About the Athens Historic Newspapers Archive
In 1827, O.P. Shaw established the Athenian, Athens' first commercially successful newspaper, at a subscription cost of three dollars a year. The paper abandoned the "long s" printing style of its predecessors and politically took a strong anti-tariff stance. Albon Chase and Alfred M. Nisbet purchased the Athenian in 1832 and renamed it the Southern Banner. The owners quickly aligned their new publication with Georgia's Union Party and the John Clark political faction. In response, political opponents established a rival paper, the Southern Whig, in 1835 to support the principles of the Whig Party.
The two papers competed politically and commercially throughout the 1840s. The Southern Whig ceased publication in 1850 (due in part to the declining popularity of the Whig Party) and was succeeded by the Southern Herald. The Herald lasted just four years, before John H. Christy reformed it into the Southern Watchman in 1854. The paper gave voice to Democratic Party opposition, which was made up mostly of former Whigs and members of the American Party, who were sometimes referred to as the Know Nothings.
The political rivalry became particularly prominent in the weeks before secession. After the election of Abraham Lincoln, the Southern Banner joined many other Georgia papers in calling for Georgia's secession from the Union. The Southern Watchman, on the other hand, worked to ease tensions and promoted further compromise between the North and South. Following Georgia's decision to secede in January of 1861, the Watchman fell in line with the Banner and called for unity within the state.
Both newspapers continued to publish throughout the war and into Reconstruction. The Southern Banner changed ownership several times in the post-war period. James Sledge, who had owned and edited the paper during the war, sold the Banner in 1867 to S. A. Atkinson. The Southern Banner changed ownership again in 1872 and became the North-East Georgian and later the Athens Georgian before reverting back to the Southern Banner title in 1878. The following year, the paper began releasing a daily edition.
The Southern Banner and Southern Watchman merged in 1882 to form the Banner-Watchman and in 1889 dropped the Watchman from its name. In 1923, the Athens Banner fully merged with the Athens Herald and became the Athens Banner-Herald, a name the publication still holds today.
Kenneth Coleman, Confederate Athens (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1967).
Louis Turner Griffith and John Erwin Talmadge, Georgia Journalism, 1763-1950 (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1951).
Ernest C. Hynds, Antebellum Athens and Clarke County, Georgia (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1974).
Debra Reddin van Tuyll, "Nineteenth Century Georgia Newspapers," New Georgia Encyclopedia, 2002.
The Athens Historic Newspapers Archive spans the years 1827-1928 with over 77,000 images, and includes the following titles:
- Athenian, 1827-1832
- Athens Herald, 1913-1923
- Clarke County Courier, 1903-1913
- Southern Banner, 1832-1882
- Southern Watchman, 1855-1882
- Southern Whig/Southern Herald, 1838-1850
- Daily/Weekly Banner-Watchman, 1882-1889
- Daily/Weekly Athens Banner, 1889-1922
- Athens Banner-Herald, 1923-1928
Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Athens (Ga.) --Newspapers.
- Clarke County (Ga.) --Newspapers.
Creation of the Web site: The following UGA Libraries employees contributed to the production of the Athens Historic Newspaper web site:
- Andy Carter
- Ashley Doliber
- Philip Fitzpatrick
- Toby Graham
- Lauren Johnson
- Bob Kobres
- Jeannie Ledford
- Sheila McAlister
- Katie McCreery
- Victoria McDonald
- Mandy Mastrovita
- Donnie Summerlin
- Mary Willoughby
- Jennifer Wang
- Constantine Wright
Publisher: The Digital Library of Georgia, University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, GA 30602
Master image file details: 400 ppi, TIFF 4.0
Credit: The Athens Historic Newspaper database is a project of the Digital Library of Georgia as part of Georgia HomePLACE. The project is supported with federal LSTA funds administered by the Institute of Museum and Library Services through the Georgia Public Library Service, a unit of the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia. Digitization is also made possible through a grant provided by the Frances Wood Wilson Foundation, Inc.