Washington Evening Star (1852-1981)
An Archive of Americana Collection

Quick Facts

  • The newspaper of record for the nation’s capital
  • One of the most heavily researched papers in leading newspaper repositories
  • An independent voice providing a unique perspective on the issues that have shaped American politics

Overview

Until its demise in 1981, The Evening Star was universally regarded as the “paper of record” for the nation’s capital. Published under such titles as Washington Star-News and The Washington Star, this long-running daily afternoon paper was one of the highest profile publications in the nation. Founded in 1852, by the 1930s its coverage of national politics--including the daily activities of every branch of government--made it the nation’s number one paper in advertising revenue. 

A fiercely independent voice in Washington
From its earliest years, the Star was a contrarian powerhouse, not afraid to buck Washington’s prevailing political winds. Prior to the Civil War, as abolitionists decried slavery in their own publications, the Star presented both sides of the debate. During the War itself, the Star’s excellent reporting increased its popularity; even today Civil War historians frequently cite Star articles at length. By the mid-20th century—a period marked by McCarthyism, landmark Civil Rights legislation and the beginning of the space race—the Star reached its zenith in local circulation and national influence. Between 1944 and 1981, Star writers, reporters and cartoonists accumulated 10 Pulitzer Prizes.

A wealth of unique insight into American life and times
This long-awaited digital edition provides a searchable facsimile of every page of every issue of the Star from its founding on December 16, 1852 to the day it ceased publishing on August 7, 1981. Chronicling nearly 130 years of American history, this valuable archive offers significant new research opportunities from the Antebellum Period to World War I to the Post-Vietnam Era.

Students and scholars will have easy access to fresh perspectives on such topics as the Dred Scott decision, Lincoln assassination, founding of the National Woman Suffrage Association, establishment of the Civil Service, absorption of Georgetown into Washington, Supreme Court ruling of “separate but equal,” entry of American women into public life, Wall Street Crash of 1929, Works Progress Administration, Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the Truman Doctrine, Cuban Missile Crisis, Watergate Scandal, Iran hostage crisis and more.

A Valuable Digital Edition
This online edition of the Washington Evening Star enables users to easily search and browse this major historical newspaper for the first time. One of the leading titlesavailable 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 Cleveland Leader, related collections in this cross-searchable family include Early American Newspapers, American Ethnic Newspapers and others.

Accolades

“In digitizing the Evening Star, the leading daily newspaper of Washington, D.C. for more than a century, Readex has established a bright and promising new horizon for anyone looking back at the well-known—and the long-forgotten—people, places, and events that have defined the nation’s capital city.

“No other source compares to the Washington Evening Star for exploring the 19th and 20th-century history of the District and surrounding areas. Star reporters rode the early- and late-morning street cars, investigated all manner of vice, crime, and murder, and kept tabs on local and national political figures, socialites, and business people. From every area of the city—from Georgetown to Capitol Hill to Anacostia—the Star offered the people’s news of the day with unrivaled fact, clarity, wit, and tenacity. Decade after decade it led its contemporaries in circulation for a reason. What an amazing online resource this is for D.C. researchers at all levels.”
—John Muller, author of Frederick Douglass in Washington, D.C: The Lion of Anacostia (The History Press, 2012)

“…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 History, Journalism & Media Studies 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

"But aside from locating hidden information, providing color, and giving us access to complete AP reports, the digitization of newspapers is also altering our interpretation of the past in other consequential ways. Researchers frequently make the anachronistic mistake of presuming that today’s dominant newspaper was the dominant one of the past. Yet this is often not the case. The New York Times had a smaller staff and covered less news than its rivals a century ago. And the Washington Post, famous for bringing down a President in the 1970s, played second fiddle to the Washington Star prior to the 1960s." 

– James McGrath Morris, author of Pulitzer: A Life in Politics, Print, and Power

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

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