#ThrowbackThursday: Reading the news from 150 years ago

#ThrowbackThursday: Reading the news from 150 years ago


On March 21, 1867, the original precursor to the Record-Journal, The Meriden Weekly Visitor, began publishing – starting a news tradition that has continued for 150 years.

Browsing through the front page of that first edition of The Meriden Weekly Visitor is quite a different experience than looking at a modern newspaper. Headline text grew tremendously in size over time. Modern readers can see the top news at a glance from a paper on the newsstand.

In 1867, the headlines appear a little larger than the normal text of a story, which was also quite a bit smaller than today. Instead of parts of three or four main stories, the 1867 front page contains a few news briefs and a few stories in their entirety. It does not have any photographs.

Edition No. 1 starts with a brief introducing the publication, saying it publishes every Thursday morning in West Meriden, followed by information on advertising and then, a poem. A crease in a framed copy at the Record-Journal office cuts off part of the left column, but the poem has something to do with spring flowers.

The paper includes a letter written by “a wealthy and influential Hartford gentleman, who has for more than two months been traveling in the southern states and on the island of Cuba.”

The gentleman didn’t seem fond of Cuba, citing the class differences between Spanish settlers and the native Cubans.

Another front page story addressed “The Trouble in Ireland and its Remedy.” Another pondered the idea of time zones, saying that a day is actually 48 hours long.

“We mean that during the whole of forty-eight hours Monday is on the earth somewhere to be found.”

The other main story in the paper covered the New Britain-Aetna Works company’s building dedication and ball. A former Meriden company, new owners had moved it to a newly constructed building in New Britain.

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