Looking back at an earlier era of media explosion

One of my favorite websites that you’ve probably never heard of is Common-Place, The Interactive Journal of Early American Life. Here’s how they describe themselves: “A common place for exploring and exchanging ideas about early American history and culture. A bit friendlier than a scholarly journal, a bit more scholarly than a popular magazine, Common-place speaks–and listens–to scholars, museum curators, teachers, hobbyists, and just about anyone interested American history before 1900.”

The the current “issue” of Common-Place should be of interest to media types, especially those interested in design and “visual media.” From several angles, it examines the reality that ours is not the only era in American history to “experience an explosion of media.”


“Nineteenth-century Americans experienced a media explosion of their own, one characterized above all by a stunning profusion of graphic imagery. From formal prints to magazine illustrations, from trade cards to campaign posters, nineteenth-century Americans found themselves in a new sea of visual experience and, as the thirteen authors in this special issue demonstrate, developed an extraordinary range of strategies for adapting to these powerful new forms of visual expression. “

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