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The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah's Kingdom ( ) is a monthly illustrated religious magazine, printed and published by Jehovah's Witnesses via the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania in Wallkill, New Yorkmarker, and branch offices around the world. Published in 180 languages, it is known worldwide as the major publication (along with its companion magazine, Awake!) distributed by Jehovah's Witnesses in their door-to-door ministry.


The publication was started by Charles Taze Russell on July 1, 1879 under the title Zion's Watch Tower and Herald of Christ's Presence. The first issue stated as its prospectus:

Zion's Watch Tower and Herald of Christ's Presence, October 1, 1907
The Watchtower, October 15, 1980
In 1908 the name was changed to The Watch Tower and Herald of Christ's Presence. In 1920, the Watchtower Society reprinted all the issues from 1879–1919 in seven volumes, known as the Watchtower Reprints, which has itself been reprinted through the years by other groups. The magazine was renamed on 15 October 1931 The Watchtower and Herald of Christ's Presence, in January 1939 The Watchtower and Herald of Christ's Kingdom, and, from March 1939 until the present, its full name has been The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah's Kingdom.

Until March 1990, The Watchtower and its companion Awake! were available for a small charge that varied over time and in different countries. For example, in the United States, the suggested donation per issue was $0.05 in 1950, gradually increasing to $0.25 in 1989. On January 17, 1990, the Supreme Court of the United Statesmarker ruled that sales of religious literature were subject to taxation, which introduced ambiguity into the formerly tax-free practice of suggesting a particular donation in exchange for the magazines. The Watchtower Society filed an amicus curiae ("friend of the court") brief arguing that the perceived sale of religious literature should be exempt from taxation.From March 1, 1990, the journals were made available at no cost, on a freewill donation basis in the United States, with the stated purpose of simplifying their Bible educational work and distinguishing themselves from those who commercialize religion.Our Kingdom Ministry, May 1990, page 7, noted, "At the end of February 1990, it was explained that magazines and literature will be provided to publishers and to the interested public on a complete donation basis, that is, without asking or suggesting that a specific contribution be made as a precondition to receiving an item." The article "Use Our Literature Wisely" which appeared in the May 1990 Our Kingdom Ministry stated, that "there are growing pressures against all religious elements" and it went on to say that their main concern was to move ahead in the worldwide Kingdom preaching work, "without hindrance."

The sale of Jehovah's Witnesses' literature was gradually phased out in other countries, and The Watchtower has been distributed free of charge worldwide since early 2000, its printing being funded by voluntary donations from Jehovah's Witnesses and members of the public.2001 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses, page 18, noted,
"Another factor in reaching more people with the good news has been the simplified literature distribution arrangement. ... The voluntary donation arrangement is explained to people, but no charge is made for the literature. As of January 2000, that arrangement was extended to all lands where it was not already in operation."


Over the years, Jehovah's Witnesses have added a variety of editions of the magazine, with a view to making it available to a wider audience. The Watchtower is currently printed simultaneously in 180 languages. In 1976, The Watchtower became available in Grade II English Braille. In 1988, it began to be produced on audio cassette for the benefit of the visually impaired as well as others who wished to listen to it. In 2003, a videocassette edition (of main study articles) in American Sign Language was produced, and this was extended to DVD in 2004. The Watchtower is now released monthly in American Sign Language on DVD, and other national sign languages as the publishers consider practical. Select articles are available at their official website ( Additionally, 2004 saw the release of The Watchtower on compact disc (MP3 and later audio CD format).



The inside cover page of each issue has the following mission statement:

Starting in January 2008, The Watchtower is produced in two editions. The issue dated the 1st of the month is produced for the general public. The issue dated the 15th is a study edition that Jehovah's Witnesses use at their congregation meetings, which are open to the public. The Study Edition usually contains either four or five articles written for the Watchtower Study.
The issue dated the first of each month focuses on religious articles that are offered to the general public. The issue dated the fifteenth of each month contains congregational study articles for the month and other intra-organizational materials that are directed to current members and other interested ones and is not being offered to the general public actively like the public edition is. Additionally, the entire magazine is available for audio-download in MP3 and M4B format at

Every congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses throughout the earth discusses the same information each week at the Watchtower Study. In this meeting a designated reader will read each paragraph aloud, after which the conductor asks the question printed at the bottom of the page for that paragraph; a few minutes (depending on the subject matter) are allotted for the members of the congregation to answer the questions using the information read in the paragraph as a starting point. They are encouraged to put the information in their own words and also to "draw attention to scripture application, supporting arguments, or practical application of the material."

A typical issue usually includes topics such as Bible prophecy, Christian conduct and morals, as well as the history of religion and the Bible.

Many study articles in The Watchtower are based on outlines from discourses presented at District Conventions of Jehovah's Witnesses. For example, the "Follow the Christ" District Convention included two symposiums which were used as the basis for Watchtower study articles in 2009.

Regular sections include "Life Story" and "Our Readers Ask", "Imitate their Faith" (four times a year), "Draw Close to God", "For Our Young People" (every other month), "Did You Know?", "What We Learn From Jesus" (four times a year), "Teach Your Children" (every other month), "Keys to Family Happiness" (four times a year), "A Letter From..." (four times a year) and "Would You Welcome a Visit?" Every four months, a section entitled "Do You Remember?" briefly summarizes points from recent issues of the magazine. The November 1 issue contains an article outlining the various ways that donations can be made to support the activities of Jehovah's Witnesses.

The Witnesses' worldwide "Field Service" report appeared in the January 1 issue of The Watchtower from 1882 until 2004, and in the February 1 issue from 2005 to 2007. Since 2008, the "Field Service" report does not appear in The Watchtower (although the 2007 report was in the February 2008 issue of Our Kingdom Ministry as a 4-page insert, a one-time event), but continues to appear in the annual Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses.

The Watchtower's subtitle, "Announcing Jehovah's Kingdom," indicates its interest in eschatology, which has frequently been a topic for discussion within its pages.


The Writing Committee of the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses oversees the research, editing, and development of the articles. The articles are mostly contributed by writing committees within the branch offices worldwide, which are then checked by a team of editors for accuracy, grammar, spelling, etc., and then translated into the languages of publication by other teams. Women are permitted to write articles provided that they are not of a spiritual nature. The names of the authors (except in most first-person life stories), editors, etc. are never included in the magazine, though all articles are produced under the authority of the Governing Body, and therefore the content is considered the official position of the organization.


The magazine is printed in nineteen different countries; about 25% of the total is printed in the United States at the organization's printery at Wallkill, New Yorkmarker.

The Public Edition of The Watchtower has an average print run (according to the January 1, 2010 issue) of 39,601,000 copies and is printed monthly, with an issue date of the 1st of the month, making it the largest circulation magazine in the world. It is published in 180 languages. The Study Edition is also printed monthly, with an issue date of the 15th, but no list of the number of printed copies or languages is given for this edition. Since the first issue of The Watchtower in 1879, with 6000 copies printed, circulation of The Watchtower continued to increase, and the magazine has not missed an issue.

The magazine is distributed by Jehovah's Witnesses. They consider their work a public service. Witnesses commonly offer these magazines in the course of their house-to-house ministry. They are also distributed by approaching people in public places or informally to doctors, academics, politicians and acquaintances. The Watchtower may also be seen left as reading material in public places, including bus terminals, laundromats or other places. The Watchtower Society advises against distribution practices such as mailbox drops and placing large stacks in public places, which they consider to be less effective methods of arousing interest compared to personal presentation of the literature.

External links


  1. Watch Tower, July 1 1879
  2. "Periodicals (magazines)",
  3. Jehovah's Witnesses and Jimmy Swaggart
  4. 1981 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses, page 7.
  5. The Watchtower, November 1, 2005, page 27
  6. 2004 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses, page 21
  7. 2005 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses, page 22
  8. Our Kingdom Ministry, July, 1979, page 1

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