad for passes for its convention." It ceased to exist soon after.


The Massachusetts A.P.A. was organized at Lynn, on December 26, 1881, with Willard O. Wylie as President. It met in Boston July 4, 1882, and re-elected Wylie. At the Boston meeting January 2, 1883, Charles E. Wilson. was chosen President. The Association had a long and successful life. Conventions held and Presidents elected were as follows: Worcester, January 1884, George A. Dunn; New Bedford, July 1884, George A. Hough; Worcester, January 1885, Frank S. C. Wicks; Boston, July 1885, E. H. Rockwell; Leominster, December 1885, W. A. Cowley; Lowell, July 1886, E. E. Sargent; Boston, December 1887, Alfred H. Nash; July 1888, W. E. Baldwin; Boston, July 1889, Harriet C. Cox; 1891, C. A. Sheffield. Another association by the same name was organized in Dorchester in April 1909, Joseph J. Lane, President, and continued until 1915, meeting monthly after 1911. Its Presidents were George A. Thomson, Robert C. Kelley, C. A. A. Parker and Ernest W. Crazier. Brooks Atkinson was a leading member.


The first association of Boston amateurs, in 1858, is recorded elsewhere. Since then a Hub Amateur Journalists Club has been formed several times, the last organization having a remarkable record. The first Hub A. J. Club was organized October 8, 1873, with J. Fred Sayer as President. Reorganized in 1877, Charles H. Fowle was chosen President, followed by J. Austin Fynes. Fowle was made Official Editor and issued the first official organ. In 1878 Clarence K. Stone was President and George H. Fernald Official Editor. Next year Fernald became President, and in 1879 Eben S. Frye held the office, Stephen S. Bartlett being Editor. It ended its career that Fall. It was reorganized November 3, 1883, with William E. Brigham as President, and Charles E. Wilson as Editor, and held a reunion meeting May 17, 1884. It then ceased to function.


On March 10, 1890, it was again reorganized, and had a long and prosperous life. No other association of amateur journalists, excepting the National A.P.A. and the Blue Pencil Club of New York, has had as long a continuous existence. Charles E. Wilson was made President in 1890, and Blanche M. Clay, Editor. The Club published a series of official organs, the first one being called the Hub Amateur. It was succeeded in 1894 by the Hub Official, Ella M. Frye, Editor, and in 1901 by the Hub Club Quill. In April, 1917, it held its 268th meeting, with especial exercises, and July 3, 1923, its 23rd and last annual convention was held. Among its Presidents were such well-known amateurs as Edith Miniter, Nelson G. Morton, Walter H. Thorpe, Laura A. Sawyer, Joseph B. Lynch, C. A. A. Parker, E. Dorothy McLaughlin, James F. Morton and Ella M. Frye.


Other local associations were formed in Lynn, 1880, H. K. Sanderson, President; Gardner, 1883, A. A. Stewart, President; Worcester, 1883, Frank R. Batchelder, President; Leominster, 1884, E. H. Rockwell, President; New Bedford, 1886, J. F. Valentine, President; North Adams, 1889. The pioneer amateur editors of Massachusetts are chronicled elsewhere. In 1869 Walter F. Wheaton, of New Bedford, sent forth a spicy little paper called the Ranger, and E. A. and Samuel Elder published the Eastern Banner in Boston. Elder later became a noted Boston lawyer. In 1870 Charles H. Fowle, a famous amateur editor, began his career in Newton, publishing Our Banner, and in the same year in Boston George E. B. Putnam issued the Hub Notion, a large and attractive journal, and Edwin A. Farwell published the Young Sportsman. In 1870 also, in Newton, George W. Hills began the publication of Our Girls, a very large and interesting paper. In 1871, as announced in the July number, ownership passed to Eliot Ryder and the journal moved to Boston. In 1872 J. Fred Sayer, of Boston, issued the Eastern Press, and in South Boston E. K. Packard published the Dew Drop, a noted paper. In Brimfield in the early Seventies a very large paper called the Crescent was published by F. G. Andrews. In 1873 A. H. Seaverns published a paper in Boston called the Engraver containing illustrations engraved by the publisher, and Curtis Guild, Jr., issued the Globe with a heading engraved by Seaverns. Walter E. Leathe of Winchendon, in 1874, issued the Boys’ Favorite, and in 1875 D. E. Chamberlain, of Athol, published the Amateur Press. In 1876 Charles P. Crossman, of South Amherst, published the Snowflake. Fred B. Cochran issued the Boys of Boston, and Samuel W. Lawrence began the publication of his famous Eastern Star. Stephen S. Bartlett, a noted amateur author in Boston, issued the Bay State Enterprise in 1877. In 1877-9 there were the Amateur Gazette, J. G. Oliver, Worcester; Yankee, W. E. Smythe, Southbridge; Index, D. A. Sullivan, Lowell; Idle Hours, J. Austin Fynes, Boston; Eastern Sunbeam, Edward W. and Eben S. Frye, Boston; Miscellany and Sphinx, Correl Kendall, Boston; Springfield Joker, B. R. Stephens, Springfield; Planet, Fred Cochran, Boston; Correspondent, Fred A. Mille, Newburyport; Amateur Tribune, A. A. Wyman, Worcester; Golden Hours, Vallie E. Rust, lpswich; Jolly Boys' Monthly, F. H. Haskell, Roxbury; Wanderer, William J. Campbell, Cambridge; Bostonian and Observer and Critic, Clarence E. Stone.


The early Eighties saw such papers as the Praeconium, E. S. Spalding, Newburyport; Golden Moments, Willard 0. Wylie, Beverly; Bay State Press, Howard K. Sanderson, Warren; Lynn Amateur, Frank A. Lindsey, Lynn; Garfield Gazette, Edith Peters, Dorchester; New England Gazette, Charles E. Wilson, Newtonville; Comet, E. H. Rockwell, Leominster; Bay State Pearl, Frank S. C. Wicks, Worcester; Go-A-Head, Frank R. Batchelder, Worcester; Our Endeavor, George A. Hough, New Bedford; Experiment, William M. Emery, New Bedford; Point, George E. Day; H. C. Parsons, Westfield; Lark, George A. Dunn, Northern Breezes, Charles Heywood, and Bay State Brilliant, Alex A. Stewart, Gardner; Nutshell, E. T. Capen, Canton. One of the largest papers ever issued in amateur journalism was Index, later changed to Youth, published in Lowell by Dennie A. Sullivan and Clarence E. Stone. Charles S. Campbell was active in Malden in 1893.


Many young ladies became interested in amateur journalism in Massachusetts at this time. Besides Miss Peters, referred to already, Alice B. Foster published the Latest in Malden, Edith May Dowe, afterward Mrs. Miniter, issued the Amateur from Worcester, and Jennie M. Day and Frances A. Parsons sent forth the Duett from Westfield. The Quartette was edited by four young ladies, Gracia A. Smith, Mabel F. Noyes, Jennie M. Day and Lottie Smith. Later Helen G. Phillips replaced the last named. The Quartette was revived in 1891, its editors being Mabel F. Noyes, Minna B. Noyes, Edith Miniter and Ella M. Frye. In New Bedford Helen G. Phillips published Our Attempt and Le Sans Peur, and Alfreda K. Richards Les Esprits.


In later years well-known journals were the Idler, Nelson G. Morton, and Literary Gem, C. A. A. Parker, Boston; Some Remarks, Albert W. Dennis, Lynn; Beacon, M. E. Wilbur, Medford; Times, L. H. Nutter, Haverhill; Varied Year, Edith Miniter; Bema and Olympian, Edward H. Cole, Somerville; Reverie, Frank S. Morton, Boston; Coagent, Robert C. Kelley, Dorchester; Puritan, Brooks Atkinson, Melrose; Magic Carpet Magazine, 1934, David T. Meskill, Jr., and the Minstrel, Albert Chapin, West Roxbury.


Special mention should be made of the career in amateur journalism of Charles W. Smith, of Haverhill. He started the publication of the Monthly Visitor in December, 1888, and issued 118 numbers, the last in October, 1898. It was a large and enterprising journal and gained much prominence. In 1914 Mr. Smith returned to the ranks and issued a magazine called Tryout, setting the type and running the press himself. He has issued 249 numbers of this paper [at the time of this writing, ca 1940. C. W. Smith died in 1948, at the age of 95, after printing almost three hundred numbers of Tryout] and is still publishing, though now over 80 years of age. Youthful in spirit he is a true amateur journalist.


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