A proven star of Broadway and a veteran of cinema by the early 1920s, Will Rogers was presented with a new venue of expression in December 1922: a nationally syndicated newspaper column. For years he had succeeded in placing a few scattered articles in newspapers. Some of the pieces appeared in semi-syndicated format, more often on an individual, freelance basis. Most consisted simply of recycled stage material, one- or two-liners that appeared in abbreviated paragraph form and that originated from the gags he used at the Midnight Frolic, the Ziegfeld Follies, speaking engagements, and benefit performances. Occasionally, he contributed an article focused on one or two specific topics. He might tackle politics, Prohibition, foreign affairs, traffic, sports, but even in these a trademark joke or two would likely appear. Rogers’ entry into the realm of newspaper syndication in December 1922 offered him a regularly scheduled voice and a potential audience of millions of readers nationwide. It gave him coveted space in the pages of the New York Times, the most respected newspaper in the country and the only one at the time that could possibly claim the title of a national read.
The debut in syndication of what was to become commonly known as the “Weekly Article,” Rogers’ few to several hundred words in each Sunday edition, became a milestone in his development as a national political voice, although his first offerings proved less than auspicious. Over time he moved away from the retelling of his stage routine—what was familiar and easy to him—and into that of political commentary with theme, substance, and depth. He became a writer. McNaught Syndicate, a new company, initially signed a few handfuls of newspapers, but the numbers would continue to grow and the territory broaden until within a decade Rogers could claim hundreds of papers across the country as subscribers to his column, making him one of the most widely read political commentators in the United States.
The individual online volumes of the Weekly Articles replicate almost exactly the original series published by Oklahoma State University Press (1980-82). Included is much of the fore matter and all of the annotations, with some updating of historical information. No photos or indices have been included; thus the online pagination differs from the print editions.
When you’re ready to access the online Weekly Articles, you may open an individual volume or, eventually, the full six-volume set. Click on the link SEARCH WEEKLY ARTICLES. It will take you to a user-friendly search engine that will quickly conduct whatever search you wish to make, such as by keyword, and then will list all results. Clicking on a result will take you to an exact reference.
When searching "The Writings of Will Rogers," remember that Rogers took liberties with spelling and grammar. Here are some tips that might make your search more successful:
- Do not use quote marks.
- Use a single keyword with each search.
- Avoid searches that involve contractions. Rogers did not always use apostrophes; sometimes he phonetically spelled contraction (e.g., "dident" for "didn’t").
- Try different possible spellings of a proper name or a concept.
The Weekly Articles are in the Adobe PDF format. You can download a free copy of Adobe's Reader by clicking on the Get Adobe Reader logo.
Note: If you wish to save the file to your computer, you can right click on any of the above links and choose "Save Target As..." to save file.