The magazines that made America

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This breathtaking array of American trade press comes from the collection of one man, Steven Lomazow, MD, amassed over the past 40 years and has a particular focus on early American magazines and teenagers, the twenties and thirties of the 20th century. . It’s not just about collecting – it’s about getting Volume 1, Number 1 of virtually every magazine, great or crazy, on North American soil. The New England Journal of Medicine, American scientist, the new Yorkuh, Crazy, Mrs., Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Weekly and the beautiful Holiday. Artists include Maxfield Parrish, Howard Chandler Christie, Charles Dana Gibson, and even Alberto Vargas. The first American magazines appeared in 1741. By 1860 there were over a thousand titles printed, inspiring and cajoling Americans to repent, reform, learn, develop, and do more and more. quick. The incredible energy of America is there – education, advertising, news, religion and a lot of hooey. As the excellent catalog points out, magazines have built American communities, shaped their mores and prejudices.

The first deadly serious newspapers had a grandiose, reserved, essentially European aspect: dismal engraved figures adorn their covers, as if weighed down by the terrible information they contained. The mystery of life (“Health, Wealth, Time and Morals”) – what better way to sum up the 19th century America? Her blanket is cheered by a woman tidy in front of a simmering stove, surrounded by flowers, vegetables, many dead animals, a very large trout and a few lobsters. Really, the way forward was in these pages. The information was often wrapped in the flag, accompanied by allegorical figures, decorative maidens or eagles. On the cover of Lady’s Magazine: and repository of entertaining knowledge, the magazine’s “genius” is shown giving Liberty a copy of A claim for women’s rights.

Left: Strange Tales: The Unique Magazine, flight. 1, no. March 1, 1923. The most famous fantasy and horror magazine of the golden age of pulps; law: Zeppelin Stories, flight. 1, no. January 3, 1929. Steven Lomazow Collection

Entertainment has become big business with blockbuster magazines devoted to crime, sci-fi, westerns and boiling salacious in general. Black mask, probably the most famous pulp of all, offers Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon Completed. There is a beautiful copy of Strange tales, one of the most successful sleazy pulps, featuring a story called ‘Ooze’, which is definitely worth a paid study (the fact that you can’t just grab these magazines and start reading them might drive you crazy ). Some kind of octopus bear has grabbed a girl and her little guy is trying to kill her with a gun and a sword at the same time. Palm days.

Children’s publications began early in the history of American periodicals (with Monthly Little Pig), and – gulp – this is the first issue of the ubiquitous and demoralizing Highlights for children. Its slogan, ‘Fun with a Purpose,’ is a phrase to thrill any eight-year-old. This fabulously silly and boring magazine made every dentist visit doubly horrible.

Left: Forbes, flight. 23, no. January 11, 15, 1929. In January 1929, Forbes predicts a record year for the stock market; law: Fire !!: A quarterly devoted to young black artists, flight. 1, no. November 1, 1926. Steven Lomazow Collection

Here is also the story of the African-American press. The Crisis, founded by WEB Du Bois, still thrives today. There was also Fire, an organ for young black artists with contributions from just about everyone in Harlem. And as the lives of black Americans became, in some ways, richer, popular magazines and even gossip appeared: Ebony, cornerstone of Johnson Publications’ giant empire; Bronze sensations and Tanned Confessions.

There were parallel worlds of magazines, especially among the marginalized. There were magazines for the mill girls, the flappers, and several for the vagabonds, one urging them to buy war bills. Publications on temperance abounded from the beginning of the republic (The Cold Water Magazine), but later there was Repeal, decorated with the Liberty Bell, fighting for all who wanted beer. There was at least one periodical devoted to zeppelin fiction.

(To the left) :

Left: The crisis: a record of the darkest races, flight. 49, no. April 4, 1942; law: Douglas aerial view, flight. 13, no. January 1, 1946. The cover contains the first published image of Norma Jean Dougherty, later known as Marilyn Monroe. Steven Lomazow Collection

In an issue of the Pennsylvania Magazine from 1776: the only magazine publication of the Declaration of Independence. The spirit of the times: a chronicle of turf, agriculture, outdoor sports, literature and the stage, a pretty little thing with a sober look from 1855, imprinted, for the first time, the rules of ‘baseball’. It sounds pretty straightforward. What would you say Douglas aerial view, a journal devoted to post-war commercial aviation, the to have to to get on a plane? Here they are, these 1946-type people in disguise, relaxed and genuinely happy, flying. You wouldn’t believe the legroom. The Berkeley beard was perhaps the most influential counterculture press in the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1960s. We used to read it for the ‘Dr HipPocrates’ column – a real education on the effects ( we hoped) of free love and LSD.

(Left) 'Repeal: a monthly magazine devoted to the national ban reform', volume 1, number 1, September 1931;  (right): 'Mother Earth', volume 1, number 1, March 1906. An anarchist literary and political monthly magazine edited by Emma Goldman.

Left: Repeal: a monthly magazine devoted to the national reform of the ban, flight. 1, no. September 1, 1931; law: Mother Earth, flight. 1, no. March 1, 1906. An anarchist literary and political monthly edited by Emma Goldman. Steven Lomazow Collection

On the cover of Emma Goldman’s magazine, Mother Earth, a naked couple lean against a tree. At its roots are a number of broken chains. Man stretches out his hands at the coming dawn. What’s the deal with that? But for wanting to emancipate people and resist war, Emma Goldman was stripped of her American nationality and expelled.

Americans were hungry for information and knowledge. Think of all those magazines that have swirled across the country and in the mailboxes of farmers, teachers, inventors, kids, housewives, cooks, fly fishermen and baseball fans for 200 years … Now all they have is the Internet. What happened to American progressivism, when envisioned and proselytized with all this insight, grace, and enthusiasm?

‘Magazines and the American Experience: Highlights from the Collection of Steven Lomazow, MD’ is at Grolier Club, New York, until April 24.


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