Der Fortschritt

Der fortschritt (New Ulm, Minn.) 1891-1915 Browse the title

By the late 1800s, New Ulm, Minnesota, boasted one of the largest German populations outside of Germany, necessitating its own German-language newspaper. Among the first and longest running is the New Ulm Der Fortschritt (the Progress), an eight-page, six-column weekly paper first published on Thursday, March 26, 1891. Initially published by Theodore Rein and John Schlumpberger and edited by Brown County Superintendent John B. Velikanje, Der Fortschritt featured local, national, and international news with specific regard to Germany. The masthead bore the slogan, "Organ der Farmer-Allianz und der Arbeiter" or "Organ of the Farmer-Alliance and Workers"; and the paper frequently promoted left-wing candidates and parties, which was common amongst German immigrants. The paper typically remained one of general interest, much like its English-language contemporaries, and included editorial and humor sections. Der Fortschritt also included a four-page literary supplement titled Der Erzähler (the Storyteller) from December 29, 1892, to the final published issue of December 29, 1915. Another German-language paper published during this time was the New Ulm Post, which was founded in 1864 and actively promoted the Knights of Labor’s platform of republicanism and social mobility for laborers.

Researchers may find Der Fortschritt of particular interest due to its frequent coverage of anti-German sentiment at the outbreak of World War I. The paper does cover Germany’s participation in the war, particularly as the war escalated, but its sympathies were firmly with the Allies. Local instances of anti-German discrimination are covered extensively as hostilities towards German-Americans frequently erupted into intimidation and violence. 

By September of 1891, Armin Steinhäuser replaced Velikanje as editor and manager with Rein and Schlumpberger continuing their duties as co-publishers. The August 13, 1954 centennial issue of the New Ulm Daily Journal claims that Der Fortschritt was sold to the Fortschritt Publishing Company on April 28, 1892, with Ernst Brandt taking over as publisher, although he does not receive credit until the January 19, 1893 issue. Brandt, a probate judge in Brown County, is most commonly associated with the paper, and under his guidance Der Fortschritt continued to embrace German heritage as German-language papers became increasingly scarce. In the December 4, 1912 issue, Brandt is replaced by the Fortschritt Publishing Company in the publisher’s block, and Ernst J. Buehrer is noted as editor. Before coming to Der Fortschritt, Buehrer had worked in that capacity on the New Ulm Post. In March of 1914, Der Fortschritt was absorbed by the Brown County Co-Operative Publishing Company, which also included the New Ulm News and the New Ulm Post among its acquisitions. Buehrer remained editor until December 29, 1915, when he announced that Der Fortschritt would be absorbed into the New Ulm Post. The Post published both German and English content until it merged with the New Ulm Review on May 12, 1933, effectively ending German-language newspapers in New Ulm.