“Le Bijou” – a gem from the American Antiquarian Society…

August 10, 2015 by  
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Timothy Hughes Rare & Early Newspapers’ focus: The American Antiquarian Society

In celebration of its 20oth anniversary the American Antiquarian Society published a beautiful  exhibition catalog titled “In Pursuit Of A Vision – Two Centuries of Collecting at the American Antiquarian Society”. Featured are a fascinating array of books, documents, maps & other paper ephemera, as well as several very rare & unusual newspapers we felt worthy of sharing with our collectors (with permission from the A.A.S.).

180. Le Bijou“, Cincinnati, Ohio, September, 1879

A hobby practiced especially by teenagers, amateur journalism exploded in popularity in the United States following the invention of an inexpensive table-top printing press in 1867. During the 1870s and 1880s, thousands of amateur newspapers were published and liberally exchanged with other amateur journalists around the country. Because of the circumstances under which they were produced, amateur newspapers are becoming of increasing interest to historians, and AAS actively adds to its large collection.

One of the most interesting amateur newspapers at AAS is Le Bijou, edited and published by Herbert A. Clark (ca. 1860-ca. 1924). A great-grandson of Lewis and Clark Expedition leader William Clark, Herbert was born into one of Cincinnati’s leading African-American families. His father Peter, an associate of Frederick Douglass, was politically active and instrumental in establishing free public schools for Ohio African-Americans. Le Bijou is notable for its prominent and forthright and advocacy of civil rights, a fight carried over to the Amateur Press Association, which in 1879 elected Clark it’s third vice-president over the heated objections of its Southern members. Many withdrew, forming in its stead the secret Amateur Anti-Negro Admission Association. Clark delightedly reported on the controversy in the pages of Le Bijou, which he published from 1878 to 1880. He then moved on to a career as a journalist and publisher of African-American newspapers.

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