The Atlantic Releases Its Complete Archive, Newly Digitized

165 years of journalism, literature, and American history are now available online for the first time.

Covers of The Atlantic
The Atlantic's full archive is now online. (The Atlantic / Oliver Munday)

The Atlantic, founded in 1857 to advance the cause of abolition and to explore the American idea through art, politics, and literature, has as of today published its full archive online: offering unprecedented access to its journalism, stretching across 165 years, on its website for the first time. Tens of thousands of never-before-digitized stories are now available to read, many from famous writers and historic figures. The archive previously existed primarily in physical copy, with less than 6 percent published online until now.

The Atlantic archive contains the complete print-magazine collection: all monthly issues, starting with its first edition in November 1857; it includes nearly 30,000 articles, essays, original fiction, and poetry; writings from thousands of prestigious authors; and every cover in the magazine’s history. The archive is fully searchable by topic––readers can seek historical context on what’s happening today, or read early short stories and poetry by writers such as Ernest Hemingway, Louisa May Alcott, Sylvia Plath, and James Baldwin––and subscribers have unlimited access to the full collection.

As one of the longest continuously published magazines in the United States, The Atlantic has an archive of enormous historical significance––offering a rare glimpse into what history felt like as it was happening, and the stories that the foremost voices in literature, politics, philosophy, and culture told about their country at its most crucial moments. In an introduction to the archive, Editor in Chief Jeffrey Goldberg draws out a handful of such gems now widely available, including: the first publication of Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken”; a rolling argument between Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. Du Bois on the methodology of Black liberation; Rachel Carson’s initial foray into nature writing; Mark Twain’s first impression of the telephone; and a memoir by Anna Leonowens, who taught the Siamese King Mongkut’s 82 children, which was the origin of the famed musical The King and I.

“One of my great joys as a journalist here is to spelunk into our physical archive in search of treasures,” Goldberg writes. “‘The world is all gates, all opportunities,’ Ralph Waldo Emerson, one of our founders, said, and the gates to our magazine’s rich past are now open.”

The archive launches today with “The Atlantic Writers Project,” in which our current writers reflect on the work of 25 of their most influential counterparts from the past. Just as The Atlantic’s daily reporting draws from history to inform the present, “The Atlantic Writers Project” provides a clear link from past voices to our present journalists. Staff writer Clint Smith remembers the work of Charlotte Forten Grimké, who was also a poet and teacher; staff writer Robinson Meyer, whose contemporary work focuses on the interaction between humans and nature, reflects on the tradition that Henry David Thoreau started in these pages more than a century ago; both staff writer Elizabeth Bruenig and her biography subject, Harriet Beecher Stowe, write with clarity about the highest-stakes moral crises of their time.

Goldberg’s introduction acknowledges that publishing the full archive means it’s all here—as he writes, “the good, the bad, the brilliant, the offensive, the ridiculous. We knew from the start that we would engage in no censorship, trimming, or dodging … As journalists, we felt it important to share our archive in full, for reasons of transparency and historical accuracy.”

On July 1, the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery and The Atlantic also launched a related multi-platform collaboration titled “Perspectives: The Atlantic’s Writers at the National Portrait Gallery,” available to tour in person at the gallery and online. “Perspectives” features Atlantic co-founders and distinguished contributors whose portraits are on view at the museum, such as Louisa May Alcott, Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, Martin Luther King Jr., and John Lewis. New companion wall texts, written by The Atlantic’s journalists, draw connections between the magazine’s historic focus on abolition, its current engagement with social justice and civil rights, and the museum’s many portraits of diverse activists. Also included are the likenesses of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Harriet Beecher Stowe, three of the founders who established The Atlantic in Boston in 1857.

Ancestry® is the exclusive sponsor of The Atlantic’s archive launch. The sponsorship is providing unlimited access to all magazine issues from the 1950s for the next several months, in conjunction with Ancestry® indexing the 1950 U.S. Census this year to make the records fully searchable for everyone for free.

Press Contact: Anna Bross,