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Classic Signals: December 1985 Celebrating 100 years

By Kimberly Ilkowski
Features Editor

In the December 17, 1985  issue of The Signal, Features Editor Barbara Preston explored the archives to reflect on the newspaper’s very first issue, which was distributed 100 years ago that month.

In December, 1885, the very first issue of The Signal was published by the Thencanic Society of the Model School in more of a literary magazine format than that of a newspaper.

The contents were written in an editorial style that was opinionated and biased. In a formal and stiff language, the editorials reported on issues such as: Mental culture and athletics, the literary societies of our school and the lecture course.

Trenton State College, then known as the Normal School, was established by the Legislature for the sole purpose of educating teachers for the public schools of New Jersey. Tuition was free to all students who pledged that they would teach at least for two years in this state.

Thirty years after the establishment of the Normal School, the first collegiate weekly newspaper in the state of New Jersey and the fourth oldest in the nation, was established in the form of The Signal.

The Signal was published as the official newspaper for the state colleges with intentions to report on all issues of interest that would appertain to those colleges. Instead of reporting the news it acted as a bulletin board listing current events and activities.

Students of the Normal School were to be The Signal’s editors and contributors, united in the common cause of education.

In the more dramatic words from the first issue of The Signal, it reads, “Our duty will be to encourage commendable efforts in scholastic pursuits, to help the weak and lead the blind, and to wield the rod of censure with effect, but not with a judicious discrimination.

This was a rather simple task in which, perhaps, the hardy editors and reporters of the New York Times have not faltered. But. reach for the stars and you may touch the moon. And it got The Signal on to its feet.

The Signal received a few encouraging words from the established newspaper in the state.

“It is an admirable school paper in every respect. We wish it a large measure of success.” – Trenton Times.


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