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Yankee Journalists in old China

February 19th, 2008 · 3 Comments

Yes, the British led the imperialist charge into China in the mid-1800s, and yes, they were at the forefront in economics, politics and horse-racing in old Shanghai. But the Americans were never far behind, and in the field of journalism, the Yankees more than held their own.

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Or at least that is how J.B. Powell reported it in his chapter, “The Journalistic Field.” in the limited edition book American University Men in China 1936. Powell (University of Missouri, B.S.J. 1886) came to China in 1917 to take up the post of Managing Editor of The China Weekly Review, a position he held for three decades. He also complied the original Who’s Who of China. The following is a summary of the publications in China mentioned in Powell’s chapter that were founded, edited or contributed to by American writers.

Canton Register
est. 1827
Wood, W.W., founder and editor
“We are told that he wrote most of the news, set the type and printed the paper himself on a hand press which was lent him by a British merchant named Alexander Matheson.”

The Chinese Repository (Canton)
1832-1851
Bridgman, Elijah Coleman, editor
Williams, Samuel Wells, editor
Bridgman, James Grainger, editor 1847-48
“The circulation for some years was around 1,000 and a London magazine in 1837 referred to it as a periodical ‘which would be considered good even in England.’”

Chinese Recorder
founded 1867
“…the chief organ of Protestant missions in China.”
Doolittle, Rev. Justus, editor 1870-1872
Wylie, A. (British), editor 1874-1878
Baldwin, Rev. S.L., editor 1878-1880
Happer, Rev. A.P., editor 1880-1884
Gulick, Dr. L.H., editor 1885-1890
Wheeler, Dr. L.N., editor 1890-1895
Fitch, Dr. G.F., editor 1895-1914
Rawlinson, Dr. Frank, editor

Sin Wan Bao
“…one of the two leading Chinese newspapers published at Shanghai.”
Ferguson, Dr. John C., editor and owner 1900-1927. Ferguson had been President of Nanking University 1888-1897, then President of Nanyang College [now Jiaotong University] 1897-1902. We was also editor of the Journal of the North-China Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society 1902-1911)

The Shanghai Times
Gray, Willis, founder
The paper was purchased in 1911 by Dr. John C. Ferguson (see Sin Wan Bao, above).

The China Press
est. 1911
Millard, Thomas Franklin, founder and editor

Millard’s Review
est. 1917 – later renamed The China Weekly Review and edited by J.B. Powell
Millard “probably has had a greater influence on contemporary newspaper journalism than any other American journalist in China.”

Shanghai Evening Post
est. c. 1920
Crow, Carl, editor and publisher
Later sold to C.V. Starr and renamed Shanghai Evening Post and Mercury
Crow authored many books and published a travel magazine called The Shanghailander.

North China Star (Tianjin)
est. 1915?
Fox, Dr. Charles J., editor and publisher
“…the largest circulation of any English language newspaper in North China.”

Far Eastern Review
est. c. 1905
Rea, George Bronson, founder and editor
“As a result of differences between Mr. Rea and Chinese officialdom at the time of the Paris Peace Conference, Mr. Rea transferred his interests to Japan and since that time his magazine has followed the Japanese point of view on Far Eastern questions. He represented the Japanese protected state of ‘Manchukuo’ at Washington for three years and since that time has resided in Japan although his magazine is still published in Shanghai.”

South China Morning Post, est. 1902
Hongkong Telegraph, est. 1914
Noble, Dr. J.W., publisher
“…two of Hongkong’s leading newspapers… both of which are, as far as the public is concerned, 100% British, but the controlling owner in both papers, as well as the publishing company, has been the American dentist, Dr. Noble…” Sir Robert Ho Tung “sold a controlling interest in the Telegraph to Dr. Noble and in 1916 or 1917, the paper was merged with the South China Morning Post…”

Hankow Herald
est. 1922
Schwartz, Bruno, owner and editor

The Harbin Daily News
est. 19??-1931
Vesey, H. Custis, owner and editor

Tags: 19th century shanghai · economic history · social history

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Igna Schwartz // Apr 13, 2008 at 1:59 am

    Can anybody help me with information on those obscure little publications called “mosquito journals” from the 30’s & 40’s ?

  • 2 Christopher Shepard // Oct 20, 2008 at 5:35 pm

    Does anyone know if it is possible to track Irish contributors to these papers?

  • 3 Steve Walsh // Apr 26, 2009 at 4:51 am

    I have created wikipedia article on Millard:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Franklin_Fairfax_Millard

    I would appreciate any additional information or comments.

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