Enos B. Reed started People in November 1870 as a Sunday weekly dedicated to politics, literature, society, and news. He also used the paper to publish his own literary pieces and poems. It was the first Indianapolis newspaper to use illustrations, in the form of woodcuts created with a butcher knife by artist Fred Hetherington. But People became known mainly for its own form of yellow journalism, stories of sensationalized crimes and scandals. The front-page articles often featured bizarre court cases. Newsboys hawked the paper by yelling out about the murders it covered. The paper also carried gossip columns, such as the one on the Indiana General Assembly called “Legislative Small Talk.”

Enos B. Reed, n.d. Credit: Indianapolis News View Source

After Reed’s death, James B. Wilson became publisher of People in the 1890s. Wilson also edited a pro-liquor newspaper called Freedom And Right. Wilson and People appeared to be doing good business when the U.S. government objected to some of his other publications. In December 1895, he was sent to a federal penitentiary for two years following his conviction for sending obscene matter through the mail. Wilson revived the paper after his release, but People ceased publication in 1903.

Revised March 2021

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