One of the most successful magazine publishers ever and President Wilson's Secretary of Agriculture.
1876-1928 | Artist: Robert Wadsworth Grafton (1876-1936)
Impact & Accomplishments
Born in Avoca, Iowa, Edwin Thomas Meredith lived with his grandfather in Des Moines while attending Highland Park College (later Drake University).
At age eighteen, he became general manager of his grandfather’s Populist newspaper, Farmer’s Tribune, and by 1896, he was its owner and editor. He transformed the paper into a statewide publication, and then, in 1902, launched a new monthly magazine, Successful Farming. By 1908, the publication had more than 100,000 subscribers, and Meredith used the magazine to advance support for political reform that benefited farmers.
Meredith became involved in the progressive movement of the Democratic Party and ran unsuccessfully for the U. S. Senate and for Governor of Iowa. President Woodrow Wilson called him to service, however, appointing him to the U. S. Chamber of Commerce board, the American Labor Mission, and the Treasury Department’s Committee on Excess Profits. In 1920, Wilson named Meredith Secretary of Agriculture, a post he held through March 1921.
In 1922, he returned to publishing, buying Dairy Farmer and founding a new magazine, Fruit, Garden, and Home. The latter was renamed Better Homes and Gardens in 1924 and is considered one of the most successful magazines in the history of U. S. publishing.
Edwin T. Meredith—pioneer of consumer-oriented features now known as “service journalism”—was eventually inducted into the Advertising Hall of Fame. The Saddle & Sirloin Club valued his contributions to agriculture equally.
Did You Know?
Meredith Corporation is an American media conglomerate based in Des Moines, Iowa. The company owns magazines, television stations, websites, and radio stations. Meredith's publications have a readership of more than 120 million, paid circulation of more than 40 million, and its websites have nearly 135 million monthly unique visitors. Meredith's broadcast television stations reach 11% of U.S. households. (2018)