American architectural journals first appeared in the second half of the 19th century. Encouraged by advances in printing and graphic technologies, they were part of a general trend toward specialized journalism during this period. The architectural periodical developed along with journals for women, clerics, railroad engineers, and grocers. Yet it also resulted from publishers' desires to capitalize on the success of house pattern books and the widespread interest in architecture that they created. Despite these favorable omens the early American architectural journals foundered; they had troubled and short lives, generally lasting only two years. The premise of this paper is that their success depended on the architectural profession's direct involvement and support and the backing of a major publishing house. Beginning with the first periodicals of the 1850s and 1860s, architectural journalism identified itself with the emerging profession; its editorials asserted the architects' primacy in design and construction and distinguished their role from the builders'. Professional and educational issues, in fact, took precedence over aesthetic and stylistic discussions in editorial columns and articles. Yet the journals displayed the same pragmatism that had characterized builders' guides and pattern books, the first architectural literature published in the United States.
- Copyright 1989 The Society of Architectural Historians