Book Tells How 18th-Century Newspapers Covered War

Article excerpt

Byline: Associated Press

ALBANY, N.Y. It was the 18th-century version of a tweet: a two-sentence, 25-word dispatch in a London newspaper reporting the American colonies had declared their independence from Great Britain.

The events of the Revolutionary War may seem like ye olde news to todays history students, but they were breaking news to people on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, and newspapers were the main source of information. Some historians theorize there would have been no American Revolution without the eras newspapers, even though they tended to be four-page publications crammed with information that was days, weeks or months old.

"Newspapers are what fanned the flames of rebellion," said Todd Andrlik, whose collection of 18th-century newspapers is the focus of a book published this month.

"Reporting The Revolutionary War" (Sourcebooks) primarily focuses on the turbulent 20-year period between the end of the French and Indian War and the conclusion of the American Revolution. The large-format book features reproductions of the actual newspaper pages from the era, with contextual essays written by three dozen historians, scholars and authors.

"For 250 years, newspaper accounts have been relegated to footnotes," said Andrlik, a marketing executive for a Chicago-area construction firm.

Over the past five years, his collection of newspapers from the 1700s has grown to more than 400, including editions of American and British publications that are among the rarest of their kind. …