Pirates Periodically in Print

Many nineteenth-century pirate stories are not read or remembered today because they were published in cheap formats such as the story paper, which tend not to survive over time. I was able to track down one of these ephemeral items–an issue of The Flag of Our Union from October 14, 1848:


Story papers had a newspaper-like format, but they were filled with serialized stories, poems, small editorials, and the like. They were distributed by a wide network of agents throughout the United States, which aided their popularity because they were easy for people in many different places to access.

Full page of the Flag of Our Union with me to demonstrate size

As you can see from the picture above (with me for comparison), The Flag of Our Union was a very large single sheet of paper covered with small type. The Flag was started in the 1840s by Frederick Gleason, so this issue from 1848 was fairly early. While it had competition from many other story papers, the Flag was very popular, especially in its early years.

Featured Story: The Child of the Wreck


The featured story, “The Child of the Wreck: or, The Stolen Bracelets” (pictured above), looks like it might include some sea-related backstory, which has the potential to involve a pirate or two. However, in this issue, I am most interested in the story on the back page “Anna Archdale: or, The Lowell Factory Girl”. While it doesn’t appear at first glance to be piratical itself, the author, Harry Halyard, wrote several pirate stories that were published in the Flag. Even if no pirates appear, I’m curious to see if any of the characters in either story exhibit piratical traits. I’ll let you know what I find when I read them!