In the fourth volume of his widely acclaimed History of American Magazines (volumes two and three of which received the Pulitzer Prize), Frank Mott carries his story into the first years of our century. By means of analysis and of lively quotation from the magazines themselves, the author shows the changes in the social, political, and economic life of the times in America, the movements in ideas and taste, and the developments of popular interests.
This is the period when the Saturday Evening Post, the Ladies Home Journal, Collier’s, Cosmopolitan, and National Geographic came into prominence, and their development—in terms of management, policies, personalities—is treated in full by Mott. More than thirty other magazines are surveyed in separate chapters, and hundreds of others are given shorter treatment. The first few chapters are devoted to a consideration of the outstanding elements in the over-all development of American magazines, such as advertising and illustrations. One of the most important aspects of this two-decade period was the advent of the highly successful ten-cent illustrated monthly in the middle nineties. This interfered with the calm and stately progress of such older thirty-five cent magazines as The Century, Harper’s, and The Atlantic.
Ensuing chapters deal with magazines in the special fields, and in each case the periodicals themselves are integrated with the background movements. Thus, in addition to magazines mentioned above, Mott is concerned with periodicals about literature, the graphic arts, foreign interests, drama, music, education, religion, philosophy, science, medicine, engineering, construction, transportation, agriculture, law, banking, advertising, women’s activities, sports, humor, and hobbies.