Online Primary Sources for American History: “Niles’ Register”

The Niles’ Register was this country’s first weekly newsmagazine; it was published continuously from 1811 until 1849 from Baltimore. It spanned 75 volumes and over 30,000 advertisement-free pages of reportage, reprints, government documents, foreign news, and rejoinder letters to the editor. It provides us with a fascinating look back at what were turbulent, developing times: the War of 1812, Andrew Jackson, westward expansion, to name a few. For example, the May 25, 1822 issue contains: a  mention of the third edition of Cooper’s The Spy, a sighting of Lafayette at a dinner party in Paris, a report from upriver on the Mississippi, an account of the scarcity of money in New York City, and reprinting of diplomatic correspondence between American and British parties on who has the right to navigate the Mississippi River. An index to the first 12 volumes is available; individual volumes are prefaced with their own indexes. While known as The Niles’ Register, it actually never had that as its actual title; it started as The Weekly Register and was later re-named Niles’ Weekly Register. This overlooked (excepting, of course, those who research the time period) treasure deserves your attention. The printing, while dense, is still eminently readable; there is no excuse not to have recourse to this valuable resource. More background information can be found here and here.


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