In the early 1800s, Cincinnati, the seat of Hamilton County in southwest Ohio, was home to a vast population of German-speaking immigrants. The Tägliches Cincinnati Volksblatt (People’s Daily Journal) was one of the nearly 200 German-American publications available during this time. Established in 1836 as Das Volksblatt, the paper became one of the most popular German-American newspapers in the Midwest and was the only daily German-language newspaper for almost a decade. When the paper started, the Volksblatt openly supported the Democratic ideology. Andrew Jackson’s political party made this decision easy because some of his policies were geared towards the immigrant community. The paper would eventually shun political favoritism and become Independent in 1872 to remain neutral to an ever-growing reader base.
Serving as the mouthpiece for the German community, the Volksblatt informed its readers on local and national news, as well as offering a healthy dose of European news, as many people still had family overseas, keeping them apprised of the happenings in the homeland. The paper was published entirely in German, with the exception of some advertisements and the occasional article. By 1910, Cincinnati’s two leading German-language newspapers, the Volksblatt and the Cincinnatier Freie Presse, had a combined circulation of 110,000. This is attributed to the fact that more than half of the city’s population at this time was of German heritage.
The Volksblatt fell on hard times, like all German-language newspapers, during World War I. Anti-German sentiment was running rampant through the country, and newsstands boycotted German newspapers by refusing to sell them. On October 6, 1917, federal employees looking for anything that would label the newspaper as enemy “sympathizers,” raided the Volksblatt’s headquarters. Advertising money, which newspapers relied on to pay their expenses, dried up and the paper began to wither. The Volksblatt also suffered from the effects of the Prohibition movement sweeping the nation. No longer able to advertise the brewery industry, a large part of the German culture, German-language newspapers lost a precious source of revenue. Editor Charles Krippendorf decided that it no longer made financial sense to continue publication and sold the paper to its rival the Cincinnatier Freie Presse for $7,500. The Volksblattpublished its last issue on December 5, 1919.
Researched and written by Kevin Latta