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Washington Star Records

 Collection — external hard drive : DIG_BACKUP
Identifier: 061

Scope and Contents

The papers of the Washington Star consist of a variety of formats. These materials were gathered over 130 years of the newspaper’s publication in Washington, D.C. The collection includes information on the day-to-day operations, leadership changes, labor disputes, marketing reports, historical materials, and other topical files and reports.

Materials in the collection include: correspondence; financial records; newsletters; newspapers; clippings; advertising and marketing reports; legal documents; photographs; negatives; slides; scrapbooks; audiocassettes; videocassettes; awards; certificates; and programs.

Dates

  • 1852-1982

Creator

Language of Materials

English

Restrictions

The Library is licensed by the copyright holder, The Washington Post, to sell reproductions of Star staff photographs and to permit their use. Because the Library and the Star do not hold copyright for wire service and certain other images in the collection, researchers must obtain permission from the copyright holder for reproductions of those images.

Biographical / Historical

The first issue of the Washington Star, then known as The Daily Evening Star, was published as a four-page daily on December 16, 1852. The daily’s founder and first editor was Captain Joseph Borrows Tate, a printer and officer in the Washington Militia. Tate believed that Washington newspapers published at the time were mouthpieces for the major political parties, and wanted to publish an independent newspaper “free from party trammels and sectarian influences, [that]… will preserve a strict neutrality.” Tate sold the paper within six months to William H. Hope and William Douglass Wallach; who became the sole owner by 1854. In its early years the paper fought for city improvements and although its editor was a traditional southern democrat, he and his newspaper supported Lincoln’s fight to preserve the Union.

In 1867, a three-man consortium, Crosby S. Noyes, Samuel H. Kauffmann, and George W. Adams, acquired the paper. In the late 19th century the Star championed many civic improvements in D.C. including public works improvements; a free public library; the construction of Union Station; and the replacement of Potomac River marshes with the Tidal Basin and Potomac Park. Harry P. Godwin became the newspaper’s first city editor in 1881 and by 1890 the paper included an associate editor, managing editor, and wire news editor.

In 1881 the Star moved from 11th and D Streets, NW site to a new location at 11th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, NW. The Star also purchased a corner building at the same site and by 1900 staff moved into the remodeled corner structure. By 1921 the Star had erected a 10-story annex on the 11th Street NW side known as the Star building. The paper began publishing the Sunday Star in 1905. Samuel H. Kauffmann died in 1906 followed by Crosby S. Noyes in 1908. Descendants of the Noyes, Kauffmann, and Adams families continued to own and run the paper until the 1960s.

In 1937 the Star became the first Washington paper to own a radio station, WMAL, and the first paper to own a television station, WMAL-TV, in 1947. During World War II, four Star reporters covered the news overseas, and it published an overseas edition for GIs.

In 1952 the Star celebrated its 100th birthday at the peak of its influence and circulation with parties and special publications. The Star was characterized by the public as a local newspaper that emphasizing the coverage of local issues, service to the community, and support of civic causes. In 1959, the Star moved from its historic home to a newly constructed five-story plant at 2nd Street and Virginia Avenue SE.

By the mid-1960s the Star was considered a conservative paper. Circulation and reputation trailed behind the Washington Post. In 1972 the Star purchased the Washington Daily News, one of the few remaining competing newspapers in the city. For a short period of time following the merger, various names for the paper appeared on the masthead. Eventually by the late 1970s the paper settled on the Washington Star. In 1975, Houston, Texas banker Joseph L. Albritton bought substantial shares of stock in Star Communications, Inc. from the three controlling families for $28.5 million. The Star’s financial troubles continued and in 1978, Albritton sold the Evening Star Newspaper Co. to Time, Inc. for $20 million. Time Inc. invested over $80 million in the newspaper but on August 7, 1981 the paper ceased operations and published its last issue.

Extent

169 Boxes

87 Linear feet

Arrangement

Series 1 Historic Editions, 1853-1981 This series contains front pages and entire editions of the Washington Star featuring significant events in the history of the Star, the nation, and Washington, D.C.

Series 2: Publications, 1884-1982 This series contains copies of books, pamphlets, fliers, and other materials published by the Star. Some of the files contain printing invoices and financial records, as well. Also included are published materials used as reference tools by staff. Files are arranged alphabetically by title.

Series 3: Star Index, 1894-1904 The Star Index is made up of cards containing subject headings indexed from late 19th and early 20th century editions of the Star. Subject headings and names are filed in alphabetical order.

Series 4: Advertising, 1889-1981 This series contains advertising materials, correspondence, reports, and fliers. Files are arranged alphabetically by subject.

Series 5: General Operations, 1868-1981 This series contains General Operations files on the day-to-day running of the offices of the Star. The materials include correspondence; circulation; promotion; microfilming and printing materials; invoices; contracts; and other materials. Files are arranged alphabetically by subject.

Series 6: Clipping Files This series is made up of clippings, arranged alphabetically by subject, used as reference files by the staff at the Star.

Series 7: Labor, 1890-1980 This series is made up of contracts, information on strikes, employee awards, and employee benefits. The files are arranged alphabetically.

Series 8: Leadership, 1853-1979 This series is made up of correspondence and financial records of both the owners and the editors of the Star. Included in this series are the records of the Kauffmanns, the Noyes, Jim Daly, and Joseph Allbritton. Also included are records of the Estate of Jessie C. Kauffmann. The files are arranged alphabetically.

Series 9: The Family Star, 1960-1971 “The Family Star” was a newsletter written and published by and for the employees of the Star. It includes stories about employee awards, changes in benefits, and staff changes. The newsletters are arranged chronologically.

Series 10: BRI/Marketing Reports, 1966-1980 BRI Marketing Reports were commissioned by the Star to track the spending habits of subscribers of the major D.C. papers based on race, gender, age, and economic status.

Series 11: Libel Cases, 1888-1977 This series contains correspondence, legal documents, and testimonies relating to various Libel Cases brought against the Star, chief among these being Ashford v. Star. The files are arranged alphabetically.

Series 12: Buildings, 1902-1959 This series contains clippings, correspondence, and other materials related to the various buildings that housed the Star. The files are arranged alphabetically.

Series 13: History, 1851-1981 This series includes records used to write a historic edition of the newspaper for the centennial and other anniversaries. The materials include clippings, correspondence, chronologies, story copies, addresses, and copies of historic editions. The files are arranged alphabetically.

Series 14: Awards and Certificates This series contains awards and certificates won by individuals, specific departments, and the Star.

Series 15: Scrapbooks/Guest Registers, 1894-1975 The materials in this series are arranged chronologically. They include scrapbooks of clippings related to the Star and other historic events in Washington, D.C.

Series 16: Photographs, 1850-1981 This series contains photographs and reprints of events at the Star, historic front pages, and individuals who worked at the Star. It also includes promotional images, photographic plates, and scenes around D.C. The files are arranged alphabetically.

Series 17: Slides, 1871-1981 This series contains slides used in various marketing presentations, images taken at historic events, scenes from around D.C. and other states, and images of Star staff while at work.

Series 18: Audio/Visual, 1971-1981 The audio/visual materials in this series are made up of audiocassettes and videocassettes of promotional materials, advertisements, radio shows, and Star employees on various programs.

Series 19: Competing Newspapers, 1968-1977 This series contains correspondence, marketing reports, and publishing statistics from various newspapers from around the World. The files are arranged alphabetically.

Series 20: Ephemera, 1865-1969 This series contains programs, memorabilia, postcards, sheet music, and the official seals of the Star.

Series 21: Oversized Documents, 1858-1981 This series contains oversized photographs, advertising materials, newsletters, and ephemera.

Series 22: Star Staff Negatives and Prints, 1899-1966 This series was maintained by the Star for reference purposes. It is made up of negatives and prints of staff portraits, company events, family portraits, and other events covered by the Star. Many of these images were used in staff publications. The files are arranged alphabetically by subject or staff member name.

Custodial History

After the close of the paper in 1981, all assets were absorbed by the Washington Post, who transferred custodial rights for the collection and the photograph morgue to the Library in 1983. The agreement between the Washington Post and the Library made the library a publication rights granter.

Processing Information

Standard archival processing procedures were applied to the collection when it was processed.

Title
Washington Star 061_001
Subtitle
An inventory of Washington Star at DC Public Library
Author
Finding aid prepared by Ryan P. Semmes and Faye Haskins.
Date
2006-09
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Undetermined
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
English

Revision Statements

  • 2019-10-25: Finding aid revised to be more evergreen.

Repository Details

Part of the The People's Archive, MLK Library Repository

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