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The Baltimore Sun was established by Arunah Shepherdson (A.S.) Abell in 1837. Abell
and his partners, Azariah Simmons and William Swain, created the Philadelphia Public
Ledger in 1836, and Abell saw the potential of a penny newspaper in Baltimore. In
1904 when the Great Baltimore Fire demolished the Sun Iron Building, Walter Abell,
grandson of founder A.S., was managing the paper. As the fire swept closer, Walter
Abell ordered subscription lists, records, and bound copies of the paper removed from
the building. While much was saved due to Abell's orders, the building itself and
what remained inside was destroyed. In 1910, control of the company shifted from the
Abell family to a Board of businessmen led by Crawford Black as Chairman. The same
year also saw the first issue of the Evening Sun, which remained in publication until
1995. The Times Mirror Company acquired the Sun in 1986, and merged with the Tribune
Company in 2000.
While the financial history in this collection dates to the paper's creation in 1837,
the Sun's connection with the Newspaper Guild did not begin until the 1930s. Following
the lead of Heywood Broun, who established the American Newspaper Guild in 1933, the
Washington Newspaper Guild was founded in January 1934. The Washington Guild President,
Dan DeSouza, spoke to Baltimore journalists in March and by the end of the month the
Baltimore Newspaper Guild was established. The Newspaper Guild earned representation
at the Baltimore Sun in 1938, but contract negotiations were not settled until 1949.
H.L. Mencken served as the Sun's liaison to the Guild from 1941-1948. By the mid 1960s
the Washington and Baltimore Guilds were working together and eventually merged to
create the still active Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild.
See Bibliography for sources.
Organized into twelve series: Series I. Financial statements and reports, 1904-1962,
1985. Series II. Transactional files, 1899-1942. Series III. Tax records, 1914-1962.
Series IV. Payroll and wages, 1936, 1941. Series V. Financial correspondence, 1856-1963.
Series VI. Sun executives and Newspaper Guild meeting minutes, 1941. Series VII. Newspaper
Guild correspondence, 1934-1942. Series VIII. Newspaper Guild publications, 1934-1944.
Series IX. Legal documents, 1910-1944. Series X. Calvert Street plant construction,
1946-1955, 1964-1966. Series XI. Radio and television, 1981-1986. Series XII. Ledgers,
Series I. Financial statements and reports
Series II. Transactional files
Series III. Tax records
Series IV. Payroll and wages
Series V. Financial correspondence
Series VI. Sun executives and Newspaper Guild meeting minutes
Series VII. Newspaper Guild correspondence
Series VIII. Newspaper Guild publications
Series IX. Legal Documents
Series X. Calvert Street plant construction
Series XI. Radio and Television
Series XII. Ledgers
The Baltimore Sun financial and selected labor records collection contains information
pertaining to Sun finances and Baltimore Newspaper Guild relations. The dates of the
materials range from 1837-1986, with the bulk spanning 1837-1962. The 12 series collection
is housed in 42 document and flat boxes, 2 flat file drawers, and 126 ledger boxes.
The Sun financial and account information is composed of 6 series, including 134 ledger
books. Materials include monthly statements, treasurer's reports, tax and payoll records,
financial correspondence, and transactional files. The bulk of the monthly statements
(not in ledger form) range from 1904-1962, and provide information on various Sun
divisions including the Evening Sun, paper sales and advertising, publishing, the
magazine section, and the color comic section. Much of the financial correspondence
contains statements for the Abell accounts with the Safe Deposit and Trust Company
of Baltimore. Also included in this collection are financial statements regarding
Arunah (A.S) Abell's earnings from the Public Ledger from 1860-1861. The ledger books
date from 1837-1980 and include monthly statements, cashbooks, checkbooks, account
records, stock ledgers, petty ledgers, and bank books.
There are three series related to the Baltimore Newspaper Guild and its relationship
with the Baltimore Sun, as well as guild developments at the national level. Contained
in this collection are Guild newsletters from the late 1930s and early 1940s. Among
the other Guild materials are correspondence, meeting minutes from August and September
1941, and documents from the Sun and Guild negotiations (within the legal documents
series). The correspondence series contains letters to and from H.L. Mencken, and
the meeting minutes are often lengthy discussions between Mencken and Guild members.
In addition to the Baltimore Guild newsletters, the collection contains H.L. Mencken's
personal copies of The Guild Reporter, the official paper of the American Newspaper
Guild, from 1938-1944.
The legal documents series, which ranges from 1910-1944 contains negotiations and
agreements between the Guild and theSun in the 1930s and 1940s. Most of the remaining
materials relate to the purchase of the New World Publishing Company in 1910, including
information from New World stockholders meetings. Another series is devoted to the
construction of the new processing plant on Calvert Street in the late 1940s and 1950s.
The majority of the materials are agreements with contractors and subcontractors,
but plant specifications, blueprints and machine drawings are also present. The last
series contains all radio and television information from the 1980s, as well as documents
from Vitapix Corporation (1953-1958). Included are radio station acquisition and appraisal
documents with photographs, sale agreements, radio closing documents, and television
licensing contracts for WRLH.
The collection was received from the Tribune Company in 2002. Arrangements were made
with Sandy Levy, the Sun Librarian, to retrieve the records scheduled for destruction
and the UMBC Collections Management staff packed materials and transported everything
to UMBC. The items were in no particular order when retrieved from Sun offices. Physical
property rights were transferred to UMBC but intellectual copyright is still maintained
by the Sun.
A preliminary inventory of the collection was compiled by student assistant Adam Cohen
in 2006. The ledgers were separated from the rest of the collection and many of the
books, which were moldy when received, were cleaned. All ledgers were eventually housed
in phase or flat boxes. Materials were divided into twelve series based on subject
or type of document, though when possible the original organization of items in folders
and folder titles were maintained. Initial processing was performed by Adam Cohen
and graduate assistant Andrea Shahmohammadi. Processing was completed and finding
aid was written by graduate assistant Amy Ciesielski in Spring 2009 under the supervision
of Special Collections Archivist Lindsey Loeper.
Describing Archives: a Content Standard (DACS)
Archives Processing Manual: Description (2015): The processing manual used in Special Collections for all descriptive platforms, including
Finding aid available.
Finding Aid: http://library.umbc.edu/speccoll/findingaids/coll034.php
Copyright maintained by Baltimore Sun.
Mencken, H. L. (Henry Louis), 1880-1956
Baltimore (Md.) -- Newspapers
Date: 1904-1962, 1985
Extent: 16 boxes and 2 flat file drawers
The financial statements and reports illustrate the Sun's growth and progress on
both monthly and yearly scales. The monthly statements are often broken down by department,
which can demonstrate the changes the paper made over the years. For example, the
creation of the Evening Sun in 1910 is evident in the collection's monthly balance
sheets beginning in April of that year, with reports of profit, loss, and operating
expenses. Not all of the financial reports were loose records. Related information
can be found in Series XII: Ledgers. Like this series, the ledgers series contains
both financial statements and transactional files subseries. Much of the information
in the monthly statements is summarized in the treasurer's reports, which are present
in subseries I.B from 1917-1959.
Extent: 15 boxes and 2 flat file drawers
This subseries contains monthly balance sheets, gross and net profit statements
for paper sales, advertising, publishing, television, and radio, comparative reports,
income and expense statements for the magazine and comics sections, operating expenses,
and advertising earnings for the Baltimore Sun. Balance sheets for the Evening Sun
begin in April, 1910. Files are grouped alphabetically by report, then arranged chronologically
within each report type.
Date: 1917-1926, 1929-1959
Extent: 9 folders
The annual reports summarize the monthly statements and succinctly illustrate the
company's financial standing over a 42 year period. A handwritten note accompanying
the reports indicated that there were no reports complied in 1927 or 1928 due to a
change in the system.
Date: 1899-1942, undated, bulk 1899-1910
Extent: 2 boxes
The folders in this series include receipts, cancelled checks, salary and automobile
allowance slips. Also contains a handwritten analysis of credits and debits from 1917-1918.
All files are arranged chronologically. There are no files from 1911-1916, or from
Extent: 3 boxes
This series contains state and federal tax return records for the Baltimore Sun.
All documents are arranged chronologically by year.
Extent: 3 boxes
The declared value excess profits and excess profits returns are only present through
1945. From 1945-1958 are annual income returns and quarterly returns.
The property tax returns span from 1915-1961 while the state returns only cover
1935-1946. One folder from 1916-1924 includes yearly petitions for reductions of property
Date: 1903-1908, 1920-1962; bulk 1925-1962
Extent: 1 box
There are no records from 1909-1924.
Date: 1936, 1941
Extent: 1 box
Materials in this series provide information on earnings of Sun employees in 1936
and guild employees at papers in various U.S. cities in 1941.
Extent: 3 folders
This subseries contains payroll and unemployment tax documents for the entire year
of 1936. Payroll is divided by department and contains lists of employee names and
earnings. All folders are arranged chronologically by month.
Extent: 1 folder
The compilation of wage scales illustrates weekly wages paid by newspapers in different
cities across the country in January and June of 1941. Scales are organized by newspaper
and subsequently divided by position and length of employment. Baltimore is not represented.
Date: 1856-1963, undated; bulk 1904-1909
The financial correspondence consists primarily of written requests for funds and
account statements and receipts from the Safe Deposit and Trust Company of Baltimore.
There are several items from the 19th century including a letter from a Mr. Bloomer
dated 1856, entering his son into a six year apprenticeship with the Abell Company.
Also present are several statements from the Office of the Public Ledger [Philadelphia
Public Ledger] dated 1860-1861, regarding the Abell Company's earnings from the publication.
Some of the correspondence pertains to earnings from auctions and the rental and sale
of property. There are no files present from 1910-1962. The last document is a list
of items, including ledgers and bundles of cancelled checks, found in a chest and
repacked into a box in October, 1963. All items arranged chronologically.
This series contains minutes of meetings between the Baltimore Sun executives and
the Baltimore Newspaper Guild between August and September, 1941. The transcripts
include extensive dialogue between H.L. Mencken and Myer Trupp, Baltimore Newspaper
Guild Representative. Minutes are arranged chronologically by meeting date.
Extent: .25 boxes
Folders contain correspondence pertaining to the development, maintenance, and
requests of the Baltimore Newspaper Guild, and include many letters to and from H.L.
Mencken. Some letters composed by Mencken lack his signature or name, but are obvious
responses to prior letters addressed to him. Files are arranged chronologically.
Date: 1934-1944, undated; bulk 1938-1942
Extent: 2.75 boxes
Many or all of the publications in this series were collected by Guild Representative
H.L. Mencken, and some bear his notes and handwriting. The series contains newsletters
and announcements from the Baltimore, Philadelphia-Camden, New York, and American
Newspaper Guilds, as well as a few pieces from other cities and publications
Date: 1938-1942, undated
Extent: .5 boxes
The publication titles in this subseries vary, but all are connected to the Baltimore
Newspaper Guild. The newsletters contain updates on Baltimore Guild progress, the
status of strikes in other cities, meeting announcements, calls for new members, and
open letters to people in prominent positions, including H.L. Mencken. All items are
arranged chronologically by year, month, and day, when possible.
Extent: 11 folders
The Guild Letter was put out by the Philadelphia-Camden Newspaper Guild. Many issues
are missing, but the included issues span most of 1940. All newsletters are arranged
Extent: .25 boxes
Publications include an article from the Saturday Evening Post by Joseph F. Dinneen
upon his retirement from the Newspaper Guild, and other guild related articles.
Extent: 2 folders
There are only five issues present of the Newark Newspaper Guild newsletter, spanning
most of November and December 1934. The focus of most of the articles is on the status
of the strike at the Newark Ledger. Volume 1, Number 5 includes claims of intimidation
of strikers by hired gangsters.
Extent: 2 boxes
The Guild Reporter is the publication of the American Newspaper Guild, affiliate
of the CIO. Several issues are missing, including from March-June 1938, and March-August
Date: 1910-1944; bulk 1934-1944
The folders in this series pertain mostly to Newspaper and Guild negotiations and
agreements, as well as the 1910 acquisition of the New World Publishing Company by
the Abell Company. The Guild documents relate to the formation of the Baltimore Newspaper
Guild and its relationship with the Baltimore Sun. There are also documents and news
articles relating to the wage lawsuit brought by Charles Schroepfer, Fred Schroepfer,
and Abraham Berry against the Abell Company. The plaintiffs eventually lost the decision.
Files are arranged by subject and date.
Date: 1946-1955, 1964-1966
Extent: 4 boxes
This files in this series pertain to the Sunpapers' construction of a new publishing
plant on Calvert Street. Most folders contain proposals and agreements between the
Abell Company and contracted companies.
Extent: 1 box
This box contains 2 copies of the plant specifications from 1948.
Date: 1946-1955, 1964-1966
This subseries consists of agreements and proposals from companies contracted to
work on the construction of the new publishing plant on Calvert Street. Folders are
organized alphabetically by company name. When the company contained both a first
and last name in the title, the folder was placed based on the surname.
Extent: 5 boxes
Covering only the 1980s, this series includes materials relating to radio and television
stations belonging to the Abell Company, as well as the Vitapix Corporation.
Most of the folders in this subseries pertain to the acquisition of radio stations
by the Abell Company. After the purchase of the stations, the Abell Company conducted
value assessments of the buildings and contents. Some of these appraisals contain
photographs. Folders are organized chronologically.
Folders contain contracts between WRLH and movie and television show distributors.
The agreements were already hand-numbered 1-267 and kept in their original order.
One folder of correspondence and other documents pertaining to the Vitapix Corporation,
its affiliation with Guild Films, and WMAR television.
Extent: 134 ledgers (126 boxes)
The ledger series is composed of individual books, including the Sun's first ledger
from 1837, which is housed in the Marylandia collection in the reading room. The books
contain a variety of information and include financial statements, cash and receipt
books, tax returns, stock ledgers, and letters. They are divided into subseries, some
of which correspond to earlier series, including financial statements and records,
and transactional records. In most cases these books will contain similar information
to the loose records, but from different years.
Date: 1855-1968, 1933-1986
Extent: 25 ledgers (17 boxes)
The books in this subseries provide similar information to that in Series I: Financial
statements and records, including monthly statements and earnings records. Also included
are tax and depreciation schedules, and inventories and appraisals. There are no ledgers
in this subseries between 1869 and 1932.
Extent: 99 ledgers (99 boxes)
The books in this subseries include checkbooks, cashbooks, petty cash ledgers,
bankbooks, receipts, account information. There are no records from 1897-1901, 1955-1957,
and 1961-1964. Books are arranged chronologically by the year the ledger was begun.
Date: 1879, 1910-1966
Extent: 6 ledgers (6 boxes)
Ledgers in this subseries refer to Abell Company stocks. There is no information
from 1880-1909, and 1913. Books are arranged by year.
Date: 1868-1886, 1910
Extent: 4 ledgers (4 boxes)
This subseries contains copies of Sun business correspondence in bound books. Letters
are often responses to such inquiries as the price of the paper. Copies were made
at the same time as the original and are very fragile. Letter books are arranged by
year. There are no letters from 1878-1883 and 1887-1909.
All books listed below can be found in the Albin O. Kuhn Library Special Collections.
Abell (A.S.) Company. A New Home for the Sunpapers of Baltimore: Containing a Brief
History of the Past 114 Years and a Description of the Modern Production Equipment
in the New Plant. Baltimore: Abell Company, 1951.
The Baltimore Sun. "About the Baltimore Sun." baltimoresun.com. Accessed November
13, 2015. http://www.baltimoresun.com/about/bal-about-baltsun,0,2763999.htmlstory.
Johnson, Gerald W. The Sunpapers of Baltimore. New York : Knopf, 1937.
Rasmussen, Fred. "The Guild's History at The Sun: Our Common Past." Washington-Baltimore
Newspaper Guild. Accessed November 13, 2015. http://www.wbng.org/15-0627BaltNewsGuildHistory.pdf.
Warner, Henry Edward. The Making of a Newspaper: A Description of a Trip Through the
Baltimore Sun Building. Baltimore: A.S. Abell Company, 1931.
Williams, Harold A. The Baltimore Sun, 1837-1987. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University
Related Archival Collections:
The Albin O. Kuhn Library Special Collections maintains a growing Baltimore Sun Archives
which includes approximately 750,000 photographs, negatives, transparencies, and archival
collections documenting the Sun's history dating to 1837. Accessed November 13, 2015.
The Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore is home to the H.L. Mencken Collection,
which contains significant holdings of Mencken's personal library, papers, manuscripts,
and other materials. Accessed November 13, 2015. http://www.prattlibrary.org/locations/mencken/index.aspx?id=7960.
The Reuther Library at Wayne State University houses the Archives of Labor and Urban
Affairs, and is the official archive of The Newspaper Guild. The Newspaper Guild collection
contains materials pertaining to Baltimore and the Baltimore Newspaper Guild. Accessed
November 13, 2015. http://reuther.wayne.edu/node/3200.