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The Advent of Modern Milling

Journals: The Northwestern Miller

This weekly American journal was first produced in 1873. They were published by ‘The Miller Publishing Company’ in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The earlier editions were often quite short in length, around 40 pages, but this then increased over the years and they could be as long as 90 pages. The variety in length reflected the variety of content. Each edition had regular features such as ‘The Week in Milling’ and summed up the trade in different areas and departments. This was not solely focused on the US. Whilst there were sections on Minneapolis and the Northwest, Chicago, and St. Louis, there were also sections on the European Department and the Canadian Department.

Articles were also a constant feature although the topic of each could vary. They had a broad variety of subject matter including the history of milling, the milling conditions of different countries and advice, or studies, about new methods or machinery. This would all be interesting and useful to millers and shows the span of information included in each edition. Also regularly included were sections such as ‘Situations Wanted’, ‘Correspondence’, ‘Local and Personal’, and ‘Grist of Grins’ (a section near the back of the publication with humorous extracts from other publications).

Always present within each publication were numerous adverts. This included adverts by engineers about their machinery, milling companies about their flour, and bakers about their numerous products. Also advertised were other elements that could be needed in the industry including flour sacks and bleach for flour. These adverts could be full page and in colour or just a small black box with text in a page full with other advertisements. This would vary depending on how much a company was willing to pay, but at the end of each edition was an index of advertisers where all the companies were displayed equally. To read more about advertisement in the milling trade, click here.

Another key feature of this publication was its striking and appealing covers. These again varied over time with some of the earlier ones being two-toned, then advancing to full colour illustrations, and then a black and white picture surrounded by a red border.  For a while the cover would also be an advert as Nordyke & Marmon of Indianapolis were advertised within the illustration, however, other editions did not have covers doubling as adverts.

Some of the most striking front covers were for special or different editions of The Northwestern Miller. The most common example of this was from the 1920s onwards when once a month, The Northwestern Miller and American Baker was published. These editions were longer and contained features and articles directed to bakers along with the normal updates for millers. Their covers also usually contained more of a baking theme than a milling theme. This included ‘Baker’s Cake’; ‘Our Daily Bread’; and ‘Dutch Bakery’. The most memorable, however, were the full page colour illustrations depicting nursery rhymes, this included Little Jack HornerSing a Song of Sixpence and The Queen of Hearts. Other special editions included the ‘Holiday’ edition in December which included short stories along with appropriate illustrations.

So, The Northwestern Miller, contained up to date and useful information for the working miller and baker. Each edition contained a variety of content with useful and entertaining features put side by side for the enjoyment of the reader. They were still being published during the Second World War and here at the archive, a nearly complete set can be found. Other editions can be found digitised online and so the legacy of The Northwestern Miller lives on, years after American millers were first using them.

Since this article was written we have digitised our entire run of 1930s Northwestern Miller magazines, and they can be viewed online here: