The Midland: A Magazine of the Middle West (1915 – 1929)
The Midland: A National Literary Magazine (1930 – 1933)
Date of Publication:
Jan. 1915 (1:1) – May/Jun. 1933 (20:2/3)
Place(s) of Publication:
Iowa City, IA (1915 – 1933)
Moorhead, MN (1917 – 1919)
Glennie, MI (1919 – 1921)
Pittsburgh, PA (1922-1923)
Chicago, IL (1930 – 1933)
Frequency of Publication:
Monthly (1915 – 1917; 1923 – 1927)
Bimonthly (1918 – 1919; 1928 – 1933)
Monthly and bimontly (1920 – 1922)
200-500 until it moved to Chicago; 1,200-2,000 in Chicago
John Springer at Economy Advertising Company in Iowa City, IA
23-28 cm in height. Issues around 30 pages in length. Tan cover. Water-marked, deckle-edged octavo pages. Published mostly short fiction, but also poetry and essays.
John T. Frederick (1915 – 1933)
Frank Luther Mott, co-editor, (1925-1930)
Edwin Ford Piper
Esther Paulus (wife of John T. Frederick)
Mary Grove Chawner
Nelson A. Crawford
Libraries with Original Issues:
Iowa State University, University of Iowa, University of Michigan, University of Minnesota, Harvard University; Searchable PDF of select volumes available at the Hathi Trust Digital Library
New York: Kraus Reprint Corporation, 1967.
The Midland “encourage[d] the making of literature in the Middle West” (Frederick 1:1). It sought to question the legitimacy of the Northeast’s power in the publication of literature and to encourage young writers stay in their region and write about it. Showcasing writers from the region located between the Allegheny and Rocky Mountain ranges, The Midland became one of the most influential regional little magazines. The Midland emphasized the regional diversity of the country and the special worldview found in the Midwest, especially the rural areas (Reigelman 44). Meant to be a non-commercial enterprise, The Midland depended on subscriptions to support its publication, though it did print advertisements for other literary magazines.
In the first three years of its publication, The Midland divided its space equally to essays, poetry and short fiction. By 1918, however, it had moved to featuring mostly short fiction, the arena in which it gained the most fame from critics such as Edward J. O’Brian, the editor of the Best Short Stories series (200). Another change was in the regional scope of the magazine: by 1930 only two-thirds of contributions came from Midwestern states. This precipitated the change in subtitle of the magazine from “A Magazine of the Middle West” to “A National Literary Magazine” (31).
John T. Frederick, the editor and founder of the magazine, used The Midland both to fight against and to gain access to academia and big New York publishers. The style of social realism and main themes of The Midland, including the family, rural lifestyles, and the war, reflected his tastes. The Midland debuted in Iowa City just after Frederick finished at the University of Iowa, and though he edited the magazine from several different locales due to his various career moves, it was printed in Iowa City by John Springer’s firm throughout its run. Frederick and Springer carefully designed and printed The Midland in order to contrast intentionally more cheaply made commercial magazines (5). Frederick was supportive of new writers from the region, and responded personally to every submission and letter to the magazine (24). Frederick’s high expectations came crashing down when his large amount of debt forced Frederick to ask the editor of The Frontier to combine the magazines.
“The First Person Plural” by John T. Frederick
The Midland is not a commercial enterprise, and it is not endowed. Its publishers, editors and contributors receive no payment for their work. Obviously, miscellaneous advertising is not sought or accepted. Possibly subscriptions will meet the only expenses of the magazine, — the cost of printing and mailing. With that faint hope its commercialism ends.
The magazine is merely a modest attempt to encourage the making of literature in the Middle West. The region is already renowned for certain material products and for financial prosperity; but the marker of its literary and other artists has commonly been beyond the mountains, and the producers have commonly gone to their market. Possibly the region between the mountains would gain in variety at least if it retained more of its makers of literature, music, pictures, and other expressions of civilization. And possibly civilization itself might be with us a somewhat swifter process if expression of its spirit were more frequent. Scotland is none the worse for Burns and Scott, none the worse that they did not move to London and interpret London themes for London publishers.
Makers of art do not moralize; yet they are artists because they have something to say. They have the faith of Saint Francis in something above the material, and for it they must at least have the will to take poverty as bride. So it happens that the Middle West has a few publishers, editors and writers who wish to do some of their work strictly in the amateur spirit. They will try to make and print some literature.
It is all an experiment, of course; but everybody who works at it will have some pleasure in the work and will hope to lighten and brighten life, even if slightly, for the Gentle Reader who may indeed wish to share also the joy of the work.
Dying, the Venerable Bede repeated the words of Saint Ambrose: “I have not lived so as to be ashamed to live among you; nor do I fear to die.” When The Midland dies, late or soon, may it die unashamed and leave pleasant memories.
from The Midland 1:1 (January 1915), pages 1-2.
John T. Frederick (Feb. 1, 1893 – Jan. 31, 1975)
Editor: 1915 – 1933
John T. Frederick, born in 1893 near Corning, Iowa, studied at the State University of Iowa (now the University of Iowa). Contemporary American literature was his academic focus. He began publishing his Midwestern-focused magazine at the end of his senior year of college when he was only 21 years old. C.F. Ansley, the head of the English Department at the time who believed in the importance of regionalism, helped him find contributors and subscribers. The magazine was shaped by Frederick’s “modest personality and literary preferences,” and he edited it while teaching and lecturing at universities in Iowa City, IO; Moorhead, MN; Pittsburg, PA; Chicago, IL; and also his stint farming in Glennie, MI for two years (Reigelman 200). Despite his career as a professor, it remained important to Frederick throughout The Midland’s run to keep it independent from academic affiliation, perhaps due to the common view at universities at the time that American literature was not worth studying (17).
Frank Luther Mott (Apr. 4, 1886 – Oct. 23, 1964)
Co-Editor: 1925 – 1930
Also born in Iowa, Frank Luther Mott studied at University of Chicago and Columbia University before taking a faculty post at University of Iowa. He was a contributor to The Midland before becoming Frederick’s co-editor in 1925. Mott complimented Frederick’s modesty with energy and aggressiveness. Frederick and Mott worked well together, and alternated writing the book reviews in the magazine (Reigelman 22).
William Ellery Leonard
“A Cycle of Love-Lyrics”
“Above the Battle: 1616-1916 and Thereafter”
Howard Mumford Jones
“Drigsby’s Universal Regulator”
“Love Divided: A Sequence of Sonnets”
Edwin Ford Piper
“The Land of the Aiouswas”
Lizette Woodworth Reese
Grace Stone Coates
“How I Burned for Heloise”
“The Fat Woman of Boone”
Allen, Charles. “Regionalism and the Little Magazines.” College English.7.1 (Oct. 1945): 10-16.
Campbell, Douglas S. “The Midland: Magazine of the Middle West.” Regional Interest Magazines of the United States. Sam G. Riley and Gary W. Selnow, eds. Greenwood Press: New York, 1991. Web. 14 Jun 2016.
Chielans, Edward. The Literary Journal in America, 1900-1950: A Guide to Information Sources. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1977.
Hathi Trust Digital Library. “The Midland.” University of Michigan. Web. September – October, 2010.
Hoffman, Frederick J., Charles Allan, and Carolyn F. Ulrich. The Little Magazine: A History and a Bibliography. 2nd ed. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1947.
Lutz, Tom. “The Cosmopolitan Midland.” American Periodicals: A Journal of History, Criticism, and Bibliography. 15.1 (2005): 74-85.
Lutz, Tom. “The Cosmopolitan Midland and the Academic Writer.” Little Magazines and Modernism: New Approaches. Ed. Suzanne W. Churchill and Adam McKible. Hampshire and Burlington: Ashgate, 2007.
Reigelman, Milton M. “The Midland.” American Literary Magazines. 199-203
Reigelman, Milton M. The Midland: A Venture in Literary Regionalism. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1975.
“The Midland” compiled by Rachel Andersen (Class of ‘11, Davidson College)