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Southern standard. : (McMinnville, Tenn.) 1879-current
Place of publication:
McMinnville, Tenn.
Geographic coverage:
  • McMinnville, Warren, Tennessee  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
Standard Pub. Co.
Dates of publication:
  • Began in 1879?
Three times a week July 29, 1977-
  • English
  • McMinnville (Tenn.)--Newspapers.
  • Tennessee--McMinnville.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01276404
  • Tennessee--Warren County.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01215071
  • Warren County (Tenn.)--Newspapers.
  • Archived issues are available in digital format from the Library of Congress Chronicling America online collection.
  • Description based on: Nov. 22, 1879.
  • Publishers: A.M. Burney & Co., <1880>-1882 ; Southern Standard Pub. Co., 1882-1885; R.M. Reams, 1885-<1919> ; R.M. Reams & Gordon Gribble, <1920>-1924; Thos. C. Price, <1924>; Southern Print. Co., <1926>-1964; J.R. White, 1964-1974; Standard Pub. Co., 1974-
sn 86090474
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Southern standard. February 21, 1880 , Image 1


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Southern Standard

In October 1879, Rufus P. Baker established the Southern Standard in McMinnville, Tennessee. The paper appeared each Saturday and had an annual subscription fee of $1.00. Baker hired Dr. John R. Paine as editor, but the arrangement was short-lived, and after only a few months both men had left the paper. In early 1880, Professor Alfred Moore Burney, a retired president of the Cumberland Female College, became the Standard's new owner and editor. Colleagues at the neighboring Manchester Guardian approved of the appointment and welcomed Burney "to the journalistic ranks, knowing that he will honor the profession." They went on to say: "We feel that in him we shall have an able and honorable coadjutor who will never lower the standard of the profession .... " To affirm the Standard's political stance, Burney introduced the following motto to the paper's masthead: "Democratic in Politics: Pure in Literature and Progress in Southern Interest".

Burney remained at the Southern Standard for only a couple of years. In January 1882, printing was suspended briefly after Burney announced that he was leaving the newspaper business. In February, Dr. James Brown Ritchey and Mr. William Carroll Womack purchased the paper, and Frank Spurlock became editor. The new owners chose to emphasize farming concerns, adopting a new motto, "Devoted to agriculture interests of Warren and adjoining counties." In September 1882, Radford M. Reams and Horace P. Newton purchased equal interest in the Standard with Dr. Ritchey and formed the Standard Publishing Company. Ritchey and Reams were co-editors until 1885 when Reams became the sole owner; he served as editor of the Standard for a total of 41 years.

Under Reams' editorship, the Southern Standard prominently spotlighted rural economic issues and farming techniques. The newspaper provided vital information about ongoing efforts to bring new technologies to the area, such as the expansion of telephone lines. For example, in April 1884, a front-page article informed readers that since telephone lines were being added in nearby counties, if McMinnville could find a dozen subscribers it too would also receive telephone service.

In 1885, the Southern Standard began publishing a section on its front page entitled "Town and County," which highlighted the activities and interests of the community. This section provided details about visits from out-of-town relatives, social activities, and other minutiae. The paper also published short stories, poems, and political news.

Despite its Democratic leanings, the Southern Standard was, for its time, relatively objective in its views. But political bias was not completely absent from its pages. During the 1884 presidential election, the newspaper published a scathing editorial (November 1) in which it called for financial reform in political campaigns because, "parties and party leaders are becoming so corrupt and unfair in conducting political campaigns that it is becoming alarming and dangerous to American institutes and American liberties." Reams was also known for his colorful editorials in strong support of Prohibition and was recognized "more than any other man in having saloons voted out of McMinnville."

When Reams ceased publishing the paper in 1924, Tom C. Price bought the publishing company. In 1925, a fire in the Southern Standard building destroyed the plant, editorial offices, and files. Price moved operations to a new location. The paper has continued publication to the present day ( ).

Provided by: University of Tennessee