ODN Item of the Week: The Norwester

This week’s item is the February 1920 issue of the Norwester, a community magazine for the Upper Arlington, Grandview Heights, and Marble Cliff neighborhoods, just north and west of downtown Columbus.

From the UA Archives site:

February 1920 Norwester cover

“Read about Upper Arlington’s residents and daily life during our community’s founding. The Norwester magazine was published monthly from November 1917 through March 1922, chronicling early suburban life in the Upper Arlington, Grandview Heights, and Marble Cliff areas. The Upper Arlington community initially published the magazine from 1917-1920 as part of their ideal to be “the finest residence district and the most cordial community in Ohio.” For the final fifteen months of its publication, the communities of Grandview Heights, Marble Cliff, and Upper Arlington jointly published the Norwester. It served as the first newspaper to focus on these northwest suburbs of Columbus, Ohio, and it is a rich resource for historical, cultural, architectural, and genealogical information.

Each monthly issue featured local residents, homes, schools, sports, and daily activities. The magazine also included several first-hand accounts of World War I, received from local residents stationed in Europe. Additionally, it chronicled life on the home front as community members bought Liberty Bonds and war savings stamps, planted backyard war gardens, and debated the patriotic virtues of spending their money versus saving it.”


February’s issue was jam packed, with a memorial for James T. Miller, former owner of the land that Upper Arlington was built on and Upper Arlington’s first mayor, and whose name might sound familiar to you if you’ve been in a UA library or park recently; a listing of upcoming community movie showings; varied lengths of fiction and poetry from local authors; articles about both the U.S. Census and Liberty Bonds; lists of self improvement tips, and more.

Alongside personal interest pieces like a biography of W.L. Arnett, who lived in a house at the corner of Concord Road and Cambridge Boulevard that is still there today, the events of an annual party by the Norwester Club are relayed. There was home made cake and live music, along with performances from local residents. These performances ranged from poetry and literature recitations, to vaudeville routines, and a dance routine from some anonymous local members of the Klu [sic] Klux Klan.

Primary sources like the Norwester are a great way to look back on the development of our communities, both in the economic and cultural senses of that word. They are also a vital reminder that to wrap some aspects of our history in the warmth of nostalgia while downplaying or even ignoring aspects that we don’t find as comfortable is disingenuous and reckless, at best. Fully available resources like these can help us reframe the context of our histories, and move forward with what we’ve learned since then.