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Washington, D.C.'s "Paper of Record" — The Evening Star, 1852-1981

Posted on 10/29/2012

Having successfully located and digitized almost all of the American newspapers published during the 17th and 18th centuries, Readex is now focusing on 19th and 20th century newspapers.


Guided by our academic advisors and our library customers, we are trying to add the most important papers first, and the Washington Evening Star is a good example. Though it closed in 1981, from its founding the Star was one of the most influential newspapers in the country, and by World War I it was the "paper of record" in the nation’s capital. For historians of the 20th century, the Star offers an unparalleled look at the intricate workings of government, as noted by these two authors: 


 “...the Washington Star...was indeed the premier paper in the nation's capital for many years; not until the 1960s or even early 1970s did the Washington Post ‘overtake’ it. It was home to many great reporters and columnists and delivered reporting on national affairs and politics that was at times as influential as that of the New York Times. Even in its last years it was an important and serious paper where future journalism stars such as Howie Kurtz, Fred Barnes, and Maureen Dowd cut their teeth. It occupies an important place in not only the history of American journalism but in the history of America.”

— David Greenberg, Professor of Journalism at Rutgers University and author of Nixon's Shadow: The History of an Image (American Journalism Historians Association Book Award, 2003) 

“...until the 1950s the Star was the most thorough paper in Washington.  It had the largest reporting staff in the city for many years, and being an afternoon paper it reported the day’s news more promptly, which accounted for its large readership.  The paper was too late in its efforts to transform itself into a morning paper, and went out of existence in 1981.  But for the years between 1851 and 1981 it is a treasure trove of inside politics and government reporting.  We have especially found the Sunday editions rich with lengthy profiles on various government offices and individuals...”

— Donald A. Ritchie, author of Reporting from Washington: The History of the Washington Press Corps To learn more about the Readex digital edition of the Washington Evening Star, or to request a trial for your institution, please contact

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