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Hobo news

From 1913 to 1929, the hobos had their own newspaper.

Hobo News

Likely James Eads How [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

First, a note on early 20th century nomenclature. At the time, a hobo was a travelling worker. A tramp was a travelling non-worker. A bum was a non-travelling non-worker.

I’ve written before about the work of James Eads How, the millionaire hobo, in hobo colleges. He’s a fascinating character in his own right, and I’ll do a blog post about him in the future. One of his contributions to hobo culture was the street newspaper Hobo News.

It began in 1913 under the title Hoboes Jungle Scout – the name Hobo News first appeared in 1915. The modest paper contained essays, news, opinion columns from anarchists and socialists, and articles about the nascent labour movement. It sold for five cents on the street corners, or fifty cents for a year’s subscription. The slogan of the paper was “of the hoboes, by the hoboes and for the hoboes.”

This original version lasted until 1929. Although there’s no specific record of why it stopped, James Eads How died in 1930, and after the Great Depression began perhaps even the low 10 cent price (it had been raised in 1919) was too much for hobos. Its anarchist and socialist roots also saw it come under the eye of the government.

The newspaper was revived in 1936 by Ben “The Coast Kid” Benson and Pat “The Roaming Dreamer” Mulkern. God I love hobo nicknames. The second version lasted until 1948, when it disappeared for good.

Categories: Arts & recreation Economics & business History Literature Modern history Politics & law

The Generalist

I live in Auckland, New Zealand, and am curious about most things.

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