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
New York Sun, The Sun and New York Press, The Sun, and The Weekly Sun, The Sun and New York Press, The New York Herald, and Evening Sun
The New York Sun debuted on September 3, 1833, becoming the first successful penny daily, popular with the city’s less affluent, working classes. Its publisher, Benjamin H. Day, emphasized local events, police court reports, and sports in his four-page morning newspaper. Advertisements, notably help-wanted ads, were plentiful. By 1834, the Sun had the largest circulation in the United States. Its rising popularity was attributed to its readers’ passion for the Sun's sensational and sometimes fabricated stories and the paper’s exaggerated coverage of sundry scandals. Its success was also the result of the efforts of the city’s ubiquitous newsboys, who the innovative Day had hired to hawk the paper. The Sun added a Saturday edition in 1836. A number of weekly and semiweekly titles were also published, such as the Weekly Sun (1851-69), which shares the same masthead as the Sun with "Weekly" appearing in the title ornament.
The paper’s true glory days began in 1868 when Charles A. Dana, former managing editor of the New York Tribune, became part owner and editor. Dana endeavored to apply the art of literary craftsmanship to the news. Under him, the Sun became known as “the newspaperman’s newspaper,” featuring editorials, society news, and human-interest stories. A Sunday edition was added in 1875 and, later, a Saturday supplement appeared, offering book notices, essays, and fictional sketches by Bret Harte, Henry James, and other well-known writers. In the 1880s, the paper’s size increased to eight pages and in 1887 the Evening Sun hit the streets in two editions: Wall Street and Night
On September 21, 1897, in response to a letter from eight-year-old reader Virginia O'Hanlon (“Papa says ‘If you see it in The Sun it’s so.’ Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?”), the paper published “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.” This opinion piece by veteran newspaperman Francis P. Church, insisting that Santa Claus “exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist,” caused an immediate sensation. It became one of the most famous editorials in newspaper publishing history; the Sun would reprint this editorial annually until 1949.
By 1910 the paper averaged some 15 pages, with Sunday editions triple that length. In 1916 entrepreneur Frank A. Munsey, owner of multiple other newspapers, purchased the Sun, and a series of mergers followed. In July 1916, the Sun briefly became the Sun and New York Press and then reverted to the Sun by the end of the month. In 1920, the Sun merged with the New York Herald, and the titles were combined to create the Sun and the New York Herald which appeared daily from February to September of 1920. In October 1920, the daily was split into the New York Herald and the Sun, absorbing the Evening Sun in the process. The Sun continued until January 5, 1950, when it merged with the New York World-Telegram and became the New York World-Telegram and the Sun. In 1966 that title became part of the World Journal Tribune; the latter folded the following year.
The Sun morgue of clipped newspaper articles is held by the Humanities and Social Sciences Library of the New York Public Library. The Library of Congress Prints and Photograph Division holds an estimated one million photographs, which were assembled by the Sun and subsequent papers between the 1890s and 1967, in the New York World-Telegram and the Sun Newspaper Photograph Collection.