The Journal of Progress
A Visual Representation of the Emerging Dominance of the Practice of Architecture in the United States in the late 19th century

The Journal of Progress: The Woodworkers Magazine was published from 1883 to 1887 by the Journal of Progress Company located at 907 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA. In 1888 the name of the magazine changed to American Builder and Woodworkers Journal and the publishing house has changed its name to Progress Publishing Company, but was still located at 907 Arch Street. The magazine only appears in this new form until August of 1888 at which time it ceases to exist. The journal clearly struggles with building a solid base of subscribers as shown by the fact that in January of 1886 the price of an annual subscription was reduced from $2 to $1. The cover price remains 20 cents per copy. Prior to its complete makeover in 1888, the editors of the magazine announce in November of 1884, the one year anniversary of the journal, that at that time The Journal of Progress was embarking on a new mission. Below is the announcement that appeared on the cover of the November 1884 issue:

“With this number the Journal of Progress enters upon it second volume, with prospects much brighter then when a year ago, we launched it upon the sea of journalism.  It was then an experiment; it is now an established fact and its proprietors will spare no expense to make it an institution necessary alike to the woodworkers of the country and the trade generally.  We have added not only new contributors to our already excellent list of writers on special subjects, but have also introduced several new features, which will give additional interest to our magazine.  We will from time to time, illustrate the pages of the journal with original designs of interest to the trade, and to that end have secured the services of several artists in the country, and thus endeavor to merit the patronage so liberally bestowed upon us in the past. As an advertising medium, it is now second to no journal published.  It goes into every mill and manufacturing of wood material in the United States and Canada, as well as into many in Europe, and has therefore, a large diversified circulation.”

Throughout the whole, brief history of the journal there are many constants. For example, in every issue there are many advertisements for new machinery and articles about new technology. In fact each issue features an alphabetically organized index of advertisers. The advertisers are from cities all over the country including New Orleans, Baltimore, and Boulder, Colorado. In the earlier issues there are multiple articles concerning lumber supply and listings of lumber market quotations for 20 U.S. cities. In later issues there is a feature called "Helpful Hints for Building". One such hint states, "stains from wood can be removed by strong vinegar or salts of lemon"(December, 1887, p. 24). 1887 marks the advent of a new section of the magazine called "Building Construction Notes" that provides brief descriptions of plans that architects have proposed and provides construction progress updates on high profile buildings in cities as far away as Chicago. Also included in this section are announcements for design competitions. More pronounced than the similarities of each issue is the obvious progression over time of the journal from a trade publication for woodworkers and master builders to an architectural journal. In Philadelphia concurrent with the collapse of The Journal of Progress is the end of The Architectural Review and Builders Journal. Published in Philadelphia from 1868-1870 by Claxon, Remsen, and Haffelfinger this journal represents another attempt to reach a dwindling market. The transition of the scope and content of the The Journal of Progress and the demise of both magazines is indicative of a much larger change in the practice of architecture in the United States in the late 19th century. Although as early as the 18th century a handful of men such as Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Latrobe acted as amateur or professional architects in the United States, prior to the late 19th century most projects built in the United States were designed and constructed by men not professionally trained or apprenticed as architects. This changes in the late 19th century as architects formalize the process of apprenticeship and training. In 1857 the American Institute of Architects (AIA), that continues today to serve as the profession's central governing body, was founded. Magazines and books aimed at craftsmen decline as architectural journals such as Architectural Record, established in 1895, are founded. One individual who benefited from the new legitimacy of the practice of architecture was Angus Wade, illustrator for The Journal of Progress. Wade arrived in Philadelphia in 1883 and worked in the office of Willis G. Hale before going into practice on his own. Wade becomes a prolific Philadelphia architect, deriving most of his income from residential projects, but he also designed several hotels and apartment houses. Wade also becomes involved in the construction and development aspect of building in the West Philadelphia neighborhood.(PAB- Philadelphia Architects and Buildings Project) For more information on Angus Wade click here.

back to homepage