William B. Dana

From the Commercial and Financial Chronicle, November 4, 1939: 100 Years of Service to Commerce, Finance, Industry, 1839-1939, Vol. 149, No. 3880.

FRASER’s collection of the Commercial and Financial Chronicle is expanding, so it may be helpful to know a bit about the publication’s history.[1] The Chronicle was a financial newspaper published from 1865 to 1987. Despite a variety of changes and editors, the Chronicle maintained a consistency and accuracy its readers could rely on. William Buck Dana, the creator of the publication and principle editor from 1865 until 1910, established the standards.

Dana’s publishing career began on February 1, 1861, with the purchase of Hunt’s Merchants’ Magazine.[2] From 1839 until it was absorbed into the Chronicle in 1871, the magazine was a principal source for all things commerce related in the United States (click here to see a letter from the editor regarding the merger). The magazine had “provided reports on agriculture, manufacturing, commodities, and merchandise trade; banking; insurance; currency; navigation; and legislation and court decisions affecting the conduct of business.”[3]

On July 1, 1865, about four years after purchasing Hunt’s Merchant’s Magazine, Dana published the first issue of the Chronicle. Dana was precise in his approach to informing his readers. Evidence of this is found in the complete title used for the first five years of the publication: The Commercial & Financial Chronicle, Bankers’ Gazette, Commercial Times, Railway Monitor, and Insurance Journal. A Weekly Newspaper, Representing the Industrial and Commercial Interests of the United States.

Under Dana’s leadership, the Chronicle expanded and improved. He published numerous supplements—at no additional cost to readers—that addressed specific topics such as the railway industry and state and city bonds. (See the chart for supplement names and dates.) Each time a supplement was added or significantly changed, Dana alerted Chronicle readers, as in this example from Volume 60.

 

In 1909, Dana celebrated 50 years in publishing. He died the next year at the age of 81. Jacob Seibert Jr., a long-term Chronicle employee, became the next publisher.[4] Seibert and his successors followed Dana’s example, continuing to enhance and expand the Chronicle’s business news and statistical information.

Possibly the biggest publication change for the Chronicle occurred on March 9, 1928, with the transition of the monthly supplement Bank and Quotation Section to the Bank and Quotation Record. With this publication, supplements were no longer included in the subscription price of the Chronicle.

On November 4, 1939, the Chronicle celebrated 100 years of publishing. The anniversary issue (Volume 149) pays homage to the Chronicle’s pioneers and is an excellent resource for diving deeper into the early history of this longstanding American publication. The Chronicle remained an active publication until 1987.

 

Supplements to the Commercial and Financial Chronicle, 1875-1928

Title* Publication Dates
Investors’ Supplement

Monthly;† bimonthly until November 1894; quarterly January 1865-July 1903

April 3, 1875-July 25, 1903
State and City Supplement (Section)

“Supplement” changed to “Section” in October 1903.

Annual until 1895; semiannual from April 1896

October 31, 1891-June 28, 1924
Street Railway Supplement

Quarterly

March 9, 1895-October 19, 1907
Quotation Supplement

Monthly

May 11, 1895-February 8, 1902
Cotton Crop Supplement

Annual

September 11, 1897-September 6, 1902

 

Bankers‘ and Trust Supplement

Annual, typically published in the fall after the bankers’ convention

September 3, 1898-October 5, 1907
Bank and Quotation Supplement (Section)

Formerly the Quotation Supplement. “Supplement” changed to “Section” in November 1924. Monthly

March 8, 1902-December 3, 1927

 

Railway and Industrial Section (Compendium)

Formerly the Investors’ Supplement. “Section” changed to “Compendium” in November 1924. Triannual until 1918; biannual as of November 1918, typically published in May and November

October 24, 1903-November 26, 1927

 

Electric Railway Section

Formerly the Street Railway Supplement. Triannual until September 1918; biannual until October 1923

February 29, 1908-October 27, 1923

 

(American) Bankers’ Convention Section

Formerly the Bankers’ and Trust Supplement. “American” added in October 1926. Annual

October 10, 1908-November 12, 1927

 

Railway Earnings Section

Monthly

February 20, 1909-December 10, 1927

 

Public Utility Compendium

Formerly the Electric Railway Section. Biannual, published in April and October; published once, May 31, 1924, under the name Railway, Industrial and Public Utility Section

November 1, 1924-October 29, 1927
State and Municipal Compendium

Formerly the State and City Section. Semiannual

June 27, 1925 – December 24, 1927
Bank and Quotation Record

Formerly the Bank and Quotation Section. Monthly

March 9, 1928-March 1987

 

NOTE: *Titles link to the first issues. †Because FRASER’s Commercial and Financial Chronicle collection is incomplete, some publication dates are unknown. Not currently available on FRASER.

 

[1] This FRASER Staff Picks article provides additional details about the content of the publication.

[2] Douglas W. Steeples. Advocate for American Enterprise: William Buck Dana and the Commercial and Financial Chronicle, 1865-1910. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2002: 1.

[3] Ibid, 2.

[4] Ibid, 81-85.

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