19th-century American newspapers, including such icons as Harper's Weekly, Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, Ballou's Pictorial, and others, constitute one of the most important segments of historical antique prints available today. Published through much of the 19th century, and into the early 20th century, at a time when news weeklies and magazines were the primary form of communication for an expanding nations, these journals recorded just about everything of signficance in American life, providing an unparalleled record of the era. There is probably no better repository of historical Civil War prints, for example, than news weeklies. Many of the illustrations, usually in woodcut, give us a pictorial record of places and events that cannot be found anywhere else.
The 19th century news weeklies were also the venue in which some American artists of great note got their start. Amongst the American artists who worked in the industry are names like Winslow Homer, who became one of the foremost painters of the 19th century, and Thomas Nast, creator of the modern Santa Claus character, and of the Republican Party elephant and Democratic Party donkey caricatures.