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Hopewell Museum


The Western Citizen

The Western Citizen

This exhibit was featured at the Hopewell Museum in 2007 in honor of the 200th anniversary of The Western Citizen.

The Western Citizen is Born
What was considered newsworthy in the early 19th century when the Western Citizen started was very different from the news that was published by the end of the century and into the 20th. Early papers published international, national and state news and very little local news except for the occasional obituary or marriage. Advertisements for patent medicines, local businesses and services, agricultural products, schools, and land and livestock sales, and notices for runaways, debt settlements, lost livestock, found items, and letters at the post office took up most of the space in each issue. Poetry, funny stories and jokes, satirical pieces and other items of cultural interest took their place beside the text of treaties, and long letters by people of authority such as the President, Senators or foreign diplomats.

As the century wore on, local news began to dominate weekly papers and the Western Citizen followed suit. Advertisements began to share more space with news items on the front page and local events and activities took precedent over national or international news. The exception was reporting on war—the Civil War and later the Mexican War in the 19th century—two conflicts in which Kentuckians were deeply involved.

In December of 1807, John A. Grimes published a notice in the Kentucky Gazette, announcing a new newspaper, The Western Citizen, which he produced under the partnership of Grimes and Johnson. The earliest known issue of the paper is dated Thursday, November 3, 1808—the thirtieth number of the first volume. Since the paper was published weekly, the first issue was probably published in April of 1808.
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