June 20, 2024

Hankering for History

Hanker: To have a strong, often restless desire, in this case for–you guessed it–history!

The History of the First Multi-Page Newspaper

2 min read

Publick-Occurrences Sept 25 1690

Well, maybe not the first, but it was the first in the Americas, no doubt. Boston’s Publick Occurrences Both Forreign and Domestick had a very brief running–and by very brief I mean one issue. This first multi-page newspaper, published on September 25, 1690, was written by Richard Pierce and edited by Benjamin Harris. (No, before you Google it, NOT the man who would become the 23rd President of the United States of America.) This newspaper was established as a monthly paper, but with only one issue, it’s life was brief.

Before the first multi-page newspaper, articles were printed on single-paper newspapers called broadsides. Yep, it just clicked in your head. That is where The Broadside.org gets its name. If you aren’t familiar with Broadside.org, they run a website which tracks and aggregates the latest blogging and news about history shared by historians using Twitter. 

So why was this multi-page newspaper discontinued? 

Because the British said so.

The mutli-page newspaper was shut down by the British colonial authorities on Sept. 29th, 1690, who issued an order as follows:

Whereas some have lately presumed to Print and Disperse a Pamphlet, Entitled, Publick Occurrences, both Forreign and Domestick: Boston, Thursday, Septemb. 25th, 1690. Without the least Privity and Countenace of Authority. The Governour and Council having had the perusal of said Pamphlet, and finding that therein contained Reflections of a very high nature: As also sundry doubtful and uncertain Reports, do hereby manifest and declare their high Resentment and Disallowance of said Pamphlet, and Order that the same be Suppressed and called in; strickly forbidden any person or persons for the future to Set forth any thing in Print without License first obtained from those that are or shall be appointed by the Government to grant the same.

And that, my friends, is the history of the first multi-page newspaper!