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About James Edmund Scripps
James Edmund Scripps (March 19, 1835 – May 28, 1906) was an American newspaper publisher and philanthropist.
Scripps was born in 1835 in London to James Mogg Scripps and Ellen Mary (Saunders) Scripps. His father was a bookbinder who came to America in 1844 with six motherless children. Scripps grew up on a Rushville, Illinois, farm. Securing employment at the Chicago Tribune in 1857, Scripps moved to Detroit in 1859 and in 1862 became manager of the Detroit Tribune and also became at length part owner and manager of the Detroit Daily Advertiser.
When the Advertiser's premises burned in 1873, Scripps took his $20,000 insurance money and with it started his own newspaper. Scripps decided to tap the growing literate class of working men and women by launching a newspaper, The Evening News (later, The Detroit News). Running with an idea new for its time, he filled the paper with inexpensive advertising and instructed his reporters to write "like people talk." His competitors called the News "a cheap rag" and labeled his reporters "pirates," but Detroiters loved it.
With his younger half-brother, E.W., James later had an interest in newspapers located in Cleveland, St. Louis, Cincinnati and Chicago. After a lengthy European acquisition tour, James aided prominently in founding the Detroit Museum of Art (later, the Detroit Institute of Arts), in 1889 presenting it with a collection of old masters costing $75,000 (in 1889 dollars), among the first major accessions of early paintings for any American museum. Scripps died in 1906.
James's sister and one-time partner, Ellen Browning Scripps, was the founding donor of the Scripps Institute of Oceanography located in La Jolla, California and was the founder of Scripps College, located in Claremont. She was also instrumental in helping their younger brother E.W. get started in the newspaper industry, resulting in the E.W. Scripps Company media conglomerate.
Back in Detroit, James’ eldest daughter, Ellen Warren Scripps (1863–1948), married George Gough Booth, who subsequently became the publisher of the Evening News Association and independently founded Michigan’s Booth Newspapers chain (acquired by S.I. Newhouse's Advance Publications in 1976). Together, George and “Nellie” also founded the world-renowned Cranbrook Educational Community in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.
Books by James E. Scripps
Five Months Abroad (1881)
Memorials of the Scripps Family (1891)
A genealogical history of the Scripps Family and its various alliances (Detroit: privately printed, 1903)