Search America's historic newspaper pages from 1789-1963 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
The New Age (Butte, Mont.)
The New Age, published from May 30, 1902, to February 1903, represented the interests of the “colored” residents of Butte, Montana. In 1900, approximately 250 African Americans lived and worked in the copper mining metropolis, the largest city between Minneapolis and Spokane, Washington. Beneath the newspaper banner were the words: “Published in the Interests of Colored People.” True to its motto, on the front page of Volume 1, No. 1, there appeared a regular column entitled “Women’s Club News,” which highlighted music and readings conducted at the African American Woman’s Club of Butte. The same edition also included an article about the failure of Congress to address the “race” problem in America and another article about race relations in the Danish West Indies. A front-page editorial decried the lynching of “colored” people in Lansing, Texas, with a vivid description of the victim’s eyes being burned out with flaming sticks. In the inaugural edition the editors, John W. Duncan and Chris Dorsey, declared their intention to establish a statewide system of reporters dedicated to bringing the news of the African American community throughout Montana to readers in Butte.
Five major railroads and its status as the economic center of Montana had contributed to the establishment of an African American presence in Butte, creating a demand for a journalistic voice in the community. Two African American churches, the Bethel Baptist and the African Methodist Episcopal, were located in the same neighborhood as the newspaper’s offices, just south of the commercial district. In its first issue, the New Age proclaimed: “We embark this journalistic canoe, set sail, aft the truth, fore the facts, to the wind of public sentiment, hoping not to get wrecked upon the financial shoals…” In a subsequent issue, the editors declared: “It shall [be] the purpose of the New Age, while we are not here by any means for political purposes…to awaken colored voters of this state to the realization of the fact that as a unit we can be a most potent factor in the political affairs of the state…” Irrespective of the editors’ good intentions, the New Age quickly became embroiled in state politics, siding with Democratic candidates in the heated election of 1902, during which the Democrats lost the Governor’s office, the state House of Representatives, and U.S. Congressional seats. In the competition between powerful mining interests, the paper sided with Amalgamated (Anaconda Company) against United Copper magnate, F. Augustus Heinze. Unfortunately, Amalgamated used its newly won political power to shut down the entire state economy in the fall of 1903 in order to force the hand of its copper mining rival Heinze. The newspaper’s Democratic editorial support and the fact that it did not cover the election results may have contributed to its demise.
For nine months, Duncan and Dorsey published the four-page, six column, 17 x 24 inch weekly newspaper, focusing on the African American community. However, in late 1902 Dorsey left Montana to study law in Honolulu, and soon afterward, in February 1903, the New Age closed its doors, a victim of the declining number of African Americans in Butte and Montana at large.
Provided by: Montana Historical Society; Helena, MT