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Today, there can be few magazines or journals with titles in more or less constant use for the past for over 180 years. In the Foresters Friendly Society, e can therefore take some pride in commemorating the publication of the first edition of The Foresters Miscellany in March 1836, and its subsequent history. Dr. Roger Logan (Foresters historian) tells us more...
First page of the first edition
Samuel Moody the first editor of Miscellany
In its first format, the Miscellany was a monthly, 16 page roughly A5 size, un-illustrated magazine. Available to subscribing members of the then Ancient Order of Foresters. It was produced by a Leeds printer and stationer, Samuel Moody, a member of Court Stone Ezel 139.
As proprietor, he edited the Miscellany in its early years. Subscribers received a varied mix of editorial opinion, reports on the opening of new Courts, poetry, short pieces of literature, and births, marriages and deaths of members. A correspondence column provided a forum for sharing thoughts about emerging Order and Miscellany itself.
Throughout the 1830s and early -40s, during the Orders formative years, the original format was maintained. A useful enhancement came with the inclusion from 1841 of the portrait drawings and potted biographies of High Chief Rangers. However the level of support was not that expected, or needed, to make publication viable.
Changes to its regularity of issue and content failed to halt declining circulation. Eventually, in 1856/7 the title went into abeyance.
A fresh start was made in 1857, with the Permanent Secretary of the order, Samuel Shawcross, being invited to take on the role of 'conductor'. In this existence, The Foresters' Miscellany and Quarterly review contained some 40 to 50 pages of news, specially commissioned articles statistics, as well reports of local Court events such as dinners and fetes. The cost of production was partially offset by advertisements promoting AOF members' own enterprises.
Highs and lows
Over the years, under successive 'conductors', or editors, the Miscellany evolved to present a rich source of detail about the direction and progress of the Order. At times of great world events, the Miscellany recorded the effect of these on the lives of members and their families. Outstanding examples of these were the two world wars. The published monthly list of fatalities during 1914/15 made sombre reading and perhaps not surprisingly as the list grew longer, these were discontinued. On the other hand photos of the Forester Victoria Cross winners with accounts of their actions boosted readers' morale.
In more peaceful times, the annual highlight was the special bumper High Court Meeting report edition of the Miscellany. With more or less verbatim accounts of extensive debate on everything of importance to Foresters, this represented a major feat of publication, often running to more than 100 pages. Latterly, photographs were increasingly used to bring the narrative to life, as was colour printing. We have even dabbled with an online edition.
However, perhaps the outstanding achievement of the editors, and all associated with the production over the years, is to have ensured the survival of a priceless legacy for future generations, enabling an understanding of Foresters Friendly Society as it has evolved over 180 years.
Coronation edition 1953 editor R T Pickett
Miscellany cover 1955 editor R T Pickett
2005- 2015 edited by Janet Clements
Silver Jubiee edition June 1977
Edited by Christine Carpenter 2016-2019
A full collection of issues can be viewed at the Museum
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