Ladies' Pages: African American Women's Magazines and the Culture That Made Them

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"This book is an original and important contribution to a number of fields, including women's studies, American studies, and American history. Clear, well-written, and free of jargon, Ladies' Pages should find a broad and diverse readership."-Farah Jasmine Griffin, director, Institute for Research in African American Studies, Columbia University

Beginning in the late nineteenth century, mainstream magazines established ideal images of white female culture, while comparable African American periodicals were cast among the shadows. In Ladies Pages, Noliwe Rooks sheds light on the most influential African American women's magazines and their little-known success in shaping the lives of black women. Focusing on three early African American publications, Ringwood's Afro American Journal of Fashion, Half-Century Magazine for the Colored Homemaker, and Tan Confessions, as well as two contemporary magazines, Essence and O, the Oprah Magazine, Rooks reveals their contributions to the development of African American culture over the past century and the ways in which they in turn reflect important historical changes in the black community.

Ladies' Pages shows that what African American women wore, bought, consumed, read, cooked, and did at home with their families were all fair game, and the early magazines offered copious amounts of advice about what such choices could and did mean. At the same time, these periodicals helped African American women to find work and to develop a strong communications network. Rooks reveals in detail how these publications contributed to the concepts of black sexual identity, rape, migration, urbanization, fashion, domesticity, consumerism, and education.Her book is essential reading for everyone interested in the history and culture of African Americans.

Noliwe M. Rooks is the associate director of African American Studies at Princeton University and the author of Hair Raising: Beauty, Culture, and African American Women. She was the associate editor for African American Artists in Paris, 1920-1975.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813534251
  • Publisher: Rutgers University Press
  • Publication date: 6/28/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 5.52 (w) x 8.54 (h) x 0.49 (d)

Table of Contents

1 Scattered pages : magazines, sex, and the culture of migration 1
The African American press in historical context 6
Shrouded in sex : writing back to history 10
The cult of representation : "new Negro" ladies 16
The new woman : consumerism and white women's magazines 19
The migration journals 21
2 Refashioning rape : Ringwood's Afro-African journal of fashion 25
The magazine 28
Julia Ringwood Costen : a life in context 32
Situating silence : race, rape, and memory 36
Black bodies in the key of white : the accident of color 39
Accounting for the past 44
3 To make a lady black and bid-her sing : clothes, class, and color 47
Representing fashion, fashioning representation 49
Showing and proving that they were ladies 51
Advertising ladyhood 56
White fashion, black readers 60
Fashioning race : the twentieth century 63
4 "Colored faces looking out of fashion plates, well!" : twentieth-century fashion, migration, and urbanization 65
Half-century magazine 68
The migration of fashion 74
The burden of dress 78
What they are wearing 84
The status of fashion 87
5 No place like home : domesticity, domestic work, and consumerism 89
Home and turn-of-the-century American culture in black and white 91
Gender, generation, and domestic work 101
From character to consumption 108
6 Urban confessions and tan fantasies : the commodification of marriage and sexual desire in African American magazine fiction 113
Marriage, urban space, and turn-of-the-century writing 115
Tan confessions 120
Consuming fantasies in black and tan 124
Ebony dreams : buying citizenship, selling race 131
Marketing matrimony, selling consumption 134
7 But is it black and female? : Essence, O, and American magazine publishing 140
Essence magazine 142
O, the Oprah magazine 148
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