Magazines for the Millions: Gender and Commerce in the Ladies' Home Journal and the Saturday Evening Post, 1880-1910

By Helen Damon-Moore | Go to book overview

7
The Journal is for Women and the Post is for Families:
The Vicissitudes of the Curtis Magazines, 1900-1910

The Curtis publications in the early twentieth century were important social institutions as they reckoned with the contours of a gendered commercial milieu that had been created, in part, by their own publishers and editors. The Post was eventually forced to target women as well as men in order to attract the size of audience and number of advertisers Lorimer and Curtis sought. And the Journal tried unsuccessfully to broaden its audience to include substantial numbers of men. The experiences of the Curtis magazine producers in these years provide further evidence of the fact that gendered commerce had taken on a life of its own beyond the control of individual producers. The social history of the Curtis magazines—their staffing, their business tactics, their self-image, their readers' reactions—is a critical complement to the cultural history of the magazines' content in these years. We see real people with real power acting within and limited by real constraints.

The advertising campaign for the Saturday Evening Post around the turn of the century illustrates the evolution in the magazine's targeted audience. Promotions for the "Post" appeared in the Journal from the time of Curtis's acquisition of the magazine in 1897, but they began to appear more frequently in the second half of 1899. Early versions of these promotions, which were also featured in more expensive publications like Scribner's and the Atlantic, suggested that the Post was "the ideal reading for the up and coming man." 1 Promoters of the Post began to soften the masculine image of the magazine as early as March of 1900. That issue of the Journal featured an ad urging women to buy the Post "For Your Husband, For Your Son, For Your Family," emphasizing that the "family" would especially enjoy the Post's fiction. In pitching the Post to the family, its promoters meant not that young children should be reading the magazine but that women as well as men would enjoy it. By JULY OF 1901 the Post was described to female Journal readers as "The Journal's Baby," and the promotion's accompanying invitation exclaimed, "We Want Every Woman to See It!"

In 1902 Curtis and Lorimer offered the first "Romance Number" of the Saturday Evening Post. Like the "College Man's Number" and the "Big Business Number," the romance version of the Post would begin to appear at least

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