California’s first newspaper…

November 9, 2009 by · 2 Comments 

CalifornianFor much of the information below we credit John Oswald’s work “Printing In The Americas”.

Printing in California began in 1825 when it was under Mexican rule, being not much more than engraved wood blocks used to make seal impressions. Some years later in 1833 with a new governor for the province an announcement of his arrival in California was issued, being the oldest known California imprint.

As for newspapers, the very first published in California was on August 15, 1846 with the beginning of the “Californian” in the city of Monterey, just five weeks after the United States flag has been raised over the city and California was proclaimed a part of the United States. The newspaper was published by Rev. Walter Colton, a champlain of the U.S. frigate ‘Congress” docked at Monterey and a one time editor of the Philadelphia “North American“, and Robert Semple. On April 24, 1847 Semple became the sole proprietor of the “Californian” and two weeks later he moved it to San Francisco.

The second newspaper in California was published as a venture of the Mormons. They created the “California Star“, the first regular number of which appeared January 9, 1847.  On November 18, 1848 the Californian” and the “Star” merged, the name becoming the “Alta California“.

Since the population of California was relatively small before the gold rush of 1849 newspapers from this decade are exceedingly difficult to find. They become much more numerous from 1850 onwards, but any title from the 1846-1849 period would be considered a terrific find by any collector.