Popular pundits predict the precipitous passing of printed publications. While that topic remains up for debate, many of us are gravitating to online news and information sources. It’s a good time to reflect on the role our local publications have played in chronicling our community history.
Consider a few assorted bits from the Scottsdale-area’s publication past:
The Phoenix metro’s first newspaper was the Salt River Herald, which began publication in 1878 and was renamed The Phoenix Herald in 1879. After Chaplain Winfield Scott and his wife Helen homesteaded land that became the settlement of Scottsdale, the Herald began running Scottsdale news. In fact, when Chaplain Scott had a bountiful harvest on his ranch, he’d bring a basket of his produce (raisins, peanuts, citrus, melons, etc.) to reporters at the Herald, hoping to garner publicity for the agricultural opportunities in his namesake town.
The Arizona Republican began publication in 1890. One of the first issues the newspaper advocated for through its editorials was statehood for the territory. During the Great War (World War I, 1914-1918), the Republican was an important source of war news. It also published lists of “slackers” – those men who had not registered for the mandatory draft. Throughout the 1910s and 1920s, the Republican ran a regular column of Scottsdale news, reporting on who had bought a new car (big news in the early days of motoring), descriptions of church picnics and desert outings and who had had been sick during the influenza pandemic of 1918. During the 1930s, The Arizona Republic dropped the “an” from its name and has continuously served Scottsdale with local, national and international news and information.
Arizona – The State Magazine began publication circa 1906 and often featured Scottsdale in articles and advertisements. In 1907, Chaplain Scott penned an article describing the success of his many crops. The cover of the June 1914 issue carried a photo of Mrs. Thomas R. Marshall (née Lois Kimsey), wife of the U.S. Vice President, who, with her husband, was a part-time resident of Scottsdale. Scottsdale’s first luxury resort, the Ingleside Inn, was also the subject of several features and ran ads touting its slogan, “Where Summer Winters.”
What is believed to be the first newspaper briefly published in Scottsdale was the 1920s-era Scottsdale Bulletin. Playwright and author Roy George, who lived in the historic Adobe House at the time, was its editor and publisher.
In 1934, the four-page Scottsdale Verde News served the unincorporated town area, but was also short-lived. A. Bert Byron was its editor; Charlot Tamm its society editor.
During World War II, Southwest Airways, the civilian contract operator of the four Thunderbird airfields in the Phoenix metro area (including Thunderbird II, now Scottsdale Airport) published a monthly magazine for its employees and aviation cadets, The Thunderbird. Many issues are available online at azmemory.azlibrary.gov and offer a fascinating glimpse of war on the home front and life at the airfields.
Scottsdale was booming after World War II, and finally had the critical mass to support its own newspaper. The first issue of the weekly Scottsdale Progress came out on May 6, 1948. Front page headlines told readers that the town’s first movie theater would soon open on Main Street; Post 44 of the American Legion would dedicate its new building on First Street; Scottsdale rancher and businessman Dick Searles was the new president of the Salt River Valley Water Users Association; and Jim Boyd was the editor of the Scottsdale Progress. The paper began daily publication in 1961.
Jonathan and Maxine Marshall bought the paper in 1963 and ran it for 25 years; then a succession of new owners operated the paper through 2008 (when it became an online-only publication).
Anna Roosevelt and her husband John Boettinger (she was the daughter of Eleanor and Franklin D. Roosevelt) published The Arizona Times newspaper in the late 1940s in Phoenix. Their paper created two important ties to Scottsdale. The widowed former First Lady came to visit the publishers in 1946 and 1947. They brought her to see the newly-opened Arizona Craftsmen center in Scottsdale, and Eleanor Roosevelt wrote about the artists and their crafts in her national newspaper column, “My Day,” putting Scottsdale on the map for tourists and art patrons. Second, one of the Times’ key reporters was Scottsdalian Lou Witzeman, who left the paper after a short stint and started a contract fire company, Rural Fire Co., to serve his adopted hometown.
Cletus Smith, the owner of Land O’ Sun Printing, began publication of the weekly Scottsdale Booster in 1948. Its inaugural issue featured a contest to name the town’s movie theater – selecting “T-Bar-T” as the best name for Malcolm White’s highly anticipated amenity.
In 1952, Brooks Darlington (brother of Tom) began weekly publication of The Arizonian, a newsmagazine that carried local news of Scottsdale and Paradise Valley. Its premiere issue updated readers on the soon-to-open Paradise Valley Country Club, resort news, society gatherings, art gallery offerings and business openings. After several changes in ownership, Mae Sue Talley became its final publisher before the paper ceased operation in late 1969.
Alumni of the former Scottsdale High will remember their student newspaper, The Scottsdale Beaver, and Judson alums will recall their student paper, The Cholla. Newspaper staffers gained valuable experience in writing, layout, ad sales and editorializing on topics of teen interest at the time.
True West magazine began publishing in 1953. Now in its seventh decade and editorially led by Bob Boze Bell from offices in Cave Creek, it is the world’s oldest, continuously published magazine about the American West.
Joe Lincoln, son of John C. Lincoln, artist and aviator, published Points West magazine from 1959 to 1966. It carried features and photography of Scottsdale-Paradise Valley personalities, artists and points of interest.
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, other publications began serving the greater Scottsdale area, its residents, businesses and growing number of tourists. For example, the Carefree Enterprise began in 1963 and the Scottsdale Quarterly/Scottsdale Magazine in 1976 (by Bob and Marilyn Rinehart).
To highlight the accomplishments and plans of the citizen-driven Scottsdale Town Enrichment Program (STEP), the City of Scottsdale began issuing a quarterly publication, Scottsdale STEPs Forward, during the 1970s. In the 1980s and 1990s, the city published a magazine for residents, The Scottsdale Citizen. Many issues of both city publications are available to view in the Scottsdale Public Library’s digital collection at scottsdalelibrary.org.
Hoyt Johnson began publishing The Rancher circa 1981 to serve the McCormick Ranch area. Originally a monthly tabloid, it became Scottsdale Scene in 1983, a full-color magazine full of citywide features. After two changes in publishers and a name change to ScottsdaleLife, it ceased publication in 2003.
The Scottsdale Airpark News started as a monthly newspaper for the airpark area in January 1981 with a circulation of 250. It grew to the widely circulated magazine it is today after several changes of owners/publishers. Steve and Suzanne Strickbine’s Times Media Group has published the magazine since 2010.
Dozens of other newspapers, newsletters and magazines have informed and entertained us over the years, far too many to mention, but each important in their evolving role of documenting local people, places and events for historians, authors, genealogists and others to access at libraries or via online databases.
Although many local newspapers and magazines have gone online-only to serve the demand of a new generation of e-readers (and to cut the costs of printing, mailing or delivery), the tactile experience of reading a “hard copy” newspaper or magazine is still available to those of us who still enjoy the experience. Hats off to those publishers who continue to research and report on local news… thus giving us a sense of community while documenting Scottsdale-area history for future generations.