A gift from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign alumna, M. Christine Wicklein Schwartz, through the T & C Schwartz Family Foundation, has made it possible to digitize issues of Farmer’s Weekly Review (Joliet, IL) from 1929 to 2010. This collection of historic agricultural newspapers is now accessible through Farm, Field and Fireside, a digital repository created and hosted by the History, Philosophy and Newspaper Library at Illinois.
Schwartz was five when her father, Andrew A. Wicklein (1920 – 1985), was appointed Will County Farm Adviser to the Farmer’s Weekly Review and the family made their new home in Joliet in 1953. During his 34-year career with the Will County Extension Service, Andy wrote a weekly column, “Extension Comments,” for the paper.
While looking for a way to share copies of his columns with her siblings and her father’s grandchildren, Schwartz discovered Farm, Field and Fireside and decided to fund the digitization of the entire run of available copies of the Review in memory of her father. Preserving this aspect of Will County history offers a unique glimpse into rural life thriving in the same neighborhood vicinity as a major metropolis—Chicago.
“The Farmer’s Weekly Review provides rich source material for our understanding of the social, commercial, and cultural lives of Illinois farmers, as well as a wealth of information on the history of farming practices, the environment, agricultural technology, farm journalism, and rural education,” said Mary Stuart, head of the History, Philosophy and Newspaper Library. “The issues of Farmer’s Weekly Review digitized for this project, spanning more than 80 years, clearly document the role played by the state of Illinois in the transformation of rural life in America in the 20th century.”
Andrew A. Wicklein had a strong connection to the University and to Will County. He graduated from Illinois in 1943 with a degree in agriculture. Except for a year in Colorado and a tour of duty with the United States Air Force during World War II, his entire career was spent working with extension services in the State of Illinois. He won many awards, including the Distinguished Service Award of the National Association of County Agricultural Agents, the top honor of its kind in the country, and was recognized by the governor of Illinois in 1964 for his contributions.
The first seven years of Farmer’s Weekly Review are missing (1922-1928). Unfortunately, no copies of these issues are known to have survived. They will be added to the Farm, Field and Fireside database if issues can be located. The Farm, Field and Fireside Collection is accessible at www.library.illinois.edu/dnc/fff/ .
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