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
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.