History of Early Amateur Journalism in Tennessee


AMATEUR JOURNALISM FLOURISHED early in Tennessee, mainly in Memphis, and a local association was formed in 1877 called the Bluff City A.P.A., but the coming of yellow fever to the city in 1878 ended, for a time, all amateur activity. Another Memphis A.P.A., organized in 1913, published a quarterly official organ known as the Memphis Amateur Journal. Chattanooga had a club in 1901 with William C. Headrick as President. In 1901 a State association was formed, Alfred T. Levine, President, and Edgar M. Hayes, Official Editor. It held only one meeting.


In 1870 in Morristown, M. M. Murwell issued the Silver Scepter (or part of the time the Silver Sceptre); it contained principally fiction with a column on amateur affairs. Harry F. Griscom was one of the first amateur journalists in Tennessee, publishing Now and Then in Chattanooga in 1873. The next year Memphis became an active amateur center, and continued as such until the death of a number of editors by yellow fever in 1878. Junius W. C. Wright had a prominent part in the amateur publishing enterprise, being associated with a number of others in issuing various journals. With W. B. Russell he published the Gem of the South in 1874. Later with Leopold Gronauer he issued the Quill, and with W. B. Oakley, Leisure Moments. Other papers of the period were the Chickasaw, edited by Henry E. Legler; the Leader, George Bradford, editor; the Bluff City Boys, S. B. Mook, editor; the Amateur Sun, W. R. Jackson, editor; Our Herald, edited by W. L. Surprise, who also published a number of small amateur books. Wayland H. Smith, of Chattanooga, was a talented poet of the time. In Knoxville in 1877 S. R. Rodgers published the Southern Spark. In Big Creek, Joseph L. Bible issued the Excelsior, and J. T. Jones the Star.


In 1880 Miss Birdie Walker issued the Girls' Own paper from Knoxville, and in 1882, in Sewanee, S. G. Smith published Vade Mecum. A. T. Levine issued another Vade Mecum in 1901, and Edgar M. Hayes published X Rays in Nashville. Louis M. Starring, a blind boy, issued the Reflector from Grandview in 1904, and later South. In 1908 H. Blumberg published the Dilettante, and the Vagrant from Loudon, George Kirkpatrick the Tennessean from Memphis, and William Headrick the Dixie Amateur from Chattanooga.



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