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Angela Cannon, Reference Specialist, European Division
Note: This guide is adapted from an earlier version, which first appeared on the European Reading Room website in 2015.
Created: August 8, 2019
Last Updated: October 26, 2021
From 1865 to 1949, Bosnia & Herzegovina (B&H) published around 750 periodicals, over 250 of which were general or special interest newspapers, called novine or listovi. In B&H the term list is sometimes also applied to periodicals, not just to newspapers. In the absence of readily available newspaper statistics, this makes it difficult to count newspapers throughout Bosnian history. For the purposes of this introduction we count as newspapers all novine, plus listovi with a frequency of weekly or greater, but most figures in this introduction should be considered estimates.
There are many factors to consider when examining newspapers from B&H. For example, each of four main groups -- Serbs, Croats, Muslims (Bosniaks), and Jews -- issued newspapers. They may appear in several different alphabets, such as Roman or Cyrillic or Hebrew, and in a number of different languages, such as Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian (B/C/S), Turkish, German, or Ladino. Most newspapers from B&H were published in the language now called B/C/S by Western scholars. In the bibliography below the language is designated as B/C/S, and the alphabet is indicated as "Cyrillic" or "Roman." For this bibliography, we include titles listed in the bibliographies mentioned below, by Pejanović and several others, as well as any newspaper titles published within the current borders of B&H and Republika Srpska, in any language.
During the Ottoman period of Bosnian and Herzegovinian history (pre-1878), only six newspapers were published, all of them near the end of Ottoman rule in that region. They are Bismilah (1865) -- the first Roman alphabet newspaper (in manuscript form) from Bosnia; Bosanski vjestnik (1866) -- the first Cyrillic alphabet newspaper from Bosnia; Bosna (1866); Sarajevski cvjetnik (1872); Sršljen-Obad (1873); and Neretva (1876) -- the first newspaper from Herzegovina. Unfortunately, the Library of Congress does not hold any of these early titles. During the Austrian era (1878-1918), the press grew more rapidly, with over 80 newspapers published in B&H. The Library has very few titles from the Austrian period. The Kingdom of Yugoslavia (1918-1941) also saw an increase in the number of newspapers coming out -- over 160 titles. This growth was due partly to an increase in literacy in the region, an increase in the number of publishers, as well as the continued development of the profession of journalism. The Library of Congress has very scattered holdings for this era as well. The Yugoslav communist era, from 1944 to 1991, saw the most significant growth in newspaper publishing in B&H. For example, in 1973 there were two dailies, with a circulation of 87,000, plus numerous specialty newspapers with an additional circulation of almost 50,000. During the 1980s, B&H averaged about 500 periodicals each year, of which 30 were newspapers, including two dailies.
Current statistics on the number of newspapers published in B&H are scarce, because the Statistical Yearbook of the Federation of Bosnia and Hercegovina (Statistički godišnjak Federacije Bosne i Hercegovine) does not include publishing statistics. According to Media Sustainability Index for 2014, there are nine dailies in B&H, of which the Library holds five -- Oslobođenje from Sarajevo, arguably the most important newspaper in Bosnian history and in B&H today, as well as Dnevni avaz, also from Sarajevo, Dnevni list from Mostar in Herzegovina, and Glas srpske and Nezavisne novine, both from Banja Luka in Republika Srpska. These five titles cover both political entities in B&H (Federation of B&H and Republika Srpska), but only two of the ten cantons in the Federation.
The major center of B&H newspaper publishing is the capital city Sarajevo, but many titles also have appeared in Banja Luka, Mostar, Zenica, and Tuzla. Due to wartime destruction, the largest collections of B&H newspapers are held by repositories outside of Bosnia, with the national libraries in Beograd and in Zagreb as potentially the most significant.
As a general rule, the Library of Congress did not start to systematically collect materials from Slavic and East European countries until World War II and after, and the B&H newspaper holdings reflect this collection development policy. The Library holds only a fraction of the newspaper output from B&H -- over 30 titles, including one principal daily, plus eight others of lesser frequency from the communist era, two titles from the interwar period, one facsimile from World War II, and 15 from the post-communist era. The Library holds only one issue of one diaspora title from the United States.