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Media: 48 reels of 35mm microfilm
Coverage Dates: 1897-1949
Format: A free reel guide including descriptive annotations of the periodicals lists, inclusive dates of publication, and the reel numbers on which dates appear.

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The four mass market magazines preserved on microfilm in this series provide students of American fiction, journalism, film, radio, and advertising with an excellent research extension to the American Periodicals Series collection. Through the more than 100,000 pages in this collection from Smith's Magazine, The Shadow, Pic, and Success Magazine and the National Post, students can explore a compendium of information on the mass culture phenomenon in the first half of the 20th century.

Smith's Magazine Ormund Smith began Smith's Magazine in 1905 for "the John Smiths of America," and this family-oriented monthly reached a circulation of 200,000 within two years.

Early issues featured fiction and poetry, articles on fashion, the theater, science, and invention, in addition to photographic spreads of popular actresses. In later issues, Smith's began targeting women as its audience, and thus provides materials for women's studies students on popular feminine ideology during and after World War I.

Success Magazine and the National Post The will to succeed was the cornerstone philosophy of Success, founded by Orison Swett Marden in 1897. The magazine began as a nonfiction monthly featuring biographical sketches and articles espousing the virtue of success, and contributions by such notables as Theodore Dreiser (who also edited Smith's), Booker T. Washington, Edward Everett Hale, Mary A. Livermore, and Julia Ward Howe in the early years of its existence.

After its first year, Success began to include fiction, the most memorable of which was "The Magic Story" by Frederick Van Rensselaer Day. After James H. McGraw became its financial backer in 1900, the magazine saw six successful years, and during this period the circulation climbed to 300,000.

A major shift in editorial viewpoint followed--success was no longer presented as a virtue in and of itself--and the magazine joined the popular muckraking movement of the day. Even a merger with The National Post in 1911 could not halt the demise of this popular periodical five months later.

The Shadow Created to exploit the success of the popular radio character of the same name, The Shadow (1931-1949) enables mass media and communications researchers and students to study the impact of early radio on the day's popular culture.

Walter B. Gibson, an amateur magician and writer, was hired to help with the launching of this new magazine. Writing under the pen name Maxwell Grant, Gibson developed his master of illusion and disguise, "The Shadow," and the magazine's first issue included Gibson's premier full-length novel, "The Living Shadow." Success was immediate, and soon the quarterly publication became monthly, then twice monthly.

Pic Complementing the print periodicals in this series is Pic, a pictorial magazine that was born in 1937 and emphasized photographic series of famous figures. During the war years, Pic specialized in sensationalism and "cheesecake" photos but its visual subject matter turned more serious after the war ended.

Through photos the pages of this magazine afford students of American history and sociology valuable insight into the effects of World War II on mass culture.


  • Content Type: A free reel guide including descriptive annotations of the periodicals lists, inclusive dates of publication, and the reel numbers on which dates appear. Each reel begins with a contents page.

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