St. Nicholas Magazine 1873-1941 – A Wonderful Resource For Public Domain Children’s Stories and Illustrations

St. Nicholas Magazine (1873-1941) was a successful American children’s magazine, published by Scribner’s beginning in November 1873, and designed for children five to eighteen.

The magazine was edited by Mary Mapes Dodge—remembered for Hans Brinker or The Silver Skates. Its major competitor in its field was the well-established The Youth’s Companion which had been published since 1827. In Dodge’s fresh approach to children’s entertainment there was no heavy-handed moralizing. Her editorial policy was set out:

To give clean, genuine fun to children of all ages.
To give them examples of the finest types of boyhood and girlhood.
To inspire them with an appreciation of fine pictorial art.
To cultivate the imagination in profitable directions.
To foster a love of country, home, nature, truth, beauty, and sincerity.
To prepare boys and girls for life as it is.
To stimulate their ambitions–but along normally progressive lines.
To keep pace with a fast-moving world in all its activities.
To give reading matter which every parent may pass to his children unhesitatingly.

In 1881 Charles Scribner’s Sons reorganized, withdrawing its share of ownership and the Century Company, with Roswell Smith as president, took over the publication of St. Nicholas and Scribner’s Monthly (renamed The Century Magazine).

From the outset St. Nicholas Magazine published work of the best contemporary illustrators: Charles Dana Gibson, Arthur Rackham and Howard Pyle, all contributed to St. Nicholas and later, Ellis Parker Butler, Norman Rockwell and Livingston Hopkins.

“The best-known children’s authors and illustrators contributed to St. Nicholas,“, according to a 2002 review on children’s literature. Many children’s classics were first serialized in St. Nicholas Magazine. Its first runaway hit was with “Little Lord Fauntleroy”. Louisa May Alcott’s Jo’s Boys was serialized in the magazine, and Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book.

The magazine changed decorously with the times, but ceased publication in November 1941.

Most people who know of the magazine at all, know it through Henry Steele Commager’s two editions of St. Nicholas Anthology, in 1948 and 1950.

So what’s this magazine’s Public Domain status?

For all issues of St. Nicholas Magazine published before 1923, they are in the Public Domain in the United States and countries following the rule of the shorter term. You’ll find a ton of material from the magazine published before 1923.

There is evidence of renewals for copyright protection for issues published between 1923 – 1941 so you will have to do a little copyright research to determine if you can use a particular issue published in this time frame before attempting to use in your commercial endeavors.

Here’s a few sample images from the pages of various issues of St. Nicholas Magazine to whet your appetite. The images you’ll find in this magazine are usually nothing short of breath-taking and awe-inspiring

University of Florida’s Digital Collection – St. Nicholas Magazine

The University of Florida has every issue and volume of St. Nicholas Magazine published between 1873-1897 scanned and online for your viewing pleasure…

You can also find many issues of St. Nicholas Magazine available for down at both the Internet Archive and Google Books.

If you’re looking for a tremendous source of Public Domain children’s stories and images, you definitely won’t be dissappointed with this magazine.

Until next time,

About The Author:

Logan Andrew is an online entrepreneur, information publisher, and author that has been using Public Domain material to create profitable products and businesses since 2001. He is also co-author of "The Public Domain Treasure Hunter's Survival Kit" available here. For more info Logan, click here.


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  1. Myriam De Clercq says

    Hello Logan, St. Nicholas Magazine is indeed a marvelous publication. About seven years ago I ordered a 1920 issue from which contains articles about police dogs in Ghent, Belgium (my home town) in 1913, the year the World Exhibition took place there, and about military dogs in the First World War.

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