Edwin Meredith was the president of the largest publishing concern west of the Mississippi River. His company, Meredith Corporation, published the flourishing Successful Farming, a magazine whose circulation in 1914 was 600,000, covering nine states in America’s heartland. In 1922 he also founded the magazine that later became Better Homes and Gardens.
His vision and development of the "How-To" service approach brought to farm families income-producing ideas from the soil and a deep satisfaction with their way of life. To urban families it brought a concept of good taste, good living and a good family life. In doing all of this, he provided markets to advertisers in which their own investments have validated his original concept of service.
"Service is the keynote," Meredith wrote. "Service is the basic meaning of it all. The great businesses...have performed an utterly immeasurable amount of service to the nation. And what has spread the news of this service...what makes it possible to rapidly and efficiently distribute these immeasurable services? We all answer - advertising - mostly highly developed in America of all nations."
Meredith adopted sound publishing principles when truth in advertising was not a popular virtue. In the first issue of Successful Farming, published in 1902, Meredith wrote, "We believe...every advertisement...is backed by a responsible person. But to make sure, we will make good any loss."
As President of the Associated Advertising Clubs of the World, he brought prestige and leadership to organized advertising. He preached the opportunity and responsibility of the advertising clubs and other groups to hold advertising standards high and to serve more effectively business and the public.
Meredith’s farm magazine and the farm equipment advertising included in its pages helped in the development of agriculture in the United States. Under Woodrow Wilson, he was named Secretary of Agriculture.