The Central Gazette: Charlottesville's first paper now available online

By Amber Lautigar Reichert | January 24, 2023

The Central Gazette, established by brothers Clement Pynes McKennie and John Harris McKennie, was Charlottesville’s first newspaper, running from January 1820 until July 1827. A four-page weekly available at a subscription rate of $3 per year, the Central Gazette aggregated items of foreign and domestic news and posted articles and notices of local and regional interest. In the first issue, the publishers laid out the paper’s intended scope: “Besides detailing the general intelligence of the day, it will give a copious account of every transaction appertaining to Agriculture and the general prosperity of Virginia—her seat of learning, her emporium of Arts and her schools of Science.” The paper included marriage notices, obituaries, notices of items found or stolen, want ads, and advertisements for services and goods. The University of Virginia was an early advertiser; Proctor Arthur S. Brockenbrough posted a notice in the March 11, 1820 issue promising “liberal wages” for laborers willing to work at UVA. In July 1827 the paper was succeeded by the Virginia Advocate, which ran until 1860 when the title changed to the Charlottesville Advocate briefly before ceasing publication at the start of the Civil War.

The University of Virginia Library holds 157 issues of the Central Gazette, which are now available online through a partnership with the Library of Virginia, hosted on their Virginia Chronicle portal (, which offers digitized versions of historical Virginia newspapers. The issues were first prepared for scanning by the UVA Library’s Preservation department, before being scanned in-house by the Digital Production Group and sent to the Library of Virginia in April 2022.

The available issues on the Virginia Chronicle portal include an unbroken run from Vol. I, No. 1 of January 29, 1820, through September 20, 1822. The last digitized issue is Vol. VIII, No. 369 published on Saturday, March 24, 1827. All of the issues are fully text searchable, and viewers who create an account and log in to the portal can help correct the digitized text, which has been automatically generated by optical character recognition.

This story originally appeared in the Library’s Annual Report for FY 2022-23. Download the full PDF to read more.

Faded newspaper page
Vol. 1, No. 1 of The Central Gazette