Magazines and the American Experience

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The history of the American magazine is intricately entwined with the history of the nation itself. In the colonial eighteenth century, magazines were crucial outlets for revolutionary thought, with the first statement of American independence appearing in Thomas Paine’s Pennsylvania Magazine in June 1776. In the eighteenth century, magazines were some of the first staging grounds for still-contentious debates on Federalism and states’ rights. In the years that followed, the landscape of publications spread in every direction to explore aspects of American life from sports to politics, religion to entertainment, and beyond.

Magazines and the American Experience is an expansive and chronological tour of the American magazine from 1733 to the present. Illustrated with more than four hundred color images, the book examines an enormous selection of specialty magazines devoted to a range of interests running from labor to leisure to literature. The contributors—Leonard Banco and Suze Bienaimee, both experts in the field of periodical history—devote particular focus to magazines written for and by Black Americans throughout US history, including David Ruggles’s Mirror of History (1838), [Frederick] Douglass’ Monthly (1859), the combative Messenger (1917), the Negro Digest (1942), and Essence (1970). With its mix of detailed descriptions, historical context, and lush illustrations, this handsome guide to American magazines should entice casual readers and serious collectors alike.

Written by Steven Lomazow with an introduction by Heather Haveman. Published by the Grolier Club in 2021. Hardcover, measures 11 x 8.5 x 1.2 inches, 325 pages. ISBN 9781605830919

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