It was not peculiar to Black newspapers to have to dun subscribers to pay their overdue subscription fees. Freedom's Journal went so far as to threaten to print the names of delinquent subscribers.

     Advertising space, scaled with discounts for quantity and time accounts, sold for 75 cents for twelve to twenty-two lines. One and two inch notices predominated; there were no large display ads. In the first and succeeding issues advertisers sold groceries, meals, tobacco, drugs, hair cuts, clothing, millinery, and cures for diseases. They also repaired shoes, dressed the hair, lodged and boarded travelers, rented and sold property, and tailored, refinished, cleaned and dyed clothing. Advertising promoted land for sale and purchase by Samuel E. Cornish and evening school for Blacks taught by John B. Russwurm.

     In its issue of January 25, l828, Freedom's Journal advertised its facilities for job printing of all kinds. In a later issue the editor gives special notice that the Journal "is printed and published every Friday by John B. Russwurm." Although there are few references to printing equipment on its premises or even to the location of the presses that printed the Journal, this advertisement and the notice suggest that the newspaper owned and operated its own printing press, along with the necessary cases of type and auxiliary equipment for producing a newspaper and handling job work.

     Black printers were not unknown in early colonial America. The practice among slave masters of apprenticing slave boys to the trades was conducive to developing skilled workmen. On a small scale this was true of the printing trade. Falling in this category was, according to one chronicler, probably the bondservant of John Campbell, publisher of the Boston Newsletter, America's first continuous newspaper, a weekly. A slave named Prince Fowle became the pressman of New Hampshire's first newspaper, the New Hampshire Gazette, established in l756 at Portsmouth and edited for many years by the Boston printer, Daniel Fowle.8 It is not at all unlikely that among the free Black migrants from Haiti and the West Indies in early 18th century America were a few apprenticed and experienced printers, some of whom eventually made their way into the printing establishments publishing Black newspapers.

 

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February 2000