Publication of the first Bulgarian periodicals began in the 1840s, at a time when Bulgaria was still part of the Ottoman Empire and when the Ottoman authorities prohibited printing presses on Bulgarian territory. The first such periodical was the journal Liuboslovie, which appeared in Smyrna (present-day Izmir, Turkey) in 1844. The first Bulgarian newspaper, Bulgarski orel, appeared in Leipzig in 1846, but ceased after just three issues. A second attempt at newspaper publishing was made some two years later and proved to be more successful. Tsarigradski vestnik began publication in Constantinople in 1848 and appeared continuously until 1862.
In the following years, periodical publishing experienced significant growth. By 1878 over a hundred titles had appeared, more than half of which were newspapers. Most of these titles, however, were short-lived and published outside of Bulgaria due to Ottoman restrictions on publishing. After Bulgaria achieved autonomy from the Ottoman Empire in 1878, periodical publishing continued to grow. By 1900, more than five hundred newspapers had appeared, most of which were published in Bulgaria. Today there are close to 240 newspapers published in Bulgaria, according to figures for 2018 from the National Statistical Institute in Sofia.
With over 250 titles on microfilm and in paper, the Library of Congress has the largest collection of Bulgarian newspapers in the United States. This collection includes newspapers published in Bulgaria regardless of language, as well as Bulgarian-language newspapers published outside of Bulgaria. The Library's holdings begin with a few facsimile editions of the earliest titles from 1846-1877 and some scattered holdings from the late 1800s. However, most of the collection is from the post-World War II era, when the Library of Congress started to systematically collect materials from Slavic and East European countries. The majority of the titles are in Bulgarian, but some are in English, German, French, Armenian, Turkish, and Russian. Most of the titles are on microfilm, but some are in bound volumes. The Library continues to subscribe to newspapers from Bulgaria. Recent issues of these newspapers are available in the European Reading Room. They eventually will be microfilmed or bound for permanent retention.
The Library of Congress collects newspapers from many political and social viewpoints, thus there are papers published by different political parties for various historical time periods. The collection also has newspapers published by ethnic minorities from Bulgaria, such as the Armenians, Roma, and Turks. Another area of interest are subject newspapers, such as titles on literature, culture, sports, religion, and the military. Perhaps the most difficult type of newspaper to collect are those published in the diaspora, but the Library of Congress has one current newspaper from Chicago, as well as several older titles from other parts of the United States.
In addition to this guide about Bulgarian newspapers, staff of the Library of Congress have produced several other more detailed guides on Bulgarian resources. They are linked below.