Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Foxed Paper and the Slight Smell of Mold: Reading, Browsing Actual Print Periodicals

I cross-post this modified bit on archives and the work in the paper trenches, which is at Religion in American Culture.

Randall Stephens

Last week I visited the Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary Library in Gladstone, Mo, just north of Kansas City. The staff was terrific and a bonus was an enormous collection of discarded books for sale--$1 or 50 cents/ea. I picked up Tim LaHaye's Battle for the Mind, and, oddly enough, a copy of Gordon Wood's Empire of Liberty.

Ideally, I hoped to browse through some denominational magazines and periodicals from the 1950s and 1960s for my next project on Christianity and rock/anti-rock. I was pleasantly surprised. The library had loads of Baptist and SBC serials dating back to the early years of the Cold War. Some of the titles I browsed through: Baptist Quarterly Review; Home Life; Baptist Training Union Magazine; The Student (A Baptist-style Jesus People-ish magazine, which Sam Hill actually wrote in). In addition to all that there were extensive runs of Christianity Today and Christian Century, along with quite a few other gems.

The Southern Baptist Periodical Index was a real help. But blast the indexers for not cataloging what I wish they had! (Page after page after page on "Missions.") I have seldom used the Index to Religious Periodical Literature (Chicago: American Theological Library Association.) But it's a tremendous resource for work on post-war American religion. And it gives a pretty good indication of the more popular magazines and journals that circulated at the time. See below the first page of the edition for 1971, listing a range of publications. (Click to enlarge.)

So, here are a few questions for all the HS blog research nerds and archive troglodytes out there: What do you suppose were the largest circulating and/or most influential denominational or public opinion periodicals of the 1950s and 1960s? Which ones are the best for getting a sense of what men, women, and children in the pews, suburbs, and cities were thinking? Why?


Ed said...

You can't go wrong with Reader's Digest. A 1956 study by New Politz reported that its reading audience was 32 million and that an average issue was read a whopping 168 million times. RD boasted twice the circulation of Life, its second-place competitor. "People have faith in Reader's Digest" read their advertising tagline.

Max said...

Mold is a fungus that grows on moist or damp places. Mold spores grow very rapidly in areas of excessive moisture including leakage that could have occured in roofs, pipes, walls, plant pots or areas where flooding has occured. Other products such as paper, cardboard, ceiling tiles, wood, and wood products that could be sitting in your garage or basement provide conducive growth environments for molds. Source: http://www.blackmoldremovalsupport.com Mold can be identified by its musty smell or color including black mold, blue & pink mold. While most mold is harmless, some black molds can be toxic & have health implications including mold poisoning.

hcr said...

How about Life? And when did Newsweek and Time start? They seemed to be everywhere by the 70s.

Randall said...

I didn't know how high RD's circ was! You're right Heather. I always go to Life, Time, and Newsweek. It's awesome that Life is now on Google Books.