Timeline of the Newsboy’s Strike

Newsboy and Pape

In Calling Extra, Elsie’s personal stories, as well as her adventures with Grin, are interwoven into the real timeline of the 1899 newsboy strike. Below are a list of dates and events from the strike gathered together from the newspaper articles of that time. These references include the New York Times, the New York Tribune, the New York Sun, and the Brooklyn Eagle.

  • July 18: Long Island City newsboys feel they are being cheated and riot, kicking off news of a strike.
  • July 19: Manhattan newsboys gather in City Hall Park to meet about the possibility of a strike.
  • July 20: The Manhattan newsboys officially go on strike.
  • July 21: Striking newsboys attack delivery wagons and scabs selling the boycotted papers.
  • July 22: Newsboys are arrested for disturbances throughout the day. There’s a demonstration outside the New York World office and four boys meet with William Randolph Hearst.
  • July 23: Various arrested newsboys are arraigned. Meanwhile, the strike committee makes plans for their mass meeting. There are no fights or disturbances since it’s a Sunday and no evening papers are sold on Sundays.
  • July 24: Violent attacks occur during the day. The newsboys hold a mass meeting at New Irving Hall in the evening.
  • July 25: Newsboys lay low with fewer fights due to the rambunctious meeting at Irving Hall the night before.
  • July 26: Newsboys meet in a saloon in Park Row to talk about allegations of Dave Simmons and Louis “Kid Blink” Baletti betraying the union. Later that day, Dave demotes himself as president of the Newsboys’ Union.
  • July 27: The boys’ planned parade is broken up by police because there is no permit. The boys discover Kid Blink in a fancy suit and attack him. Police end up arresting Kid Blink thinking he is part of the attack, not the victim.
  • July 30: The Newsboys’ Union elects new officers. This time they select an adult, James G. Neill, as president. Three boys are arrested for blackmail.
  • July 31: The boys arrested for blackmail are arraigned in court. Kid Blink aids the police. The West Side Newsdealers’ Association declares the strike “a failure.”
  • August 2: Hearst and Pulitzer put forth a resolution of 100% return rights to keep the price at six cents a ten, which is then accepted by newsboys. The strike is over, with the newsboys considering it a success.

The newsboy strike began on July 20, 1899, and lasted until August 2, when William Randolph Hearst of the New York World and Joseph Pulitzer of the New York Journal compromised with the newsboys, giving them “return rights,” that is, allowing them to sell back their papers at a 100% refund.

The names of all the newsboys mentioned in this book were recorded in New York’s other newspapers in 1899: the New York Tribune, the New York Sun, the New York Times, and the Brooklyn Eagle, who were more than happy to write about the circulation loss suffered by their rivals. These papers give a colorful portrayal of the newsboys and their fight. In the book I have given a fictional portrayal of real events, such as the meeting at Irving Hall, the fights and arrests of the boys who “soaked” scabs, and the alleged betrayal carried out by Kid Blink and Dave Simmons.

Although Elsie is fictional, she is based on many young immigrant women who existed in New York at the time. Isabelle Thornton is also based on real women at the turn of the century who became the first female lawyers of their day, and subsequently, the driving force behind the suffrage movement that led to the 19th Amendment: women’s right to vote.