American Business: Mercantile Newspapers
An America’s Historical Newspapers Collection
America’s Historical Newspapers is a fabulous tool for research...and it will also be rewarding for…teachers and students who want to use old newspapers as part of their study of the American story.
Bruce Chadwick, Professor of History, Rutgers University in Journal of American History

Quick Facts

  • A wide spectrum of important titles with data-rich coverage of business and economic history
  • Nearly 500 papers from more than 40 states, published between 1783 and 1900  
  • More independent general news coverage than politically partisan papers of the era


The only collection of its kind, American Business: Mercantile Newspapers provides statistics-laden content from nearly 500 papers in a genre spawned by the rapid growth of shipping and international trade. Targeting wealthy merchants, professionals, and the educated elite, mercantile papers often were voluminous with a very large format, making production and subscription expensive.  Much of the included information is unavailable elsewhere.

Goldmine of business data and non-partisan reporting
Most papers in this collection, published between 1783 and 1900, covered business and general news in great detail. Large amounts of numerical and statistical data are found within, including commodities prices, retail prices, stock market quotes, labor rates, insurance rates, shipping tonnage and costs, railroad schedules and rates, industrial output figures, demographic data and immigration statistics. In addition, the general news coverage found in mercantile papers tended to be colored by its editors’ broad support of capitalism and not by allegiance to particular political parties or leaders.

Topics covered include commerce, finance, invention, material history, the environment, immigration, slavery and diaspora, railroads, banking, frontier development and more. Many titles in American Business: Mercantile Newspapers specialized in a single field such as shipping, mining, timber, railways, insurance, engineering or publishing. Others reported on particular professions such as law, finance, advertising or labor relations.

Broad coverage from across the U.S.
Papers in this collection span more than 40 states, with its largest representations from Alabama, California, Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Key titles include Chicago Railway Review (Chicago, IL), Nome Gold Digger (Nome, Alaska), San Francisco Prices Current (San Francisco, CA), St. Louis Weekly Market Reporter (St. Louis, MO), New Orleans Commercial Bulletin (New Orleans, LA), Cincinnati Price Current (Cincinnati, OH), Miner’s Journal & Pottsville General Advertiser (Pottsville, PA), United States Economist, & Dry Goods Reporter (New York, NY), Tacoma Commerce (Tacoma, WA), Galveston News Price Current (Galveston, TX) and others. 

Global trade boom brings international news
Because of the large and growing role that shipping and foreign trade played in the 19th-century U.S. economy, the titles in Mercantile Newspapers provide far broader international coverage than most general-interest newspapers of the time. Beyond American shores, a large number of accounts from South America, the Caribbean, Europe and Asia (especially India and China) are found within these papers.

Other subject-specific newspaper collections
American Business: Mercantile Newspapers is part of a new group of collections designed to meet targeted teaching and research needs. The other subject-specific collections include American Business: Agricultural Newspapers, American Gazettes: Newspapers of Record, American Politics: Campaign Newspapers and American Religion: Denominational Newspapers.


“Readex has just released two new collections—Agricultural Newspapers and Mercantile Newspapers—forming part of the American Business component of America's Historical Newspapers….Newspapers are an important primary source, and both of these collections provide content relevant to a variety of scholars. Superficially, the collections' main topics (agriculture and commerce) might not seem relevant to scholars interested in social history, for instance; however this is not the case.”
— S. E. Morris, University of Kansas in Choice (November 2017)

“Comprises nearly 500 works from more than 40 states published between 1783 and 1900, highlighting newspapers that came about in response to the rapidly growing shipping and international trade industries. These materials offer significant statistical data on topics such as commodities prices, demographics and labor rates….highly recommended for academic libraries seeking to expand their primary source coverage in history…”
Library Journal, reviewing subject-specific collections of America’s Historical Newspapers (June 2016)

For more information, contact a Readex representative by calling 800.762.8182 or by using our easy contact form.
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