Cleveland Leader (1854-1913)
An Archive of Americana Collection

Quick Facts

  • Cleveland’s leading newspaper during the Civil War and beyond
  • Chronicles the issues, people and events of northeast Ohio through the Progressive Era
  • A unique digital archive that enables new research and teaching opportunities


One of Ohio’s largest and most influential newspapers for the latter half of the 19th century, the Cleveland Leader offers fresh insight into the history of the Buckeye State. From Ohio’s role in the American Civil War to its industry, education and politics through the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, the Leader reported on the issues that helped shape Cleveland and beyond. Through illustrations, editorials, advertisements, classifieds and more, it also shed light on nearly every aspect of everyday life in Ohio in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

An uncompromising editorial stance
Created in 1854 by publisher and editor Edwin Cowles, the Cleveland Leader stood out from numerous competitors for its pro-Union, anti-slavery Republican voice. Its strong editorial stance, which could also be anti-Catholic at times, was a reflection of Cowles’ own personality and political views. Despite its frequent vitriol—or perhaps because of it—by the end of the Civil War the Leader had the highest circulation of all the Cleveland papers. In addition to reports of Civil War battles, the Leader also covered Cleveland’s iron and steel industries, the oil boom that briefly made Cleveland the “oil capital of the world,” and the career of John D. Rockefeller.

A window into turn-of-the-century life
Although the Leader’s influence began to wane with Cowles’ death in 1890 and the paper was eclipsed by the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Leader continued to chronicle the issues, people and events that mattered to Cleveland and northeast Ohio well into the 20th century. Among many other contributions, it captured the roots of Cleveland’s status as a global industrial center, the city’s ethnic and religious diversification, and Ohio’s outsized role in national politics, as well as Cleveland’s growing contributions to arts and culture.

A Valuable Digital Edition
This online edition of the Cleveland Leader enables users to easily search and browse this major historical newspaper for the first time. One of the leading titles available individually within the fully integrated America’s Historical Newspapers interface, this digital edition allows users to intuitively view, magnify, print and save page images. In addition to the Washington Evening Star, related collections in this cross-searchable family include Early American Newspapers, American Ethnic Newspapers and others.

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