Periodicals published by The American Sunday-School Union

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Text by Ellen Little

The American Sunday-School Teacher's Magazine and Journal of Education began in 1823 as a quarterly publication by private publishers in NY. It was transferred to the American Sunday-School Union and was continued as The American Sunday-School Magazine. It was issued monthly from July 1, 1824 until 1831 when it became quarterly. It's purpose was to spread information to Sunday-schools regarding the organization and running of the schools, report on new methods of teaching, and give ideas on how to extend schools into new fields. Originally, each illustrated volume contained 32 8-by 5 inch pages at a cost of $1.50 per year.

In addition to the Magazine, the American Sunday-School Union often sent out "letters, circulars, appeals, instructions, regulations and rules" in an "almost bewildering variety and quantity, such as Directions for Forming and Conducting Sunday-School...; Hints to Aid in the Organization and Support of Sabbath-Schools in the Country; Plans and Motives for the Extension of Sabbath-Schools; An address to the Citizens of Philadelphia; ...To the Friends of Sunday-Schools in the United States; System of Internal Regulation for Sunday-Schools; Plan of Proceeding in the Formation of Auxiliary Sunday-School Unions, ...Hints on the Establishment of Sunday-School Depositories; Yearly Course of Select Scripture Lessons for Sunday-Schools; Annual Reports from Auxiliary Societies, and Suggestions in Vindication of Sunday-Schools.[i]

This was succeeded by The Sunday-School Journal and Advocate of Christian Education,in 1831. Published in newspaper folio form, each issue contained 4 15-by-21 inch pages, with 5 columns per page, at a cost of $2 per year. This continued until 1834 when it was changed to semi-monthly, due to financial considerations. At this point the cost was reduced to $1 per year. This format continued through 1843, when the size of the page was reduced and the publication was offered for 25 ¢ per year. In 1859, it was succeeded by The Sunday-School Times, which was transferred to a private publisher (John S. Hart) in 1861. This was succeeded by The Sunday-School World, a monthly periodical of 16 8-by-10 inch pages for a subscription cost of 50 ¢ per year.
Lesson helps geared to The Sunday-School World included:
  • The Primary Lesson Paper
  • The Intermediate Lesson Paper
  • The Advanced Lesson Paper
  • Scholars' and Teachers' Quarterly Review Paper
  • The Superintendent's Review Paper
  • Review Wall Chart (printed in bold type for classroom viewing)
  • Scholar's Handbook (bound version of year's lessons)
  • The Scholar's Companion succeeded by The American Sunday-School
  • Union Quarterly
  • The Primary Quarterly -- in January of 1917, this was restricted to older children and The Junior Quarterly added for those 8 to 12.
  • Little People's Lesson Pictures
The Infant's Magazine was started in 1828 and was designed to appeal to a younger audience. It was issued monthly until 1934. The Young People's Paper was started in 1891 so that children would have a weekly paper to take home from Sunday school. It was printed on toned paper and "filled with illustrations, stories, and material intended to enforce Bible truths in the home." [ii]Sunday-School at Home was started in July 1915.

The Youth's Friend and Scholars' Magazine was started by another organization in New Haven, Connecticut as The Teachers' Offering. This publication was bought by the American Sunday-School Union in 1823 and changed to The Youth's Friend and Scholars' Magazine, which was published monthly for 25 years. Each issue had 16 small pages and 1 engraving. This was succeeded in 1942 by The Youth's Penny Gazette, which was published every other week.The Gazette was larger than its predecessor and had several engravings in each issue. In 1859, the Penny Gazette was changed to a format using more expensive white paper and more, though smaller, engravings, with the title The Youth's Sunday-School Gazette. This format was intended for an older readership than the Penny Gazette, so another publication called The Sunday-School Banner was issued for the younger-than-teen reader.It was similar in size and style to the Penny Gazette.

The Child's World, was founded in 1862 when The Youth's Sunday-School Gazette and The Sunday-School Banner were discontinued and it was published until 1881. This publication was issued semi-monthly and had 1 page designed for children just learning to read. In the hope of increasing religious reading in homes, this paper was succeeded by 2 new papers in 1881, The Picture World and The Youth's World. The Picture World was for the younger children and was issued as an 8 page paper with 4 parts that could be cut and given out each Sunday. The Youth's World, designed for older children, led to 2 additional periodicals, The Illustrated Treasury of Knowledge, devoted to nature and science, and Truth in Life, a temperance paper, both added in 1881. In 1883, The Sunday Hour was added. This paper covered biographies and information about Bible lands. Then in 1888, The Illustrated Treasury of Knowledge and Truth in Life merged to create The People's Paper, which was issued semi-monthly until 1891.

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[i] Edwin Wilbur Rice, The Sunday-School Movement, 1780-1917, and the American Sunday-School Union 1817-1917, p159-60.
[ii] Rice, p.173.

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