The Garden Arbor – Illustrated Family Journal or Die Gartenlaube – Illustriertes Familienblatt according to Wikipedia was “the first successful mass-circulation German newspaper and a forerunner of all modern magazines.” Die Gartenlaube was founded in 1853 in Leipzig, Kingdom of Saxony with an objective to enlighten the entire family. The founders intended to accomplish this “with a mixture of current events, essays on the natural sciences, biographical sketches, short stories, poetry, and full-page illustrations.”
Die Gartenlaube became widely read across the German speaking world. With an estimated two to five million readers, the publisher at one time claimed to have the largest circulation of any publication in the world. There is, of course, much more to this story. Those interested should definitely read the article in Wikipedia.
Why is an article about Die Gartenlaube in Maplewood History? A year or two ago my wife and I were making a stack of books in which we had lost interest and were preparing to donate them to the public library which would sell them to raise a little money. In the process I discovered a book that neither of us has any recollection of acquiring. It is a bound volume of Die Gartenlaube magazines from 1901. Since it was published in German I can’t read any of the articles in it. But thumbing through it I was captivated by the illustrations. They are stunning pieces of art. I wound up photographing most of them.
That should have been the end of it and it was until I saw a few copies of William Lyman Thomas’ School and Home magazine in this treasure trove of Maplewoodiana through which I’ve been sifting. I was immediately struck by the resemblance to Die Gartenlaube magazine. If the Wikipedia article is correct and Die Gartenlaube is “a forerunner of all modern magazines” I suspect that Thomas and no doubt many others may have modeled their publications after the German one. Thomas certainly may have been familiar with Die Gartenlaube. There was a large population of German immigrants in St. Louis. They had German language newspapers, schools and churches.
Thomas published School and Home from about 1883 until 1899. I don’t know what happened next. I don’t know if he simply ceased publishing his magazine or if he sold it. I learned nothing from searching the archive of the St Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper.
This post contains images from the School and Home magazine, Next post I’ll include some of the images from this bound volume of Die Gartenlaube that has somehow come into my possession.
See a follow-up post here.
As always much thanks to the descendants of William Lyman and Kate Compton Thomas for allowing us access to their very interesting family archive.