March 10, 2015

10/03/2015: Milling Journals of the past at the Mills Archive

by Mildred Cookson, The Mills Archive, UK

First published in Milling and Grain, February 2015

The third of the significant journals from the 19th Century that I am highlighting is The Weekly Northwestern Miller, a publication from the United States published by ‘The Miller Publishing Company’ based in Minneapolis, but with an office in London.

It commenced publication in 1872. The paperback magazine varies in format, unlike Milling, which remained consisted for many years. The earlier editions were the same size as Milling, but later on the magazine was reduced in overall size to American Letter size (8.5 x 11 inches). The number of pages varied, sometimes issues were very thin with 40 pages and then increasing to thicker ones containing up to 92 pages.
In general the magazines had more advertisements, attracting increasing interest as the years go by. The colours of the cover also varied, from various two tones to full colour, and then back again to two-tone in the more recent editions. The front covers for some years had lovely colour illustrations covering many themes, from ancient milling, to a particular wind or watermill, or threshing and even nursery rhymes (see the 1925 cover -“Sing a song of sixpence, a pocket full of rye”). 

The 1903 cover was typical of many years before the First World War, advertising Nordyke & Marmon of Indianapolis, “America’s Leading Mill Builders”, with different illustrations of their flour milling machines. It was important reading for American Millers, as well as others in the trade worldwide, reading it kept you up to date with information and illustrations on new machinery and technology.
The contents included correspondence, news about mills, and a section titled, ‘Local and Personal’. There were updates from each American state on the flour market, showing the week’s flour output, foreign and domestic flour and grain prices, etc., it usually had an article called, Around the World, which featured a mill or mills of a particular country. A weekly review of the help wanted, situations vacant, mills for sale and to lease and even pages on individual leading steamship and transportation lines for bulk freight. 

There was also a section on representative flour importers of Great Britain and the continent. One unusual column was headed: News by Telegraph (special cables and telegrams from Northwestern Miller correspondents). For example: “Kansas Mill Burned: Kansas City Nov 3rd –Special Telegram- the new 150-bbl mill of Edward Pierson at Lawrence, Kansas, was struck by lightning Saturday and damage done to the amount of $5,000 by the fire which resulted”.
Inside the back cover of each edition there was an index of advertisers, which included many mills, many pointing out how good their flour was! 

One thing in particular caught my eye in the early editions, on each page there was the small illustration of a child stood against a barrel of flour with a full sack leaning on it, in the background is a windmill. Throughout each page of the magazines it shows the child doing something different as seen here in a couple of the drawings.

The Mills Archive holdings from the first forty years of publication have recently been boosted by a donation from Satake, of an almost complete set of loose issues of the magazine, dating from the 1920s to the 1950s. We are now applying for a grant for binding them, but also importantly, a very large bookcase to hold them once bound!

To find out more contact me on

Read the magazine HERE.

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