Date: February 1930
Source: Fortune, February 1930, September 1930, December 1937, May 1938, July 1939, front covers. Available online at http://xroads.virginia.edu/~1930s/PRINT/fortune/fortunethum... ; website home page: http://xroads.virginia.edu/~1930s (accessed March 12, 2003).
Fortune magazine hit the newsstands during one of the most tumultuous periods in American history—the Great Depression. Four months after the stock market crash of 1929, Fortune appeared before a weary, disgruntled public that was threatened with complete economic downfall. Despite the misfortune, millions of Americans struggled through during the 1930s. The publishers of Fortune decided that a market would remain for readers interested in understanding the intricacies of the financial markets and who desired to join the ranks of the upper class.
The Fortune magazine covers displayed below provide a sense of how the magazine focused on the "machinery" of the United States and its symbols of technological innovation and even prosperity during the height of the...
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Amos 'n' Andy Radio Episode 920
By: Charles J. Correll and Freeman F. Gosden
Date: March 5, 1931
Source: Correll, Charles J., and Freeman F. Gosden. Amos 'n' Andy, episode 920, syndicated radio broadcast, March 5, 1931. Reprinted online in McLeod, Elizabeth. Amos 'n' Andy in Person. ; website home page: http://www.midcoast.com/~lizmcl/aabp.html (accessed March 14, 2003).
About the Authors: Freeman Gosden (1899–1982) was born in Richmond, Virginia, at the turn of the century, the son of a Confederate army officer. He met Charles Correll (1890–1972) as a member of a traveling vaudeville group in North Carolina in the early 1920s. From these fairly inauspicious beginnings, the pair went on to write, direct, and star in perhaps the most famous, and most controversial, radio program of the twentieth century—Amos 'n' Andy.
Correll and Gosden worked in radio production and secured positions with WGN in Chicago in the early 1920s. By 1926, the two middle-aged white men had produced their first hit. In Sam 'n' Henry, Correll and Gosden portrayed two African American teens whose comedic adventures provided the main plot lines and the basis for the show's popularity....
(The entire section is 2247 words.)
Near v. Minnesota
Supreme Court decision
By: Charles Evans Hughes
Date: June 1, 1931
Source: Near v. Minnesota. 283 U.S. 697 (1931). Available online at ; website home page: http://www.civnet.org/ (accessed March 12, 2003).
About the Author: Charles Evans Hughes (1862–1948) served two terms as governor of New York. From 1910 to 1916, he served as an associate justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1916, incumbent president Woodrow Wilson narrowly defeated Hughes in one of the closest presidential elections in history. After serving as U.S. secretary of state under Presidents Harding and Coolidge from 1921 to 1925, President Herbert Hoover nominated Hughes to serve as chief justice of the Supreme Court.
Hughes' most significant ruling with regard to freedom of the press was in a lawsuit filed against The Saturday Press, a Minnesota tabloid newspaper that specialized...
(The entire section is 1888 words.)
"An Emergency Is On!"
By: T. Arnold Hill
Date: September 1933
Source: Hill, T. Arnold. "An Emergency Is On!" Opportunity, The Journal of Negro Life, 11, no. 9, September 1933, 280. Available online at http://newdeal.feri.org/opp/opp33280.htm; website home page: http://newdeal.feri.org/ (accessed March 1, 2003).
About the Author: T. Arnold Hill (1888–1947) became one of America's foremost civil rights leaders decades before the movement's 1960s heyday. He moved up through the ranks of the National Urban League, eventually becoming the organization's general secretary. Formed as the Committee on Urban Conditions Among Negroes in 1910, the National Urban League still stands as one of this country's most influential civil rights associations.
Although the New Deal created dozens of programs geared at alleviating the depression's impact, the programs did not come close to eliminating the depravation caused by the economic downturn. This was especially true for women and minority groups. Influential social advocacy groups, such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the National Urban League, used their own...
(The entire section is 1804 words.)
Roosevelt and the Media
"Mr. Roosevelt's Magic"
Date: January 15, 1936
Source: "Mr. Roosevelt's Magic." The Nation 142, no. 3680, January 15, 1936, 60.
About the Publication: Since its first issue in 1865, The Nation has provided Americans with consistently strong leftist opinion about all facets of American culture and politics. It has not hesitated to criticize even the most popular and influential liberals, including four-term president Franklin D. Roosevelt. The Nation continues to offer readers progressive views into the twenty-first century.
"The Presidency and the Press"
By: J. Fred Essary
Date: June 1936
Source: Essary, J. Fred. "The Presidency and the Press." Journalism Quarterly 13, no. 2, June 1936, 177–178.
About the Author: J. Fred Essary (1881–1942) was a popular correspondent for the Baltimore Sun during the 1920s and 1930s. In 1943, a net cargo ship bearing his name was acquired by the U.S. Navy.
In November 1936, President Franklin D. Roosevelt won reelection by the largest margin in history...
(The entire section is 2544 words.)
Photography of the Great Depression
By: Dorothea Lange
Date: February or March 1936
Source: Lange, Dorothea. Illustrative photo in "Ragged, Hungry, Broke, Harvest Workers Live in Squaller." San Francisco News, March 10, 1936. Reprinted in "Dorothea Lange's 'Migrant Mother' Photographs in the Farm Security Administration Collection: An Overview." Library of Congress. Image no. 36583. Available online at http://lcweb.loc.gov/rr/print/128_migm.html; website home page: http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/fsowhome.html (accessed March 19, 2003).
About the Photographer: Dorothea Lange's (1895–1965) ability to capture the despair and isolation of her subjects arose, seemingly, from her own life's travails. At the age of seven, she contracted polio and was left with a limp for the rest of her life. At twelve, her father deserted her mother and left the two to fend for themselves in turn-of-the-century New York City. Following the stock market crash of 1929, Lange and her husband lost their home; she coped by refocusing her trade on depictions of life during the Depression. During World War II, she documented the internment of Japanese Americans for the War...
(The entire section is 1509 words.)
The Lindbergh Case and the Media
"The Lindbergh Case in Its Relation to American Newspapers"
By: Walter Lippmann
Date: April 18, 1936
Source: Lippmann, Walter. "The Lindbergh Case in Its Relation to American Newspapers." Speech presented at the Fourteenth Annual Convention of the American Society of Newspaper Editors, April 16–18, 1936.
About the Author: Walter Lippmann's (1889–1974) sixty-plus years in journalism spanned the twentieth century from the beginning of World War I until the end of the Vietnam War. Chosen at twenty-four as the first editor of the weekly journal The New Republic, Lippmann eventually rose to become one of the nation's most respected, nationally syndicated columnists.
"Have You Seen This Baby?"
Date: March 1932
Source: "Have You Seen This Baby?" March 1932. AP/Wide World Photos. Image no. 1752634. Available online at http://www.apwideworld.com/ (accessed April 30, 2003).
In March 1932, Charles and Anne Lindbergh's eighteen-month-old son was kidnapped from their New...
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"Landon 1,293,669; Roosevelt, 972,897: Final Returns in the Digest's Poll of Ten Million Voters"
Journal article, Table
By: Literary Digest
Date: October 31, 1936
Source: "Landon 1,293,669; Roosevelt, 972,897: Final Returns in the Digest's Poll of Ten Million Voters." Literary Digest, October 31, 1936. Available online at http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/5168/; website home page: http://historymatters.gmu.edu (accessed March 13, 2003).
About the Publication: Although the publication's title connoted a strict focus on literature and the arts, Literary Digest began in 1890 as a magazine devoted to current events and opinion in the United States and the world. The weekly journal quickly became popular, making it all the more embarrassing when it incorrectly predicted the outcome of the 1936 presidential election. This misuse of public opinion polls created a firestorm of controversy, causing the downfall of the magazine within two years.
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The Rise of National Magazines
First Issue of Life
Magazine cover, Photograph, Essay
Date: November 23, 1936
Source: Life, November 23, 1936.
First Issue of Look
Magazine cover, Magazine article
Date: January 1937
Source: Look, January 1937.
About the Publications: Life was founded in 1936 as a pictorial news magazine by publisher Henry R. Luce (1898–1967), who also founded Time in 1923, Fortune in 1930, and Sports Illustrated in 1954. It published weekly until 1972, and beginning in 1978 it shifted to publishing monthly issues. Look magazine was launched in 1937, shortly after the debut of Life. Like Life, its focus was on photojournalism, using photos to tell its readers about the world. Look was Life's major competitor until the 1970s. By then the growing popularity and availability of television caused the downfall of Look and significantly diminished the appeal of Life.
Life magazine released its first edition on November 23,...
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"Are We Going Communist? A Debate"
By: Everett Dean Martin and Earl Browder
Date: November 1936
Source: Martin, Everett Dean, and Earl Browder. "Are We Going Communist? A Debate." Forum and Century, 96, no. 25, November 1936, 202–208.
About the Authors: Everett Dean Martin (1880–1941), a New York-based newspaper columnist early in his career, achieved his greatest influence as a social philosopher in the 1920s and 1930s. He despised the notion of revolution as a solution to societal ills and urged instead the pursuit of democracy for the improvement of humanity. Earl Russell Browder (1891–1973) joined the newly formed American Communist Party after being imprisoned for refusing to be drafted in World War I. Browder advanced through the ranks of the party, eventually leading it during the Great Depression and World War II.
The Great Depression caused enormous social turmoil throughout the world in the 1930s. In the United States, laborers protested decreasing wages and increasing unemployment by striking in hundreds of cities nationwide. The American Communist Party (CPUSA) and other leftist groups argued that the federal government needed to take greater control of the economy, regulate big business more severely, and offer aid to the...
(The entire section is 3730 words.)
"How to Stay Out of War"
By: Forum and Century
Date: February–April 1937
Source: "How to Stay Out of War: An Open Forum of Opinions on Keeping America Neutral." Forum and Century 97, nos. 2–4 (February–April, 1937), 89–92; 165–166, 168–169; 249–253.
About the Publication: To provide a balanced survey of informed opinion on how to avoid U.S. entry into a second world war, Forum and Century printed responses from leaders in industry, government, journalism, social activism, literature, and academia. Informed readers of this high-brow journal would probably have instantly recognized many of the prominent respondents. Forum and Century began as separate publications in 1886 and 1913, respectively. As the Great Depression reached its peak in 1930, the publications merged to avoid closing. The increasing popularity of full-color, photo-based weekly magazines, including Time, Newsweek, and Life decreased readership of traditional journals that focused on social commentary. Forum and Century merged with Current History in 1940, but the newly titled Current History and Forum ceased publication one year later.
By the spring of 1937, Adolf Hitler's Nazi Party in Germany...
(The entire section is 3121 words.)
"The Crash of the Hindenburg"
By: Herb Morrison
Date: May 6, 1937, broadcast on May 7, 1937
Source: Morrison, Herb. "The Crash of the Hindenburg." NBC Radio broadcast. May 6, 1937. Reprinted in Garner, Joe. We Interrupt This Broadcast: Relive the Events That Stopped Our Lives. Naperville, Ill.: Sourcebooks, 1998.
About the Author: Herbert (Herb) Morrison (1906–1989), born in Pennsylvania, began his radio news career as a broadcaster at a small rural station in nearby West Virginia. Though journalism later took him to assignments in Chicago and New York, Morrison never forgot about the area where he first hit the airwaves. After serving as news director for a Pittsburgh television station, he returned to West Virginia in the 1960s to help the state university in Morgantown develop a broadcasting department. He died in Morgantown, West Virginia, in 1989 at the age of eighty-three.
On a gloomy, rainy day in New Jersey, thirty-one-year-old radio reporter Herb Morrison stood with his engineer, waiting for the German airship Hindenburg to make its landing at Lakehurst Naval Station. On assignment for WLS radio in Chicago, Morrison intended to focus his report on the ship's magnificent design and luxurious interior. The...
(The entire section is 2739 words.)
Action Comics No. 1
By: Jerome Siegel and Joe Shuster
Date: June 1938
Source: Siegel, Jerome, and Joe Shuster. Action Comics No. 1, June, 1938, cover, 1. Available online at http://xroads.virginia.edu/~UG02/yeung/actioncomics/cover.h... ; website home page: http://xroads.virginia.edu/~UG02/yeung/home.html (accessed March 13, 2003).
About the Authors: High-school classmates Jerry Siegel (1915–1996) and Joe Shuster (1914–1996), in a period of only a few years, went from scribbling comic strips after homework to creating arguably the most famous comic book character of all time, Superman. Siegel wrote the stories and Shuster drew them. In 1934, just out of high school in Cleveland, Ohio, the pair finalized the Superman serial and began submitting it to newspapers. Four years later, an editor at DC Comics picked up the idea and agreed to publish Action Comics featuring Superman. Siegel and Shuster wrote Superman comic books for DC Comics from 1938 until 1947, when they sued DC for more compensation. Siegel died in 1996 at the age of eighty-one, and Shuster died in 1992 at the age of seventy-eight.
(The entire section is 894 words.)
"Radio Listeners in Panic, Taking War Drama as Fact"
Newspaper headline, Newspaper article
Date: October 31, 1938
Source: "Radio Listeners in Panic, Taking War Drama as Fact." The New York Times, October 31, 1938, 1, 4. Reprinted online at http://www.jd.gosling.btinternet.co.uk/wotw/docs.htm; website home page: http://www.jd.gosling.btinternet.co.uk/wotw/ (accessed March 13, 2003).
News reports grew increasingly tense during the 1930s. The United States teetered on the brink of complete economic devastation following the stock market crash of 1929. Then, following the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party in Germany in 1933, the threat of war mounted year by year. By the fall of 1938, Germany had annexed Austria, taken over Czechoslovakia, and was openly planning for a greater European invasion the following year. American radio listeners consistently heard breathless radio announcers break into entertainment programs to report on dramatic developments at home and abroad. Orson Welles' Mercury Theatre designed its production of The War of the Worlds to take full advantage of this tension with its mock, though seriously styled, news coverage of a Martian invasion.
(The entire section is 5223 words.)
"Television in the 1930s"
Date: June 1939
Source: Ranger. "Television in the 1930s." Esquire, June 1939. Reprinted online at ; website home page: http://www.tvhistory.tv/ (accessed March 1, 2003).
About the Publication: Begun in the fall of 1933, Esquire remains a monthly magazine marketed towards males and includes commentary on trends in American culture—from fashion and entertainment to politics, technology, and fitness. In more recent years the Esquire publishers have put out a line of guide books titled Things a Man Should Know that cover topics such as personal style and marriage.
Although Americans first heard of television years before its much-publicized appearance at the 1939 World's Fair, the celebration marked a turning point for the history of the medium. Herbert Hoover, the secretary of commerce and later president, starred in the first public demonstration when he gave a speech in Washington, D.C., that American Telephone and Telegraph transmitted to viewers in New York City in 1927. But on April
(The entire section is 1188 words.)