Though the Journal-World title only came into existence in 1911, according to the volume number of the current masthead of the paper, the paper dates itself back to 1858.
The Simons family moved to Lawrence in 1891, and took over operations of the Lawrence Record under a three-month lease. The Lawrence World was first issued by the Simons on March 2, 1892. Wilford Collins Simons served as editor from 1891 until his death in 1952.
In 1905, the World acquired the Lawrence Journal, and merged the Journal and World in 1911 after a fire destroyed the offices of the Journal. The Lawrence Daily Journal title dates back to approximately 1880, but was a continuation of the Republican Daily Journal which dates back to at least 1869. The Republican Daily Journal appears to have been the successor via sale and/or consolidation of earlier Lawrence newspapers.
In 2005, developers at the paper created the now-popular Django web framework.
In October 2010, the World Company, which owns the Lawrence Journal-World, sold some of their news media business to Internet and cable provider Knology for $165 million. The sale included 6 News, the Lawrence area's local television news channel.