In reading “The Beginnings of Daily Journalism in New York City” by Francis Halsey, it really fascinated me how this piece was both a primary source about early twentieth century historians and a secondary source about the early newspapers of New York City. As fascinated as I was with regards to how the newspapers of early America were not like what we have today, or even what Halsey had in the early 1900s, I was more fascinated with one of the discussions we had in class regarding the historians of Halsey’s day.
We discussed the fact that historians of Halsey’s day would not have necessarily had any formal education with regards to history as a science, and that he more than likely would have taken the study of history as a hobby or as an enthusiast. And to have such a hobby would have meant that he had some money and leisure time. So, I did a little research on Halsey. He was a graduate of Cornell University in 1873, his father was a doctor and he worked for the New York Tribune and New York Times. He also participated in numerous historical lectures. This information suggests exactly what we covered in class, which was that he came from money and history was a side gig.
Therefore, with no formal training in historical research, I wonder how much we can trust his work on early New York Journalism. While I definitely believe that he knew his subject and that a large percentage of the work we read is accurate, I wish we could see some of his sources to figure out where he was getting his information. In a perfect world, where I have tons of time, I would try to dig up some early New York newspapers to see their formats and compare then to what Halsey is reporting.
Prabook, “Francis Whiting Halsey.” Accessed February 16, 2019. https://prabook.com/web/francis_whiting.halsey/1081894
Halsey, Francis Whiting. “The Beginnings of Daily Journalism in New York City” “Proceedings of the New York State Historical Association” Vol. 17 (1919), pp. 87-99.