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The Gridiron: Oppression Means Stagnation and Freedom Means Progress

While we are working, attending class, and doing so many other things from home, our blog posts will focus on materials that have been digitized and can be accessed remotely. We’ll continue to include links to our finding aids and other information about physical access, as well.

Andrae Nordskog speaks "The Truth About the Price War" over the radio, The Gridiron, Special Lincoln Day Edition, February 12, 1929The Gridiron, volume 1, number 1 debuted on December 17, 1926 with a subtitle proclaiming it the gridiron, "Over which the gold of truth is separated from the dross of error." The weekly paper was published locally and initially focused on public utility reform. The front page news of the first issue criticized Bell telephone trust's vast profits and active corporate role in United States politics. 

Publisher and editor Andrae B. Nordskog founded the paper "for the Preservation of the People's Rights." In the initial issue Nordskog set out the mission of the newspaper, which centered on developing local commerce, bettering municipal infrastructure, and enhancing cultural education for the community. It began as a publication of the Harvard-Denker-Halldale Development Club, later known as the Metropolitan Southwest Development Club. The Club was initiated to bring together Los Angeles area residents and businesses south of Florence and west of Normandie for civic betterment.

Although the cover often featured sensational headlines, quotidian news items were sprinkled throughout the publication, especially in its early days. This included topics like home cooking and household economics, news on airmail delivery of Christmas packages, advertisements for local Los Angeles businesses, and brief articles of local interest, such as street widening on Pico Boulevard.

Later issues of The Gridiron have a broader geographic interest. A December 30, 1930 issue states its mission as, "Dedicated to the preservation of human rights as guaranteed by our Federal Constitution, and the administration of justice to rich and poor alike." By 1930 Nordskog turned his attention to obtaining national political office, and in 1932 he ran for Vice President of the United States under the Liberty Party banner. His increased interest in national politics is apparent in The Gridiron news coverage, with references to Nordskog's speaking tours.

Despite increasing participation in national politics, Nordskog also continued to be politically active locally. He served as president of the Southwest Water League, which studied water needs and resources of the southwest, making recommendations on aqueduct and reclamation projects proposed in all levels of government. The Gridiron often featured articles supporting the residents of the Owens Valley in their dispute over water rights with the City of Los Angeles and accusing Los Angeles Department of Water and Power officials of corruption.

Much like earlier reform minded Progressive Era journalists at the turn of the 20th century, and present-day investigative journalists, Nordskog's publication questioned existing civic systems of power. The Gridiron both reflected Nordskog's own interests, and served as an alternative weekly newspaper for municipal issues in the Los Angeles region. Issues of The Gridiron are available for reading online as part of the The Gridiron - California's Fighting Newspaper Digital Collection. A number of archival materials from the Andrae B. Nordskog Collection related to water issues are also available for viewing online.

The Gridiron front page, volume 1, number 1, December 17, 1926
Harvard-Denker-Halldale Development Club advertisement, The Gridiron, volume 1, number 1, page 2, December 17, 1926
Metropolitan Southwest Development Club Slauson Storm Drain Meeting flyer, December 21, 1927
Announcement that Andrae B. Nordskog would begin his speaking tour as Liberty Party nominee for Vice President of the United States, The Gridiron, volume 6, number 23, page 4, November 17, 1931
Announcement for Andrae B. Nordskog's The New America dinner program, The Gridiron, volume 7, number 1, page 5, December 16, 1932
Southwest Water League advertisement, The Gridiron, volume 7, number 1, page 8, December 16, 1932

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