New England Amateur Journalists Association, 1878-1904


ONE OF THE FOREMOST sectional organizations was that of the New England amateurs. It overshadowed in many respects the Eastern and Western Associations, and its conventions often rivalled those of the National A.P.A., not only in number of delegates present, but in the interest and worth of its programs. It had the longest continued existence of any amateur organization except the National Associ­ation and the Hub Club.


It was organized on New Year’s Day, 1878, in the St. James Hotel, in Boston. The delegates numbered 37, representing every New England State but Vermont. Charles H. Fowle acted as temporary Chairman, Clarence B. Little, of Hanover, N. H., was elected its first President, and William E. Nicholls, of Haddam, Conn., Official Editor. Meetings were to be held semi-annually, the officers to be elected once a year. President Little evinced so little activity in Association affairs and in amateur journalism in general that his resignation was called for. As one amateur paraphrased Goldsmith, the members wanted “but Little, nor wanted that Little long.” At the next meeting in Worcester, July 2, Samuel W. Laurence, of Medford, Mass., editor of the Eastern Star, was unanimously made President in Little’s place.


At the next meeting, held in Lowell, a new constitution was adopted, providing for the publication of an official organ, to be known as the New England Amateur, to be in the charge of the Vice-Presidents, the First Vice-President to be Managing Editor. Clarence E. Stone, of Boston, a poet and story-writer, was elected President, and Leonard E. Tilden, of New Hampshire, editor of the Granite State Courier, was made First Vice-President, and therefore the first Official Editor.


The contest for the presidency the next year was lively, the candidates being Tilden and Dennie E. Sullivan, of Lowell, editor of the Index. Sullivan, elected by a small margin, did much to advance the success of the organization, increasing its membership to over 90. But William B. McCann, of Providence, R. I., editor of the Echo, chosen President in 1881, removed to the West almost immediately, and Association affairs were seriously neglected. The July meeting was omitted, and Miss Virginia J. Stephens, of Springfield, Mass., the Vice-President, issued the call for the Hartford meeting January 2, 1882. Ralph Metcalf, of Providence, then editor of a large paper called Pandora, was elected President.


At the Boston convention in January, 1883, there were two candidates for the presidency, Wilfred E. Griggs, of Waterbury, Conn., editor of Young America, and Willard O. Wylie, of Beverly, Mass., editor of Golden Moments. The advocates of Wylie were very largely in the majority, numbering 27 to their opponents’ five. Griggs himself was not present. However, the parliamentary rulings of President Metcalf kept the convention in continuous session for seven hours. He refused to allow any appeal to the convention, saying that his decisions were not rulings but only statements of fact. Finally, Herbert D. Smart, of Nashua, N. H., editor of the Granite State Echo, moved that the convention adjourn indefinitely, and it was so voted.


Next morning about 25 of the delegates met in the New Marlborough Hotel and organized the New England Amateur Press Association, electing Wylie President and Smart Vice-President. Theodore Bodenwein was made Treasurer, and Charles Heywood, Secretary. An adjourned meeting of the Griggs faction was held in Providence on February 8. It was slimly attended, but elected Smart President, As he was then serving as Managing Editor of the organ of the other Association he refused to accept the office, and little more was heard of this faction. The Association headed by Wylie held a special meeting on Washington’s Birthday, at Gardner, Mass., attended by about 20 members, and the organization was completed.


The meeting at Gardner on July 4 was one of the most successful and largely attended conventions of amateur journalists ever held, many visitors from outside New England being present. After a spirited contest Howard K. Sanderson, of Lynn, Mass., was elected President. Fifty-two votes were cast in convention. The gathering was the occasion of the re-uniting of all factions, the Metcalf organization being abandoned.


After 1888 the Association met annually. In 1889 Harriet C. Cox, of Abington, Mass., editor of Our Compliments, was elected President, the N.E.A.P.A. being the first Association, other than local, to place a young lady in the executive office. Con­ventions were held each year up to 1904. In January of that year, interest having subsided, it was voted to disband. With its immediate predecessor it held 37 conventions continuously from 1878 to 1904.


In 1934 a new organization of New England amateurs was effected under the name of the New England Amateur Press Club. It was organized by mail, David T. Meskill, Jr., of West Roxbury, Mass., editor of the Magic Carpet Magazine, being chosen President, and Edgar M. Hanson, of West Concord, N.H., editor of the Granite State News, being made Official Editor. The New England Amateur was issued as the official organ. The first convention was held in Boston, May 30, 1935. In 1936 Hanson was made President, and John T. Coolidge, of Boston, editor of Bay State Bugle, was made Official Editor. But soon afterward interest waned, and the Association died.


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