So opens T. S. Eliot’s poem, “The Boston Evening Transcript.” The paper, famous for its crime reports, genealogy column, and later, its literary publications—including an early draft of “America the Beautiful” in 1904—ran six days a week for 111 years. It began in July of 1830, though only three issues of the Transcript were printed before publishers Henry Dutton and James Wentworth decided to close in order to focus on building subscriptions. The paper reopened in August of the same year, edited by Lynde Walter.
When Walter died in July of 1842, twelve years to the day after the publication of the first issue of the Transcript, his sister, Cornelia Wells Walter, took over as editor. She had previously served as the newspaper’s theater critic and is today widely regarded as the first female editor of a major daily paper. She was only twenty-nine years old. Three years later, she leveled criticism at renowned poet Edgar Allan Poe for a reading at the Boston Lyceum that she claimed was so dull, the audience was forced to make a “noisy expedient” exit. Walter concluded on Poe’s final poem of the night: “This was ‘The Raven’—a composition probably better appreciated by its author than by his auditory.”
The offices of the Transcript were destroyed in the Great Boston Fire of 1872. They were rebuilt and expanded into the current Transcript Building by prominent Boston architect Gridley J. Fox Bryant. The building, constructed in the Second Empire style, uses reclaimed granite from the paper’s previous headquarters and features the letter “D” on its façade, for the original publisher, Henry Dutton. It stands on the corner of what was previously Boston’s “Newspaper Row,” once the headquarters of the Boston Globe, the Boston Journal, and the Boston Post.
Notable contributors to the Boston Evening Transcript include children’s book author Virginia Lee Burton, Pulitzer Prize-winner John P. Marquand, journalist Lucien Price, and poet Epes Sargent, who also served as editor. The paper ran until 1941.