The eighties started with changes in the Smithsonian. Edward Thompson went on an extended leave of absence, from which he never returned as editor. This cigar-smoking, Churchill-looking, mumbling man was awarded the institution's Henry Medal for "his brilliant efforts to create and sustain the quality of the magazine," as he nurtured it into a full-fledged respectable publication, and was complimented by President Jimmy Carter for doing "as much as any figure in modern journalism to help Americans learn about and enjoy the world around them." 10 Don Mosher, who had been managing editor, became editor, and Robert McAdams took over as secretary after S. Dillon Ripley's retirement. Subscriptions soared above the two million mark, and ad revenue climbed to new heights.
A sampling of this decade's earlier issues reveals a new direction, away from the idealism of the 1970s. Now we are concerned with endangered species, and ice castle sculptures, with treasure hunts and the good life expressed in the many state-of-the-art ads, directed to a generation that grew away from the earthconscious frugality of its youth. As I read Donald Dale's essay in the January 1987 issue, "The cat could never admit her mistakes," I realized that my own generation of associates, worried about their empty nests, might have enjoyed this bland, uncontroversial diet of museum relics and the glories of the past, yet I was pleased to see improvements in the last two years in the content of articles and features and in the quality of the photography, layout, and artwork. This trend will ensure the Smithsonian's survival as a herald and disseminator of culture, good taste, and scientific knowledge to its audience.
"Life of Its Own." Newsweek, 27 August 1973, pp. 76-77.
"Making Culture Pay." Time, 14 January 1974, p. 28.
Park, Edwards. "Around the Mall and Beyond." Smithsonian, March 1980, pp. 28-36.