The first ostensibly Catholic newspaper in Philadelphia was The Catholic Herald and Advocate which was first published on November 3, 1822 and may have run for only three issues. It was published by E.F. Crozet to support the Rev. William Hogan in his dispute with Bishop Henry Conwell over the trusteeship issue at St. Mary’s Church. It was not an official organ of the Diocese of Philadelphia and has been described as “blasphemous.” No copies of this paper are known to exist.
The first genuinely Catholic newspaper in Philadelphia was The Catholic Advocate and Irishman’s Journal. It was started on February 22, 1823 in opposition to The Catholic Herald and Advocate and supported Bishop Conwell in the Hogan Schism. It appears to have only lasted for a few issues. There are no extant copies.
The first diocesan paper was The Catholic Herald. It was first published on Jan. 3, 1833 and had the support of the bishops of Philadelphia. It ran under that name through Dec. 27, 1856 when it merged with The Catholic Visitor.
The Catholic Visitor was founded sometime in 1856. After merging with The Catholic Herald the first issue of The Catholic Herald and Visitor was published on January 3, 1857. There are no known copies of The Catholic Visitor previous to its merger with The Catholic Herald. Supposedly, there was a newspaper called The Catholic Advocate that was absorbed by The Catholic Herald but there is no proof of its existence.
The Catholic Herald and Visitor was published through December 23, 1863 when it merged with The Universe, a secular, Irish newspaper which was founded sometime in 1856. The first issue of The Universe: The Catholic Herald and Visitor was published on January 2, 1864.
The Catholic Herald and The Catholic Herald and Visitor was the official organ of the Diocese of Philadelphia and carried the recommendation of the Bishop. The January 10, 1863 issue of The Catholic Herald and Visitor has the slogan, “Official Organ of the Diocese of Philadelphia” under its masthead. It is not known if this is the first issue to carry this slogan. The January 3, 1862 issue does not have the slogan. The CHRC does not have any issues of Volume 30, January 10, 1862-January 3, 1863.
The January 2, 9 and 16, 1864 issues of The Universe: The Catholic Herald and Visitor has the slogan “Official Organ of the Diocese of Philadelphia” under its masthead and carries the recommendation of the Bishop. Beginning January 23, 1864, it no longer is advertised as the official organ and does not contain the recommendation of the Bishop. It may have lost diocesan support due to its pro-Fenian editorial policy. The Universe continued to publish through 1869 or 1870.
The Boy’s and Girl’s Weekly Catholic Magazine changed its name to The Catholic Weekly Instructor in 1849. With the change of name it also changed from a journal to a newspaper format and began carrying general Catholic and Philadelphia diocesan material in addition to juvenile material. When a new publisher took over the paper in 1850, it appears to have become mainly a Catholic newspaper. It ceased publication sometime in 1856.
The Catholic Standard was first published on January 6, 1866 as the official organ of the Diocese of Philadelphia. The Catholic Times first appeared on December 3, 1892. The two papers merged at the end of November 1895 and the first issue of The Catholic Standard and Times was published on December 7, 1895. This paper continues to be published today as the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. The last issue of The Catholic Standard was published on November 30, 1895 and the last issue of The Catholic Times appeared November 23, 1895.
Another Catholic newspaper titled Catholic Herald was published from June 22, 1872 through November 15, 1873.
The CHRC has the following Philadelphia Catholic newspapers in their collection. Please note that individual issues may be missing within the general range noted.
The various incarnations of The Catholic Herald on microfilm from January 3, 1833 through January 4, 1862; January 10, 1863 through December 24, 1864; Sept. 7 and 28, 1867. We are missing Vol. 30 (Jan. 11, 1862 –Jan. 3, 1863). The title through the end of 1864 is The Universe: The Catholic Herald and Visitor. The 1867 issues are titled The Universe. The Catholic Herald. We do not have copies of The Catholic Visitor (no known copies exist) or The Universe before they merged with The Catholic Herald.
The Catholic Standard and The Catholic Standard and Times on microfilm through 1986 and then in hard copy through the current issue. We are missing 1909 on microfilm. We have it in hard copy but it is badly damaged.
The Catholic Times on microfilm from December 3, 1892 through November 23, 1895.
The later newspaper called Catholic Herald on microfilm from June 22, 1872 through November 15, 1873.
The Catholic Weekly Instructor in hard copy for the following issues. Many are in poor condition.
1849: Jan. 13.
1851: May 3; Sept. 20; Dec. 13.
1852: Apr. 30; Sept. 4, 25; Nov. 13.
1853: May 21; Jun. 18, 25; Jul. 2; Sept.. 3, 17, 24; Oct. 15; Dec. 24, 31.
1854: Feb. 11; Apr. 1, 8, 29; Jun. 3, 17, 24; Jul. 1, 15, 29; Aug. 12, 19, 26; Sept. 2, 9, 23; Oct. 14; Nov.4; Dec. 9, 23.
1855: January; Feb. 3, 24; March; Apr. 7, 28; May 5, 12, 19; Jun. 2, 9, 16, 30; Jul. 7, 21, 28; August; Sept. 1, 8, 15,
22; Oct. 6, 13; Nov. 3, 17, 24.
1856: Apr. 5; May 31.
Philadelphia Roman Catholic Diocesan Newspapers are available online at findmypast.com. These include The Catholic Herald and its successors, The Catholic Standard and The Catholic Standard and Times through September 28, 1951.
The records are indexed and keyword searchable. The search is free; however, to view the records a subscription to Findmypast is required.