The Young People's Magazine, March 1, 1909.

Photo courtesy of South Pacific Division Heritage Centre.

The Young People's Magazine (1909), Australasia

By Milton Hook

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Milton Hook, Ed.D. (Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan, the United States). Hook retired in 1997 as a minister in the Greater Sydney Conference, Australia. An Australian by birth Hook has served the Church as a teacher at the elementary, academy and college levels, a missionary in Papua New Guinea, and as a local church pastor. In retirement he is a conjoint senior lecturer at Avondale College of Higher Education. He has authored Flames Over Battle Creek, Avondale: Experiment on the Dora, Desmond Ford: Reformist Theologian, Gospel Revivalist, the Seventh-day Adventist Heritage Series, and many magazine articles. He is married to Noeleen and has two sons and three grandchildren.

Young People’s Magazine had a publication life of less than a year in 1909. It was an attempt to produce something to support the youth of the Church in the Australasian Union Conference.

Context

When the first group of Seventh-day Adventist missionaries arrived in Australia in June 1885 they lost no time in establishing a printing facility. For their advertising leaflets, they set type in one of their bedrooms and had them printed at a local print shop in Richmond, Melbourne. Before the year was out, they had established their own printing house. Twelve months after their arrival they began printing a periodical titled Sabbath School Guide, which was enlarged in January 1888 under the title Our Australasian Youth and Sabbath School Guide.1 It was their first effort to provide Christian reading matter for the younger generation attending their meetings. The periodical was issued monthly with an annual subscription rate of two shillings and sixpence. However, it had a life of only eighteen months, replaced by the weekly Youth’s Instructor from America.2 The relatively small number of youth among the early converts did not warrant a special periodical.

In the early twentieth century some local Seventh-day Adventist churches formed Young People’s Societies that held regular meetings. New South Wales and Western Australia were the first local conferences to establish Young People’s Departments, each with a secretarial leader. These departments were first listed in the 1908 Yearbook.3 Allowing for the time lapse between reporting such developments and printing of the annual yearbook, the actual beginning of these departments was most likely 1907. New Zealand, Queensland, and South Australia were first listed in 1909.4 The Victoria/Tasmania Conference was not listed until 1911, the same year that the Australasian Union Conference was first listed as having a Young People’s Department.5 It was evident that special interest in the young people was something that developed gradually from the grass roots level.

The Union Conference Record demonstrated a similar growing interest in providing special attention to the youth of the Church. Reports of Young People’s Societies in local churches appeared in the early twentieth century.6

Plans

At the Seventh Biennial Session of the Australasian Union Conference (AUC) held at Cooranbong, NSW, September 1908, it was voted to issue a monthly digest in order to provide suitable reading matter for the church youth. It would be well illustrated and sell for three pence each. The Signs Publishing Company in Warburton, Victoria would print it. Young people would be invited to submit suggestions for the magazine's name. Alfred Miller was nominated as the editor with associates Albert Anderson and Edith Graham. This was a brave move because their main digest, Signs of the Times, had not yet generated sufficient subscriptions to make it financially viable.7

The planned periodical was promoted at a missionary convention in November 1908 at the Darling Range School, Western Australia.8 In the same month the church paper, Union Conference Record, carried an article outlining plans for the subject matter of the digest. Any profits made by the magazine would be directed to Pacific Island missions. However, the youth were not asked for suggestions of a name for the publication.9

Production

Plans were promptly put into action. Late in December 1908 some youth already had the first issue in their hands.10 It was dated January 1, 1909. Some changes had been made to the editorial staff. Albert Anderson was listed as the editor. James Gregory and Edith Graham were his associates. The digest consisted of sixteen pages (thirty-two sides) with a colored paper cover. The subject matter avoided doctrinal contentions. Instead, it focused on health, general and natural history, science, ethics, and stories from the mission field.11

Edith Graham continued to promote the digest in the Union Conference Record. She urged the youth to canvass for subscriptions from door to door and calculated that if an individual sold twenty annual subscriptions over a five-day period they would earn twenty shillings for themselves.12 The Young People's Society at Preston, Western Australia, was reported to have taken up this challenge.13 and a youngster in Victoria told of his sales success among his neighbors.14 Read Smith, missionary to the Maoris, reported that he had taken eighty orders at Tokomaru Bay, New Zealand.15

Unfortunately, the isolated successes were not enough to prolong production. At the AUC Council, October 1909, it was voted to cease the magazine at the end of the year.16 The quality of the digest could not be faulted and Graham's illness mid-year did not seem to slow the editorial work.17 The problem was simply that the subscription list, once again, was too short to warrant further issues. Some compensation was evident in the column for young people in the Union Conference Record. Beginning in 1907, the column had only appeared intermittently,18 but became a regular feature from 1909 onward.19

No copies of Our Australasian Youth and Sabbath School Guide have survived, but a complete file of the twelve issues of The Young People's Magazine, January through December 1909, is housed in the South Pacific Division Heritage Centre, Avondale College of Higher Education, Cooranbong, NSW.

Sources

"Actions Taken by the Union Conference." Union Conference Record, October 4, 1909.

"All will be glad to learn..." Union Conference Record, August 9, 1909.

"A Magazine for Young People." Union Conference Record, November 30, 1908.

Bowhey, S. "Young People's Society, Black Stump." Union Conference Record,  April 30, 1906.

Graham, E[dith] M. "Report of the Young People's Work." Union Conference Record, March 8, 1909.

Graham, E[dith] M. "The Young People's Magazine." Union Conference Record, May 31, 1909.

Miller, W[alter] H.B. "Young People." Union Conference Record, vol. 13, no. 3, January 18, 1909.

Olsen, O[le] A. "The West Australian Convention and Our Young People's Paper." Union Conference Record, November 30, 1908.

“Our young folks and the Sabbath-school…” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, September 1889.

"Plans and Recommendations." Union Conference Record, September 21, 1908.

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbooks. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1908-1911.

Sharp, H[arold] E. "Experiences with the Young People's Magazine." Union Conference Record, March 22, 1909.

Smith, Read, "Among the Maoris." Union Conference Record, March 15, 1909.

"Surprised that They Sold So Readily." Union Conference Record, July 12, 1909.

“The Australasian Field,” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, January 1888.

The Young People's Magazine." South Pacific Division Heritage Centre, Avondale College of Higher Education, Cooranbong, NSW. Shelf Records. "The Young People's Magazine, January – December 1909.

“We have already mailed to our Sabbath-schools…” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, October 1, 1889.

"Young People's Work." Union Conference Record, February 4, 1907.

Notes

  1. “The Australasian Field,” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, January 1888, 2.

  2. “We have already mailed to our Sabbath-schools…” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, October 1, 1889, 304.

  3. “Australasian Union Conference,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1908), 93, 97.

  4. “Australasian Union Conference,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1909), 96-97.

  5. “Australasian Union Conference,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1911), 90, 94.

  6. E.g., S. Bowhey, “Young People’s Society, Black Swamp,” Union Conference Record, April 30, 1906, 8.

  7. “Plans and Recommendations,” Union Conference Record, September 21, 1908, 39-41.

  8. O[le] A. Olsen, “The West Australian Convention and Our Young People’s Paper,” Union Conference Record, November 30, 1908. 8.

  9. “A Magazine for Young People,” Union Conference Record, November 30, 1908, 6-7.

  10. E[dith] M. Graham, “Report of the Young People’s Work,” Union Conference Record, March 8, 1909, 5.

  11. The Young People’s Magazine, South Pacific Division Heritage Centre, Avondale College of Higher Education, Cooranbong, NSW. Shelf Records, “The Young People’s Magazine, January - December 1909.”

  12. E[dith M. Graham, “The Young People’s Magazine,” Union Conference Record, May 31, 1909, 8.

  13. H[arold] E. Sharp, “Experiences with the Young People’s Magazine,” Union Conference Record, March 22, 1909, 5.

  14. “Surprised that They Sold So Readily,” Union Conference Record, July 12, 1909, 8.

  15. Read Smith, “Among the Maoris,” Union Conference Record, March 15, 1909, 4.

  16. “Actions Taken by the Union Conference,” Union Conference Record, October 4, 1909, 2-5.

  17. “All will be glad to learn…” Union Conference Record, August 9, 1909, 8.

  18. E.g., “Young People’s Work,” Union Conference Record, February 4, 1907, 6.

  19. E.g., W[alter] H.B. Miler, “Young People,” Union Conference Record, January 18, 1909, 6-7.

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Hook, Milton. "The Young People's Magazine (1909), Australasia." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 09, 2021. Accessed June 19, 2021. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=B87Y.

Hook, Milton. "The Young People's Magazine (1909), Australasia." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 09, 2021. Date of access June 19, 2021, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=B87Y.

Hook, Milton (2021, January 09). The Young People's Magazine (1909), Australasia. Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved June 19, 2021, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=B87Y.