On June 17, 1794 -- exactly 225 years ago today -- the first issue of The Lancaster Journal was published by William Hamilton and Henry Willcocks, who worked out of Euclid’s Head tavern, at the site of the current LNP|LancasterOnline building in downtown Lancaster.
Though it wasn’t the first newspaper in the county, it was the first local English-language weekly that lasted more than a few months (many newspapers of that era were printed in German).
It’s also the earliest newspaper to which the current newspaper traces its lineage.
LancasterHistory’s upcoming exhibit, “Not Too Rash, Yet Not Fearful: 225 Years of Journalism in Lancaster County,” delves into the history of LNP in particular, and the history of local newspapers in general. In addition to a series of historic front pages from various Lancaster newspapers, the exhibit includes text, photographs and illustrations, and a selection of artifacts and objects curated by LNP archivist Kim Gomoll and LancasterHistory Vice President Robin Sarratt.
When you’re learning about history, simple objects can teach powerful lessons. Even items from the recent past can bring history to life in a way that written words just can’t manage.
Here, then, are nine objects from the upcoming exhibit that tell the newspapers’ story in a different way.
1. Reporter IDs
John C. Haus was a former reporter for the Lancaster New Era. These press badges and ID cards, some dating to the time of World War II, identified him as a legitimate member of the press.
2. Newsroom photo
This image of the New Era office, circa 1940s, includes reporter John C. Haus in the center of the image. The office was at that time located in the Darmstaetter’s Building at 35-37 N. Queen St.
3. Paste-up rollers
In what could be described as “analog layout,” workers in the pre-press department of the newspaper used rollers such as these to paste together pages, constructing them column-by-column, prior to the pages being converted into plates for the press.
4. Metallic plate
This particular type of plate was used in the printing process between 1976 and 1988. An image was transferred to the plate using a photographic negative and ultraviolet light. On the press, ink would adhere to the developed areas.
5. Lead bar
This heavy lead bar, which bears part of the Intelligencer Journal masthead, is typical of the “hot type” process, in which linotype machines would pour molten lead into molds, producing lead bars for each line of type in a column. The lines were assembled into pages to be inked, then melted down after printing to be poured and molded again.
6. Test plate
This test plate was used to make sure exposure and other settings in the printing process were correct, and to make sure the pages coming off the press would look the way they were expected to.
7. Wire cutters
When newsboys received their papers for delivery, the papers were tied together with wire into large bundles. The carriers used these wire cutters to snip open their bundles prior to embarking on their route.
8. Delivery bag
Bags such as this one were used by carriers to hold newspapers while walking or biking along their delivery routes.
The Steinman family has been instrumental in the history of journalism in Lancaster County, but before Andrew Jackson Steinman entered the newspaper business in 1866, the Steinmans were known for their hardware store on West King Street in Lancaster. This ledger from the store shows detailed records of day-to-day transactions in the 19th century.
Bonus: Classic front page
The LancasterHistory exhibit includes large reproductions of 26 front pages from Lancaster newspapers representing the last 225 years. Some show events of national importance – the moon landing, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Others reveal subtle clues about their times – an 1814 page, for example, that’s dominated by ads for “miracle cures,” most of which were booze. Taken together, the 26 pages illustrate the obvious changes in news judgment (deciding which stories merit being placed on the front page), as well as the evolution of what a newspaper front page looks like. Moving through the decades, the pages start as walls of tiny type, then woodcut illustrations are added, then photographs, then color printing, then modern infographics and design – like the newspaper LNP produces today.
LNP is celebrating its 225th anniversary this year. This timeline highlights important compa…
‘Not Too Rash, Yet Not Fearful:’ 225 Years of Journalism in Lancaster County
Exhibit open to the public Mon.-Sat., 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m., June 20 – Sept. 7.
General admission tickets are $15 for adults, $13 for seniors, $8 for ages 11-17 and free for children 10 and under. Tickets include admission to this exhibit, as well as exhibits in four other galleries, plus a tour of President James Buchanan’s Wheatland and a viewing of the new film “Buchanan’s America: A Nation Divided.”
LancasterHistory. 230 N. President Ave.