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Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
Marshall Cohen—researcher and producer, CNN

Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


From Encyclopedia Dubuque
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Telegraph Herald, 801 Central. Photo courtesy: Bob Reding

TELEGRAPH HERALD. In 1919 the National Historical Society meeting in Cincinnati, Ohio officially declared that the DUBUQUE VISITOR was the first newspaper west of the MISSISSIPPI RIVER. (1) The Telegraph Herald is the direct descendant of that paper. The "Visitor" was a weekly and the first copy consisted of four pages. On June 3, 1837 a new owner changed the name of the paper to the IOWA NEWS. On August 1, 1841 the paper was renamed MINERS' EXPRESS (THE). The paper was still four pages long in its original size of 16x21 inches. (2)

The Dubuque Tri-Weekly Herald was first available to the public on April 19, 1851. The four page paper was 14X21. (3) Faced with competition, The Miner's Express announced a daily newspaper on August 19, 1851. This challenge was answered by the Dubuque Tri-Weekly Herald with its own daily. The two newspapers survived with an editor who also served as a reporter and printer. Type was hand-set and the printing done on a hand-press. (4)

The two newspapers merged on October 26, 1854. The new paper, known as The Daily Express and Herald, had nine columns and remained four pages. This was the first morning daily in Iowa. (5) The word "Express" was dropped from the title on July 29, 1859 and the paper became Dubuque Herald. (6) The proprietors were Dennis MAHONY, Joseph B. DORR and William H. Merritt. (7)

Mahony retired from the Dubuque Herald and moved to St. Louis where he was involved in starting the Daily Times. The paper was published for several years, before Mahony decided to return to Dubuque. On July 5, 1870 he established the Dubuque Daily Telegraph. (8) On May 5, 1881 Patrick J. QUIGLEY purchased the "Dubuque Daily Telegraph" from the widow of Mahony. (9) In 1882 he established the Dubuque Democrat. (10) The two newspapers merged in 1885 with Quigley the principal owner. (11) On October 27, 1901 Quigley consolidated the Dubuque Daily Telegraph with The Dubuque Herald to become The Telegraph-Herald. (12)

Between 1881-1905, the Telegraph-Herald absorbed eight other newspapers. (13)

                Daily and Weekly Dispatch-----1884
                Daily and Weekly Democrat-----1885
                Daily and Weekly Independent--1887
                "INDUSTRIAL LEADER"-----------1888
                Industrial West---------------1889 

In 1904 the Telegraph-Herald installed an Ostrander-Seymour press which guaranteed 18,000 copies of a four, six, eight, ten, twelve or sixteen-page paper per hour. The machine failed to meet these requirements. It was replaced in 1905 by a press manufactured by R. Hoe & Company of New York. This machine with a capacity of 24,000 papers twenty-four pages long printed in four colors an hour represented an investment of $25,000. (14) This acquisition was but the latest example of the newspaper's commitment to staying on the forefront of the technology. By 1905, the paper would also claim: (15)

          the first patent mailer
          the first paper folder
          the first and only double cylinder press
          the first car load of print paper
          the first flat stereotyping outfit
          the first curved stereotyping outfit
          the first pneumatic tube system in Iowa
          the first web perfecting press, capacity 8,000 per hour
          the first two car loads of roll paper in one consignment
          the first electric clock, motor and lighting
          the first carrier boys' uniforms
          the first color disc
          the first Cottrell book press
          the first and only car of book paper received in Dubuque
          the largest car of roll print

In the same article, the newspaper recounted its publishing firsts: (16)

            the first published list of farmers in Iowa
            the first and only original and special premiums
                 to subscribers--a county directory
            the first double-decked press to print 18,000
                 16-page papers per hour, folder in one part
            the first three-deck, four-color perfecting press,
                 printing 24,000 24-page papers an hour and 
                 the modern stereotyping plant going with it
            the first to issue a state directory--the largest
                 book ever published west of the [[MISSISSIPPI
                 RIVER]] and the only directory ever published
                 containing a resume of the state, counties,
                 cities and towns and names of businesses and
                 professional men and farmers.

The Telegraph Herald was one of Dubuque's major employers by 1905. The running expenses of the business in 1885 was $240 per week. In 1905 for the same length of time, the expenses had reached $2,700 with the greatest part paid to the 130 employees of the paper and the job printing department. (17)

With circulation growing, the paper moved from rented space at 7th and Main into spacious quarters at 5th and Main. Quigley maintained an active role in the management of the paper until his death on February 23, 1917. His successor was Fred W. WOODWARD.

Postcard carrying the picture of a newspaper carrier.
Carrier Calendar. Photo courtesy: Bob Reding

Woodward became president and general manager of the Telegraph-Herald in 1917. In 1927, he negotiated the merger of the paper with the Times Journal. The first issue of the paper printed in its present location at 8th and Bluff appeared on newsstands on July 14, 1930. The Telegraph Herald-Times Journal benefitted from new technology in 1929. In that year the Associated Press announced from Des Moines that its automatic printers which served eighteen of its member newspapers in Iowa and five each night would now deliver fifty percent more copy into each newspaper office daily. The change meant increasing the speed of the printers from 40 words to 60 words per minute. (18)

The slogan adopted by the Telegraph-Herald and Times-Journal in 1934 was, "It pays to modernize." To show the newspaper's support for the aims and purposes of the Federal Housing Administration and the Home Owners' Loan Corporation, the paper's directors purchased a property at 1890 South Grandview. The plan was to convert the two-story frame house built in 1890, into a comfortable, modern home with the expenditure, including the cost of the property, not to exceed $6,500. The goal was to familiarize the public with the general procedures, step-by-step, of modernizing a series of smaller projects--modernizing a basement, living room, bath room, or painting and decorating. A writing contest was also offered with the theme,"It Pays to Modernize." Cash prizes totaling fifty dollars were offered. (19)

The AP Wirephoto system was established around 1945 to transmit news pictures to newspapers and television stations making it possible to illustrate news stories as they were happening. Ten years later the Iowa network, the second in the nation, was established. The first subscribers to the Iowa network were the Cedar Rapids Gazette, Davenport Times, Davenport Democrat, Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, Iowa City Iowan, Mason City Globe Gazette, Muscatine Journal, Ottumwa Courier and the Waterloo Courier. (20)

The era of photojournalism at the Telegraph Herald began during the 1950s under the leadership of editor James GELADAS. (21) Championing innovative display of photographs, then unique in the newspaper business, Geladas established a reputation for accurately determining the "point of view" of a photo story. In addition to providing creative freedom and display space for his writers, he gave them access. In 1968 he hired a local charter pilot to transport Dallas Kinney, a Pulitzer-prize winning photojournalist with the paper, to Memphis, Tennessee. When asked what photographs he wanted, Geladas replied 'anything the other media outlets did not do.' Moving quickly, Geladas enabled Kinney to be the only photojournalist present when the first mourners passed by King's casket. (22)

In 2003 the Telegraph Herald adopted a new format and design. New features included a narrower page, larger type and "contemporary design components" to make the newspaper easier to read, more portable and user-friendly. The design and format changes were the first since September 1996 when the paper changed to every morning publication. (23)

The Telegraph Herald became a division of WOODWARD COMMUNICATIONS, INC. In 2015 company officials announced that printing and production operations would move to a state-of-the-art regional print center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The new site would offer print quality and color capabilities that current equipment in Dubuque could to provide. The move resulted in approximately ten full-time employee owners, seven flex-time employee owners and six part-time employee owners would lose their jobs. (24)

Image courtesy: Mike Day. Kendall C. Day family collection
Telegraph-Herald and Times-Journal car

Selected Events in the History of the Telegraph Herald

May 11, 1836: The Du Buque Visitor, Iowa's first newspaper and the ancestor of the Telegraph Herald, publishes its first issue.

August 19, 1851: The Miner's Express, a descendant of the Visitor, starts publication

1854: The Dubuque Express and Dubuque Herald merge. Dennis Mahony leaves in 1855 but returns as owner in 1860.

August, 1862: Dennis Mahony, editor of the Express and Herald, is arrested under orders of President Abraham Lincoln

July 5, 1870: The Dubuque Daily Telegraph publishes its first edition.

November, 1873: Dubuque Herald moves to the southeast corner of 6th and Locust.

1885: Dubuque Democrat, owned by P. J. Quigley, merges with Dubuque Telegraph

October 27, 1901: Dubuque Telegraph and Dubuque Herald merge with P. J. Quigley the majority owner

December 1909: Telegraph Herald lists a second telephone--number 45. The first was 183

February 19, 1912: The Telegraph Herald publishes its first comic strip entitled--"The Remarkable Interview With the Boob With the Bread Knife."

1917: Fred W. Woodward, general manager, acquires controlling interest of Telegraph-Herald Inc.

April 3, 1920: Telegraph-Herald ceases Saturday publication citing weak economy and newsprint shortage

April 3, 1927: Dubuque Telegraph-Herald and Dubuque Times-Journal merge.

1930: The Telegraph-Herald and Times-Journal relocates from 5th and Main (1914-1930) to 8th and Main (present location). From 1901-1914 the paper had offices at 7th and Main.

May, 1935: Times-Journal is dropped from the newspaper's name

July, 1936: Harry Slichter becomes the managing editor. He will retire in 1969.

Cooking school at the Orpheum. Photo courtesy: Telegraph Herald

From April 27-30, 1937, the ORPHEUM became the "Telegraph-Herald Foods of the Nation Cooking School." Featuring Miss Lucille Harris, cookery expert of the National Livestock and Meat Board, the school promised live demonstrations of cooking and for every program "an attractive recipe folder will be given each woman attending...to contain the printed directions for all the dishes prepared that day. At various times the newspaper hosted the cooking school at the Eagles Hall, GRAND THEATRE, and the Cooper building at 3rd and Main. (25)

May 4, 1941: Telegraph Herald Inc. puts radio station KDTH on the air

1955: Vacationland, the newspaper's first tri-state tourism special section is published. It has appeared annually since that date.

1956: The Woodward Foundation, the charitable arm of Telegraph-Herald Inc., is founded.

1960: Telegraph Herald Inc. begins a profit-sharing program as an employee benefit

1965: Woodward family purchased total control of the paper from the Quigley family.

February 28, 1966: The Telegraph Herald is printed on the Goss Metro, the manufacturer's first double-wide offset press.

December, 1970: Roger J. RHOMBERG receives the first Telegraph Herald First Citizen Award

1974: The Telegraph Herald publishes the "Plebiscite," selected comments left by readers on its answering machine

November, 1974: The Telegraph Herald begins a new feature, "Computer Journalism"

February 3, 1975: William Woodward steps down as general manager to become vice-president and corporate secretary of Woodward Communications Inc. Norman MCMULLIN succeeds him.

August 18, 1975: Fred W. Woodward, publisher and majority owner of the Telegraph Herald for fifty-eight years, dies.

1976: American Newspaper Markets certifies the Telegraph Herald as #1 in the United States in household penetration among afternoon and Sunday newspapers (90%)

January 12, 1978: Norman McMullin is named publisher and vice-president-newspapers

1981:The name of the Telegraph Herald's parent company changes from Telegraph Herald Inc. to WOODWARD COMMUNICATIONS, INC.

September 28, 1983: Norman McMullin is named president of the parent company. Stephen KENT, succeeds him as publisher but resigns in April.

July, 1985: P. Scott MCKIBBEN, advertising director of the Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Argus-Leader, is named the Telegraph Herald publisher. He holds the position until August 1988.

May, 1986: 150 years of service to the community by the Telegraph Herald is celebrated with a program at Five Flags theater and open houses

August 13, 1988: Telegraph Herald resumes Saturday service and begins publication on major holidays making it a 365-days-a-year publication.

February, 1989: Michael J. SEXTON, publisher of the Waukesha County (WI) Freeman is named Telegraph Herald publisher. He remains until 1992.

September, 1991: Telegraph Herald publishes the first edition of a stand-alone publication, Tri-State Business Times.

January 20, 1993: Frederick Robert WOODWARD, Sr., former general manager and chairman of the WCI board, dies

January, 1993: Thomas YUNT, advertising executive at Indianapolis Newspapers and a former Telegraph Herald advertising director, is named Telegraph Herald publisher.

1994: Brian E. COOPER, Telegraph Herald executive editor, receives the Iowa Newspaper Association's Distinguished Service Award

August 1995: William WOODWARD, former general manager and chairman of the WCI board, dies

January, 1996: Telegraph Herald announces THonline.com

2002: Tom Yunt, publisher, receives the Iowa Newspaper Association's Master Editor-Publisher Award

February, 2004: James F. NORMANDIN becomes the Telegraph Herald publisher

2004: Tom Yunt receives the Iowa Newspaper Association's Distinguished Service Award

2006:Newstand price of the Telegraph rises from twenty-five to seventy-five cents--the first increase in nineteen years

2007: Steve Fisher, Telegraph Herald advertising director, is named general manager a position he holds until named group publisher of Woodward Communications' weekly publication

2009: Brian E. Cooper, executive editor, received the Iowa Newspaper Association's Master Editor-Publisher Award

April 21, 2009: Telegraph Herald begins slimmer (44-inch-web) format

December 31, 2009: Tom Woodward's resignation as corporate executive marks the first time since 1901 that no member of the Woodward family was employed by the Telegraph Herald or the parent company. Family members continue to serve on the WCI board of directors.

2010:Jim Normandin, Telegraph Herald publisher, receives the Iowa Newspaper Association's Distinguished Service Award

2011: Telegraph Herald joins other newspapers in applying a subscription fee for online local news, sports and features

May, 2011--Telegraph Herald marks 175th anniversary

2012: Tom Yunt resigns as president and CEO; Sid Scott is named chairman of the board of WCI; Tom Woodward was elected chief executive officer and president, succeeding Tom Yunt. (26)

2017--Amy GILLIGAN became the first woman to serve as the executive editor of the Telegraph Herald and the first native Dubuque resident to hold the position in ninety years. She replaced Brian E. COOPER.

2021--The Telegraph Herald officials decided to eliminate the Monday issue.



1. "Telegraph-Herald First Paper West of Mississippi, Decision of National Historical Society," Telegraph-Herald, November 30, 1919, p. 1

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid.

4. Ibid.

5. "The Greater Telegraph-Herald: The Story of Its Founding and Growth," Telegraph-Herald, May 18, 1904, p. 5

6. "Telegraph-Herald First..."

7. "The Greater Telegraph-Herald..."

8. "Telegraph Herald: A Storied Institution," Telegraph Herald Commemorative Edition: Past, Present and Future, March 26, 2012, p. 2A

9. "Rise of the Telegraph-Herald," Telegraph-Herald, May 18 1904, p. 5

10. "Past, Present and Future."

11. Ibid.

12. Ibid.

13. "The Telegraph-Herald's Records of Achievement," Telegraph-Herald, March 19, 1905, p. 17

14. Ibid.

15. Ibid.

16. Ibid.

17. Ibid.

18. "High Speed Service on AP Monday," Telegraph-Herald, November 3, 1929, p. 1

19. "House Built in 1890 to Serve As An Example," Telegraph-Herald and Times-Journal, October 12, 1934, p. 1

20. "15th Anniversary--T-H Helped Pioneer Wirephotos in Iowa," Telegraph Herald, December 18, 1960, p. 32

21. Gilligan, Amy. "TH's Commitment to Photojournalism Began with Geladas," Telegraph Herald Commemorative Edition: Legacies and Legends, March 26, 2012, p. 8B

22. Ibid.

23. Chronology," Telegraph Herald, January 1, 2004, p. 35

24. Fisher, Stephen and Woodward, Tom. "A Message to Our TH Media Readers," Telegraph Herald, July 1, 2015, p. 1

25. Hemmer, Paul. E-mail, January 27, 2018

26. "Past, Present and Future."