Book Reviews -- Women's Periodicals in the United States: Consumer Magazines Edited by Kathleen L. Endres and Therese L. Lueck
Scanlon, Jennifer, Journalism History
Endres, Kathleen L. and Therese L. Lueck, eds. Women's Periodicals in the United States: Consumer Magazines. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1995. 552 pp. $99.50.
This reference book includes profiles of seventy-five historical and contemporary magazines published in the United States and aimed primarily at women. The entries describe the social and cultural contexts of the magazines, their publication histories, and their significance. The work as a whole presents a compelling picture of the long history of publications aimed at women and influencing, as much as reflecting, women's realities in the United States.
Almost half of the publications profiled in Women's Periodicals in the United States: Consumer Magazines began publication after World War II, but the work also containes several eighteenth- and nineteenth-century publications. The earliest entry describes Gentleman and Lady's Town and Country Magazine, which began publication in 1784 with one firm editoral policy: Appeal to the female reader. This magazine contained rousing editorials on marital equality and women's education, moral tales, foreign and domestic news, and lists of marriages, births, baptisms, and deaths in Boston and the surrounding area. It also demonstrated the viability of targeting consumer magazines toward women, whose literacy rates were lower than those of men but whose thirst for news and advertisements was great. The magazine lasted only eight issues, but it remains noteworthy because it included women as well as men in "a worthy experiment that would lead the way to American magazines dedicated solely to women."
By the late nineteenth century, magazines targeted at women contained less news and more "women's" content, focusing on fashion, child care, housekeeping, and cooking. …