Communication Communication History
by
Richard B. Kielbowicz
  • LAST MODIFIED: 30 August 2016
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756841-0027

Introduction

All aspects of communication have historical dimensions. Historians of communication thus have a wide purview, studying the role of technology, institutional developments in the media, the production of messages, the reciprocal influences of communication and society, and much more. These studies—numbering in the tens of thousands—range from antiquarian accounts of single newspapers to expansive investigations of communication’s role in the rise and fall of civilizations. Eclectic in their research approaches, communication historians draw on the concepts and tools used in both the social sciences and the humanities. As social scientists, communication historians investigate broad patterns across time; some findings emphasize change, while others highlight continuity. As a humanistic endeavor, communication history considers unique events, persons, and developments—the contingencies that confound tidy social-scientific generalizations. Although communication history stands as a subdiscipline in its own right, it also serves as a valuable complement to nonhistorical inquiries. Many scholars use history as a backdrop for studies about contemporary issues in communication.

General Overviews

Overviews of the field take many forms. Encyclopedias such as Blanchard 1998 can serve as a good entry point to the literature. Recent studies often use communication networks and technology as their overarching theme. Lubar 1993 provides accessible discussions of each major communication innovation, while Chandler and Cortada 2000 emphasizes the social and especially economic consequences of technologies. Carey 1989 and Czitrom 1982 combine an interest in technology with intellectual and cultural history. Starr 2004 moves political decisions to center stage in analyzing the development of communication. Edited works such as Solomon and McChesney 1993 suggest the varied themes tackled by communication historians.

  • Blanchard, Margaret A., ed. 1998. History of the mass media in the United States. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn.

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    Possibly a first stop when starting a research project, this encyclopedia features nearly five hundred entries on individuals, technologies, businesses, and issues that figured prominently in media history. A thorough index and ample cross-references facilitate use. Each entry lists references for further reading.

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    • Carey, James W. 1989. Communication as culture: Essays on media and society. Boston: Unwin Hyman.

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      Reprints essays by one of the most insightful and original communication historians. One section focuses on communication as culture; another, following in the tradition of Harold Innis, highlights enduring patterns of media technologies in transforming culture.

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      • Chandler, Alfred D., Jr., and James W. Cortada, eds. 2000. A nation transformed by information: How information has shaped the United States from colonial times to the present. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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        Essays by scholars from several fields emphasize the antecedents of today’s information age. Strong coverage of people’s 19th-century information environments and transformations wrought by computers and communication in the 20th century.

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        • Czitrom, Daniel J. 1982. Media and the American mind: From Morse to McLuhan. Chapel Hill: Univ. of North Carolina Press.

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          A clever balance of technological and intellectual history. One part addresses popular reactions to telegraphy, motion pictures, and broadcasting; another analyzes the contributions to understanding communication of John Dewey, Robert Park, Harold Innis, Marshall McLuhan, and behavioral scientists.

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          • Lubar, Steven. 1993. InfoCulture: The Smithsonian book of information age inventions. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

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            Written to accompany a Smithsonian exhibition on the roots of the modern information revolution, this lavishly illustrated book focuses on technologies. Each chapter traces a medium from its origins to modern forms and includes easy-to-understand technical explanations of how it works.

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            • Solomon, William S., and Robert W. McChesney, eds. 1993. Ruthless criticism: New perspectives in U.S. communication history. Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press.

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              Early works by fourteen of today’s most accomplished communication historians. The essays suggest the almost boundless range of the field—public sphere analysis, the local press, labor issues, media for minority audiences, communication policy, television in diplomacy, and more.

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              • Starr, Paul. 2004. The creation of the media: Political origins of modern communications. New York: Basic Books.

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                Partly responding to recent scholarship that highlights technology as the source of most fundamental changes in communication, Starr instead looks at key political decisions. He ranges over print, telecommunication, film, and broadcasting through World War II and contrasts the American experience with developments in Europe.

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                Industry-Specific Overviews

                Overviews that focus on the history of a single medium or communication industry can do more than chronicle it; they often serve as a vital resource by providing context for students and scholars engaged in thematic studies. For instance, anyone studying media coverage of an event should learn about the operations of the institutions—print, telecommunication, entertainment media (sound recording and motion pictures), broadcasting, and agencies of persuasion (advertising and public relations)—that provided the coverage.

                Print: Newspapers, Magazines, and Books

                Three multivolume sets provide an introduction to American print media: Sloan and Startt 1994–2006 offers a serviceable overview of American newspapers; Mott 1930–1968, though dated, still stands as the best resource for information about magazines before 1930; and Hall 2000–2009 synthesizes recent high-quality studies in book history. Tebbel and Zuckerman 1991 updates and extends Mott’s magazine history. Smith 1979 sketches newspaper history around the world, while the printing history of Great Britain is introduced in Conboy 2004, which focuses on journalism, and Feather 2006, which focuses on books.

                • Conboy, Martin. 2004. Journalism: A critical history. London and Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

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                  Synthesizes considerable specialized research on British journalism history. Covers the topic from newsbooks to the Internet, though most of the discussion deals with newspapers and magazines, with a little attention to broadcasting.

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                  • Feather, John. 2006. A history of British publishing. 2d ed. London and New York: Routledge.

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                    Primarily a study of book publishing, this history also touches on magazines because of the technological and business interrelationships of these two print media. The role of the publisher occupies center stage, but all aspects of the medium’s history are analyzed.

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                    • Hall, David D., series ed. 2000–2009. A history of the book in America. 5 vols. Cambridge, UK, and New York: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                      Indispensable resource and starting point for any research on the book, and allied fields of publishing, in the United States. Chapters by leading scholars address the technology, business, distribution, politics, markets, and audiences for books and, broadly, print culture.

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                      • Mott, Frank Luther. 1930–1968. A history of American magazines. 5 vols. Cambridge, MA: Belknap.

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                        Though dated, this Pulitzer Prize–winning history remains a valuable resource. Mott provides extensive sketches of leading magazines in all fields and snapshots of less significant ones along with short essays on the forces that shaped periodicals.

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                        • Sloan, W. David, and James D. Startt, series eds. 1994–2006. The history of American journalism. 7 vols. Westport, CT: Greenwood.

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                          A good starting point for the history of US newspapers. Each volume in the series covers several decades and traces changes in print technology, journalistic practices, major controversies, relations with government, leading figures, and innovative publications.

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                          • Smith, Anthony. 1979. The newspaper: An international history. London: Thames and Hudson.

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                            A short, highly summarized and well-illustrated history that serves as a starting point for further research.

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                            • Tebbel, John W., and Mary Ellen Zuckerman. 1991. The magazine in America, 1741–1990. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                              A readable narrative history that sketches broad trends in magazine publishing. Considers general-interest as well as specialized magazines and changes wrought by new technologies and the rise of competing media.

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                              Telecommunication: The Telegraph and Telephone

                              Beauchamp 2001 sketches the technical development of telegraphy, the first form of telecommunication, while Hochfelder 2012 examines its institutional history and major effects in the United States. Lebow 1995 provides snapshots of the many different forms of telecommunication, and Oslin 1992 offers a narrative of the medium. Brock 2003 emphasizes how computers transformed telecommunication in the 20th century.

                              • Beauchamp, Ken. 2001. History of telegraphy. London: Institution of Electrical Engineers.

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                                Emphasizes the technical aspects of telegraphy and the British experience with it. Deals with land lines, submarine cables, and wireless telegraphy to the mid-20th century. Special attention to military applications.

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                                • Brock, Gerald W. 2003. The second information revolution. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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                                  Particularly strong for 20th-century developments in telecommunication. The first part covers the technical and regulatory history to 1950; the second examines separate developments in computers and telecommunication from 1950 to 1970; and the third shows how computers and telecommunication interacted to lay the foundation for the modern information age.

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                                  • Hochfelder, David. 2012. The telegraph in America, 1832–1920. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press.

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                                    Analyzes the effects of the telegraph on the Civil War, literature, journalism, and especially business. Good explanation for the decline of the telegraph industry facing competition from telephone giant AT&T.

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                                    • Lebow, Irwin. 1995. Information highways and byways: From the telegraph to the 21st century. New York: IEEE.

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                                      Devotes short chapters to each of the technical forms of telecommunication—telegraphy, telephony, wireless, fax, and more. Some emphasis on the technological aspects, though still readable.

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                                      • Oslin, George P. 1992. The story of telecommunications. Macon, GA: Mercer Univ. Press.

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                                        A straightforward, easy-to-read narrative that ranges from telegraphy to the threshold of today’s information age. Deals almost exclusively with the US experience.

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                                        Entertainment: Sound Recording and Motion Pictures

                                        Despite the proliferation of specialized studies of entertainment media, scholars have produced relatively few general histories. Harpole 1990–2000 synthesizes a huge body of research about American film in ten volumes; Sargeant 2005 is a more focused overview of British cinema. For sound recording in the United States, Millard 2005 offers one of the best overviews.

                                        • Harpole, Charles, series ed. 1990–2000. History of the American cinema. 10 vols. New York: Scribner.

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                                          This magisterial set is a wonderful starting point for studying most aspects of motion pictures in the United States. Each of the ten volumes has a different author and some have chapters contributed by subject specialists. Thorough treatment of the technology, business, regulation, and aesthetics of film.

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                                          • Millard, Andre. 2005. America on record: A history of recorded sound. 2d ed. Cambridge, UK, and New York: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                                            Nicely balances a discussion of the technologies of sound recording, from tin foil recordings to the digital age, with an analysis of the medium’s cultural import. Solid analysis of industrial developments along with the changing genres of popular music and their audiences.

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                                            • Sargeant, Amy. 2005. British cinema: A critical history. London: British Film Institute.

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                                              One of the few histories that attempts to pull together the specialized research on British film. Sargeant emphasizes different film genres and their social and political influences. Considers the influence of Hollywood on the British industry.

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                                              Broadcasting: Radio, Television, and Cable

                                              Broadcasting has been well served by overviews. Barnouw 1966–1970 offers a multivolume history for the United States, as does Briggs 1961–1995 for the United Kingdom. Sterling and Kittross 2002 thoroughly canvasses US developments in a single volume, while Gomery 2008 is a more thematic overview. Wheatley 2007 introduces British approaches to television history. The history of American cable television is recounted in Parsons 2008.

                                              • Barnouw, Erik. 1966–1970. A history of broadcasting in the United States. 3 vols. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                A classic narrative history of radio and television that emphasizes the role of individuals and institutions. The third volume dwells on television. Crisply written.

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                                                • Briggs, Asa. 1961–1995. The history of broadcasting in the United Kingdom. 5 vols. London and New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                  This massive history—it runs a few thousand pages—takes the story to 1975. The detailed discussion revolves around the role of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), and most sources are drawn from the BBC archives.

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                                                  • Gomery, Douglas. 2008. A history of broadcasting in the United States. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

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                                                    A highly readable overview organized around three issues: broadcasting as a business, the medium’s impact on politics and society, and changes in programming. The author capitalizes on his access to primary sources (a broadcast history archive is housed at his university) as well as his many earlier specialized studies of the subject.

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                                                    • Parsons, Patrick. 2008. Blue skies: A history of cable television. Philadelphia: Temple Univ. Press.

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                                                      Encyclopedic in scope, this history explores the technology, business developments, and regulatory context of cable as well as the entrepreneurs who developed the medium.

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                                                      • Sterling, Christopher H., and John Michael Kittross. 2002. Stay tuned: A history of American broadcasting. 3d ed. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

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                                                        This nine-hundred-page book combines elements of a text and encyclopedia in providing detailed discussions of technology, business developments, political and legal pressures, programming, and much more. Numerous tables conveniently summarize historical data, and the extensive bibliography is well worth consulting.

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                                                        • Wheatley, Helen, ed. 2007. Re-viewing television history: Critical issues in television historiography. London and New York: I. B. Tauris.

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                                                          A collection of essays and case studies, this volume introduces major themes addressed by scholars of British television history: institutional developments, popular versus elite programming, national versus regional programming, and television audiences.

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                                                          Agencies of Persuasion: Advertising and Public Relations

                                                          The earliest histories of advertising and public relations, written by insiders, uncritically chronicled developments in their industries. Newer histories, notably Ewen 1996 and Tedlow 1979, detail how businesses embraced public relations to counter criticisms leveled in the press. Marchand 1998 takes it a step further, analyzing how firms made and remade their public image. For advertising history, Pollay 1979 is a good portal to the literature and Fox 1984 provides a serviceable overview of institutional developments.

                                                          • Ewen, Stuart. 1996. PR! A social history of spin. New York: Basic Books.

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                                                            After reviewing the early 20th-century origins of US public relations, the book presents case studies of information campaigns conducted by big business and the government to the 1950s. Critical of public relations in fostering cultures of consumption and unrestrained free enterprise.

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                                                            • Fox, Stephen. 1984. The mirror makers: A history of American advertising and its creators. New York: Morrow.

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                                                              An overview with value for researchers but readable for general audiences. Emphasizes the role of individuals in advertising rather than abstract economic and cultural forces.

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                                                              • Marchand, Roland. 1998. Creating the corporate soul: The rise of public relations and corporate imagery in American big business. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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                                                                A lavishly illustrated study of public information campaigns conducted by several of the largest corporations—including AT&T, GE, General Motors—to burnish their public image during the first half of the 20th century. By the end of World War II, they had successfully rebranded themselves as patriotic, consumer-friendly, community-minded institutions.

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                                                                • Pollay, Richard W. 1979. Information sources in advertising history. Westport, CT: Greenwood.

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                                                                  Valuable reference by a preeminent scholar of the topic. Although too dated to include recent pathbreaking studies, this guide’s tips for finding primary sources, and older secondary materials, make it worth consulting.

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                                                                  • Tedlow, Richard S. 1979. Keeping the corporate image: Public relations and business, 1900–1950. Greenwich, CT: JAI.

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                                                                    A balanced examination of businesses’ adoption of public relations, this book explains how corporations mimicked the communication tactics of their Progressive Era critics. Firms struggled to protect their image, and public support for free enterprise, during the Depression.

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                                                                    Textbooks

                                                                    Until the 1970s, textbooks in the field dealt almost exclusively with journalism and the public affairs functions of the media, emphasizing the great individuals (usually reporters and publishers) and the great institutions (e.g., elite newspapers) that battled for social progress and against government repression. Since the 1970s, the field, as reflected in the textbooks, has become much more expansive (e.g., discussing the entertainment aspects of communication), nuanced, and analytical in telling the story of communication history. Folkerts, et al. 2009, which covers the full sweep of US media history, combines the best of the old and new traditions of scholarship, as does Baughman 2006 in its history of media since World War II. Other texts, notably Crowley and Heyer 2010, use technology as the unifying theme, and Stephens 2007 focuses on people’s engagement with news. Efforts to deal broadly with communication in several countries inevitably sacrifice some depth for breadth; Briggs and Burke 2009 deal with Europe and the United States, while Chapman 2005 covers the same areas plus Japan.

                                                                    • Baughman, James L. 2006. The republic of mass culture: Journalism, filmmaking, and broadcasting in America since 1941. 3d ed. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press.

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                                                                      Tightly focused text by a leading scholar of broadcasting. Argues that the rise of television as the 20th century’s most powerful medium forced readjustments by the older forms of communication, especially newspapers, radio, and film.

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                                                                      • Briggs, Asa, and Peter Burke. 2009. A social history of the media: From Gutenberg to the Internet. 3d ed. Cambridge, UK, and Malden, MA: Polity.

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                                                                        Good coverage of the media in Europe and the United States by distinguished historians. Its broad analysis eschews the names-and-dates approach of texts to focus on changes wrought by the media.

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                                                                        • Chapman, Jane. 2005. Comparative media history: An introduction: 1789 to the present. Cambridge, UK, and Malden, MA: Polity.

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                                                                          The best textbook treatment that’s comparative (Britain, France, the United States, Japan, Germany) and that examines multiple media (newspapers, radio, film, television, music). Emphasizing continuity, it traces key elements of modern media back to the 19th century. The broad sweep compensates for the loss of detail in this two-hundred-year history.

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                                                                          • Crowley, David, and Paul Heyer, eds. 2010. Communication in history: Technology, culture, society. 6th ed. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

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                                                                            This anthology, emphasizing technologies, reprints excerpts from major studies. It ranges widely over ancient media, language, the print revolution, telecommunication, photography, motion pictures, broadcasting, and the roots of the Internet.

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                                                                            • Folkerts, Jean, Dwight L. Teeter Jr., and Edward Caudill. 2009. Voices of a nation: A history of media in the United States. 5th ed. Boston: Pearson.

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                                                                              Probably the most widely used text for US undergraduate courses on mass communication history. Although it emphasizes news and public affairs, it pays some attention to other aspects of the media. Each edition incorporates the latest scholarship, especially research dealing with the communication activities of social groups ignored by mainstream media.

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                                                                              • Stephens, Mitchell. 2007. A history of news. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                                                Partly a textbook, it adopts an almost anthropological view to consider how news, delivered through many channels, figured in people’s lives. Covers preliterate societies to the present in several parts of the world.

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                                                                                Research Guides

                                                                                Students of communication history naturally consult the key indexes of studies in communication, which are not discussed here beyond noting the value of Blum and Wilhoit 1990 in surveying basic literature important to historians. But anyone undertaking historical studies in communication must also become familiar with tools that guide them into the literature of history. Nord 2003 discusses the epistemological and methodological issues faced by communication scholars engaged in historical research. Rabe’s continually updated Internet bibliography can be a good portal through which to enter the literature of US communication history, as can Curran 2002 for British media history. Together, the databases America: History and Life and Historical Abstracts index studies from around the world. Greenwood Press’s series Bibliographies and Indexes in Mass Media Communications 1989–2005 is among the specialized reference tools that have become indispensable in organizing the vast literature of this subfield. And the database Dissertations and Theses greatly facilitates access to studies produced by graduate students.

                                                                                • America: History and Life.

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                                                                                  The most comprehensive database of research about American history, it indexes articles, books, book reviews, and dissertations. Communication history is only one of the many fields covered, but its breadth helps scholars find relevant works from multiple subfields.

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                                                                                  • Bibliographies and indexes in mass media and communications. 13 vols. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1989–2005.

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                                                                                    A baker’s dozen of book-length reference tools, most relevant to historical studies of communication, including American journalism, media in the Caribbean, tabloid journalism, and press freedom. Greenwood’s other reference series, including Historical Guides to the World’s Periodicals and Newspapers, also offer many pertinent titles.

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                                                                                    • Blum, Eleanor, and Frances Goins Wilhoit. 1990. Mass media bibliography: An annotated guide to books and journals for research and reference. Urbana: Univ. of Illinois Press.

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                                                                                      A bit dated, but still useful for finding basic works in mass media, many relevant to historians. Organized by medium and type of reference, it covers communication around the world. Detailed annotations enhance its value.

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                                                                                      • Curran, James. 2002. Media and the making of British society, c.1700–2000. Media History 8:135–154.

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                                                                                        This wide-ranging essay by a social historian highlights six themes that dominate the literature of British media history: the role of the media in expanding freedom and empowerment, in advancing the place of women, in promoting cultural democracy, in culture wars, in forging national identities, and in the reassertion of elite control. This bibliographic essay surveys the literature of print, broadcast, and film history.

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                                                                                        • Dissertations and Theses.

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                                                                                          Once difficult to locate and almost impossible to obtain, dissertations are now more accessible through this electronically searchable research tool. Indexes 2.4 million dissertations and provides full-text PDFs for a million. The quality of dissertations varies widely, but many provide the most thorough discussion of their topics, usually with great bibliographies.

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                                                                                          • Historical Abstracts

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                                                                                            Most comprehensive database of research about history for countries other than the United States and Canada. Covers 1800 scholarly history journals in forty languages. Available online through many libraries.

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                                                                                            • Nord, David Paul. 2003. The practice of historical research. In Mass communication research and theory. Edited by Guido H. Stempel, David H. Weaver, and G. Cleveland Wilhoit, 362–385. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

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                                                                                              An intelligent discussion of the issues that arise in connection with conducting historical research in communication. Nord’s discussion balances social scientific and humanistic approaches to inquiry in the field.

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                                                                                              • Rabe, Robert, ed. History of mass communication in America: An Internet bibliography.

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                                                                                                This straightforward listing of 4000 unannotated sources, grouped into nearly fifty categories, grows regularly. Strongest coverage for print media and public affairs journalism, but indexes many other topics as well.

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                                                                                                Primary Sources

                                                                                                Judicious use of primary sources—media content, trade journals, unpublished manuscripts, and the like—often distinguishes great historical research from average studies. Finding appropriate sources, however, can prove frustrating. And access to primary sources can be limited, though important collections of historical media content, especially newspapers, are moving online.

                                                                                                Finding Aids

                                                                                                As Caswell 1989 suggests, the unruly nature of primary sources makes them difficult to catalogue or index. Good indexes are a godsend for historians, especially in locating appropriate manuscript collections. And manuscripts are vital in uncovering the behind-the-scenes workings of communication institutions. Archive Finder is probably the most comprehensive guide, though historians focusing on the United States often start with the National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections. All media have trade journals reporting on their industries; these provide an up-close view of how media operate, especially as businesses. Sova and Sova 1992 offer an unparalleled compilation of titles. Data on communication industries can be found in Historical Statistics of the United States and Sterling and Haight 1978.

                                                                                                • Archive Finder.

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                                                                                                  Advanced research can require digging in the unpublished papers of the firms and individuals involved in communication, and this is the best resource for finding them. Unpublished materials often provide the critical evidence about personal and business motives that explain much about media content. This proprietary database covers materials in the United States, United Kingdom, and Ireland.

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                                                                                                  • Caswell, Lucy Shelton, ed. 1989. Guide to sources in American journalism history. New York: Greenwood.

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                                                                                                    The first part sketches approaches to historical research; the second part provides an overview of indexes and databases. The major value of this reference is its third part, a lengthy state-by-state inventory of manuscript collections relevant to mass communication history.

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                                                                                                    • Historical Statistics of the United States.

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                                                                                                      Massive compilation of data on all aspects of American history, including a section on communication. The section opens with a wonderful essay and then reports data about the postal system, newspapers, books, the telegraph, telephone, radio, television, and Internet.

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                                                                                                      • National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections.

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                                                                                                        Compiled by the Library of Congress, this is the best free resource for finding manuscripts about American history. The catalogue indexes collections by topic and names.

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                                                                                                        • Sova, Harry W., and Patricia L. Sova, eds. 1992. Communication serials: An international guide to periodicals in communication, popular culture and the performing arts. Virginia Beach, VA: SovaComm.

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                                                                                                          Trade publications in communication, a vital primary source, yield valuable insights about industry workings. This one-thousand-page guide lists nearly every trade publication (and a lot of nontrade journals) ever published (at least in the United States) dealing with printing, telegraphy, telephony, broadcasting, photography, and film. Each entry gives detailed bibliographic information. Availability may be limited.

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                                                                                                          • Sterling, Christopher H., and Timothy R. Haight, eds. 1978. The mass media: Aspen Institute guide to communication industry trends. New York: Praeger.

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                                                                                                            Tables report historical statistics about numbers of US media outlets, ownership, economics, employment, audiences, content, and foreign operations. Covers newspapers, magazines, book publishing, libraries, broadcasting, and film. Short essays help interpret data.

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                                                                                                            Media Content Collections

                                                                                                            Not too long ago, analyzing media content, the core of many historical studies, meant traveling to dusty archives and flipping through crumbling pages or scanning rolls of scratched microfilm. That’s sometimes still necessary, but historical collections of print media and some broadcast programming are increasingly available in electronic formats. Many titles of older newspapers can be accessed through NewsBank databases, and more recent runs can be found on LexisNexis. PDF files of magazines are collected in the American Periodicals Series Online, while advertisements can be found in Ad*Access. And the Vanderbilt Television Archives has been preserving news programming since 1968.

                                                                                                            Journals

                                                                                                            Most communication journals occasionally publish a historical study, but few feature them on a regular basis. The journals that do focus on history vary in the media and countries they cover. Media History offers the broadest topical and geographic scope, with the Historical Journal of Film, Radio, and Television not too far behind. Journalism History has a pronounced emphasis on the United States and topics related to communication about public affairs but is broader in those respects than American Journalism. Technology and Culture is worth consulting for histories of electric and electronic media, as is Film History: An International Journal for most aspects of motion pictures.

                                                                                                            Media Technology and Networks

                                                                                                            The physical basis for mediated communication and the organization of media systems into networks has emerged as one of the most exciting areas of historical study, inspired in part by scholarly interest in the precursors of the Internet.

                                                                                                            Technology

                                                                                                            Are developments in communications technology the fundamental impetus for change in media institutions and processes—and catalysts for broad societal change? Innis 1951, which inspired work by Marshall McLuhan, locates communication technology at the center of cultural transformations. In the same vein, Eisenstein 1979 sees printing as a catalyst that reordered European society, and Diebert 1997 compares the impact of printing to that of modern hypermedia. Winston 2004 is much less deterministic in the power ascribed to technology. Taking a somewhat different tack, at least partly constructivist, Marvin 1988 recreates people’s understanding of electric media when they were first introduced. Yates 1989, examining how businesses used media for internal communication, reminds us that not all media technologies involved mass communication.

                                                                                                            • Diebert, Ronald J. 1997. Parchment, printing, and hypermedia: Communication in world order transformation. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                              Uses medium theory to chart broad changes in world politics. One section examines changes wrought by the shift to print; another looks at the effects of hypermedia.

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                                                                                                              • Eisenstein, Elizabeth L. 1979. The printing press as an agent of change: Communications and cultural transformations in early-modern Europe. 2 vols. Cambridge, UK, and New York: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                A sweeping history of printing’s impact in Europe. Although technology figures centrally in Eisenstein’s analysis, she devotes considerable attention to the occupational culture of printers and printing’s role in fomenting religious dissatisfaction that culminated in the Protestant Reformation.

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                                                                                                                • Innis, Harold A. 1951. The bias of communication. Toronto: Univ. of Toronto Press.

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                                                                                                                  A pioneer of medium theory, Innis shows how communication technology organizes time and space—and societies. These essays, though sometimes frustratingly opaque and sketchy, address fundamental questions of concern to communication historians.

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                                                                                                                  • Marvin, Carolyn. 1988. When old technologies were new: Thinking about electric communication in the late nineteenth century. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                    A highly readable account of societal responses to electric technologies such as the telegraph and telephone. Based on a creative reading of the trade and popular press.

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                                                                                                                    • Winston, Brian. 2004. Media technology and society: A history from the telegraph to the Internet. Rev. ed. London: Routledge.

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                                                                                                                      This episodic review focuses on developments in electric and electronic communication. Its model of historical change emphasizes societal intervention in the scientific origins, technical invention, diffusion, and adoption of technologies.

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                                                                                                                      • Yates, JoAnne. 1989. Control through communication: The rise of system in American management. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                        Highly original in its attention to communication within business organizations from the 1800s to early 1900s. Points out that seemingly inconsequential technologies—carbon paper and filing cabinets, to name two—advanced communication in significant ways.

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                                                                                                                        New Media’s Prehistory

                                                                                                                        The technological building blocks of the early 21st century’s Internet and social media were crafted between the 1940s and 1990s; their institutional and social roots go much deeper. Peters 2009 and Standage 2013 connect new media with research about traditional media. The history of key technologies—microwave transmission, satellites, fiber optics, packet-switching, digitization, cell phones, and more—can be traced on the website maintained by the IEEE Global History Network. Abbate 1999 sketches the origins of the Internet.

                                                                                                                        • Abbate, Janet. 1999. Inventing the Internet. Cambridge, MA: MIT.

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                                                                                                                          An accessible history, and one of the earliest, on the topic. Abbate identifies key players, institutions, and technical developments, with especially good discussions of packet-switching and Internet protocols, while acknowledging social and cultural influences.

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                                                                                                                          • IEEE Global History Network

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                                                                                                                            This wiki, maintained by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, provides a host of historical information about the Internet, cell phones, and related new media technologies. Oral histories with key inventors add personal detail and drama.

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                                                                                                                            • Peters, Benjamin. 2009. And lead us not into thinking the new is new: A bibliographic case for new media history. New Media & Society 13:13–30.

                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1177/1461444808099572Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                              Historians delight in pointing out that basic relationships among technologies, and the succession from one to another, follow some basic patterns. This essay reviews key scholarly works in the history of media technology that bear, indirectly at least, on the early 21st century’s information revolution.

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                                                                                                                              • Standage, Tom. 2013. Writing on the wall: Social media, the first 2,000 years. New York: Bloomsbury.

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                                                                                                                                Written in accessible fashion by a journalist, this book covers communication from the Roman Empire’s networks to the early 21st century’s personal media. Contrasts use of media by big institutions with use of media by individuals and small groups, often in opposition to centralized control.

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                                                                                                                                Networks

                                                                                                                                Historians remind us that all civilizations had communication networks of one kind or another, though most look primitive in comparison with the Internet. Kielbowicz 1989 and John 1995 examine the oldest US communication network, with the former concentrating on the post office’s relations with the press and the latter taking a wider view. Standage 1998 suggests that the telegraph was the progenitor of all wired networks up to the Internet, while John 2010 combines histories of the telegraph and telephone to reveal their interrelationships. Slotten 2000 studies some of the technological building blocks that made broadcasting the preeminent communication network for much of the 20th century.

                                                                                                                                • John, Richard R. 1995. Spreading the news: The American postal system from Franklin to Morse. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                  Examines selected aspects of the first communication network, especially details of its administration. Shows how the postal system figured in politics as well as in people’s everyday lives, and its contradictory role in fostering nationalism as well as reflecting regional tensions.

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                                                                                                                                  • John, Richard R. 2010. Network nation: Inventing American telecommunications. Cambridge, MA: Belknap.

                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.4159/9780674056527Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                    An extensive, well-researched history of telegraphy and telephony, including the influence of postal policy on telecommunication networks. Good attention to technology, institutions, users, and policies.

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                                                                                                                                    • Kielbowicz, Richard B. 1989. News in the mail: The press, post office, and public information, 1700–1860s. New York: Greenwood.

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                                                                                                                                      Shows how the earliest communication network, the postal system, and the press operated jointly to distribute news, entertainment content, and advertising. Reveals how the technologies and policies that created the postal network touched almost all aspects of newspapers and magazines—their formats, contents, circulation, relations with subscribers, dealings with government, and more.

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                                                                                                                                      • Slotten, Hugh R. 2000. Radio and television regulation: Broadcast technology in the United States, 1920–1960. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                        Using a case study approach, it explains how broadcast networks grew from the interaction of technology, engineering decisions, business maneuvers, and political pressures. Chapters on the role of engineers in 1920s broadcast regulation, battles over the first technical standards for television and then standards for color, and AM versus FM radio, among other topics.

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                                                                                                                                        • Standage, Tom. 1998. The Victorian internet: The remarkable story of the telegraph and the nineteenth century’s on-line pioneers. New York: Walker.

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                                                                                                                                          This popular account synthesizes scholarly studies on the telegraph in an effort to illustrate its parallels with the Internet. Examines the development of the network and explains how it affected some people directly and touched everyone’s lives indirectly by altering the rhythms of business, government, and other institutions.

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                                                                                                                                          Global Networks

                                                                                                                                          The power of modern global communication networks has inspired historians to look at their distant and recent origins. Steele 1986 shows how even slow-sailing ships established transatlantic networks in the 1600s. Mattelart 2000 picks up where Steele ends. Most works in this vein, such as Hugill 1999 and Winseck and Pike 2007, start with 19th-century undersea telegraphy and take their histories into the era of wireless in the early 20th century. Potter 2003 and Silberstein-Loeb 2014 focus on news flowing over global networks. Global communication networks affected international relations, as Britton 2013 shows for North and South America.

                                                                                                                                          • Britton, John A. 2013. Cables, crises and the press: The geopolitics of the new international system in the Americas, 1866–1903. Albuquerque: Univ. of New Mexico Press.

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                                                                                                                                            Sketches the development of submarine telegraph networks that linked North America, South America, and Europe. Shows how these new international ties affected news coverage and altered the handling of diplomatic crises and wars.

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                                                                                                                                            • Hugill, Peter J. 1999. Global communications since 1844: Geopolitics and technology. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                              A nice melding of technology, business imperatives, and nations’ global aspirations in this history of telecommunication. Emphasizes British hegemony using its worldwide cable systems and then US hegemony with post–World War II telecommunication.

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                                                                                                                                              • Mattelart, Armand. 2000. Networking the world, 1794–2000. Translated by Liz Carey-Libbrecht and James A. Cohen. Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press.

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                                                                                                                                                An extended essay on the broad consequences of forging communication links among countries. Provides a historically grounded European perspective.

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                                                                                                                                                • Potter, Simon J. 2003. News and the British world: The emergence of an imperial press system, 1876–1922. Oxford: Clarendon.

                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199265121.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                  In 1876, a British network of undersea telegraph cables linked London with Australia and most parts of the empire in between. Governments, telegraph companies, and the press jockeyed to shape this network and influence local, national, and imperial identities.

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                                                                                                                                                  • Silberstein-Loeb, Jonathan. 2014. The international distribution of news: The AP, Press Association, and Reuters. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9781139522489Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                    Charts how the domestic news-gathering agencies in the United States and Britain became global purveyors of news by balancing cooperation and competition with rivals. Based on extensive use of archival materials.

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                                                                                                                                                    • Steele, Ian K. 1986. The English Atlantic, 1675–1740: An exploration of communication and community. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                      Demonstrates that communication ties across the Atlantic were forged by religious groups and merchants long before the advent of modern media. These ties maintained a sense of community despite distance and slow communication.

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                                                                                                                                                      • Winseck, Dwayne R., and Robert M. Pike. 2007. Communication and empire: Media, markets, and globalization, 1860–1930. Durham, NC: Duke Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1215/9780822389996Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                        Considers landline telegraphy, undersea cables, and wireless radio in building global networks. Emphasizes the push of communication markets from national into international realms.

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                                                                                                                                                        Social Histories

                                                                                                                                                        Social histories of communication, popular since the 1970s, deemphasize the role of industrial leaders and instead focus on the place of communication in everyday life, how audiences or users engage media, alternative media, and the representations of groups in the media.

                                                                                                                                                        Communication in Everyday Life

                                                                                                                                                        Schudson 1978 reoriented the study of newspapers with this social history. Douglas 1987 did much the same for broadcasting in a study of the medium’s origins, and Hilmes 2007 expanded on it in a history of broadcasting from the 1920s to the present. Schiffer 1991 employed a similar approach for his narrower study of the portable radio. The telephone has become a favorite topic for social historians, with Fischer 1992 regarded as the exemplar. The main strands of social history as applied to telecommunication are sketched in Balbi 2009.

                                                                                                                                                        • Balbi, Gabriele. 2009. Studying the social history of telecommunications. Media History 15:85–101.

                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1080/13688800802583331Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                          Compares research approaches common on continental Europe with those characteristically used by American and British scholars. Emphasizes three schools of analysis used in studying the history of telecommunication: social constructivism, socio-economic interactions, and large-scale systems. Reference list points to the best works on the subject.

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                                                                                                                                                          • Douglas, Susan J. 1987. Inventing American broadcasting, 1899–1922. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                            One of the first major communication histories written from a social constructivist vantage. Douglas recasts the story of early broadcasting to highlight the role of amateur radio operators and the public, not just large institutions, in shaping the medium.

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                                                                                                                                                            • Fischer, Claude S. 1992. America calling: A social history of the telephone to 1940. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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                                                                                                                                                              A finely nuanced history by a sociologist. It examines the big picture—national patterns of telephone adoption—as well as local use and the special value of the telephone in rural communities. Based on extensive digging in telephone company archives and creative use of other primary sources.

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                                                                                                                                                              • Hilmes, Michele. 2007. Only connect: A cultural history of broadcasting in the United States. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

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                                                                                                                                                                A textbook by a prolific scholar of radio history. Good attention to the broad forces that shape broadcasting, especially audiences.

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                                                                                                                                                                • Schiffer, Michael B. 1991. The portable radio in American life. Tucson: Univ. of Arizona Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                  This richly illustrated study focuses on the radio outside the house—in cars, at the beach, and elsewhere. Demonstrates how people adapt technology for uses not envisioned by its inventors.

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                                                                                                                                                                  • Schudson, Michael. 1978. Discovering the news: A social history of American newspapers. New York: Basic Books.

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                                                                                                                                                                    Reoriented studies of journalism history away from great publishers and technological revolutions. Instead, befitting his training as a sociologist, Schudson explores journalistic routines and audience engagement with newspapers.

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                                                                                                                                                                    Audiences and Users

                                                                                                                                                                    What do people do with media? Or, as historians frame the question, what did people—as audiences, customers, and users—do with media? Historians of print media struggle to recreate the world of readers. Brown 1989 did so successfully by showing how early Americans obtained and used information; Nord 2001 tackles a similar problem for readers of newspapers and religious publications. Because broadcast audiences do not leave records of their listening and viewing, recreating their experiences has frustrated historians. Razlogova 2011 reveals how radio listeners influenced program content, while Spigel 1992 shows how television entered the homes and lives of Americans. Most of the general works under Social Histories and some studies under Production and Labor also examine audiences and users.

                                                                                                                                                                    • Brown, Richard D. 1989. Knowledge is power: The diffusion of information in early America, 1700–1865. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                      Through case studies, Brown shows how individuals obtained information and used it in their lives. Finds that opening new, faster channels of communication enlarged and democratized people’s information environments.

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                                                                                                                                                                      • Nord, David Paul. 2001. Communities of journalism: A history of American newspapers and their readers. Urbana: Univ. of Illinois Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                        This volume pulls together a dozen of the most original essays on the history of American journalism, broadly conceived. Grouped into two parts—communities of production and communities of reception—the finely textured studies shed considerable light on what people actually did with print media.

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                                                                                                                                                                        • Razlogova, Elena. 2011. The listener’s voice: Early radio and the American public. Philadelphia: Univ. of Pennsylvania Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                          A good example of efforts by historians to recreate the audience’s experience with broadcast technology. Creatively uses contacts between radio producers and different groups of listeners—sports fans, housewives, laborers, farm workers, and more—to explain how audiences influenced programming.

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                                                                                                                                                                          • Spigel, Lynn. 1992. Make room for TV: Television and the family ideal in postwar America. Urbana: Univ. of Illinois Press.

                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226769639.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                            The explosion of television shortly after World War II profoundly altered social life. Spigel sketches the response, especially the impact on women and family life. Draws on diverse sources.

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                                                                                                                                                                            Alternative Media

                                                                                                                                                                            A significant number of social histories focus on media outside the mainstream—the dissident press, media for racial and ethnic minorities, and media serving communities of specialized interests. Gibbs and Hamilton 2001 suggests some of the recent paths followed in studies of alternative media. A major reference work, Miller 1987, offers a convenient entry point for anyone studying the ethnic press in America. The journalism of sizable minority groups in the United States—African Americans and Indians—can be traced in, respectively, Pride and Wilson 1997 and Murphy and Murphy 1981. Studies of several types of non-mainstream media are found in Hutton and Reed 1995, for the 19th century, and for all of American history in Streitmatter 2001. Contributors to Squier 2003 show how radio fostered communities of interest, and Sweet 1993 surveys religious communication.

                                                                                                                                                                            • Gibbs, Patricia L., and James Hamilton, eds. 2001. Special issue: Alternative media in media history. Media History 7:117–170.

                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1080/13688800120092192Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                              After a short introduction by the authors, this themed issue offers studies on the media of the Black Panther Party in the United States, a comparison of alternative media in the United States with that of the United Kingdom, and the power of visual imagery in the communication efforts of marginalized groups.

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                                                                                                                                                                              • Hutton, Frankie, and Barbara Straus Reed, eds. 1995. Outsiders in 19th-century press history: Multicultural perspectives. Bowling Green, OH: Bowling Green State Univ. Popular Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                Nearly a dozen essays by experts on specialized media. Covers publications for and about African Americans, women, peace advocates, Chinese Americans, Indians, and more.

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                                                                                                                                                                                • Miller, Sally M., ed. 1987. The ethnic press in the United States: A historical analysis and handbook. New York: Greenwood.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  At its peak in the early 1900s, the immigrant press comprised about 1300 titles. Specialists profile the foreign-language publications of twenty-seven groups, ranging from the large (e.g., German-language) to the small (e.g., Croatian).

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                                                                                                                                                                                  • Murphy, James E., and Sharon M. Murphy. 1981. Let my people know: American Indian journalism, 1828–1978. Norman: Univ. of Oklahoma Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    Two chapters trace American Indian publications from 1828 to the 1960s. The remainder of the book examines aspects of Indian journalism—national publications, tribal papers, magazines, broadcasting—in the mid-20th century.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    • Pride, Armistead S., and Clint C. Wilson II. 1997. A history of the black press. Washington, DC: Howard Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      This overview focuses on the origins of African-American newspapers and the founders of major publications through the early 20th century as well as the professional associations that supported their efforts. The role of the black press in addressing social and political problems also receives some attention.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      • Squier, Susan Merrill, ed. 2003. Communities of the air: Radio century, radio culture. Durham, NC: Duke Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        Showcases recent advances in historical studies of radio. Twelve contributors tackle several aspects of radio, including technology, regulation, science on the air, gender, and race.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        • Streitmatter, Rodger. 2001. Voices of revolution: The dissident press in America. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          Probably the best overview showing print media’s role in the service of marginalized groups and once-radical ideas. Multiple chapters on women, labor, and African Americans; single chapters on the fight to distribute birth control information, Vietnam War protests, counterculture movement of the 1960s, and gay rights.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          • Sweet, Leonard I., ed. 1993. Communication and change in American religious history. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            The best introduction to the central place of religious groups in US media. Concentrates largely on 19th-century religious publishing, but devotes one chapter to 20th-century broadcasting. Good bibliographic aids.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            Representations

                                                                                                                                                                                            Studies of alternative media often complement studies of how the mainstream media represent groups. Brake, et al. 2000 offers a marvelous overview of such research, international in scope. Gendered constructions of women on the pages of magazines, often in conjunction with their role as consumers, has become a productive topic for historians; one such study is Garvey 1996. And a small industry of scholars examines representations of all kinds of groups—defined by race, ethnicity, occupation—on television. MacDonald 1992 offers one of the better histories of African Americans on television.

                                                                                                                                                                                            • Brake, Laurel, Bill Bell, and David Finkelstein, eds. 2000. Nineteenth-century media and the construction of identities. Basingstoke, UK, and New York: Palgrave.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              Twenty-two chapters survey ethnic and national identity, varying conceptions of journalism, readers, writers, and gender. The studies, showcasing the varied methods used for such inquiries, deal with print media in the United Kingdom, United States, France, and elsewhere.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              • Garvey, Ellen G. 1996. The adman in the parlor: Magazines and the gendering of consumer culture, 1880s to 1910s. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195108224.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                A literary analysis of the relations between advertising—trade cards and magazine ads—and audiences treated more as consumers than as readers. Explicates the highly gendered representations in the ads.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                • MacDonald, J. Fred. 1992. Blacks and white TV: African Americans in television since 1948. 2d ed. Chicago: Nelson-Hall.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  An early example of a burgeoning line of inquiry—how are groups, in this case African Americans—portrayed on television? MacDonald looks at the economic and social pressures that influenced programming and the consequent representation, or misrepresentation, of African Americans on the most important mass medium.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  Economic Context

                                                                                                                                                                                                  As enterprises, media contend with business pressures from customers and competitors as well as manage the production process and labor.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Business Imperatives

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Commercial media obviously operate with financial pressures, and communication historians attempt to identify them and their influence on content. From a macro level, Owen 1975 shows how economics shaped all the major industries of communication. For newspapers, Smith and Dyer 1992 itemizes business pressures that affected all aspects of publishing; Baldasty 1992 provides a cogent account of the transition to a commercial press; and Cloud 1992 takes a more focused look at the special problem of publishing on the frontier. Smulyan 1994 reminds us that American broadcasting did not begin as a commercial enterprise—resorting to advertising came only after discussion and debate. Stamm 2011 argues that some newspapers welcomed the opportunity to move into radio, creating multimedia enterprises.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Baldasty, Gerald J. 1992. The commercialization of news in the nineteenth century. Madison: Univ. of Wisconsin Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    Based on an extensive reading of manuscripts and trade journals as well as a content analysis, this study explores changes in newspapers caused by a shift in their financial base from political patronage to advertising. Shows how newspapers altered their operations, and the news, to attract readers and advertisers.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Cloud, Barbara. 1992. The business of newspapers on the western frontier. Reno: Univ. of Nevada Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      This well-researched study considers the obstacles faced by publishers of early newspapers in the American West: obtaining equipment and supplies, finding staff, gathering news from distant locations, and attracting advertisers and readers.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Owen, Bruce M. 1975. Economics and freedom of expression: Media structure and the first amendment. Cambridge, MA: Ballinger.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        More historical than the title suggests, this book by a leading media economist analyzes the economic forces that have shaped newspapers, magazines, radio, television, and motion pictures.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Smith, Carol, and Carolyn Stewart Dyer. 1992. Taking stock, placing orders: A historiographic essay on the business history of the newspaper. Journalism Monographs 132:1–56.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          A thorough accounting of the historical literature on newspapers as businesses and the economic pressures that shaped the industry. The essay’s organization and comments add considerable value beyond simply assembling bibliographic data.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Smulyan, Susan. 1994. Selling radio: The commercialization of American broadcasting, 1920–1934. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            American radio was not commercialized from the start. Smulyan details the campaigns to convince the public and marketers that broadcast advertising was natural, American, and the best way to finance programming.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Stamm, Michael. 2011. Sound business: Newspapers, radio and the politics of new media. Philadelphia: Univ. of Pennsylvania Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              Challenges conventional view that newspapers tried to contain radio’s growth, fearing its competition in delivering news and carrying advertising. Instead, Stamm finds that newspapers entered the broadcasting business, creating some of the first multimedia corporations.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              Production and Labor

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Historical studies of labor in communication industries typically blend economic and social perspectives. Carey 1969 adds technology to the mix, suggesting how fundamental change in communication redistributed power among media workers, their employers, and the public. Hardt and Brennen 1995 applies insights from labor historians in analyzing the division of labor at newspapers. Similarly, Smythe 1980 strips away some of the romance of journalism by revealing the oppressive work rules that governed reporters. Studies of women in journalism, a burgeoning field, emphasize social constraints as much as economic ones. Marzolf 1977 helped launch these studies, Beasley 2001 updates them, and Kinnebrock 2009 adds a European perspective. Giant telecommunication firms, first Western Union in telegraphy and then AT&T in telephony, employed huge numbers of workers. Gabler 1988 dissects telegraphers’ work, while Lipartito 1994 paints a vivid picture of women’s work as telephone operators.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Beasley, Maurine H. 2001. Recent directions for the study of women’s history in American journalism. Journalism Studies 2:207–220.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1080/14616700117394Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                One of the leading historians of women in journalism, Beasley calls for enlarging the field to include women who did not work in traditional media roles. The essay surveys recent work in the field, critiques it, and identifies primary sources for further research. Includes a helpful reference list.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Carey, James W. 1969. The communications revolution and the professional communicator. Sociological Review Monograph 13:23–38.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-954X.1965.tb03107.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Thought-provoking essay that links changes in media technologies and institutions with new occupational conceptions. Argues that so-called professional communicators relinquished their autonomy to control content and instead simply plied their technical skills to shape messages on behalf of clients.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Gabler, Edwin. 1988. The American telegrapher: A social history, 1860–1900. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    A model study of one group of communication workers. Gabler examines the recruitment, training, working conditions, unionization, role of women, and strikes by the prototypical white-collar employees of giant communication firms, notably Western Union.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Hardt, Hanno, and Bonnie Brennen, eds. 1995. Newsworkers: Toward a history of the rank and file. Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Opens with an overview of the topic by Hardt and then offers seven essays. Contributors address technology, division of labor, news work in Canada, relations between reporters and photographers, and more.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Kinnebrock, Susanne. 2009. Revisiting journalism as a profession in the 19th century: Empirical findings on women journalists in Central Europe. Communications: The European Journal of Communication 34:107–124.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1515/COMM.2009.009Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        A multipronged study of female journalists in German-speaking countries who worked in the late 1800s. The author gathered demographic and occupational data to better understand the professional roles and writings of female journalists.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Lipartito, Kenneth. 1994. When women were switches: Technology, work, and gender in the telephone industry, 1890–1920. American Historical Review 99:1075–1111.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.2307/2168770Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Fascinating study of women as telephone operators (AT&T was the nation’s largest employer of women) that weaves together several themes. Explains operators’ work from both the employer’s and employees’ perspectives.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Marzolf, Marion. 1977. Up from the footnote: A history of women journalists. New York: Hastings House.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            A bit dated, but its comprehensive sweep of the subject has not been superseded by more recent—and usually more specialized—studies. Starts with women in colonial journalism.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Smythe, Ted Curtis. 1980. The reporter, 1880–1900: Working conditions and their influence on the news. Journalism History 7:1–10.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Vivid sketch, crafted from trade journals and autobiographies, of the pressures on reporters for metropolitan dailies. Low pay, editors’ demands to produce many stories a day, and competition from rivals prompted reporters to cut corners, pad stories, and sensationalize.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Politics and Government

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The media have always operated partly as political instruments. Accordingly, government devised various ways to influence the media: it promoted messages it liked, punished those that it opposed, and channeled the development of communication through policies.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Politics

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The political aspects of communication history have long engaged scholars. Developments in Great Britain during two centuries are ably addressed in Koss 1981, 1984. Unfortunately, no similarly comprehensive studies address the American experience; the closest is Leonard 1986, which sketches political reporting to the early 20th century. But more focused studies abound. Merritt 1966 shows how colonial American newspapers cultivated a sense of political identity, and Pasley 2001 offers a richly textured analysis of connections between the press and politics in the early republic. Modern media politics—saturation multimedia campaign communication—stems from the 1930s, Mitchell 1992 found. A rare comparative study, Harris 1996, looks at Britain and France, suggesting a fruitful line of inquiry.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Harris, Bob. 1996. Politics and the rise of the press: Britain and France, 1620–1800. London and New York: Routledge.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                This slim volume is among the few major comparative studies in communication history. In both countries, the press directly affected only a small part of the population before 1800. One pronounced difference, though, was that the British press integrated the nation geographically, while the newspapers of the French Revolution hardened political divisions.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Koss, Stephen. 1981, 1984. The rise and fall of the political press in Britain. 2 vols. Chapel Hill: Univ. of North Carolina Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The first volume covers the 19th century, focusing on the major urban newspapers and their role in national politics. The second surveys the weakening formal ties between newspapers and politicians, but continuing significance of the press in shaping public perceptions of domestic and international policies. Thoroughly researched.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Leonard, Thomas C. 1986. The power of the press: The birth of American political reporting. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    This slim, readable history looks at the traditions that culminated in the muckraking journalism of the early 20th century. Chapters discuss the role of the press in political controversies of the colonial period, the American Revolution, the decades before the Civil War, and the Gilded Age of the 1870s.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Merritt, Richard L. 1966. Symbols of American community, 1735–1775. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Creative use of newspaper content analysis. Finds decreasing references in American newspaper that identify colonists as British subjects and increasing use of symbols that suggest they are a distinct polity. Reprinted in 1976.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Mitchell, Greg. 1992. The campaign of the century: Upton Sinclair’s race for governor of California and the birth of media politics. New York: Random House.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Detailed and vivid study of a colorful event—Sinclair’s campaign as a socialist during the depths of the Depression. Newspapers, radio stations, and Hollywood studios used their resources in a massive communication campaign to paint the muckraking journalist as a radical.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Pasley, Jeffrey L. 2001. “The tyranny of printers”: Newspaper politics in the early American republic. Charlottesville: Univ. of Virginia Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The best overview of politics and the press from the Constitution to 1820. Synthesizes the scholarly literature on this well-studied period and mines the newspapers themselves to convey the vituperative nature of the early partisan press—the papers associated with Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton, and other framers of the Constitution.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Government and the Media

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Despite conventional views that dwell on the adversarial relationship between the press and government, most recent historical scholarship highlights the mutually beneficial nature of the two institutions’ day-to-day interactions. Cook 2005 lucidly summarizes this line of research. The field is replete with studies of presidents and the press; Tebbel and Watts 1985 provides a comprehensive such history, while Juergens 1981 offers a more sophisticated analysis for the period from 1900 to 1920. Congressional-press relations have been ably analyzed by Ritchie 1991, and Sparrow 2003 crafted a similar history about the British Parliament and press. Specific uses of communication by government have intrigued historians. Vaughn 1980 documented the federal government’s adoption of modern public relations techniques during World War I; Nickles 2003 shows how the advent of speedy telegraphic communication changed diplomacy, not always for the better.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Cook, Timothy E. 2005. Governing with the news: The news media as a political institution. 2d ed. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226026688.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            An intelligent synthesis of the many ways in which the news media participate in governance, especially the operations of federal institutions. Although a political scientist, the author uses a historical approach to examine how government has always subsidized and shaped, directly or indirectly, the news.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Juergens, George. 1981. News from the White House: The presidential-press relationship in the Progressive Era. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              One of the best historical studies of presidents and the press, covering Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and Woodrow Wilson. Credits Roosevelt with pioneering many of the tools now commonly used by presidents to shape press coverage of the White House.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Nickles, David Paul. 2003. Under the wire: How the telegraph changed diplomacy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Thoughtful study assessing the consequences of speedy communication on diplomatic decision making. Nickles concludes that having more and faster information often heightened international tensions. Based on a handful of cases from the pre-telegraphic period to World War I.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Ritchie, Donald A. 1991. Press gallery: Congress and the Washington correspondents. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The first of Ritchie’s two books on the history of the Washington press corps, this one traces reporters’ interaction with Congress up to 1920, a subject overshadowed by the many histories of presidents and the press. Thoroughly researched by a historian who works for the US Senate.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Sparrow, Andrew. 2003. Obscure scribblers: A history of parliamentary journalism. London: Politico’s.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    A political reporter himself, Sparrow’s anecdote-filled account dissects relations between the press and British lawmakers. Journalists’ working conditions and technological developments receive some attention, but most of this history sketches the shifting rules that determined what information reporters obtained and how they used it.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Tebbel, John, and Sarah Miles Watts. 1985. The press and the presidency: From George Washington to Ronald Reagan. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      This volume synthesizes the many books and countless articles written about individual presidencies and the press. It covers election campaigns, the role of the press in the White House’s policy-making efforts, and presidential dealings with the media in national crises.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Vaughn, Stephen L. 1980. Holding fast the inner lines: Democracy, nationalism and the Committee on Public Information. Chapel Hill: Univ. of North Carolina Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Among the best studies that show how the federal government cultivated public opinion favorable to a cause, in this case World War I. Scrutinizes the activities of the Committee on Public Information, whose use of public relations techniques in many media presaged later government information campaigns.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Freedom of Expression

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        A three-volume bibliography of freedom of the press, McCoy 1968, 1979, 1993 lists well over 15000 works, evincing historians’ abiding interest in the subject. Every period of US history now boasts excellent histories about press freedom. The years surrounding the adoption of the First Amendment have occupied an industry of legal scholars; Levy 1985 is the focal point for much of this research. Curtis 2000 picks up the antebellum period, and Rabban 1997 takes it through to World War I, when the courts began crafting modern doctrines governing freedom of expression. Censorship during war, a common topic, is surveyed in Smith 1999, while Washburn 1986 explains why African-American newspapers escaped censorship during World War II.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Curtis, Michael Kent. 2000. Free speech, “the people’s darling privilege”: Struggles for freedom of expression in American history. Durham, NC: Duke Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1215/9780822381068Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Despite its wide-ranging title, this book’s major contribution comes from its detailed analysis of just four decades, the 1830s through 1860s. Accordingly, most of the legal disputes involved freedom to write and speak about slavery in both the North and the South.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Levy, Leonard W. 1985. Emergence of a free press. New York and Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Levy’s 1960 Legacy of Suppression argued that the framers of the First Amendment had a limited view of press freedom. His revised view, based on a study of actual press practices—not just abstract writings about press freedom—finds that a more expansive, libertarian conception of press freedom prevailed in the 1790s.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • McCoy, Ralph E. 1968, 1979, 1993. Freedom of the press. 3 vols. Carbondale: Southern Illinois Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              An annotated bibliography that stands as an unparalleled resource for anyone studying history of freedom of expression, especially print media. Together, the three volumes list more than 15000 books, articles, and pamphlets—primary and secondary sources—from early printing in England to the 1990s. Great indexes.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Rabban, David M. 1997. Free speech in its forgotten years. New York and Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Ranging from the end of the US Civil War to World War I, a period largely ignored by scholars until recently, this legal analysis discusses censorship of publications issued by labor groups, political radicals, birth control advocates, and other outsiders.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Smith, Jeffrey A. 1999. War and press freedom: The problem of prerogative power. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Starts with the 1790s, when the United States almost went to war with Great Britain or France, and ends with the Persian Gulf War in 1991. Considers presidential powers in wartime along with the practical aspects of administering censorship.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Washburn, Patrick S. 1986. A question of sedition: The federal government’s investigation of the black press during World War II. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Among the many monographs on episodes of press censorship, this one stands out because it analyzes what did not happen: despite pressures from President Franklin Roosevelt and FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, the federal government did not prosecute African-American newspapers critical of American war policy. Excellent use of unpublished documents.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Policy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Studies of communication policy examine measures by government to guide the development and operations of the media. Policy debates also yield insights into people’s conceptions of communication and the maneuvering by firms to gain competitive advantages. Pool 1983 provides a historical overview of the major policy domains. Lawson 1993 reminds us that communication policy began with the postal system, and that rules governing the mails often reflected battles among newspapers, magazines, and advertisers. The breakup of AT&T in the 1980s, which created an environment that nurtured the Internet, has prompted scholars such as Mueller to reexamine earlier telecommunication policies (Mueller 1997). Broadcasting has attracted more policy historians than any other medium. In analyzing early policy decisions that charted a course for broadcasting’s development in the United States, McChesney 1993 also uncovered much about contemporaries’ hopes and fears for the new medium.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Lawson, Linda. 1993. Truth in publishing: Federal regulation of the press’s business practices, 1880–1920. Carbondale: Southern Illinois Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Challenges conventional scholarship about the supposed antagonism between the press and government. Some publishers invited government regulation, effectuated through postal policy, to regulate newspapers’ business practices involving advertising, circulation, and ownership.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • McChesney, Robert W. 1993. Telecommunications, mass media and democracy: The battle for control of U.S. broadcasting, 1928–1935. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Detailed investigation of a key episode in the history of American broadcasting, when policymakers decided to brush aside most public service radio to maximize opportunities for commercial stations. Based on an exhaustive reading of primary sources.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Mueller, Milton L., Jr. 1997. Universal service: Competition, interconnection, and monopoly in the making of the American telephone system. Cambridge, MA: MIT.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Challenges the prevailing interpretation that the public benefits of early telephony were maximized when AT&T controlled the system with the oversight of regulatory agencies. Instead, Mueller argues, service expanded mainly during periods of competition between telephone firms.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Pool, Ithiel de Sola. 1983. Technologies of freedom: On free speech in an electronic age. Cambridge, MA: Belknap.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            A succinct, lucid history of the three domains of traditional communication policy—print, broadcast, and common carrier—written as background for debates about regulating modern electronic technologies, beginning with cable, that combine elements of each.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            International and Comparative Studies

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Communication historians have produced too few comparative studies that isolate causal variables by examining similar phenomena in two or more countries. International connections in communication have received a bit more attention. Wiener and Hampton 2007 and Wiener 2011 take both tacks, identifying transatlantic influences as well as comparing US with British media. Osborne and Cryle 2002 does the same for the Australasian media. Essays in Dooley 2010 and Høyer and Pöttker 2005 compare the development of news in different countries both directly and by letting the reader infer comparisons by reading case studies of individual countries. With the advent of television, nations looked at each other’s experiences to chart their own paths, according to Potter 2011.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Dooley, Brenden, ed. 2010. The dissemination of news and the emergence of contemporaneity in early modern Europe. Farnham, UK: Ashgate.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Thirteen essays consider the flow of news within and between European countries from the period just before printing to 17th-century forerunners of early-21st-century newspapers.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Høyer, Svennik, and Horst Pöttker, eds. 2005. Diffusion of the news paradigm, 1850–2000. Gothenburg, Sweden: Nordicom.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Traces development of modern news characteristics—focus on events, news values, the interview as a news-gathering tactic, the inverted pyramid story form, and journalistic objectivity. Essays about the United States, Great Britain, Scandinavia, Germany, and Central and Eastern Europe.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Osborne, Graeme, and Denis Cryle, eds. 2002. Special issue: Australasian media history. Media History 8:5–102.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Seven articles tackle such topics as the media of indigenous peoples, early constitutional protections for expression, communication ties between Australasia and the British Empire, and international media relations within the region.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Potter, Simon J. 2011. Invasion by the monster. Media History 17:253–271.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1080/13688804.2011.591757Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The introduction of television prompted debates in Australia about which model the country should follow: the American commercial system or a government-supported system such as those in Britain and Canada. Shows how all sides in the controversy looked abroad for evidence that supported their positions on domestic policy.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Wiener, Joel H. 2011. The Americanization of the British press, 1830s–1914: Speed in the age of transatlantic journalism. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Compares the emergence of similar journalistic traits—emphasis on sensationalism, expansion of newspaper-reading public, role of gossip, increasing power of a few publishers in the mass press—in the United States and Britain.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Wiener, Joel H., and Mark Hampton, eds. 2007. Anglo-American media interactions, 1850–2000. Basingstoke, UK, and New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1057/9780230286221Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Fourteen chapters examine transatlantic influences as well as compare and contrast the media in each nation. Sections compare each nation’s media coverage of similar stories (war, sports, etc.), examine leading media figures, discuss media in national identity formation, and consider the Americanization of British media in the 20th century.

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