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Title info

  • Ayer Annual 19121
    • Publish day: Friday
    • Content: Socialist
    • Established: 1911
    • Pages: 8
    • Size: 11x16 in.
    • Editor: Anna Moley; J.T. Hazard.(Nov. 29, 1912) 3
      • (Ayers misprint: Early editor was Anna Agnes Maley, 1912 candidate for governor. Confirmed from microfilm)
      • (According to 1915-02-04 issue of succeeding paper (The Washington Socialist), The Commonwealth was first published on 1911-02-04, under editor O.L. Anderson. This issue of the paper details the history of the Commonwealth/Washington Socialist during its first 5 years. DB)
    • Publisher: Commonwealth Publishing Company
  • Frequency: Weekly
  • Coverage
    • Region: Northwest
    • County: Snohomish
  • Unique ids
    • LCCN: sn 84025731
    • OCLC: 10353705

Digitization plan

2008-2009 grant
  • Plan to digitize 1911-1914 (1 reel)



Essay Draft

"The work of THE COMMONWEALTH will not be done until the day the true commonwealth in which all are in possession of that which is truly their own is established. THE COMMONWEALTH will continue to call upon the people early and late, to rise and claim that which is their own." Thus proclaimed the debut issue of this Everett-based newspaper, February 4, 1911.

First edited by O.L. Anderson, this four column, eight-page weekly joined into the fractious debates typical of the state's multiplying Socialist factions. Editors came and went in quick succession, the most notable being Anna Agnes Maley (Sept 1911-May 1912). Having written for one of the most important Socialist papers in the country, THE APPEAL TO REASON, Maley made her mark nationally through her political and women's rights activities before coming to Washington State. COMMONWEALTH coverage of notable national and international events expanded under her hand, without a reduction in the detailed reports on Socialist activities around the state.

With the Presidential election of 1912 on the horizon, again with Eugene V. Debs leading the Socialist ticket, Maley left the paper in order to run for State Governor, the first woman and first Socialist to do so in this state. THE COMMONWEALTH covered the runup to the election in considerable depth, publishing Debs' speech in Everett along with other campaign news. Maley came in third in the race for governor, with a respectable 12% of the vote.

THE COMMONWEALTH continued under six more editors, including Maynard Shipley, a graduate of Stanford University and former editor of THE WORLD (Oakland, CA), the oldest Socialist newspaper on the West Coast. Believing that the constant squabbling among factions damaged the Socialist cause, Shipley refused to publish stories about the infighting (THE COMMONWEALTH, November 13, 1913, p. 2), and maintained a high level of journalism. The use of photographs increased, as did the depth of coverage.

Several significant figures on the national and international Socialist movement contributed to THE COMMONWEALTH including Eugene V. Debs, Gordon Nye,Fred D. Warren and George D. Herron. The paper supported universal suffrage, industrial unionism, the single tax and the Industrial Workers of the World, and helped the Washington State Socialist Party to push organized labor toward the left.

Despite constant efforts to increase subscribers, the paper continued to fail financially and went into receivership in March 1914. THE COMMONWEALTH was sold and its assets turned over to the Socialist Party of Snohomish County. Its demise brought about the birth of a new paper, THE WASHINGTON SOCIALIST.


  1. N.W. Ayer & Son's American newspaper annual -- 1912 -- 967
  2. NDNP Candidate Title List (Appendix A1.2)
  3. Chronicling America record (LOC) - The Commonwealth
  4. WorldCat record - Commonwealth
  5. WSL record - Commonwealth
  6. UW record - Commonwealth
  7. Washington Socialist issue 1915-02-04



  • Filmed by: UW
  • Positives held by: UW (WSL has copy as well)
    • Location: UW
  • Negatives held by: UW
    • Call Number: A3100
    • 1 reel: 1911-1914

      Part of batch2 - delivered to OCLC in WSL_Metadata_2009-04-01 zip file.lrobinson, 2009/04/01 10:12

Corrected reel StartDate to reflect the issuedate of the first issue on the reel (though not technically the reel date range of the issue - see See Workflow StartDate under Reel metadata. lrobinson, 2009/04/01 10:36

Date of first issue on reel is incorrect. Dana's research notes: "Commonwealth did not begin publication until Feb, 4 1911 (see Washington Socialist, Feb 4, 1915). This issue makes reference to the year 1912 within the text. Also: "Entered as second-class matter March 9, 1911 at the post office at Everett, Washington under the act of March 3, 1879," also, reports that Suffragette Emily Davison had been sentenced to prison for setting fire to mailboxes, an event which occurred in Dec. 1911 (www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/Wdavison.htm and www.espomandewellhistoryexplorer.org.uk/Davison.html.)" lrobinson, 2009/03/12 14:44


See Commonwealth eval spreadsheets (Google)



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