Narodni Vestnik

Narodni Vestnik (Duluth, Minn.) 1911-1917 Browse the title

Hailing from southern central Europe near the Adriatic Sea, a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Slovenes first started immigrating to Minnesota in the 1860s. They settled first in Stearns County in the central part of the state and worked primarily as farmers. Beginning in the mid-1880s, a second wave of Slovenes arrived, spurred on by the demand for workers in the meat packing industries of South Saint Paul and by the rapid growth of iron mining in the northeastern part of the state, known as the Iron Range.

In February 1911, a group of Slovenian miners and merchants living in the Iron Range incorporated the Slovenian Print & Publishing Company in Duluth, Minnesota. Formed with the specific intention of publishing a newspaper to serve the area’s Slovenian population, the Slovenian Print & Publishing Company published the first issue of Narodni Vestnik (National Herald) in April 1911.

An eight-page, six-column newspaper, published in Slovenian, Narodni Vestnik had a peak circulation of 7,500 in 1917, covering the city of Duluth and greater Saint Louis County. Narodni Vestnik published at first on a weekly schedule, increasing in 1913 to semi-weekly. By 1914, it would become, to quote the paper’s own masthead, “The only Slovenian tri-weekly in the United States of America.” The Narodni Vestnik was one of two Slovenian American newspapers published in Minnesota. The other was the Amerikanski Slovenec (American Slovenian), which was started in 1891 in Chicago, but which later that year moved to Tower, Minnesota, and in 1899 to Joliet, Illinois.

Although published in Duluth, in 1914 Narodni Vestnik became the official organ of the Slovenian Catholic Benevolent Society of St. Barbara, based in Forest City, Pennsylvania. Fraternal benefit societies were common among new immigrant groups in America and were rooted in similar organizations in Europe. Their primary aim was to provide some of the basic elements of social security to their members, typically in the form of health insurance, but also to meet social and cultural needs within the communities they served.

Raymond Feigel was the first editor of Narodni Vestnik. He was succeeded in 1913 by John Zupan, who held the position until the following year, when William Brunschmid became editor; he was in turn followed in 1915 by Bert Lakner. Father John Smoley, a Catholic priest, succeeded Lakner becoming the paper’s last editor.

During Brunschmid’s tenure, Narodni Vestnik aligned itself with politically progressive causes, taking the side of the Allies in the early years of World War I. The paper also advocated strongly for Slovene acceptance and recognition. In a letter to rival newspaper the Virginia Enterprise, published in its February 20, 1914 issue, Brunschmid wrote “There are in Duluth and St. Louis County about 28,000 Slovenians and Croatians who are being wrongly called Austrians...we have only been subjects of Austria against our will. By this reason we feel offended by being called Austrians – call us Slovenians.”

Under the editorial direction of Father Smoley, Narodni Vestnik took a dramatically different direction, and the paper championed the cause of Austria in World War I. Once it became clear, however, that the United States would enter the war on the side of the Allies, Narodni Vestnik ceased publication. Although the exact date of the paper’s final issue is unknown, Narodni Vestnik was last listed in N.W. Ayer & Son's American Newspaper Annual and Directory in 1918, which reflects publication information submitted in 1917.