OAKLAND -- On Saturday evening Feb. 21, 1874, publishers Benet Dewes and George Staniford released the first issue of the Oakland Tribune.

Five thousand copies of the paper, then called the Oakland Daily Tribune, were printed on the second floor of the building at 468 Ninth St. and distributed for free.

It was a four-page paper, measuring only 6 by 9 inches and consisting largely of advertisements.

Dewes and Staniford not only owned and published the paper, but they wrote the stories and printed the paper, too, setting each letter of every word by hand. They set out to create a permanent daily paper for Oakland, and so it has for 140 years.

Engravings were not uncommon. In fact, one was used on the back page of the first issue, but photography wasn't used much in the Tribune until the late 1890s.

Today, of course, things are much different. Reporters and photographers are mobile. Stories and photos are filed electronically and edited in the office by a series of editors. Once it gets the "OK," it moves to the copy desk in Pleasanton for page designing before printing in Hayward and finally at your driveway or local newsstand.

While the Tribune is a great deal younger than our East Coast counterparts -- such as the Hartford Courant (1764) -- what it lacks in age it makes up for in achievements.


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In 1923, the Oakland Tribune became the first metropolitan newspaper to regularly publish a column by a black woman. Delilah Beasley's "Activities Among Negroes" reported on the black community locally and nationally until her death in 1934. She urged assistant publisher and California Assemblyman William Knowland in the introduction of California's anti-lynching law. The bill passed a year before her death.

This edition of "Trip in Time" will celebrate the Tribune's first 50 years.

top 5 Oldest California papers in circulation
1) San Jose Mercury News, 1851
2) Mountain Democrat, 1854
3) Santa Barbara News-Press, 1855
4) Sacramento Bee, 1857
5) Daily Democrat, 1857
Others: The Examiner, 1863; San Francisco Chronicle, 1865; Oakland Tribune, 1874; Los Angeles Times, 1881
Researched by staff