Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

George A. Everett

Committee Members

Herbert Howard, G. A. Yeomans, Kenneth McCullough


At least 112 black newspapers have been published in Tennessee, beginning with the Colored Tennessean in 1865. William B. Scott, and East Tennessee harness-maker, and his son, William Jr., published the Colored Tennessean in Nashville on or about April 29, making it one of the first black newspapers in the South.

From 1865 to 1899 there were at least 35 black papers published in the state, 52 from 1900 to 1950, and 25 from 1951 to 1980. By the end of the period there were only three black papers being printed in the state: the Memphis Tri-State Defender, Memphis Mid-South Express and the Nashville Metropolitan. The average life of Tennessee's black newspapers was 7.4 years, below the national average for black papers of 9 years (according to a 1950 study by Armistead Pride).

The Nashville Globe (1906-1960) seems to have been the most significant paper studied. In addition to having had the longest existence, the paper also was a force in some political gains by blacks. Other significant papers and their years of existence were the Memphis Tri-State Defender (1951-present), Chattanooga Observer (31), Knoxville Flashlight Herald (32), Memphis World (41) and the East Tennessee News (42).

The most famous figure in the state's black press was Ida B, Wells-Barnett, a nationally known journalist at the turn of the century. She became an international lecturer in a crusade against lynching. Wells-Barnett was editor of the Memphis Free Speech during her early years. Other important figures accociated with the state's black press included Richard Henry Boyd and Henry A. Boyd of the Nashville Globe.

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