30 July, 2006

In 1887, The Morning Press said it began in 1868

At the right is a short article from the Sept. 20, 1887 edition, page 2, of The Morning Press, on the occasion of an upgrade in the format and typeset (the `number') of the newspaper. This quote is evidence that the birthdate of today's Santa Barbara News-Press is in May, 1868, and neither 1855 (as currently claimed by that newspaper) nor 1863 (as was claimed for many years, starting roughly in May of 1889). The article above is in agreement with the WPA guide of 1941 shown in an earlier blog post here. The article is also evidence that the News-Press is not the oldest newspaper in Southern California; it appears that the Bakersfield Californian is the oldest.

In case the image is unreadable, here is
a transcription:

The Santa Barbara Press was established
in May, 1868, as a weekly, and for a short
time was published under the title of the
"Post." The first daily was issued
Sep. 9th, 1872. It was our intention
to issue the enlarged number on the
fifteenth anniversary of the daily, but
non-arrival of the material prevented. We
believe the Press is the second oldest
paper in Southern California.

The Morning Press was the successor to The Santa Barbara Press; the name change actually occurred on the date of the short article above. The Morning Press became the `Press' part of the Santa Barbara News-Press in 1937 as the final step in a takeover by the Santa Barbara News, which was a younger newspaper.

I have made some progress on what Neal Graffy called the `1863 error,' which is the change in the birthdate of The Santa Barbara Post, the progenitor of the Press, from 1868 to 1863. Starting on Sep. 20, 1887 the Morning Press put `Established May, 1868' in its masthead, which is a bit hard to read in the image at left. But on about May 17, 1889, the phrase in the masthead changed to `Established May, 1863'. The shift may have been induced by a mistaken calculation based on the assumption of one volume number per year for the Press. In fact, starting in 1882, the Press used two volume numbers per year, causing the volume number to advance to 26 by 1889; mistakenly subtracting 26, under the assumption that there was one volume each year, from 1889 yields an apparent, but wrong, starting date of 1863.

Starting on Dec. 15, 1894, the founding date of 1863 was placed on the front page of the paper, just under the paper title.


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