Page 3 of Nordstjernan’s premier issue, 139 years and 7 months ago. Look at the upper left corner: A telegram has reported the death of the Swedish King, HRH Carl XV in the night between September 17 and 18, 1872.
Tongue-in-cheek, Nordstjernan was most definitely interactive from the start. The reality? Much like today, shouts from the editors of “Stop the press!” for late-breaking news became mournfully founded in Nordstjernan’s first issue, on September 21, 1872.
On the first page, a short report described that King Carl XV, regent of Sweden and Norway, was ill and dying in Malmö. In fact, he had died on the night between September 17-18, and as the third page of the modest four page newspaper was being printed, news reached the editors by telegraph, and they quickly inserted a small box in the as-yet-unprinted section which announced the King’s passing. The early Swedish Americans remained loyal in their hearts to their monarch, and for weeks to come, his passing was mourned in articles about him and his life, and many sorts of memorials to his honor were reported for decades. Read the page online, through "AjaxZoom" on your screen, here: Page One, Issue One September 21 1872

Tedious hand labor
During these early days, stories in publications were painstakingly composed by hand. From shelved sets of intricately divided drawers, one letter at a time was plucked, set in place in a hand-held carrier, spaced with tiny metal strips to make the lines of even length and finally, when about a single paragraph was assembled, it was tied with string and set into place in a metal form which eventually grew to become the page itself. Due to the direct printing process, all this hand work was, of course, backward reading.
Typewriters did not exist until after their invention in 1878, and because each printed word required tedious labor, journalists carefully composed their articles in long hand writing to make the maximum use of both labor and newsprint paper, which was, relative to modern prices, quite expensive.
In the first issue, manager Carl Nordell asked for a youngster, 12 to 15 years of age, to apply to learn the printing trade at their offices on 52 Broadway, in New York. Later we see that the applicants he hired were actually somewhat older, but they would prove to become pillars of the institution that Nordstjernan was to become. Following a rearrangement of the association under which Nordstjernan was published, the offices were relocated to 43 Chatham Street about one year later.
Engraving was a valuable talent within the printing trade. All the illustrations which appear, mainly in advertisements, in the first decades of Nordstjernan were carved by hand as mirror images into metal. Photo-engraving arrived much later, but the earliest years’ pressrooms were filled with teams of craftsmen who worked, often without sketches, to laborously carve the delicate lines and minuscule details of every illustration.
Articles in early issues which dealt with news in the still-wild western frontier of America, told of wars with Indians, rugged journeys and amazing discoveries by venturesome Swedes who dared to conquer the vast and virgin territory. But America was nonetheless a new horizon of promise, hope and prosperity to Swedes who disembarked for the first time from steam-powered ships and set foot in the bustling city of New York.
Some few made golden fortunes and sailed triumphantly back home to Sweden, where hard cash could procure a better life for them. Others struck roots and sent money home for other family members to join them in their newly found homeland.
Turn to next page for a look at Page 1 of Nordstjernan 1, Volume 1.


Appearing in the first issue of the Swedish language newspaper, sold on the streets to the blossoming communities in New York, Philadelphia, Boston and Chicago, advertisements from dozens of passenger ship lines support the fact that the trans-Atlantic tickets to board the steam-driven clipper sailing ships were being frequently purchased, and Swedish immigrants were arriving in New York by the shipload on a daily basis.
The need for a publication was clearly to serve them, and to produce it, the "Svenska Tryckföreningen i New York" began publishing Nordstjernan. On newsstands each Saturday, at noon, it sold for 6 cents per copy, or 3 dollars per annual subscription (later reduced to $2.00 per year and 5 cents per copy after protests from readers). In that day, a salary of about $25 per month was considered respectable for the average worker.