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THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY was established in November, 1857, by Messrs. Phillips, Sampson and Company, publishers, Boston. Four volumes, covering two years and two months, were issued by this firm, when the death successively of Mr. Phillips and of Mr. Sampson was followed by a dissolution of the firm, and the magazine passed into the hands of Messrs. Ticknor and Fields. This firm continued to issue it, under the successive styles of Ticknor and Fields, Fields, Osgood and Company, and J. R. Osgood and Company, until the close of the year 1873, when it became the property of the present proprietors and publishers.
Mr. James Russell Lowell was the first editor of the magazine, and continued to conduct it for a few months after its transfer to Messrs. Ticknor and Fields. He then retired, and Mr. James T. Fields, of the firm, assumed the editorship. In 1866 Mr. Fields associated with himself Mr. William Dean Howells, and when he retired from the publishing business in 1871, Mr. Howells became sole editor, and held the office until the spring of 1880, when he was succeeded by the present editor, Mr. Thomas Bailey Aldrich.
The ATLANTIC has never changed its form, to any considerable degree. The early numbers carried on the cover a vignette of John Winthrop, the first governor of Massachusetts Bay, but upon the outbreak of the war for the Union this portrait was replaced by the American flag, and after the close of the war the contents of the number occupied the same place. The articles, at first, were not signed, the publishers did not publicly announce them, and the table of contents accompanying each volume did not contain the names of authors annexed to their several contributions. This last practice was begun in the ninth volume, and at the beginning of the twenty-sixth the present custom was adopted of signing each article with the author's name; but at no time has it been the custom to publish the authorship of the contributions to the editorial departments, though no special mystery has been made of the authorship of reviews or of opinions in the several departments.
Reviews of books have formed a special feature from the outset, and in the first number Mr. Lowell introduced a more personal department called The Round Table, but did not continue it after a single issue. In 1872 Mr. Howells organized departments covering literature, science, art, politics, music, and subsequently education, in which he had the special coöperation of Mr. Thomas Sergeant Perry in French and German Literature, Mr. John Fiske in Science, Mr. William Foster Apthorp in Music, and Mr. Arthur George Sedgwick in Politics. These departments were subsequently discontinued, and the reviews of current literature were made regular, though unsigned, articles at the close of each number, the practice being adopted of grouping kindred works, when practicable, in a single article.
For a few numbers also, in 1876, 1877, the experiment was tried of giving original music accompanying original songs. In 1877 Mr. Howells introduced The Contributor's Club, for the purpose of giving freer opportunity for the discussion of opinions or the light fancies of contributors under the shelter of anonymous publication. In 1879 he added to the regular reviews a summary of current publications, with rapid comments, under the title of Books of the Month.
An Index to The Atlantic Monthly was published in 1877, covering the first thirty-eight volumes (1857-1876). It was divided into I. An Index of Articles, which was further subdivided into (a) General Articles, (b) Editorial Departments, and II. An Index of Authors, in which under each author's name in alphabetical order was given a list of that author's contributions, arranged chronologically. In the present Index, which takes the place of the earlier one and includes the contents of twenty-four more volumes, it has been thought advisable, for the sake of simplicity and ease of reference, to discard the former complex system, and bring the entire contents into one list, alphabetically arranged.
The general plan has been followed of appending to each article the name of its author in its briefest form. These authors' names, however, appear in their proper order, in heavy-face type, and are given in full wherever it has been possible to ascertain the full name, though in a few cases, by special request of the author, only initials have been used. Matrons are distinguished from maids whenever the distinction has been known, and pseudonyms have been translated into autonyms. The compiler is obliged to confess, however, that after the most diligent search in biographical dictionaries, library catalogues, college triennials, and similar records of patient, little appreciated labor, and after the expenditure of a great deal of inquisition in correspondence, he has been unable to extend some initials to their full power. Unfortunately the early records of the magazine were not preserved, and two fires successively destroyed books and papers which would have given the clue to bibliographical details.
The articles which may be classed as editorial, that is, the reviews of books and the papers contributed to the several departments when these existed, are distinguished by the prefix of an asterisk. The authorship of these articles is less fully given than that of the general contributions. It has been more difficult to trace the authorship; in some cases the contributions have been slight, and a display of names might have been ostentatious; and in some others the authors desired to remain undeclared. In every case where living authors have expressed a desire to withhold their names, their wish has been respected. The authorship of one group of articles, those contained in the Contributor's Club, has been left wholly undisclosed. The reason of this is obvious. The freedom of writers would be impaired if they thought that their veriest trifles or their "honest beliefs" would sooner or later be charged back upon them.
The most considerable labor in determining the connection of articles and authors was expended upon the Index published in 1877, and in the Preface to that Index the compiler made his acknowledgments "to the recent publishers of the magazine, to the successive editors and their assistants, and to various literary gentlemen who from the first took a warm interest in the ATLANTIC." He desires to add his thanks now to those who have further aided him in this new issue.
BOSTON, 27 July, 1889.
Correspondence of Number, Volume, and Page with Year and Month.
XXV.... 1--128. 1870