Northern Almanac Ep. 3 - 'The Northern Illinois'

Feb 17, 2020

Welcome to the Northern Almanac, the WNIJ living history project coinciding with NIU’s 125th anniversary.

Before the first classes started at Northern Illinois State Normal school in 1899, a faculty committee headed by professor Fred Charles organized the first student publication, a monthly magazine called, appropriately, ‘The Northern Illinois’. They produced 1,500 copies of the inaugural issue for the school’s September opening. 

Photo credit: The Northern Star

The paper was headquartered in Altgeld Hall. Content included student fiction, poetry, and jokes, as well as gossipy items about faculty and local news from DeKalb. Single copies cost ten cents while a yearly subscription was 50 cents. The newspaper became a bi-weekly in 1923. It printed its first photograph in March 1931, and during World War Two, ‘The Northern Illinois’ was sent at no charge to all former students in the service. 

It changed its name to ‘The Northern Star’ in 1954 and became a daily in 1968. The online version launched in 1995.

Throughout its 120-plus year history, ‘The Northern Star’ has received hundreds of awards, including two National Pacemaker Awards, the nation’s top collegiate newspaper honor, and three national online Pacemaker Awards. 

Among the many respected journalists, political writers, and public relations people who began their careers at the Star, are Pulitzer Prize winner Deborah Nelson and Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas.