An excellent source for a general discussion of Dickinson’s reading is Jack Capps, Emily Dickinson’s Reading, 1836-1886 (1960). Capps confirms that “most of her knowledge of the detail and action in a world thus discovered came through her habitual reading of periodicals.”
He lists these newspapers as present and “thoroughly reviewed” in the Dickinson household: The Springfield Republican, The Hampshire and Franklin Express, and The Amherst Record. The Dickinsons also subscribed to and scoured these periodicals: Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, Scribner’s Monthly, and The Atlantic Monthly. Capps describes each of these, their contents, political orientations and what they offered Dickinson, and we have consulted and drawn from all of these publications for our weekly events sections.It’s important to say a special word about The Springfield Republican. Capps argues that this newspaper was second only to the Bible in terms of Dickinson’s development as a reader and writer. Because Dickinson knew Samuel Bowles, the editor-in-chief, and corresponded with him frequently, she read The Springfield Republican as if it were a “personal communication.” This seemed to be true for other of her intimates as well and suggests how social reading was for Dickinson. In a letter to her life-long friends, Dr. and Mrs. Holland in 1853, she confided, “I read in it every night. … I read the news aloud, while Vinnie was sewing. The Republican seems to us a letter from you, and we break the seal and read it eagerly” (L 133).