Scope and Content
Title: McClatchy Company records
Accession Number: MS0026
2100 Q Street
Sacramento, CA 95852
Extent: 33 boxes ( 41.25 linear feet) of archival material,
166 oversized documents, 44 blueprints,
319 oversized volumes, 40 photographic prints,
2 oversized photographic prints, 23 framed or mounted photographic prints,
12 photographic negatives, 287 35 millimeter photographic negatives,
34 35 millimeter photographic slides, 2 oversized transparencies,
29 5 Inch Audio Reel Tapes, 52 7 Inch Audio Reel Tapes,
2 10 Inch Audio Reel Tapes, 138 Audio Cassette Tapes,
30 Videotape Reels (1 Inch Tape), 14 Videotape Reels (2 Inch Tape),
56 Umatic Video Cassettes (8 1/2 Inch Cartridges),
37 Umatic Video Cassettes, (7 1/4 Inch Cartridges), 59 VHS Video Cassettes,
3 Betamax Video Cassettes, 2 8 Millimeter Film Reels,
16 16 Millimeter Film Reels, 2 35 Millimeter Film Reels,
and 62 artifacts
Center for Sacramento History
551 Sequoia Pacific Blvd.
Sacramento, California, 95814
Location: See container list for exact location of materials.
Abstract: The McClatchy Company records are composed of material
transferred to the Center for Sacramento History in August 2005 from the basement vault of the Sacramento Bee's
headquarters. The collection consists primarily of material related to the operations of the McClatchy Newspapers,
especially those of the Sacramento Bee, and the numerous broadcasting endeavors of the McClatchy Company,
along with materials concerning the McClatchy family, as well as the California Central Valley region.
Collection is open for research.
Materials related to those in the McClatchy Company records may
be found in the following collections at the Center for Sacramento History:
Eleanor McClatchy Collection (1982/004, 1982/005, 1982/006); Sacramento Bee Collection (1983/001); J. Brown Maloney Collection
(1986/119): and the Sacramento Typographical Union #46 Collection (1985/017).
Copyright has not been assigned to Center for Sacramento History for private collections.
All requests to publish or quote from private manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Archivist.
Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Center for Sacramento History as the owner of the physical items and
intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the patron.
No permission is necessary to publish or quote from records.
[Identification of item], McClatchy Company records, MS0026, Center for Sacramento History, Sacramento, CA.
Donated by from the McClatchy Company to the Center for Sacramento History in 2005.
Processed by David Uhlich, 2005. Finding aid prepared using DACS by David Uhlich, 2005-06. Machine-readable finding aid created
by David Uhlich, 2006. Finding aid updated by Sean Heyliger in 2019 to update title and collection MS #, and series.
The McClatchy Company is a prominent newspaper and internet publisher headquartered in Sacramento, California. Once also the
owner of numerous radio and television stations, the McClatchy Company currently owns 32 daily and 17 community newspapers,
as well as its internet subsidiary, McClatchy Interactive. The McClatchy Company also has interests in Newsprint Ventures,
Inc., which operates the Ponderay Newsprint Company, and a regional wire service, the Scripps-McClatchy Western News Service.
While it has been associated with the same family for nearly 150 years, the McClatchy Company is a publicly-traded corporation,
and is listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol MNI.
Although its first official incarnation, James McClatchy and Co., was not formed until 1872, the roots of the McClatchy Company
lie in the formation of Sacramento's Daily Bee in 1857. First published on February 3, 1857 as a morning newspaper, the Daily
Bee was founded by L.C. Chandler, L.P. Davis, John Church, and W.H. Tobey, and initially edited by John Rollin Ridge. Less
than three months later, on April 6, 1857, the Daily Bee became an evening newspaper, although it did not adopt the Evening
Bee moniker until December 1890; the Evening Bee was not re-named the Sacramento Bee until March 1908. In July of 1857, Ridge
retired from the Daily Bee, and James McClatchy, a writer for the paper whose family name would henceforth be associated with
the Bee, took over as the newspaper's editor.
A native of Ireland, James McClatchy (1824-1883) immigrated to the United States in 1840, and spent the next eight years in
New York, where he became a member of the editorial staff of Horace Greeley's New York Tribune. McClatchy moved west to Sacramento
in 1849 (reportedly as a correspondent for the Tribune) and prior to working for the Daily Bee had been associated with no
less than six other area newspapers: the Placer Times, the Sacramento Transcript, the Settlers and Miners Tribune, the Californian,
the Daily Democratic State Journal, and the Daily Times. In 1866, McClatchy became a part owner of the Daily Bee; by 1872,
he was majority owner of the newspaper. Aside from a two year hiatus to serve as Sheriff of Sacramento, McClatchy served as
editor for the Bee until his death in 1883.
After his death, James McClatchy's widow, Charlotte McClatchy (1840-1916), bought out the only remaining partner in the Bee,
John Francis Sheehan, in 1884, giving her full ownership of the newspaper; she then turned over the newspaper's operations
to her two sons, Charles Kenny (C.K.) and Valentine Stuart (V.S.) McClatchy. The McClatchy sons subsequently divided responsibilities
at the newspaper in such a way that V.S. (1857-1938) became publisher of the newspaper, in charge of all its financial matters,
and his younger brother C.K. (1858-1936), who at the time of his father's death had already been working at the Bee for eight
years, became the newspaper's editor. This arrangement lasted for nearly forty years, until C.K. bought out his brother in
1923 to become sole owner of the newspaper.
Many changes came about at the Bee during the years of the McClatchy brothers' partnership, including the pair of revisions
to the newspaper's title mentioned previously. In what was to be the first of many corporate name changes, subsidiary formations,
and mergers, the James McClatchy Co. was formed in 1898 for the purpose of owning title to the new Bee building at 911 7th
Street, which was completed in 1901. The McClatchy brothers' partnership also oversaw the licensing and operation of the company's
first radio station from 1921-1922, the short-lived KVQ of Sacramento. In addition, the McClatchy Company started its second
newspaper, the Fresno Bee, in October 1922. Despite these advancements, it was agreed that the partnership would be dissolved
though a blind auction, with C.K., after outbidding his brother, assuming control of the company in September 1923.
Already well-known for his editorial capacity, including his widely-read "Private Thinks" columns that were later collected
in a single volume, C.K.'s tenure as sole owner of the McClatchy Company was also marked by the perhaps the peak of its expansion
and influence. In collaboration with his son, Carlos (1892-1933),
C.K. further extended the company's budding newspaper conglomeration, as well as making a reappearance in the broadcasting
industry. Over a span of six years, the McClatchy Company took over operations of five radio stations: KFBK, Sacramento and
KMJ, Fresno in 1925; KWG, Stockton and KERN, Bakersfield in 1930; and KOH, Reno in 1931. The company also began operating
its third newspaper, the Modesto News-Herald, in August 1927, changing its name to the Modesto Bee in July 1933.
Although the company was thriving, the death of Carlos--who was slated to succeed C.K. as head of the McClatchy Company--in
1933 brought about some uncertainty concerning its future leadership. These uncertainties were compounded over the next few
years by C.K.'s age and failing health. Lacking another family member capable of taking over the helm, C.K. decided to enlist
his youngest daughter, Eleanor (1895-1980), a playwright and theatre producer living in New York; although Eleanor at first
resisted the proposal, when her father took ill in 1936, she acquiesced. By this time, C.K. had also hand-chosen Walter P.
Jones as his successor as editor of the newspapers, marking the first time in nearly eighty years that a McClatchy did not
perform these duties. When C.K. died in April 1936, Eleanor became president of the McClatchy Company, a position that she
held for over forty years, ending in 1978.
Although not experienced in the newspaper business, Eleanor proved to be an adept leader for the company, loyal to both her
father's editorial principles and her brother's interest in expansion into other media. Within months of C.K.'s death, the
McClatchy Broadcasting Company was founded to further organize the company's burgeoning radio business; although the broadcasting
company would be absorbed by McClatchy Newspapers in 1957, its tenure as administrator of the company's broadcasting interests
would see the company's growth into FM radio with the launches of KFBK-FM in 1947, KERN-FM and KBEE-FM in 1948, and KMJ-FM
in 1949. The McClatchy Broadcasting Company also directed the purchase of another AM radio station in Modesto, KBOX, which
subsequently had its call letters changed to KBEE, and the company's initial foray into television with the founding of KMJ-TV
in 1953; later, in 1964, the McClatchy Company bought a second television station, KOVR in Sacramento. In addition to these
developments, in 1950 the Sacramento Bee began construction of a new building at the corner of Q and 21st Streets, which was
also to serve as the McClatchy Company's headquarters.
With the death of Walter Jones in 1974, Eleanor McClatchy returned to within the family ranks for a successor, selecting her
nephew (Carlos' son), C.K. (1927-1989), as the new editor of the newspapers. Four years later, in 1978, Eleanor's health began
to fail, and the younger C.K. took over as president of the McClatchy Company. In an interesting parallel to events nearly
one hundred years prior (following James McClatchy's death), C.K.'s younger brother, also named James (1920-2006), became
the chairman of the board of directors for the McClatchy Company in 1980.
Although most of the McClatchy Broadcasting Company's interests, as well as KOVR, remained with the company, the McClatchy
Company's flagship newspaper chain remained at the same number when C.K. took over as it had for over fifty years. Over the
next ten years, C.K. would drastically alter the company's emphasis, selling off all of its remaining broadcasting interests
and doubling the number of newspapers it published: in 1979, the McClatchy Company bought the Anchorage Daily News and Washington
State's Tri-City Herald; in 1986, the company purchased Tacoma, Washington's News Tribune. C.K. also presided over the McClatchy
Company's transition into a publicly-traded company in 1988.
In 1989, C.K. passed away suddenly. Although his brother, James, had already been named the McClatchy Company's publisher
in 1987, for the first time in company history a person outside the McClatchy family, Erwin Potts, became head of the company.
Under Potts' direction, the company extended the reach of its newspaper chain into the southern states, buying newspapers
in North Carolina and South Carolina. After Potts retirement in 1996, the current leader of the company, Gary Pruitt, took
over; in the years since Pruitt's takeover, the company has purchased newspapers in Minnesota and California, as well as internet
publishing companies. Despite his family's more limited involvement in the company of late, James McClatchy continued to serve
as publisher of the McClatchy Company until his death in 2006. The company' headquarters remain in Sacramento at 2100 Q Street,
the same location as its flagship newspaper, the Sacramento Bee. remaining in Sacramento, at 2100 Q Street.
Scope and Content
The McClatchy Company records are composed of materials transferred to the Center for Sacramento History in August 2005 from
the basement vault of the Sacramento Bee's headquarters; prior to transfer, these materials were inventoried and appraised
as part of a cooperative project between the Sacramento Bee and SAMCC during the spring of 2005. The collection encompasses
a wide body of materials, ranging from over forty linear feet of archival material documenting company activities throughout
the 20th Century to 288 bound newspaper volumes covering the first 73 years of publication for the Sacramento Bee in nearly
its entirety; a broad array of audiovisual materials and artifacts, including various audio and video tapes of broadcast advertising
for the company, a 35 millimeter film reel documenting an interview with former Chief Justice Earl Warren (1891-1974) in its
original shipping container, printing press slugs, and other company memorabilia round out its diverse contents. The bulk
of the McClatchy Newspapers and Broadcasting Collection is comprised of materials related to the operations of the McClatchy
Newspapers, especially those of the Sacramento Bee, and the numerous broadcasting endeavors of the McClatchy Company during
the first half of the 20th century; also present are materials concerning the McClatchy family and California's Central Valley
region. Prominent in the material related to the newspapers and broadcast stations are historical documents and publications
regarding the company's day-to-day operations, its dealings with its employees, as well as associated governmental agencies,
and how it marketed itself to the general public, including the use of logos designed specifically for the company's ventures
by Walt Disney (1901-66); in addition, these materials detail the company's buildings and equipment, as well as those of competing
newspapers, and include various corporate stock and financial records. Also prominent in the collection are numerous corporate
and family histories, materials documenting company policies and milestones, such as the script for its for its first television
broadcast at KMJ-TV, as well as nearly thirty years of correspondence between long-time Sacramento Bee editor, C.K. McClatchy,
and his close personal friend, former California Governor and Senator, Hiram Johnson (1866-1945).
The McClatchy Newspapers and Broadcasting Collection is subdivided into eight series:
Republican Party (U.S.: 1854- )
Sacramento Typographical Union #46
United States. Federal Communications Commission
Collective labor agreements--Newspapers
Collective labor agreements--Radio broadcasting
Labor unions and mass media--United States--History
Newspaper layout and typography
Progressive movement, 1900-1920--efforts to reform America's new industrial society
Radio advertising--United States--History
Radio--Equipment and supplies
Radio--Law and legislation--United States--History--20th century