Sacramento Bee (1868-1984)
An Archive of Americana Collection

Quick Facts

  • One of the oldest and most influential newspapers in California
  • Nearly 150 years of local, regional, national and international history
  • Useful to a broad range of users, including researchers, students and genealogists


The Sacramento Bee is one of the oldest and most influential newspapers in California. It was founded in 1857 by James McClatchy, a newspaperman who had worked for Horace Greeley’s aggressive New York Tribune. This searchable historical archive provides nearly a century and half of unique insight into the people, places and events of California.

A quick rise to prominence
Under the name The Daily Bee, the first issue of the newspaper was published on February 3, 1857, proudly boasting that “the object of [the Sacramento Bee] is not only independence, but permanence”. At this time, the Bee was in direct competition with the Sacramento Union, a newspaper founded in 1851. Within four days of its founding in 1857, the Bee had exposed its first scandal, resulting in the impeachment of the state treasurer. Under McClatchy’s leadership the paper led a long and ultimately successful fight to end the rapacious practice of hydraulic mining that threatened to ruin the Central Valley’s watershed. It was also a leading against land monopoly and unfair grazing practices.

Exposing injustice and corruption
In the early 20th century, the Bee helped usher in much-needed political reform in California by breaking the political and economic stranglehold of the railroads. It also continued its long history of investigative journalism: The Bee’s exposing of political manipulation of the federal judiciary in Nevada brought the newspaper the 1935 Pulitzer Prize Gold Medal for Public Service, making it the first California paper to win journalism’s highest prize.

Shortly ater James McClatchy’s death in 1883, his sons C.K. and V.S. assumed the editor and publisher roles, respectively. Both proved to be talented successors. With the naming of C.K.’s daughter Eleanor as publisher in 1936, the Bee also became of the few major American newspapers led by a woman. Her love for the arts, particularly the theater, was reflected in her support of many community arts activities and institutions. Under her leadership and that of her successors, the publication won five Pulitzer prizes, and remained one of the California’s most respected newspapers.

An American Newspaper Archive
One of the major titles in American Newspaper Archives, this digital edition enables users to easily search and browse the Sacramento Bee. Digital editions of dozens of other vital American newspapers, from every region of the United States, are also available individually. Each is cross-searchable via an integrated interface that allows users to easily view, magnify, print and save digital page images.


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