Gossip (Washington, DC, 1891)
This is the first issue of Gossip, published in Washington, DC, in 1891 (a periodical of the same name appeared in New York in 1900). Numbers 1 to 11 are available on microfilm in the Library of Congress. No other copy seems to have survived – nor could we locate any references in secondary literature. The first issue describes the magazine’s aims as follows: “Humor and wit are the two cheery spirits that compose the ingredients of GOSSIP’S metaphorical punch.” They admit that the “name GOSSIP has been questioned by some few who doubted its harmonious connection with good morals,” yet they insist that their version of gossip adheres to the term’s definition as “A friend or comrade; a companion … this is the sort of GOSSIP this paper will be; … GOSSIP is going to be to you and your neighbor what you are to them …” (4). The paper thus embraces gossip’s connection to personal relationships and intimate knowledge, while rejecting its ties to scandal and libel.
This first issue of the magazine consists of comic strips and other illustrations, jokes and literary contributions. Later issues introduce such columns as “Society” or “The Stage,” in which readers are introduced to current events and developments in DC – with a focus on opinion and evaluation rather than newsworthiness.
Issue no. 11 alerts readers to a change in management and editorship, with Nellie Corinne Bergen (born 1868) taking over the role of editor, whom Frances E. Willard in American Women (1897) describes as “author and journalist … She wrote first for home papers in Michigan and then for papers in the South. She has served on the Washington “Post,” and is that journal’s free-lance, and children’s department editor. She acts as reporter when necessary, and is an all-round newspaper woman. She writes poetry, sketches, criticisms, and stories. She has a wide circle of acquaintances among the prominent people of the day. She believes in equal pay for equal work by men and women” (79).