Continuously published’ claim finds historic backing

In an online forum for the Associated Collegiate Press, students have argued over which paper they think is the oldest college newspaper in the country.

One person argued for East Central Wisconsin’s paper, founded in 1868. Another was for the Westfield State College newspaper, whose first edition, “The Normal Casket,” was published in 1852. In fact, “The Dartmouth,” at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire was dated back to 1799.

While there were other papers which began before Simpson College’s student newspaper, “The Simpsonian” is the oldest continuous college publication in the nation. Dr. Joe Walt can prove it.

Walt, a retired professor and historian at Simpson College, first began teaching at Simpson in 1955. In the spring of 1984, President Robert E. McBride asked him to research and compose a story of Simpson College, which he published 10 summers later, in 1995. This historical account of Simpson is entitled, “Beneath the Whispering Maples, which covers Simpson College’s history dating back to the opening of the college.

“It is claimed by the college’s alumni [and] supported by recent student research, that ‘The Simpsonian’ is the oldest continuously published college newspaper in the United States,” Walt said. “So far no one has successfully challenged it.”

This means “The Simpsonian” has never broken in publishing. Although the paper has changed its frequency of printing, it has never missed a publication.

The first Simpson College newspaper was published on October 1, 1870. It started out bi-monthly until October of 1874, when it became monthly. Then, in September of 1904 it changed to a weekly publication, but never once missed a publication.

Since the first publication of the Simpsonian in 1870, our student newspaper has changed with the times.

Cyd Dyer, college librarian and archivist, is aware of some of these changes.

“They used to have the editors write long essays about what they thought and now they have more varieties of opinions,” Dyer said. “Back then they mostly covered what the literary societies were doing and there were no pictures.”

Senior Minister Scott Grotewold is a Simpson alumnus from the class of 1975. In 1972, Grotewold served as an editor for “The Simpsonian” when our paper first began using the header, “The Nation’s Oldest Continuously Published Student Newspaper.”

“It was presented to us as a fact,” Grotewold said. “Continuously published is what made it true. We never ceased publication.”