Editing Forms: The Emergence of Editorship in Nineteenth-Century U.S. Periodicals

Companion Website: ENAP | Editorial Networks of the Antebellum African American Press


Editing Forms charts the growth of editing into a distinct profession and increasingly stable set of editorial practices in mid-nineteenth century United States serial publishing. The dissertation looks at a wide variety of metropolitan and African American newspapers to understand how the maturing profession of editorship debated and experimented to find new ways of gathering, arranging, and publishing newspapers amid a media landscape upended by the advent of industrial printing technology and mass literacy. As Horace Greeley and Charles Dana developed the profession of editors at the New York Tribune, Robert Bonner revised the visual codes of authorship through his story paper, the New York Ledger. Mary Ann Shadd Cary, Frederick Douglass, and many other African American editors challenged those new standards of editorship to foster their own collaborative, activist, and intellectual networks. Whether looking at the editorial experiments in newspaper visual design that helped inaugurate the age of celebrity authorship in the 1850s, or tracing the circulation of editorial techniques among co-editors of early African American periodicals, this study unearths the nonlinear, material, and collaborative forms of editing that create knowledge during periods of media transition.

Table of Contents (abridged)

Introduction: Editing Has A History

1. The Rise of Editorship at the New York Tribune, 1841-1860

2. Editing Antebellum Authorship in the Bonner Style

3. Conducted By Ourselves: Black Editorial Networks, 1827-1865

4. The Invisible Editorship of Mary Ann Shadd Cary

Coda: Editorship Studies


John R. Ernest (chair), Pier Gabrielle Foreman, Sarah Wasserman, and Eric Gardner.