Old Magazine Articles

1920s Magazine Information

Having pored over literally thousands of 1920s magazines in search of historic articles, the crew at OldMagazineArticles.com stands prepared to let you in on what we have learned about these magazines and what they say about the society that spawned them.

One of the most startling omissions we never expected was the lack of articles referring to the influenza pandemic of 1918, which caused the deaths of some 675,000 Americans and 50,000,000 people worldwide. It filled the hospitals, challenged the medical and funerary communities, forced face masks onto hundreds of thousands of people and changed the manner of living for millions as they attempted to avoid the disease; did the magazines make mention of this catastrophe? you bet they didn't. Do we know why? We sure don't.

1920s Magazines Catered to a Different Culture
The majority of news magazines and newspaper operating during the 1920s through the 1930s employed two types of critics that are not to be found in the magazines of today: religion editors and poetry editors. Back in the day, poetry was not taken lightly and the school system did a fine job encouraging their pupils to hold high the skills of the poet and inspiriting one and all to wax lyrical during their quieter moments.

The respect that once existed for poetry is illustrated in the fact that within the first three years of the World War I (1914 - 1918), the combined literary efforts of all the soldiers from all the assorted combatant nations produced over 500 volumes of poetry - so strong was their collective urge to versify. In our era, the digital age, soldiers are far more likely to blog in prose or post a video. In the Twenties magazines were widely seen as a prestigious venue in which to be published and thousands of word smiths would submit their efforts. As time went on and affordable phonographs and radios began to serve as popular evening distractions, less and less poetry seemed to be written and the need for poetry editors seemed to slide; by the 1950s, magazines no longer saw the need to employ them at all.

The fall from grace that magazine religion editors suffered seemed to have happened at an even quicker pace. It was in the 1920s that the roll religion played in the daily life of Americans began to wain.
Previously, a religion editor's job was to interview controversial clergymen, report on the more interesting sermons addressed throughout the month, review books and point out the events of the day interpreted from a theological standpoint. In as much as these duties were adhered to, the religion editors in the 1920s found themselves having to write more and more about declining church attendance, renegade priests, the rise of atheism and the increasing number of secular schools that had been established. Indeed, the religious communities around the globe sat in shock as the Soviet Union began taking shape, and for the first time in the history of the world a government had been created that was not merely secular but openly hostile toward religious faith.

The roll of religion was not only changing in the world, but in the newsrooms as well; by the late Forties, religion editors would join poetry editors on the unemployment line. The Wall Street Journal is one of the few existing publications to still print the musings of a religion editor; to their credit he recently opined that the only religious voice Americans hear on a regular basis is that of the animated cartoon character "Flanders", from "The Simpsons".

On a far more trivial note: having read as many 1920s magazines as we have and judging by the plentiful number of advertisements promoting bunion and blister cures, we have shrewdly surmised that all those reporters, editors and publishers must have worn very, very uncomfortable shoes.

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