Rodrigo Davies

Thoughts on Neighborly, civic crowdfunding and the future of community development

Digging into the archives of crowdfunding

30 Apr 2013

I recently wrote an article for the BBC on the fundraising campaign for the platform on which the Statue of Liberty stands. Joseph Pulitzer, then editor of the New York World newspaper, raised $100,00 in five months from New Yorkers, the majority of whom donated less than one dollar. The article built onĀ an earlier post on this blog, and a fuller academic paper will follow.

My main sources were a collection of Pulitzer's personal papers (specifically related to The World) held at Columbia University, and the microfiche archives of the newspaper, held at the New York Public Library. The newspaper issues were among the most interesting documents, chronicling the campaign on an almost-daily basis. The campaign's rhetoric was unabashedly populist: the newspaper criticized wealthy New Yorkers, few of whom contributed to the fund, while lionizing its working class supporters.

"The completion of [the Statue] is now assured, but the millionaires will not be able to take to themselves any credit for it. That honor will belong mainly to The World and the working people."