History of Early Amateur Journalism in Rhode Island


RHODE ISLAND HAS HAD a number of well-known amateur journalists, but the small State never seems to have had a State organization. In 1878 there existed for a short time a Providence A.J.A. William D. McKnight was one of the earliest of the State's amateurs. He issued the Cricket from Providence in 1876. In after life he was known as Dodge McKnight, the famous water color artist. The next year saw a group of prominent amateurs living in Providence beginning their amateur career. William B. McCann edited the Echo, Mon Myrtle Myrtle's Monthly, Maurice C. Walsh the Literary Ledger, and Ralph Metcalf the Ruby. Metcalf later issued a larger paper called Pandora, and removing to the West gained great prominence not only as an amateur editor but in professional journalism and political life.


In 1877 also, at Westerly, a leading amateur journal called Little Rhody was issued by George G. Champlin. Champlin afterwards became librarian of the New York State Library at Albany. In 1879 Fred Metcalf, brother of Ralph, issued the Dart, and played a leading part in amateur history. Later leaders of Rhode Island amateur journalists were Roscoe L. Colman, who published Our Compliments in 1886 in Providence, and Elisha T. Read, of Woonsocket, who for several years contributed to New England journals. Read was elected Official Editor of the New England A.P.A. in 1886, and was followed in that office by Elliott F. Studley, of Providence, editor of the Stylograph.


Still another Providence amateur gained great distinction as an author, editor and critic. Howard P. Lovecraft published the Scientific Gazette when he was nine years old. It was written in pencil and duplicated by carbon. This was published weekly for five years. His first amateur journal, in the accepted sense, was called the Conservative, and appeared in March, 1915. It was published for eight years. In 1923 he was chosen President of the National A.P.A., and for many years was a member of its Bureau of Critics and reviewed hundreds of amateur writings. In his special field of the weird genre, Lovecraft achieved singular prominence in professional magazines and books.



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