Prairie Farmer, the oldest continually published magazine in America

Illinois Country Living magazine will soon be celebrating its 75th ­anniversary, but a rural publication with even longer longevity is Prairie Farmer with 175 years of ­continuous publishing, making it the oldest ­magazine in America.

“We’re very proud to have served Illinois agriculture for all of those years,” says Holly Spangler, Prairie Farmer editor. “Our mission has never wavered: We exist for farmers. We’re here to help them build a better farm, a better environment, a better ­community and a better family.”

Prairie Farmer traces its roots to 1841 when entrepreneur John S. Wright founded The Union Agriculturist and Western Prairie Farmer, now known as Prairie Farmer, in Chicago as pioneers made their way across the prairie and settled new ground to begin searching out the crops that would ultimately make Illinois farmland some of the most prolific in the entire world.

“Pioneers were breaking ground on the prairie and the soil was ­different from what they knew back east. The weather was different and the crops responded ­differently,” Spangler explained. “Wright saw a need to share news and infor­mation with those new prairie ­farmers, and to let them share information with each other.

“One of the fascinating things we learned in poring over archival ­volumes is that Wright founded Prairie Farmer in the wake of a fiercely partisan presidential election between Martin Van Buren and William Henry Harrison. He wanted an agricultural paper that would be non-partisan and unpolitical,” Spangler said.

The Prairie Farmer staff found further similarities in their research through 175 years of ­publications – including stories of fires and crop failures, of droughts and loss, and of death and war. Prairie Farmer also boasts a famous ­subscriber. President Abraham Lincoln subscribed to and read Prairie Farmer.

For more on Prairie Farmer’s 175th anniversary coverage, visit