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The Magazines And I: Women’s Service Journalism Magazines. Chapter Four, Part One.

August 28, 2020

Chapter fFour, Part One

Women’s Service Journalism Magazines … is the fourth chapter from the book I am writing on the magazines of 1953, specifically March 1953, the month I was born.  This is chapter four, part one.  Feel free to back track for chapters one, two, and three in previous blogs.  Enjoy.

Service journalism is just that. It “serves” consumers with many things, such as advice, how-to projects, tips on home, fashion, food and travel, gardening, and all sorts of other necessary items.

Women’s service journalism is what one might think: services directed at women. In 1953 that focused mainly on married women who were maintaining home and hearth, dealing with children, decorating and gardening. We begin this chapter with the group of magazines that were dedicated to all of the women out there who either belonged to that category or wanted to: The Seven Sisters.

THE SEVEN SISTERS

The Seven Sisters were a group of titles that were traditionally aimed at married women who were homemakers with husbands and children, rather than single and workingwomen. The name is derived from the Greek myth of the “seven sisters,” also known as the Pleiades. These magazines were a major force in 20th century American magazine publishing, but today only three of the titles are still published as physical magazines:

Another sister, McCall’s, ceased publication in 2002 after an ill-fated attempt to rebrand itself under the name Rosie by teaming up with talk-show host Rosie O’Donnell.  Ladies’ Home Journal ceased monthly publication in April 2014. Publisher Meredith Corporation stated it would be “transitioning Ladies’ Home Journal to a special interest publication.” The last issue was in 2016.

Hearst transitioned Redbook to a digital-only property in 2017. Meredith announced Family Circle would publish its last issue in December 2019.

After a wave of consolidation and mergers, two companies now own the three remaining sisters: Meredith Corporation publishes Better Homes and Gardens and Hearst Corporation publishes Good Housekeeping and Woman’s Day. While their circulation has slipped a little from their figures in the 1960s and 1970s, they are among the highest circulation magazines in the United States.

The Seven Sisters were much more than a “group” of women’s service magazines, however. They were the connection that women needed throughout the decades for fashion, home décor, cooking, gardening, great stories, and just that feeling of camaraderie that the titles provided. They were a membership into a circle of friends nationwide that brought women together and gave them inspiration and hope.

THE SEVEN SISTERS

BETTER HOMES and GARDENS

Better Homes and Gardens is one of the Seven Sisters that is still being published today. It has a circulation of 7.6 million and is the largest non-membership paid magazine circulation in the United States. Better Homes and Gardens focuses on interests regarding homes, cooking, gardening, crafts, healthy living, decorating, and entertaining. The Meredith Corporation publishes the magazine 12 times per year. Edwin Meredith, who had previously been the United States Secretary of Agriculture under Woodrow Wilson, founded it in 1922. The original name was Fruit, Garden and Home from 1922 to 1924. The name was changed in 1925 to Better Homes and Gardens.

The March 1953 issue of Better Homes and Gardens is chocked full of the latest garden news, how-to projects for the handyman, articles about well-groomed windows and pulling a room together and many other home projects. BH&G was and still is a service journalism title that provides today’s woman (married or otherwise) a variety of hints and tips about their home atmosphere.

FAMILY CIRCLE

Family Circle was published monthly first, then 17 times a year, every three weeks, then back to 10 times a year until it folded.  It was the magazine that focused on home and women’s topics, published from 1932 through the end of 2019. Originally distributed only at supermarkets with no subscriptions, it was included as one of the “Seven Sisters,” a group of seven traditional “women’s service” magazines centered on household issues.

The March 1953 issue had a blend of great fiction for women when they needed a break from their everyday lives, to awesome articles on fashion and needlework, your children and you, and all around the home. The cover was an adorable picture of a cocker spaniel with an inside feature of more color photos of the breed with an option to order the photos. It was a magazine in March 1953 that proclaimed on its cover: Serving more than 4,000,000 families.

GOOD HOUSEKEEPING

Good Housekeeping is another one of the Seven Sisters that is still alive and going strong today. Hearst Corporation owns the title and the circulation reaches around four million readers, which includes the unique Walmart edition the company launched in 2018.

The March 1953 issue had fiction, stories that lifted and inspired; articles and features that served the interests of women for that era, such as “Will it Make Your Hair Curl?” and “The Point Count Wins at Bridge” and many other topics that captured the hearts of women across the country.

There were sections on needlework and sewing; beauty; fashion; medicine and health; food; appliances and home care. There was even a children’s center and automobile article. The magazine of March 1953 was a mix of the times and topics of interest for then, and a really good balance of helpful tips and ideas.

To be continued…

 

2 comments

  1. Dear Samir. Hope you are well. Have LOVED reading these stories. Thank you for sharing. Warm rgds Yvonne Shaff



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