AJ History

First 100 Years


The first volume of The National Amateur

Excerpts from accounts 1879 convention

In 1891 at Philadelphia

NAPA's first permanent constitution

Pillow fight

Almost fatal doldrums

1926 marked the semi-centennial

Little remembered giant

The Torpedo

The Mailing Bureau

Library of Amateur Journalism

Ralph Babcock

Presidents' Field

Tryout Smith

Thrift & Edkins


Amateur Press Clubs

Philadelphia Connections

National Amateur Press Association
The First 100 Years: Flashbacks...

The first Philadelphia amateur press club was formed in 1872 with G. Heidel Louden as president. Its life was short. In 1876 another club was formed for the purpose of founding the present NAPA. Its story is told earlier in this book. Later that year a Quaker Amateur Press Association was organized locally and in 1877 a rival Keystone APA was started with moderate success. Both were reorganized in 1881 and Frank Vondersmith was elected president of the Keystone group and was succeeded by James M. Beck. There was another reorganization in 1882 with John W. McLain as president and Sam Stinson as editor. These clubs had short lives.

A new Philadelphia Amateur journalists group was formed in 1885 with Harry Hochstadter as the president. He was succeeded by Porter F. Cope and Walter C. Chiles. This club disbanded in 1891.

In 1897 the Quaker City APA was again formed with monthly meetings, but the Spanish-American War took away its active members. It reorganized again in 1898 and continued for many years. On its fifth anniversary. J. Ray Spink was named president. At the end of seven years it reported having held 131 meetings. Charles H. Russell was then president and Will Murphy secretary.

G. Heidel Louden was one of the pioneers of amateur journalism in Philadelphia, although there is no record of his attendance at the founding of the NAPA. He began publishing the Philadelphia Monthly in 1870, the same year W. H. Waters started The Boys' Gazette. During the ensuing decade Philadelphia was the home of many amateur journals. George Bertron issued Boys' Gem and Evan Reed Riale, prominent in the National's formation, published Our Effort and later the Censor. Vondersmith issued The Pearl and the Acme.

Other Philadelphia amateur journals during the legendary year of 1876 were: Sphinx by James M. Beck; Keystone Gazette, Philip Hano; Dispatch, later called The Tidal Wave, Lavernus S. Kerr; Dot and Philadelphia Banner, William J. Eldridge; The Literary World and Crisis, J. C. Worthington; Golden Leaves, Charles T. Semper; and, Our Mutual Friend, R. Howard Taylor.

    Last updated: 01/16/2000