FLASH: AP Born Two Years Early

Turns out everything you knew in life about the Associated Press was wrong. The world’s largest and oldest newsgathering organization is two years older than previously thought. Obviously everyone knows that it was long-thought to be born in 1848, but a newly released story today finds that it was actually founded in 1846!!

“The documents were provided to the AP’s corporate archives by Brewster Yale Beach, a great-great-grandson of Moses Yale Beach, the second owner-publisher of the original New York Sun and the driving force in creating the alliance of newspapers sharing news dispatches that became known as The Associated Press,” the article reports.

“The papers show that, in May 1846, Beach offered to share news from the U.S. war with Mexico with rival newspapers. The resulting agreement formed the basis for cooperative news gathering by telegraph just as Samuel F.B. Morse‘s revolutionary invention began a swift expansion throughout the country, linking New York to points north, west, and south.”

Be still your beating heart.

Memo and more after the jump.

AP Staff:

Congratulations! We’re older than we knew – by two years. New documents acquired by The Associated Press Corporate Archives show that our actual date of “birth” is 1846 – not 1848, as we have traditionally claimed. The following press release will soon be posted and sent to media. In addition, Richard Pyle has written a detailed story that we will also post.

AP will now officially designate 1846 as the year in which we came into existence. All future marketing and public information will reflect this, and we will update existing materials as they expire.

Ellen Hale
Corporate Communications

Newly acquired papers show AP was born two years earlier than previously thought

NEW YORK — The Associated Press came into existence in 1846, two years earlier than previously thought, according to a newly acquired collection of 19th century documents.

The year 1848 had been generally accepted by journalism historians — and the AP itself — as the birth date of history’s first major wire service. The not-for-profit news cooperative even celebrated its 150th anniversary in May 1998. But papers recently provided to AP’s corporate archives by the descendant of a founder show the world’s oldest and largest newsgathering organization was born in New York during the U.S. war with Mexico, in 1846.

“These documents are a significant discovery not only for the historical record of the Associated Press,” says AP President Tom Curley, “but because they also reaffirm the AP’s fundamental role, covering the news in war and peace, as envisioned by the member newspapers that created it.”

The papers were provided to AP on Nov. 8, 2005 by Brewster Yale Beach. He is a great-great-grandson of Moses Yale Beach, the second owner of the original New York Sun. Moses Yale Beach was a driving force in creating the 19th-century alliance of newspapers receiving dispatches jointly that would become known as The Associated Press. A June 1872 memorandum by his son, Moses Sperry Beach, is key to the new historical findings and the reason the papers are officially designated as “The Moses Sperry Beach Collection.”

The date change comes as AP continues organizing its historical corporate records, under the supervision of Director of The AP Corporate Archives Valerie Komor, following its 2004 move in New York from Rockefeller Plaza, home for 67 years, to a new world headquarters on Manhattan’s west side. Also under way is a project involving nearly 20 writers, editors and researchers working on a new history of the AP, updating Oliver S. Gramling’s “AP: The Story of News,” the 1940 book that has served as a definitive history of AP’s first century.

To see details about the historical discovery, read Richard Pyle’s AP news story in the “What’s New” section on the corporate Internet site at http://www.ap.org/pages/about/whatsnew/whatsnew.html