History teaches everything including the future.
-- Alphonse de Lamartine
Our big 225th anniversary section is in the neswspaper today.
We let the businesses tell their stories.
We let the reporters tell their stories.
And we even let the old paper boys tell their stories -- those were fun.
So were the old photos.
Three months ago we were afraid we couldn't find enough of the historic black-and-white images to fill one section, much less four or more.
But we kept looking and kept finding them: crammed in old file folders, stored in boxes, wedged in the back of desk drawers. Maybe our next project should just be pages of old pictures.
I'd buy it.
My favorite photo in the section is on Page 57H.
It shows Broad Street illuminated by the 1916 fire. The tall building burning is The Chronicle.
And you know what? They still made deadline and still reported the fire the next day.
Those old reporters must have been fast.
But not photogenic.
We found almost no photos of reporters at work. We have old photos of the pressmen and the circulation guys and women on the switchboard and executives looking managerial, but not much of the reporters.
It's probably the old newspaper tradition of not getting between the readers and the story.
Other things discovered reading two centuries' worth of back issues?
- In the late 1800s, The Chronicle ran a lot of poetry. Some of it was written by editor James Ryder Randall.
Almost all if it, in my opinion, was pretty dull. That's probably why we don't run poetry anymore.
- Our most common advertisers in the 1800s were patent medicines. Bottled elixirs claimed to cure everything from baldness to cancer.
These ads and their claims seemed to disappear with the advent of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Coincidence I'm sure.
- Maybe the most remarkable thing is how the newspaper has lasted 225 years. It's always had competitors. Some, such as the Augusta Herald , actually had more readers and a bigger, nicer building at one point.
But The Chronicle always met its challengers and eventually surpassed them.
It happened in the 1700s, the early 1800s, after the Civil War, and again in the 1930s.
In the end, however, I would say the star of our 225th section was you. Specifically, the readers who wrote in to tell us about their relationship with their newspaper.
That makes sense because The Chronicle's story is really your story.
It has been for 225 years.