Chris Zuver, A&E Editor
On October 8, the “Headlines of History: Historic Newspapers of St. Louis and the World Through the Centuries” exhibit at the University of Missouri-St. Louis’ Mercantile Library will have its grand opening. The celebration of the grand opening will take place from 2 to 4 pm in the Mercantile Library. On the following day, October 9, the exhibit will open to the public.
The event is the third in a planned tetralogy of exhibitions which are building up to the 175th anniversary of the St. Louis Mercantile Library. It marks the growth and special nature of the collections of the Mercantile through focusing on one of the oldest forms held at the research center: its newspapers.
Noteworthy features include the first known issue of the Missouri Gazette, which is the oldest newspaper printed west of the Mississippi, printed on July 26, 1808 by Joseph Charles in a bilingual edition of English and French. This reflects a century of settlement in New France in the Mississippi Valley previous to St. Louis’ growth into a major American strategic and economic hub on the old frontier between France, New Spain, and a fledgling United States.
Also featured is an issue of the Pennsylvania Ledger from July 13, 1776 which includes the first printing of the Declaration of Independence in a newspaper. John Hancock, president of Congress, was ordered to disperse the official broadside edition to several newspapers throughout the country.
Other features include The Missouri Democrat, a paper that started in 1852. The newspaper took a strong stand as pro-Union and anti-slavery in a time where it was dangerous to take a stance in a battleground state. In the 1870’s, the paper merged with the St. Louis Globe to become the Globe-Democrat, which surpassed The Missouri Republican to become the sole morning paper for nearly a century. President Lincoln famously said that the early Democrat established by his many friends and supporters in his neighboring state “was worth more to the anti-slavery, pro-Union cause than ten regiments of soldiers.”
The Globe-Democrat was long associated with major civic activities and charities. Another archived article is a flyer for Old Newsboys Day, which supports children’s charities in the area. Thousands of people still go out in November to sell papers for this project under The Post masthead. The venture links St. Louisans with their newspaper past through combined civic effort for the present.
A famous flub in the history of print is on display, as well. The November 3, 1948 front page of the Chicago Daily Tribune reads “Dewey Defeats Truman.” Truman held up the paper in mockery which was famously photographed by a Globe-Democrat photographer.
The 100th anniversary issue of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch is archived as well. The cover features the bust of founder Joseph Pulitzer by Auguste Rodin states the platform on which Mr. Pulitzer founded the newspaper.
As mentioned before, the exhibit will open to the public on October 9. Meanwhile, the grand opening will take place on October 8 from 2 to 4 p.m. The grand opening is free; however, it is encouraged that attendees RSVP. To do so, call 314-516-7248.