St. Nicholas: Scribner’s Illustrated Magazine for Girls and Boys
Our Young Folks (Jan. 1874)
Children’s Hour (July 1874, Philadelphia, PA)
Little Corporal (May 1875)
Schoolday Magazine (May 1875)
Wide Awake (Sept. 1893, Boston, MA)
Date of Publication:
Nov. 1873 (1:1) – Feb. 1940 (67:4),
Suspended Mar. 1940 – Feb. 1943
Mar. 1943 (70:1) – June 1943 (70:4)
Place(s) of Publication:
New York, NY
Frequency of Publication:
Scribner & Co., New York (1873 – July 1881)
Century Company, New York (Aug. 1881 – May 1930)
Educational Pub. Corp, Darien, CT (June 1930 – Feb. 1940)
St. Nicholas Magazine (1943)
Standard paper size, 8.5″ x 11.″ Contained children’s stories, poems, current events, and illustrations, including “The Watch Tower” and “For Country and For Liberty” during the First World War. “The St. Nicholas League” started in 1881, allowing readers to submit their own writing, artwork, and puzzles. (“A Tribute to St Nicholas: A Magazine for Young Folks“)
Mary Mapes Dodge (1873 – 1905)
William Fayal Clarke (1905 – 1927)
George F. Thompson (1927 – 1929)
Albert Gallatin Lanier (1929 – 1930)
Mary Lamberton Becker (1930 – 1932)
Eric J. Bender (1932 – 1934)
Chesla Sherlock (1934 – 1935)
Vertie A. Coyne (1936 – 1940)
Juliet Lit Sterne (1943)
William Fayal Clarke
Alexander Drake (Art Director)
Libraries with Original Issues:
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (1:1 – 59:2, 60:3 – 62:2);
James Madison University (v. 1 – v. 50);
Duke University (v. 1 – v. 15, v. 18, v. 21 – v. 52, v. 54 – 59, v. 64);
University of Chicago (v. 7, v. 8 – v. 35, 37:1, 38:1 – 40:1, v. 41 – v. 45)
University of Florida
Ann Arbor, Michigan: University Microfilms, 1973 (American periodical series: 1850 – 1900) [microfilm]
Full searchable PDFs of 1873 (1:1) – 1897 (24:12) avaialble online at the University of Florida Digital Collections’ George A. Smathers Libraries
Full searchable tables of contents of 1873 – 1907 (1:1 – 34:12) available online at ProQuest Historical Newspapers
In 1873 Mary Mapes Dodge wrote an article titled “Children’s Magazines” for Scribner’s Monthly, arguing for a new approach to children’s magazines: “A good magazine for little ones was never so much needed, and such harm is done by nearly all that are published” (Dodge 13). Dodge’s article described how children’s magazines were not properly geared to their youthful audience, and instead were merely water-downed versions of adult journals or overly didactic publications designed to discipline, rather than entertain, their audiences. Scribner’s editors J. G. Holland and Roswell Smith had already planned to launch a new children’s magazine; after reading Dodge’s article they knew they had found their chief editor.
The first issue hit stands in November, 1873, and quickly became the most-read children’s magazine in the United States. The magazine was based out of New York but was widely embraced throughout the country and even in Europe. Dodge employed the aid of Scribner’s Monthly’s art director Alexander Drake to find the best artists to decorate the magazine’s stories and nonfiction, and St. Nicholas’s vibrant illustrations delighted readers. Along with the established adult writers who contributed to the magazine were numerous up-and-coming children writers: Edna St. Vincent Millay, Rachel Carson, and Eudora Welty saw their names for the first time in print in St. Nicholas. “The St. Nicholas League” allowed young readers to contribute writing, artwork, and puzzles, and offered monetary incentives to those who published regularly.
After Dodge passed away in 1905, the magazine continued strongly for twenty-two years under the leadership of William Fayal Clarke. After his tenure ended, no editor maintained the position for more than four years and the magazine ended in 1940. In 1943 new ownership attempted to revitalize the famed publication, but only four more issues appeared before St. Nicholas shut its doors forever. It has been hailed as the most influential children’s magazine to date.
The following quotations embody the spirit with which Mary Mapes Dodge began St. Nicholas.
“To give clean, genuine fun to children of all ages.
To give them examples of the finest types of boyhood and girlhood.
To inspire them with an appreciation of fine pictorial art.
To cultivate the imagination in profitable directions.
To foster a love of country, home, nature, truth, beauty, and sincerity.
To prepare boys and girls for life as it is.
To stimulate their ambitions-but along normally progressive lines.
To keep pace with a fast-moving world in all its activities.
To give reading matter which every parent may pass to his children unhesitatingly (“St. Nicholas Tribute Page”).”
“The child’s magazine must not be a milk-and-water variety of the periodical for adults. In fact, it needs to be stronger, truer, bolder, more uncompromising than the other; its cheer must be the cheer of the bird-song; it must mean freshness and heartiness, life and joy…A child’s magazine is its playground” (Dodge “Children’s Magazines”).
“But what delights us in Milton, Keats, and Tennyson, children often find for themselves in stars, daisies, and such joys and troubles as little ones know” (Dodge “Children’s Magazines” 14).
Mary Mapes Dodge (Jan. 26, 1831 – Aug. 21, 1905)
Editor: Nov. 1873 – Aug. 1905
Mary Mapes Dodge began her career writing various essays and short fiction for adult readers. After a short span of freelancing, Dodge shifted her writing toward a young audience with the release of Irvington Stories, a book of children’s tales, in 1864 (Clarke 19). William Fayal Clarke noted, “So great was [the book’s] popularity that the publisher begged for a second series or sequel” (19-20). She obliged, releasing A Few Friends in 1869. Impressed with her work, Donald G. Mitchell and Harriet Beecher Stowe offered her a position with Heart and Home, a family-oriented paper, as editor to the juvenile and household sections (20). With each issue her reputation as an editor grew until she eventually caught the interest of Dr. J. G. Holland and Roswell Smith, editors of Scribner’s Monthly, with her essay “Children’s Magazines.” They offered her the position of chief editor of a new children’s magazine, St. Nicholas, which she conducted for the final thirty-two years of her life. For her entire run as editor, Dodge did her best to recruit the best writers and illustrators for the magazine, and operated under the mission to bring children a ‘magical playground’ and ‘escape’ through literature.
Louisa May Alcott
An Old-Fashioned Girl
Under the Lilacs
Jack and Jill
William Cullen Bryant
“The Boys of my Boyhood”
“The Planting of the Apple-tree”
Frances Hodgson Burnett
Little Lord Fauntleroy
Behind the White Brick
“The Mastiff and his Master”
Susan Fenimore Cooper
“The Cherry-Colored Purse”
Richard Harding Davis
“The Great Tri-Club Tennis Tournament”
“The Sleeping Flowers”
Dorothy Canfield Fisher
Sarah Orne Jewett
“A Bit of Color”
“The Three Fishers”
The Jungle Book (Serially)
Thomas Nelson Page
“Two Little Confederates”
“The Long Hillside”
Robert Louis Stevenson
“Letters to Young Friends”
“The Castle of Bim”
“The Emergency Mistress”
“The Floating Prince”
“The Griffin and the Minor Canon”
“Old Pipes and the Dryad”
Albert Payson Terhune
“One Minute Longer”
Tom Sawyer Abroad
“A Wonderful Pair of Slippers”
Kate Douglas Wiggin
“Cuddle Down Dolly”
“Polly Oliver’s Problem”
“The Red Dolly”
Altstetter, Mabel F. “American Magazines for Children.” Peabody Journal of Education 19.3 (Nov. 1941): 131-136.
Clarke, William Fayal. “In Memory of Mary Mapes Dodge.” St. Nicholas and Mary Mapes Dodge: The Legacy of a Children’s Magazine Editor, 1873-1905. Eds. Susan R. Gannon, Suzanne Rahn & Ruth Anne Thompson. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2004. 18-26.
Dodge, Mary Mapes. “Children’s Magazines.” St. Nicholas and Mary Mapes Dodge: The Legacy of a Children’s Magazine Editor, 1873-1905. Eds. Susan R. Gannon, Suzanne Rahn & Ruth Anne Thompson. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2004. 13-17.
Gannon, Susan. “Introduction: What Was St. Nicholas Magazine?” St. Nicholas and Mary Mapes Dodge: The Legacy of a Children’s Magazine Editor, 1873-1905. Eds. Susan R. Gannon, Suzanne Rahn & Ruth Anne Thompson. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2004. 1-9.
Images. “St. Nicholas Magazine.” George A Smathers Libraries. 13 Feb. 2009. University of Florida. 9 July 2009.
Joseph, Michael S. “Illustrating St. Nicholas and the Influence of Mary Mapes Dodge.” St. Nicholas and Mary Mapes Dodge: The Legacy of a Children’s Magazine Editor, 1873-1905. Eds. Susan R. Gannon, Suzanne Rahn & Ruth Anne Thompson. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2004. 54-75.
Rahn, Suzanne. “St. Nicholas and Its Friends: The Magazine-Child Relationship.” St. Nicholas and Mary Mapes Dodge: The Legacy of a Children’s Magazine Editor, 1873-1905. Eds. Susan R. Gannon, Suzanne Rahn & Ruth Anne Thompson. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2004. 93-110.
“St. Nicholas Magazine.” George A Smathers Libraries. 13 Feb. 2009. University of Florida. 9 July 2009.
Tager, Florence. “A Radical Culture for Children of Working Class: ‘The Young Socialists’ Magazine, 1908-1920.’” Curriculum Inquiry 22.3 (Autumn, 1992): 271-290.
“The St. Nicholas Tribute Page.” Flying Dreams. 9 May 2007.
“St. Nicholas” compiled by Hall Carey (Class of ’07, Davidson College)