Query: Harper Lee's father, Alabama journalism, and international topics ("Afghanistanism") in newspaper editorials

David Mindich's picture

Dear Jhistorians, 

Doug Cumming just sent us a query from an Emory historian writing biography of Harper Lee:


Harper Lee's father was editor of weekly paper in Monroeville, Ala., in the 1930s and 40s, and a lot of his editorials were on international topics. The question is, was that unusual for a paper like that (e.g. small-town weekly, the South, the 30s?)

I know the SNPA (Southern publishers) had a George Fort Milton Award from the 1920s for editorials on international peace, but was having trouble getting enough entries in the 1920s. I recall seeing an item in the editorial writers newsletter of the 1950s making fun of what it called “Afghanistanism,” the tendency to write editorials about lands so far away and irrelevant that no one is likely to object. (We could hardly say that about Afghanistan today.)

​If you can help or provide a cite, please contact Hank Klibanoff at hklibanoff@emory.edu, 404-376-2641. (It’s not his book, but he’s asking for a colleague in history).

Thank you!