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

METHODOLOGICAL NOTE

The purpose of my study was to tell the story of the Ladies' Home Journal and the Saturday Evening Post as both commercial and cultural enterprises. Given the scarcity of extant corporate records for the Curtis Publishing Company, I relied mainly on secondary sources for the commercial part of the story. Jan Cohn ( Creating America) and Salme Steinberg ( Reformer in the Marketplace) make good use of the few business records for the Curtis Publishing Company scattered around the country; James Wood ( "The Curtis Magazines") worked for the Post at one time and therefore had access to some company records now unavailable. I supplemented the published business-related observations of these writers and of Edward Bok by reading the private papers of Cyrus Curtis, Edward Bok, and George Horace Lorimer, all held by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Mrs. A. Margaret Bok, daughter-in-law of Edward Bok, of Rockport, Maine, was most helpful in supplementing my scanty knowledge of Louisa Knapp Curtis and in commenting on family matters in general.

This study attempted to go beyond traditional content analysis of popular magazines by doing the following: (1) analyzing the content of the magazines in the context of what is known about the magazines' producers; (2) carefully attending to any evidence regarding the readers themselves and their actual and possible responses to the magazines; (3) analyzing the content of the magazines over a period of several years; and (4) paying careful attention to all parts of the magazines.

I therefore surveyed every issue of the Ladies' Home Journal in its entirety between DECEMBER 1883 and DECEMBER 1910, for a total of over 300 issues; and every issue of the Saturday Evening Post in its entirety between OCTOBER 1897 and DECEMBER 1910, for a total of over 600 issues. I closely analyzed each nonfiction item pertaining in some way to gender roles. Since the Journal's nonfiction was in general very direct regarding gender roles and thus yielded an abundance of material, I analyzed one short story in every fourth issue of the monthly, for a total of 64 stories. Fiction was much more important to the Post, constituting half of each issue, and was the place where gender relations were most often considered, so I analyzed one short story in every fourth issue of the weekly, for a total of 132 stories. I read in each magazine the first short story that was not part of a continuing serial.

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