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Der liberale beobachter und Berks, Montgomery und Schuylkill Caunties allgemeine anzeiger. : ([Reading, Pa.) 1839-1864
Alternative Titles:
  • Liberale beobachter
Place of publication:
[Reading, Pa.
Geographic coverage:
  • Reading, Berks, Pennsylvania  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
Arnold Puwelle]
Dates of publication:
  • Jahrg. 1, Nr. 1 (10. Sept. 1839)-Jahrg. 25, Nr. 36 (3. May 1864).
  • German
  • German Americans--Pennsylvania--Newspapers.
  • German Americans.--fast--(OCoLC)fst00941308
  • Pennsylvania--Reading--fast--(OCoLC)fst01202803
  • Pennsylvania.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01204598
  • Reading (Pa.)--Newspapers.
  • Archived issues are available in digital format from the Library of Congress Chronicling America online collection.
  • Imprint recorded in Arndt & Olson. German lang. press.
  • In German.
  • Issue for <3. May 1864> called also <ganze Nr. 1289>.
  • Published also: Liberale Beobachter, eine Zeitung für Politik, Tagesneuigkeiten, Literatur, Unterhaltung u.s.w.
  • Title recorded in Rossell, G.E. Pa. newspapers.
sn 87052123
Succeeding Titles:
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Der liberale beobachter und Berks, Montgomery und Schuylkill Caunties allgemeine anzeiger. September 10, 1839 , Image 1


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Der Liberale Beobachter und Berks, Montgomery und Schuylkill Caunties allgemeine Anzeiger

In September 1839, during the twilight of America’s Jacksonian period, Der Liberale Beobachter und Berks, Montgomery und Schuylkill Caunties allegemeine Anzeiger (“The Liberal Observer and General Gazette of Berks, Montgomery and Schuylkill Counties”) entered an already crowded field of weeklies in Reading, Pennsylvania. The town’s four other newspapers – two in German and two in English – all reflected Berks County’s Democratic political bent, so the new publication gave a dissenting view as the area’s first Whig newspaper.

During its quarter-century run, the Liberale Beobachter closely reflected the views of German immigrant Arnold Puwelle, its founder, publisher, and editor. Puwelle was born in Prussia’s Westphalia province in 1809 and came to America in the 1830s. He worked as a stone mason in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, but also dabbled in newspaper publishing, running the weekly Freiheits Waechter (“Freedom Watcher”)  in Skippacksville for three years before moving to Reading and establishing the Liberale Beobachter. The circulation of the paper centered in Berks County but also included the German-dominated areas of southern Schuylkill County and northern Montgomery County. Pennsylvania’s third most populous county during this era, Berks had the commonwealth’s highest proportion of German-speaking people and was arguably the epicenter of the Pennsylvania German culture at this time.

In its first issue, the editorial stance of the Liberale Beobachter was made clear: “Since there are many of you [readers] who may wish to know what the basic propositions of policy that we intend to defend, we explain our proposition in favor of the principles of pure democracy, which we will defend but so gently as possible, but our opinion will always be liberal.” (It’s important to note that the “liberalism” of the Liberale Beobachter was more akin to what became known as “libertarianism” in the 20th century; that is, favoring free-market capitalism.)

When the Whig Party disintegrated in the 1850s, the Liberale Beobachter became a Republican voice, remaining so until Puwelle decided to exit the newspaper business in May 1864. He sold the subscription list to Edward H. Rauch, who published a successor weekly as the Berks County Zeitung for a short time thereafter. When the Liberale Beobachter passed from the scene, it had been the longest-lived alternative to the Reading Adler, Berks County’s iconic and dominant German-language weekly newspaper.

Provided by: Penn State University Libraries; University Park, PA