The Library of Congress

Search America's historic newspaper pages from 1836-1922 or use the U.S. Newspaper Directory to find information about American newspapers published between 1690-present. Chronicling America is sponsored jointly by the National Endowment for the Humanities external link and the Library of Congress. Learn more

Pages Available: 7,892,471

In 1913, prominent Philadelphia magazine publisher Cyrus Curtis turned his interest toward the newspaper business and purchased the Public Ledger with intentions of making it the “greatest American daily.” Curtis then launched the Evening Public Ledger in 1914 for middle-class readers in Philadelphia. Several years later, he purchased the Evening Telegraph to acquire its Associated Press franchise and merged it with the Evening Public Ledger.

The Evening Public Ledger appeared in multiple editions every day except Sunday and included local news, sports, entertainment, and women’s columns. Stock market information from Philadelphia, New York, and London and the society pages highlighting engagements among the city’s prominent families represented significant features. The intended audience was conservative, middle-class Philadelphians, and the paper was more entertaining than its morning counterpart, the Public Ledger. The Evening Public Ledger’s objective journalism and its style of writing helped make it standard daily reading for the upper-middle class in Philadelphia. Much space was devoted to financial information and to advertisers, with many local businesses purchasing full-page ads. In an effort to appeal to Philadelphia’s Italian community, which was the second largest in the nation, the Evening Public Ledger published an Italian--language article with a dateline from Rome several times a week. The paper also included obituaries, classifieds, and later a cartoon column titled “Scrapple” in each edition.

The Evening Public Ledger soon became one of the most widely read dailies in Philadelphia, second only to the Evening Bulletin. The combined circulation of the Ledgers reached 700,000 in the 1920s, and Curtis bought high-speed presses to accommodate as many as six editions a day. By the 1920s, Curtis commissioned the construction of a building at Independence Square costing $15 million to house his newspaper publishing efforts.

Curtis directed the Evening Public Ledger for most of its existence, attempting to duplicate with newspapers his success with magazines. He served as the chairman of the editorial board in the paper’s earliest years with P.H. Whaley as the executive editor and John C. Martin, who married Curtis’ second wife’s daughter, as the general business manager. Curtis consolidated the city’s numerous papers by also purchasing the Philadelphia Press and the North American, both of which eventually folded or were absorbed by his Public Ledger. Curtis later purchased the Philadelphia Inquirer, positioning it as a competitor of the Public Ledger, but the Inquirer absorbed the latter upon Curtis’ death in 1934.

While the Public Ledger ceased publication, the Evening Public Ledger would continue for almost a decade before being purchased by Robert Cresswell in 1941 and folding in 1942 after a court-ordered liquidation. The last editorial board for the Evening Public Ledger consisted of new owner Robert Cresswell as publisher; Charles Munroe Morrison as editor; Harry E. Nason, Jr. as executive editor; and Edwin J. Pollock as managing editor.

Provided by: Penn State University Libraries; University Park, PA