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SAN ANTONIO REGISTER

SAN ANTONIO REGISTER. The San Antonio Register, the city's second black-oriented, locally focused, weekly newspaper, was founded by its owner and publisher, Valmo C. Bellinger, and first appeared in print on April 10, 1931. For the next forty-seven years, 2,491 consecutive editions, including three extras, were produced without interruption before the paper finally collapsed in late 1978, then changed ownership early in 1979. The Register emerged in direct response to a threat within the black electorate to the influence of Valmo's father, Charles Bellinger, and the preservation of that influence remained the paper's primary goal for years. Of its three editors, the most important were the first, Jasper T. Duncan, and the third, Ulysses J. Andrews, the latter of whom was editor for forty-three of the original newspaper's forty-eight years. In addition to the publisher's brief production of his own column, "The Echo," and regular editorials by editor Andrews, other important writers for the Register included Josephine Bellinger, author of a social column, "Jo's Jottings," and Katharine Beverly, who wrote a literary column, "Poetry Corner."

The maximum weekly average circulation of the Register was reported at 12,140 copies (with 1,443 of these by paid subscription) in October of 1975. This figure apparently represented regular sales in San Antonio and those by Register agents in 143 other Texas locations, as well as in such locations as Los Angeles, California, Deming, New Mexico, and Tucson, Arizona. With the demise of its chief rival, the Inquirer, in 1934, the Register's principal concerns became the reporting of local, statewide, national, and world news of specific concern to San Antonio's black community; ensuring that community's continued electoral support for Democratic political candidates backed by the newspaper; and reciprocating this support through community activities sponsored by the Register. The paper sponsored a Free Semi-Annual Cooking School and Household Bazaar until the beginning of World War II, for example, and ran a series of ads called the Butter Crust Family Photo-Advertisements. In the first, black San Antonians were treated, free of charge, to the latest in culinary and household-decorative innovations. In the second, local families received pay and bread for posing for a local bakery. A result of both programs was increased community loyalty to the newspaper and its aspirations, loyalty that the successor to the original San Antonio Register appears to have lost.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Alwyn Barr, Black Texans: A History of Negroes in Texas, 1528–1971 (Austin: Jenkins, 1973). Fred M. Fowler, Jr., The Original San Antonio Register, 1931–1978 (M.A. thesis, University of Texas at San Antonio, 1982).

Fred M. Fowler, Jr.

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Fred M. Fowler, Jr., "SAN ANTONIO REGISTER," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/ees20), accessed December 22, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.