FABS FALL WINTER 2016-2017
Steven Lomazow, M.D., foremost expert on the history of American magazines, delivered a June lecture to a rapt audience of collectors and dealers in the book room of Joe Perlman’s home in East Northport. Warming to his topic of War Time Magazine Publication in America, Mr. Lomazow explained that historical magazines are windows into many disciplines; among them the founding of our nation, its unique literature, movies, television and radio shows, and its wars.
It was Benjamin Franklin who first conceived of the American magazine, even though it was Andrew Bradford’s American Magazine or Monthly View of the Political State of the British Colonies that was the first to be published by the colonies in January 1741. However it was Franklin who distributed the Boston based The American Magazine and Historical Chronicle, in Philadelphia from 1743 to 1746. It is in this magazine in 1745 that readers were given a map of the Battle of Louisbourg—a tradition that would soon become a feature of all wartime reporting.
The word “magazine” had been coined in London upon publication of Gentleman’s Magazine in 1731 in London. Its origin comes from the naval term for storage on a ship.
The Royal American Magazine, published by Isaiah Thomas in 1774, took a pro-colonial stance against British governance. Paul Revere was one of its finest engravers, supplying the first anti-British cartoon. But it was Thomas Paine’s Pennsylvania Magazine that not only advocated for independence during the Revolutionary War, but continued to print engravings of battles and maps and published the “Ode to George Washington” written by Phyllis Wheatly, who was a slave.
After the Revolutionary War, Boston Magazine became popular, followed by several strong and varied periodicals. The Monthly Military Magazine became the first American periodical devoted to contemporary war reportage. America’s history continued to play out on the pages of newsprint. Analectic Magazine published “Defense of Fort McHenry”, a poem that would later become “The Star Spangled Banner”. The Civil War spawned the Abolitionist, Colonizationist, Anglo-African Magazine, American Cotton Planter and over the course of eighteen months The National Era captivated its readership with the serialization of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Magazine—1860s Portrait Monthly printed both Union and Confederate portraits. While Northerners followed the war in Harper’s Weekly, the south looked to Southern Illustrated News.
When Dr. Lomazow clicked on a Life magazine cover of Norman Rockwell’s illustration of American soldiers singing against a background of night sky, the room grew progressively somber. That same image would later become the cover for sheet music of “Over There”, a rousing World War I tune by George M. Cohan. World War I magazines published the likes of Dashiell Hamet’s “The Fallen,” and “The Black Mask”. As the United States citizens followed the news from Europe in 1933 a New York Life headline asked: “The Truth About Hitler: Beast or Man What is He?” and a Look magazine cover featured Charlie Chaplin in The Great Dictator.
In July 1942, in a show of patriotic solidarity diverse magazines including Vogue, Glamour, House & Garden, House Beautiful, and Look all featured an American flag on the cove. Dr. Lomazow lingered on a cover of “Der Gag Bag”—including a parody of Hitler as Edgar Bergen and a Disney Studios “Dispatch from Disney” showing Donald Duck throwing a tomato in Hitler’s face to The Saturday Evening Post’s Rosie the Riveter by Rockwell—on through Time and Life covers from the Korean War to Cold War publications published both in the US and in Russia. He closed his thoughtful talk with a screen image of Life’s November 1968 iconic cover of a young Vietnamese girl with her leg blown off. It supplanted the original cover of Martin Luther King, Jr..
Dr. Lomazow’s rich collection gives one pause. Today journalists and photo journalists continue to follow fighters into armed conflict—streaming the horrors of war to the public in real time via cell phones, tablets, and laptops.
In September Ms. Meyerson spoke on “Hersey, Hiroshima and the Internet. Looking back at John Hersey’s Hiroshima, first published in The New Yorker on August 6, 1946, she addressed some of the complexities inherent in the United States’ decision to drop the bomb on Japan. Her talk was based both on new Internet resources and on her own extensive collection of works by and about Hersey. Writing in a 1993 LIBC Journal, Ms. Meyerson observed that “in one form or another Hersey has [always] tried to juxtapose man’s violence, his struggles to survive and his will to live.” (His best known works include, Into the Valley (1942), a result of Hersey’s Guadalcanal experience, and The Wall (1950) based on his experience as war correspondent for Time-Life, after meeting survivors of the Lodz Ghetto and touring the ruins of Warsaw .)
In October, Roz Grand led a discussion on President Roosevelt and the Holocaust, showing documents and books from her extensive collection of Holocaust materials. Ms. Grand has devoted herself to acquiring materials published during the Holocaust in Eastern and Western European countries, as well as Jewish books, scholarly bibliographies and books on Jewish book collections. Her expertise on U.S. immigration policy during World War II, replete with public opposition to aiding refugees at a time of economic depression, xenophobia, and anti-Semitic feeling speaks directly to today’s immigration crisis.
Please visit us at longislandbookcollectors.com or join us in the Hunt Room on the campus of Long Island University. Meetings are held September through May at 2 P. M. on the second Sunday of each month. Our June meeting is hosted each year by the Antiquarian Book Dealers Association of Long Island (LIABDA).