A History of the "Hattiesburg American" (Mississippi, Newspapers, Press, South)

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mass Communication and Journalism

First Advisor

Gene Wiggins

Advisor Department

Mass Communication and Journalism


This study deals with a chronological descriptive history of the newspapers of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, with emphasis on the Hattiesburg American. Commencing with the Herald, the first known newspaper in 1885, 42 newspapers and 134 newspaper people were found and identified. The newspapers and people are arranged alphabetically in appendices. The purpose of the study was to determine the contribution of newspapers to Hattiesburg and to American journalism, paying attention to news-editorial and business management policies, plant expansion and technological advances, and ownership changes. Several justifications exist for focusing attention on the newspapers of Hattiesburg. First, they do not fit the metropolitan description of journalism as a bellwether. Second, they may be considered as typical of American journalism on a broad scale. Third, the writing of local history seems completely practical. Fourth, no comprehensive history of the newspapers of Hattiesburg has ever been compiled. The Hattiesburg American has been the only daily newspaper in Hattiesburg since it came into existence in 1917 with Williams as editor and manager, followed by the Harmons and St. Johns. In 1982 the Hedermans of Jackson sold it to Gannett. Major change followed as Gannett brought in new employees, redesigned the paper, and expanded the physical plant to print USA TODAY. Information for the study was gathered from books, directories and manuals; newspapers and newspaper articles; magazine and journal articles; theses and dissertations; interviews with people working at the American and others reminiscing on their special knowledge of the newspapers; and annual reports, convention proceedings, newsletters, official courthouse records, oral histories, personal papers, seminars, speeches and television programs.