James V. Gill

Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Brod, Donald

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Journalism


Journalism; Rural--Illinois


The purpose outlined for this thesis was to describe the newspaper industry in rural Northern Illinois (outside Cook County) from 1828 through 1850. To achieve that goal, the problem was divided into three major areas--the communities in which the newspapers were located, the newspapers and the newspapermen. Research took the form of a survey of primary and secondary historical sources. It was shown that newspapers were not the first institutions in their respective communities, that the communities were well on their way to development before the newspapers arrived. The ninety-two newspapers started in rural Northern Illinois from 1828 through 1850 were overwhelmingly general interest weeklies. Circulation and longevity figures indicated that readers preferred the weeklies supporting major political parties as opposed to those neutral, independent or supporting the minor parties. Because of the scattered rural population in 1850, there were more newspapers but less circulation than the population of the area would seem to warrant. Population and business activity were found to be significant factors in predicting how many and in which counties newspapers would be located. Seventy percent of the ninety-two newspapers started during the period were terminated before the end of 1850. The mean age of the discontinued newspapers was 15.7 months. The average rural Northern Illinois newspaper in 1850 gave employment to almost five men, 1.4 operators and 3.5 non-operators. Rural Northern Illinois newspapermen were generally young and almost half were from New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland. The traditional title of printer was the most popular title given by newspapermen to the 1850 census takers, Before marriage, newspapermen generally lived as boarders or with other newspapermen. After marriage, newspapermen usually became heads of households. Operators of newspapers were generally older than other newspapermen, but still younger than the fifteen and over male population of rural Northern Illinois. Sixty-one percent were from New York, Pennsylvania or Maryland. Being older, the newspaper operators were more inclined to be married and heads of households. They had more wealth in the form of real estate.


Includes bibliographical references.||Includes illustrations and map.


x, 321 pages




Northern Illinois University

Rights Statement

In Copyright

Rights Statement 2

NIU theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from Huskie Commons for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without the written permission of the authors.

Media Type