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Guide to the William Thompson Dewart Collection of
Frank A. Munsey and New York  Sun Papers
1833-1944
 MS 168

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
(212) 873-3400


New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Susan Kriete

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on October 07, 2019
Description is in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Biographical / Historical

The New York Sun was the first successful penny daily newspaper in the United States. Founded by printer Benjamin Day in 1833, the  Sun was purchased in 1865 by Charles Dana, and within three years reached a circulation of 130,000. An evening edition was added in 1887, and in 1916, the morning  Sun and the  Evening Sun were sold to publisher Frank A. Munsey.

Munsey was born in Mercer, Maine, in 1854. As a young man with (in his own words) "insatiable ambition," he rose to the position of manager in the Augusta, Maine, telegraph office. Becoming interested in the publishing business, in 1882 he moved to New York City and founded theGolden Argosy, a magazine for boys. After six years, Munsey revamped it into an adult magazine, renamed the  Argosy, and now generally regarded as the first "pulp" magazine. In 1889, Munsey started  Munsey's Magazine, America's first cheap general-circulation illustrated magazine, which was selling 800,000 copies monthly by 1906. Having made a fortune with his magazines, Munsey began expanding his publishing empire to include newspapers: the  Star (1891), the  Press (1912), the  Sun and the  Evening Sun (1916), the  Herald and associated papers (1920) and  The Globe (1924). In addition to these New York papers, Munsey also owned the  Baltimore News, which he purchased in 1908.

After purchasing the Sun papers, Munsey merged the morning edition with his  New York Press. In 1920, he closed the morning  Sun, and the evening edition was renamed simply  The Sun. Munsey bought  The Globe and merged it with the  Sun in 1924 in order to obtain an Associated Press membership. In addition to his publishing activities, in 1913 Munsey founded the "Munsey Trust Corporation," which was subsequently re-organized as the "Equitable Trust Company" with Munsey as chairman of the board.

Munsey's ceaseless buying, selling and merging of competing publications earned him a reputation as a ruthless entrepreneur, and he is remembered more for his business activities than as an author or editor. However, Munsey also wrote five novels, and during the 1912 presidential campaign became the mouthpiece for "bull-moose" candidate Theodore Roosevelt, co-founding the Progressive Party and writing a series of articles supporting the former president's bid for election.

In December, 1925, Munsey died of a burst appendix, and the paper was purchased by William Thompson Dewart, president and treasurer of the Sun company and the executor of Munsey's estate (Munsey left the bulk of his vast estate, including his newspapers, to the Metropolitan Museum of Art). Dewart's son, Thomas W. Dewart, succeeded him as president and publisher in 1944. In 1950, the Dewart family sold the Sun to the  New York World-Telegram.