Printing existed to some degree at Bluemont Central College from the time it opened on January 1, 1860 until it became Kansas State Agricultural College in 1863. It was reported that “rambunctious students kept throwing the type [from a printing press] down the stairway and protective measure had to be taken”! Formal instruction in printing began in the fall of 1873, shortly after John Anderson became the second president of the college. Adhering to the provisions of the Morrill Act that established the Land Grant college system, he expanded the curriculum by adding printing and other industrial arts programs.
K-State’s first newspaper appeared on April 24, 1875 when the inaugural issue of The Industrialist was published in a house known as the “Old Platt Residence” (J. E. Platt was professor of English and mathematics, 1864-1883). President Anderson was the “Managing Editor.” Initially the paper was “published every collegiate Saturday” and could be purchased for 2 cents an issue and “delivered at office” (3 cents if mailed), 10 cents per month, or 75 cents a year. Advertising rates were 1 cent per word.
Three articles appeared on the front page of the first issue: “Forage Plants in Kansas. No. 1” by Prof. E. M. Shelton; “The Grasshopper” by Prof. J. S. Whitman; and “Boiled Down,” a series of 38 one-liners on a variety of subjects and events (some serious, some not!) taken from other publications. For example: “Jefferson County reports a vein of coal two feet thick”; “The sentinel who did not sleep on his watch had left it at the pawnbroker’s”; “One thousand cattle are on the trail from Texas to Wichita”; “A Brooklyn fool ate two hundred and thirty seven oysters at one sitting”; and “Kansas received eight thousand Mennonite and two thousand Negro immigrants during the winter”.
In 1875 an area for printing was provided on the second floor of Farm Machinery Hall, the first building erected on the present campus. The printing office moved to several locations in the late 1800s, early 1900s, including the machine shops and the basement of Anderson Hall, before moving to a more permanent home in Kedzie Hall around 1909. The offices of the Collegian remain at that location.
The Industrialist began as the official newspaper of the college. In his history of K-State published in1940, Julius Willard states that the articles “should be accepted as authentic, but errors in respect to facts appear at times….” He added that the paper is “edited with unusual care, and…to be relied upon with safety.”
In its early years the Industrialist contained pieces written by faculty on educational subjects and the results of experiments and research. When the department of industrial journalism was established in 1910, with Charles J. Dillion as the head, K-State became the only college in the U. S. to offer a four year course in printing. Dillon took the view that items of local interest should be the purview of the students’ paper. These changes had an influence on the name of the publication switching from The Industrialist to The Kansas Industrialist.
Gradually, pieces by faculty became less prevalent and articles were written for readership by the alumni; for a time issues of the Kansas Industrialist were mailed to alumni free of charge. In 1951 the first three issues of The K-Stater, intended for alumni, appeared on an “experimental basis” as supplements to the Industrialist. Apparently the test was successful because the first K-Stater as an independent publication was issued on October 1951 as Vol. 1, No. 1. The last issue of the Industrialist as a newspaper appeared in 1955.
The Trumpet became the “successor to the Kansas Industrialist” during the 1955-1964 period. Published by the Kansas State Endowment Association, it began as a bi-monthly in a magazine style and later switched to a quarterly in a newspaper format. Subtitled “Notes on the Changing Scene at Kansas State College,” the publication was distributed to alumni, financial contributors, and the campus community, although the intent was to encourage support from alumni and donors.
The creation of a student paper was hindered for a number of years by reserving columns in the Industrialist for student contributions; student editors were elected in 1891. It is not surprising that the students favored a newspaper of their own rather than have the number of their articles limited and subject to faculty editorship.
The first student newspaper, The Students’ Herald, was issued on January 8, 1896 and a student newspaper has been published continuously since that date. For a brief period, April 2, 1913 to April 22, 1914, the paper was known as The Kansas Aggie. The first issue of The Kansas State Collegian appeared April 25, 1914. Willard, the college historian and a professor of chemistry who was known for his attention to detail, wrote in 1930 that the articles were “rather hastily prepared, frequently exhibits errors, and should be regarded primarily as suggestive rather than authoritative.”
As expected, technology had an impact on the newspaper business. As early as 1972, the Collegian acquired computers making it the first newsroom in Kansas to use computerized editing equipment and among the first to do so at an American university. In 1994 the first E-Collegian appeared making it only the third college newspaper to publish daily on the Web. In 1996 the Collegian celebrated the 100th anniversary of a student newspaper published at K-State. At the time the newspaper had a circulation of 11,500, making it the eighth largest morning daily in Kansas. Over the years the newspaper and journalism students have won numerous awards from state, regional, and national organizations and associations making it one of the more recognized university newspapers in the country.
When the Students’ Herald was created in 1896 it carried the words, “It will be our purpose to speak as the voice of the students on all occasions. Where there is need of improvement, we want to be found. Where there is work to be done, we want our hand to be at the wheel. Where the student’s interests are involved, we will exert every effort to secure justice.” While the Collegian is not without its critics, it remains the students’ voice and provides the university community a much needed service by reporting the news, events and issues of the day.
Sources: History of Kansas State College of Agriculture and Applied Science by Julius Willard; The Industrialist, Kansas State Collegian, The K-Stater, University Archives Vertical Files and photograph collection
Tony Crawford, University Archivist
Twelfth in the Keepsakes series