Two weeks ago (coincidentally, the same day I went on my paper route), I visited the New York Historical Society library to view several photo collections of newspaper boys in the early 1900’s.  Luckily, I had blocked out my entire afternoon for my visit, as I ended up stumbling upon so many interesting materials while I was there.  Although many of my findings didn’t necessarily feed into the actual vein of my project, I left feeling as though my project ideas were newly cushioned and supported by many layers of supplemental information.  I attribute this support in part to the “aura” (slight nod to Benjamin) of handling newspapers, photos and books published nearly 200 years ago.  The experience reconnected me to a central theme of our entire project:  physicality of media.  Some of these highlights are below:

This is a published copy of an 18-page letter to the editor of the New York Post (then called the New York Evening Post).  The letter was  What struck me most about this letter was the author’s incredibly articulate argument of a particular story’s tone.  From the letter: “…For many years a constant reader of your valuable journal, I can truthfully state that I do not now recollect an occasion on which I have materially differed from its expressed views on subjects of free trade, finance or national economy.  All the more I am surprised at seeing an article like the one signed “Consumer” and headed “The Sugar Monopoly” found a space in the columns of the Evening Post of March 12″  (J.O. Donner, 1823).

Both of these images are from a book written in 1925 entitled “The New York Evening Post:  Founded in 1801 by Alexander Hamilton.”  A historical history book!  Its pages are filled with the Post’s history pre-1925…and, most delightfully, illustrated images of New York locations, people, and drafts of the paper itself.  If you look at the caption on the first photo, it reads “Shantytown, Upper Fifth Avenue, in 1844, when the plan for a large uptown park, now Central Park, was first proposed in the Evening Post.”  Apparently the Post invented Central Park, among other things.  Nonetheless, it the images are endearing and thought-provoking.  The second image is an illustration of the Post’s new headquarters, which were under construction at the time this book was written.  This photo’s caption reads:  “This seventeen-story building, now under construction on West Street, will be the home of the new Evening Post.  It will be ready in May, 1926.”  This book was particularly helpful as I thought about the ‘then and now’ aspect of the physical New York newspaper…since it contained information and images about the paper’s printing locations, the vehicles used in transportation, and the breadth of the newspaper’s reach.

This was perhaps my favorite find:  a newspaper for newsboys.  I actually read this entire issue; it was incredibly entertaining.  Printed every Monday, in contained recipes, theatre reviews, feature articles, fairy tales, museum ads, etc.  It’s masthead reads:   “THE NEWSBOY – HE COMES – THE HERALD OF A NOISY WORLD – NEWS FROM ALL NATIONS LUMBERING AT HIS BACK.”  I love the image this provokes; it reminded me of the conversation with Ronnie about why his job of delivering newspapers is socially important.

Finally…the Lewis Hine collection of Newsboy photographs.  The stars must have aligned to lead me to this collection; each photo is paired with a small piece of paper on which the location of the newsboy in each photo is typed (with barely-legible typewriter words).  This gives me “mapping points” to use in conjunction with my project:  I’ll map a selection of newsboys – carriers of the physical medium – around New York City.  Already, I’ve visited some of these location and snapped photographs of newspaper hawkers (guys wearing mesh vests trying to hand you free papers) for a comparative mapping aspect.  A small selection of my findings are below:

Newsboys Francis and Joseph….West 59th Street, near Columbus Circle

Newsboys on Frankfork Street near the World Building.

Newsgirl Lillie Mendleston, on Warren Street.

Again…this is a tiny percentage of my findings during my Thursday morning/afternoon at the archival library, but aside from capturing a lot of good potential media to post on URT, I had a fantastic time exploring!