Frank Munsey

Frank Andrew Munsey (21 August 1854 – 22 December 1925) was an American newspaper and magazine publisher and author. He was born in Mercer, Maine, but spent most of his life in New York City. The village of Munsey Park, New York is named for him, along with the Munsey Building in downtown Baltimore, Maryland at the southeast corner of North Calvert Street and East Fayette Street.

Munsey is credited with the idea of using new high-speed printing presses to print on inexpensive, untrimmed, pulp paper in order to mass-produce affordable (typically ten-cent) magazines. Chiefly filled with various genres of action and adventure fiction, that were aimed at working-class readers who could not afford and were not interested in the content of the 25-cent "slick" magazines of the time. This innovation, known as pulp magazines, became an entire industry unto itself and made Munsey quite wealthy. He often shut down the printing process and changed the content of magazines when they became unprofitable, quickly starting new ones in their place.

Frank A. Munsey
Frank A. Munsey, (1910)
Frank A. Munsey, (1910)
BornFrank Andrew Munsey
21 August 1854
Mercer, Maine, United States
Died22 December 1925 (aged 71)
New York City, New York, United States
OccupationPublisher, author


Munsey was of English ancestry, his family emigrated from England to America during the colonial era in the early 1600s.[1] Early in life, Munsey ran a general store, at which he failed. He next became a telegraph operator and then manager of the Western Union telegraph office, in Augusta, Maine. Publishing was a formidable industry in Augusta at the time. Munsey was very ambitious, and being in charge of the telegraph office (a vital connection for the news media of his day) gave him a unique insight of the printing business. In 1882 he moved from Augusta to New York City and entered the publishing industry, having used his savings to purchase rights to several stories. He formed a partnership with a friend in New York and an Augusta stockbroker. After arriving in New York, the stockbroker backed out of the agreement and released his friend from any further financial obligations. Approaching a New York publisher, Munsey managed to edit and produce the first issue of his magazine, Golden Argosy, only two months and nine days after his arrival.

However, five months later, the publisher went bankrupt and entered receivership. By placing a claim for his unpaid salary, Munsey was able to take control of the magazine. Borrowing $300 from a friend in Maine, he barely managed to keep the magazine going while learning enough about the publishing industry to eventually succeed.


Munsey was a pioneer in the publication of pulp magazines. He expanded into the newspaper business, eventually owning many publications in the Eastern United States.

After his death, the Frank A. Munsey Company continued publishing various magazines, including pulp detective fiction, such as Flynn's Detective Fiction and All-Story Love. In 1942 they sold out to rival pulp publisher Popular Publications.


Golden Argosy was a weekly "boys adventure" magazine in a dime novel format with a mix of both articles and fiction. After a few years, Munsey realized that targeting a young audience had been a mistake, as they were hard readers to retain since they rapidly grew out of the publication, and since children of the time had very little spending money, advertisers were not interested in such a publication. In 1888, the name was changed to The Argosy to attract an older audience. In 1894 it became a monthly, designed to complement Munsey's Magazine, and in December 1896 it became the first true pulp, switching to an all-fiction format of 192 pages on seven-by-ten inch untrimmed pulp paper. It was renamed Argosy Magazine, and by 1903, circulation climbed to a half million copies per month.

In 1889 he founded Munsey's Weekly, a 36-page quarto magazine, designed to be "a magazine of the people and for the people, with pictures and art and good cheer and human interest throughout."[2] It was a success, soon selling 40,000 copies per week. In 1891 the magazine became a monthly, Munsey's Magazine, in 1892 the magazine began to include a "complete novel" in every issue, and in 1893 the price was dropped to ten cents per issue. By 1895 circulation was over half a million copies per month, by 1897, 700,000 copies per month. In October, 1906, he began publishing Railroad Man's Magazine, the first specialized pulp magazine which featured railroad related stories and articles. It was soon followed by a similar magazine, The Ocean, which featured sea stories and articles. The Ocean debuted with the March 1907 issue; after the January 1908 issue, it changed title and content to the general purpose The Live Wire, which also had a short run.


Frank A Munsey 001
Frank Munsey ca. 1919

Munsey was very active in the newspaper industry, at one time or another owning at least 17 publications. As the number of newspapers in America declined, Munsey became known for merging many of his properties; though probably financially wise, this earned him a great deal of enmity from those who worked in the industry. He was known variously as "Executioner of Newspapers,"[3] "Dealer in Dailies" and "Undertaker of Journalism." Munsey papers included:

The sale of the Herald in 1924 left Munsey owning only two newspapers before he died the following year.[4] The Evening Telegram was sold to Scripps-Howard in 1927, two years after Munsey's death.

Other Munsey pulps and magazines included Puritan, Junior Munsey, All-Story Magazine, Scrap Book, Cavalier, Railroad and Current Mechanics.


Munsey also authored several novels:

  • Afloat in a Great City (1887)[5]
  • The Boy Broker (1888)[6]
  • A Tragedy of Errors (1889)[7]
  • Under Fire (1890)[8]
  • Derringforth (1894)[9]


Munsey founded the Munsey Trust Company in 1913.[10] It was re-organized in 1915 as The Equitable Trust Company with Munsey as chairman of the board, and became one of the city and state's dominant financial institutions into the late 20th century. It was purchased by Maryland National Bank in 1990.[11]


Munsey became directly involved in presidential politics when former President Theodore Roosevelt announced his candidacy to challenge his hand-picked successor President William Taft for the landmark 1912 Republican Party nomination for the presidency. Munsey and George W. Perkins provided the financial backing for Roosevelt's campaign leading up to the Republican National Convention in Chicago. When Roosevelt supporters bolted from the convention, Munsey was one of the most outspoken critics of what were labeled as "corrupt proceedings" and announced that Roosevelt would run at the head of a new party. His encouragement and offer of financial backing led to the formation of the Progressive Party, which acquired the nickname of the "Bull Moose Party" (from TR's quotation that "I'm as strong as a bull moose", when questioned about his age after previously becoming the youngest president upon McKinley's assassination, serving almost two terms as president) then nominated Roosevelt for president. Munsey was one of its most ardent supporters and one of the largest contributors to its "third party" campaign expenses and pulled one of the largest votes ever for a candidate not from one of the two main dominant parties in American history.[12]


In 1905, Munsey built the Munsey Trust Building in downtown Washington, D.C. on 'F' Street, between 12th and 13th Streets next to the National Theatre, off Pennsylvania Avenue. Designed also by McKim, Mead and White of New York City with 13 floors, it was also one of the tallest structures in the Nation's Capital, besides the Washington Monument, the dome of the U.S. Capitol, the clock tower of the old Post Office headquarters further southeast on Pennsylvania Avenue, and various church spires. Headquarters of the Girl Scouts of the USA were located here from 1913-1916. It was torn down after extensive protests by historical preservationists and a court case in 1982.

Further to the northeast by forty miles, another tall skyscraper bears his name: The Munsey Building at the southeast corner of North Calvert and East Fayette Streets in downtown Baltimore across from the central Battle Monument Square. Rebuilt in 1911 by famous architectural firms of Baldwin & Pennington of Baltimore and McKim, Mead and White of New York City it was then briefly the city's tallest skyscraper and replaced an earlier newspaper headquarters building just built five years earlier after the Great Baltimore Fire of 1904, which was on the northern edge of the devastated downtown district. Notable was the upstairs offices with the printing presses on the ground floor visible to passers-by through large department store-style display windows designed and built for "The News" of Baltimore.

Under Hearst's ownership, the paper moved again in 1924 to East Pratt Street between Commerce and South Streets (facing the old "Basin"/Inner Harbor piers), The Munsey Building was later renovated into an elaborate bank headquarters and customer service lobby of marble, brass and bronze for his Munsey Trust Company. In the early 2000s, after a series of bank mergers and out-of-town take-overs, the building was again transformed into apartments and condos with some commercial food and snack shops on the ground floor where the once grimy and oily printing presses had rumbled and rolled, replaced later by the ornate brass and marble counters for customer service with wood and paneling framed, glass-partitioned offices of the banking empire, but the name remained. Ironically, by 2013, a modern branch office of M&T Bank, an out-of-town corporate bank which also put its name on the city's pro football stadium for the Baltimore Ravens, opened on the first floor facing the ground level streets.

Death and legacy

Munsey died in New York City on December 22, 1925, from a burst appendix at age 71. In his will he made large bequests to his sister, nephew and niece, generous bequests to many cousins, and gifts and annuities to a large number of old acquaintances. He also bestowed large sums to 17 of his upper management employees, but nothing to the numerous employees who worked for him. Surprisingly, he bequeathed an annuity of $2000 to Annie Downs, a love interest of the young Munsey who "turned him down for marriage because she didn't think he was a good enough prospect for success." Munsey also contributed considerably to Bowdoin College, the Maine State Hospital at Portland, and Central Main General Hospital at Lewiston. All the remainder of his fortune he gave to the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Fifth Avenue in New York City. This bequest included ownership of the Sun-Herald newspaper, The Mohican Stores grocery chain, and real estate holdings in Manhasset, New York, on the north shore of Long Island. Under the leadership of Museum President Robert W. DeForest, the Metropolitan Museum developed part of the land into a planned residential community called Munsey Park, New York. It featured Colonial-style houses and streets named after American artists. The community’s first model home opened in 1928. By 1950 the Museum had sold the Munsey real estate interests to other developers, realizing an estimated four million dollars from these transactions.[13]

At the time of his death his fortune was estimated to be $20 million to $40 million. Today with the rate of inflation it would be valued at $250 million to $500 million.


  1. ^ A Munsey-Hopkins Genealogy: Being the Ancestry of Andrew Chauncey Munsey and Mary Jane Merritt Hopkins, the Parents of Frank A. Munsey by Daniel Ozro Smith Lowell, 1920 pg. 4-6
  2. ^ Munsey's Magazine Archived 2006-12-31 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ George Garrigues, He Usually Lived With a Female: The Life of a California Newspaperman, Quail Creek Press (2006), page95n ISBN 0963483013
  4. ^ "Merger". Time Magazine. 1924-03-24. Retrieved 2008-08-09.
  5. ^ Afloat in a Great City on the Internet Archive
  6. ^ The Boy Broker on the Internet Archive
  7. ^ A Tragedy of Errors on the Internet Archive
  8. ^ Under Fire: A Tale of New England Village Life on the Internet Archive
  9. ^ Derringforth on the Internet Archive
  10. ^ "MUNSEY TRUST CO. STARTS.; Deposits of $500,000 on First Day of Baltimore Concern". The New York Times. January 18, 1913. Retrieved April 18, 2018.
  11. ^ "Institution History for BANK CENTER BRANCH (757322)". National Information Center of the Federal Reserve System. Retrieved April 18, 2018.
  12. ^ New International Encyclopedia
  13. ^ Finding aid for the J. Kenneth Loughry Records, 1929, 1943-1971 (bulk 1945-1969).


External links

1912 Progressive National Convention

Angered at the renomination of President William Howard Taft over their candidate at the 1912 Republican National Convention, supporters of former president Theodore Roosevelt convened in Chicago and endorsed the formation of a national progressive party. When formally launched later that summer, the new Progressive Party acclaimed Roosevelt as its presidential nominee and Governor Hiram Johnson of California as his running mate. Questioned by reporters, Roosevelt said he felt as strong as a "bull moose". Henceforth known as the " Bull Moose Party", the Progressives promised to increase federal regulation and protect the welfare of ordinary people.

The party was funded by publisher Frank Munsey and its executive secretary George Walbridge Perkins, an employee of banker J. P. Morgan and International Harvester. Perkins blocked an anti-trust plank, shocking reformers who thought of Roosevelt as a true trust-buster. The delegates to the convention sang the hymn "Onward, Christian Soldiers" as their anthem. In a famous acceptance speech, Roosevelt compared the coming presidential campaign to the Battle of Armageddon and stated that the Progressives were going to "battle for the Lord."

The August convention opened with great enthusiasm. Over 2,000 delegates attended, including many women. In 1912, neither the Republican candidate, President Taft, nor the Democratic nominee Woodrow Wilson, had endorsed women's suffrage on the national level and the famed suffragette and social worker Jane Addams gave a seconding speech for Roosevelt's nomination.

Although Roosevelt insisted on excluding African-American Republicans from the South (whom he regarded as a corrupt and ineffective element), he did include black delegates from all other parts of the country, and he further alienated white southern supporters on the eve of the election by publicly dining with black people at a Rhode Island hotel. Roosevelt said at the end of his speech " We stand at Armageddon, and we battle for the Lord.”

Argosy (magazine)

Argosy, later titled The Argosy and Argosy All-Story Weekly, was an American pulp magazine from 1882 through 1978, published by Frank Munsey. It is the first American pulp magazine. The magazine began as a children's weekly story–paper entitled The Golden Argosy.

Cavalier (magazine)

Cavalier is an American magazine that was launched by Fawcett Publications in 1952 and has continued for decades, eventually evolving into a Playboy-style men's magazine. It has no connection with the Frank Munsey pulp, The Cavalier, published in the early years of the 20th century.

In its original format, Cavalier was planned by Fawcett to feature novelettes and novel excerpts by Fawcett's Gold Medal authors, including Richard Prather and Mickey Spillane.

Family Christian Center

Family Christian Center, commonly abbreviated to FCC, is a megachurch located in Munster, Indiana. It was founded in the early 1950s by Bishop Frank Munsey and his wife, Ruth. Today, Steve Munsey is the senior pastor at Family Christian Center. The nondenominational church has 30,000 members, and even has a Starbucks in the lobby. Drama is used to supplement the preaching, such as by reenacting a battle scene to commemorate the beginning of the second Gulf War. The church also put on 3 yearly productions - Choices (formerly known as HearBreak Hotel/Hotel Hallelujah), Scrooge: The Musical, and Jesus of Nazareth. Other productions, such as Yellow Brick Road and White Throne Judgement, have been done also over the years. FCC is one of the fastest growing churches in the United States and listed as Outreach Magazine's 17th largest Church in the United States. Beginning with Saturday evening and continuing through Sunday morning, FCC holds four services each lasting 90 minutes. There is also a 6 p.m. service each Wednesday night. It now features a church in the back gymnasium for teenagers and young adults called Two52 Youth Culture. The church also features a radio station(88.3 FM Crosstower radio) and can be heard within 12 miles of the building in Munster. FCC has also branched off into the city of Chicago. City Church is run by Pastor Kent Munsey, Pastor Steve Munsey's son, and Kent's wife Alli. City Church holds three services on Sundays, two in the morning and one in the evening.

Index to Fantasy and Science Fiction in Munsey Publications

Index to Fantasy and Science Fiction in Munsey Publications is a bibliography of science fiction stories that appeared magazines published by Frank Munsey. It was first published in book form in 1978 by William L. Crawford, without imprint in an edition of 100 copies. Although the book is uncredited, it may be a reprint of a bibliography done for the Fantasy Amateur Press Association by Bill Evans, c.1945.

Mary Gnaedinger

Mary C. Gnaedinger (September 28, 1897 – July 31, 1976) was an American editor of pulp magazines.

Born Mary Catherine Jacobson, she attended the Columbia University School of Journalism. After stints as a society reporter for the Brooklyn Eagle and work for E. P. Dutton, she became editor of the Frank Munsey Company's Famous Fantastic Mysteries in 1939, Fantastic Novels in 1940, and possibly A. Merritt's Fantasy Magazine.Gnaedinger was known for ardently interacting with readers, basing the stories she printed in the magazine on their requests and commonly praising their knowledge of Science Fiction.

Mercer, Maine

Mercer is a town in Somerset County, Maine, United States. The town was named after Revolutionary War hero Brigadier General Hugh Mercer. The population was 664 at the 2010 census.

Munsey's Magazine

Munsey's Weekly, later known as Munsey's Magazine, was a 36-page quarto American magazine founded by Frank A. Munsey in 1889 and edited by John Kendrick Bangs. It is credited with being the first mass-market magazine. Frank Munsey aimed to publish "a magazine of the people and for the people, with pictures and art and good cheer and human interest throughout". Soon after its inception, the magazine was selling 40,000 copies a week. In 1891, Munsey's Weekly adopted a monthly schedule and was renamed Munsey's Magazine.

In October 1893, Munsey reduced the price of the magazine from 25 cents to 10 cents, which was greatly successful. By 1895, the magazine had a circulation of 500,000 a month. It included numerous illustrations (including many by the illustrator Charles Howard Johnson) and was attacked for its "half-dressed women and undressed statuary". Some outlets refused to stock the magazine as a result, but circulation continued to grow and by 1897 had reached 700,000 per month.

Circulation began to fall in 1906 and by the 1920s was down to 60,000. In October 1929, Munsey's was merged with Argosy. It immediately thereafter demerged with Argosy All-Story to form All-Story, which continued on a monthly schedule under a variety of similar titles until May 1955.

New York Evening Telegram

The New York Evening Telegram was a New York City daily newspaper. It was established in 1867. The newspaper was published by James Gordon Bennett, Jr., and it was said to be considered to be an evening edition of the New York Herald.

Frank Munsey acquired the Telegram in 1920, which ceased its connection to the Herald. It merged into the New York Evening Mail in 1924. Eventually, it was merged into the New York World-Telegram.

New York Herald

The New York Herald was a large-distribution newspaper based in New York City that existed between 1835, and 1924 when it merged with the New-York Tribune.

New York Press (historical)

The New York Press was a New York City newspaper that began publication in December 1887 and continued publication until July 2, 1916, when its owner Frank Munsey merged it with his newly-purchased Sun. The New York Press published notable writers such as Stephen Crane.

Its editor Erwin Wardman coined the term "yellow journalism" in early 1897, to refer to the work of Joseph Pulitzer's New York World and William Randolph Hearst's New York Journal. Wardman was to first to publish the term but there is evidence that expressions such as "yellow journalism" and "school of yellow kid journalism" were already used by newsmen of that time. Wardman never defined the term exactly, although possibly it was a mutation from an earlier slander where Wardman twisted "new journalism" into "nude journalism". In 1898 the paper simply elaborated: "We called them Yellow because they are Yellow."Press Sports Editor Jim Price coined the name "Yankees" to describe the New York American League baseball team, then known as the "Highlanders". Ernest J. Lanigan, a renowned baseball statistician who founded Baseball Magazine and published The Baseball Cyclopedia, the first encyclopedia about "America's Pastime", also served as sports editor on the Press.

New York Star (1800s newspaper)

The New York Star or the Daily Star (1868–1891) was a New York City newspaper.

The paper was founded around early 1868 by employees of The Sun, who feared that the recent purchase of the Sun by Charles Anderson Dana would turn the political bent of that paper Republican. Joe Howard, Jr. soon took control of the paper and remained on as editor, publisher and subsequently chief proprietor until the spring of 1875. A series of other editors and owners followed, each generally unsuccessful in their attempts to make the paper profitable. It went from daily publication to weekly, but then William Dorsheimer purchased the paper in 1885 and restarted daily publication, running the paper until his death in 1888. Finally, Frank Munsey, who would years later be known as a great consolidator of newspapers, took a six-month option from owner Collis Potter Huntington to buy the Star in 1891. Munsey turned the paper into a tabloid and renamed it the Daily Continent as of February 1, 1891. When it did not succeed after a few months, he returned the new paper to Huntington.When Munsey's plan to take over the paper were announced, the Sun, still nursing the slight which led to the founding of the Star, published a piece on the "long, very remarkable, and altogether disastrous history" of the paper.The gossip column Bab's Babble by Isabel Mallon got its start in the Star around 1888.

Peterson's Magazine

Peterson's Magazine (1842–1898) was an American magazine focused on women.

In 1842, Charles Jacobs Peterson and George Rex Graham, partners in the Saturday Evening Post, agreed that a new women's journal to compete with Godey's Lady's Book would be a good venture. Peterson launched Ladies' National Magazine as a cheaper alternative to Godey's ($2 per year instead of $3) in January 1842. Ann S. Stephens was an early editor and substantial contributor to the periodical, and there was some attempt to portray her as running the show (for marketing purposes, perhaps), although Peterson was still in charge. Emily H. May was another early and frequent contributor. The name of the publication had some variation in its early years, but by 1848 was titled Peterson's Ladies' National Magazine, and the Peterson prefix would always remain. From 1855 to 1892, it was called Peterson's Magazine, and thus by that name it is remembered.Frank Munsey, the media consolidator, purchased the magazine in 1898, and combined it into Argosy magazine.

Progressive Party (United States, 1912)

The Progressive Party was a third party in the United States formed in 1912 by former President Theodore Roosevelt after he lost the presidential nomination of the Republican Party to his former protégé, incumbent President William Howard Taft. The new party was known for taking advanced positions on progressive reforms and attracting some leading reformers. After the party's defeat in the 1912 presidential election, it went into rapid decline, disappearing by 1918. The Progressive Party was popularly nicknamed the "Bull Moose Party" since Roosevelt often said that he felt "strong as a bull moose" both before and after an assassination attempt on the campaign trail.As a member of the Republican Party, Roosevelt had served as President from 1901 to 1909, becoming increasingly progressive in the later years of his presidency. In the 1908 presidential election, Roosevelt helped ensure that he would be succeeded by Secretary of War Taft. Although Taft entered office determined to advance Roosevelt's Square Deal domestic agenda, he stumbled badly during the Payne–Aldrich Tariff Act debate and the Pinchot–Ballinger controversy. The political fallout of these events divided the Republican Party and alienated Roosevelt from his former friend. Progressive Republican leader Robert La Follette had already announced a challenge to Taft for the 1912 Republican nomination, but many of his supporters shifted to Roosevelt after the former President decided to seek a third presidential term, which was permissible under the Constitution prior to the ratification of the Twenty-second Amendment. At the 1912 Republican National Convention, Taft narrowly defeated Roosevelt for the party's presidential nomination. After the convention, Roosevelt, Frank Munsey, George Walbridge Perkins and other progressive Republicans established the Progressive Party and nominated a ticket of Roosevelt and Hiram Johnson of California at the 1912 Progressive National Convention. The new party attracted several Republican officeholders, although nearly all of them remained loyal to the Republican Party—in California, Johnson and the Progressives took control of the Republican Party.

The party's platform built on Roosevelt's Square Deal domestic program and called for several progressive reforms. The platform asserted that "to dissolve the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics is the first task of the statesmanship of the day". Proposals on the platform included restrictions on campaign finance contributions, a reduction of the tariff and the establishment of a social insurance system, an eight-hour workday and women's suffrage. The party was split on the regulation of large corporations, with some party members disappointed that the platform did not contain a stronger call for "trust-busting". Party members also had different outlooks on foreign policy, with pacifists like Jane Addams opposing Roosevelt's call for a naval build-up.

In the 1912 election, Roosevelt won 27.4% of the popular vote compared to Taft's 23.2%, making Roosevelt the only third party presidential nominee to finish with a higher share of the popular vote than a major party's presidential nominee. Both Taft and Roosevelt finished behind Democratic nominee Woodrow Wilson, who won 41.8% of the popular vote and the vast majority of the electoral vote. The Progressives elected several Congressional and state legislative candidates, but the election was marked primarily by Democratic gains. The 1916 Progressive National Convention was held in conjunction with the 1916 Republican National Convention in hopes of reunifying the parties with Roosevelt as the presidential nominee of both parties. The Progressive Party collapsed after Roosevelt refused the Progressive nomination and insisted his supporters vote for Charles Evans Hughes, the moderately progressive Republican nominee. Most Progressives joined the Republican Party, but some converted to the Democratic Party and Progressives like Harold L. Ickes would play a role in President Franklin D. Roosevelt's administration. In 1924, La Follette set up another Progressive Party for his presidential run. A third Progressive Party was set up in 1948 for the presidential campaign of former Vice President Henry A. Wallace.

The New York Globe

The New York Globe, also called The New York Evening Globe, was a daily New York City newspaper published from 1904 to 1923, when it was bought and merged into The New York Sun.

The Ocean (magazine)

The Ocean was a monthly pulp magazine which was started by Frank Munsey in March 1907. It published fact and fiction about sea-faring for eleven issues before being retitled The Live Wire so that it could cover a wider range of topics. The new title lasted for another eight issues before being folded in September 1908.

The Sky Pirate (novel)

The Sky Pirate by science fiction writer Garrett P. Serviss was published in 1909 in the periodical Scrapbook. Owned by Frank Munsey, it was given further periodical publication by being syndicated out to newspapers around America, which in those days included short stories and serialized fiction. However, it has never been published in book form until Pulpville Press published it in 2018.

The Sun (New York City)

The Sun was a New York newspaper published from 1833 until 1950. It was considered a serious paper, like the city's two more successful broadsheets, The New York Times and the New York Herald Tribune. The Sun was the most politically conservative of the three.

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