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This Month in Business History

Dow Jones Industrial Average First Published

Angel Vu, Business Reference Specialist and
Ellen Terrell, Business Reference Specialist
April 2017

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In the years since the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) was first introduced on May 26, 1896, it has been regularly quoted in news broadcasts, newspapers, and journals as an indicator of financial markets and economic conditions in the United States. Surprisingly, however, although the DJIA is the best known, it was not the first of the Dow indexes.

Dow Jones & Company was formed in 1882 by Charles H. Dow, a journalist formerly of the Kiernan News Agency, and Edward Jones formerly of the Providence Star. The first Index was created in 1884 and was originally known as the Dow Jones Railroad Average; it consisted of 11 stocks, including the New York Central and Union Pacific, and two non-rails, Pacific Mail Steamship and Western Union The name changed in 1970 to the current Transportation Average. 1

The first calculation of the DJIA was comprised of stocks of twelve different companies in the industrial sector. The average started at 40.94 points. These companies were selected specifically to represent major areas of the U.S. economy following the recession in the late 1800s. Companies included in Dow’s original calculations were: 2


Charles H. Dow, a founder of Dow Jones & Co.
From the Prints & Photographs Division
Library of Congress
Reproduction Number: LC-USZC2-5907
  • American Cotton Oil Company
  • American Sugar Company
  • American Tobacco Company
  • Chicago Gas Company
  • Distilling & Cattle Feeding Company
  • General Electric
  • Laclede Gas Company
  • National Lead Company
  • North American Utility Company
  • Tennessee Coal & Iron
  • U.S. Leather Company (preferred)
  • U.S. Rubber Company

By 1916 the number of stocks rose to 20 and again rose to 30 in 1928. (3) 3 It crossed the 1000 mark on November 14, 1972 and it reached 10,000 on March 29, 1999. Throughout most of its history, the stocks on the Index have been listed on the New York Stock Exchange, but in 1999 Microsoft and Intel (which were listed on the NASDAQ), were included. While General Electric is the only one of the original 12 stocks that is still listed (although it was removed and reinstated twice), many of the other original 12 have merged into other companies, which are included in the DIJA. 4

Dow's editorials, published in the Wall Street Journal from 1899 to 1902, provided insight into the foundations of the DJIA and other Dow indices. His work was originally intended to create a "window" into the market and economy versus as opposed to developing a "formal theory" of market movements;5 however, Dow's works and ideas eventually evolved with contributions from his colleagues and became known posthumously as "Dow Theory." Although the Dow Theory has been expanded and modified over time, and the DJIA has encountered criticisms, Dow's work remains an important and widely known indicator of the strength of the nation's productivity and economy. 6

Stock Market Trends .         As of this writing, S&P Dow Jones Indices is the current owner of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is now comprised of thirty (30) major American publically traded companies. Components of the DJIA are continually revised to reflect corporate industry in the United States. 7
1919-1921 Stock Market Trends (DJIA and DJTA), compiled by Dow Jones and Co. The Washington Herald. (Washington, D.C.), 15 May 1921. Page 15, Image 51 as viewed in Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.
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Additional Reading

Internet Resources

Dow Jones & Company External Link

Dow Jones Averages External Link

Dow Jones Down Through History Timeline External Link

Dow John Indexes External Link

Dow Jones Industrial Average External Link

Dow Jones 100 Year Historical Chart External Link

Timelines of History: Timeline Dow Jones External Link

Measuring Worth (1885 -) External Link

History of the New York Stock Exchange

History of the American and NASDAQ Stock Exchanges

The Wall Street Journal External Link

History of Wall Street (LC Business Reference Services)

Dow, Charles Henry
American National Biography Online External Link

Print Resources

Primary Sources

The Wall Street Journal. New York, N.Y.: Dow, Jones & Co. 1889-1959.
LC Call Number: Newspaper Microfilm XXXX Self-service Coll (Set 1) N&CPRR
LC Catalog Number: sn 85047504

DJIA, Dow theory, and financial markets history

Dow Theory Unplugged: Charles Dow's Original Editorials & Their Relevance Today, edited by Laura Sether. Cedar Falls, Iowa: W & A Publishing, c2009.
LC Call Number: HG4910 .D67 2009
LC Catalog Number: 2008943540

The Dow Jones Averages, 1885-1995,edited by Phyllis S. Pierce. Chicago: Irwin Professional Pub., c1996.
LC Call Number: HG4915 .D6434 1996
LC Catalog Number: 96013131

Fritz, Sparta, and Shumate, A. M. Making the Dow Theory Work. New York, Barron's, The National Financial Weekly [c1939]
LC Call Number: HG4521 .F8 Microfilm 58734 HG
LC Catalog Number: 40003792

Greiner, Perry P. and Whitcomb, Hale C. The Dow Theory and the Seventy-year Forecast Record. Larchmont, N.Y., Investors Intelligence, Inc. [1969]
LC Call Number: HG4521 .G72
LC Catalog Number: 70091248

Hamilton, William Peter. The Stock Market Barometer. New York: Wiley, 1998.

LC Call Number: HG4551 .H3 1998
LC Catalog Number: 97042291

Ned Davis Research, Inc. Markets in Motion: A Financial Market History, 1900 to 2004], 25th Anniversary ed. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley, c2005.
LC Call Number: HG4551 .N42 2005 folio
LC Catalog Number: 2005041784

Nelson, S. A. (Samuel Armstrong). The ABC of Stock Speculation. Detroit: Omnigraphics, 1989, c1903.
LC Call Number: HG6041 .N45 1989
LC Catalog Number: 89060256
Electronic copy from HathiTrust: External Link

Rosenberg, Jerry Martin. Inside the Wall Street Journal: The History and the Power of Dow Jones & Company and America's Most Influential Newspaper. New York: Macmillan; London: Collier Macmillan, c1982.
LC Call Number: HG4910 .R69 1982
LC Catalog Number: 82013005

Stillman, Richard Joseph. Dow Jones Industrial Average: History and Role in an Investment Strategy. Homewood, Ill.: Dow Jones-Irwin, c1986.
LC Call Number: HG4915 .S73 1986
LC Catalog Number: 85073873

Wendt, Lloyd. The Wall Street Journal : The Story of Dow Jones & the Nation’s Business Newspaper. Chicago : Rand McNally, c1982.
LC Call Number: HG4910 .W37 1982
LC Catalog Number: 8200534

Charles Dow:

Bishop, George W. Charles H. Dow and the Dow Theory. New York, Appleton-Century-Crofts [1960]
LC Call Number: HG4516 .B5
LC Catalog Number: 60007855

Charles H. Dow: Economist; A Selection of His Writings on Business Cycles, edited with comments by George W. Bishop, Jr.
LC Call Number: HB3743 .D68
Catalog Number: 67018137

Teacher Resources

Smith, Pat, and Roney, Lynn. Wow the Dow!: The Complete Guide to Teaching Your Kids How to Invest in the Stock Market. New York: Simon & Schuster, c2000.
LC Call Number: HG4910 .W69 2000
Catalog Number: 00041273

Library of Congress Catalog Searches

Additional works on this topic in the Library of Congress may be identified by searching the Online Catalog under appropriate Library of Congress subject headings. Choose the topics you wish to search from the following list of Library of Congress subject headings to link directly to the Catalog and automatically execute a search for the subject selected. Please be aware that during periods of heavy use you may encounter delays in accessing the catalog. Please see the individual sections of this guide for catalog searches relating to those topics. For assistance in locating the many other subject headings which relate to this subject, please consult a reference librarian.

Investments--United States.

Dow Jones industrial average—History.

Dow Jones & Co.— History.

Dow, Charles Henry, 1851-1902.

Dow Jones Information Services Group.

Dow Jones market analyzer PLUS.

Dow Jones News/Retrieval (Information retrieval system).

Dow Jones transportation average.


Stocks--United States.

Wall Street journal— History.

Investments--United States.

 1 Dow Jones Transportation Average Fact Sheet External Link (Archived copy as viewed May 17, 2018)
S&P Dow Jones Indices McGraw Financial

 2 Dow Jones Industrial Average External Link (Archived copy as viewed May 17, 2018)
S&P Dow Jones Indices McGraw Financial

 3. Dow Jones Industrial Average Historical Components External Link (Archived copy as viewed May 17, 2018)
S&P Dow Jones Indices McGraw Financial

 4. Dow Jones Industrial Average External Link (Archived copy as viewed May 17, 2018)
S&P Dow Jones Indices McGraw Financial

 5 Dow Theory Unplugged: Charles Dow's Original Editorials & Their Relevance Today, edited by Laura Sether. Cedar Falls, Iowa: W & A Publishing, c2009. (p. 2)

 6 Segal, Troy (2018, April 26). "How Now, Dow? What Moves The DJIA?." Retrieved May 17, 2018 from: External Link

 7. The Dow Jones Industrial Average - DJIA External Link
(As viewed on May 17, 2018).

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