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The McDowell times. [volume] : (Keystone, W. Va.) 1904-1941
Place of publication:
Keystone, W. Va.
Geographic coverage:
  • Keystone, McDowell, West Virginia  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
M.T. Whittico & R.W. White
Dates of publication:
  • Began in 1904; ceased in 1941?
  • English
  • African Americans--West Virginia--Newspapers.
  • African Americans.--fast--(OCoLC)fst00799558
  • McDowell County (W. Va.)--Newspapers.
  • West Virginia--McDowell County.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01213004
  • West Virginia.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01205316
  • "Colored."
  • Afro-American.
  • Archived issues are available in digital format from the Library of Congress Chronicling America online collection.
  • Description based on: Vol. 10, no. 10 (May 9, 1913).
  • Preceded by: McDowell herald (non-extant).
  • Publisher: Whittico & Hill, <May 30, 1913-November 1, 1918>.
sn 86092050
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The McDowell times. [volume] May 9, 1913 , Image 1


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The McDowell Times

Founded in Keystone, in McDowell County, West Virginia in 1904, the McDowell Times served as a leading African-American newspaper in the state. Published weekly amidst the coalfields of southern West Virginia, the Times offers a unique glimpse into the state's laboring African-American communities, its Republican politics, and the intersection of race and class in the coalfields.

The driving force behind the McDowell Times was its editor, Matthew Thomas (stylized M.T.) Whittico. Born in Virginia immediately following the Civil War, Whittico attended Lincoln University, an all-black college in Pennsylvania, and subsequently taught school in his home state. Around the turn of the century, Whittico moved to Keystone, and in 1904 he purchased a local newspaper and renamed it the McDowell Times. Lamenting that the "white press champions the cause of all people except the Negro," the Times was published "in the interest of the Negro Race-His Social and Political Rights."

The Times offered the usual slate of local and national news to its readers, alongside editorials, advertisements, church affairs, personal news, and more. Yet the newspaper, which belonged to the National Negro Press Association, paid especial attention to news and stories that concerned African-Americans. The Times kept tabs on local black fraternal and civic organizations, African Methodist Episcopal congregations, events sponsored by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and more. It carried news stories that reflected African-Americans in a positive light, and it chided racist and segregationist policies.

Like many African-Americans in this era, Whittico was a staunch Republican, and the McDowell Times reflected its editor's politics. Whittico used his publishing pulpit to espouse Republican politics to African-Americans in the county and region. McDowell County was unique in West Virginia, because of its sizeable African-American population, many of whom labored in the coal fields. With no small pride, the Times declared, "Negroes are very important political factors in this county...[they] are more thoroughly organized than in any county south of New York." The Times played no small part in this organization, enjoying a circulation of nearly 5,000. It boasted that "90 percent [of black voters] will support men and measured indorsed [sic] by their leaders and supported by the McDowell Times." The political clout of the county's African-American community was evidenced by Whittico's election to Keystone's City Council, and Whittico's growing importance to the Republican Party was evidenced by his service on the party's state executive committee.

Whittico's Republican leanings extended to issues of labor as well. Despite growing labor and Socialist movements in the early 20th century that decried the abuses of coal companies and the working conditions of miners, Whittico proved sympathetic to the coal industry. He gave positive accounts of his visits to coal mines and coal towns, and the Times allied itself with local coal operators.

M.T. Whittico kept the McDowell Times flourishing until his death in June 1939. The creator and driving force behind the newspaper, it is perhaps unsurprising that the Times ceased publication within a few years' of its influential editor's passing. The paper still serves as a reminder of the importance of the African-American community in McDowell County and southern West Virginia.

Provided by: West Virginia University