The North Carolina Gazette of Raleigh, North Carolina published its first issue in 1884 or early 1885. An issue from September 26, 1885 is the only known extant copy, and it is listed as the fifteenth issue of the first volume. Articles in two contemporaneous North Carolina newspapers suggest that the Gazette was publishing by March 1885.
The Gazette served as the official organ of the North Carolina Industrial Association (NCIA), an organization devoted to improving the lives of Black people in North Carolina by encouraging education and participation in manufacturing. The NCIA is most well-known for sponsoring an annual fair that featured new technology for manufacturing and farming and highlighted Black excellence. The fair was usually held in Raleigh and ran from 1879 through 1930.
John H. Williamson (1846–1911) was the North Carolina Gazette‘s founding editor and publisher. Williamson had already established himself in journalism. In 1881 he began publishing the Banner of Raleigh, North Carolina. Williamson merged the Banner with The Carolina Enterprise of Goldsboro, N.C. in 1883 and became one of three partners in The Banner-Enterprise of Raleigh. The partnership was short-lived. In September 1884, the Banner-Enterprise announced that Williamson and another partner had sold their interests to the third partner.
In addition to his newspaper work, Williamson devoted himself to Republican political activity in North Carolina. He served six terms in the state legislature, a tenure longer than any other African American in the nineteenth century. During his legislative career, Williamson advocated for equal rights and education for African Americans. He was a delegate to the Republican National Convention three times and served as the secretary of the N.C. Industrial Association for a number of years.
As the official publication of the Industrial Association, the Gazette devoted extensive coverage to the organization’s fair. The newspaper’s September 26, 1885 issue includes letters and reports about efforts to promote the fair in western North Carolina. The efforts were evidently successful, as the 1885 fair was apparently the largest since 1879 and included a well-received address from the governor.
The September 26, 1885 Gazette also includes society news, a weather forecast, notices for church services, death announcements, train schedules, and traditional advertisements. Published weekly, the newspaper cost 50 cents for a 4-month subscription, 75 cents for a 6-month subscription, or $1.50 for a full year.
The North Carolina Gazette appears to have ceased publishing under such a title, or perhaps ceased publication altogether, in 1887 or 1888. By 1891, Williamson was serving as editor for The Gazette, which also served as the official publication of the Industrial Association.
Provided by: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library, Chapel Hill, NC