Dayton Forum

Dayton Forum (Dayton, Montgomery County, Ohio) 1913-1949 [LCCN: sn84024234]
Digital Edition: June 7, 1918 – October 24, 1919; April 11, 1930; September 18, 1936 – October 31, 1946

The Dayton Forum, a weekly newspaper established in 1913 by John H. Rives, was for and about African Americans in southwest Ohio. In 1918 it advertised that it “reached 3,000 homes” and was “carefully read by 12,000 people every week throughout Ohio and Middle West.” The paper described itself  as “progressive, critical yet reliable, but not radical,” seeking to convey a thoughtful perspective on the issues it covered.

The  Forum covered national and international events as well as local ones. In the late 1910s, it published letters from local soldiers abroad in World War I and articles on the race riots, precipitated by racist violence, of Red Summer. The bulk of its early content featured church, NAACP, and YMCA/YWCA community activities in the Dayton area and Ohio more broadly. Some issues also had a “Feature” section containing comics, fiction, and human interest stories, published two days after the usual Friday release. Articles went from merely observing developments to promoting opinions sometime in the 1920s. By the 1930s the paper had also adopted a more active visual style, with a variety of fonts and a larger emphasis on headlines, and by 1936 it was issued by the Forum Publishing Company. In the 1940s, the publication moved to a semi-monthly schedule for unknown reasons, possibly due to paper shortages during World War II. With an increase from six to seven columns, and eight by the 1940s, the Forum used its extra space not only to provide a greater number of news reports but also to promote education as a means of improving conditions for African Americans nationally.

The paper announced when African Americans, especially Daytonians or Ohioans, were elected to office or hired as faculty. It also announced celebrations and community events, more often than births or deaths. Legal notices were frequently inserted where there was room, but eventually entire pages would become dedicated areas, such as Women’s, Society, Local, or Sports sections. The Dayton Forum advertised for local goods and services only. The advertisements became more specific and numerous in the 1930s and 1940s, but “beauty” services and products were common throughout the entire run.

Although it was the largest newspaper for African Americans in Ohio during its run, the Forum  ceased publication in 1949 for unknown reasons, with no known successors. It was distinguished for being a weekly or semi-monthly paper while most others of its type published in Dayton were dailies. The Forum’s national focus appealed to readers outside Dayton, which probably contributed to its wide distribution.

Researched and written by Jen Cabiya