Degrees of Publicity. Handwritten Newspapers in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries

Heiko Droste


This article concerns the handwritten newspaper in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The genre appeared in late sixteenth century as part of a growing public news market, which from the early seventeenth century onwards expanded rapidly with the introduction of the printed newspapers. The latter in parts replaced the handwritten one. However, at about 1700 the handwritten newspaper is still there, fulfilling specific functions alongside its printed twin. The question must therefore be what these functions were and why costumers were willing to pay for a medium that was much more expensive, although subject to the governments’ censorship in the same way as printed newspapers. The paper argues for different degrees of publicity, which shaped the public news market as well as private news correspondences. In consequence, there were different news genres, tailor-made for a general public or more specific groups of recipients. This argument relies on contemporary tracts on the printed newspaper as well as Swedish and Northern German collections of handwritten newspapers.

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