Recommended References for Serious Researchers

Collecting vintage newspaper and magazine articles about quilts, their designs, and their makers is just the first step in the learning process.  The next step is the research involved in understanding how those articles were distributed and discovering the stories of the people, the businesses, and the publications behind them.  Many hours over many days and weeks were spent in the library on the Wichita State University campus in the early 1990s pouring through the following references that gradually revealed information about newspaper syndicates, the features they distributed, and much, much more.

Frank Luther Mott (1886-1964), A History of American Magazines in five volumes; titles, publication dates, and imprints vary.   The author devoted his life to this task and the published results are a primary source for researchers and historians.  Volume 1, 1741-1850; Volume 2, 1850-1865; Volume 3, 1865-1885; Volume 4, 1885-1905; Volume 5, 1905-1930.

Editor & Publisher, a weekly magazine published in New York City since the 1880s for the newspaper publishing industry, inaugurated a newspaper feature syndicate directory in 1924 as an annual supplement to the magazine that outlines syndicates, features, authors, and bylines.  The supplement, usually with a summer issue, has been published continuously except for two years during World War II.  With the history of the newspaper industry contained in its pages, Editor & Publisher is a primary source for researchers.  It is indexed by Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature; 1890-current, another important research tool.

N. W. Ayer and Son's American Newspaper Annual and Directory (title varies) published in Philadelphia since the late 19th century details, by location, every periodical published in North America.  George P. Rowell (New York City) began the genre in 1867 with a similar directory, and a third directory was published by Remington Brothers (Pittsburgh, PA).  The sequence of title, ownership, and geographic changes that are frequent problems for historians can often be traced through these directories.  The Ayer directory outlived both Rowell and Remington; it is continued by Gale Directory of Publications (title varies).

Elmo Scott Watson, A History of Newspaper Syndicates in the United States, 1863-1935 (Chicago, IL:  Western Newspaper Union, 1935); now available through GoogleBooks.

Jane Kennedy, "Development of Postal Rates:  1845-1955," in Land Economics, Vol. 33 No. 2 (May 1957):93-112.  A quarterly journal published by University of Wisconsin Press; now available online through JSTOR.

Wayne E. Fuller, The American Mail:  Enlarger of the Common Life (Chicago, IL:  University of Chicago Press, 1972).

Patricia Okker, Our Sister Editors:  Sarah J. Hale and the Tradition of Nineteenth-Century American Women Editors (Athens, GA:  University of Georgia Press, 1995).

Charles A. Johanningsmeier, Fiction and the American Literary Marketplace:  The Role of Newspaper Syndicates in America, 1860-1900 (New York:  Cambridge University Press, 1997).

Mary Ellen Zuckerman, A History of Popular Women's Magazines in the United States, 1792-1995 (Westport, CT:  Greenwood Press, 1998).

These four references are also helpful:  Poole's Index to Periodical Literature 1802-1906; Industrial Arts Index, 1926-1957, continued by Business Periodicals Index, 1958-current; Art Index, 1929-current; and Education Index, 1929-current.

Today, we have the vast resources provided by the Internet through Google and the other search engines that weren't available in the early 1990s, but library research utilizing several of the above references remains as the first step.

© Wilene Smith, September 12, 2010, all rights reserved

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