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The Cleveland gazette. [volume] : (Cleveland, Ohio) 1883-1892
Place of publication:
Cleveland, Ohio
Geographic coverage:
  • Cleveland, Cuyahoga, Ohio  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
Gazette Pub. Co.
Dates of publication:
  • Vol. 1, no. 1 (Aug. 25, 1883)-10th year, no. 13 (Nov. 5, 1892).
  • English
  • African Americans--Ohio--Newspapers.
  • African Americans.--fast--(OCoLC)fst00799558
  • Cleveland (Ohio)--Newspapers.
  • Cuyahoga County (Ohio)--Newspapers.
  • Ohio--Cleveland.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01205966
  • Ohio--Cuyahoga County.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01202752
  • Ohio.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01205075
  • Also issued on microfilm from Library of Congress, Photoduplication Service.
sn 83035386
Succeeding Titles:
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The Cleveland gazette. [volume] August 25, 1883 , Image 1


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The Cleveland Gazette, The Gazette, and The Cleveland Gazette

Originally from Clarksburg, West Virginia, African American newspaper editor and politician Harry Clay Smith (sometimes "Henry Clay Smith" or "H.C. Smith") discovered journalism at the desegregated Central High School in Cleveland, OH. He started the Cleveland Gazette and the Gazette Publishing Company with John F. Lightfoot, John A. Holmes, and James H. Jackson in 1883. By the time it ended, the Gazette had become the longest running African American newspaper in Ohio and the nation.

The 1860s and 1870s saw a decrease in African American newspapers due to the Civil War and Reconstruction periods. With the increase in African American literacy and migration by the 1880s, the nation saw a rejuvenation of African American periodicals and newspapers protesting and fighting for African American civil rights. The Cleveland Gazette was one of the titles aimed at mobilizing Ohioan African American voters for anti-mob, anti-lynching, and desegregation causes.

The Cleveland Gazette was the first newspaper to revive the Cleveland Black press scene since the Aliened American folded in 1854. Written under the motto "In Union is Strength," the Cleveland Gazette was a six-columned, four-page, weekly paper. It promoted the Republican party and Smith's political agenda. In its inaugural issue on August 25, 1883, the Cleveland Gazette stated that it was a "stern advocate of the People's Rights" and stood for "absolute impartiality in newspaper treatment." It rallied for "young colored voters [to] arise … get what is justly your due or make someone feel your weight." The paper wanted to serve and receive support from African Americans in Cuyahoga County but also the state. In November 1892, Smith left the partnership of the Gazette Publishing Company. He became the paper's editor and proprietor, and he changed the title to the Gazette.

It is unclear how many subscribers the Gazette had during its tenure. Before its name change, the paper reported "our circulation is 3,000 and it is no reason why it should not be 5,000 by April 1" in its March 20, 1886 issue. The paper still had not reached its goal as stated in 1887 issues. In the January 13, 1900 issue, the Gazette boasted that it was "the oldest … and has the largest bona fide circulation, double that of any journal in the interest of Afro-Americans, published in the state of Ohio." In the January 3, 1942 issue, the Gazette would later report that it had reached "thousands of readers in all parts of the country." According to "The Ohio Black Press in the 19th Century" digital project, the Gazette had an estimated circulation between 5,000 and 18,000 in its lifetime.

Smith was heavily involved in Ohioan politics during the paper's height of circulation. He served in many positions for the state government including three terms in the Ohio legislature. He was a prominent figure in the fight for the Ohio's Civil Rights Law in 1894 and anti-lynching law in 1896. The paper became a mouthpiece for his political beliefs and was supported by Republican party contributions. The Gazette included advertisements for African American and White businesses, local event notices, sensational news, poetry, and fiction. It was also attentive to local, regional, and national news regarding African American inequality. The paper published articles against the Democratic party and about Civil Rights cases, lynching, and tokenism in Washington, D.C., New Deal programs, and much more. The Gazette and Smith had positive relationships with other state, regional, and national newspapers like the Cincinnati Union, the Virginia Lancet, and the Washington Bee. However, Smith's passionate investments in his newspaper and general political interests made it the rival of other papers like the Indianapolis Freeman, Cleveland Plain Dealer, and Cleveland Journal. His competitors often published criticism of him and his paper, and he did the same.

As Smith's political career and health waned, so did the reputation of the Gazette. From the 1900s to the 1940s, African American publishing increased creating more newspaper competition in Ohio. The Gazette remained strong up until Smith's death on December 10, 1941. Talbert White became the acting editor. The paper appeared to be suspended until the Cleveland Publishing Company bought it in 1944. On September 16, 1944, the paper, "an independent, unbiased, non-partisan news medium," was renamed the Cleveland Gazette. It was expanded to 12 pages and was under new leadership: George W. Brown, managing editor; Louis J. Jones, advertising manager; Jack L. Oliver, circulation and promotion manager, and Owen LeRoy Heggs, city editor. It was published by the Publishing Company under Brown and a new city editor, June Williams, until May 20, 1945.

Note: A portion of the issues digitized for this newspaper were microfilmed as part of the Miscellaneous Negro newspapers microfilm collection, a 12-reel collection containing issues of African American newspapers published in the U.S. throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. Creation of the microfilm project was sponsored by the Committee on Negro Studies of the American Council of Learned Societies in 1947. For more information on the microfilm collection, see: Negro Newspapers on Microfilm, a Selected List (Library of Congress), published in 1953. While this collection contains selections from more than 150 U.S. newspapers titles, for further coverage, view a complete list of all digitized African American titles available in the Chronicling America collection.

Provided by: Library of Congress, Washington, DC