Magazines, Sex, and the
Culture of Migration
Half-Century was not an impressive publication. But it stands
among those general-purpose magazines that reflected and guided,
to some extent, the newly developing ethos of black Americans
caught up in the drama of the new century, the world war, and
migration from the South into the industrial, urban Midwest.
SOMEONE once told me this book is really a detective story, or maybe even a mystery. This is how I know I have told one too many tales about my efforts to track down the publications that form the basis for this project. I do not think they were suggesting there are holes in the narrative that require them to go sleuthing for the connections that lead to intellectual clarity. Nor do I believe they meant this manuscript reads like a mystery. But because I secretly like thinking about this project in the same way, I have never asked the person to tell me why they thought as they did. It has left me free to create my own interpretation.
I think of this book as a mystery not because there is a whodunit embedded in the analysis and discussion of the magazines written about here, nor because I still make the connection between the thrill of a good mystery’s unfolding and the warm chill I felt when I first laid hands and eyes on the magazines for which I had searched for so many years. No, I like to think of this book as a mystery because, since I was in middle school and