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Stars and Stripes: U.S. Military Newspapers in the Library of Congress


This guide focuses on the Library of Congress holdings of Stars and Stripes, as well as books in the Library's collection that discuss the journalists who accompanied U.S. forces into battle. In November 1861, Union troops under General Ulysses S. Grant defeated Confederate forces in Bloomfield, Missouri. On November 9, 1861, the first known edition of a newspaper for the troops was published by soldiers from the 18th and 29th Illinois Volunteers on presses owned by the Bloomfield Daily Herald. The name given to this newspaper was Stars and Stripes. Although this Bloomfield edition was a one-issue phenomenon, it started a tradition of soldiers publishing news for the troops.

Sixteen years later, in October 1877, the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) initiated a new publication, the National Tribune, a newspaper for Civil War Union veterans; later, the banner Stars and Stripes was added to its masthead. When the G.A.R. ceased publication prior to World War I, a private corporation continued to publish the newspaper for veterans of U.S. armed forces under the same composite name: National Tribune Stars and Stripes (Washington, D.C.).

The first official military publication called Stars and Stripes was published in Paris during World War I for the American Expeditionary Force (A.E.F.). According to A.E.F. Commander General John J. Pershing, it was intended to provide uncensored news from soldiers and for soldiers. The first weekly edition was published on February 18, 1918 by a staff of eight, and limited to 30,000 copies. Due to its popularity the circulation increased to over half a million and the staff grew to 300. The final edition was published on June 13, 1919.

On June 14, 1919, immediately following suspension of the U.S. military's Stars and Stripes, some of its staff members organized a new Washington-based publishing house known as the Stars and Stripes Corporation. It too, published a newspaper called Stars and Stripes that competed with the National Tribune for the veteran market. This new group, however, was unable to sustain steady subscriptions, and in 1926 it merged with the National Tribune.

During World War II, Stars and Stripes was again chosen as the name of the official U.S. military newspaper for Armed Forces personnel stationed overseas. First published in London, it was administered by the Office of War Information in the newly established Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force. Between 1942 and 1945 official editions were published in all European and African theaters of operation, including Italy, Sicily, France, Germany, Egypt, Algeria, and Tunisia. In the Pacific theater, the first edition of Stars and Stripes was published on May 14, 1945 in Honolulu by the Headquarters of the Pacific. Distribution was dependent on the availability of air transports, the only effective means of reaching troops located on hundreds of Pacific islands and in several Asian countries until the end of the war in September 1945.

Since then this same Stars and Stripes has published European editions as well as Pacific editions for the U.S. Armed Forces. These have included editions for U.S. forces in Korea, both during and after the Korean War (1950-1953), and the Vietnamese Conflict (1963-1975), and the Persian Gulf War (1991). Currently, it is distributed by the Department of Defense on U.S. military bases both in the United States and overseas. The National Tribune, on the other hand, is still privately published by the Stars and Stripes Omnimedia Corporation and is sold primarily to thousands of U.S. veterans and their extended families throughout the United States.

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  September 13, 2011
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