Principal Sources

Information on periodicals is adapted from Karen L. Kilcup, Stronger, Truer, Bolder: American Children’s Writing, Nature, and the Environment (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2021).


In the nineteenth century, the distinction between so-called children’s and adult literatures was much blurrier than today. As Pat Pflieger comments, “Between 1789 and 1873, almost 400 periodicals for children were published in the United States”; the last quarter-century comprised many more. Beyond their sheer numbers, journals ranging from The Juvenile Miscellany to St. Nicholas contained some of the century’s most original and compelling examples of nature writing and environmental writing. They enlisted significant works by well-known authors like Harriet Beecher Stowe and John Burroughs, many of whom assembled their contributions into single-author volumes. While the periodicals might innovate, they simultaneously responded to a culturally conservative intellectual and social milieu; too much or too overt originality could reduce sales or even result in the journal’s demise. Some magazines’ sustained popularity demonstrates that they successfully balanced traditional visions of children’s relation to nature with more forward-looking perspectives, as they encouraged participation in social and environmental issues.

For more information, see Pat Pflieger, “American children’s periodicals, 1789-1872: Introductory.”